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.
San Francisco rightly prides itself on being an environmental
leader. Given this deep commitment to protecting the
environment, the city’s water agency — the San Francisco Public
Utilities Commission — should be a leader in smart, sustainable
water policy. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. But
Mayor London Breed now has a once-in-a-decade chance to turn
the SFPUC in a new direction by appointing a progressive,
visionary new general manager who reflects the city’s values.
San Francisco’s Bay-Delta ecosystem and the Central Valley
rivers that feed it are in steep decline… -Written by John McManus, president of the Golden State
Salmon Association, and Kate Poole, the water lead for the
Natural Resources Defense Council.
The Regional Water Authority (RWA) is delighted to announce
that Michelle Banonis has been selected as the organization’s
new Manager of Strategic Affairs. Banonis has over two decades
of experience in water, ecosystems, engineering, policy, and
law, and most recently served as the Assistant Chief Deputy
Director of the California Department of Water Resources where
she worked on water-related issues of statewide significance
with multiple interests.
California water issues are notoriously complicated by a
massive diversity of users, ecosystems, applications and
futures. Indeed, water in the Delta has been described as
a “wicked problem” indicating that these problems cannot
be ignored and defy straightforward characterization and
solutions. Below we highlight how a Swiss cheese model might be
applied to vexing long-term declines in native fish populations
The Trump administration left President Biden a dilemma in the
California desert: a plan to remove protections from millions
of acres of public lands and open vast areas to solar and wind
farms. Biden’s team could easily block the proposed changes,
which were slammed by conservationists as a last-gasp effort by
the outgoing administration to support private industry at the
expense of wildlife habitat and treasured landscapes….There
are also places to put solar and wind installations besides
intact habitat, including Central Valley farmland with
dwindling water supplies …
California’s tussle with federal authorities over water
operations will get a second look under the new administration
of President Joe Biden. The 46th president plans to sign a
number of executive orders, including one that instructs agency
heads to review actions taken under President Donald Trump that
“were harmful to public health, damaging to the environment,
unsupported by the best available science, or otherwise not in
the national interest.” On the list for both the departments of
Commerce and Interior is a review of new biological opinions
adopted in 2019 governing water delivery in California.
The Colusa and Glenn Groundwater Authorities will host an
online workshop about a Well Monitoring Pilot Program the
agencies are implementing. The voluntary, non-regulatory
program will gather information about groundwater use in the
Colusa Subbasin while also providing participants with
near-real time access to information on well production and
groundwater levels at their wells, according to a press
Recent fish surveys confirm what many biologists, ecologists,
and water experts have known for some time – Delta smelt remain
on the brink of extinction. Zero Delta smelt were found in the
California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s recent Fall
Midwater Trawl Survey. Even the Enhanced Delta Smelt Monitoring
Program, which is specifically designed to capture the tiny
fish, only successfully caught two Delta smelt from September 8
to December 11, 2020.
A California agricultural developer has agreed to pay a civil
penalty, preserve streams and wetlands, effect mitigation, and
be subject to a prohibitory injunction to resolve alleged
violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) on property near the
Sacramento River located in Tehama County, California, the
Justice Department announced today. Roger J. LaPant Jr.
purchased the property in this case in 2011 and sold it in
While they remain hopeful the rest of winter will provide much
more rain and snow, water resources managers in the Sacramento
Valley are preparing for the potential for a dry year. While
the prospect of a dry year is always jarring and challenging,
we have confidence in the experience and knowledge that our
water resources managers gained in 2014-15, and the strategies
this region has implemented since that time to prepare for a
Chinook salmon have spawned for millennia in Auburn
Ravine Creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River in
Northern California northeast of Sacramento, but
biologists have been uncertain if salmon could get past the
Chaparral Cascades. … Now there is proof that salmon can
get through the cascades to spawn upstream. A local resident
noticed salmon spawning about 375 yards upstream from the
Chaparral Cascades on November 5, 2016 and preserved video
proof of that…
California has lost more than 90% of its wetlands since the
arrival of European settlers. Wetlands play an increasingly
crucial role in absorbing excess water and protecting coastal
and inland communities from flooding. They also provide
critical habitat for wildlife, including a variety of species
found nowhere else on Earth, some of which are at risk of
blinking out of existence…. we’ve identified three critical
lessons California has to offer the world to improve
restoration on a global scale… -Written by Julie Rentner, president of River Partners, and
Manuel Oliva, CEO of Point Blue Conservation Science.
In the latter part of 2020, various actions were implemented in
the Sacramento Valley to promote salmon recovery that point
positive as we begin 2021. Even during a global pandemic,
partners were working together on efforts to advance science to
inform salmon recovery decisions and tangible projects to
improve habitat for fish
California’s labyrinthine system of dams and levees cut off
once roaring rivers from millions of acres of their
floodplains, drastically reducing the habitat and food salmon
need to thrive. Climate change may hasten extinctions by
raising water temperatures and disrupting flows with bigger
floods and more frequent and severe droughts, which also
threaten to reignite conflicts over increasingly scarce
water. But such dire prospects have inspired a novel
alliance in one of the most productive agricultural valleys in
the country, which has turned adversaries into allies to offer
salmon and other threatened wildlife a lifeline.
The Sites Reservoir was awarded $13.7 million in the 2021
federal spending bill. The 2021 federal spending bill …
included $1.4 trillion to fund government agencies and a $900
billion pandemic relief package. Sites Reservoir is proposed
for construction in remote ranch lands in Colusa County, about
70 miles north of Sacramento. It was originally given a $5.1
billion price tag, but the Sites Project Authority reduced it
to $3 billion in May.
USACE Sacramento District has a proven track record of facing
challenges head-on. When 2020 brought with it the Novel
Coronavirus, the District responded quickly to address the
needs of a rapidly changing work environment…This year marked
the start of major construction on the [American River Common
Features] project, and the pandemic hit just as crews were
mobilizing, meaning both USACE and its contractors faced
unexpected public impacts.
The Water Forum is pleased to announce the selection of Jessica
Law as its new Executive Director. The Water Forum is a diverse
group of local governments, environmentalists, water managers,
businesses and others working together to balance the coequal
goals of providing reliable water supplies for the Sacramento
region and preserving the environment of the Lower American
As we reflect on this tumultuous year, we have much to be
thankful and a lot to learn. Along with the truly special
people that grace our lives, we are all thankful for the
Sacramento Valley’s unique combination of water, land and
sun–the essential ingredients for bountiful life and the
amazing biodiversity of our region.
