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 SJV Sun

Calif. zeroes out water allocation for Valley farmers, will only deliver minimum supplies to cities

California water regulators will be delivering the bare minimum of water supplies to the state’s municipalities via the State Water Project, the Department of Water Resources announced to water users on Wednesday. For Valley farmers, who hoped for an ounce of good news related to water supplies heading into 2022, they will see a zero-percent water allocation from state water agencies to start the year. It’s the first time in the history of the State Water Project for officials to kick off a water year with a zero initial allocation.

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Aquafornia news Storm Water Solutions

Los Angeles Waterkeeper sues Senior Aerospace SSP over Clean Water Act Violations

The Los Angeles Waterkeeper filed a complaint in the Central District of California against Senior Operations LLC for violating the Clean Water Act and California’s Storm Water Permit. Senior Operations LLC is a Delaware corporation doing business as Senior Aerospace SSP in Burbank, California, reported Law Street Media.

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Aquafornia news ABC 23 - Bakersfield

Friday Top of the Scroll: State to receive over $600M in water infrastructure funding

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that California will receive more than $600 million in water infrastructure funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The EPA says the money provided through its State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs will help create jobs while upgrading infrastructure to address lead and and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination in drinking water.

Aquafornia news Nossaman

Blog: The next chapter of the WOTUS saga is here

On November 18, 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) announced the availability of a pre-publication version of a proposed rule (Proposed Rule) to amend the definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS). This much anticipated rulemaking is the latest attempt by the agencies to provide regulatory clarity on what water features are subject to the protections of the Clean Water Act.

Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

Bay Area water districts offering mixed approaches to drought restrictions

There are now two districts in the Bay Area with tough drought restrictions in place. San Jose Water and Marin Municipal Water District customers have a choice: cut back on their water usage, or pay up. KPIX 5 checked in with several of the water providers throughout the Bay Area to see if they plan on imposing tougher water restrictions as the drought continues. The Contra Costa Water District supplies around 500,000 customers in Contra Costa County. The CCWD is not proposing additional restrictions at this time, according to a spokesperson.

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Aquafornia news Fox 10-Phoenix

Water woes: Rio Verde Foothills residents worried as Scottsdale gets ready to cut off their water access

Homeowners in the Rio Verde Foothills, located north of Scottsdale, are losing their water access. Soon, residents there will no longer be able to tap into Scottsdale’s water, as a result of the city’s new drought management plan. Many residents have no plan on how they can get water, and some say they will be forced to move if they cannot get access to water.

Aquafornia news KBAK - Bakersfield

The deadly effects illegal marijuana grows have on water and wildlife

Illegal marijuana grows continue to show up in our national forests but removing the sites is only half the battle, according to Ryan Henson, Senior Policy Director with the California Wilderness Coalition. Henson says, “Cartels are able to get away with establishing these grows. By now, there are literally thousands of them out there, even when they are found out, mostly the marijuana is removed and not the waste.” Waste like illegal pesticides. … Those chemicals can potentially leak into the Kern river and watersheds impacting native fish species.

Aquafornia news Nossaman

Blog: Valuing water rights in eminent domain

As water becomes scarcer in California, public agencies are looking for new sources and opportunities to provide water to their communities. When the government identifies those water sources but confronts unwilling sellers, eminent domain sometimes becomes necessary. This is currently taking place in the Antelope Valley, where the Rosamond Community Services District recently approved the adoption of a resolution of necessity to acquire water rights from agricultural land by eminent domain.

Aquafornia news The Business Journal

Ag lenders stick to the fundamentals in time of drought

The worsening drought is cause for concern for all. But for agricultural loan lenders, it’s all about risk management. Keith Hesterberg, CEO of Fresno Madera Farm Credit, said that although the experience in dealing with drought hasn’t changed, the surrounding issues have grown more complicated. … Lenders need to understand the water basin that growers are operating in and the underlying diversity of their operations. Water operations can change year to year depending on the challenges for the given season.

Aquafornia news U.S. Department of Agriculture

News release: USDA offers disaster assistance to farmers, livestock producers impacted by fires, drought

California agricultural operations have been significantly impacted by the wildfires and ongoing, severe drought. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has technical and financial assistance available to help farmers and livestock producers recover. Impacted producers should contact their local USDA Service Center to report losses and learn more about program options available to assist in their recovery from crop, land, infrastructure and livestock losses and damages.

Aquafornia news City of San Jose

News release: City declares 15 percent water conservation target in response to drought

The City of San José has declared a 15 percent water shortage and limited the use of sprinkler systems using potable water to two days per week. The restriction applies to all residents and businesses regardless of which water retailer serves them. The City Council approved the drought rules on Tuesday in response to extreme drought conditions in Santa Clara County. The rules take effect immediately.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: More Water Now ballot measure is a money grab

Whoever coined the phrase “Whisky is for drinking, water is for fighting” didn’t have things quite right. In California, water is for scamming. The newest example is a majestically cynical ploy being foisted on taxpayers by some of the state’s premier water hogs, in the guise of a proposed ballot measure titled the “Water Infrastructure Funding Act of 2022” — or, as its promoters call it, the More Water Now initiative. The measure’s backers need to gather nearly 1 million signatures to place the measure on the November 2022 ballot. That process has just begun, and its outcome is uncertain.
-Written by L.A. Times columnist Michael Hiltzik. 

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

DWR drums up interest in Orland water lines

The rural communities surrounding Orland are in a water crisis in dealing with the drought and drying wells. Over the course of the past year, the California Department of Water Resources, the North Valley Community Foundation and Glenn County have been working together with $8 million in funding to come up with solutions for the residents facing the crisis. Meetings were held in October and November for residents in the problem area who were dealing with water insecurity and dry wells. 

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn |

Blog: U.S. Supreme Court broadens equitable apportionment doctrine to include groundwater

The United States Supreme Court unanimously decided its first interstate groundwater case, finding that Mississippi must rely on the doctrine of equitable apportionment to invoke the Court’s original jurisdiction for relief related to allegations of excessive pumping of groundwater by Tennessee. … The Court has previously applied the doctrine of equitable apportionment to interstate rivers and streams, interstate river basins, and even where the pumping of groundwater has affected the flow of interstate surface waters—but never before addressed whether equitable apportionment applies to interstate aquifers.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California water districts will get no requested supplies from the state

California water agencies that serve 27 million residents and 750,000 acres of farmland won’t get any of the water they’ve requested from the state heading into 2022 other than what’s needed for critical health and safety, state officials announced Wednesday. It’s the earliest date the Department of Water Resources has issued a 0% water allocation, a milestone that reflects the dire conditions in California as drought continues to grip the nation’s most populous state and reservoirs sit at historically low levels. 

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Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News release: State Water Board releases draft emergency regulations prohibiting wasteful water use

As California continues to face severe drought conditions exacerbated by climate change, the State Water Resources Control Board released a draft emergency regulation to prohibit water waste and bolster water conservation. Members of the public can comment on the draft before the State Water Board considers it for adoption early next year. If passed, the regulation will make wasteful water practices, such as excessive irrigation causing runoff, using potable water for street cleaning, or irrigating landscapes within 48 hours of measurable rainfall, a violation for all Californians….

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Aquafornia news Public News Service

Conservation groups build support for Riverside County wildlife refuge

Public-lands groups are asking Congress to support the proposed Western Riverside County Wildlife Refuge, a 500,000-acre swath between Hemet and Temecula in Southern California. The Hispanic Access Foundation and Defenders of Wildlife are asking people to sign a letter to lawmakers supporting House Resolution 972, which would create the refuge. Mariel Combs, senior policy analyst for Defenders of Wildlife, said the refuge would preserve important habitat and migration routes for many species.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Groundwater plan managers not rattled by state’s initial negative reviews

Though the state’s first informal assessment of four San Joaquin Valley groundwater plans noted several — sometimes significant — deficiencies in those plans, groundwater managers were confident they could bring the plans up to snuff. … The Department of Water Resources issued letters on Nov. 18 to the Eastern San Joaquin and Merced subbasins as well as the Chowchilla and Westlands water districts calling out problems with those plans. DWR also approved four plans outside of the valley.

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Aquafornia news The Center Square

Arizona, California, Nevada agree to new Colorado River agreement to conserve more water

Arizona’s water authorities are close to entering into a new pact with officials from Nevada and California they hope will restore water levels at Lake Mead and stave off future rationing requirements.  A Tier 1 Colorado River water shortage begins in 2022, triggering a mandatory 512,000 acre-foot reduction to Arizona. The emergency stems from the Lake Mead reservoir reaching water levels not seen since its construction….Central Arizona Project’s board is scheduled to consider the proposal Thursday. 

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Aquafornia news Food and Water Watch

News release: Backed by new research, environmental groups demand end to corporate water abuse

48 organizations have signed on to a letter demanding Governor Newsom address California’s water crisis with specific actions targeted at the corporate abuse of public water resources. While drought ravages the state and freshwater supplies dwindle, more than 1 million Californians lack access to clean drinking water. Wells in dry and under-resourced areas like the Central Valley are predicted to go dry at astonishing rates. Yet unsustainable amounts of California’s water are being allocated to multibillion dollar industries like fossil fuel production, industrial dairy operation and almond crop cultivation.

Aquafornia news E&E News

‘Soap opera’: How the never-ending fight over wetlands began

The longest-running U.S. environmental regulatory conundrum can be summed up in a question: What wetlands are protected by the 1972 Clean Water Act? The government has yet to come up with a definition that will hold up in court. And now, it’s President Biden’s turn to try.

