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 Latham & Watkins

Blog: California water law – Legal challenges of water supply assessments

Mark Twain is often credited with saying, “Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over.” This remains true in California, where drought conditions, climate change, and population growth throughout the state’s history have made water an increasingly valuable and regulated resource. The legal landscape involves complex questions related to water quality, water sustainability, and competing claims to water rights. One notable area of controversy involves the adequacy of water supply for new development projects.

Aquafornia news Your Central Valley.com

Explaining California’s complex water system with emotion and storytelling

California has one of the most complex and complicated water systems in the nation. There are hundreds of water districts, different reservoirs and rivers and canals controlled by different jurisdictions, and lots of politically charged legislation.   Understanding this system is a difficult undertaking, but those at the Modesto Irrigation District believe they’re up to the task.   Through emotional storytelling and strong characters, the MID set out to explain how the rivers in their district nourish communities by talking to the men and women who depend on them. The interviews and stories eventually turned into a feature-length documentary called Until the Last Drop.  

Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

Abatti files petition with U.S. Supreme Court

Imperial Valley grower, landowner, and former elected official Michael Abatti has filed a petition for “writ of certiorari” with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking review of the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District’s decision in Abatti v. Imperial Irrigation District, according to a press release from Abatti and his legal team. Michael Abatti, Imperial County farmer 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, the press release states.

Aquafornia news Business Wire

News release: Rural, disadvantaged California community solves century-old water quality issue by tapping the sky

Arsenic naturally occurs in the region’s groundwater and Allensworth is served by two groundwater wells that have contained arsenic levels up to 60 percent higher than state defined safety levels for drinking water. … To tackle those challenges in Allensworth, the community is collaborating with SOURCE to outfit their local community center with two Hydropanels to sustainably generate drinking water. The Hydropanels use the warmth of the sun to draw clean, pollutant-free water vapor out of the air through a patented, water-absorbing material and into a reservoir inside the panel. 

Aquafornia news Allen Matkins

Blog: 2021 land use, environmental & natural resources update

With the end of the first quarter of 2021 approaching, we thought it timely to issue an update on selected recent developments and proposed changes in law and policy touching environmental, land use, and natural resource issues. At the national level, with the new Biden administration, federal policies already have undergone a significant sea-change from those of the Trump administration. And the Golden State continues to lead with a protective agenda on land use, environmental, and natural resources legislation and regulation.

Aquafornia news Humboldt County

News release: Marijuana Enforcement Team Operation in Salmon Creek

On March 24, 2021, deputies with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Marijuana Enforcement Team (MET) served one search warrant to investigate illegal cannabis cultivation in the Salmon Creek area. … Assisting agencies found one water diversion violation (up to $8,000 fine per day, per violation). Additional violations with civil fines are expected to be filed by the assisting agencies.

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: California and feds still plan to drain reservoirs & kill salmon

Updated water supply allocations announced last week would still drain upstream reservoirs in order to deliver 4.5 million acre feet of water to the contractors of the federal Central Valley Project (CVP) and State Water Project (SWP), devastating fish and wildlife. This week, the fisheries biologists at the National Marine Fisheries Service projected that these planned operations are likely to result in lethal water temperatures that will kill 89% of endangered winter-run Chinook salmon below Shasta Dam this year. This mortality estimate is even worse than what was observed in 2014 and 2015, when salmon populations were devastated by warm water in their spawning grounds. 

Aquafornia news The Hill

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Biden lays groundwork for environmental regulations

In the coming weeks, officials are expected to release a new plan for reaching the goals set out under the Paris Climate Agreement and recommend changes to several national monuments. More broadly, the administration is considering steps that could include taking a harder line on climate regulations. … The Biden administration has also listed dozens of Trump-era environmental rules across several agencies that it plans to review, including rules governing air quality standards, water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Industry eyeing EPA’s hustle to control ‘forever chemicals’

Industry attorneys say they’re bracing for a wave of corporate liability and litigation as the Biden administration works swiftly to fulfill a campaign promise to control “forever chemicals.” The Environmental Protection Agency this month announced it’s working on three water-related regulations for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. It sent a fourth chemical data-collection proposal to the Office of Management and Budget, or OMB, for approval. … One of the the four regulations the EPA announced would provide a needed, national drinking water limit for two PFAS…

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Report provides guidance on repurposing California farmland to benefit water, landowners, communities and wildlife

Over the coming decades, California’s San Joaquin Valley will transition to sustainable groundwater management under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), ensuring reliable groundwater supplies for generations to come. Sustainable groundwater management and a changing climate will inevitably affect how land is used on a sweeping scale. By some estimates, the amount of farmland that will have to be taken out of production to balance groundwater demand and supply is equivalent to the size of Yosemite National Park — a transition that could serve a huge blow to the agricultural economy, rural communities and the environment. 

Aquafornia news O’Melveny

Blog: California Court of Appeal upholds subordination of dormant groundwater rights

Last week, the Court of Appeal for the Fifth Appellate District of California issued a long-awaited decision in the Antelope Valley Groundwater Cases, resolving a dispute more than two decades in the making. The case adjudicated groundwater rights in the Antelope Valley Adjudication Area (AVAA) in northern Los Angeles County and southeast Kern County. The adjudication, which commenced in 1999, involved private water suppliers, public agencies, the federal government, and overlying landowners who pump water for agricultural, industrial, commercial, and domestic uses. Although currently unpublished, the court’s opinion illustrates several important developments in California groundwater law.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Monday Top of the Scroll: California weighs changes for new water rights permits in response to a warmer and drier climate

As California’s seasons become warmer and drier, state officials are pondering whether the water rights permitting system needs revising to better reflect the reality of climate change’s effect on the timing and volume of the state’s water supply. A report by the State Water Resources Control Board recommends that new water rights permits be tailored to California’s increasingly volatile hydrology and be adaptable enough to ensure water exists to meet an applicant’s demand.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Gualala River logging project clears hurdle in state court as federal case ramps up

A legal battle over plans to log in the lower Gualala River flood plain is heading into a fifth year, despite a recent victory in state appeals court by Gualala Redwood Timber and Cal Fire which first approved the project back in 2016. The fight over the 342-acre timber project in the northwest corner of Sonoma County adjacent Gualala Point Regional Park is now shifting to a new case gearing up in federal court. … Friends of the Gualala River, a 30-year-old grassroots nonprofit organization supported by like-minded groups around the region, is seeking to block the harvest, which is targeting stands of second-growth forest including some century-old redwoods.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Pandemic wipes create sewer-clogging fatbergs

Even before the pandemic, Americans were already flushing far too many wipes into the sewer system. After a year of staying at home, the pipe-clogging problem has gotten worse. … Sewer backups are up 50%… Last year, Washington became the first state to pass legislation requiring manufacturers to label their products with “do not flush” disclaimers, and states including California have also introduced bills that would mandate similar labels.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

St. Helena set to impose penalties for exceeding water rations

The city is getting ready to impose new penalties for water customers who exceed their rations during St. Helena’s Phase II water emergency. On Tuesday the City Council told staff to bring the recommended penalties back for adoption at the April 13 council meeting. The new penalties would take effect May 1. Meanwhile, city officials will develop clear conservation targets and look at adjusting the city’s water management policies, including how water allocations are calculated.

Aquafornia news My Mother Lode

Vandals hit local water authority’s supply system

Vandals caused thousands of dollars in damage to a Calaveras County water authority’s supply system and now the public’s help is being sought to catch the suspects. The crime occurred sometime during the weekend of Saturday, March 6th at the Utica Water and Power Authority’s (Utica) public water supply system east of Forest Meadows near the end of Pennsylvania Gulch Road in the Murphys area. Authority officials note that this is the only water supply for more than 10,000 residential, commercial and agricultural customers between Murphys and Angels Camp. 

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

News release: ACWA-Sponsored SB 323 passes Committee hearing

ACWA-sponsored SB 323 (Caballero) passed out of the Senate Government and Finance Committee on March 25, following a hearing in which ACWA staff and members testified in support….The bill would improve financial stability for public agencies by creating a 120-day statute of limitations for legal challenges to water and sewer service rates. It comes as water and wastewater agencies have faced increased litigation from ratepayers over whether agency rates comply with Proposition 218 and other existing laws.

Aquafornia news Perkins Cole

Blog: Conviction for violation of Clean Water Act required knowing discharge “into water”

The Ninth Circuit reversed a conviction for three counts of violations under the Clean Water Act because the district court failed to instruct the jury that the defendant needed to knowingly discharge material “into water” to convict. … In the summer of 2014, Lucero executed a scheme under which he charged construction companies to dump dirt and debris on lands near the San Francisco Bay, including wetlands and a tributary subject to the Clean Water Act. Although Lucero admitted to “walking the land” where the dumping happened, the period when the dumping occurred was unusually dry due to drought. The trial court found Lucero guilty on two counts of discharges into wetlands and one count of discharge into a tributary.

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

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

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

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

Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger

Blog: Appellate decisions limiting groundwater pumping in an overdrafted basin

A California Court of Appeal recently issued two opinions affirming a physical solution limiting the right to pump groundwater by a landowner who has never pumped from the groundwater basin or who has not established the amount or reasonableness of pumping. A landowner filed the underlying lawsuit in 1999 to quiet title to its claimed superior groundwater rights in a groundwater basin that had been in a state of overdraft for decades. The lawsuit became a comprehensive groundwater adjudication involving approximately 70,000 landowners in the Antelope Valley area of California, including two separate classes and the United States.

