Topic: Sacramento San Joaquin Delta

Overview

Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is California’s most crucial water and ecological resource.

Aquafornia news The Press

Annual Delta waterway cleanup scheduled for Saturday

Environmentally minded residents of East County have an opportunity to help make the Delta a little better. The annual Delta Waterway Cleanup will take place Saturday, Sept. 18 from 9 a.m. to noon. The Delta Protection Commission (DPC) sponsors this event, and has similar ones scheduled in each of the five counties that adjoin the Sacramento San-Joaquin Delta. In Contra Costa County, volunteers will focus their efforts on Bethel Island. The Delta cleanup is part of California’s Coastal Cleanup Day, the state’s largest annual volunteer event.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Report: Draft – Review of Water Supply Reliability Estimation Related to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Reform Act of 2009 mandates the balancing of coequal goals for the Delta: providing a reliable water supply for both the Delta and California and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem and the Delta as an evolving place. This review by the Delta Independent Science Board (Delta ISB) presents findings and recommendations on the science and practice of estimating water supply reliability with a focus on the Delta.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

California’s Chinook salmon population is disappearing

For centuries, spring-run Chinook salmon, among California’s most iconic fish, would rest for weeks in these historically cold waters after their brutal upstream journey. Then they would lay eggs and, finally, perish to complete one of nature’s most improbable life cycles. No longer. What once was a place where life began is now one of untimely death. The creek is simply too warm, an astounding 10 degrees warmer than average in some parts of these spawning grounds.

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Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

‘Eyes in the sky’ help police California water use

Michael George is not a spy — but he does use some of the same equipment. George, a gregarious talker, is a lawyer by trade, and in his current role as Delta watermaster he oversees the use of water in one of the country’s most contested waterways. The Delta in this case is the Sacramento-San Joaquin, a jumble of fertile land, diked islands, tidal flows, and meandering sloughs that is the heart of California’s engineered water system.

Aquafornia news The Press

Antioch launches the region’s first water desalination project

The city of Antioch’s water supply has been challenged in recent years by a variety of factors. But the Brackish Water Desalination Project, the first desalination project of its kind in the five-county Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region, is intended to improve the reliability of the city’s water. The city filed its notice of preparation for the project just over four years ago and then broke ground on the plant in February of this year.

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Public Notice – Delta Cross Channel gates to close weekdays after Labor Day

Until further notice, the Bureau of Reclamation plans to close the Delta Cross Channel gates during weekdays, beginning Tuesday, September 7 at 10 a.m. The gates are expected to reopen Fridays around 10 a.m. to facilitate weekend recreation and close on Mondays around 10 a.m. Opening or closing gates can be made on short notice and boaters are advised to check the status of the gates, especially around holidays. The process takes about one hour.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Pressed by drought and climate change, a California city turns to desalination

Founded on a lush plain of the largest estuary on the West Coast of North America shortly after gold was discovered, Antioch’s fortunes have always risen and fallen with the delta tides. One of California’s oldest settlements, what started as a ranch town morphed decades ago into an industrial city due to its riverside locale and proximity to San Francisco. Family farms gave way to coal and copper mines, mills and warehouses took over downtown and the city steadily grew into one of the Bay Area’s largest.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California water suppliers cast 1st challenge to strict drought rules

Freshly cut off from their chief water supply, a group of California water agencies in one of the state’s most fertile farming areas sued on Wednesday to freeze the latest round of emergency drought rules. In a lawsuit filed in Sacramento County Superior Court, the suppliers argue they were denied due process when state regulators ordered thousands of landowners last month to cease diversions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta due to drought conditions.

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Collaborative efforts once again being used in the Sacramento Valley to benefit birds and the Pacific Flyway

At the end of the growing season, as the Sacramento Valley transitions from summer to fall, we shift from the agronomic season to the bird season as waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors and other birds traveling along the Pacific Flyway begin to arrive as part of their annual migration. Birds and other species using the Pacific Flyway are reliant upon varied land uses in the Sacramento Valley that include ricelands and managed wetlands (both privately managed wetlands and public refuges and state wildlife areas) to meet their habitat needs.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Reserve your spot for a virtual journey into California’s water hub

Join us next Thursday, Sept. 9, for an engaging online Bay-Delta Tour that will feature live Q&A with key experts on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the state’s vital water hub and the West Coast’s largest freshwater tidal estuary. You’ll learn about Delta ecosystem restoration, impacts to ocean fisheries from changes in the Delta, agriculture and municipal water use and the Delta’s role in supplying water to Southern California. You’ll hear from farmers, fish biologists, water managers, people working on restoration efforts and more. 

