The Sacramento River is California’s largest river, providing 35 percent of the state’s developed water supply. The river helps support the valley’s millions of acres of irrigated agriculture and is home to wildlife and a range of aquatic species, including rearing habitat for 70 percent of all salmon caught off the California coast.
Once called “the Nile of the West,” the Sacramento River drains the inland slopes of the Klamath Mountains, the Cascade Range, the Coast Ranges and the western slopes of the northern Sierra Nevada. The river stretches some 384 miles from its headwaters near Mount Shasta to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The Bureau of Reclamation updated its 2019 allocation for the Central Valley Project South-of-Delta, increasing the westside water allocation to 70 percent of the contract total. Said Mid-Pacific Regional Director Ernest Conant: “The late storms provided an added boost to the already above average precipitation for 2019. Snowpack throughout the state is still about 150% of average for this time of year.”
Barbara Vlamis is smiling. Often, the executive director of the Chico-based advocacy group AquAlliance wears a steely expression, as her work involves David-versus-Goliath battles against powerful interests—namely, government agencies and water brokers. Now, she’s satisfied, even a bit celebratory.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and his allies have filed a lawsuit to stop Federal water users from participating in the raising of Shasta Dam, a federal dam. … Plain and simple, this is a lawsuit waged against Central Valley farmers.
As part of efforts by Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) to assess its 2014-2016 turf replacement program during the California drought, we evaluated how yards changed after converting a lawn through a MWD rebate in LA County. We also evaluated trends in participation across cities.
Like everyone else in Santa Clara Valley who uses wells, farmers will see their groundwater production charges go up 6.8 percent this year. But unlike the others, they’ll continue to receive substantial subsidies. In approving the increased charges for well users, the Santa Clara Valley Water District board left intact for at least two years the current structure that allows farmers to pay only 6 percent of the amount residents and businesses pay.
The big conflicts are deeply interconnected and appear to be reaching their climactic phases. How they are resolved over the next few years will write an entirely new chapter in California’s water history, changing priorities and perhaps shifting water from agriculture to urban users and environmental enhancement.
The lawsuit against the Fresno-based Westlands Water District was filed in Shasta County Superior Court on Monday. State officials have for years maintained that raising the height of the dam would violate the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act because a higher dam would further inundate the McCloud River, in violation of state law.
Five years ago, Deb Fallows and I made the first of what became many visits to the farming town of Winters, California. … When we first visited five years ago, the main question for the area’s nut-tree farmers, and for California’s agricultural economy as a whole, was whether the state’s drought-ravaged water supplies could support such commercially valuable but water-intensive crops.
In reality, the WaterFix could not increase water exports while protecting the Delta ecosystem. That’s because California’s snow and rainfall are highly variable, making it unlikely that existing supplies can meet increasing water demands reliably into the future. Plus, the science demonstrates that San Francisco Bay’s fish and wildlife need more water, not less, to flow from the Central Valley to the Bay.
With the administration’s leadership, representatives of farmers, cities and conservation groups are having productive negotiations on a complex package of actions that would increase river flows and improve fish habitats, collectively called a “voluntary agreement.” A possible final agreement is months away, but we are making progress.
In response to a story that aired Thursday night on CBS13, the City of Sacramento is now responding and creating a task force to combat a growing public safety concern. Homeless campers are carving into levees that protect Sacramento from flooding, a break in the levee could be devastating.
When people think of natural disasters in California, they usually think of earthquakes, drought or wildfire. But the worst disaster to ever hit the Golden State was the Great Flood of 1862. When people of European descent first arrived in California, the native people told them tales of great deluges in which the rivers overran their banks and large areas of land were inundated. The newcomers paid little heed to these stories, and often settled in low-lying areas with easy access to water sources.
Following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to withdraw permits for the proposed Twin Tunnels project in favor of a smaller single tunnel, Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano, issued a letter to the governor expressing support for the decision while also outlining alternative water plans.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the Central Valley Project, may update its 65% allocation for south-of-delta agricultural contractors later this month. But Lon Martin, general manager of the Los Banos-based San Luis Water District, said landowners who are planting crops and must secure water for the remainder of the year “cannot wait until May and June to make decisions.”
Paddlers of every skill and age from the U.S. and abroad will be making their way down the Sacramento River on May 26 in the California River Quest. … The course flows through riparian forests and oak woodlands “teaming with wildlife and plants” as well as a section that runs through a lava canyon, said Matthews.
DWR has not yet disclosed whether it intends to withdraw the WaterFix bond resolutions, which are subject to numerous challenges in litigation DWR filed to validate the bonds. It remains unclear what will happen with the validation action now that the project and cost estimates these items are based on no longer exist.
Gov. Gavin Newsom killed the divisive twin tunnels project Thursday, calming fears that have roiled the delta communities and dominated California water politics for more than a decade. It is a signature decision for the young administration.
The Newsom administration announced it is withdrawing permit applications that the Brown administration had submitted to the State Water Resources Control Board, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and several federal agencies. Instead, the administration said it will begin environmental studies on a one-tunnel project.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration officially pulled the plug Thursday on the twin Delta tunnels, fullfilling Newsom’s pledge to downsize the project to a single pipe as he attempts to chart a new course for California’s troubled water-delivery system.
Ellen Hanak, director of the PPIC Water Policy Center, testified today (April 30, 2019) before the Assembly Subcommittee on Water, Parks and Wildlife, at a hearing on balancing water needs into the future in the San Joaquin Valley. Here are her prepared remarks.
Yes, some fish died — including endangered Chinook salmon — but overall rebuilding the Fremont Weir has done its job and saved hundred of others. That was the response of Allen Young, public information officer for the California Department of Water Resources, after reports surfaced last week that at least 13 Chinook salmon and other fish couldn’t make it through the weir designed to get them safely into the Sacramento River and died.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call on Monday for a new comprehensive water plan for California looks like a smart timeout on one of the state’s trickiest and most intractable battlefronts. As with many political hot potatoes, there is no way to make everyone happy when it comes to water management, because the sides have mutually exclusive goals…
Local officials have put a renewed focus on making sure one of the area’s crown recreational jewels – the San Joaquin River Delta – is clear and operational. Over the weekend the California Department of Boating and Waterways, in conjunction with the San Joaquin County Sherriff’s Office boating unit, removed a sunken vessel from the San Joaquin River that has been underwater for the past three years.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday ordered key state agencies to develop a blueprint for meeting California’s 21st-century water needs in the face of climate change.The executive order includes few details and doesn’t appear to set a dramatic new water course for the state. Rather, it reaffirms Newsom’s intentions to downsize the controversial twin tunnels project in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, use voluntary agreements to meet new river flow requirements and provide clean drinking water to impoverished communities.