Aquafornia news The Conversation

Blog: Millions of Americans struggle to pay their water bills – here’s how a national water aid program could work

Running water and indoor plumbing are so central to modern life that most Americans take them from granted. But these services aren’t free, and millions struggle to afford them. A 2019 survey found that U.S. households in the bottom fifth of the economy spent 12.4% of their disposable income on water and sewer services. News reports suggest that for low-income households, this burden has increased during the pandemic.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Making the most of the Kern River: A river hard at work for the hard-working people of Kern County

The Kern River is the lifeblood of Kern County — supporting families, farmers, small businesses and disadvantaged communities according to the law of the river. The river is governed by more than a century of well-established water rights laws and court decisions that protect the river’s highly variable and limited water supplies for beneficial uses like irrigation, water for homes and business, groundwater recharge and recreation.
-Written by farmer Edwin Camp of DM Camp & Sons. 

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Winter is coming, and so is the rain: Erosion control during vineyards’ off-season

The winter season is officially upon us, and the rainy weather has prompted Napa Valley’s vineyard crews to reinforce their properties’ anti-erosion measures. While keeping your vineyard from washing out is important for obvious practical reasons, rain carrying sediment to the valley floor and into the waterways negatively impacts the terroir as well. County regulations require most vineyards to work with a civil engineer and establish an Erosion Control Plan …

Aquafornia news Nevada Appeal

Toxic cables to be pulled from Tahoe under settlement

AT&T’s Pac Bell subsidiary has settled a lawsuit conservationists filed under a U.S. law more typically cited in Superfund cases, agreeing to spend up to $1.5 million to remove 8 miles of toxic telephone cables that were abandoned on the bottom of Lake Tahoe decades ago. A U.S. judge in Sacramento recently signed the consent decree in the suit the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance filed in January. The abandoned cables — replaced with fiber optic ones in the 1980s — contain more than 65 tons of toxic lead that is polluting the lake, the lawsuit said.

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Small fortune coming to Klamath Basin for ecosystem restoration

More than $160 million will be headed to the Klamath Basin over the next five years, thanks to the recent passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act by Congress. It is likely the largest singular federal investment in the basin to date, and it could help watershed restoration efforts take a big step forward. Signed into law by President Biden on November 15, the funding package will allocate $162 million to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service specifically for “Klamath Basin restoration activities,” according to the text of the bill. 

Aquafornia news The Press

State plans action to improve groundwater supply

Advocates for the environment hailed the state’s recent decision to implement updated water-flow standards in the San Joaquin River, but what the move will mean for Sacramento River flows remains to be seen. The action taken by the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) and the California Environmental Protection Agency (CEPA) ended the voluntary agreement process for the San Joaquin River watershed. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Plan to protect land, water presents opportunity for Native Californians

I grew up on a small tribal reservation in coastal Mendocino County, the rancheria of the Manchester-Point Arena Band of Pomo Indians. Life “on the rez” is disconnected from our traditional land. For example, our river, known as p’da:haw in Pomo language and the Garcia River in English, is very important to our culture. But until recently, our tribal members needed a special permit to fish in p’da:haw or to gather traditional plants there to make woven baskets.
-Written by Juan Cruz Dominguez, a community organizer who was raised on the Manchester-Point Arena Band of Pomo Indians Rancheria in Mendocino County.

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Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Water restrictions coming to Bakersfield to address drought

Bakersfield’s two largest water providers will soon implement new restrictions to head off the potentially dire impacts of an extended drought. On Dec. 14, the city of Bakersfield and California Water Service plan to limit the days customers can use water for outdoor landscaping. Other restrictions, like no longer automatically serving drinking water at restaurants, will also go into effect as officials attempt to meet or exceed Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call to reduce water usage by 15 percent.

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Aquafornia news Brownstein

Blog: GSAs’ stats remain consistent – DWR releases second round of GSP assessments

Last week, on Nov. 18, 2021, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) released assessments of eight additional Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs), adding to the four assessments released as reported in our June 4, 2021, alert titled “GSAs Shooting 50% on GSPs—DWR Releases First GSP Assessment Results for High Priority Basins.” Of the eight additional GSP assessments, four were approved and four were found to require additional information. To date, DWR has not concluded that any GSP is inadequate.

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Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Ahead of Thanksgiving, Biden, Newsom admin. press judge to adopt Calif. water restrictions

A coordinated effort between the Biden and Newsom administrations to drop two-year-old environmental rules governing water deliveries to the Central Valley and Southern California reached a new benchmark two days before Thanksgiving. In a flurry of pre-holiday filings, Federal officials, in consultation with Newsom administration officials, requested that a Fresno-based Federal judge adopt a hastily-arranged plan to govern water pumping in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Opinion: Sacramento County’s dubious account of river pollution

Sacramento County is once again embroiled in a hypocritical trap of its own making. An environmental group is suing the region’s largest government for allegedly dumping sewer waste into local waterways — even as the county has blamed its unsheltered population for rising E. coli levels along the American River.
-Written by Robin Epley, an opinion writer for The Sacramento Bee, with a focus on Sacramento County politics.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Court issues key ruling in favor of Monterey Peninsula water district

A key hurdle for a Monterey Peninsula public water agency to acquire the assets of California American Water Co. was cleared Friday when a judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Cal Am that the water district chief said was just one of many attempts to thwart the takeover. Monterey County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wills denied a lawsuit filed in August by Cal Am challenging the water district’s certification of a key study — called an environmental impact report — that the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District prepared as part of its acquisition effort.

Aquafornia news Audubon Magazine

Ending uncertainty over Clean Water rules will put Biden officials to the test

Half a century ago, Congress set loose a torrent of confusion when it wrote the Clean Water Act to protect the “waters of the United States.” Lobbyists and lawyers have fought ever since over the phrase, often dubbed WOTUS. Its meaning seems grade-school simple but quickly grows as murky as a backwoods swamp. Into these perilous waters the Biden administration wades.

Aquafornia news Antelope Valley Press

RCSD eyes eminent domain process to obtain water rights

The Rosamond Community Services District Board of Directors, on Thursday, agreed to begin eminent domain proceedings to obtain water rights from agricultural land owned by the Calandri family on Rosamond’s west side. The Board unanimously approved a Resolution of Necessity, which declared it in the public interest to acquire the property for the water rights. Ed Lear, a litigation attorney representing the Calandri family, said they will challenge the action as a violation of the water basin adjudication.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Yosemite enviro law conference: How Tribal partnerships can help attain national conservation goals

Amy Cordalis is a fisherwoman, attorney, mother, and member of the Yurok Tribe, the largest federally recognized Tribe in California. From 2014-2016, she was General Counsel for the Tribe, the first woman and first Yurok tribal member to serve in that position. She is also the principal of the Ridges to Riffles Conservation Fund, a non-profit fund representing Native American tribes in natural and cultural resource matters.

Aquafornia news Colusa Sun Herald

Clear Lake to receive funding for Source Water Protection planning

To help agricultural producers improve water quality, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has awarded $1.6 million in funding through the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) for three projects in high priority watersheds in California. … The Clear Lake project has been selected for funding as a new Source Water Protection planning watershed, targeting conservation efforts through the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI), according to the release.

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Aquafornia news Capital and Main

California utilities leaving millions in debt relief on the table

As the application window for a near billion-dollar state program designed to help cash-strapped Californians with pandemic-related drinking water debt nears its close date, almost 50% of eligible water systems have fully completed the application, but nearly one quarter haven’t yet started the process — a scenario that could see many struggling households lose the chance to have their financial burdens alleviated. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California farmers rush to drill wells for groundwater in drought

On the parched west side of the San Joaquin Valley, the drought has created a windfall for companies like Big River Drilling. A water-well contractor based in the Fresno County community of Riverdale, Big River can hardly keep up with demand for new wells as farmers and rural residents seek to extract more water from underground. … But talk about poor timing: California farmers are supposed to start throttling back their groundwater pumping to comply with a state law called the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA.

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Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News release: State Water Board adopts resolution committing to advance racial equity in policy and practice

The State Water Resources Control Board today adopted a resolution affirming its commitment to advancing racial equity and acknowledging that its programs were established within a structural framework that perpetuates inequities based on race. In the resolution, the State Water Board pledges to express this commitment through institutionalizing racial equity in its policies, programs and service to communities while fostering greater workforce diversity, equity and inclusion within the agency. 

Aquafornia news Lake County News

Lady of the Lake: Wondering about water rights

I just moved to Lake County and live next to the lake. I heard the other day that Lake County doesn’t have water rights to Clear Lake? Is that correct? Can I take water from the lake to irrigate my garden? I also have a pond on my property and a well, who has rights to those sources of water? Thanks for clearing this up! — Wondering about Water Rights Walter Walter, Thank you for asking these questions. I get asked about water rights quite a bit actually. You are right about Clear Lake’s water rights — they actually belong to Yolo County. 

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

CA Water Commission: Department of Conservation previews SGMA multi-benefit land repurposing program

At the September meeting of the California Water Commission, Kealiʻi Bright, Assistant Director of the Division of Land Resource Protection at the California Department of Conservation (or DOC), gave a presentation on a new program being spun up to repurpose farmland being retired due to SGMA implementation. Mr. Bright began by acknowledging that the Department of Conservation being at a Water Commission might be unusual because they are not a groundwater agency or any kind of water agency, but they are an agency with a suite of programs that invest in natural and working lands’ land use … 

Aquafornia news KALW

Marin County developers could face new fees

Faced with the need to reduce the demand on water supplies, Marin County developers would have to pay thousands of dollars in new fees, according to a proposal by the Marin Municipal Water District. The Marin Independent Journal reported that the water district’s board is considering a new measure which would require future projects in its jurisdiction to have a net-zero demand on reservoirs.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Citing climate risks, California is denying fracking permits in droves

Oil companies that blast water and chemicals into the earth to extract fossil fuels are having trouble getting new permits for their California operations even sooner than expected. Gov. Gavin Newsom pledged the state would stop issuing new permits for fracking by 2024, but California has already begun to ban the controversial oil extraction method in practice by denying permits in droves with little fanfare. … [Fracking has] long been a controversial method because of what climate activists see as unacceptable dangers, including the possibility that it can contaminate groundwater.