Aquafornia news Arizona PBS

Tribal leaders ask for more funding, less meddling for water projects

Arizona tribal officials told a Senate committee Wednesday that the federal government can help address a crisis with water infrastructure on their lands through more funding, and less meddling. Navajo Department of Water Resources Director Jason John and Colorado River Indian Tribes Chairwoman Amelia Flores made the comments during a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on water infrastructure for Native communities. Leaders of Oregon and Alaska tribes also testified at the hearing. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: California’s complex water rights system explained at water 101 workshop

From the very first gold miners making claims to divert streams in the Sierra Nevada foothills to the later wrangling that enabled irrigation of Central Valley farmland and drinking water to be sent to growing cities in California, water rights are an indispensable cornerstone of the state’s water supply and delivery system.

Aquafornia news The Daily Sentinel

Water outlook a concern for endangered fish

Meager anticipated snowmelt runoff is expected to mean another challenging year for maintaining even below-optimal levels of flows in the Colorado River downstream of the Palisade area for the benefit of endangered fish. … What’s referred to as the 15-Mile Reach of the river between the Palisade area and the Gunnison River confluence is of particular concern for the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program, which focuses on four endangered fish. The stretch is primarily used by two of the fish — the razorback sucker and Colorado pikeminnow. But it’s also used by a third, the bonytail. And a fourth, the humpback chub, which favors downstream stretches such as Westwater Canyon, indirectly benefits from efforts to bolster flows in the 15-Mile Reach.

Aquafornia news The Point Reyes Light

Private tests show bad water quality near park ranches

Water quality testing commissioned by two groups lobbying for the end of ranching in the Point Reyes National Seashore shows fecal contamination exceeding federal recreational standards in several waterways feeding the Pacific Ocean. In response, seashore personnel point to their nearly finalized general management amendment, which requires water quality improvements. The tests from two rainy January days included samples from and near Kehoe Lagoon, Abbotts Lagoon and Schooner Creek, and showed exceedances in levels of E. coli and Enterococcus—bacteria that serve as common indicators for fecal contamination. 

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Audit: San Diego’s effort to inspect industrial polluters is outdated, inefficient

A San Diego program that aims to keep toxic sewer water out of the Pacific Ocean suffers from outdated methods and inadequate efforts to identify and inspect the business sites of industrial polluters, a new city audit says. The 56-page audit says the program, which oversees industrial polluters served by San Diego and 12 other local sewer districts, needs to step up efforts to find polluters and modernize its inspection program. The program – the Industrial Wastewater Control Program – is also understaffed and not capable of handling the larger workload it should handle without adding more workers, the audit says.

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Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

California water officials tell communities to prepare for potential water shortages

An extra dry summer with potential for water shortages – that’s what state and federal officials are telling Californians to prepare for. Predictions for 2021 are bleak. Lake levels are low and the Sacramento region is not getting the spring showers many hoped for. According to the US drought monitor, most of the Central Valley is experiencing severe to extreme drought conditions. This week the Department of Water Resources lowered its expected forecast of water deliveries made to cities and farms by half. But any conservation restrictions would be up to local authorities.

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Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Water law alert – Groundwater well permitting, Yampa River basin

As a result of increasing demand for water, exacerbated by the decades-long drought in the Colorado River system, the Colorado State Engineer is considering a proposal that would impose stricter limitations on the permitting of new groundwater wells in the Yampa River Basin upstream of where the Yampa River meets the Little Snake River.  The Yampa River flows west from its headwaters near Steamboat Springs, in northwest Colorado.  After it is joined by the Little Snake River, it flows to meet the Green River near the Colorado-Utah state line.  From there, the Green River flows south as a major tributary of the Colorado River.

Aquafornia news Fox 13 Salt Lake City

Romney and the looming Colorado River clash

One of the most critical negotiations for Utah’s future is coming at a time when Utah’s delegations in Washington D.C. may be less influential than every other party at the table. The Colorado River Compact, hammered out in 1922 with few amendments over the years, expires in 2026. Every other state in the compact other than Utah has a majority Democratic or split delegation in Washington. Those states? Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California. 

Aquafornia news Environmental Working Group

News release: California to list notorious ‘forever chemical’ as a cause of cancer in people

The top state scientific agency charged with protecting Californians from toxic chemicals has proposed adding the “forever chemical” PFOA to the list of substances known to the state to cause cancer in humans under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, otherwise known as Proposition 65. The California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health and Hazard Assessment, or OEHHA, said March 19 that PFOA “meets the criteria for listing as known to the state to cause cancer under Proposition 65,” based on the findings of a National Toxicology Program report last year. 

Aquafornia news Stanford

News release: Stanford researchers explore how shifts in federal approaches can turn the tide of destructive wildfires

It wipes out entire communities in a matter of moments, weakens our lungs and even taints our drinking water, yet federal strategy to combat wildfires remains outdated and largely ineffective. The Biden Administration has an opportunity to rewrite the playbook on combatting wildfires, according to Stanford University science and policy experts whose research on a range of related issues points toward bipartisan solutions.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

‘Hasty’ California oil and gas lease sale draws suit against BLM

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management decided to sell oil and gas leases on public land in California for the first time in nearly a decade without taking a hard look at the environmental and public health impacts, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in a federal court in the state. The agency’s “hasty” environmental review ignored comments from experts and failed to consider evidence showing fracking could pollute already scarce groundwater resources, environmental groups say in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California filing. The decision violated the National Environmental Policy Act …

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Aquafornia news BBC News

Erin Brockovich: California water battle ‘woke me up’ 

The name Erin Brockovich has become synonymous with those who investigate and hold corporations to account for polluting people’s water. Actor Julia Robert’s sassy film portrayal of the single mum’s key role in winning the largest settlement ever awarded at the time for a direct-action lawsuit against Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), made her a household name. … Despite the win, there was no Hollywood ending for the community … Even with on-going clean-up efforts, hexavalent chromium (also known as chromium-6, a chemical that has been shown to cause lung cancer when inhaled by humans) still haunts the plaintiffs, as the plume continued to spread.

Aquafornia news Public News Service

Poll: CA Latinos overwhelmingly support conservation measures

A new poll shows Latino voters in California are even more supportive than the general population of policies that protect public lands and combat climate change. The new survey finds an overwhelming majority of Latino voters, 85%, support President Joe Biden’s new goal of protecting 30% of the country’s lands and waters by the year 2030. … The poll also found 83% of Latinos surveyed support dedicating funding to address air and water pollution in lower-income parts of California, compared to 72% of all voters.

Aquafornia news U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

News release: US Forest Service closes 77 pollution-causing cesspools

Under an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the USDA Forest Service closed 77 large-capacity cesspools (LCCs) it operated in Arizona and California. The Forest Service met the deadlines set forth in the agreement and closed the cesspools, which can be sources of harmful water pollution, in 11 national forests across the two states. … Cesspools collect and release untreated raw sewage into the ground, where disease-causing pathogens and harmful chemicals can contaminate groundwater and surface waters that are sources of drinking water. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: California needs to repeat history by passing new clean water laws

The Porter-Cologne Water Quality Act, California’s state clean water law, passed in 1969 and became the model for the 1972 federal Clean Water Act. Nearly half a century after passage of the landmark federal law, it is time for both the state and the nation to assess progress and chart a new course. Once again, California is leading the way with Assembly Bill 377, a new bill introduced by Assemblyman Robert Rivas (D-Hollister). Although new legislation is needed, the existing federal and California clean water acts have produced successes that should be celebrated.
-Written by Terry Tamminen, president of 7th Generation Advisors and founder of Santa Monica Baykeeper. 

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

Blog: ACWA weighs in on state water affordability legislation

ACWA and its member agencies care greatly about water affordability and recognize the centrality of this issue during these uniquely challenging times. ACWA is advocating in Washington, D.C. (already with some success) and in Sacramento for federal and state funding to help public water systems and treatment works cover customer arrearages accrued during the pandemic. This funding is needed quickly — through immediate action — as opposed to through the legislative process for long-term policy bills.

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Aquafornia news Capital and Main

PFAS water lawsuits expose financial impacts on state’s poor communities

Santa Clarita, a comfortable exurb of some 213,000 residents about 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles, is one of hundreds of California communities and districts grappling with the pricey problem of drinking water that’s been tainted by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), chemicals that have been linked to cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility and increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease. Last year the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency (SCV Water) joined a multidistrict lawsuit filed in South Carolina that goes after chemical manufacturers and makers of PFAS-laden aqueous firefighting foam.

Aquafornia news Desert Sun and ProPublica

California oil regulator CalGEM struggles with enforcement, fines

Tucked out of sight, oil wells run thousands of feet deep, tapping thick crude from one of California’s many urban oil fields. And in the fall of 2019, investigators with the state’s oil agency flagged trouble. Nasco Petroleum was injecting huge amounts of water into well bores above the legal pressure limits, aiming to push more crude out of the aging downtown field. … The wells, investigators wrote in a report to a manager, posed “immediate” risks to drinking water aquifers.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California green group trying to make Big Plastic pay for scourge of pollution

Earth Island Institute, a Berkeley, Calif.-based environmental nonprofit, sued a collection of the world’s largest food, beverage and consumer goods companies, saying their use of millions of tons of plastic packaging has resulted in polluted oceans, waterways and beaches. … Another novel element of the case is that the Earth Island Institute is claiming the 10 companies in question are also harming the institute specifically by allowing plastics to proliferate in the oceans off of California, causing the nonprofit to expend enormous sums to effect beach clean-ups and other related projects. 