It’s an exceptional year for Sierra snowpack — 150 to 200% in some places. Mountain snow is the main water source for agriculture on the Valley’s west side. But those farmers are getting just 65% of their allocation… Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen says it’s frustrating that in a water year this good, some farmers still can’t get enough of it to grow food.
Part of sustaining salmon populations is improving the survival and fitness of young salmon as they grow for weeks to months before out-migrating to the Ocean. … This year, UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences and California Trout have four different studies over approximately 100 miles using floating cages with baby salmon inside.
An automated gate was supposed to open once water levels got high enough to overflow into the bypass, allowing fish to swim back into the Sacramento River. But in February … too much water was pouring through the passage, eroding the structure. Officials had to close the gate almost entirely, meaning fewer fish could escape. The Department of Water Resources is now facing an expensive upgrade to an already multimillion structure to make it ready for the next rainy season.
Senate Bill 1 … would encourage state agencies, such as regional water quality control boards, Fish & Wildlife, the Air Resources Board, and CalOSHA, to resist Trump administration rollbacks by allowing them to consider applying federal standards for protection in effect as of January 19, 2017, the day before Donald Trump took office, and maintain them in case he is re-elected next year.
One of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first actions after taking office was to appoint Wade Crowfoot as Natural Resources Agency secretary. Then, within weeks, the governor laid out an ambitious water agenda that Crowfoot, 45, is now charged with executing.
That agenda includes the governor’s desire for a “fresh approach” on water, scaling back the conveyance plan in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and calling for more water recycling, expanded floodplains in the Central Valley and more groundwater recharge.
Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, thinks there is a better way to find water solutions for California’s Central Valley and to stop squandering water in wet years that’s needed in dry years. His bipartisan water legislation unveiled Wednesday promises federal support for storage and innovation projects to address shortages that too often plague Valley agriculture and communities.
While all other Central Valley Project contractors’ allocations were previously increased to 100% of their contract totals in recent months, the Bureau of Reclamation announced Wednesday that agricultural districts South-of-Delta will receive only 65% percent of their historic water allocation. … In light of current hydrologic and reservoir conditions, Westlands Water District officials said this minor increase in water allocation is “astonishing.”
In court, the California Environmental Quality Act is a familiar obstacle to projects large and small — housing developments, solar projects, even bike lanes. It’s also lately become a weapon in the state’s major water conflicts.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration is taking unprecedented steps to combat President Donald Trump’s efforts to ship more water to his agricultural allies in the San Joaquin Valley. Saying Trump’s water plans are scientifically indefensible and would violate the state’s Endangered Species Act, the state Department of Water Resources on Friday began drawing up new regulations governing how water is pumped from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the southern half of the state.
California is a wonderful place to study water. So many interesting and important problems, thoughtful and insightful authors, and much to be learned. Here is a selection of readings (updated from a 2012 post) on California water.
Despite a decades-long rescue effort, the tiny delta smelt appears closer than ever to vanishing from its only natural home, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Now, some worry it won’t be long before the only place the once-abundant species exists is within the confines of an artificial tank.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt began working on policies that would aid one of his former lobbying clients within weeks of joining the Trump administration, according to a POLITICO analysis of agency documents … Newly disclosed schedule “cards” prepared by Interior officials for Bernhardt show more than three dozen meetings with key players on California water issues, including multiple lengthy meetings on specific endangered species protections at the heart of his previous work.
For centuries, the Delta was a dynamic and rich ecosystem of tidal wetlands, riparian forests, and vast seasonal floodplains. But about 98 percent of the native habitat disappeared after the Gold Rush and a population boom across the Golden State.
In SB1, State Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins provides a compelling case to protect California’s air, navigable water, drinking water and workers. … However, despite our recognition that some in our state feel recent administrative rulings and legislative changes to federal law may not be the right prescription for California, we believe this legislation is overbroad, duplicative and unworkable.
Assessing populations of fall-run Chinook salmon in California’s Central Valley isn’t as simple as counting how many adults have returned to a given stream to spawn. A process known as “source-sink dynamics” may be concealing the fact that certain populations are not self-sustaining.
The Bureau of Reclamation announced Wednesday that it will supply South-of-Delta growers with 65% of their contracted water total. … Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno), who is a grower and one of the top water policy experts in Congress, said that he expected the initial west-side allocation in February to be 50%, followed by a 75% revise.
The California Farm Bureau delegation met last week with more than 20 members of the California congressional delegation, with a particular emphasis on members newly elected in 2018. They met with U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, two days before the Senate confirmed his appointment as the Cabinet’s newest member. For the first time in several years, they conducted a briefing for congressional staff members, to describe key issues facing California farmers and ranchers.
Federal and state water managers have coordinated operations of the CVP and the parallel State Water Project for many decades. … But this intergovernmental water policy Era of Good Feeling (relatively speaking) has come to a sudden and dramatic end with the ascension of the Trump Administration.
A total of 300,000 salmon were released into the Sacramento River on Saturday. Half were dropped at their usual location at Coleman Fish Hatchery near Anderson in Shasta County, and the other half were released 75 miles downstream, at Scottys Landing on River Road near Chico. Surgeons fit the fish with tiny radio transmitters so they can more easily study their survival chances and homing instincts.
At least 11 Democratic senators asked the inspector general to investigate a range of claims against Bernhardt … The inspector general also received a request from Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, asking the office to examine whether Bernhardt played a role in the department’s handling of endangered species in the San Francisco Bay Delta…
Even as winter and early-spring storms have filled reservoirs to the brim and piled snow on Sierra Nevada mountaintops, state and federal officials say they’re limited in how much water they can send south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
Bernhardt has a roster to fill, with gaping vacancies in key positions. He’s got, by his own account, a departmental ethics program to fix and an ambitious reorganization scheme that critics decry or simply dismiss. He’ll have to cope with a multibillion-dollar national parks maintenance backlog and thread the needle with an offshore drilling plan. And as he’s already discovered during his short stint as acting secretary, he faces opposition from Democratic lawmakers in control of the House.
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.
Assemblyman Jim Frazier spoke out in frustration Wednesday when his bill to increase local representation on the Delta Stewardship Council died Tuesday in a committee hearing. Unable to get his bill past the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, Frazier blamed Southern California water special interests
When Babbitt speaks, people take notice, and he didn’t disappoint before a packed house at the annual Anne J. Schneider Lecture April 3 in Sacramento, offering thoughts on some of California’s thorniest water issues and proposing a Bay-Delta Compact, a kind of grand bargain to end persistent conflict surrounding the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Will hatchery-raised salmon have a better chance of surviving their journey to the Pacific Ocean and back if they get a 75-mile head start? That’s the question a three-year study hopes to answer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and four partner organizations. The plan Saturday is to release 180,000 salmon fry into the Sacramento River 75 miles downriver from the Coleman National Fish Hatchery.
The Anderson Cottonwood Irrigation District, or ACID, Canal was covered in tree debris after the snow and rain storms. The workload was enough that Congressman Doug Lamalfa called in the California Conservation Corps.