Aquafornia news Mount Shasta News

U.S. Forest Service water management: Limited oversight of diversions

While the U.S. Forest Service pours resources into a runaway battle on wildfire, it is losing the war over water.  About half of Western water supply originates on national forest land. But before that water reaches the West’s major cities or great rivers, much of it has already been claimed. Thousands of farmers, ranchers, cities, housing developments and industrial users pump water from the ground, channel it away from streams into ditches or pipelines, and hold it back in ponds and reservoirs — all to use public water, often for private purposes. 

Aquafornia news Ripon Advance

Blog: Committee OKs Moore’s bill to manage saline lake ecosystems

The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday approved a bipartisan bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Blake Moore (R-UT) to better manage conservation efforts for saline lake ecosystems and migratory birds in the West. … The Saline Lake Ecosystems in the Great Basin States Program Act of 2021, H.R. 5345, which Rep. Moore introduced on Sept. 23 with lead original cosponsor U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA), would authorize the director of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to establish a regional program to assess, monitor and benefit the hydrology of saline lakes in the Great Basin …

Aquafornia news Washington Post

Klamath River basin drought leaves families, farms dry, reignites longstanding conflicts

The simple way to think about this crisis: There’s no longer enough water to go around to meet the needs of farmers and Native American populations as well as fish and birds. For more than a century, the federal government has overseen an intricate and imperfect system of water distribution intended to sustain an ecosystem and an economy. The whole precarious balance was based on the assumption that enough snow would always fall…

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Aquafornia news KCRA

Water company in Sacramento County doesn’t track what it wastes

When you see a constant stream of water heading into the sewer drain stemming from a pipe leak, do you ever wonder how much of it is wasted water? Chances are, the amount of water going down the drain isn’t being tracked. At the same time, Californians are being asked to conserve water during a severe drought. 

Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: CA voter support for water infrastructure ballot measure may hang on the weather

Signature-gathering has begun to place an initiative on the 2022 ballot that would force the legislature to fund more water storage in California. But even supporters admit, the success of the measure may depend on the weather. With many reservoirs in the state drying up and no guarantee of a wet winter, some Central Valley farmers and Southern California water districts are pushing an initiative called the ‘Water Infrastructure Funding Act of 2022.’ 

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Monday Top of the Scroll: Now it’s San Francisco’s turn to ask residents, suburban customers to cut water use

San Francisco’s robust water supply, long unruffled by the severe dry spell now in its second year, has finally begun to feel the pinch of drought, and city water managers are recognizing it may be time to cut back. Officials at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission plan to ask city residents and businesses to reduce water use by 5%, compared to two years ago, and ask the more than two dozen communities that buy water from the city to reduce water use nearly 14%….The planned cutbacks are part of a water shortage emergency that the SFPUC’s governing board is looking to declare at its meeting Tuesday. 

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Aquafornia news Del Norte Triplicate

Past-due water fees could be waived

Crescent City’s water and sewer customers who didn’t pay for their water over a 15-month period during the pandemic will likely have those delinquent notices waived. From March 4, 2020 to June of this year, there were 334 accounts past due, for a total of $71,984.60. … On November 15, the city council authorized City Manager Eric Wier to apply for funding to pay off those bills. The funding will come from $985 million that the State of California received  under the American Rescue Plan Act passed by Congress in March.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

State’s groundwater “cop” hands out more criticism of valley plans

Another set of comments critical of how San Joaquin Valley groundwater plans will impact drinking water wells dropped on Friday from the powerful State Water Resources Control Board. The comments focused on plans that cover the City of Fresno and many surrounding towns as well as Visalia and a number of smaller towns in Tulare County. Specifically, it commented on plans covering most of the Kings and Kaweah subbasins.

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Aquafornia news Tehachapi News

Water district asks for hearing in city suit

The Tehachapi-Cummings County Water District has filed a request for a hearing in its lawsuit against the city of Tehachapi. But according to its general manager, Tom Neisler, the filing made in Kern County Superior Court on Nov. 9 is procedural and does not mean that a hearing is imminent. Challenging the city of Tehachapi’s Sept. 7 approval of the Sage Ranch project, the district filed suit on Sept. 16, claiming that the city violated multiple state laws in its approval of the planned development.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Rush is on to drought-proof California’s archaic water system

Droughts come and go routinely in the Golden State, including the last which stretched from 2012 to 2016, but long-term solutions rarely seem to follow. Once the atmospheric rivers finally return to mercifully fill up Shasta Lake and Lake Oroville, the thirst for change evaporates. … But one thing is glaringly different this time around: California’s coffers are overflowing, creating an opportunity for the nation’s most populous state to renovate and prep its outdated water systems for climate change.

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Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

If the Colorado River keeps drying up, a century-old agreement to share the water could be threatened. No one is sure what happens next.

The West could be facing a water shortage in the Colorado River that threatens a century-old agreement between states that share the dwindling resource. That possibility once felt far off, but could come earlier than expected. One prominent water and climate scientist is sounding the alarm that the Colorado River system could reach that crossroads in the next five years, possibly triggering an unpredictable chain-reaction of legal wrangling that could lead to some water users being cut off from the river. 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Adjusting past hydrology for changes in climate

Many water management and regulation decisions require an understanding of current and future hydrology. These include regulatory decisions on new water rights, plans and design for habitat restoration projects, long-lived water infrastructure (conveyance, storage, and levees, etc.), water demands (orchards and vines), groundwater sustainability plans and policies, negotiating long-term agreements and contracts among water agencies and water users, etc. 

Aquafornia news California Water Commission

News release: Third project meets continuing eligibility requirements, moves forward in Water Storage Investment Program

The Chino Basin Conjunctive Use Environmental Water Storage/Exchange Program met the statutory deadline to ensure progress and remain eligible for Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP) funding. Proposition 1, the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014, requires all WSIP applicants to complete their feasibility studies, release a draft version of their environmental documents for public review, provide the DWR director documentation of commitments for at least 75 percent of the non-program funding, and have the California Water Commission find their project feasible no later than January 1, 2022. 

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Editorial: Pull the plug on proposed California water ballot measure

Say this for Central Valley Republicans and Big Ag backers: When it comes to proposing water projects that benefit Central Valley farmers at the expense of urban users and the state’s fragile environment, they are as persistent as an annoying, leaky faucet. The most glaring example is the ongoing and thus-far unsuccessful push for the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta tunnels … The latest scheme comes in the form of a proposed 2022 ballot measure that would require 2% of California’s general fund — about $4 billion a year — be set aside to fast-track water projects with limited environmental review.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin Municipal Water District weighs developer mandates

Developers in central and southern Marin County could be required to pay tens of thousands of dollars in new fees or add water-saving upgrades to their projects under a proposal to reduce demand on water supplies. After facing the potential of running out of water during the drought, the Marin Municipal Water District board is considering requiring future projects in its jurisdiction to have a net-zero demand on reservoirs.

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Aquafornia news PBS NewsHour

Biden administration acts to restore clean-water safeguards

The Biden administration took action Thursday to restore federal protections for hundreds of thousands of small streams, wetlands and other waterways, undoing a Trump-era rule that was considered one of that administration’s hallmark environmental rollbacks. At issue is a regulation sometimes referred to as “waters of the United States,” or WOTUS, that defines the types of waterways qualifying for federal protection under the Clean Water Act.

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Aquafornia news ABC7 San Francisco

California Drought: Water conservation to be mandatory in several South Bay cities after state approves new restrictions

Despite recent rain, California is still in the depths of a drought. Conditions have improved, but barely. Most of the state is still in exceptional or extreme drought. In the South Bay, a million residents will soon be hit with the toughest water restrictions of any major urban area in California. Late Wednesday, the state PUC gave final approval to San Jose Water Company’s plan. Approval by state regulators means the call to cut water use is no longer voluntary for South Bay residents.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Four San Joaquin Valley groundwater plans deemed inadequate

The state’s water agency lambasted groundwater plans drafted by some of California’s largest and most powerful agricultural water suppliers in the San Joaquin Valley, indicating that they fail to protect drinking water supplies from over-pumping. The four large groundwater basins at stake underlie stretches of San Joaquin, Merced, Madera and Fresno counties that are home to nearly 800,000 people and more than a million acres of irrigated agriculture.

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Aquafornia news The Conversation

Opinion: As climate change parches the Southwest, here’s a better way to share water from the shrinking Colorado River

The Colorado River is a vital lifeline for the arid U.S. Southwest. … Southwestern states, tribes and Mexico share the Colorado’s water under the century-old 1922 Colorado Compact and updates to it. But today, because of climate change and rapid development, there is an enormous gap between the amount of water the compact allocates to parties and the amount that is actually in the river. With users facing unprecedented water shortages, the compact is hopelessly inadequate to deal with current and future realities.
-Written by Daniel Craig McCool, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Utah.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Federal funding to bolster current and emerging water infrastructure of the West

The recently enacted Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (Act) may help ease varied water concerns across the country, especially in the West in regard to its supply issues. … Most notably for those in the West, the Act allocates significant funds to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) to support and improve the critical water-related infrastructure on which millions of Americans rely. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Apply for California’s premier water leadership program by Dec. 7

Apply by Dec. 7 for our 2022 Water Leaders class and be part of the cohort that will mark the 25th anniversary of California’s pre-eminent water leadership program. The Water Leaders class, which started in 1997, is aimed at providing a deeper understanding of California water issues and building leadership skills by working with a mentor, studying a water-related topic in-depth and crafting policy recommendations on that topic with your cohort.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Thursday Top of the Scroll: San Jose – New drought rules and water fees go into effect — what they mean for your bill

Late Wednesday afternoon, the California Public Utilities Commission gave final approval for San Jose Water Company to put in place the first drought restrictions in its service area since 2016, during California’s last major drought, and the most stringent rules in any major city in California.