Aquafornia news Politico

‘This is a lose-lose’: Drought, wildfires complicate Biden’s California water plans

As climate-driven drought and wildfires rage in California, the Biden administration is struggling to navigate the hard politics that come with deciding who gets access to the state’s precious — and dwindling — water supplies. … Now the Biden administration is delaying action on the fundamental question at the heart of California’s long-running water wars: How much water should be reserved for species protections, at the expense of the state’s powerful agricultural industry?

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Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: Understanding people in the face of rapid environmental change

We cannot solve our most pressing environmental and natural resource management challenges with a better understanding of the biophysical environment of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta alone – we need social science. To address our natural resource management challenges, we must build cooperation and collaboration among stakeholders, find a compromise between conflicting interests and values, and face tradeoffs that require hard decisions about whose needs we prioritize.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn | Attorneys at Law

Blog: Delta curtailments update – California State Water Resources Control Board’s emergency regulations are adopted; curtailment orders issued to 4,500 delta water users

As discussed in our July 28, 2021, Policy Alert, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) recently adopted the Draft Emergency Reporting and Curtailment Regulation (Regulation), to authorize curtailments of water diversions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta).  The Regulation was approved by the Office of Administrative Law and became effective on August 19, 2021.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Monday Top of the Scroll: State orders 4,500 cities, farms to stop drawing river water, including San Francisco

California regulators began cracking down on water use in the sprawling Sacramento River and San Joaquin River watersheds on Friday, ordering 4,500 farmers, water districts and other landowners, including the city of San Francisco, to stop drawing water in the basins — or face penalties of up to $10,000 a day. The move comes as the state slides deeper into an extraordinary two-year drought. Lakes, streams and rivers no longer have enough water for everyone who is taking it, and dwindling supplies must be rationed, state regulators say.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

AQUAFORNIA BREAKING NEWS – California farmers ordered to slash water use or face big fines

Water regulators on Friday formally ordered thousands of farmers across California to cut back their water use this summer or face fines of up to $10,000 a day. The State Water Resources Control Board began sending formal “curtailment notices” to the holders of 4,500 water rights permits that allow them to pull water from the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and their tributaries.

Aquafornia news The Press

Assemblymember Jim Frazier anchors effort to remove abandoned boats from the Delta

Efforts to rid the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta of abandoned boats received a boost when Assemblymember Jim Frazier, D-11, secured a $12 million allocation for that purpose in the state’s budget for fiscal year 2021 – 2022.  The allocation is specifically earmarked for the removal of abandoned and derelict commercial vessels that litter the Delta. These vessels have the potential to leak any number of dangerous pollutants into the Delta, which is also the heart of the water supply for two-thirds of all Californians. 

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Advancing ecosystem restoration with smarter permitting: case studies from California

California’s ecosystems form the bedrock of the state’s wellbeing and prosperity. Yet many of these ecosystems—which are vitally important to the state’s water supply, agriculture, wildlife, and economy—are in dire health. Climate change and accelerating biodiversity loss threaten to further disrupt these natural systems and the benefits they provide. While the state urgently needs to speed the pace of ecosystem restoration, such projects often find themselves mired in regulations that were originally intended to prevent environmental destruction.

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Aquafornia news Downey Brand LLP

Blog: State Water Board issues emergency regulations for curtailments in Delta watershed

The State Water Resources Control Board (“State Water Board”) issued emergency regulations on August 3, 2021, authorizing Board staff to curtail diversions and require informational reporting from water users in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed (“Delta Emergency Regulations”). The regulations, which are expected to be finalized by the Office of Administrative Law in the coming days, set parameters for information gathering and determination of supply and demand in the watershed as well as the issuance of curtailment orders upon determination of water unavailability. 

Aquafornia news The Press

Residents asked to comment on groundwater plan updates

The Town of Discovery Bay is seeking public comment on the latest additions to its groundwater sustainability plan (GSP). Comments are due by Aug. 16. Unlike other East County communities which use a blend of water drawn from the Delta and groundwater, Discovery Bay residents are completely reliant on groundwater for all household and commercial uses.