In California’s contentious water battles, finding points of
agreement is a challenging task as diverse interests compete
for a steadily dwindling, essential natural resource. By
pulling together these diverse interests, we found a way to
make progress towards improving what is arguably California’s
hardest-working floodplain, the 60,000-acre Yolo Bypass. -Written by Jim Provenza and Gary Sandy, Yolo County
Supervisors, and Robin Kulakow, founder of the Yolo Basin
Over the past three years, a team of scientists from
universities, NGOs, and state agencies across California have
been working to provide guidance on how to better manage river
flows for freshwater ecosystems throughout the state. A key
product of this effort is the California Environmental Flows
Framework (Framework), a guidance document and set of tools to
help managers and stakeholders develop environmental flow
recommendations for California’s rivers.
While Republican members of Congress praised the most recent
step toward approving raising the height of Shasta Dam, fishing
and environmental groups criticized it as the illegal actions
of a “lame duck federal agency.”
Westlands Water District announced Wednesday that it recently
completed the Lower Yolo Restoration Project, which restored
the habitat for fish and other wildlife species in part of the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. … The land had been previously
used for cattle grazing, and now it has transformed into tidal
marsh, riparian and upland buffer habitat.
The California Natural Resources Agency recently announced the
investment of almost $50 million in Proposition 68 funding for
projects to promote salmon recovery. More than $220 million in
Proposition 1 and Proposition 68 funds have also been dedicated
for multi-benefit flood protection projects in the past two
years that will benefit salmon.
The Trump Administration Thursday released the Shasta Lake
Water Resources Investigation Final Supplemental Environmental
Impact Statement to increase water storage capacity in the
Shasta Lake reservoir by 634,000 acre-feet,
Work crews have been busy this week along Twin Cities Road near
Courtland. They are conducting core sampling, the first step in
drafting an environmental impact report for a tunnel plan known
as the Delta Conveyance Project.
The Kern County Water Agency board of directors voted
unanimously to approve an agreement with the Department of
Water Resources to pay $14 million over 2021 and 2020 as its
initial share of the early planning and design phase for what’s
now being called the Delta Conveyance Facility.
An annual search for a tiny endangered and contentious fish in
the sprawling California Delta has once again come up empty.
The state’s annual Fall Midwater Trawl found no Delta smelt in
September’s sampling of the critical waterway. … Hoping to
reverse the trend, Westlands Water District and the California
Department of Water Resources announced completion of a Delta
habitat restoration project on Wednesday.
A research team from California State University, Chico will
continue its exceptional work to re-establish juvenile salmon
and salmonid habitats along the Sacramento River, after
learning it would continue to be funded by the United States
Bureau of Reclamation.
Scientists expect flooding to get worse because weather
extremes are growing as the climate crisis worsens globally,
said UCLA Climate Scientist Daniel Swain. … Waiting to
systematically address flooding issues, like California’s done
with wildfire, could mean breaching of levees, Central Valley
wide flooding and even flooding in areas like Los Angeles as
the climate crisis worsens, said Swain.
On July 28, Gov. Newsom issued the final water resilience
portfolio which calls for actions to meet California water
needs through the 21st Century. Specifically, Action 19.4
directs the Water Commission to assess the state’s role in
financing conveyance projects that could help meet needs in a
changing climate. At their October meeting, commissioners began
the work set out for them in the portfolio…
A report by the U.S. Drought Monitor on Thursday revealed what
anyone living in California or the Southwest already know: We
need rain. Badly…Much of the worst aspects of dry conditions
are centered on the Colorado River Basin of western Colorado,
which bodes ill for the millions of homes and businesses
downstream that rely on a robust flow of water from the
river…Extreme drought is growing in Northern California, but
only in the northern reaches of the state along the Sacramento
To protect smelt and salmon, there need to be reasonable water
temperature standards in the Delta. The existing water
temperature standard in the lower Sacramento River above the
Delta is 68oF, but managers of the state and federal water
projects pay it almost no heed.
Getting water through a tunnel under the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta would be pricey. So pricey, some Kern County water
districts were looking for an “off-ramp” by potentially selling
their main state water supply out of the county. The request
was shot down on Nov. 6 by the Kern County Water Agency, which
holds the contract for state water on behalf of 13 area water
California’s war with Washington over the environment will soon
come to an end. … President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to
act quickly to restore and strengthen dozens of protections on
public lands, water and wildlife. In addition, California’s
efforts to fight climate change will no longer face hurdles put
up by the White House, which has downplayed the global threat.
Burning rice straw after harvest was a traditional and
economical practice that was phased out in 2000. … The side
effect is it has created millions of acres of seasonal wetlands
in the rice-growing region of the state – and with a variety of
conservation contracts, provided additional income for growers
whose costs rose when straw burning was prohibited.
Not only are non-native predators abundant, but predation risk
may be compounded by the prevalence of invasive vegetation such
as Brazilian waterweed (Egeria densa). These non-native plants
may deal a double blow to Chinook salmon by restricting their
access to formerly open-water habitat and by providing
predators like largemouth bass an edge in a habitat they are
A declaration suit filed in Superior Court in Sacramento by
attorneys for some of the leading environmental groups in
America accuses the California Department of Water Resources of
trying to prevent anyone in California from filing a court
action challenging … the financing of a single tunnel that
would be built under the Delta for 35 miles.
The Department of Water Resources has moved one step closer to
starting the Delta’s largest multi-benefit tidal restoration
and flood improvement project… Lookout Slough is in
unincorporated Solano County, near the border of Yolo County.
It is adjacent to additional tidal restoration efforts,
including Yolo Flyway Farms and Lower Yolo Ranch, to create a
contiguous wetland restoration complex spanning 16,000 acres in
the Cache Slough region of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
At Metropolitan’s Bay-Delta Committee, staff continued
preparing committee members for the upcoming decision on
funding the planning costs for the Delta Conveyance Project
which is anticipated to be before the full board in December.
The Bureau of Reclamation has once again proposed raising
Shasta Dam, which is already the largest reservoir in
California, after several proposals in the past decade. Each
time, it has faced fierce public opposition from state
government, environmentalists, locals and Native Americans.
The first phase of a highly touted tidal marsh recovery plan
was completed this week when a levee was breached and the
restored marsh area was reconnected to the San Francisco Bay
estuary for the first time since the late 1800s. The first
phase of the Montezuma Wetlands Restored Tidal Marsh Project
was completed Tuesday.