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Aquafornia news Patch, Pasadena

Pasadena sues Caltech over polluted groundwater

Pasadena City officials are suing Caltech over allegations that the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which the university runs, contaminated the local groundwater supply through its rocket research, Pasadena Now reported. A test of the city’s groundwater found it contained toxic chemicals, including perchlorate and carbon tetrachloride, according to the magazine. High levels of perchlorate could lead to both thyroid and lung issues, while carbon tetrachloride is considered a possible carcinogenic to humans.

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Aquafornia news UC Riverside

Blog: UCR experts weigh drought’s long-term impacts

Hoori Ajami, groundwater hydrologist  Q: What will happen to the Central Valley, in terms of groundwater and sinkholes, if farmers continue to grow highly water intensive crops?  A: If farmers continue to pump groundwater at the current rate and do not implement any conservation measures such as managed aquifer recharge, the land subsidence issues become worse. The groundwater levels will drop so far it will not be economically feasible to pump groundwater anymore. The Central Valley aquifer system is already amongst the top three highly depleted aquifer systems in the country. 

Aquafornia news Water and Wastes Digest

Protecting water utilities from cyber threats

Earlier this year, a hacker breached a California water treatment plant and removed programs used to clean water. In another incident that made national headlines, a hacker gained remote access to a Florida treatment plant and increased the amount of lye in the treatment process – a change that a plant employee fortunately noticed and quickly corrected. 

Aquafornia news Law Street Media

Los Angeles Waterkeeper sues senior Aerospace SSP over Clean Water Act

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Waterkeeper filed a complaint in the Central District of California against Senior Operations LLC for violating the Clean Water Act and California’s Storm Water Permit. In the complaint, the plaintiff states it is a California non-profit public benefit corporation dedicated to the preservation, protection and defense of the environment, wildlife and natural resources of Los Angeles’ surface waters. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

CA mostly ignores Newsom plea to conserve water in drought

Californians are still lagging behind Gov. Gavin Newsom’s drought-emergency plea to use less water. Urban residents reduced water consumption by just 3.9% in September, compared with a year earlier, according to data released Tuesday by the State Water Resources Control Board. The August figure was a slightly better 5.1%. … The Sacramento area conservation figures were worse than the statewide average: Residents used 2% less water in September compared with the year before, according to the Sacramento Regional Water Authority.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Opinion: California must do more to keep lead out of drinking water

Benton Harbor, Mich., recently became the latest community where persistent lead contamination in drinking water drew national attention. Media attention to this problem is good, but when it’s in another community or neighborhood, too many of us simply shrug. The truth, however, is that such contamination is much more widespread than the few pockets the public hears about. It’s a serious problem here in California.

-Written by Jenn Engstrom, director of California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG); and Susan Little, senior advocate for the California Government Affairs Environmental Working Group.

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse

With a grim outlook for salmon, California looks to upend the status quo in water policy

State officials have a “grim” outlook for California’s winter-run Chinook salmon along the Sacramento River. The deepening drought and rising temperatures are exhausting agency resources for managing the species to prevent extinction, and with long-term forecasts predicting little precipitation for Northern California in the months ahead, the state is making plans for worst-case scenarios and an emergency overhaul of water management in California.

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Aquafornia news Orange County Water Association

Blog: Tustin’s Simon Ranch Reservoir

There are times when the simplest solution to a tight situation is to simply buy your way out. It doesn’t often present that way in a public utility project, but when it does, the benefits can be overwhelmingly persuasive. Such was the case when Michael Grisso, City of Tustin’s Water Services Manager, joined OCWA for its October webinar to discuss the Simon Ranch Reservoir and Pump Station Replacement Project. Accompanied by Joseph C. Blum, Sr. Project Manager, Butier Engineering, Inc., the two discussed at length the unique circumstances they overcame while upgrading the aged infrastructure.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

‘A spectacular landscape.’ California ranch of late finance giant Dean Witter to become park

Three years ago, a 26,600-acre ranch in remote Northern California, with a 10-bedroom lodge, 16 miles of riverfront and two herds of Roosevelt elk was drawing attention in the nation’s luxury real estate market. … As it turns out, the $25 million plot on the Eel River, which spans both Mendocino and Trinity counties, will go to a conservation group. The Wildlands Conservancy closed escrow on the tract Tuesday and plans to turn this mostly untamed stretch of mountains and valleys into a preserve open to the public.

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Aquafornia news The Recorder

Blog: Industrial machinery company accused of discharging metal-polluted water into Los Angeles River

Flowserve US Inc., a provider of industrial pumps, seals and valves, was hit with an environmental lawsuit Monday in California Central District Court. The complaint, filed by California Coastkeeper on behalf of Los Angeles Waterkeeper, accuses the defendant of discharging metal-polluted water into the Los Angeles River without authorization in violation of the Clean Water Act. Counsel have not yet appeared for the defendant. The case is 2:21-cv-08950, Los Angeles Waterkeeper v. Flowserve US, Inc.

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Sonoma County backs well water regulations, favoring new era of groundwater oversight

Hailed as a complex and historic step, Sonoma County supervisors on Tuesday unanimously endorsed plans to guide use and governance of groundwater relied on by rural residents, farmers and cities. The plans, required by a 2014 state law crafted amid California’s past drought, will eventually include well water use fees in three basins underlying the Santa Rosa Plain and Sonoma and Petaluma valleys.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California, Arizona and Nevada in talks on new plan to save Colorado River water

Two and a half years after signing a deal aimed at averting a damaging crisis along the Colorado River, water officials from California, Arizona and Nevada are discussing plans to take even less water from the shrinking river and leave it in Lake Mead in an effort to prevent the reservoir from falling to dangerously low levels. … For California, the deal would mean participating in water reductions prior to Lake Mead reaching levels that would otherwise trigger mandatory cuts.

Aquafornia news KLAS - Las Vegas

I-Team: ‘Colorado River Compact’ continues to limit how much water Nevada receives

Approximately 40 million people rely on the Colorado River for water, 5% of them, or 2 million are in Nevada. However, the state gets only 1.8% of the river’s water. How did this happen? In 1922, Nevada signed onto the Colorado River Compact. It divided the river between the upper basin (part of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming) and the lower basin (the rest of Arizona, California, Nevada, and New Mexico). … Nevada getting the least, while more than half of the water goes to two states: California and Colorado.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Opinion: Maybe luscious green grass doesn’t belong in a drought-stricken Arizona

Six years ago, I traded a house with a big grassy yard for one landscaped with gravel and cactuses. I’ve held on to the memories of tea time on the lawn with my daughter and our barefoot games of chase on the prickly turf, cool even on the hottest days in Phoenix. Opinions to start the day, in your inbox. Sign up. But whenever I feel nostalgic, I think about a monthly water bill that could push $400. I also think about the waste. Growing grass in the parched Southwest is an act of defiance — against nature and common sense.
-Written by Fernanda Santos, a Washington Post contributing columnist and a journalism professor at Arizona State University. 

Aquafornia news NPR

How one California city cut its water use in half

Despite pleas to conserve water during a historic drought, Californians have not saved much at all this year. But there are exceptions. We look at how Healdsburg dramatically cut its water use.

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Aquafornia news Daily Republic

Solano Irrigation District expects less water for ag customers in 2022

The Solano Irrigation District is anticipating having less water – about 1 acre-foot per acre – to deliver to its agriculture customers in 2022. The SID directors on Tuesday will receive a presentation on the preliminary agriculture water allocation for the new season. … Part of the issue, the report states, is the district’s carryover supply is down, as well as delivery needs to Maine Prairie during this past season.

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Aquafornia news KUER

Utah water projects get a boost from congressional infrastructure bill

A critical Utah water project will get millions from the congressional infrastructure spending bill. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-UT, worked on the bipartisan legislation and received thanks Friday afternoon in southern Utah County from local officials and water managers. They met in Spanish Fork and toured a construction site for a portion of the Central Utah Project — a decades-long project that pipes Colorado River water to the Wasatch Front. It’s getting a $50 million boost, but was almost left out of the final bill, according to Romney.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: A mandate from California to achieve full decarbonization

Countries across the world are coming together in Glasgow for COP26 to discuss how the world will address our climate crisis. …The time for action is now, and as the largest historical contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, the United States has a moral and practical responsibility to reach net zero emissions by or before 2050. … In California, we are facing a nearly year-round threat of wildfires that has been exacerbated by the effects of climate change. This year, we are entering a new drought, which will only increase the threat of these fires.
-Written by Assemblymember Richard Bloom, a Democrat from Santa Monica representing the 50th Assembly District.​

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Settlement has PacBell removing lead cables from Lake Tahoe

AT&T-owned Pacific Bell will remove two large, defunct telephone cables from the bottom of Lake Tahoe, following an agreement reached in federal court in response to a California environmental nonprofit’s legal complaint. The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance filed a complaint this January against Pacific Bell Telephone Co., arguing that the presence of PacBell submarine telephone lines on the west side of Lake Tahoe violates federal and state environmental rules.