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Aquafornia news AgAlert

Delta water cutbacks weigh on farmers

Organic farmer Al Courchesne of Frog Hollow Farm in Brentwood walks through rows of his aromatic stone fruit orchard, showing off sweet nectarines that thrive in the microclimate and rich soils in his corner of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Weighing on his mind is the drought  … Courchesne is among several thousand water rights holders in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta watershed who could have supplies shut off in response to drought emergency curtailment regulations adopted last week by the State Water Resources Control Board.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Grab your ticket for virtual journey into California’s water hub

Join us for a Sept. 9 virtual journey into California’s most critical and controversial water region in the state, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and learn how the drought is impacting water quality and supply. The Delta, a 720,000-acre network of islands and canals, supports the state’s two large water systems – the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project – and, together with the San Francisco Bay, forms an important ecological resource. 

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Why is the Delta starving?

The Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta is one of the most-studied ecosystems in the world—and one of the most degraded. We spoke with PPIC Water Policy Center adjunct fellow and senior scientist emeritus James Cloern about his new study, which estimates just how much primary production (the largely photosynthesis-driven process that forms the base of the Delta’s food chain) has been lost—and how the state might restore some of it. 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Living with non-native fishes in California requires using the right words

Everywhere you go in California, people live in landscapes where non-native species are conspicuous:  European grasses turning the hills golden, earthworms tilling our garden soil, exotic trees providing shade, bullfrogs jumping into backyard ponds, starlings making tight maneuvers overhead. In this blog, I want to describe the language of our relationships with non-natives and the nature of those relationships as biological phenomena, using fishes and other aquatic organisms as examples.  

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Rare California water restrictions hit farmers amid dire shortages

Regulators on the water resources control board, which oversees the allocation of the state’s water, voted unanimously on Tuesday to stop diversions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a vast watershed sprawling from Fresno to the Oregon border. … But the timing of the order, which will take effect in two weeks, could spare many growers from hardship as the greatest agricultural demand on the watershed tends to fall in late spring and summer …The order, which could affect as many as 5,700 water rights holders, includes exceptions for uses such as drinking, sanitation and generating electricity. 

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Tracking sturgeon in the San Francisco Estuary

White sturgeon may not typically be considered “charismatic megafauna,” but Veronica Larwood thinks they deserve the recognition. A biological science technician with the U.S. Geological Survey in Sacramento, she served as lead author of a study in San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science investigating the fish’s use of specific estuarine habitats.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Monday Top of the Scroll: Drought is pushing more saltwater into the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. California built a wall to keep it out

Drought conditions have prompted the building of a 750-foot wide rock barrier to prevent saltwater intrusion into the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The California Department of Water Resources constructed the temporary barrier with 110,000 cubic yards of rock off West False River in Contra Costa County. Principal engineer Jacob McQuirk said that without the barrier, saltwater would endanger freshwater supplies in the Delta and water exports to the south. … McQuirk said 27 million people are dependent upon those water supplies and that the barrier will be taken down by November. 

Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

News release: DWR completes installation of emergency salinity drought barrier

After three weeks of round-the-clock work, the emergency drought salinity barrier (EDSB) was completed in late June. The barrier will help prevent saltwater contamination of water supplies used by millions of Californians who rely on Delta-based federal and state water projects for at least some of their water supplies.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn | Attorneys at Law

Blog: California State Water Resources Control Board’s draft emergency regulations likely to lead to curtailment for Delta watershed water users

California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) is currently experiencing one of the driest years in recorded history.  The US Drought Monitor recently classified large portions of the Delta Watershed as being in a state of “Exceptional Drought,” while the remaining portions are in a state of “Extreme Drought.”  The California Nevada River Forecast Center also provides information that the to-date flows in nearly all streams in the watershed are between 20 and 40 percent of the annual average.  As a result, the water supplies for many users in the region are in jeopardy.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Will Delta users sue again to stop California’s drought rules?

Drought-plagued California is poised to bar thousands of farmers, landowners and others from pumping water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed, a move that irrigation districts said exceeds the water board’s authority. The emergency rules would be the first time state regulators have taken such wide-reaching action during a drought to prevent diversions from the massive Delta watershed stretching from Fresno to the Oregon border.