Aquafornia news Press Telegram

Bill to create a Southern LA County water watchdog puts agencies on edge

A proposal to create a watchdog for South Los Angeles County’s dozens of disjointed and struggling water systems has stirred fear among public agencies and companies further down the pipeline that they could be the target of hostile takeovers. AB 1195, introduced by Assemblywoman Christina Garcia, would establish the Southern Los Angeles County Regional Water Agency and grant it authority to assist failing water systems with aging infrastructure, or to take control if a system is no longer able to provide affordable, clean drinking water.

Aquafornia news High Country News

The Biden administration’s critical role in Indian Country

Tribal leaders see President Joe Biden’s administration as an opportunity to increase tribal consultation regarding issues like water management, oil and gas leasing, and land conservation. Here, we look at four major projects … that the new administration is tasked with advancing…. Negotiations among federal, tribal and state governments on water flows and allocations in the Colorado River Basin began last year and are set to conclude by 2026…. After years of political, social and regulatory barriers, the undamming of the Klamath River is within sight…. 

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Aquafornia news Law360

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California appeals court limits groundwater pumping rights

California landowners who haven’t been continuously pumping from a depleted groundwater basin have lower priority rights compared with entities that have continually pumped in recent decades, a California state appeals court has said in a first-of-its-kind ruling. 

Aquafornia news Mondaq

Blog: Regan rejoins EPA: A “who’s who” guide to the key officials who will shape the agency

The bipartisan confirmation of Michael Regan as Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) elevates a public servant with a wealth of federal, state and nonprofit experience. … This will require Regan to rely on his expertise in air quality and climate issues—and the cleanup agreements he brokered at NCDEQ—as he oversees increased regulation of traditional energy sources and businesses whose operations result in air, land and water pollution.

Aquafornia news AgNet West

Understanding the California water futures market

California has recently established a water futures market that has brought with it some criticism as well as confusion. As the first of its kind in the country, it will function similarly to futures markets for other commodities. The market will allow water users to lock in a particular price they are willing to pay for water. This new futures market is entirely different from water markets that allow the purchasing of water allocations.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Lathrop closer to being able to discharge treated water into SJ River

The city of Lathrop’s longstanding goal of discharging highly-treated wastewater into the San Joaquin River could clear a major hurdle tonight. Based on the current plan the wastewater would be mainly discharged directly into the river during winter months when irrigation demands are low and river flow is high and reduced in the summer months when irrigation demands along the river are at their peak.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California may regulate ‘forever’ chemicals in water before EPA

California water suppliers could face state limits on the concentration of two so-called “forever chemicals” before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets national standards. Maximum contaminant levels for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) are on track to be in place in California in 2023 … The EPA announced in February that it planned to regulate both chemicals and order nationwide sampling for those and 27 similar compounds between 2023 and 2025. 

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Opinion: Dry year intensifies focus on California groundwater

Groundwater aquifers are best understood and managed locally; therefore, the key to successfully implementing SGMA lies in maintaining local control, something Farm Bureau vigorously advocates. In addition, we have stressed that to reduce dependence on groundwater, we must expand surface water storage and recharge our groundwater aquifers when excess water is available….Unless March somehow makes up for the lack of rain and snow thus far this winter, we could see an increased dependence on groundwater this growing season.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Feds may look at spring-run chinook salmon as genetically distinct

The National Marine Fisheries Service is considering whether the spring-run and fall-run Chinook salmon that occupy the rivers of Northern California and southern Oregon are genetically distinct.  The decision … would almost certainly result in a listing under the Endangered Species Act if seen as a separate species. … [T]he dams and reservoirs that have been installed at various points throughout the rivers of the West Coast create problems for spring-run Chinook that are unique and separate from their closely related cousins. It also allows the fall-run species to outcompete the spring run since they both are able to reach the same spots in the river to reproduce. 

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Aquafornia news Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board

News release: 100,000 Central Valley residents impacted by contaminated drinking water will soon see interim solutions

An estimated 100,000 Central Valley residents impacted by nitrate groundwater contamination will soon be supplied with safe drinking water on a temporary basis while more permanent solutions are developed. These solutions in the form of bottled water deliveries or bottle-filling kiosks are outlined in Early Action Plans submitted to the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board for six geographic zones deemed to have the most serious groundwater contamination issues. 

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Finding a balance between supply and demand to get to groundwater sustainability

The San Joaquin Valley has begun to grapple with implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Figuring out the math of balancing water supply and demand in ways that cause the least economic harm to farmers and local economies is challenging, and difficult tradeoffs are inevitable. We talked with Emmy Cattani, a fifth-generation farmer from Kern County, about some options.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: As drought alarms sound, is California prepared?

We’re facing another very dry year, which follows one of the driest on record for Northern California and one of the hottest on record statewide. The 2012-16 drought caused unprecedented stress to California’s ecosystems and pushed many native species to the brink of extinction, disrupting water management throughout the state.  Are we ready to manage our freshwater ecosystems through another drought?
-Written by Jeffrey Mount, senior fellow, and Caitrin Chappelle, associate director, at the Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Center.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles is home to heavy industry — and more federal deals not to prosecute polluters than anywhere else

Companies in these [pollution] cases weren’t required to plead guilty; they weren’t convicted of any crimes, according to the agreements. Instead, the government agreed to forego prosecution for a certain time period or drop the case altogether if the companies paid hefty fines and promised to clean up the environmental damage they had inflicted. … One concerned a waste hauler, Asbury Environmental Services, accused of discharging marine diesel oil into a storm drain that led to the Los Angeles River. In 2020, 10 years after that incident, prosecutors wrapped up the case with a nonprosecution deal.

Aquafornia news Long Beach Post

Judge denies attempt to block approval of Los Cerritos wetlands land swap for oil wells

A Los Angeles Superior Court Judge ruled that the California Coastal Commission did not abuse its power when it approved a land-swap deal in 2018 that will allow for the rehabilitation of 150 acres of wetlands, but also the development of up to 120 new oil wells. In a 22-page tentative ruling, Judge Mary Strobel denied a request to stop the project in the Los Cerritos wetlands in the southeastern part of the city. Strobel’s ruling said that the commission did not misinterpret the Coastal Act in approving the deal, and the public benefits of the project were correctly weighed before voting to approve the deal.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Judge rules against LADWP in irrigation fight

A judge has ordered the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to continue providing historic quantities of irrigation water to lessees of its pasturelands east of Yosemite, despite the agency’s assertion that climate change is making water resources in the Sierra Nevada watershed increasingly unreliable.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Monday Top of the Scroll: Premature or precautionary? California is first to tackle microplastics in drinking water

California is poised to issue the world’s first guidelines for microplastics in drinking water despite no data on how plentiful they are in the state, no scientific agreement on how to test water for them and little research on their health risks.  The pieces of plastic — smaller than an ant, some so tiny they can be seen only with a microscope — have contaminated wildlife and human bodies through their food, air and water. … Now the state Water Resources Control Board is blazing a trail to issue a preliminary health-based threshold and testing methods by July 1.

Aquafornia news Downey Brand LLP

Blog: State Water Board issues notification and response levels for PFBs in drinking water; DTSC to finalize carpets and rugs with PFAS “priority products” in 2021

There has been no shortage of recent regulatory developments concerning per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in California, which are especially relevant to drinking water systems and the consumer product community. On March 5, 2021, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board), Division of Drinking Water (DDW), issued a notification level of 0.5 parts per billion (ppb), and a response level of 5 ppb, for perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS) in drinking water.  PFBS is a type of PFAS compound that is commonly used as a replacement compound for perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS).  

Aquafornia news Herald and News

OWRD will continue to enforce Klamath Tribes’ water calls

Despite a February court opinion that vacated the quantified water rights of the Klamath Tribes, the Oregon Water Resources Department announced Friday that they will continue to enforce the Tribes’ water calls until a judge orders otherwise. The Klamath Tribes maintain senior water rights in the Klamath Basin, which were affirmed by the Klamath County Circuit Court last month, but Judge Cameron Wogan wrote in his proposed order that those rights need to be re-quantified.

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Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Opinion: The time has come for California to ban front yard lawns for new homes

The climate change cabal in Sacramento is ignoring some extremely low hanging fruit in their bid to protect us from ourselves. The reason they don’t see it is simple. It doesn’t involve raising taxes, rewarding corporations or disruptor greenies they align with, nor does it destroy jobs. The California Legislature needs to ban grass lawns for front yards as well as general commercial development for all new building projects.
-Written by Dennis Wyatt, editor of the Manteca Bulletin.​

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Celebrating National Groundwater Awareness Week in the Sacramento Valley

As we celebrate National Groundwater Awareness Week, the Northern California Water Association (NCWA) convened its groundwater management task force this week to help coordinate the various Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) in the Sacramento Valley and to advance groundwater sustainability throughout the region. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Groundwater session added to April 22-23 virtual Water 101 workshop

Learn from top water experts at our annual Water 101 Workshop about the history, hydrology and law behind California water as well as hot topics such as water equity, the Delta and flows, new federal administration and more. This year’s workshop, set for April 22-23, will be held virtually and feature a presentation devoted solely to groundwater.

Aquafornia news Pacific Sun

Fecal bacteria poisons Point Reyes beaches

In a January test of the water in Abbotts Lagoon [at Point Reyes National Seashore] …, the number of E. Coli cells found in water samples was twenty times the safe amount. At Kehoe Lagoon, the safety margin was exceeded by a factor of 40. It gets worse for E. Coli’s nasty bacterial cousin known as Enterococcus. It can devour your heart, stomach, brain, and spinal cord. This monster thrives in raw sewage and intestines. Kehoe Lagoon seethes with 300 times the acceptable amount of this voracious creature. … Gee, you’d think the Park Service would put up a few warning signs. But, no, there are zero signs cautioning those who touch these waters that a drop can wound and kill. 