Scientists from several fish and wildlife agencies have
launched a rapid research and response effort for deficiency of
thiamine, or Vitamin B1. This deficiency was recently found to
be increasing juvenile mortality among Chinook salmon in
California’s Central Valley. The magnitude of its effect is not
clear. However, it could be a risk to Chinook stocks, including
endangered winter-run Chinook salmon and the fishery for
fall-run Chinook salmon.
When driving over the Yolo Bypass in the winter, one can’t help
but notice the flooded fields. … Historically, the area used
to be wetlands and floodplain habitat, but now, farmers grow
rice there. After harvest, the fields are flooded to not only
help decompose the leftover rice straw but also, as a surprise
to many, recreate a surrogate habitat for many area wildlife,
most notably birds.
Lobbing another hurdle at California’s $16 billion plan to
tunnel underneath the West Coast’s largest estuary,
environmentalists on Thursday sued to freeze public funding for
the megaproject championed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Led by Sierra
Club and the Center for Biological Diversity, a familiar
coalition of critics claim the cash-strapped state is pursuing
a “blank check” for a project that isn’t fully cooked.
The Bureau of Reclamation announces the selection of four
funding award recipients to implement $40 million in salmon
habitat improvement projects along the Sacramento River. The
restoration projects will enhance and improve spawning and
rearing habitat for salmon at approximately 25 different
locations across 132 river miles.
Reclamation, working with the Sacramento River Settlement
Contractors and federal and state fish and wildlife agencies,
are implementing fall water operations to benefit salmon
populations in the Sacramento River.
Radically transformed from its ancient origin as a vast
tidal-influenced freshwater marsh, the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta ecosystem is in constant flux, influenced by factors
within the estuary itself and the massive watersheds that drain
though it into the Pacific Ocean. Lately, however, scientists
say the rate of change has kicked into overdrive…
The Bureau of Reclamation plans to temporarily close the Delta
Cross Channel gates at 4 p.m. on Oct. 13. The closure is
related to a lower Mokelumne River pulse flow to help prevent
adult fall-run Chinook salmon from being diverted off their
migratory route… The gates are scheduled to re-open at 10
a.m. on Oct. 24.
A team of scientists from the California Department of Water
Resources are working with federal and state partners to
embrace the challenge of overseeing the implementation of one
of the most complex endangered species permits in California
This moment in time provides an opportunity for introspection,
a time to think about our families and friends, what is
essential in our lives, and how we can contribute to population
health and wellness. In the Sacramento Valley … our team is
working hard to envision the role that water suppliers and
local governments can serve to help people live healthier and
more fulfilling lives.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday created what he called a
“subcabinet” for federal water issues, with a mandate that
includes water-use changes sought by corporate farm interests
and oil and gas. … The first priority set out by the
executive order is increasing dam storage and other water
storage, long a demand of farmers and farm interests in the
West in particular. That includes California’s Westlands Water
District, the nation’s largest agricultural water district.
The Bureau of Reclamation plans to temporarily close the Delta
Cross Channel gates at 4 p.m. on Oct. 13. The closure is
related to a lower Mokelumne River pulse flow to help prevent
adult fall-run Chinook salmon from being diverted off their
migratory route… The gates are scheduled to re-open at 10
a.m. on Oct. 17.
The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) recently
launched an environmental justice community survey to gather
input to inform Delta Conveyance Project planning. The survey,
entitled, “Your Delta, Your Voice,” seeks direct input from
communities that may be disproportionately affected by the
Join us as we guide you on a virtual journey deep into California’s most crucial water and ecological resource – the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The 720,000-acre network of islands and canals support the state’s two major water systems – the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project. The Delta and the connecting San Francisco Bay form the largest freshwater tidal estuary of its kind on the West coast.
After nearly 25 years of unprecedented stewardship of the upper
Sacramento River, including raising millions in grant money for
everything from educational programs to the annual removal of
countless tons of trash, the River Exchange is disbanding. The
Dunsmuir-based nonprofit made the announcement October 1,
citing funding issues and the successful completion of its
As we have transitioned from summer to fall in the Sacramento
Valley, we are finishing the agronomic season and there is now
a focus on fall and winter operations on the Sacramento River.
Water resources managers and fish and wildlife agencies
continue to work together in the Sacramento River watershed to
serve water for multiple benefits, including two salmon runs
and the essential time for birds (and other species) migrating
along the Pacific Flyway.
Reclamation has identified a significant seismic risk problem
at Shasta Dam that may preclude the enlargement of Shasta Dam
in a safe manner. … In addition … modeling disclosed by
Reclamation to NRDC (see last page of this link) indicates that
enlarging Shasta Dam would reduce the water supply for State
Water Project contractors by an average of 14,000 acre feet per
The day the gates closed on the Shasta Dam in 1943,
approximately 200 miles of California’s prime salmon and
steelhead spawning habitat disappeared. Although devastating
for all four distinct runs of Central Valley Chinook salmon,
the high dam hit the Sacramento winter-run Chinook the hardest.
In December, the Metropolitan Water District Board of Directors
will be asked to support a motion to fund a portion of the
planning costs for the Delta Conveyance Project. In preparation
for the upcoming vote, staff began a series of presentations
for the special committee on the Bay-Delta to prepare the
directors for the vote.
In the middle of a pandemic, an economic recession, and
everything else that 2020 is throwing at us, in early August
the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) filed a
lawsuit against every Californian to authorize spending an
unlimited amount of money … for an as yet undefined Delta
No California communities are more shaped by water than those
in the Delta. Water surrounds communities like
Stockton. Water shaped our history and still shapes our
economy, quality of life, culture, and is essential for a
healthy environment. And for our communities,
water-related disasters are devastating. We see proof of that
In 2012 a team of salmon researchers tried a wild idea: putting
pinky-sized Chinook on a rice field in the Yolo Bypass, a vast
engineered floodplain designed to protect the city of
Sacramento from inundation. … Now, after nearly a decade of
testing fish in fields, a new paper in San Francisco Estuary
and Watershed Science outlines lessons learned as well as next
steps in managing floodplains for salmon.
For this reason, public water agencies and DWR have publicly
negotiated amendments to their long-term water supply contracts
in order to better plan the future of their local water supply
portfolios. … The State Water Contractors applaud this
coordinated and collaborative effort, which provides
flexibility for single and multi-year non-permanent water
transfers and exchanges.
California’s Delta Watermaster Michael George is responsible
for administering water rights within the Sacramento-San
Joaquin River Delta, which supplies drinking water to more than
25 million Californians and helps irrigate 3 million acres of
farmland. For him, the development of OpenET signals an
exciting opportunity for the future of water in the West.