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Aquafornia news Ag Net West

Cost of regulatory compliance more than triples in six-year period

A study tracking regulatory compliance costs in California was recently released, with striking findings. Researchers looked at data from 22 different farms of various sizes in the San Joaquin Valley between 2012 and 2018. During that timeframe, regulatory costs increased by 265 percent. Professor of Agribusiness at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and co-author of the report, Lynn Hamilton said several factors contributed to the significant increase. 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Experimental habitats for hatchery Delta smelt

The Delta smelt is either extinct in the wild or close to it … This coming winter, the UC Davis Fish Conservation and Culture Laboratory will have as many as 40,000 smelt ready for release, when temperatures are low and the smelt are likely to spawn naturally. Such releases will be ‘experimental’ so not subject to the take provisions of the federal Endangered Species Act. In this blog, I support the concept that success of re-establishing smelt in the wild requires using multiple approaches.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

California’s Delta an oasis amid arid farmland

As California has imposed severe water cutbacks throughout the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta’s vast watershed, most growers in the Delta region itself are still getting enough water to bring their crops to harvest. With a majority of landowners in the region holding pre-1914 riparian water rights, the state has not curtailed their ability to pump water from the Delta’s labyrinth of canals and waterways – at least yet. In fact, growers whose land is on islands below sea level have been pumping water off, San Joaquin County Agricultural Commissioner Tim Pelican said.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Endangered salmon program waiting, watching for possible call on Millerton water

As the summer grinds on, farms, towns and a critical native salmon restoration program that all rely on water from Millerton Lake near Fresno continue to hope their water won’t be needed to fulfill irrigation contracts further up the San Joaquin Valley. But in this parched year, nothing is certain. If water is required out of Millerton, which happened in drought years 2014 and 2015, that could be especially detrimental for the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, which is already taking unprecedented steps to nurture its endangered spring run Chinook salmon population.

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Aquafornia news California Water Research

Blog: Delta Independent Science Board: Bill to fix compensation passes Assembly

Senate Bill 821, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta: Delta Independent Science Board, was introduced by the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee in March to restore compensation for the Delta Independent Science Board members. The bill has been winding its way through the legislature. SB 821 was passed out of the Assembly on Thursday, July 15 with 70 ayes, 0 noes, and 9 not voting.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

News release: New and transformative Delta research funded by state and federal agencies

After reviewing a record number of proposals submitted in response to the 2021 Delta Science Proposal Solicitation, the Delta Science Program is thrilled to announce that 16 proposals have been selected for funding to address critical biophysical and social science knowledge gaps in the Delta. The Delta Stewardship Council, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), and the State Water Contractors have contributed a combined $10 million to fund these innovative projects that will advance our knowledge and management on a diversity of topics.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Potentially dangerous algae discovered in water basins in North Natomas parks

California water inspectors have discovered evidence of algae that could pose a risk to humans and pets at North Natomas parks, prompting city workers to plant signs warning locals to steer clear of the water. … The algae bloom coated the city’s water and flood control basins, which collect and store water run-off. The presence of algae itself isn’t unusual, especially during a season of unprecedented droughts and red-hot temperatures, officials said. But exposure to the harmful algae toxins can cause vomiting, diarrhea, headaches and eye irritation.

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

A Delta in distress

Global warming has already left its mark on the backbone of California’s water supply, and represents a growing threat to its first developed agricultural region, state experts have warned in a new study. The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fuels California’s $3 trillion economy, including its $50 billion agricultural industry, sustains more than 750 plant and animal species and supplies 27 million people with drinking water.  But global warming is likely to destabilize the landscape that made the delta a biodiversity and agricultural hotspot …

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Independent science to solve Delta water problems is slipping away

When the legal battle over employees vs. contractors wrapped up in California, no one thought it could throw a wrench into the long-established independence of the scientific body charged with protecting a precious California resource in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta: water. That is, however, precisely what happened. State counsel advised members of the Delta Independent Science Board that they were employees, contrary to the independent status required by the board. This threatens the independent science on which our state’s water decisions depend.
-Written by Phil Isenberg, the founding chair of the Delta Stewardship Council, and David Guy, president of the Northern California Water Association.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Fault system that produced 6.0 quake poses big dangers

While much of California’s earthquake risk has been historically focused on the San Andreas fault and places like Los Angeles and San Francisco, quakes are capable of causing significant destruction in the state’s Sierra Nevada and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta … UCLA experts warned in 2014 that a major earthquake sending destructive shaking to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta could potentially destroy aging levees, causing flooding and drawing in saline water from San Francisco Bay — which would contaminate one of the state’s key water supply systems.

Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

Heat, drought conditions could bring more harmful algae to Sacramento waterways

Hot temperatures have many headed straight to local waterways to cool off, but experts say high heat and a bad drought this year can be ideal conditions for harmful algae. It’s an issue that’s not always top of mind. … According to state data, popular waterways in the immediate Sacramento area are safe. People headed to the American River or Folsom Lake for the Fourth of July are in the clear. But the state labels part of Discovery Bay near San Francisco as a danger area, with a warning not to swim or touch the scum on the water. 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Home is where the habitat is

The San Francisco Estuary (estuary) is sometimes called the most invaded estuary in the world, and for good reason. Through many avenues, hundreds, if not thousands, of species have been introduced to San Francisco Bay, the Delta, and their rivers. Some introductions were byproducts of human activity and include organisms that “hitchhiked” on the bottom of boats or as stowaways in ballast water carried by international shipping vessels. Others were deliberate and undertaken either legally by the government or illicitly by individuals for biocontrol, fisheries, or disposal of unwanted pets.

Aquafornia news Restore the Delta

Blog: Drought – Coalition opposes temporary urgency changes for CVP and SWP

A coalition of Delta-based groups has sent a formal Petition for Reconsideration to the State Water Board opposing the Board’s June 1 order to relax water quality standards for Delta operations of the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project. The Temporary Urgency Change Order (TUCO) was issued by the Water Board on June 1, 2021 … The coalition’s petition shows that 4.5 million acre-feet of water will be delivered to state and federal water contractors (including about 10 percent for Central Valley wildlife refuges), based on Water Board information. 

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Opinion: How California’s leaders can end the salmon slaughter

Our leaders must take bold action to adapt to our new reality and create a system that can support healthy rivers and wildlife, communities with access to safe drinking water and a thriving agricultural economy. Unfortunately, that’s not what we’re seeing today. The state’s water regulators are draining our reservoirs and depleting our rivers to deliver vast volumes of water to a small number of powerful agricultural interests during a historically dry year. Protecting fish and wildlife and water quality for Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta communities does not mean eliminating agriculture in the Central Valley. 
-Written by Rachel Zwillinger, water policy advisor for Defenders of Wildlife in Sacramento.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Report: Delta adapts – Creating a climate resilient future

The time to act is now. Climate change is already altering the physical environment of the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta and Suisun Marsh (Delta), and we will continue to experience its effects through hotter temperatures, more severe wildfires, and prolonged droughts. Over the long term, climate change in the Delta is expected to harm human health and safety, disrupt the economy, diminish water supply availability and usability, shift ecosystem function, compromise sensitive habitats, and increase the challenges of providing basic services. Many of these impacts will disproportionately affect vulnerable communities.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Drought makes conditions worse for California’s declining native fishes

California is home to 131 kinds of native fishes that require freshwater for some or all of their life-cycle. Most of these fishes are found only in California and most (81%) are in decline (Moyle et al. 2015, 2020). Thirty-two (24%) are already listed as threatened or endangered by state and/or federal governments. Declines are usually the result of fishes losing the competition with humans for California’s water and habitat (Leidy and Moyle 2021). This competition is heightened by the ongoing severe drought.

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Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Opinion: California budget surplus a rare opportunity to create climate strategy

There is no drought – the Los Angeles Times wrote in a recent editorial. The Times argued “if ‘drought’ means a period of dry years followed by a return to the norm, California is not in drought. The current climate is the norm.” That analysis has important implications for Stockton and other communities along the San Joaquin River and in the Delta. As our precipitation increasingly swings between drought and flood, each extreme challenges our communities.
-Written by Douglass Wilhoit, CEO of the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce and a former San Joaquin County supervisor; and Barbara Barrigan-Parilla, executive director and co-founder of Restore the Delta.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

News release: State, federal agencies award over $10 million for new Delta science

The Delta Stewardship Council (Council) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) are pleased to award over $10 million to fund 16 critical scientific studies in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and Suisun Marsh over the next three years. … At its June 24 meeting, the Council voted to approve $9,611,012.75 to fund 16 projects, with Reclamation contributing over $3.42 million toward four of these projects. The State Water Contractors will co-fund one of these 16 projects, pushing the grand total awards to over $10 million.