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Advancing ridgetop to river mouth water management in California

As the Sacramento River Basin pursues ridgetop to river mouth water management, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) Water Policy Center has recently published its Priorities for California’s Water: Responding to the Changing Climate. The authors of the new brief have stated that: “the current drought and a changing climate are affecting California’s ability to manage water, offering a stark reminder that we must accelerate our response to the disruptive changes underway.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Senior rights holders battle state over water pacts

There are no shortages of critical issues facing Oakdale Irrigation District in central California. As the state looks to take 40% of the district’s springtime river flows, district directors are searching for their next water champion. … In October the State of California informed OID and five other water districts, including the City and County of San Francisco, that it would no longer negotiate over stream flow agreements commonly known as “voluntary agreements.” Under these coerced negotiations, the state seeks to take 40% of river flows…

Aquafornia news Patch, Northridge

LADWP sponsors free water conservation workshops in Northridge

As California’s drought continues and temperatures creep up into the 90s in Northridge and Chatsworth, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is sponsoring two free workshops in Northridge to help residents learn how to reduce their water usage when landscaping. Two “Lawn Be Gone” workshops on Saturday, Nov. 13, and Saturday, Nov. 20 will teach residents how to remove turf without chemicals and install sustainable landscaping, incorporate low water-use native California plants, capture and recycle rainwater, install efficient drip irrigation, mulch to make healthy soil, and more.

Aquafornia news Daily Breeze

Editorial: State needs leadership on groundwater

In 2014, the California Farm Federation warned of “huge long-term economic impacts” if Gov. Jerry Brown signed the package of bills that comprised the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and put groundwater under state regulation for the first time in California history. … It’s happening now. Farmers in the San Joaquin Valley are idling so many thousands of acres that the region is now facing an issue of dust control.

Aquafornia news Bay Nature

How California policy harms beavers

The beaver in Holsworth’s neighborhood created a habitat that’s in critical demand in drought-stricken California. Over the last couple of decades, researchers have amassed evidence of beaver’ benefits in ecological restoration and of their native role in the state’s natural landscape. But the California Department of Fish and Wildlife still operates under beaver legislation that hasn’t substantially changed since 1981. Under these regulations, property owners can only remove the dams or kill the beaver. 

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Opinion: Don’t allow water district board to dismantle green Marin

Homes of all sizes across Marin reflect investments incurred over years to create and maintain yards that not only bring homeowners great pleasure but, importantly, add property value whether the property is small or large. If the Marin Municipal Water District Board of Directors has its way, we are alarmingly close to losing yards and greenery that are a core part of the beauty of Marin.
-Written by Rosy Rogers, of Larkspur, a writer and editor who worked as a corporate marketing chief in the biotech space. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tiny Sacramento water district ripped for ‘safety dangers’

An obscure north Sacramento water district has been accused by a grand jury of neglecting millions of dollars in overdue repairs, failing to inform customers quickly about chemical contamination, operating largely in secret and even ignoring a directive by the county’s top prosecutor on the proper procedures for awarding an engineering contract. Del Paso Manor Water District is the subject of a blistering report this week by the Sacramento County Grand Jury, which said the tiny agency is “flooded with public safety dangers.”

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Lake Mead water level to be bolstered by $100M plan

States in the lower Colorado River basin are developing a $100 million plan that will leave more water in Lake Mead over the next couple of years. The goal is to keep the lake from hitting a critical level that would leave the reservoir more vulnerable to rapid decline. … The negotiations between Nevada, Arizona, California and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for additional reductions in water use come just months after the federal government declared Lake Mead’s first water shortage.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: How much groundwater is rural Arizona using? NASA satellites could give us a better answer

How much groundwater is rural Arizona using? Good question. There are basically no regulations on pumping outside of the state’s five Active Management Areas. So, whoever has the deepest well wins – an approach that is steadily draining aquifers all over the state.
-Written by Joanna Allhands, Arizona Republic columnist. 

Aquafornia news Reuters

California agency sues 3M, others over groundwater contamination

California’s largest groundwater agency has sued 3M Co, Corteva Inc, the Chemours Co and other manufacturers and sellers of industrial and consumer products over claims they contain a toxic chemical that polluted drinking water in Los Angeles. The Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD), which oversees drinking water supplied to 43 cities in Los Angeles County, alleges in a complaint made public Tuesday that the companies knew products ranging from firefighting foam to textiles and non-stick cookware would pollute groundwater …

Aquafornia news ABC10.com

Sacramento County water district accused of not reparing system

The Del Paso Manor Water District is under fire by the Sacramento County Grand Jury due to a wave of concerns ranging from water contamination to aging infrastructure and even not complying with California’s monitoring requirements. According to a Sacramento County’s news release, the formal complaint comes after a seven-month investigation into the water district. County officials say that the water district failed to complete $35 million in repairs and upgrades that could lead to potential failure for the entire water complex.

Aquafornia news Law 360

California water district tells 9th Circuit it can’t give trout water

A California water district on Monday asked the Ninth Circuit to reject environmentalist groups’ bid to revive a suit aimed at securing more water releases from a dam for a protected trout’s benefit. 

Aquafornia news Nossaman

Webinar: Turning the tide on cybersecurity for the water sector

Cyberattacks on organizations worldwide surged 40% in 2021. September 2021 broke records for the number of weekly cyberattacks, topping all other months since January 2020. Currently, one out of every 61 organizations worldwide is impacted by ransomware attacks every week. Given this ever-increasing threat level, a national law requiring critical infrastructure organizations to report cybersecurity incidents to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is on the horizon. 

Aquafornia news ABC7 - Los Angeles

How safe is LA’s water? Environmental group says legal limits still pose health risks

You turn on the tap and expect clean water. But what exactly is in that water? Analysts at EWG, a nonprofit environmental group, found a number of chemicals that are known to cause cancer. … EWG has a new tap-water database. Analysis of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power water found the level of arsenic 430 times its own EWG recommendation. It also found chromium at 29 times recommended levels, and acids from disinfectants at 184 times.

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Aquafornia news Patch, Palos Verdes

Palos Verdes: How do you get your grass replacement rebate?

If you replaced your grass and switched to a water-resistant garden, then you can learn Tuesday night about how to take advantage of savings. Join the West Basin Municipal Water District at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday for an interactive virtual discussion with water efficiency experts who will answer your questions about the district’s grass replacement rebate application process.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

New Kern River Watermaster in the wings

It appears a new Kern River Watermaster will be chosen to replace Dana Munn, whose contract winds up at the end of this year. If he’s officially approved by all the voting members of the “river interests,” Mark Mulkay will likely become the fourth ever Kern River Watermaster. He said he’s discussed it with all the parties and let them know he wants the job. Other sources confirmed that the river interests, entities that hold rights to the Kern River, have unofficially agreed on Mulkay as incoming Watermaster.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Managing water stored for the environment during drought

Storing water in reservoirs is important for maintaining freshwater ecosystem health and protecting native species. Stored water also is essential for adapting to the changing climate, especially warming and drought intensification. Yet, reservoir operators often treat environmental objectives as a constraint, rather than as a priority akin to water deliveries for cities and farms. 

Aquafornia news Colorado State University

Blog: Colorado State University Spur Water symposium shares scaleable solutions

One key takeaway: The situation around water is dire – more dire than it has ever been before. Yet, as the Fourth Annual CSU Spur Water in the West Symposium convened experts from across the country on Wednesday, the focus was on learning from one another’s successes and finding solutions at-scale to water issues. The Water in the West Symposium was launched in 2018 as an early offering of the CSU Spur campus, set to open its first public-facing building in Denver this January. 

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

The new state law that could end Tooleville’s fight for clean water

For more than two decades the small Tulare County community of Tooleville has been without a secure supply of safe drinking water. The simplest solution would be to connect the town’s water system to that of its neighbor, the City of Exeter. It would take less than a mile of pipe to get it done. But years of red tape and failed negotiations have kept the consolidation from taking place.

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin, Sonoma to create groundwater storage banks for future droughts

North Bay water suppliers are partnering to create what would essentially be a water banking system to draw from during times of drought – and replenish when supplies are ample. The Sonoma Water agency has already begun the work to bring three existing wells in the Santa Rosa Plain online to supply another source of water to Marin and its other customers in response to the drought. The agency has reactivated these wells for every drought since 1977, but now plans to upgrade them for the first time to allow water to be injected back into them.

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Aquafornia news Patch, Pleasanton

Pleasanton’s appeal of housing mandate to be decided this week

Pleasanton will officially learn Friday whether it will succeed in its efforts to lower the number of housing units it must plan for in the years to come. The odds do not appear to be in the city’s favor. Pleasanton was one of 27 local governments to appeal their Regional Housing Needs Allocation to the Association of Bay Area Governments, a planning agency that focuses on finding regional solutions to issues such as housing, water or environmental matters.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

To fight off a California dust bowl, the state will pay farmers to reimagine idle land

Farmer Erik Herman said he couldn’t help but feel a tinge of remorse as he looked out over the dirt field where an orchard of 8,000 fig trees stood until earlier this month, when they were uprooted by bulldozers in the name of conservation. The orchard, seven miles outside Madera in the sprawling San Joaquin Valley, is another casualty of the water shortage that is forcing farmers in the nation’s top-producing agricultural region to abandon otherwise fertile ground en masse.

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Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

Fresno area groundwater agencies build for drought resilience at record pace

In the short span of two years, Kings Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agencies in California’s Central Valley have invested in 600 acres of prime groundwater recharge land. This land represents 15 dedicated basins that are constructed or in development. There are thousands of landowners and many communities that overlie the Kings Subbasin that are dependent on the subbasin’s groundwater supply.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

PG&E fights lawsuit over century-old gas plant pollution

In a lawsuit over century-old pollution from a defunct gas plant, two lawyers urged a federal judge Wednesday to adopt their interpretations of what historic business records say about Pacific Gas and Electric’s liability for potential groundwater contamination. … [Attorney Stuart] Gross represents plaintiff Dan Clarke, a former San Francisco resident seeking a court order that would force PG&E to investigate and clean up contamination allegedly left by the Cannery gas plant, which was owned and operated by PG&E’s predecessors from 1899 to 1903.