Floodplains were the historic rearing areas for juvenile
salmon, and the remaining floodplains in California are an
important food-rich habitat as present-day salmon grow and
attempt to survive their trip out to the ocean. We sat down
with Hailey Wright, a Department of Water Resources
environmental scientist, to discuss the salmon lifecycle and
her work designing and implementing projects in the Yolo
Through research funded by the Almond Board of California we
are exploring ways to recharge groundwater aquifers, be good
stewards of the water that we all collectively share as a
state, and even helping the salmon industry understand how
agricultural land, like rice fields, could play a role in
supporting salmon health.
Reclamation announces a virtual open house website for the
Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation Draft Supplemental
Environmental Impact Statement. Website visitors will be able
to learn more about the project, review summaries of Draft
Supplemental EIS chapters, and submit comments.
The San Francisco Bay-Delta is literally threatened from all
sides: rising sea levels from the ocean, disruptions to
sediment supply from upstream, and within the Bay-Delta itself,
development and other land use changes have left only a tiny
fraction (5%) of marshland untouched. … A recent study by
scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey used historical
streamflow and sediment data to predict what will happen to the
Bay-Delta under varying levels of climate change.
At the August meeting of the Delta Independent Science Board,
the new members joined with the outgoing members for
reflections and discussion to bring the new members up to speed
on the Delta ISB’s ongoing work.
The Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District (Regional
San) is currently completing major upgrades to its wastewater
treatment plant. In anticipation of these upgrades, USGS
scientists are gathering data to establish baselines for
current nutrient levels and dynamics in the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta (Delta).
Climate change could deliver more silt, sand and pollution to
the San Francisco Bay-Delta, along with a mixed bag of other
potential consequences and benefits, according to a new study
in the AGU journal Water Resources Research, which publishes
research articles and commentaries providing a broad
understanding of the role of water in Earth’s natural systems.
California EcoRestore is an initiative started in 2015 under
the Brown Administration with the ambitious goal of advancing
at least 30,000 acres of critical habitat restoration in the
Delta and Suisun Marsh by 2020. … At the August meeting of
the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, Bill Harrell, gave
an update on the Eco Restore program and the progress that has
been made over the past five years.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, like governors before him, wants to overhaul
how water moves through the delta. He’s proposing a 30-mile
tunnel that would streamline the delivery of water from the
Sacramento River, a bid to halt the ongoing devastation of the
delta’s wetlands and wildlife while ensuring its flows continue
to provide for the rest of the state. The pressures of climate
change on water supplies have only increased the urgency to
act. And the coronavirus pandemic and months of
shelter-in-place orders haven’t slowed the planning. ….The
tunnel, as much as anything, is the very symbol of the state’s
never-ending water wars.
Waters of the Delta are in the midst of a tug-of-war. If
California is not careful, the largest inland delta on the
western coast of the North American continent will be damaged.
Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water
relationship that has a personally significant impact to your
This week, water suppliers and landowners along the Sacramento
River joined with federal and state agencies in a new science
collaborative designed to inform ongoing efforts to improve
conditions for salmon on the Sacramento River, while also
helping better manage water for cities and rural communities,
farms, refuges and wildlife management areas that depend upon
The Department of Water Resources came to the August Delta
Independent Science Board meeting to provide an overview of the
Delta tunnel project including timeline and review process, as
well as some thoughts on the board’s recent letter.
Simply updating costs to this latest estimate ($15.9 billion in
2020 dollars is equivalent to $15 billion in the 2017$) reduces
the benefit-cost ratio for State Water Project urban agencies
from 1.23 to 0.92, and for agricultural agencies from 1.17 to
0.87. That’s a bad investment, but it is actually much worse
Tunnel proponents say they do not expect to operate the tunnel
at capacity, and it would be in use mainly to draw from the
periodic storms that send more water through the Delta out to
San Francisco Bay. But how much would that be? The usual answer
is: we will leave that to the experts.
After months of relative quiet, Newsom’s administration
released a preliminary cost estimate for the scaled-back
project Friday: $15.9 billion for a single tunnel running
beneath the estuary just south of Sacramento. That’s nearly as
much as the old $16.7 billion price tag put on the larger,
A single tunnel proposed to take water under the sensitive
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and deliver it to farms and cities
in the south could cost $15.9 billion, give or take, according
to an initial assessment discussed at the Delta Conveyance
Authority meeting on Thursday.
The San Francisco Estuary is a dynamic and altered estuary that
supports a high diversity of fishes, both native and
non-native. … Since the 1950s, various agencies and UC Davis
have established long-term surveys to track the status of fish
populations. These surveys help scientists understand how
fishes are responding to natural- and human-caused changes to
CDFW’s drone program got its start in the early 2010s as GIS
Program Manager Steve Goldman and others saw the technology
becoming more affordable and useful. In 2014, Goldman put
together a dedicated team to research policy and best
practices. The program officially launched in 2016 when it
received Federal Aviation Administration authorization…
Water is the lifeblood of our region and there are immense
challenges to providing and maintaining a reliable and
resilient water supply for both farms and communities in the
Central Valley. As your congressional representatives, we’ve
been working together to bring resources back home to address
our collective needs.
As a result, the appellate decision, which upheld the central
role of the Delta Stewardship Council in Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta water management and land use planning, remains intact
and is governing law.
At the July meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council,
councilmembers heard briefings on the activities of the Delta
Protection Commission and the Delta Conservancy, and an update
on the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan.
The decades-long battle over an effort to raise the height of
Shasta Dam took another turn Thursday when the Trump
Administration released a new environmental report on the plan,
just five years after completing a similar study.
The COVID-109 pandemic isn’t slowing work aimed at moving
arguably the most cantankerous water project ever proposed in
California since voters overwhelmingly rejected the Peripheral
Canal in 1982 — the Delta Tunnel Project. … The State
Department of Water Resources is currently preparing an
environmental impact report on the project. At the same time
they are also seeking all required state and federal approvals.
The San Francisco Bay-Delta is among the most intensively
studied ecosystems in the world. Numerous long-term fisheries
monitoring programs have been conducted there since the late
1950s, but differences in the methods, scope, spatial coverage,
and timing of these surveys make it difficult to compare and
combine the data collected.
Droughts are common in California. The drought of 2012-2016 had
no less precipitation and was no longer than previous
historical droughts, but came with record high temperatures and
low snowpack, which worsened many drought impacts.