Aquafornia news TreeHugger

Blog: California water use threatens biodiversity in the long term

The diversion of water from the San Francisco Bay Delta, for example, is one of the forces famously driving the delta smelt to extinction. Now, a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this month shows another counterintuitive way in which human water use in California is putting its unique riverside woodlands at risk.  By diverting water in ways it would not otherwise flow, human management is providing some stream-side, or riparian, ecosystems with excess water that gives them a short-term boost, but undermines their long-term sustainability. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Giant rock wall built across Delta river to protect California’s water supply

For the past three weeks, construction crews working 24 hours a day have been stacking boulders across a river in eastern Contra Costa County, building what may be California’s biggest defense yet against the drought: a nearly 800-foot-long rock wall. The state’s emergency project, which was wrapping up Thursday, is designed to prevent San Francisco Bay’s salty flows from pushing into the coveted freshwater supplies of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Water levels in the delta’s rivers and sloughs have dropped after two dry years, putting water for almost 30 million Californians at risk of saltwater intrusion. The plan is to keep the wall up until November…

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Editorial: This is why proposed Stanislaus River water sale makes good sense

State water officials should approve a plan to sell up to 100,000 acre-feet of Stanislaus River water to thirsty buyers on the Valley’s west side and south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The $40 million deal could fall apart if the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation succeeds in blocking it. The California State Water Resources Control Board should reject the Bureau’s interference for several solid reasons.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Institute

New research: Delta landscapes primary production – past, present, future

This report describes the Delta Landscapes Primary Production project, which quantifies how landscape change in the Delta has altered the quantity and character of primary production. Combining historical and modern maps with simple models of production for five dominant plant and algae groups, we estimate primary production across the hydrologically connected Delta. We evaluate changes in primary production over time (between the early 1800s and early 2000s), between wet and dry years, and with future targets for landscape-scale restoration. 

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Drought: Emergency project being built to protect California water supplies

In a new symbol of California’s worsening drought, construction crews are putting the finishing touches on a $10 million emergency project to build a massive rock barrier through part of the Delta in Contra Costa County to preserve water supplies for millions of people across the state. The 800-foot long barrier — the size of San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid laid on its side — is essentially a rock wall, 120 feet wide, built in water 35 feet deep. Its purpose: To block salt water from the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay from flowing too far east and contaminating the huge state and federal pumps near Tracy …

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Partnership

Cooking food in a Sacramento shipping channel?

The learned doctors attending the bedside of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta agree on one thing: the patient is not doing well. What ails it, many students of the case suggest, is dehydration: the perennial artificial drought induced by withdrawals of water for human use, whether pulled from feeder rivers or extracted from the Delta itself. … Recently, though, attention has turned to what might be called a comorbidity: malnutrition. Delta waters simply don’t generate enough basic food, in the form of phytoplankton, to sustain the food chains … 

Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News release: Court decision upholds $2.8 million fine, clears path for long-awaited restoration of Point Buckler Island

The California Supreme Court has denied review of the February appellate decisions in Sweeney v. Regional Water Board and Sweeney v. Bay Conservation and Development Commission, leaving in place key administrative orders against the Point Buckler Club for unauthorized levee construction and other environmentally harmful activities at Point Buckler Island. 

Aquafornia news Lost Coast Outpost

Blog: Klamath Trinity spring chinook salmon added to California endangered species list

The California Fish and Game Commission ruled unanimously to add Upper Klamath Trinity Spring Chinook to the California Endangered Species List.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Delta ISB: 21st century science for 21st century environmental decision making: the challenges and opportunities of near-term iterative ecological forecasting

What if we could predict changes to ecosystems in the same way we can predict the weather?  An emerging field of science is working towards making that a reality. In areas such as fisheries, wildlife, algal blooms, wildfire, and human disease, we often need to know how ecosystems and the services they provide might change in the future and how human activities can affect those trajectories.  

Aquafornia news Escalon Times

High river flow expected through September

While typically the water flow in the Stanislaus River slows during the summer, that’s not likely to happen this year, so recreational users of the river are urged to observe safety precautions to avoid tragedy. Why is the river running so high? …  In a nutshell, it means New Melones is being called upon to backfill a good portion of water that Shasta, Folsom and Oroville should be releasing during this summer to the delta…

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Editorial: State restrictions reflect urgent need to conserve water

The state’s decision this week to cut off Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta access to thousands of farmers and water agencies highlights the need for serious and immediate conservation throughout the Bay Area and California. It’s been obvious for months that the state faces its most serious water shortage since the historic 2012-16 drought. Bay Area water agencies should be imposing mandatory water restrictions on users now.