Aquafornia news Valley News

Eastern Municipal Water District receives fed grant for drought relief

The Perris-based Eastern Municipal Water District received a six-figure federal allotment to bolster conservation efforts involving farmers and ranchers amid the worsening drought in California, it was announced Wednesday, Oct. 27. … The WaterSMART Initiative is part of a collaborative strategy by the NRCS’ parent agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture…

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Aquafornia news The Acorn

Water officials turn up the heat on conservation measures

Despite the pre-Halloween “atmospheric river” that dumped nearly 8 trillion gallons of rain in Northern and Central California, reservoirs feeding the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District saw relatively little precipitation. Local communities got less than 1 inch. As the state endures a second year of a drought that’s brought below average snowpack, record high temperatures and lower than expected runoff, the water district has put a call out to its 75,000 customers telling them they’ll have to do more with less.

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Aquafornia news High Country News

Judge rejects a Trump-era water contract in a win for tribes in California

On Oct. 27, in a victory for tribes in Northern California, Fresno County Superior Court Judge D. Tyler Tharpe rejected a Trump-era water contract between the federal Bureau of Reclamation and Westlands Water District, the public entity in charge of distributing water to farms in California’s San Joaquin Valley. … The contract would have given Westlands permanent access to 1.15 million acre-feet of water from the Trinity River … without ensuring that Westlands paid an estimated sixth of the $400 million it owed the Bureau of Reclamation for ecosystem restoration.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Report: Priorities for California’s water

Water is central to how California adapts to a changing climate. To those of us steeped in the complexities of managing the state’s water resources, the current fast-moving drought—coming on the heels of the record-breaking 2012–16 drought—is a stark reminder that we must accelerate preparation for the disruptive changes underway.

Aquafornia news Albany (NY) Times Union

‘Green Amendment’ added to New York state Constitution

State voters broadly approved a constitutional amendment guaranteeing New Yorkers the right to “clean air and water and a healthful environment”  …. While it mirrors legislation adopted by Pennsylvania and a handful of other states, its New York roots are in the Capital Region: Following the crisis over toxic contamination in Hoosick Falls, residents and advocacy groups statewide demanded a constitutional right to clean water.

Aquafornia news Economics Outside the Cube

Blog: Considerations for designing groundwater markets

The California Water Commission staff asked a group of informed stakeholders and experts about “how to shape well-managed groundwater trading programs with appropriate safeguards for communities, ecosystems, and farms.” I submitted the following essay in response to a set of questions. In general, setting up functioning and fair markets is a more complex process than many proponents envision. 

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Newsom administration breaks off water talks

Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration has signaled its desire to go ahead with rigid fish flow increases despite the deepening drought and hydrology changes in precipitating patterns the state’s own experts are anticipating. The state last week abruptly broke off negotiations with agencies representing water users on the Stanislaus, Merced, and Tuolumne watersheds regarding its desire to implement new fish flows that will essentially reduce water available for urban and farm uses.

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Aquafornia news Fox 11 Los Angeles

Exclusive: MWD admits wasting hundreds of thousands of gallons of water

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the largest supplier of treated water in the country, is admitting to FOX 11 that it wasted hundreds of thousands of gallons of water or more. … At a time when MWD asked residents to cut back, FOX 11 learned irrigation just at MWD headquarters jumped by 854,216 gallons. To be clear, those aren’t massive numbers, but it is enough to supply dozens of families with a year’s worth of water.

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Aquafornia news Center for Biological Diversity

News release: Lawsuit seeks endangered species act protection for rare California fish

The Center for Biological Diversity sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today for failing to protect two populations of imperiled speckled dace under the Endangered Species Act. The Service failed to make required decisions on protection for the Santa Ana speckled dace, in Southern California, and the Long Valley speckled dace in Mono County, which is nearing extinction in the wild.

Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

With less water on the Western Slope and in the Colorado River, the state wants new rules on how to measure and track what’s there

Colorado water managers are making more people track and report how much water they’re using, as decades of drought have diminished supplies on the Western Slope. For the first time, the state is also pushing for new rules that spell out how some rights-holders should measure their water use as each drop of Colorado River water becomes more valuable.  Kevin Rein, director of the Colorado Division of Water Resources, presented the rules to a full house at Jackson County’s event center in Walden.

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Aquafornia news Sonoma County Gazette

Opinion: Gratitude for our imperiled Sonoma Coast

If Fifth District residents passively let development interests lead the way, expanded viticulture and associated sales, planned communities, depletion of groundwater, traffic, gravel mining, etc, will overtake our landscape. We will lose the beauty of open space, natural habitat and the bit of solitude still left to very early risers. The bridge now being built over Scotty Creek at Gleason Beach is a glaring example of things to come, as cement and pavement, rather than natural methods for shoreline stabilization, is apparently the County’s preferred solution—economically and politically—to sea level rise.
-Written by local activists Richard Retecki and Laura Morgan. 

Aquafornia news WaterWorld

California to offer additional $200M for drought relief

The Calif. Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced the release of the program guidelines and proposal solicitation package to distribute $200 million in funding available through the Urban and Multibenefit Drought Relief Grant Program. Designed to help communities facing the loss or contamination of their water supplies due to drought, the Urban and Multibenefit Drought Relief Grant Program aims to address immediate drought impacts on human health and safety, protect fish and wildlife resources and provide other public benefits, such as ecosystem improvements.

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Flows to increase; water districts cry foul

The Newsom administration has informed regional water districts that it will move forward with a plan to increase flows from San Joaquin River tributaries in an action that may create more water uncertainty for farmers. A notice from the California Natural Resources Agency and state Environmental Protection Agency represents a departure from the state’s earlier willingness to consider voluntary agreements with water districts, which includes aspects other than just flow increases.

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Aquafornia news San Luis Obispo Tribune

SLO County water utility sues companies over contamination

The Atascadero Mutual Water Company is suing three prominent companies after chemicals linked to cancer and other health conditions were found in wells that supply drinking water to the city. The water utility’s product liability lawsuit, filed Oct. 15 in San Luis Obispo Superior Court, aims to recover damages from 3M Co., DuPont and Chemours Co., which use the chemicals. Known as “forever chemicals,” perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are used in manufacturing and have appeared in products such as Teflon cookware, firefighting foam, cosmetics and water- and stain-resistant products since the 1940s … 

Aquafornia news Sacramento News & Review

Sacramento-area waterways see a rare legal win over SoCal special interests

On October 27, Fresno Superior Court Judge D. Tyler Tharpe tossed out the Westlands Water District’s proposed permanent federal water contract from the Central Valley Project that would have allocated roughly double the amount of water from Northern California that Los Angeles residents use in a year.  Tharpe found Westlands, the largest federal irrigation district in the nation, to have “misled the court and the public,” according to a statement from the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), one of the organizations that joined in the lawsuit against Westlands.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Commentary: Restore the California promise by securing our water future

California’s water history flows across my farm in the North State community of Oroville. A canal carved in the early 1990s passes beneath my olive groves. It was an extension of original conveyance systems inspired by gold seekers, who fashioned one of California’s earliest water delivery systems in the 1890s on the Feather River, near my home. … Now, as president of the California Farm Bureau, I am fighting to uphold and restore the promise of sustainable water delivery in my state. 
-Written by Jaime Johansson, president of the California Farm Bureau

Aquafornia news Congressional Research Service

Report: Dam removal and the federal role

Dam owners sometimes consider dam removal as a policy option to address dam safety, ecosystem restoration, or other concerns. The National Inventory of Dams (NID) lists more than 90,000 dams in the United States, many of which function as part of the nation’s water infrastructure and provide benefits (e.g., flood control, hydroelectric power, recreation, navigation, and water supply). Stakeholders may consider the removal of a dam for various reasons—for example, if a certain dam requires major dam safety modifications or no longer provides its intended benefits.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: California must act urgently on climate

A delegation of 15 state lawmakers is joining a conference of world leaders in Scotland to discuss climate change solutions. As leaders of the world’s 5th largest economy, their participation is important, but it’s more urgent for them to act once they return. … The climate is already changing. This summer was California’s hottest on record, after the 2010s were the hottest decade ever. California just experienced its driest year in a century. Every corner of the state faces severe drought.
-Written by Mike Young, the political and organizing director for California Environmental Voters.

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Aquafornia news KRXI - Reno

How is every drop of the Truckee River managed? Some say the share may not be fair

The big storm that dumped rain and snow on northern Nevada did not relieve us from our severe drought. All that rain in Reno and Sparks quickly filled the Truckee River but most of it is just surface runoff. Every drop of that water in the Truckee is already spoken for, no matter how high or low the water levels. … Jim Litchfield who is a former surface water hydrologist says not everyone getting a fair cut of the water.

Aquafornia news Voice of OC

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Proposed ballot measure could save controversial HB desal plant proposal if state regulators deny it

A proposed statewide ballot measure could save a highly controversial desalination plant proposed in Huntington Beach, if it gets shot down next year by the California Coastal Commission — what’s viewed as the project’s tallest regulatory hurdle. The measure is being pushed by at least two prominent, Orange County water officials with either past ties to Poseidon or a history of advocating for desalination in general.  