Aquafornia news Pasadena Star News

Opinion: Racial justice requires equitable access to reliable drinking water

Vice President Kamala Harris was right on point last year when she said that clean water is a fundamental human right. President Biden has put those words into action by signing an executive order establishing a White House council on environmental justice. Every Californian has a right to clean, reliable affordable drinking water.
-Written by Jose Barrera, California’s state deputy director for the League of United Latin American Citizens. 

Aquafornia news Law 360

Californian’s bid to stop water district tax can’t proceed

A California man’s bid to invalidate a water district’s property tax was dismissed because the challenge was not filed within 60 days of the tax’s adoption, a state appeals court ruled…

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Editorial: Newsom should kill plan to drain state reservoirs

On the tail end of the second dry winter in a row, with water almost certain to be in short supply this summer, California water officials are apparently planning to largely drain the equivalent of the state’s two largest reservoirs to satisfy the thirst of water-wasting farmers. Gov. Gavin Newsom must stop this irresponsible plan, which threatens the environmental health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the water supply for about one-third of the Bay Area residents. We should be saving water, not wasting it. 

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: California proposes to transition away from toxic pesticides

California’s Governor broke new ground this year when he committed to “transition away from harmful pesticides.” His budget proposal to update fees charged on pesticide sales would generate new funding that could be used to offer better protections for farm workers, agricultural communities, and vulnerable ecosystems, as well as help farmers adopt more sustainable practices. … Pesticides remain a widespread drinking water contaminant, particularly in rural areas, and exposure to these pesticides has been linked to increased vulnerability to COVID-19.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Some California water well permits require environmental review

Proposed water wells in California don’t all require environmental review under state and local permit laws, but state standards governing well location will sometimes require local governments to make discretionary decisions, triggering such a look, a state appellate court said. The California Environmental Quality Act requires discretionary decisions—those that require an agency to exercise judgment in deciding whether to approve a project—to undergo an environmental review. 

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Research brief: New laws reduce barriers to water markets

Water access in the western United States is controlled by property rights to use water. In most of the region’s watersheds, all of the water supply is legally claimed or is projected to be by 2030. In such locations, new water demands can frequently only be met through reallocation of existing water rights. For decades, water markets have helped the western U.S. voluntarily adapt water rights to new demands and changing supplies, providing water for growing cities, freshwater ecosystems and new farms and industries. However, many have questioned whether western U.S. water law provides sufficient flexibility to adapt to unprecedented water demand and a changing climate.

Aquafornia news HortiDaily

Blog: Will California remain leader in U.S. agricultural production?

[A] new 18-chapter book, written by agricultural economists at UC Davis, UC Berkeley and UC Riverside, addresses issues such as labor, water, climate and trade that affect all of California agriculture. … Water, climate and trade pose challenges and opportunities for California agriculture. In the last decade, water scarcity and decreased water quality, along with regulations to address these issues like the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, have prompted farmers to use scarce water to irrigate more valuable crops, as with the switch from cotton to almonds. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: How ‘cutting green tape’ can make California more resilient

California is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots – home to more unique species of plants and animals than any other state in the U.S. This biodiversity makes up the beautiful land and seascapes of the world’s fifth-largest economy and sustains our health, cultures and quality of life.  Yet it is disappearing at alarming rates. … Environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act are designed to protect the environment from damage. What these laws are not designed to do is provide a pathway for restoring nature damaged, for instance, by development projects.
-Written by Ashley Boren, the CEO of Sustainable Conservation, a San Francisco- and Modesto-based nonprofit. 

Aquafornia news Downey Brand LLP

Blog: Judge finds that Water Boards have authority to regulate discharges of dredge and fill material as waste under Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act

On February 18, 2021, the First Appellate District issued an opinion in Sweeney et al. v. California Regional Water Quality Control Bd., San Francisco Bay Region et al. (Case No. A153583) (“Sweeney”).  The opinion is much anticipated given its relevance to the continued validity of the State Water Resources Control Board’s recently adopted State Procedures for Discharges of Dredged and Fill Material (“Procedures”).  The Appellate Court reversed the lower court in the entirety, substantially deferring to the actions and prosecutorial discretion of the State Water Resources Control Board (“State Water Board”) and San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (“Regional Water Board”, collectively, “Water Boards”) based on application of a revised standard of review. 

Aquafornia news California Attorney General's Office

News release: Attorney General Becerra challenges weakening of crucial requirements that protect public from lead in drinking water

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Monday joined a lawsuit challenging a Trump-era rule revising nationwide standards for controlling and remediating lead in drinking water. While the final rule includes certain necessary updates to the existing standard, these changes are overshadowed by the unlawful weakening of critical requirements and the rule’s failure to protect the public from lead in drinking water to the maximum extent feasible, as required by law. 

Aquafornia news Wild Rivers Outpost

Blog: Skeptical about Klamath River dam removal, harbor district, Del Norte County seek protection against potential damages

Though the nonprofit tasked with Klamath River dam removal is about to submit its definite plan to federal regulators, Del Norte County and the Crescent City Harbor District are still worried about potential negative impacts. Harbor commissioners on Thursday agreed to sign onto a memorandum of understanding that includes the county and the Klamath River Renewal Corporation. The MOU contains conditions that ensures the harbor and county can recover potential damages to the port and the fishing industry that occur as a result of dam removal and reservoir drawdown on the Klamath River.

Aquafornia news The Santa Barbara Independent

Water security vs. water marketing: Should state water supplies be sold outside the county?

It’s not long ago that Lake Cachuma, the main water source on the South Coast, was in danger of going dry in a seven-year drought. Water agencies from Carpinteria to Goleta spent millions of dollars scrambling to buy surplus state aqueduct water from around the state to avert a local shortage. They did so not only because their groundwater levels were plunging and Cachuma was failing, but because their yearly allocations from the aqueduct had dropped to zero. Yet on Tuesday, the water managers serving Santa Maria, Buellton, Guadalupe, Santa Barbara, Goleta, Montecito and the Santa Ynez and Carpinteria valleys will ask the County Board of Supervisors to grant them the right to sell their state water allocations outside the county — not permanently, but potentially for years at a stretch.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

California Democrats seek to add 535,000 acres of wilderness in state

Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino counties could play host to part of the largest new designation of federal wilderness in a decade if Democratic sponsors of the land-protection package can find a way through the divided U.S. Senate. A bill sponsored by Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, would designate 257,797 of new acres of wilderness in Northern California while placing 480 miles of river in the region under the nation’s strictest environmental protections for waterways. 

Aquafornia news Center for Biological Diversity

News release: Lawsuit launched to protect imperiled California fish

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent today to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking Endangered Species Act protection for the Clear Lake hitch, a large minnow found only in Northern California’s Clear Lake and its tributaries. The Trump administration denied the fish protection in a December 2020 determination.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

California must face water quality challenge in federal court

The Department of Justice can proceed with its claims that California violated state law when it changed its water quality control plan for the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta system in federal court, the Ninth Circuit ruled. Granting a partial stay of the state law claims in federal court is allowed in limited circumstances, but the federal government’s actions here don’t amount to the type of forum shopping that justifies a stay, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 

Aquafornia news Sierra Club Angeles Chapter

Blog: California’s new futures market for water

On December 7, 2020, financial futures based on California water prices began trading. This post is a short introduction to these water futures. First, what’s a future? A future is a type of contract. It obligates the seller, who receives money, to provide some good at some future date, to the buyer, who pays money now to lock in the right to buy that good at that price. Humans have been using futures for thousands of years, primarily for agricultural products. But in recent years the futures markets have been expanding. 

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Aquafornia news Office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein

News release: Feinstein to chair Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released the following statement on being named chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. This subcommittee has jurisdiction over funding levels for the Department of Energy, the Army Corp of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation and other federal agencies related to our nation’s energy and water infrastructure programs.

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

News Release: MAGSA awarded $10 million grant to expand On-Farm Recharge Project

The McMullin Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency (MAGSA), a Groundwater Sustainability Agency in the Central Valley’s Kings Subbasin, has been awarded a $10 million grant by the State Water Resources Control Board through the Prop 1 Stormwater Grant Program to expand the existing McMullin On-Farm Recharge (OFR) Project located near Helm in Fresno County.  The Project is identified in MAGSA’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan and is a key element in a vision developed by MAGSA to achieve groundwater sustainability under California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) through innovative approaches in groundwater banking and crediting.

Aquafornia news San Mateo Daily Journal

Officials call for Redwood City’s salt pond protections

Bay Area political leaders and organizations have come together to encourage the new Biden administration to protect Redwood City’s salt ponds from future development by withdrawing a Trump era appeal of a federal district court ruling deeming the wetlands federally protected.

Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News release: Expert panel – food grown with produced water safe for human consumption

An expert panel has concluded that the decades-old practice of irrigating agricultural food crops with “produced water” from oil fields shows no evidence of increased risk to human health. The panel’s 35-page Food Safety Project White Paper is the result of five years of extensive crop sampling and a thorough evaluation of data, along with a review of existing literature…. The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board is inviting members of the pubic to comment on the white paper at its next meeting on Feb. 18-19, along with an option to submit written comments until March 5.

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Ag Council president reflects on drinking water collaboration

Emily Rooney, president of the Agricultural Council of California, is a member of the advisory group for California’s Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) drinking water program. She spoke with Agri-Pulse about an unexpected coalition that helped bring about the 2019 law and why the issue is important to agriculture.