For the millions of Californians who live and work far from the Delta, it can be easy to overlook the splendor of the largest estuary in western North America. Whether you are one mile or hundreds of miles from the Delta, however, all Californians have a stake in the survival and preservation of this fragile, dynamic ecosystem that is also the keystone of the state’s water supply system.
How can state and federal agencies help California’s largest agricultural region address its difficult water management problems? This was the theme of an event last week that brought together PPIC experts with top officials working on issues related to water, agriculture, and natural resources.
Our rules, cobbled over time from various state water right decisions or federal biological opinions, are too rigid. Pumping rules in the Delta on Nov. 30, for example, are very different than those 24 hours later, regardless of the weather. … Simply put, we are stuck in yesterday’s way of regulating things.
Administered by the National Park Service (NPS), NHAs are defined by NPS as a grassroots, community-driven approach to heritage conservation and economic development. They differ from national parks in several significant ways. Primarily, NPS does not take ownership of the land encompassed within an NHA and no land-use restrictions are placed upon landowners.
Tehama and Butte counties teamed up Friday to host a Northern Sacramento Valley forum on sustainable groundwater held at Rolling Hills Casino. … The forum was a chance to look at neighboring agencies and see similarities and differences as well as how they are progressing in the planning, Fulton said. It was a place to connect with the agency in their area so they would know where to go if they had questions.
People living in flood-prone areas throughout Shasta County seemed to be breathing easier Friday after a long winter dealing with high water threats. For months, many have been watching the rivers and creeks around their homes, in case the waters started to rise. However, despite wet weather and increased water releases from Keswick Dam this week, the residents we spoke with Friday say their waterways are staying at manageable levels.
So just what would a one-tunnel project look like? A workshop for Metropolitan Water District board members compared a single tunnel project at both 3000 cfs and 6000 cfs to the California WaterFix project, looking at water delivery capability, the ability to divert stormwater flows, water quality benefits, reverse flows, seismic events, and project costs.
A previously unreleased invoice indicates that David Bernhardt, President Trump’s choice to lead the Interior Department, continued to lobby for a major client several months after he filed official papers saying that he had ended his lobbying activities. The bill for Mr. Bernhardt’s services, dated March 2017 and labeled “Federal Lobbying,” shows, along with other documents, Mr. Bernhardt working closely with the Westlands Water District as late as April 2017, the month Mr. Trump nominated him to his current job, deputy interior secretary.
One video follows Matthew Sligar on a “typical 14-hour workday” during the planting season. Another offers a step-by-step explanation of how rice is planted in Butte County. In others, he takes viewers on virtual tractor rides and demonstrates important tools, like his autonomous agriculture drone. Sligar doesn’t shy away from controversial topics, either, such as weed and pest control management and water usage.
Current water sharing proposals fail to achieve the balance needed to restore our salmon runs. Meanwhile, additional massive increases in Delta diversions are planned by the Trump administration under these agreements, which would make conditions for salmon even worse. This is a formula for extinctions and the end of salmon fishing in California. There is no support for this proposal among fishermen or conservationists.
Officials predict they might need to open the gates to move water that accumulated during the wet winter season from the reservoir down into the Feather River. … Amy Rechenmacher, an associate professor of engineering practice at USC, said the spillway’s use is going to be a big test for the agency and engineers who worked on the project.
An oversight at the Coleman National Fish Hatchery resulted in the death of some 390,000 fall Chinook salmon this week. Water was shut off to one of the hatchery’s raceways and wasn’t turned back on during fish-tagging operations Thursday night..
Antioch’s plan to build a long-awaited brackish desalination plant got a major boost this week when the City Council officially accepted a $10 million state grant that will pay toward design and construction. The city’s grant was one of three statewide to be awarded in March 2018 from the Department of Water Resources for desalination projects under Proposition 1…
The town of roughly 1,000 people is located in the north-east part of the county and surrounded by active waterways. It has flooded multiple times in the past. Goals of the study included reducing the risk of flooding while enhancing habitat restoration and providing safe access to the river, according to Sabatini’s presentation.
On our Bay-Delta Tour June 5-7, participants will hear from a diverse group of experts including water managers, environmentalists, farmers, engineers and scientists who will offer various perspectives on a proposed tunnel project that would carry water beneath the Delta, efforts to revitalize the Delta and risks that threaten its delicate ecological balance.
A California law that passed in 2014 gave local control to agencies to manage their groundwater. The Glenn Groundwater Authority – created in 2017 – is an agency that was formed under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act to regulate groundwater at a local level. … The GGA was created by forming a joint exercise of powers agreement which was signed by nine local agencies. The purpose is to be the groundwater sustainability agency for the Glenn County portion of the Colusa Subbasin.
State officials are throwing up legal barriers to some high-stakes attacks. … They are refusing to issue permits the federal government needs to build a controversial dam project… And they can use state water quality standards to limit Washington’s ability to boost irrigation supplies for Central Valley agriculture by relaxing federal safeguards for endangered fish.
The state of California declared the drought is over – but don’t touch your sprinkler programming. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says the city is not easing watering restrictions because the next “drought is right around the corner,” and conservation is “the new normal.”
As the Sacramento River rose in late February and early March due to a series of storms, it spilled over and flooded several hundred acres of recently planted fields south of Hamilton City. Just the way it was planned. The river poured through a gap that had been opened in the old J Levee and flooded a habitat restoration project between the riverbank and a new levee that had been built, set back from the river a mile or so.
Any new path on California water must bring Delta community and fishing interests to the table. We have solutions to offer. We live with the impacts of state water management decisions from loss of recreation to degradation of water quality to collapsing fisheries. For example, how can new and improved technology be employed to track real time management of fisheries?
In the month since Governor Newsom announced that he does not support a dual-tunnel Delta water supply conveyance, activity in the more than 20 state and federal lawsuits challenging California WaterFix and other administrative approval processes related to the “twin tunnels” has slowed or been briefly stayed. The stays reflect the uncertainty surrounding the project in light of the Governor’s comments…
Move over global warming or cooling, California has a new environmental disaster called groundwater. And where there’s an emergency, we have ambulance-chasing regulators and lawmakers with bureaucratic fixes. Why are we having groundwater problems? It’s plain and simple: Groundwater is replacing surface water.
The Trump administration has fast-tracked a process to deliver more water to farms. But an investigation by KQED reveals those changes are raising alarm among federal employees. In this interview, we speak with KQED science reporter Lauren Sommer about why, and what’s at stake.
Good news for state water contractors: The State Water Project allocation just doubled from last year’s estimate for the 2019 water year. The California Department of Water Resources announced that the allocation has increased from 35 to 70 percent for most state water contractors. The department transports state water to 29 contractors, including the Kern County Water Agency.