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Drought exposes need to upgrade water facilities

Severe drought highlights the need for greater investment to improve aging California water facilities, and increases calls for allocation of federal and state resources to tackle the problem. A national coalition that includes the California Farm Bureau urged U.S. Senate leaders last week to take action to address the shortcomings of aging water infrastructure, and to include “a broad range of water uses” in any federal infrastructure legislation. 

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California tells Central Valley farmers to brace for water shortages

The seriousness of California’s drought is being driven home to thousands of farmers in the Central Valley. State regulators warned 6,600 farmers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed on Tuesday that they’re about to lose the right to pull water from the estuary’s rivers at some point this summer. The watershed covers a major swath of the Central Valley. 

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Final plan for water releases into Sacramento River could kill up to 88% of endangered salmon run

The California water board has approved a plan for water releases into the Sacramento River that could kill off an entire run of endangered chinook salmon and put at risk another population that is part of the commercial salmon fishery. … Because the [Bureau of Reclamation’s] plan involves releasing water to irrigation districts earlier in the season, the river will be lower and warmer during salmon spawning season and could result in killing as many as 88% of endangered winter-run chinook eggs and young fish.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: California drought sparks perpetual fight about water

California never has enough water to meet all demands and even when supplies are relatively robust there’s a triangular competition over their allocation. Farmers, municipal users and environmental advocates vie for shares of water that has been captured by California’s extensive network of dams and reservoirs. … When California experiences one of its periodic droughts and reservoirs shrink from scant rain and snowfall, its perpetual conflict becomes even sharper.
-Written by Dan Walters, a CalMatters columnist

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Aquafornia news East Bay Times

Oakley’s Big Break shows Delta’s rich natural history

Among the East Bay Regional Park District visitor centers offering programs as pandemic-related restrictions ease is the one at Oakley’s Big Break Regional Shoreline. On Big Break Road off Main Street (Highway 4), Big Break is a window on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta’s rich cultural and natural history. Outside, there’s a kayak launch, a fishing pier, a small amphitheater, a scale model of the entire Delta and shoreline trails leading to Brentwood and the Marsh Creek Regional Trail, which is open from 5 a.m. to 10

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: Delta adapts – Equity through adaptation

In Executive Officer Jessica R. Pearson’s December blog on the Delta Adapts Initiative, she wrote that “anticipating and preparing for the climate crisis has always been integral to pursuing our agency’s mission” and recognized that, due to socio-economic inequities, not all communities will be impacted equally by the climate crisis. In phase one of our Delta Adapts Initiative, the Vulnerability Assessment, we sought to understand the factors driving increased climate change vulnerability and to identify the most vulnerable communities. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

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

The Bureau of Reclamation is continuing increased flow releases from New Melones Reservoir to assist with Delta outflow requirements. Additional flow releases began on the lower Stanislaus River on June 10. The increased flow of 1,500 cubic feet per second will occur for an extended duration. Increased river flow can create hazardous conditions including higher water levels, faster currents, colder water, and potential entrapment. … Recreationists and visitors should take safety precautions when near or on the lower Stanislaus River during these increased flows.

Aquafornia news Palo Alto Online

New water management plan ponders steep cutbacks

When the Palo Alto City Council publicly backed the Bay-Delta Plan in 2018, it was swimming against the political tide. The plan, formally known as the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary plan, sets limits on how much water agencies can siphon from the three tributaries of the San Joaquin River. While it aims to protect salmon, steelhead and other river species, it has also attracted intense opposition and litigation from water districts that claim that the new restrictions will undermine the reliability of their water supply.