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Aquafornia news Sterling Journal-Advocate

Colorado work group eyes new tools to stop water profiteering

Imposing hefty taxes on speculative water sales, requiring that water rights purchased by investors be held for several years before they can be resold, and requiring special state approval of such sales are three ideas that might help Colorado protect its water resources from speculators. The ideas were discussed Wednesday at a meeting of a special work group looking at whether Colorado needs to strengthen laws preventing Wall Street investment firms and others from selling water for profit in ways that don’t benefit the state’s farms, cities and streams. 

Aquafornia news UCLA

News release: Drought restrictions had side benefit: Lowering risk of mosquito-borne disease

Shallow pools of water on lawns are ideal breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus, the most common mosquito-borne disease in the United States. A new study by scientists from UCLA and three other universities found that reducing shallow pools of water where the insects lay their eggs is key to preventing the spread of the virus. The study … found that California’s water-use restrictions during the statewide drought from 2012 to 2016 led to a decrease in the number of mosquitoes that carry the virus.

Aquafornia news CapRadio.org

California now has a futures market for water. Some farmers are skeptical

Investors, farmers, and Reddit users can now all hedge bets on the price of water in California thanks to the launch of the first water futures market in the country late last year. It represents a new financial outlook on water in California — one driven by the market. Since its launch Dec. 7, the futures the market has seen 180 trades — equivalent to over 550 million gallons of actual water. But the water futures market has nothing to do with the movement of real water: it’s just about money.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee / The Guardian

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Trump’s California water plan troubled federal biologists. They were sidelined

Federal scientists and regulators repeatedly complained they were sidelined by Donald Trump’s administration when they warned of risks to wildlife posed by a California water management plan, according to newly unveiled documents.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

EPA water pollution permit limits challenged by San Francisco

San Francisco is challenging the EPA over conditions imposed in a permit that allows the city to send discharge from its combined sewer system into the Pacific Ocean, according to a petition for review in the Ninth Circuit. 

Aquafornia news Ag Information Network of the West

Understanding the water consumption of treenut orchards

Tools such a SWIIM–which stands for Sustainable Water and Innovative Irrigation Management–provides a new standard in water measurement that allows growers to receive an accurate accounting of the water both delivered and consumed by their orchards. … And, of course we are talking about SGMA, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

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Aquafornia news Lexology

Blog: Regulatory changes on the horizon for California State Water Resources Control Board

On December 17, 2020, the Sacramento County Superior Court issued a ruling limiting the ability of the California State Water Resources Control Board (“State Board”) to implement its adopted statewide wetlands and Waters of the State (“WOTS”) regulations. 

Aquafornia news Save the Redwoods League

News release: Save the Redwoods League protects nearly 15,000 acres in Mendocino County

Save the Redwoods League today announced the successful protection of Mailliard Ranch, a 14,838-acre property in southern Mendocino County and the largest coast redwood forest left in private family hands. The $24.7 million project secures three conservation easements across the entire property, which safeguard the land from subdivision and development, regardless of future ownership. In addition to protecting sustainable working forests across nearly 14,000 acres, the easement protects nearly 1,000 acres of reserves, including old-growth coast redwoods, mature mixed-conifer forest and salmon-bearing streams. 

Aquafornia news National Law Review

California wineries must comply with new waste water discharge order

On January 20, 2021, the California State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) adopted a new statewide general Waste Discharge Requirement (WDR) order for winery process waste discharge facilities (New Winery Order). This action will affect thousands of wineries and wine processing facilities throughout the state.

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Aquafornia news East Bay Times

Environmental groups file appeal to stop 469-home development near Newark wetlands

Environmentalist groups aiming to stop a major controversial housing development at the edge of Newark’s wetlands are appealing an Alameda County court decision that would allow the project to go forward, marking the latest volley in a decades-long fight over the best use for the land. The Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge and the Center for Biological Diversity … said the development “would contribute to the loss of Bay wetlands and wildlife habitat,” such as the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse, and could worsen flooding in nearby areas.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

States clash with Pentagon on PFAS water limits, polluted sites

Six states with drinking water standards for so-called “forever chemicals” are now wrestling with what those limits mean when water contamination from Department of Defense sites seep into their communities. Members of Congress from both parties are starting to vent their frustration at military foot-dragging even as the states take different paths to address the contamination. 

Aquafornia news E&E News

Interior: Tribes expect a voice on land and waters under Haaland

With Democratic New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland poised to become the first Native American Interior secretary, tribal governments historically marginalized by the agency expect not only a greater respect for their autonomy, but also a more significant role in the nation’s land and water management decisions.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation's Western Water

Monday Top of the Scroll: In the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, two groundwater sustainability agencies try to find their balance

Across a sprawling corner of southern Tulare County snug against the Sierra Nevada, a bounty of navel oranges, grapes, pistachios, hay and other crops sprout from the loam and clay of the San Joaquin Valley. Groundwater helps keep these orchards, vineyards and fields vibrant and supports a multibillion-dollar agricultural economy across the valley. But that bounty has come at a price. Overpumping of groundwater has depleted aquifers, dried up household wells and degraded ecosystems. The land is literally sinking…

Western Water By Gary Pitzer

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

The Resource

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

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News Release: Reclamation releases water reliability in the West report

The Bureau of Reclamation released a summary report providing an assessment of climate change impacts to water uses in the West, including adding a new set of West-wide information based on paleohydrology. The Water Reliability in the West – 2021 SECURE Water Act Report discusses changes and innovative actions across the eight basins identified in the SECURE Water Act.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

One-third of US rivers have changed color in recent decades, research finds

Rivers may seem like immutable features of the landscape but they are in fact changing color over time …The overall significance of the changes are unclear and could reflect various ways in which humans are impacting the environment, said lead author John Gardner, an assistant professor of geology and environmental science at the University of Pittsburgh. One stark example from the study of rapid color change is Lake Mead along the Colorado River.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Foundation resources help you understand groundwater’s vital role in California
Special report on groundwater coming soon

To help you learn more about the importance of groundwater, the Water Education Foundation has an array of educational materials on this vital resource. And next week, the Foundation’s online magazine, Western Water news, will publish a special report examining how two local groundwater agencies are taking different approaches to achieve sustainability in the San Joaquin Valley, one of the most critically overdrafted regions in the state.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Friday Top of the Scroll: California water operations among Biden agency review plans

California’s tussle with federal authorities over water operations will get a second look under the new administration of President Joe Biden. The 46th president plans to sign a number of executive orders, including one that instructs agency heads to review actions taken under President Donald Trump that “were harmful to public health, damaging to the environment, unsupported by the best available science, or otherwise not in the national interest.” On the list for both the departments of Commerce and Interior is a review of new biological opinions adopted in 2019 governing water delivery in California. 

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Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn | Attorneys at Law

Blog: Sacramento Superior Court rejects State Water Board’s attempt to apply Water Quality Control Plan to waters not covered by the Clean Water Act

The Sacramento County Superior Court recently issued a final decision in San Joaquin Tributaries Authority v. California State Water Resources Control Board, finding that the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) is not authorized to adopt a state-level water quality control plan for waters that are not classified as waters of the United States. As a result, the State Board is prohibited from applying the Water Quality Control Plan for Inland Surface Waters and Enclosed Bays and Estuaries of California (Inland Surface Waters WQCP) to wetlands that do not meet the federal definition of waters of the United States.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: After decades of inequity, this woman is bringing long-overlooked voices to California’s land and water decisions

Vicky Espinoza is on a mission. Vicky is passionate about making sure rural, low-income communities and small-scale farmers have a say in land-use and water-management decisions in the San Joaquin Valley. 

Aquafornia news Sierra Sun Times

California Attorney General Becerra joins multistate effort to hold polluters accountable under the clean water act

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Monday, as part of a 12-state coalition, submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) arguing that its new draft guidance misinterprets the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund… In the comment letter, the coalition argues that the EPA’s draft guidance tips the scales in favor of polluters by providing them with additional arguments to avoid regulation under the Clean Water Act, contravenes the purpose of the Act, and conflicts with the Court’s decision in County of Maui.

Aquafornia news KQED

Here’s how Newsom’s proposing to spend $4.1 billion on the climate and environment

The $227 billion budget proposed on Friday by Gov. Gavin Newsom includes $4.1 billion in spending on a suite of environmental initiatives meant to fight climate change, gird California against devastating wildfires, reduce smog, and bolster the adoption of clean vehicles on the state’s roads.

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Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

Blog: Water recommendations for the Biden administration

With so much going on in the world right now, why should water be a priority for the Biden administration? The fact is that water challenges in the U.S. are severe and worsening. In November, we hosted a webinar on our recommendations for the next administration, taking audience questions on topics ranging from the nation’s outdated infrastructure to the threat to national security from rising international conflict over water. Read on for our answers to some of these questions.

Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

Nevada environmental agency funds water projects in Tahoe

The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection announced that $1 million in Clean Water Act grant funds provided by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency will be used to complete 11 projects, including two in Lake Tahoe, to reduce “nonpoint source pollution” and improve water quality across the state.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: A wish list for water collaboration with the Biden‒Harris administration

Cooperation between California and the federal government was at a low ebb over the past four years. With a new administration in the nation’s capital, what should be top water priorities for collaboration between the state and the federal government? The PPIC Water Policy Center recently discussed this issue with a diverse group of experts.

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Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse

California’s water wars serve as a ‘bellwether’ for Colorado River negotiations

After three decades of water wars in Southern California, policy experts hope a new era in collaborative management will offer inspiration for the ongoing and complex negotiations over Colorado River allocations amid a historic and deepening drought. “Those lessons need to catapult us forward,” said Patricia Mulroy, former head of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, during the fall meeting for the Association of California Water Agencies in December. “These states, these constituencies, these communities cannot afford for these discussions to crater. Failure is not an option.”