The Bureau of Reclamation announced that the water allocation for South-of-Delta Central Valley Project (CVP) agricultural water contractors has been increased from 35 percent to 55 percent. The increase is an improvement for the farmers and farmworkers in the Westlands Water District, but, given the healthy hydrological conditions throughout the state, today’s announcement is a disappointment.
West Side agriculture, the diverse industry which is the background of the local economy, faces an array of challenges in the year ahead. … Water continues to be an uncertainty for growers served by federal agencies such as the Del Puerto Water District which runs along the I-5 corridor, despite heavy snow packs and filling reservoirs.
Ventura has released reports detailing the environmental impacts of two sizable projects expected to increase the city’s water supply and reliability… One involves tapping into the city’s long-held investment into state water. The other project would capture effluent from Ventura’s wastewater treatment plant, treat it and turn it into drinking water.
Political leaders responsible for the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin are launching discussions about which multi-million-dollar water projects could help solve the aquifer’s woes—and how basin pumpers will pay for them. In the future, the basin, which serves much of Paso Robles wine country, could start receiving water from the State Water Project, Lake Nacimiento, and/or the Salinas Dam.
Pretty soon, the next phase of life for the Sacramento River waterfront could become evident — with help from the public needed to make it happen. … The Waterfront Idea Makers contest that the City of Sacramento commissioned to breathe new life into its riverfront enters a critical stretch this month. On March 13, the city will host an open house at the Hall, Luhrs & Co. building in Old Sacramento to showcase the design teams’ work and submissions from the public and kids.
Recent rains have left the San Joaquin Valley’s reservoirs in better shape, but groundwater depletion and the resulting ground subsidence continue to beset farmers and water managers. What will this year hold? … Your best opportunity to understand the challenges and opportunities of this vital resource in the nation’s breadbasket is to join us on our Central Valley Tour April 3-5.
Hundreds of Bakersfield agriculture, oil and political leaders came together March 7 to examine the challenges and opportunities associated with providing California residents and businesses with a secure, reliable supply of clean water. Lest the wet winter create a sense of complacency around one of the state’s most vital needs, specialists from various fields urged collective attention to the costly and increasingly complex problems that surround sourcing, storing and conveying water.
A bill from Sen. Bill Dodd that would increase legislative oversight of the controversial Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta WaterFix project and allow for more public scrutiny has cleared its first committee hurdle. The action comes less than a month after Gov. Gavin Newsom said he wants to scale back the project proposed by former Gov. Jerry Brown to a single tunnel.
Every spring, a group called the Pacific Fishery Management Council gets together and looks at the salmon forecasts from the Puget Sound all the way down to the Sacramento River in California….The Sacramento River runs are expected to rebound a bit, but the Klamath and Columbia River forecasts are lower than last year.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued a $35 million contract to continue the Sutter Basin Project – strengthening a stretch of Sutter County levees. The project will allow repairs to continue on approximately five more miles of the Feather River west levee between Tudor Road and Cypress Avenue in south Sutter County, according to a press release from the corps.
Bills introduced last week by Bakersfield Republicans in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., would redirect money from the state’s high-speed rail project toward reservoir projects, as well as repairs to Friant-Kern Canal. … The proposals by U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy and state Assemblyman Vince Fong seize upon a common frustration among many valley Republicans that billions of state and federal dollars dedicated to high-speed rail would be better spent on capturing water from wet years…
When then-candidate Donald Trump swung through California in 2016, he promised Central Valley farmers he would send more water their way. Allocating water is always a fraught issue in a state plagued by drought, and where water is pumped hundreds of miles to make possible the country’s biggest agricultural economy. Now, President Trump is following through on his promise by speeding up a key decision about the state’s water supply. Critics say that acceleration threatens the integrity of the science behind the decision, and cuts the public out of the process.
For a region so crucial to the growth of California as we know it today, you might think there would be libraries full of books about the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. And yet, as UC Merced scholar Gregg Camfield wrote several years ago, the most obvious thing about the literature of the Delta “is how little there is.” Advocates of the largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas are trying to collect those scattered bits and pieces in a new anthology of the Delta.
Recent plans to enlarge California’s Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet have raised concerns over possible cultural and ecological implications on wildlife among the Winnemem Wintu people and environmental groups alike. … The change in flood patterns would likely affect vital sacred sites for the Winnemen Wintu Puberty Ceremony for young women, according to the Winnemem Wintu website. The project would also relocate roads, railroads, bridges and marinas, according to a fact sheet from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
Congressman Kevin McCarthy introduced legislation Thursday to repurpose federal funding for the high-speed rail project. The Repurposing Assets to Increase Long-term Water Availability and Yield (RAILWAY) Act would take funding from the high-speed rail project and use it for water infrastructure projects in California and the West… McCarthy’s proposed legislation is cosponsored by every Republican member of the California Congressional Delegation.
The Trump Administration has ordered federal biologists to speed up critical decisions about whether to send more water from Northern California to farmers in the Central Valley, a move that critics say threatens the integrity of the science and cuts the public out of the process. The decisions will control irrigation for millions of acres of farmland in the country’s biggest agricultural economy, drinking water for two-thirds of Californians from Silicon Valley to San Diego, and the fate of endangered salmon and other fish.
The extra water from Shasta Lake would raise the lake by an estimated 20 feet, inundating the McCloud River, which is protected by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. That piece of legislation was designed to protect the trout that heavily populate those waters. And it’s not just state law that speaks out. One of the provisions of the 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act is to protect fisheries up and down the state’s major rivers. Raising Shasta Dam now would only be possible by overturning those two laws.
The Sacramento Valley’s flood management system is a good example where a portfolio of actions has greatly reduced flood damages and deaths, with relatively little management expense and attention in a highly flood-prone region. This case also illustrates how the many individual flood management options presented in the table can be assembled into a diversified cost-effective strategy involving the many local, state, and federal parties concerned with floods.
During our three-day Central Valley Tour April 3-5, you will meet farmers who will explain how they prepare the fields, irrigate their crops and harvest the produce that helps feed the nation and beyond. We also will drive through hundreds of miles of farmland and visit the rivers, dams, reservoirs and groundwater wells that provide the water.
The real-world implications of Gov. Newsom’s rejection of the twin tunnels project became more apparent last week as the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation requested and were granted a 60-day stay of hearings with the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB).
The current dilemmas boil down to this: As the state punishes cannabis growers in the Emerald Triangle for environmental degradation, it is simultaneously pursuing an aqueduct project in the Central Valley that environmental groups claim will cause ecological harm of massive proportions. This project stands to benefit the “big ag” industry, which California’s newly legal cannabis companies are increasingly participating in.
If California is going to prevent further depletion of aquifers and survive droughts like the one that afflicted it from 2011 to 2017, the state will need to manage its groundwater usage. In the central valley, a group of organizations is working on a project that could stem the tide by combining two technologies: the internet of things (IoT) and Blockchain.
Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Creek, working with Republican Doug LaMalfa of the First District, have introduced the Sites Reservoir Protection Act to support building the reservoir and other water infrastructure in the Central Valley. The act, also known as House Resolution 1453, would direct the Bureau of Reclamation to complete a feasibility study for the project in Colusa and Glenn counties.
Four new voting members, each appointed by representatives of the Delta region, would be added to the Delta Stewardship Council if a bill authored by Assemblyman Jim Frazier becomes law. … Frazier introduced Assembly Bill 1194 this week. It would increase the voting membership of the council to 11 members.
One tunnel or two, neither idea adds a drop of the water to needs of the nearly 40 million people who call California home. The tunnels simply divert existing water supplies while putting in severe jeopardy the largest freshwater estuary west of the Mississippi River, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta that juts into the western edge of Stockton. Clearly, there must be better solutions. Three approaches leap to mind: storage, conservation and desalination.
Complaints are mounting against Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt over allegations he used his position to help the interests of his former lobbying client, California’s powerful Westlands Water District. The nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint accusing Bernhardt of ethics violations by partaking in decisions directly related to his past lobbying work, resulting in rules that would free up more river water to Fresno-based Westlands and weakening protections for certain endangered fish populations.
Yuba Water Agency is presenting a collaborative framework to the State Water Resources Control Board today, a detailed plan to improve fish and wildlife habitat conditions in the San Francisco/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary watershed (Bay-Delta), including fisheries enhancement measures on the lower Yuba River.
When California’s new governor announced during his February 12 State of the State address that he didn’t support WaterFix as a two-tunnel behemoth, he received a loud burst of applause. Yet, in the next breath, when Newsom added he supported a one-tunnel version, no applause followed. That’s partly because the one-tunnel announcement hasn’t alleviated fears of people living on the north side of the estuary. Hood, Clarksburg and Courtland property owners still face the very real possibility of being hit with eminent domain.
Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano, introduced the Sites Reservoir Protection Act Thursday to provide federal support for the building of Sites Reservoir and other water infrastructures in the Central Valley. The act, also known as House Resolution 1453, would direct the Bureau of Reclamation to complete a feasibility study for the project Colusa and Glenn counties.
Local groundwater regulatory agencies set up under 2014 legislation in California are discussing future rationing schemes with irrigators as they scramble to submit long-term aquifer sustainability plans to the state by a deadline of early next year. Local regulators are discussing a combination of new supplies and land-use conversions, says David Orth, a principal at the Fresno-based New Current Water and Land, LLC, a strategic planning firm.
The Yolo Bypass is central, both geographically and in importance, to California’s water supply and flood protection system, according to Bontadelli. However, proposed modifications to the Bypass to enhance habitat for out-migrating endangered winter and spring-run young salmon means the it will be key to the continued pumping of water south for agriculture and urban users.
The San Joaquin Valley—California’s largest agricultural region and an important contributor to the nation’s food supply—is in a time of great change. The valley produces more than half of the state’s agricultural output. Irrigated farming is the region’s main economic driver and predominant water user. Stress on the valley’s water system is growing. Local water supplies are limited, particularly in the southern half of the region.
Since 2006, California has been releasing periodic reports on how the state should adapt to the potential impacts of climate change. The most recent report is unique in that it also looks at key climate risks from a regional perspective. Our news director Alice Daniel recently spoke with Joshua Viers, a watershed scientist at UC Merced and one of the authors of the San Joaquin Valley assessment.
If you stand on a fragile levee of the Sacramento River these days and watch the chocolate brown water rushing toward the delta only a few feet under your boots, one can’t help but wonder why the state and federal governments aren’t capturing more of this precious resource. Why is all but a tiny fraction heading out to sea?
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s references to water in his first State of the State address were brief and a bit patchy, but they were enough to make fiercely competing factions each believe the new governor had their backs. But water policy in California is never that easy.
Now stripped of its once vast wetlands and nearly sucked dry from the overpumping of groundwater during the West’s increasingly common droughts, the fertile valley is in need of a reboot: Its aquifers have shrunk and the remaining water is often contaminated with nitrate and salts. Citing a new water law that will have major effects on water suppliers and farmers, experts are calling for an “all hands on deck” approach to fixing the valley’s water woes.
Although ending groundwater overdraft will bring long-term benefits, it entails near-term costs. We find that only about a quarter of the Valley’s groundwater deficit can be filled with new supplies at prices farmers can afford. The rest must come from managing demand. We estimate that ending the overdraft will require taking at least 500,000 acres of irrigated cropland out of production.
When it floods in California, the culprit is usually what’s known as an atmospheric river—a narrow ribbon of ultra-moist air moving in from over the Pacific Ocean. Atmospheric rivers are also essential sources of moisture for western reservoirs and mountain snowpack, but in 1861, a series of particularly intense and prolonged ones led to the worst disaster in state history: a flood that swamped the state. What would happen if the same weather pattern hit the state again?
A single tunnel would perform almost as well as two tunnels, particularly when operated in tandem with the existing pumps in the south Delta. It would cost substantially less. And it would give assurances to environmental groups and Delta residents that the project would not create the large impacts many fear. Environmental groups should take this opportunity to sign on to a new approach for managing the Delta.
If the Trump administration wanted to increase California’s water supply by the most cost-effective means possible, it would immediately drop its attempt to raise Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet. It would instead put $1.5 billion — the cost of the proposed Shasta enlargement, in 2019 dollars — toward a completely different approach to water supply: watershed and forest restoration.
It’s shaping up as a wetter-than-usual winter in California, putting to rest fears of another drought hitting anytime soon. Depending on where you live, though, you will still likely face some limitations on how much you can water your lawn this summer.
When operating, Sites Reservoir will provide significantly more water during drier periods, to become a new drought-management tool to address California’s water management challenges into the 21st century and beyond. Innovative and environmentally sound, Sites Reservoir will provide water to enhance the environment when it can provide greater benefits and provide a resilient and reliable supply of water for our communities, farms and businesses.
Metropolitan General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said … the agency intends to work constructively with the Newsom administration on developing a WaterFix project “that addresses the needs of cities, farms and the environment.” But Kightlinger expressed frustration that the project will be delayed even more.
At the end of 2017, several local rice farmers teamed up with researchers for a pilot program known as “Fish in the Fields” through the Resource Renewal Institute, a nonprofit research and natural resource policy group, to see what would happen when fish were introduced to flooded rice fields. Now in its second year of experiments, researchers have concluded that it works, with methane – a climate-changing byproduct of rice agriculture much more detrimental than carbon dioxide – being reduced by about two-thirds, or 65 percent, in flooded fields that had fish in them.
Two experts from Stanford’s Water in the West program explain the potential impacts on the future of water in California of the proposed plan to downsize the $17 billion Delta twin tunnels project. … Leon Szeptycki, executive director of Stanford’s Water in the West program, and Timothy Quinn, the Landreth Visiting Fellow at Water in the West, discussed the future of water in California and potential impacts of a tunnel system.