Saving our planet will require unprecedented focus and
investment from every sector of our society and all levels of
government — especially the federal government. Yet when it
comes to the San Francisco Bay — a national treasure and the
lifeblood of our region, producing over $370 billion in goods
and services annually and supporting more than 4 million jobs —
the federal government has been complicit in its deterioration.
At the July meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council, Delta
Lead Scientist Dr. John Callaway updated the Council on the
latest scientific developments, discussing three papers that
highlight the multi-faceted approach that is needed to address
the Delta’s ecosystem; he also previewed upcoming events and
provided the By the Numbers Report.
The Delta Plan Interagency Implementation Committee is
comprised of high-ranking members of 18 state, federal, and
regional agencies… At the July 2020 committee meeting,
members heard presentations on the Central Valley Project
Improvement Act and the state’s new Incidental Take Permit and
how those programs utilize principles of ecosystem-based
Nearly 230 wildlife species depend on Sacramento Valley rice
fields for food and a resting place, including the giant
gartersnake, a threatened species. Although it has “giant” in
its name, this creature is, at most, five-feet long. These
snakes are heavily dependent on rice fields for their survival;
having lost most of their earlier habitat – traditional
In 2003, Congress passed The Nutria Eradication and Control
Act, which established a fund to help Maryland and Louisiana
battle the animals. Recently, the House of Representatives
passed bipartisan legislation that now allows California to
also receive support. The bill now heads to the Senate.
Zone 7 Water Agency directors authorized General Manager
Valerie Pryor to negotiate an agreement with Napa County’s
water division to buy some of its surplus water this year — a
move that could open doors for similar deals in the future. A
need to meet local water demand for the next few years prompted
Zone 7 to act at its regular meeting July 16.
The nearly $2-billion EchoWater project aims to meet a 2010
requirement issued by California and local authorities. They
have called for cleaner discharge into the Sacramento River by
2023 from the Sacramento Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant in
Elk Grove. With 21 projects, the EchoWater program’s largest
components are now under construction and, despite
complexities, remains on track to complete major work in 2022.
As part of a settlement reached with fishing and environmental
groups, the California State Water Resources Control Board says
it will increase transparency and conduct heightened
evaluations when deciding water quality standards and flow
limits for the state’s critical waterways. …
Environmentalists celebrated the deal as a “landmark
settlement” that stands to boost protections for fish by
improving water quality in the Sacramento River and the San
The latest proposal would trim the budget by $2 billion and the
storage capacity by about 300,000 acre-feet, according to Jerry
Brown, the new executive director of the project. Sites would
use existing canals for conveyance rather than build new
pipelines. The plan also eliminates a pumped-storage system for
generating and storing energy during high flow events. He said
the business case for that element of the project “just didn’t
“I secured provisions in this bill to authorize and expedite
construction of flood protection and aquatic ecosystem
restoration projects, address harmful algal blooms in the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and give local agencies greater
flexibility in using federal Army Corps funds to meet local
Earlier this year, the California Almond Board released a
report regarding the acreage of almond trees that have reached
bearing age and another with totals including young trees.
These reports paint a stark picture of an unsustainable
industry that threatens the Bay-Delta ecosystem and
California’s salmon fishing jobs.
This brown bag seminar was part of the selection process for a
California Sea Grant Extension Specialist who will be hired
jointly with the Delta Stewardship Council. … The candidate
and presenter is Jessica Rudnick. Rudnick arrived at UC Davis
in 2016 after completing her master’s in ecology and has since
been a Ph.D. candidate at UC Davis.
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman says
she’d like to see more cooperation from California officials as
talks aim to resolve a legal dispute over competing biological
opinions governing the management of their respective water
The most apparent observation I had after developing the
comments was the substantial amount of work that has been
undertaken in the Sacramento Valley to complete habitat
projects and advance science for Chinook salmon recovery in the
last 5 years.
The large and rapid variations in rainfall recorded in the LSC
stalagmites demonstrate that climate in Northern California is
sensitive to changes happening elsewhere in the world, and that
rainfall in this area may be capable of increasing or
decreasing in response to relatively small changes in global
The net pen program allows the young fish to leapfrog what
would be a 250-mile river journey to the ocean, where the
salmon would face thousands of water pumps, reverse currents in
the Delta, and the chance of poor water quality and a
procession of predators…
The Fremont Weir Adult Fish Passage Modification Project, which
began modified operations in January of 2019, successfully
allowed thousands of migrating fish to pass between the
Sacramento River and Yolo Bypass in its first year of
This brown bag seminar is part of the selection process for a
California Sea Grant Extension Specialist who will be hired
jointly with the Delta Stewardship Council. The position with
the Delta Stewardship Council will provide leadership in
advancing collaborative partnerships and initiatives and in
catalyzing and implementing social science research to inform
management of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region of
U.S. District Court Judge Dale Drozd of the Eastern District of
California, who is based in Fresno, denied environmental
groups’ request for an injunction that would have required the
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the CVP, to reduce
water allocations as needed to manage water temperatures in the
Sacramento River below Shasta Dam. The groups sought more cold
water for spring- and winter-run chinook salmon.
Get ready… here comes the true California water cycle: It
begins with headlines and quotes warning of pending disaster
based on what could, might, maybe, or possibly happen over the
state’s water infrastructure.
On June 24, 2020, the United States District Court for the
Eastern District of California denied the preliminary
injunctive relief requested by a coalition of fishery and
environmental groups regarding the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s
operations of Shasta Dam and Reservoir, and related temperature
management actions on the upper Sacramento River.
The Delta is changing much faster than we can respond to, and
if we want to start to get ahead of things, we need to think
about what changes lie ahead and what managers and decision
makers will need to manage those changes. That was the topic
for the second Science Needs Workshop hosted by the Delta
Science Program which brought together Jennifer Pierre with the
State Water Contractors, Paul Souza with the US Fish and
Wildlife Service, and Campbell Ingram with the Delta
Documents obtained by SN&R reveal that the director of the
joint powers authority leading the Delta water diversion
effort, under the supervision and current financing of the
state Department of Water Resources, is getting paid $47,000
every month—twice as much as Gov. Gavin Newsom and
significantly more than President Trump.
Last week, on the flanks of Mount Lassen, the partnership of
the Western Rivers Conservancy and the Lassen National Forest
completed a project that protects a crucial 1,150-acre
property, and a significant branch of South Fork Antelope
Creek, a rare stronghold for salmon and steelhead in the
Sacramento River system.
Hatcheries operated by the California Department of Fish and
Wildlife in the Central Valley just completed the final release
of young Chinook salmon raised this year. More than 20 million
young salmon, called smolts, raised in four state-run
hatcheries were released in various locations throughout the
Sacramento and San Joaquin River systems, the Delta, San Pablo
Bay and into a coastal net pen.