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Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation finalizes M&I water rate-setting policy

Today, the Bureau of Reclamation announces the finalization of the Municipal and Industrial Water Rate-setting Policy for Central Valley Project water contractors. This accomplishment provides agreement between CVP contractors, Reclamation, and the Department of the Interior regarding the recovery of the CVP cost for M&I water users.

Aquafornia news Center for Biological Diversity

News release: Lawsuit launched to protect 11 species kept on waiting list by Trump administration

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal notice of its intent to sue outgoing Interior Secretary David Bernhardt for delaying protection for 11 species that have been identified as warranting endangered status but placed on a candidate list instead. The species that have been kept waiting for protection are the monarch butterfly, eastern gopher tortoise, Peñasco least chipmunk, longfin smelt, Colorado Delta clam, three Texas mussels, magnificent ramshorn snail, bracted twistflower and northern spotted owl.

Aquafornia news Vox

Why the American West is fighting for water protections

Since the Clean Water Act passed in 1972, the assumption has been that all waterways are protected from pollution… But the Trump administration has managed to successfully chip away at environmental protections in the US, including actions like 2020’s implementation of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. The rule redefined which waterways are under the jurisdiction of and protected by the Clean Water Act, omitting many wetlands and non-perennial water sources, which means some areas of the country are impacted more than others. 

Aquafornia news JD Supra

Blog: EPA muddies the water on permitting discharges to groundwater ‎and what the Biden administration will likely do about it

The EPA did issue a draft guidance memorandum relating to the County of Maui decision, notice of which was published in the Federal Register on December 10, ‎‎2020. However, instead of clarifying the seven criteria stated by the Court in County of ‎Maui or the application of those criteria, the EPA took seven and half pages to state ‎three truisms and added an additional criteria not stated in the Court’s decision ‎bringing the total number of factors to consider in determining whether a discharge to ‎ground water is the functional equivalent of a discharge to navigable waters to eight.

Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News release: Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board appoints Mike Plaziak to executive officer

Michael Raymond Plaziak, a water program expert and geologist with a wide range of experience in water issues in both the military and public sector, has been appointed executive officer of the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board. Plaziak, who has been serving as acting executive officer at the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, stepped into his new role Dec. 14. He replaces former long-time executive officer Patty Kouyoumdjian, who retired Aug. 21.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Four water stories to watch in 2021

Now that the calendar has flipped to January 2021, it’s time to say goodbye to the mess of the past year, yes? … The pandemic’s economic dislocation continues to reverberate among those who lost work. Severe weather boosted by a warming climate is leaving its mark in the watersheds of the Southwest [including the Colorado River]. And President-elect Biden will take office looking to undo much of his predecessor’s legacy of environmental deregulation while also writing his own narrative on issues of climate, infrastructure, and social justice….Litigation over toxic PFAS compounds found in rivers, lakes, and groundwater is already active. Lawsuits are likely to continue at a brisk pace…

Aquafornia news Cox Castle & Nicholson

Blog: Court rules against California’s wetlands regulatory program

The Sacramento Superior Court delivered a serious blow to California’s regulatory program for the protection of wetlands and other waters of the State. The State’s wetland protection program (commonly known as the “Procedures”), which became effective in May, was intended to create a regulatory structure to fill the gap left by recent Trump administration regulations that dramatically narrowed Federal wetland protections.  Ironically, the court’s order prohibits the State of California from applying the Procedures to any waters other than those already protected by Federal law, thus leaving in place the very regulatory gap that the Procedures were intended to fill.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Bernhardt’s ‘plan for 1,461 days’ and one remarkable year

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt started off 2020 empowering his most controversial public lands deputy, a move that a federal judge later deemed “unlawful.” He’s ending the year in quarantine, having tested positive for COVID-19. In between these bleak-sounding bookends, the 51-year-old Bernhardt rewrote how the Interior Department works. While the results get mixed reviews, and in some cases may get erased by the incoming Biden administration, 2020 was undeniably consequential for the department.

Aquafornia news AgNet West

Critical habitat definition and exclusions finalized under ESA rules

A new habitat definition has been finalized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service. The final rule dictating how a habitat is determined will be used for identifying critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The updated definition will go into effect in 2021. There had previously not been a clear and decisive definition outlining what is to be considered a habitat under the ESA.

Aquafornia news Colorado Springs Gazette

Monday Top of the Scroll: Colorado River management may change under Biden administration

The new Biden administration could take action on the Colorado River that would go well beyond the president-elect’s term in office. The week of Dec. 14, the seven states that are part of the Colorado River Compact began the first step for renegotiating guidelines that will decide how much water the three lower basin states and Mexico will get from Lake Mead, on the Arizona-Nevada border, and from Mead’s source, the Colorado River.

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Aquafornia news Office of the Attorney General

News release: Attorney General Becerra continues to challenge Trump administration’s unlawful assault on the Clean Water Act

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra joined a coalition of 15 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in support of a lawsuit by environmental organizations challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rule redefining “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.

Aquafornia news Vanguard Law Magazine

Alf W. Brandt – California State Assembly: His water world runneth over

Water—it’s an issue that can be all-consuming for a lawyer, and for much of Alf W. Brandt’s career it seemed that way. Some geo-pundits believe the next major war will be fought over water, not oil. At the very least, its use or misuse can divide even the most civil community. Which shouldn’t be the case, Brandt emphasizes while taking on a philosopher’s tone during an autumn interview with Vanguard.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: Biden picks Haaland, a Native American, to head Interior

President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Deb Haaland, the freshman representative from New Mexico, to lead the Interior Department, making history by selecting the first Native American to oversee the agency that manages millions of acres of federal land and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, according to a person familiar with the decision.

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Aquafornia news NPR

Trump loosens water efficiency rules for showerheads, washers, dryers

The U.S. Department of Energy has finalized two new rules that offer a win to President Trump in his personal crusade to roll back water efficiency standards on appliances like showerheads. Trump frequently has bemoaned what he views as insufficient water pressure with newer appliances. The new rules, announced Tuesday, loosen water regulations on showerheads and for washers and dryers. The Trump administration heralded the standards as a victory for the “quality of life” of Americans.

Aquafornia news Meeting of the Minds

Blog: Building resilience & addressing inequities in small, underperforming drinking water systems

California has many small systems compared to other states. However, California has about the same percentage of underperforming small systems with problems delivering safe water as most other states. Thus, the lessons learned from characterizing and solving the problems in California may be transferable to other regions, nationally and internationally.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

AQUAFORNIA BREAKING NEWS: Rep. Deb Haaland to be first Native American interior secretary

President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Deb Haaland, a Democratic congresswoman from New Mexico, to serve as the first Native American interior secretary in a historic pick for a department that oversees the country’s vast natural resources, including tribal lands.

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

What lurks beneath: PG&E and water board reach draft settlement over water flushed back into ocean from Diablo Canyon power plant

PG&E has agreed to pay $5.9 million to a local nonprofit as part of a tentative settlement between the company and water regulators that resolves a long-running investigation into Diablo Canyon Power Plant and its cooling system’s impact on the marine environment. The draft settlement is the result of more than 20 years of investigation and monitoring at the nuclear power plant site. 

Aquafornia news Water Tech Online

California company to pay $390k fine for Clean Water Act violations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that a California manufacturing company will pay $390,000 for violations of the Clean Water Act. Parker-Hannifin of Oxnard was found to be improperly discharging wastewater from its membrane and filter manufacturing facility into the City of Oxnard’s sewer system. As part of this settlement, Parker-Hannifin will spend approximately $510,000 on equipment upgrades at its facility.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Blog: Quest for water in the Kern River continues

The steady drumbeat of support to get more water flowing in the Kern River through Bakersfield continued Tuesday at the State Water Resources Control Board. During the public comment portion of the meeting three speakers from Bakersfield and Kern County’s political realm urged board members to finally hear — and grant — a decade-old petition by the City of Bakersfield to appropriate water on the river to run through the heart of town.

Aquafornia news Arizona Public Media

Arizona unveils draft legislation to create surface water protections

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is seeking public feedback on its draft legislation to establish a set of regulations to protect surface water statewide. The changes implemented by the Trump administration earlier this year dramatically curtailed the list of waters that fall under the Clean Water Act, excluding a vast number of streams, washes and creeks from federal pollution protection. Importantly for arid Arizona, ephemeral waters – those that only flow after rain or snow – are no longer protected.

Aquafornia news U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

News Release: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries finalize regulatory definition of habitat under Endangered Species Act

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service have finalized a regulatory definition of the term “habitat” that will be used for designating critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The definition is part of the efforts of the Trump Administration to balance effective, science-based conservation with common-sense policy designed to bring the ESA into the 21st century. 

Aquafornia news E&E News

New contenders emerge for Biden’s EPA administrator

The Washington parlor game has revved up as more candidates are in the mix to be President-elect Joe Biden’s EPA administrator. Mary Nichols, the outgoing chair of the California Air Resources Board, has been considered a top contender for Biden’s EPA administrator. She, however, has faced opposition from Republicans as well as from environmental justice groups in her state.

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Aquafornia news Coachella Valley Water District

Press Release: Estrada reappointed to California’s Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund advisory group

Cástulo Estrada, vice president of the board of directors of Coachella Valley Water District, has been reappointed to the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund Advisory Group, as announced by the State Water Resources Control Board.