Over the past two years, scared off by the anticipated costs of storing water there, Valley agricultural irrigation districts have steadily reduced their ownership shares of Sites. The powerful Metropolitan Water District of Southern California … is nearly as big an investor in Sites as all of the Sacramento Valley farm districts combined. Metropolitan agreed Tuesday to contribute another $4.2 million to help plan the project.
At long last, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta twin-tunnels boondoggle is dead. Good riddance. Gov. Gavin Newsom made that official Tuesday during his State of the State address, calling instead for a smaller, single-tunnel approach that would include a broad range of projects designed to increase the state’s water supply. Bravo. It’s a refreshing shift from Gov. Jerry Brown’s stubborn insistence that California spend $19 billion on a project that wouldn’t add a drop of new water to the state supply.
Congressman Kevin McCarthy led his California colleagues in sending letters to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation requesting a substantial initial water supply allocation to Central Valley Project contractors using authorities under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act. Additionally, he and his colleagues from California also sent a letter to the California Department of Water Resources calling for an increase to the existing water supply allocation to State Water Project contractors given current hydrological conditions.
The wet weather broke a daily rainfall record in Sacramento, with 1.6 inches of rain recorded at the Sacramento Executive Airport over 24 hours. But the state’s network of flood-control dams and levees appeared to handle the deluge without major problems. The National Weather Service issued a flood warning Wednesday morning for the Sacramento Valley, and it was expected to remain in place until 6 p.m. Thursday as heavy and moderate rainfall was forecast to continue through Thursday.
In a major shift in one of the largest proposed public works projects in state history, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday announced he does not support former Gov. Jerry Brown’s $19 billion plan to build two massive tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to make it easier to move water from the north to the south. “Let me be direct about where I stand,” Newsom said. “I do not support the twin tunnels. But we can build on the important work that’s already been done. That’s why I do support a single tunnel.”
As a lobbyist and lawyer, David Bernhardt fought for years on behalf of a group of California farmers to weaken Endangered Species Act protections for a finger-size fish, the delta smelt, to gain access to irrigation water. As a top official since 2017 at the Interior Department, Mr. Bernhardt has been finishing the job: He is working to strip away the rules the farmers had hired him to oppose.
Questions about financial liability and concerns over weighted votes among member agencies of the Central Coast Water Authority prompted the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors to take no action on transferring the state water contract to that joint-powers agency. … CCWA has been trying to have the contract reassigned since it was formed in 1991, but the Department of Water Resources would not agree to the request because it was unclear if a joint-powers agency could levy a property tax if a member defaulted on financial obligations.
While campaigning for president in 2016, Donald Trump promised a cheering Fresno crowd he would be “opening up the water” for Central Valley farmers… Trump took one of the most aggressive steps to date to fulfill that promise Tuesday by proposing to relax environmental regulations governing how water is shared between fish and human uses throughout the Central Valley.
Despite many high priority issues on his plate, one of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first tests will be how he deals with California’s water challenges and opportunities. Unfortunately, in the last days of his term Gov. Jerry Brown made a bad bargain with the Trump administration and special interests. It’s yet another mess for the new governor to mop up.
President Donald Trump on Monday nominated David Bernhardt, the former top lobbyist for a powerful Fresno-based irrigation district, to run the Department of the Interior, raising renewed questions about whether he’d try to steer more California water to his former clients. … Bernhardt is a former lobbyist for Westlands Water District, which serves farmers in Fresno and Kings counties and is one of the most influential customers of the federal government’s Central Valley Project.
Details of the Sacramento River portion of the SWRCB’s plan are still preliminary, but we expect the required water releases to be higher for the Sacramento River, and its tributaries, than they are for the San Joaquin River. SWRCB staff is currently recommending that between 45 and 65 percent of the natural runoff of northern California rivers be allowed to flow to the ocean unimpeded.
A group of Northern California lawmakers seeking more sway over a mammoth $17 billion water project introduced a proposal Friday that would require new construction contracts to be reviewed by the Legislature. The Legislative Delta Caucus says because of the scope of the California WaterFix, the project should require more scrutiny from both the public and lawmakers now that former Gov. Jerry Brown has left office.
The tiny town of Arbuckle in Northern California sank more than two feet in nine years. The revelation comes from a new survey that tracked subsidence — the gradual sinking of land — in the Sacramento Valley between 2008-17. Located about 50 miles north of Sacramento, Arbuckle (pop. 3,028) sank more than any other surveyed area. … Subsidence has long been an issue in California, but its recent acceleration was likely fueled by an extreme drought that plagued California between 2012-16.
The Bureau of Reclamation, the Interior Department’s Western water bureaucracy that saw its dam-building heyday in the 1960s, has risen in stature once again in the Trump administration. Reclamation has flexed its muscles on Colorado River drought management plans… And it has been the administration’s key player in trying to fulfill President Trump’s campaign promise to deliver more water to California farmers, squeezing the state and forging ahead on a dam project California says it doesn’t want.
Maintaining functional wetlands in a 21st-century landscape dominated by agriculture and cities requires a host of hard and soft infrastructures. Canals, pumps, and sluice gates provide critical life support, and the lands are irrigated and tilled in seasonal cycles to essentially farm wildlife. Reams of laws and regulations scaffold the system.
Early last year, construction started on a $90 million project to build seven miles of setback levees and floodplains to protect Hamilton City from floods on the Sacramento River. … The new barriers are much farther from the riverbanks—as far as a mile away in places. In some respects, the concept is absurdly simple: During heavy rains or spring snowmelt, rivers need room to expand; moving levees back from riverbanks provides it. Setback levees not only reduce the need for newer and larger dams and levees, but also restore the natural habitat.
New data released measure changes in land subsidence in the Sacramento Valley over the past nine years, finding the greatest land surface declines in Arbuckle. According to the Sacramento Valley GPS Subsidence Netwook Report and accompanying fact sheet … land in the Arbuckle area has sunk 2.14 feet compared with baseline measurements recorded in the same location in 2008, according to a press release from the Department of Water Resources.
The proposed tunnel path stretches 35 miles from west of Elk Grove to just below Discovery Bay. The tunnels would take water from three intakes along the Sacramento River to existing aqueducts south of Discovery Bay, and then the water will be sent to Southern California. Along the proposed path, there are at least 22 levees that would sit above the tunnels…. The concern is not so much the levees themselves, but the kind of soil that is below the levees.
The Trump administration is laying the groundwork to enlarge California’s biggest reservoir, the iconic Shasta Dam, north of Redding, by raising its height. It’s a saga that has dragged on for decades, along with the controversy surrounding it. But the latest chapter is likely to set the stage for another showdown between California and the Trump administration.