As California confronts increasing water challenges, the most
equitable statewide solution from a social justice perspective
is the single-tunnel project proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom,
known as the Delta Conveyance Project.
After being docked for three months due to COVID-19
restrictions, the Department of Water Resources relaunched its
research vessel monitoring program, the Sentinel. It was the
first time since the 1970s that DWR didn’t have a monitoring
vessel taking field samples in the waters of the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta and San Francisco Estuaries.
The creation of the Council was, in many ways, an experiment in
governance by the California State Legislature and
Schwarzenegger administration to address years of gridlock over
how to manage the Delta’s limited natural resources and chart a
science-based path forward for future management. After ten
years with the Council, I can say, with conviction, the
experiment is working.
Mount Shasta is a community that prides itself on clean water.
In the past when water-related issues have come before City
Council, meetings are often crowded to the point of
overflowing. It is surprising, then, that one of the most
important water topics in our city receives so little
attention. I’m talking of course about Mount Shasta’s storm
Over the years we have spent a lot of effort helping fish to
spawn on both sides of the Pacific Ocean, yet occasionally a
project comes along that requires us to do exactly the
opposite. … While this may seem a bit odd, considering recent
efforts to bolster salmon populations in the basin, we were
tasked with preventing spawning in a small area of the
Sacramento River in order to facilitate the construction of a
new bridge at Jelly’s Ferry near Red Bluff, California.
After years of planning, McCloud’s Lower Elk Spring house
replacement project will get underway soon as the Department of
Water Resources has selected this project for the draft
recommended funding list. The current wooden structure with
corrugated roof will be replaced with a concrete vault to
insure protection from erosion and habitat contamination.
The report, recently released by the city, shows minimal, or
“zero,” levels of cancer-causing chemicals and dissolved solids
that were present as little as four years ago when the city
relied on well water. Today the city obtains its water from the
Sacramento River after which it is treated and delivered to
homes and businesses.
While tens of millions of pounds of food has been destroyed or
buried in the ground during the coronavirus slowdown, a band of
California’s farmers is claiming they can’t produce enough food
to feed Americans, and they’re using the pandemic as leverage
to grab more of the West’s scarce water.
With supplies curtailed from California’s largest water
projects, farmers have been reducing acreage, water districts
have been working to secure additional supplies, and everyone
has been keeping an eye on the continued dispute between state
and federal governments on managing the Delta.
The Solano County Water Agency has filed an appeal with the
Delta Stewardship Council regarding the consistency
determination submitted by Westlands Water District for the
Lower Yolo Ranch Restoration Project. The letter points out
that there are numerous existing agricultural and municipal
water supply intakes in the Yolo Bypass Cache Slough Complex
that will be impacted…
Water pollution in San Francisco Bay, California has reduced
significantly due to the reduction in traffic, according to a
recent study in the journal Science of the Total Environment.
The toxic particles emitted by cars, in fact, fall into the
surrounding waters, inlets and on the coast for miles.
Imagine taking a kayak out on the water all day as a full-time
job. Well, that’s exactly what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service employees from the Red Bluff office do for a portion of
the year. The work is critical for surveying Clear Creek for
the presence of steelhead, rainbow trout and late-fall Chinook
salmon nests known as redds.
The Bureau of Reclamation executed another set of
congressionally-mandated contract conversions with Central
Valley Project contractors pursuant to the Water Infrastructure
Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act. … These completed
contract conversions include the City of West Sacramento and
four contract assignments for Westlands Water District.
A note from another former colleague the other day prodded me
into some rethinking — as with everything in this economic
crisis, partly in light of the need for California to think
small. By which I mean, think local.
California and federal water regulators are trying to quickly
resolve their legal dispute over competing biological opinions
governing the management of their respective water projects, a
top state official says. The talks are proceeding after Gov.
Gavin Newsom filed suit in February to nullify new federal
opinions that would ease restrictions on surface water for San
Joaquin Valley growers.
Grimes and Knights Landing are among three projects that have
been selected to receive grant funding under the second phase
of the Small Communities Flood Risk Reduction Program,
according to the California Department of Water Resources.
After only 6 months post-construction completion and levee
breach at the Tule Red Tidal Restoration Project, longfin smelt
have returned. The 420-acre restoration site converted wetlands
managed primarily for waterfowl to tidal wetlands for the
benefit of dwindling native fish populations including Delta
smelt, longfin smelt, Chinook salmon and the food web that
Two factors are believed to weigh heavily on the Delta smelt’s
fate. The biggest is the reduction in fresh water in the Delta
since water started flowing southward via the California
Aqueduct in the 1960s. … The other threat to Delta smelt are
larger fish particularly non-native striped bass and largemouth
bass that were introduced to the Delta by man.
A local non-profit is suing the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and
a Southern California water district, over a long term water
transfer program. AquAlliance works to protect the Sacramento
River watershed. It is the main plaintiff in a lawsuit that
charges the proposed transfer would send too much water out of
Northern California and would cause severe impacts on area
communities, farms, and the environment.
In letters addressed to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and
Gov. Gavin Newsom, the Association of California Water Agencies
is urging state and federal officials to rejoin talks on
voluntary agreements to address ecosystem needs in the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Following spring storms, the Bureau of Reclamation today issued
updated allocations for Central Valley Project contractors for
the 2020 contract year. … The allocation for south-of-Delta
agricultural water service contractors is increased from 15% to
20% of their contract total. Municipal and Industrial water
service contractors south-of-Delta are now allocated 70% of
their historic use, up from 65%, or health and safety needs,
whichever is greater.
On the same day Gov. Gavin Newsom announced $19 billion in
budget cuts to his 2020-2021 budget, two of California’s
environmental protection agencies filed a request to fund a
lawsuit against the Federal government over its boost in water
supplies sent to the San Joaquin Valley.
Members of a committee designed to ensure Delta communities and
tribal groups have their say in a proposed, life-changing
tunnel project have been told to work through the coronavirus
pandemic—or be left out of the process. Some committee members
also claim that state officials misrepresented that fact to one
of the most important commissions monitoring their efforts.
Developed by The Economist based on research by the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, analysts created a chart to
show the projected number of coronavirus cases with and without
protective measures. This single image effectively conveys
what’s at stake, and it inspired me to consider how we can
modify communications about scientific findings related to the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, especially as we adapt to limited
in-person interactions during these extraordinary times.