Aquafornia news JD Supra

Blog: EPA’s Clean Water Act groundwater guidance says little, will likely be rescinded

EPA’s recent draft guidance memorandum on applying the Supreme Court’s decision in County of Maui v. Hawai’i Wildlife Fund provides little clarity for determining when a release to groundwater is the “functional equivalent” of a direct discharge such that it requires an NPDES permit. Instead, the guidance largely stresses how the Maui decision did not fundamentally change permitting under the Clean Water Act, while explaining how permit writers might consider system design and performance in assessing functional equivalence.

Aquafornia news The Appeal-Democrat

Yuba Water to meet with State Water Board regarding issues in lawsuit

Representatives from the Yuba Water Agency plan to meet with members of the State Water Resources Control Board to discuss certain requirements imposed by a recent water quality certification that is expected to cost the agency anywhere from $500 million to $1 billion to implement in order to continue operations along the Yuba River, which resulted in Yuba Water filing a lawsuit in both state and federal court in November.

Aquafornia news SF Gate

State water officials levy $6.4m fine against luxury resort

The company behind a luxury resort and residential project near Healdsburg is facing a $6.4 million fine over dozens of alleged water quality violations involving streams that feed into the Russian River, according to state water officials. 

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Monday Top of the Scroll: Feds defend permanent water contracts to benefit agriculture

Defending the decision to give farm irrigation districts permanent access to low-cost, federally pumped water in California, a Justice Department lawyer urged a federal judge to flush a Native American tribe’s lawsuit against the endless entitlements. The Hoopa Valley Tribe sued the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in August, claiming the Trump administration’s conversion of 14 time-limited contracts for Central Valley Project water into permanent deals violated a host of federal laws. 

Aquafornia news The Hill

EPA guidance may exempt some water polluters from Supreme Court permit mandate

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday released a draft guidance that interprets a Supreme Court decision in a way that may exempt some facilities from needing permits to pollute groundwater. The EPA’s new draft guidance says that whether a pollution discharge into groundwater should be considered a “functional equivalent” depends on “what happens to the discharged pollutant over that time and distance traveled” to the regulated body of water.

Aquafornia news San Mateo Daily Journal

Feds, Cargill appeal Redwood City salt pond ruling

Seeking to overturn a federal district court determination that the Cargill salt ponds in Redwood City are covered by federal Clean Water Act protections, the Environmental Protection Agency under the Trump administration and Cargill Inc. representatives filed appeals to the ruling this week. 

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Will water unite us?

Shortly after the networks called the 2020 presidential race for Joe Biden, a list of four priorities appeared on the president-elect’s transition website. Certain observers noticed a common thread — an undercurrent, if you will — that knitted these priorities together: water. Water, which washes hands during the pandemic. Water, which is needed for factories to produce goods, farms to grow crops, and cities to reboot. Water, which has sometimes been denied to communities of color or delivered in polluted form. And water, which is how a warming planet will wreak much of its havoc.

Aquafornia news E&ENews

Trump’s ‘QAnon of water projects’: destined for death?

The Trump administration made a splash last month announcing it was moving ahead with enlarging one of California’s largest dams to provide the drought-stricken state’s farmers more water. But state officials and conservationists have another message for the outgoing administration: Not so fast. The Bureau of Reclamation on Nov. 20 finished its environmental review of raising the 600-foot Shasta Dam in Northern California by 18.5 feet. It would be the Trump administration’s largest water infrastructure project…

Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News release: Aquatic toxicity plan will upgrade protections for fish, other aquatic life

The State Water Resources Control Board approved a comprehensive plan to ensure lab testing and analysis for toxicity in waterways are completed using the same protocols and standards statewide. This will help address toxicity in California’s waterways and significantly improve protections for fish and other aquatic life.

Aquafornia news Bay Nature

California commits to 30% by 2030 — what does that mean?

On October 7 California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the state to create a new California Biodiversity Collaborative and conserve 30 percent of its land and coastal waters by 2030. Now comes the hard part: figuring out which 30 percent of California, and making it clear what it means to truly “conserve” it.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Transition: Meet Biden’s water experts

Several former Obama EPA and Interior Department officials on President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team bring with them deep expertise in water policy that could come in handy as the incoming administration plots policy goals and actions to undo Trump administration rollbacks.

Aquafornia news Redding Record-Searchlight

Groups bash Trump administration report on raising height of Shasta Dam

While Republican members of Congress praised the most recent step toward approving raising the height of Shasta Dam, fishing and environmental groups criticized it as the illegal actions of a “lame duck federal agency.”

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Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Audit of CalGEM says California oil regulators issued improper permits

California oil regulators ignored their own regulations and issued improper permits for hundreds of new wells last year, according to an audit … finalized this week. … The audit was requested after stories in The Desert Sun revealed that CalGEM employees used so-called “dummy” folders to approve new injection wells for several oil companies that do risky steam injection.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Council, IWVGA agree on recycled water

If an options agreement between the [Ridgecrest] City Council and Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority comes to fruition, recycled water from the city’s wastewater facility could help balance the groundwater basin… Both the council and the groundwater authorities at their respective meetings last week approved the option agreement between the two parties for recycled wastewater.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Pipeline plan takes a small step forward (with some drama)

Things got a little wild at the San Diego County Water Authority meeting last week when its 36 directors argued over whether they should spend more money studying a controversial $5 billion pipeline to the Colorado River. Outrage after leaders apparently skipped over female directors waiting to add comments during a discussion period sparked some to change their vote on the matter.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Tribes battle agencies, old policies to restore fire practices

By burning and brushing, nurturing important plants and keeping lands around their homes clear of dead brush and debris, Native peoples carefully stewarded the lands to sustain the biodiverse ecologies California is known for. Their work resulted in a richly productive landscape that provided food and habitat for not only humans but many land, air and water animals. That included the salmon, a staple of tribes in the West for millennia. All that changed when California became a U.S. state in 1850.

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

State water penalty kicks in as Cal Am misses deadline on desalination plant construction

A recent exchange of letters between a public utility and a state water authority highlights the continued stalemate in the effort by the Monterey Peninsula to develop a new water supply and end the overdrafting of the Carmel River.

Aquafornia news California Sportfishing Protection Alliance

Blog: CSPA opposes Turlock and Modesto Irrigation Districts’ petition for waiver of Clean Water Act

Joining a growing list, Turlock and Modesto Irrigation Districts filed a Petition with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission asking that the commission find that the State of California has waived certification under the Clean Water Act. … The Districts are seeking a new FERC license for two hydropower projects on the Tuolumne River, the Don Pedro Project and the La Grange Project.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg CityLab

Harvesting rainwater in a desert city

In September, Tucson declared a climate emergency, setting the ambitious goal of going carbon neutral by 2030. The desert city has gradually implemented policies over the past decade to further rainwater harvesting with the aim of bolstering conservation, lowering water bills and creating more green spaces.

Aquafornia news Water Finance & Management

EPA receives 67 new requests for WIFIA financing

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has received 67 letters of interest in response to the agency’s 2020 Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act Notice of Funding Availability. A total of $9.2 billion was requested this year — the largest amount ever requested through the WIFIA program.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Trump environmental war against California ran deep. Here’s how Biden changes everything

It will take months if not longer for the new administration to substitute its own environmental regulations for Trump’s rules on air, water, land stewardship and other issues. Meanwhile, groups aligned with the Trump administration plan on continuing their fight.

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Aquafornia news GVWire.com

Look up: Helicopter will dangle electromagnet array over valley this week

If you look up into [San Joaquin] Valley skies this week and see a large, oddly shaped device hanging from a helicopter, don’t be alarmed. It’s part of a research project to map underground water supplies. Beginning Monday, flyovers are expected in areas west and south of Fresno – including Fowler, Kingsburg, Lemon Cove, Orange Cove, Orosi, Parlier, Piedra, Reedley, Sanger, Selma, Woodlake.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Video: Building a water-resilient California

What are key California water priorities for the coming year, in light of ongoing disruptions from the pandemic, the recession, lingering drought, and a record-breaking fire season? The PPIC Water Policy Center brought together three panels of experts to discuss possibilities at our annual water priorities conference.

Aquafornia news Action News Now

Lake Oroville needs and safety assessment released

The Department of Water Resources recently published a summary report of a comprehensive needs assessment of safety at Oroville Dam. It comes after the reconstruction of the spillways that were damaged and failed in 2017.

Aquafornia news Sonoma Index Tribune

Sanitation district error leads to tax bill overcharge

Property owners in the Sonoma Valley generally receive property tax bills in early October, which includes a lengthy list of percentages levied for various bonds, and direct charges for district fees such as fire, health care and the Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District. But for the third time in seven years, said Sonoma resident Scott Pace, that sanitation district charge has been inaccurate.

Aquafornia news NBC San Diego

Homeowners can apply for rebates to transform their landscape

Residents in the San Diego County Water Authority’s service area can apply to get a rebate of $3 for every square-foot of lawn they replace with drought-tolerant plants.

Aquafornia news Orange County Breeze

California Water Commission hosting water conveyance workshops in December, January

As it explores a potential state role in funding conveyance projects, the Commission seeks public input on criteria for assessing resilience, public benefits of conveyance, and financing mechanisms. The workshops are not associated with the proposal to improve conveyance through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news Paradise Post

Paradise Irrigation District request for FEMA funds on Reservoir B gains state support

The Paradise Irrigation District was told on Thursday morning that the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services agreed that the district’s request that its Reservoir B Replacement project qualifies for Federal Emergency Management Agency funding as it relates to the Camp Fire. The reservoir was damaged in the fire.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

How to comment on sustainable groundwater plans in Madera

After decades of new and deeper wells, degraded water quality and groundwater level declines, residents in the [Madera] area have a chance to influence how local groundwater will be managed and used for decades to come — and the deadline to participate is quickly approaching.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Conservationists challenge ‘destructive’ Central California dam project

A proposed dam in California’s Central Valley is billed as a vital agricultural resource. But conservationists say it would also flood important cultural and recreational sites for surrounding communities and destroy wildlife habitat.