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

These small Fresno County farmers are struggling to get water from their wells amid the drought

June Moua started growing cherries, tomatoes and grapes in east Fresno County 10 years ago. Now she grows a few different types of crops. But her most profitable are the water-intensive Asian greens like mustard greens and bok choy. … She says she learned how to farm from her father when she was younger. Since then, she’s learned even more through trial and error. She enjoys bringing these Southeast Asian crops to farmers markets in Los Angeles, but the drought has put her in a tough position.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Opinion: Gov. Newsom’s Department of Water Resources minions to poor folks of Kettleman City: Drop dead

If you want to see the future of California fill up your tank with $4.80 per gallon gasoline and take the Golden State autobahn better known as Interstate 5 and head 160 miles south to Kettleman City.  It’s slightly bigger than the proverbial wide spot on the road. It is home to around 1,200 souls of which most are in households where often both parents toil in fields sometimes along with their teen-age children who join them during summers, weekends, and even after school.
-Written by Dennis Wyatt, managing editor of the Manteca Bulletin.   

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

Opinion: Conservation is critical during drought, but not the only solution

Gov. Gavin Newsom has extended the drought emergency statewide and called on all Californians to redouble their efforts to conserve water. His call to action is critical even with the storms that recently soaked California, because we know that a lot more rain and snow will be needed to lift the state out of the drought. The Governor’s approach to statewide conservation is laudable, as well, because it continues to empower water managers with matching local water supply conditions with conservation, rather than relying on statewide mandates.
-Written by Steve LaMar, President of the Association of California Water Agencies; and Sean Bigley, chair of the Regional Water Authority and Assistant Environmental Utilities Director for the City of Roseville.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

A California town refused to help its neighbors with water. So the state stepped in

Exeter, less than a mile away … has refused to connect Tooleville to its water system. The engineering is simple: 0.7 miles of pipe. The human risk of not doing it is high. Tooleville water is contaminated with the carcinogen hexavalent chromium (chrom-6), and sometimes nitrates linked to agriculture and bacteria….Among a slew of water bills signed in September was one inspired largely by Tooleville’s struggle. Called the “proactive water solutions bill,” SB 403 gives the state the power to mandate and fund consolidation when there is an at-risk water system.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Monday Top of the Scroll: California drought – Key talks over water use break down, S.F. may face tighter regulation

For nearly three years, some of California’s biggest water users, including San Francisco, have been quietly meeting with the state to figure out how much water they should be taking from the San Joaquin River and its tributaries. The talks were launched to prevent some of California’s mightiest rivers from drying up, and keep fish populations from disappearing, while still allowing cities and farms to draw the supplies they need. The vision was nothing short of a grand compromise on divvying up California’s water. But late last week, the state conceded the negotiations had failed.

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Aquafornia news AP News

Friday Top of the Scroll: Judge won’t validate water deal for California farm supplier

A California judge has declined to validate a contract granting permanent access to federally controlled water for the nation’s largest agricultural water supplier, a move that means the U.S. government is not bound by terms of the deal. Environmentalists had blasted the contract between the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Westlands Water District as a sweetheart arrangement designed to benefit corporate agricultural interests over environmental needs and taxpayers. It was crafted during the Trump administration under then-Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a former lobbyist for Westlands …

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Here is a plan to create more water for California

Re “California should create more water – much more“; Commentary, Oct. 28, 2021 There is an answer to Jim Wunderman’s position that “state and federal governments should commit to creating 1.75 million acre feet – about 25% of California’s current urban water use – of new water from desalination and wastewater recycling by the end of this decade”: the Water Infrastructure Funding Act of 2022, a constitutional initiative proposed for the November 2022 state ballot. 
-Written by Shawn Dewane, vice president of the Mesa Water District; Edward Ring, co-founder of the California Policy Center; Stephen Sheldon, president of the Orange County Water District; Geoffrey Vanden Heuvel, director of regulatory and economic affairs for the California Milk Producers Council; Wayne Western Jr., board director of the California Farm Water Coalition.

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Holistic approach to water management for Trinity River

A new water management program is being proposed for the Trinity River to help dwindling salmon populations. The Yurok Tribe helped develop the plan through its participation in the Trinity River Restoration Program (TRRP), which is comprised of tribal, state, and federal agencies, and then submitted it to the Bureau of Reclamation for approval where it currently lies. The new water release plan will shift some of the water normally released from Lewiston Dam in late spring to the winter and early spring, which will create conditions that more closely mimic a free-flowing river.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Biden admin to uproot Trump ‘critical habitat’ policies

The Biden administration today moved to rescind Trump administration policies that crimped the designation of critical habitat to protect threatened or endangered species. In a pair of long-anticipated moves, the Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries proposed getting rid of a Trump-era definition of critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act. FWS is also proposing to end a policy that made it easier to exclude territory. Taken together, the two proposed rule changes could significantly alter the much-litigated ESA landscape and, supporters say, enhance conservation and recovery of vulnerable animals or plants.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Monterey Peninsula water district’s buyout of Cal Am stalled by LAFCO

If California American Water Co. was trying to delay an intergovernmental agency’s vote to allow efforts by the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District to move forward in its effort to acquire the assets of Cal Am, as many people charged on Monday night, it worked. Unanimous votes from appointed commissioners of the Local Agency Formation Commission of Monterey County, or LAFCO, continued any decision on prerequisites needed for a buyout until Dec. 6 following the submission of hundreds of pages of documents, leaving commissioners little time to review them before Monday’s meeting. 

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Storms bring pause for state drought orders in Modesto and beyond. They could return

The recent storms allowed California to suspend the drought curtailment orders that had been imposed during the summer. Cities and irrigation districts now are free to capture river runoff that had been unavailable because of the orders. Officials warned that they could fall back into place if the state gets another stretch of dry weather.

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Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Opinion: Water bonds failed bone-dry California. A 2022 initiative offers a different path

Over the past decades there have been many “Water” initiatives or propositions presented to California’s voters. Some of them have included such wet provisions as funding for large public soccer field complexes and most of them had more to do with conservation and urban needs than increased storage and infrastructure. They also relied heavily on bonds to fund themselves. Two recent water propositions have brought and dashed hope for Valley water needs: 2014’s Prop. 1 and 2018’s Prop. 3.
-Written by Don Wright, a contributor to The San Joaquin Valley Sun and the publisher of WaterWrights.net.

Aquafornia news Spectrum News 1

Burbank places restrictions on landscape water use

In the seven years Simon Hammel has lived in his Burbank home, he says he’s replaced at least 60% of the grass that used to be there. It’s now primarily mulch, drought-tolerant plants and fruit and veggie trees. Hammel is trying his best to do as much as he can to conserve water and live eco-friendly. … In July, Gov. Gavin Newsom asked all Californians to reduce their water use by 15%. The city of Burbank implemented a Sustainable Water Use Ordinance, limiting residents outdoor watering systems to three days a week, for 15 minutes — not including hand watering.

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Aquafornia news Stanford - Water in the West

Blog: Reasons for hope amid California’s drought

Despite the rain that drenched central and northern California recently, drought still casts a long shadow over the state. The consequences of a multi-year water shortage are dire: reservoirs that serve millions of people and massive swaths of farmland are disappearing, hydroelectric dams are in danger of losing power and wild salmon are facing mass die outs….Stanford water experts Newsha Ajami, Rosemary Knight, Felicia Marcus and Barton “Buzz” Thompson discuss lessons learned from previous droughts, imperatives for infrastructure investment and reasons for hope in this arid era.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: California should create more water – much more

Wouldn’t you know it? Just like washing your car, almost the moment I finished writing this article, the skies opened up.  I’d write one every day if it meant ending our water woes. But it tells you everything you need to know about California’s dire water situation – that the atmospheric river that recently pummeled Northern California and other parts of the state doesn’t even begin to make a dent in our drought. And it highlights the urgency for California to create more water. Much more.
-Written by Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council, a nonprofit public policy organization.

Aquafornia news Yuba Water Agency

News release: New Forest Resilience Bond will finance $25 million of restoration to reduce wildfire risk on the Tahoe National Forest in California

World Resources Institute, Blue Forest Conservation, National Forest Foundation, U.S. Forest Service, Yuba Water Agency and the North Yuba Forest Partnership are pleased to announce the launch of the second Forest Resilience Bond (FRB): the Yuba II FRB. The new FRB on the Tahoe National Forest will finance $25 million in forest resilience and post-fire restoration projects in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains to restore 48,000 forested acres, protect nearby communities, and enhance water security.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

State moves toward higher flows on Tuolumne and nearby rivers. Irrigators vow a fight

The state is moving ahead with its proposal to boost flows on the Tuolumne and nearby rivers, to the dismay of irrigation districts and San Francisco. The reservoir releases are needed to help fish and other wildlife on tributaries to the San Joaquin River, two cabinet secretaries said in a letter Thursday, Oct. 20. The water users contend that the releases would take too much from farms and cities supplied by the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers. They have instead sought “voluntary agreements” that would increase reservoir releases to some extent while enhancing fish habitat in other ways, such as restoring spawning gravel for salmon.

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Aquafornia news Estuary News Magazine

Habitat tramplers run amuck – cows versus creeks

[A] suite of federal, state, and local laws ostensibly protect California’s watersheds from pollution, and volumes of codes are dedicated specifically to safeguarding streams and rivers from cattle. Yet through a variety of loopholes and exemptions, and possibly agency languor, roaming cows have access to many of the state’s waterways. Here, the animals denude riverbanks, eliminate riparian habitat, and degrade water quality. High concentrations of manure-born bacteria are known to flow from Marin County cattle ranches into the waters surrounding Point Reyes.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

Water conservation is key in expanded California drought declaration

Despite a wet week so far all signs are pointing to yet another year of drought, and the governor is putting more effort behind his water conservation agenda. … Bolstering conservation efforts, the proclamation enables the State Water Resources Control Board to ban wasteful water practices, including the use of potable water for washing sidewalks and driveways. The governor issued an executive order in July calling on Californians to voluntarily reduce water use by 15% compared to 2020 to protect water reserves and complement local conservation mandates.