The conflict over California water, often compared to a war,
rather resembles a geological process. As along an earthquake
fault, surface spasms come and go. The latest twitch is an
injunction momentarily halting some Trump Administration water
plans. But the underlying pressures are a constant. They never
stop exerting themselves.
The 2017 Central Valley Flood Protection Plan’s Investment
Strategy looked at … retooling the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Drainage District to provide a small continuous funding stream
for ongoing expenditures of the flood management system. At the
April meeting of the Central Valley Flood Protection Board,
consultants discussed the upcoming feasibility study.
A judge issued a preliminary injunction in two lawsuits brought
against the administration by California’s Natural Resources
Agency and Environmental Protection Agency and by a half-dozen
environmental groups. The order bars the U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation until May 31 from going ahead with expanding the
amount of water it pumps from the San Joaquin Delta through the
federal Central Valley Project.
An ambitious plan to build the largest new reservoir in
California in 40 years to supply water to homes and businesses
from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, along with Central Valley
farmers, is being scaled back considerably amid questions about
its $5 billion price tag and how much water it can deliver.
During the marathon hearing Thursday, U.S. District Judge Dale
Drozd hinted the environmental groups’ requests for a ruling by
May 11 will be a tall task. Not only is the case complex and
involves dozens of parties, he said the chaos caused by the
pandemic is impeding the court’s ability to move swiftly.
At the April meeting of the Central Valley Flood Protection
Board, Board members heard an informational briefing on the
Yolo Bypass Salmonid Habitat Restoration and Fish Passage
Project being planned for the Fremont Weir. Referred to as the
Big Notch, this project will construct a gated notch at Fremont
Weir to create seasonal floodplain habitat for juvenile fish as
well as to improve migration for adult fish.
For us, better science is the only path that can achieve those
two important goals. Unfortunately, as the state completed its
new permitting effort at the end of March, a decade of research
was largely ignored in favor of political objectives that
impose unjustified restrictions on the State Water Project …
Environmental groups in California on April 29 challenged in
court the state Dept. of Water Resources decision not to
include a proposed 40-mile tunnel in its most recent
environmental assessment needed to reauthorize long-term
operation of the State Water Project—a 700-mile system of dams
and aqueducts that moves water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta to areas in the south.
The California Environmental Quality Act scoping period
concluded on April 17, 2020 after an extended 93-day public
comment period. DWR is reviewing all submitted comments and
will publish a scoping report summarizing the information this
California water agencies yesterday sued the state over
endangered species protections they claim threaten their
ability to provide water to more than 25 million residents and
thousands of acres of farmland. … At issue is water shipped
from California’s water hub, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River
Delta east of San Francisco, south via the State Water Project,
a massive system of dams, canals and aqueducts.
Dr. Laurel Larsen, an expert in hydroecology, landscape
dynamics, complex environmental systems, and environmental
restoration, was unanimously appointed by the Delta Stewardship
Council on Thursday as lead scientist. Most recently, Dr.
Larsen has served as an associate professor in the Department
of Geography and Civil and Environmental Engineering at the UC
In mid-April of 2020, Restore the Delta hosted a webinar where
they discussed the history of water planning and the voluntary
agreements, including their numerous concerns. … Before
addressing the main topic of the webinar, Executive Director
Barbara Barrigan-Parilla noted that there are many in the Delta
who aren’t on the webinar due to lack of reliable internet
service in rural communities, affordability issues, and/or lack
of access to devices.
From the moment he took office, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he
wanted to bring peace to California’s water wars. But now, more
than a year later, most of the warring factions are united
against his plan for governing the Delta. Three of the most
powerful groups in California water sued the state this week
over Newsom’s two-month-old plan for the Sacramento-San Joaquin
The Sites Project Authority plans to recirculate an
environmental document for the proposed Sites Reservoir after
project leaders modified plans recently to right size the
project proposed for Colusa and Glenn counties. The reservoir
capacity will be reduced from 1.8 million acre feet capacity to
from 1.3 to 1.5 million acre feet.
On the campaign trail in 2016, President Trump swung into
California’s agricultural hub and vowed to deliver more water
to the drought-ridden state’s farmers. … Three years into his
administration, Trump is now opening the floodgate to deliver
on that promise, setting up the most intense water war between
the federal government and California in the state’s history.
A fundraising campaign is underway for a salt marsh restoration
effort near Martinez that a local nonprofit preservation group
sees as both an educational opportunity and a small component
in improving the ecology of the Contra Costa County shoreline.
Over the past several months, the Authority has undertaken a
rigorous Value Planning effort to review the project’s proposed
operations and facilities in an effort to develop a project
that is “right sized” for current participants while still
providing water supply reliability and enhancing the
environment.The process has resulted in a project that includes
facilities and operations that are different than originally
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a motion
Tuesday evening seeking to stop implementation of new Federal
environmental guidelines aimed at boosting water supplies for
the Central Valley and Southern California from the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The whole San Francisco Bay ecosystem—that enormous estuary
with its maze of bays, rich delta, and associated rivers and
streams—is in the midst of an ecological calamity. Decades of
dam building and water extraction to quench the thirst of
California’s growing population and the needs of its mighty
agriculture industry have starved the state’s waterways, as
well as the bay itself, of crucial freshwater supplies. As a
result, the entire estuary is under enormous stress.
Two separate letters sent to President Donald Trump and members
of Congress highlight the importance of providing support for
enhancing water management, particularly in light of the
tumultuous conditions created by COVID-19.
Yolo Basin Foundation’s Board of Directors announced this week
that Chelsea Martinez has been named the Foundation’s new
executive director. … Martinez joined the Foundation in 2017
as the Community Outreach & Volunteer Coordinator and has grown
and sustained the Foundation’s volunteer base to over 200
volunteers as well as helped to increase community involvement
in its programs.
U.S. Representative T.J. Cox, Senator Dianne Fenstein and
Represenatives Jim Costa, Josh Harder and John Garamendi on
Thursday called on Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Gov.
Newsom to come up with a coordinated effort to manage the State
Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project.
President Donald Trump and California Gov. Gavin Newsom may
have set aside their incessant squabbling over most issues to
cooperate on the pandemic, but they are poised for showdown
over who controls the state’s vital water supply.
Voluntary 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. … Yet, no one said it would be easy getting interest
groups with sometimes sharply different views – and some, such
as farmers, with livelihoods heavily dependent on water — to
reach consensus on how to address the water quality and habitat
needs of the Delta watershed.