The Santa Clara Valley Water District made a grave miscalculation in suing the State Water Board over the Bay Delta Water Quality Control Plan. By alienating the remnants of the environmental community who have supported them in recent years, they are jeopardizing future projects and funding measures that will require voter approval.
In an unprecedented move, the Water Resources Control board voted in December to require water users to leave more water in the lower San Joaquin River to improve water quality and help fish. “This decision represents the water board taking its job to protect the public trust and our fisheries more seriously,” said Regina Chichizola, salmon and water policy analyst for the Institute for Fisheries Resources.
A Dallas-based engineering firm is being tapped to help design California’s plan to bolster its water supply system. Jacobs’ initial $93 million contract is for preliminary and final engineering design of a 15-year program known as California WaterFix. The Golden State’s largest water conveyance project carries a $17 billion pricetag. WaterFix, slated to begin this year, will upgrade 50-year-old infrastructure dependent on levees, which the state said puts clean water supplies at risk from earthquakes and sea-level rise.
The State Water Resources Control Board has proposed flow requirements for rivers that feed the Delta based on a percentage of ‘unimpaired flows… If approved, this ‘unimpaired flows’ approach would have significant impacts on farms, communities throughout California and the environment. We join many other water agencies in our belief that alternative measures …
Since taking office Jan. 7, Gov. Gavin Newsom has not indicated how he intends to approach one of the state’s most pressing issues: water. Newsom should signal that it’s a new day in California water politics by embracing a more-sustainable water policy that emphasizes conservation and creation of vast supplies of renewable water. The first step should be to announce the twin-tunnels effort is dead.
More water storage projects will not solve the basic fact that the state’s finite amount of water is incapable of meeting all of the demands. This deficit has been created primarily by the transformation of a semi-arid area— the Central Valley — by an infusion of water from northern California.
At least one state agency has indicated it will not issue necessary permits to allow federal officials and a Fresno-based water district to begin construction to raise the height of Shasta Dam. In addition to facing opposition from the state, the project could also face fresh hurdles from Congress, which this year came under control of Democrats. In a letter to the Fresno-based Westlands Water District, the State Water Resources Control Board says raising the height of Shasta Dam would violate state law.
The McCormack-Williamson Tract restoration project, a 1,500 acre site, lowers the levees on the north side of the island to allow the river to overtop into the site. On the south side, DWR will alleviate the surge flows that pose a risk to neighbors by opening small holes in the levee. 2018 saw the completion of construction of a levee to protect existing infrastructure on the site, as well as progress on habitat restoration plans. For the next phase, DWR will strengthen the interior levees and take steps toward opening the site up to tidal flows.
The work to provide Yuba-Sutter with the highest level of flood protection possible isn’t yet complete, but the levees are much better today, having had the oversight expertise of the head of the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency. After more than seven years with the agency, SBFCA Executive Director Mike Inamine announced he would be leaving this week for a job with the California Department of Water Resources.
The confluence of California’s two great rivers, the Sacramento and the San Joaquin, creates the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas. Those of us who live here call it, simply, the Delta. It is part of my very fiber, and it is essential to California’s future. That’s why we must save it.
After more than three years, 104 days of testimony, and over twenty-four thousand pages of hearing transcripts, the hearing before the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) on the proposal to construct two tunnels to convey water under the Delta (aka California WaterFix) is almost completed. Probably, that is: there could be more if the project changes again to a degree that requires additional testimony and/or environmental review.
A section of the museum will also be dedicated to water, teaching visitors how much water it takes to grow crops, how California farmers lead the world in conservation, and how the state’s complicated water storage and delivery system works, said Mike Wade, the executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition. The Coalition is the title sponsor for the exhibits and has drawn on several farming organizations, including Farm Credit, to help build and maintain the exhibits.
Last week, the relicensing effort reached a milestone when FERC issued its Final Environmental Impact Statement. The environmental document essentially looks at what changes a licensee has proposed for a specific project, the impacts of those changes and provides conditions they must meet if awarded a new license.
As his term as governor drew to a close, Jerry Brown brokered a historic agreement among farms and cities to surrender billions of gallons of water to help ailing fish. He also made two big water deals with the Trump administration. It added up to a dizzying display of deal-making. Yet as Gavin Newsom takes over as governor, the state of water in California seems as unsettled as ever.
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:
Gloria Gray became chairwoman of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on Jan. 1 and made history, though not for the first time. She has two big goals: seeing through a controversial public works project to build two new California water tunnels and ensuring her agency is represented by a more diverse group of people.
Everyone who diverts water is required to report to the State Water Board the amount they used. But Louis and Darcy Chacon reported an amount that just didn’t make sense. The Chacons reported they used more than 1 trillion acre-feet of water annually from 2009 to 2013, more than is available on the entire planet.
Prompted by the collapse of fish populations, the State Water Resources Control Board is trying to prevent humans from totally drying up these rivers each year. The regulators’ lodestar for how much water the rivers need is the amount of water a Chinook salmon needs to migrate.
At the end of the last century, the Sierra Nevada captured an average of 8.76 million acre-feet of water critical to the nation’s largest food-producing region. By mid-century, a new study projects, the average will fall to 4 million acre-feet; and by century’s end, 1.81 million acre-feet.
State officials said today [Oct. 18] they are “racing” to implement erosion control measures before the start of the rainy season on hills left bare by the Carr Fire. … [Clint] Snyder [assistant executive officer, Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board] said the erosion control is focused on protecting human life and property, preserving drinking water sources in the Sacramento River and wildlife.
Explore the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape as we learn about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.
All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. Tour participants will get an on-site update of Oroville Dam spillway repairs.
Sites Reservoir, the largest new water storage proposal in California, recently won a commitment of $816 million in state funds to help with construction. It promises to deliver enough water every year, on average, to serve 1 million homes. But regulatory realities looming in the background may mean the project has substantially less water at its disposal.
The rare spring-run chinook salmon is rarer than usual this year, according to counts in the three streams that support the bulk of the wild fish left in the Sacramento River system. In Butte Creek, a snorkel survey counted 2,118 fish this year, according to Colin Purdy, who supervises the count for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. That’s less than half the average since 1989 of 4,427 fish.
The Colorado River Basin is more than likely headed to unprecedented shortage in 2020 that could force supply cuts to some states, but work is “furiously” underway to reduce the risk and avert a crisis, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman told an audience of California water industry people.
During a keynote address at the Water Education Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit in Sacramento, Burman said there is opportunity for Colorado River Basin states to control their destiny, but acknowledged that in water, there are no guarantees that agreement can be reached.
Dave Vogel already knew that levees and dams had devastated the coastal salmon population in California’s longest river. The surprise for the fisheries scientist arrived when he saw the video footage of young salmon clustered beneath bridges in the watery depths.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that a farming company has agreed to pay $5.3 million in civil penalties and costs to perform work to repair disturbed streams and wetlands on property near the Sacramento River. … “Like the Duarte settlement last year, today’s agreement serves the public interest in enforcement of the Clean Water Act and deterrence of future violations,” said Jeffrey H. Wood, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division.