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Aquafornia news Action News Now

Sacramento River salmon restoration will continue with new $10M federal grant

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has provided a $10 million grant to Chico State and its partners to re-establish juvenile salmon and salmonid habitats along the Sacramento River.

Aquafornia news Western Water

Monday Top of the Scroll: Milestone Colorado River management plan mostly worked amid epic drought, review finds

Twenty years ago, the Colorado River’s hydrology began tumbling into a historically bad stretch. … So key players across seven states, including California, came together in 2005 to attack the problem. The result was a set of Interim Guidelines adopted in 2007… Stressing flexibility instead of rigidity, the guidelines stabilized water deliveries in a drought-stressed system and prevented a dreaded shortage declaration by the federal government that would have forced water supply cuts.

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Trump administration finalizes Shasta Dam raise plan to increase water storage for Californians and the environment

The Trump Administration Thursday released the Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement to increase water storage capacity in the Shasta Lake reservoir by 634,000 acre-feet,

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

SLO County removes 37,000 acres from Paso groundwater pumping moratorium

Fewer properties over the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin will be subject to severe water restrictions after the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted on Nov. 17 to revise the basin’s “area of severe decline,” eliminating roughly 37,000 acres.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Federal water rule expected to stay murky through Biden term

A Biden administration won’t be able to untangle the legal and regulatory “mess” under part of the Clean Water Act that determines which streams, wetlands and other waters get federal protection, legal scholars and litigators say.

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Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Is third time the charm for Klamath dam removal project?

On Nov. 17, California, Oregon, PacifiCorp, and the Yurok and Karuk Tribes announced a new agreement with the Klamath River Renewal Corporation to reaffirm KRRC’s status as dam removal entity and provide additional funding for the removal of four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River. The agreement is the latest development in a decade-long effort…

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Westlands celebrates habitat restoration following third straight year of finding zero Delta Smelt

Westlands Water District announced Wednesday that it recently completed the Lower Yolo Restoration Project, which restored the habitat for fish and other wildlife species in part of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. … The land had been previously used for cattle grazing, and now it has transformed into tidal marsh, riparian and upland buffer habitat. 

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Aquafornia news E&E News

Historic deal refreshes plans for major dam removal

America’s largest dam removal project has been brought back to life with a new agreement among California, Oregon, tribes and a utility owned by billionaire Warren Buffett. The decadeslong effort to remove four dams on the Klamath River in Northern California that have had a devastating impact on salmon runs had appeared in danger following an unexpected July regulatory order.

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Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Environmental group threatens to sue St. Helena over groundwater extraction

Grant Reynolds, a director of Water Audit California, delivered a letter to the city on Monday criticizing its use of the Stonebridge wells for municipal use and “a pattern of exercising no discretion” in issuing permits for new wells.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Agencies unite to fight troublesome mussels

The Trump administration Wednesday announced a newly strengthened team effort to combat invasive mussels.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

U.S. Forest Service finalizes rule that minimizes public say in logging and roadbuilding in forests

The rule change, which goes into effect Thursday, gives Forest Service officials authority to use loopholes called categorical exclusions to bypass NEPA requirements. Categorical exclusions are projects deemed to have no environmental impact, and as the rule is written, they can be applied across the nearly 200 million acres of forest that the Forest Service manages…Forests are a source of drinking water for more than 150 million people.

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Aquafornia news GVWire.com

Zero Delta smelt found in latest search; new habitat hopes to change that

An annual search for a tiny endangered and contentious fish in the sprawling California Delta has once again come up empty. The state’s annual Fall Midwater Trawl found no Delta smelt in September’s sampling of the critical waterway. … Hoping to reverse the trend, Westlands Water District and the California Department of Water Resources announced completion of a Delta habitat restoration project on Wednesday.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Well water throughout California contaminated with ‘forever chemicals’

In the weeks before the coronavirus began tearing through California, the city of Commerce made an expensive decision: It shut down part of its water supply. Like nearly 150 other public water systems in California, the small city on the outskirts of Los Angeles had detected “forever chemicals” in its well water.

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Aquafornia news Dredging Today

Malibu Creek project one step closer

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District and its partner, the California Department of Parks and Recreation, Angeles District, are one step closer on a project to restore Malibu Creek’s ecosystem after receiving support from the Corps’ top brass.

Aquafornia news Ceres Courier

Opinion: Sacramento fiddles while 31.7% of California is lacking in water supply

Two key projects that the bond measure was passed to help fund, Sites Reservoir and Temperance Flat Reservoir, have stalled. Without the public breathing down their neck in a severe drought, the state has managed to treat the reservoirs as back burner issues.

Aquafornia news E&E News

House Democrats aim to resurrect PFAS package

House Democrats are working to reintroduce major legislation targeting toxic chemicals singled out by President-elect Joe Biden as a priority for his administration.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California, Oregon will take over dams on Klamath River – and tear them down

Gov. Gavin Newsom and his Oregon counterpart signed a landmark deal Tuesday to take control of four aging dams targeted for removal on the Lower Klamath River, an agreement designed to push the controversial $450 million plan over the finish line. … The agreement “ensures that we have sufficient backing” to get the four dams demolished, said Chuck Bonham, director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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Aquafornia news Water Finance & Management

Senators propose level EPA funding for 2021, no WIFIA cuts

The U.S. EPA’s water infrastructure financing programs would be in line for approximately level funding next year under a plan for FY21 appropriations released by Senate Republicans last week. … The Republicans’ proposal would provide EPA with just under $9.1 billion next year, roughly in line with the agency’s FY20 appropriation.

Aquafornia news E&E News

How Biden could undo Trump’s water regulations

The incoming Biden administration is widely expected to undo President Trump’s regulatory rollbacks on a range of water rules including stream and wetland protections, drinking water contamination, and the permitting of controversial energy and flood projects.

Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News release: Years-long struggle for safe water to end at Coachella Valley elementary school

Children and staff at Westside Elementary School in Thermal have had to rely on bottled water due to issues from an aging well. But change is here. Thanks to a $880,155 grant from the Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) program, a consolidation project recently broke ground, granting Westside Elementary access to the Coachella Valley Water District and a reliable source of clean water.

Aquafornia news The Mendocino Voice

Groundwater agency discusses how to manage future of Ukiah Valley Basin

Plans to regulate groundwater for the first time ever in the Ukiah Valley Basin are moving forward. And though the details are wonky and a little esoteric, the results could affect water and ag policy for years to come. Last week, the Ukiah Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency discussed how their mammoth project of sustainably managing the groundwater is coming along.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: New laws address water affordability and wildfire risks

The COVID-19 pandemic and related economic turbulence forced the state legislature and Governor Newsom to make tough decisions this year about which issues to prioritize and which to sideline. … Despite the challenging circumstances, several high-priority bills covering safe drinking water and wildfire risk reduction were enacted.

Aquafornia news Santa Ynez Valley News

Surveyors take to air to see underground over Santa Ynez River Valley Groundwater Basin

A helicopter making low-level passes over the Santa Ynez Valley towing a large hexagonal frame is using a technology first developed in World War II to peer as far as 1,400 feet below the surface to map the groundwater basin.

Aquafornia news Water & Wastes Digest

Benefits bubble up: Wastewater treatment

Bear Republic Brewing Company started by trucking three 6,000-gallon trucks of waste from the Cloverdale brewery location to a facility in Oakland roughly 90 miles away one-way. This solution was simply unsustainable for many reasons, and Bear Republic eventually partnered with Cambrian Innovation to install two anaerobic reactors on site.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

On climate, Biden urged to follow the ‘California agenda’

California sees itself as a national leader in the fight against climate change, especially during the Trump administration. Now, postelection, green advocates see the state as a guidebook President-elect Joe Biden can follow.

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Aquafornia news Marysville Appeal-Democrat

Yuba Water files lawsuit against State Water Resources Control Board

The Yuba Water Agency is in the process of applying for a new license to continue its hydroelectric operations along the Yuba River, but agency leaders say some requirements issued by the State Water Resources Control Board threaten the effort by making it too costly. The agency filed lawsuits in state and federal court Friday to essentially vacate the state board’s requirements to obtain what is called a water quality certification.

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Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Council to talk agreement with Indian Wells Groundwater Authority for recycled water

The Ridgecrest City Council Nov. 18 will discuss entering into an agreement with the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority regarding treated wastewater. … The agreement would be for five years, during which the city would provide for sale to the IWVGA available recycled water produced at its wastewater treatment plant upon 30-day notice to the city.

Aquafornia news Malibu Times

Army Corps of Engineers signs off on Rindge Dam removal

Removal of the 90-year-old Rindge Dam from Malibu Canyon — a long-anticipated, multi-million-dollar project — moved a crucial step closer to reality on Friday, Nov. 13, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced the project’s report was signed and sent to Congress for funding.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Bernhardt order gives states veto authority over Land and Water Conservation Fund

A new order from Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, published Friday afternoon, would, among other things, essentially give state and local jurisdictions veto power over how communities spend and match grants through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which funds access to recreation in states and federal land acquisitions.

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Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

What a Biden Administration could mean for Klamath water

The last three administrations have been active in Klamath Basin issues regardless of political party. Negotiations for a basin-wide agreement began under the Bush Administration and continued under the Obama Administration until faltering in the House of Representatives — though each president’s approach has varied. Dan Keppen, executive director of the Family Farm Alliance, said Biden’s experience in the Obama Administration could prove an asset, if he brings a similar approach.