Voluntary 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
The flagship of DWR’s Environmental Monitoring Program (EMP),
the Sentinel is used as a floating laboratory that monitors
water quality and ecosystem biology in the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta and San Francisco Estuaries.
Groundwater science is taking on a new urgency as California
and other regions around the world face growing threats from
drought—and are increasingly drilling wells to make up for
missing rain and snow. Globally, aquifers are “highly stressed”
in 17 countries that hold one-quarter of the world’s
population… Water and food supplies for billions of people
are under threat. California is a case study in the challenges
of protecting those resources.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced a water allocation
update Monday and it had disappointing news for some San
Joaquin Valley farmers, as well as wildlife refuges. The San
Joaquin River Exchange Contractors saw their allocation cut
from February’s announced 100% to 75%, which is their contract
minimum. Wildlife refuges likewise were reduced from 100% to
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on
Tuesday voted to sue the state of California over a permit one
state agency granted to another at the end of March. The permit
is related to operations of the State Water Project, which
serves 27 million people and irrigates 750,000 acres of
How critical are Sacramento Valley floodplains for a vibrant
fishery? A California Fish and Game Bulletin from 1930 gives us
a clue. The report documents the Sacramento River commercial
salmon catch declining from 6 million pounds in 1918 to less
than 1 million pounds by 1927.
The state recently got a new permit for water delivery
operations from its wildlife agency. In the past, that kind of
authority came from adhering to federal rules. Now, with a
dispute between the state and federal government over water
management and endangered species act protections, the state
issued its own permit. Critics of the state’s move say they
plan to file lawsuits.
The agreement pays Antioch $27 million, which guarantees that
they will be able to utilize its 150-year old water rights and
remain in the Delta for the long-term. The $27 million, in
addition to $43 million in State grants and loans, completes
the financing for the $70m Brackish Water Desalination Plant.
Southern Resident killer whales have long pursued the biggest
and most nourishing Chinook salmon from coastal Pacific waters.
Chinook salmon fishing is also a mainstay of the West Coast
economy, generating nearly $72 million in income last year. Is
there room for both? The answer is yes, with safeguards.
Several Congressional leaders sent a letter to Governor Gavin
Newsom expressing disappointment in the decision to issue an
incidental take permit for long-term operations of the State
Water Project. … The letter was signed by Representatives
Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunes, Ken Calvert, Tom McClintock, Doug
LaMalfa, and Paul Cook.
At the 2020 California Water Law Symposium, a panel discussed
the history of the project. Speaking on the panel was Chief
Caleen Sisk with the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, Doug Obegi with the
Natural Resources Defense Council, and Darcie Houck who is
currently General Counsel with California Energy Commission,
but formerly represented the Winnemem Wintu Tribe when she was
in private practice.
According to the Washington Post’s fact checker, as of January,
2020, President Trump had made 16,241 false or misleading
claims during his first three years in office. Sadly, this lack
of regard for truth seems to be trickling down and infecting
the Trump Administration’s management of the federal Central
Valley Project in California, one of the largest water storage
and diversion projects in the country.
The water transfers could occur on an annual basis sending
water from willing sellers north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta to water users south of the Delta and in the San
Francisco Bay Area. Based on annual approvals, the transfers
could occur through 2024. In addition, the transfers could
occur by various methods, including groundwater substitution,
cropland idling, reservoir releases and conservation.
Taking advantage of recently approved rules, the federal
government is quickly following through on President Donald
Trump’s promise to quiet environmentalists and “open up the
water” to California farmers. … The pumps in the south of the
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta aren’t just whizzing during
what will likely end up being classified a “critically dry”
hydrological year, they are churning — and killing — endangered
salmon during a critical migration period.
A new set of water regulations aimed at protecting California’s
native fish came down from the state earlier this week to near
universal condemnation from both agricultural and environmental
water folks. The regulations are contained in a 143-page
“incidental take permit” issued by the state Department of Fish
and Wildlife …
Unprecedented efforts by leaders at the state and national
level have led to the kind of cooperation that will provide
valuable benefits to water users and the environment. I know
because that’s what we’ve been doing in the Sacramento Valley
for many years. The kinds of success we’ve achieved can be
replicated in other parts of the state.
The group leading the effort to build a new off-stream
reservoir in Northern California recently hired a new executive
director. The Sites Project Authority Board of Directors
selected Jerry Brown, who previously served as general manager
of Contra Costa Water District, overseeing the operations and
management of a large water system with more than 500,000
The rules take the form of a state Fish and Wildlife Department
permit that will govern State Water Project deliveries from the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta… But the permit does not
explicitly control the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Central
Valley Project, which exports Delta water to San Joaquin Valley
farms. That means the two big government pumping operations
will likely adhere to different standards — possibly allowing
the federal project to boost deliveries at the expense of the
Two lawsuits challenging the Trump administration’s
authorization of plans to increase water pumping from the
Sacramento and San Joaquin watersheds will be moved from the
Northern District of California to the Eastern District of
California, a federal judge ruled.
The nature of Butte County’s concerns over Gov. Gavin Newsom’s
scaled back Delta tunnel project was made clear last Tuesday,
when Supervisor Debra Lucero questioned a staffer from the
state Department of Water Resources.
Vallee and his team are here to maintain an array of
hydrophones used to track migrating native fish. The work is
part of a multi-agency effort to provide more timely and
detailed information about the movements of salmon, steelhead,
and sturgeon in the Central Valley. Deploying hundreds of
listening stations across the watershed, the program lets
scientists follow thousands of tagged fish as they navigate
from hatcheries and headwater streams toward the Pacific Ocean.
As discussed below, in the case of west coast salmon, the
scientific evidence is clear that the replacement assumption
has proven faulty as the total abundance of salmon declined at
the same time the propagation and release of hatchery salmon
Burgeoning populations of anchovy and a healthy crop of
California sea lion pups reflected improved productivity off
parts of the West Coast in 2019. However, lingering offshore
heat worked against recovery of salmon stocks and reduced
fishing success, a new analysis reports.
The new rules allow the federal Central Valley Project to kill
100 percent of baby winter run Chinook salmon below Shasta Dam
for three years running. Chinook salmon live for three
years, so authorizing the Bureau of Reclamation to kill every
endangered winter run for three years amounts to an extinction
plan for this species.
Because the State and Federal water managers coordinate
operations of the State Water Project and Central Valley
Project, the State Water Contractors argue that dumping the
biological opinions governing those operations and restarting
the process would create “uncertainty in water supply
availability, potentially affecting the [State Water
Contractor] members’ water supplies from the SWP.”