Aquafornia news KALW

One planet: In California, one million people lack access to clean water

On this edition of Your Call’s One Planet Series, we’re discussing a four-part series by Capital & Main on the disproportionate impact of California’s worsening drought on communities of color and low-income people living in rural and farming areas in California. Nearly 10 years ago, California enacted the Human Right to Water Act to help beleaguered communities in the state. This landmark legislation obligates the state to work towards safe, clean, affordable and accessible drinking water to the one million residents without it. What is being done to provide rural communities with affordable and clean water?

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Aquafornia news Spectrum News 1

As need to test water for microplastics grows, California finds way

Wherever you get your drinking water, there’s a good chance it contains some amount of tiny plastic pieces. There aren’t a lot of rules or regulations around this particular pollutant because it is considered an emerging contaminant, but that is changing. Scott Coffin, a research scientist who works for the State Water Resources Control Board, is proud of a recent accomplishment: an official, streamlined process to monitor microplastics in drinking water.

Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

Climate insurance? California Department of Insurance releases report to re-imagine insurance

With so many extremes hitting California, the state is now talking about Climate Insurance. The next disaster – combined with a lack of insurance that many can’t afford and is getting even more expensive – has the state considering a new community-based approach to lower risk, and make sure more people are protected against catastrophic weather events. … Ideas to lower risk include building wetlands to store water in floods, creating statewide hazard maps so residents are clear on the risks where they live, and naming heatwaves like hurricanes so people properly prepare.

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Aquafornia news CBS Los Angeles

Los Angeles receives $224 million loan from EPA for water recycling project

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has granted a $224 million loan to the City of Los Angeles. The loan will be used to fund a project that aims to purify wastewater and replenish the depleted San Fernando Basin. The project, called The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), aims to purify 15.5 million gallons of the city’s wastewater every day, a move that would replenish both the basin and its aquifers – a body of rock that can contain or transmit groundwater.

Aquafornia news KGET 17 - Bakersfield

Rep. Valadao requests emergency declarations from Biden and Newsom in the wake of drought and storms

Congressman David Valadao (R-21) sent a letter signed by several other congress members requesting federal and state emergency declarations in the wake of the drought and recent storms in California. Valadao, with Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-23) and other Republican representatives sent a letter to President Biden and Governor Newsom requesting that all limitations on Delta pump operations be lifted to allow water from the recent storm to be used to help the many farms that have been devastated by the drought.

Aquafornia news California Water Commission

News release: First two projects meet continuing eligibility requirements, move forward in Water Storage Investment Program

Two projects in the Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP), the Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project and the Harvest Water Program, met the statutory deadline to ensure progress and remain eligible for WSIP funding. Proposition 1, the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014, requires all WSIP applicants to complete their feasibility studies, release a draft version of their environmental documents for public review, provide the DWR director documentation of commitments for at least 75 percent of the non-program funding, and have the California Water Commission find their project feasible no later than January 1, 2022.

Aquafornia news American Society of Civil Engineers

Blog: California water district moves ahead with PFAS treatment systems

Beginning in 2019, multiple retail water providers in Orange County, California, elected to shut down several dozen groundwater wells because they were found to contain low levels of a class of contaminants known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. In a region that depends heavily on groundwater for its water supplies, the closures have proved expensive… Following an extensive study of various methods of removing PFAS from drinking water, the Orange County Water District recently began operations at the first of more than 30 planned PFAS treatment facilities.

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin Municipal Water District tightens usage restrictions

Most Marin County residents will be prohibited from turning on their sprinklers and drip irrigation systems under new drought restrictions starting in December. The Marin Municipal Water District board voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt an ordinance that bans residents from using outdoor irrigation systems including overhead sprinklers and drip irrigation from Dec. 1 through May 31. Hand spot watering using a hose and spray nozzle or a watering can is still allowed. 

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Cal Water applies for permission to raise penalties for irrigation violations

Local customers of California Water Service may soon face enforcement actions against their use of outdoor irrigation if state regulators give the company permission to advance to the next phase of its water shortage contingency plan. … Approval of Cal Water’s request would double fines for customers watering outdoor landscapes more than two days per week outside the hours of 6 p.m. to 8 a.m., unless local ordinances say otherwise. 

Aquafornia news E&E News

Court strikes down Trump EPA water permitting rule

A federal judge on Friday struck down a Trump-era regulation that limited the ability of states and Native American tribes to regulate water pollution. For nearly half a century, EPA had largely given states and tribes the authority to review and certify Clean Water Act permits for federally approved projects like dams and pipelines that discharge pollution within their boundaries.

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Aquafornia news Grist

Study: Toxic fracking waste is leaking into California groundwater

Between the late 1950s and 2008, Chevron disposed [fracking wastewater] produced in Lost Hills in eight cavernous impoundments at its Section 29 facility. Euphemistically called “ponds,” the impoundments have a combined surface area of 26 acres and do not have synthetic liners to prevent leaking. That meant that over time, salts and chemicals in the wastewater could leak into the ground and nearby water sources like the California Aqueduct, a network of canals that delivers water to farms in the Central Valley and cities like Los Angeles. And that’s exactly what happened, according to new research … 

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

New suit attempts to squash late-calendar water transfers to Valley during drought

Environmental advocates and a pair of Delta-centric water agencies launched a suit seeking to halt water transfers to San Joaquin Valley water users occurring in the late fall. It’s the latest in a half-decade of litigation aimed at stopping all water transfers – a key drought-era tool for parched Valley water users – from water users awash with water north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Weaponizing California water against illegal pot growers

[T]he extreme water scarcity plaguing [Mount Shasta Vista, in] … far Northern California was not the result of dwindling snowpack or plummeting reservoir levels. Instead, it was due to a concerted government effort to “choke out” a problem that had vexed Siskiyou County officials for years: the illicit, large-scale cultivation of marijuana in a single subdivision that is largely Asian. In the spring of this year, county supervisors effectively outlawed the transportation of water into a rural tract that had become known for its prolific cultivation of pot, squalid living conditions and large population of Hmong farmers.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Judge nixes Trump-era rule limiting review of water projects

A judge has vacated a Trump-era rule that limited states’ ability to review federally-permitted water projects. When the federal government OKs a permit for a project that will discharge into navigable waters, state governments have the right to review the project to make sure it complies with state laws. States can approve, modify or deny the permit. Former Republican President Donald Trump’s administration issued new rules that limited states’ ability to review these permits. Attorneys general in California, Washington and New York led a coalition of 21 states to sue to block this rule.

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Aquafornia news Village News

Effort by local water districts to change water suppliers moves into next phase

The advisory committee, established by the San Diego County Local Agency Formation Commission to analyze applications from the Fallbrook and Rainbow water districts to change water suppliers, is expected to complete its work by the end of this year and forward its recommendation to the full commission. After enduring years of soaring water costs from the San Diego County Water Authority and having to pay for infrastructure projects that don’t serve the districts and that they don’t need, Fallbrook Public Utility District and Rainbow Municipal Water District are seeking to detach from the Water Authority and begin purchasing their water at a reduced rate from Eastern Municipal Water District.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

‘Dirt broker’ gets year of probation for Clean Water Act violation

A “dirt broker” whose prison sentence for illegally dumping pollutants into protected wetlands was overturned by a federal appeals court last year pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Clean Water Act and agreed to serve one year of probation, prosecutors confirmed Thursday. For a fee, James Lucero provided trucking companies and contractors with an open space to dump dirt and construction debris. Lucero’s dumping sites were separated from Mowry Slough by a levee made of packed dirt. 

Aquafornia news KQED

Healdsburg cut its water use in half. What’s in the city’s secret, water-saving sauce?

Cutting water use became a bit of a competition for retiree John Diniakos and his wife Merrilyn Joyce after the city mandated a 40% water restriction back in June. … Diniakos and Joyce live in Healdsburg, in Sonoma County. … Just like the rest of the state, Healdsburg is gripped by drought. But the city is conserving at a much higher rate than California overall. Healdsburg nearly cut its water use in half in August, compared to the same time last year. Californians overall saved just 5% …

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Aquafornia news Discover Magazine

Yes, people are now trading and investing in water as a commodity

Now California almond farmers and electric utilities, both of which use massive amounts of water, can bet against the future availability of water. And just last year, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange started the first-ever futures market for water, meaning farmers, as well as investors, municipalities and hedge funds, can buy a legal agreement known as a “futures contract” that locks in a predetermined price for water that will be used in the future. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water By Gary Pitzer

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

The Resource

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

Western Water Gary Pitzer

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

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

Foundation Event

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

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

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Gary Pitzer and Douglas E. Beeman

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

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

Water 101 Workshop: The Basics and Beyond

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

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

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

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

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

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

Announcement

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

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

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

Western Water Layperson's Guide to California Wastewater Gary Pitzer

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

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

Western Water Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Douglas E. Beeman

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

Dear Western Water readers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Optional Groundwater Tour

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

McGeorge School of Law
3327 5th Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95817
Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Douglas E. Beeman

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

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

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

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

Headwaters Tour 2018

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

Headwaters tour participants on a hike in the Sierra Nevada.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water Jennifer Bowles Jennifer Bowles

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

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

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

Foundation Event University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law

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

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

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

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

Headwaters Tour 2019
Field Trip - June 27-28

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

Aquapedia background Layperson's Guide to California Wastewater

Wastewater Treatment Process in California

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

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

Aquapedia background

Salton Sea

Salton Sea

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

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