An hour’s drive north of Sacramento sits a picture-perfect valley hugging the eastern foothills of Northern California’s Coast Range, with golden hills framing grasslands mostly used for cattle grazing.
Back in the late 1800s, pioneer John Sites built his ranch there and a small township, now gone, bore his name. Today, the community of a handful of families and ranchers still maintains a proud heritage.
Farmers in the Central Valley are broiling about California’s plan to increase flows in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems to help struggling salmon runs avoid extinction. But in one corner of the fertile breadbasket, River Garden Farms is taking part in some extraordinary efforts to provide the embattled fish with refuge from predators and enough food to eat.
And while there is no direct benefit to one farm’s voluntary actions, the belief is what’s good for the fish is good for the farmers.
The Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers are the two major Central Valley waterways that feed the Delta, the hub of California’s water supply network. Our last water tours of 2018 will look in-depth at how these rivers are managed and used for agriculture, cities and the environment. You’ll see infrastructure, learn about efforts to restore salmon runs and talk to people with expertise on these rivers.
Get an up-close look at some of California’s key water reservoirs and learn about farming operations, habitat restoration, flood management and wetlands in the Sacramento Valley on our Northern California Water Tour Oct. 10-12.
Each year, participants on the Northern California Water Tour enjoy three days exploring the Sacramento Valley during the temperate fall. Join us as we travel through a scenic landscape along the Sacramento and Feather rivers to learn about issues associated with storing and delivering the state’s water supply.
A Modesto councilman called on the city to contribute toward efforts to resist a state water grab that’s become an emotionally charged issue in the region. Councilman Mani Grewal said at Tuesday’s council meeting the state plan to take large amounts of Tuolumne River water to rejuvenate the Sacramento-San Joaquin River delta would create a “regulatory drought” in Stanislaus County.
The framework of a plan for the Sacramento River watershed released Friday by the state Water Resources Control Board calls for an increase in the amount of water running into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and out to sea, but it leaves the question of where that water would come from largely unanswered.
A final draft plan for the San Joaquin River system has been released by state water regulators. … But Friday the State Water Board also released a “framework” for a similar plan being prepared for the Sacramento River watershed, which would see even larger reductions of diversions in the north valley.
New water storage is the holy grail primarily for agricultural interests in California, and in 2014 the door to achieving long-held ambitions opened with the passage of Proposition 1, which included $2.7 billion for the public benefits portion of new reservoirs and groundwater storage projects. The statute stipulated that the money is specifically for the benefits that a new storage project would offer to the ecosystem, water quality, flood control, emergency response and recreation.
The West Sacramento City Council voted 4-1 last month to begin a process that would convert an independent district in charge of levee management into a subsidiary of West Sacramento, and allow the council to replace the district’s board of directors with appointees or the council members themselves. Reclamation District 900 has operated independently since 1911, managing 13.6 miles of levees that provide flood protection along the Sacramento River.
For more than 100 years, invasive species have made the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta their home, disrupting the ecosystem and costing millions of dollars annually in remediation.
The latest invader is the nutria, a large rodent native to South America that causes concern because of its propensity to devour every bit of vegetation in sight and destabilize levees by burrowing into them. Wildlife officials are trapping the animal and trying to learn the extent of its infestation.
Chinook salmon, steelhead, and green sturgeon will soon have an easier path to the Sacramento River, and eventually their spawning grounds. Construction has begun on the Fremont Weir, which will allow the fish to travel from the Pacific Ocean back to their birthplace during spawning season, which takes place in early spring and ends just before the summer.
We traveled deep into California’s water hub and traverse the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a 720,000-acre network of islands and canals that supports the state’s water system and is California’s most crucial water and ecological resource. The tour made its way to San Francisco Bay, and included a ferry ride.
The NOR-CAL Guides and Sportsmen’s Association and other fishing groups had spent more than a year pressuring state dam and fish-hatchery managers to raise extra fish to make up for the ones the fishing groups say were lost after the Oroville Dam spillway collapsed in February 2017.
Along the banks of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in Oakley, about 50 miles southwest of Sacramento, is a park that harkens back to the days when the Delta lured Native Americans, Spanish explorers, French fur trappers, and later farmers to its abundant wildlife and rich soil.
That historical Delta was an enormous marsh linked to the two freshwater rivers entering from the north and south, and tidal flows coming from the San Francisco Bay. After the Gold Rush, settlers began building levees and farms, changing the landscape and altering the habitat.
Seeking to stave off the extinction of a storied species, state and federal wildlife officials are releasing 200,000 hatchery-raised salmon into a restored High Sierra creek where once-magnificent winter runs were wiped out over the past century.
A third straight year of low king salmon runs is expected to deliver another blow to one of the North Coast’s most iconic and lucrative fisheries, wildlife managers indicated Thursday, as both regulators and fishermen faced the prospect of a federally mandated plan to reverse the trend and rebuild key stocks.
Despite the heat that often accompanies debates over setting aside water for the environment, there are instances where California stakeholders have forged agreements to provide guaranteed water for fish. Here are two examples cited by the Public Policy Institute of California in its report arguing for an environmental water right.
Does California need to revamp the way in which water is dedicated to the environment to better protect fish and the ecosystem at large? In the hypersensitive world of California water, where differences over who gets what can result in epic legislative and legal battles, the idea sparks a combination of fear, uncertainty and promise.
Saying that the way California manages water for the environment “isn’t working for anyone,” the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) shook things up late last year by proposing a redesigned regulatory system featuring what they described as water ecosystem plans and water budgets with allocations set aside for the environment.
The view from Don Murphy’s expansive backyard is breathtaking. The Sacramento River rolls gently past as birds float in the mid-winter fog. It is nearly silent, except for the infrequent car driving along a delta road across the river. … Now a fight is heating up over who should have access to that serenity.
Faced with a shortage of money and political support after seven years of work, Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is working on a plan to scale back one of his key legacy projects, a $17 billion proposal to build two massive tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to make it easier to move water from Northern California to the south.
In a new study published this week in Biological Conservation, researchers from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, NOAA Fisheries, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory used salmon otolith (“earstone”) chemistry to reveal the migration patterns and secret hang out spots used by juvenile winter run on their way to the ocean.
A Sacramento River side channel in Tehama County has been restored to improve salmon rearing habitat on the Sacramento River. The project is the result of a collaborative partnership of state and federal agencies, local water districts, and conservation groups, and marks the 14th project completed over the last two years to benefit salmon in the Sacramento Valley. Construction at the project site, which is located just south of the gated Lake California community between river mile 269 and 270, has been completed but monitoring of the site will be ongoing.