Aquafornia news Reuters

Scientists saving endangered salmon get help from gene-slicing tool

A gene-editing tool that has led to new cancer therapies and a rapid test for COVID-19 is now helping scientists find endangered species of salmon in the San Francisco Bay. The CRISPR-based Sherlock tool can identify four types of Chinook salmon, including Sacramento winter-run and Central Valley spring-run, which are both protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Aquafornia news The Press

Friday Top of the Scroll: State takes action on water exports from the Delta

Construction of a temporary salinity barrier on the False River is underway after an emergency request by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) was approved by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). The barrier, necessitated by worsening drought conditions, is intended to help preserve water quality in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta by reducing saltwater intrusion. The declaration of a drought emergency made by Gov. Gavin Newsom on May 10 suspended the requirement that a project of this nature complete a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) assessment.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Delta Stewardship Council: Non-native species in the Delta, contemplating the future of the DISB, and Regional San treatment plant upgrade

At the May meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council, Dr. Steve Brandt, Chair of the Delta Independent Science Board, provided a brief background on the Delta Independent Science Board, reported on the Board’s recently completed review on non-native species in the Delta, and discussed the Board’s approach going forward in light of the recent compensation issues.  Also, Dr. Laurel Larsen spotlighted a recent study looking at the effects of the Sacramento Regional Sanitation District plant upgrade on phytoplankton.

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: California’s drought response will worsen harmful algae

Climate change has created new “seasons” that challenge communities across the nation. California now has a “fire season,” and sadly, we are embarking on harmful algal bloom (HAB) season again. NRDC has updated its national map of state-reported freshwater HABs, which tracks the HABs reported by states from 2008-2020 and shows that these toxic outbreaks are increasing across the country, making our rivers, lakes, and beaches unsafe for swimming, boating, and drinking. Between 2008 and 2020, over 44,000 HAB events were recorded across 38 states. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Opinion: San Francisco doesn’t have a sustainable drought plan

Two weeks ago, the “greenest city in America” sued California’s State Water Board to prevent measures that would restore the beleaguered San Francisco Bay-Delta. After more than a decade of studies based on the best available science, the state wants to require San Francisco to release more water from its dams into the Tuolumne River — the source of our Hetch Hetchy drinking water — to benefit fish, wildlife and downstream water quality. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, meanwhile, wants a “voluntary agreement” for the Tuolumne River. 
-Written by Peter Drekmeier, policy director of the Tuolumne River Trust.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Conservationists say time running out to save endangered salmon in Sacramento River

As the extreme drought causes various agencies to squabble over dwindling water supplies, conservationists say the state is still not doing enough to prevent an endangered run of salmon from dying in the Sacramento River. At issue is how the federal Bureau of Reclamation manages water flows from Shasta Lake into the Sacramento River, which is both the spawning grounds for chinook salmon and the main water source for Central Valley farms. If the bureau releases too much water to irrigation districts, the river level could drop low enough and warm enough to kill off 50% of the eggs … 

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Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

Friday Top of the Scroll: As California’s drought worsens, the Biden Administration cuts water supplies and farmers struggle to compensate

The impacts of California’s deepening drought hit home for Central Valley farmers earlier this week, when federal officials announced they didn’t have enough water to supply many of their agricultural customers. Urban users south of San Francisco in Santa Clara County saw their normal water deliveries cut in half. California ships water to cities and farms through a combination of state and federal programs that oversee a complex network of hundreds of miles of dams, reservoirs and aqueducts throughout the state.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Paying for California’s water system

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

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Aquafornia news The San Francisco Examiner

Opinion: SF’s water supply could use leadership, not litigation

California is dry. Bay Area counties have declared drought emergencies and imposed restrictions. State and federal officials are trucking baby salmon to the ocean. But San Franciscans are still using their primary water source, the Tuolumne River, which feeds the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park. Last week, City Attorney Dennis Herrera — who Mayor London Breed recently tapped to head San Francisco’s water agency — filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s efforts to protect salmon and the overall health of the river.
-Written by Robyn Purchia, an environmental attorney, environmental blogger and environmental activist. 

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

MWD’s Jeff Kightlinger reflects on building big things, essential partnerships and his hopes for the Delta

When you oversee the largest supplier of treated water in the United States, you tend to think big. Jeff Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California for the last 15 years, … discussed how his agency is poised to handle drought, the roadmap for sustainability on the Colorado River and why he believes practicality and necessity will pave the way for the completion of a Delta alternative conveyance facility for the State Water Project.

Aquafornia news Daily Republic

Group urges continued access to Liberty Island Ecological Reserve

The state plans to break [a levee at Shag Slough] in nine locations to create 3,000 acres of tidal wetlands. It has asked the county to vacate that section of Liberty Island Road that runs atop the levee. Taylor Dahlke, the leader of a group fighting to maintain land access to Shag Slough, the Liberty Island Ecological Reserve and the region in general told the Delta Stewardship Council on Thursday night that the state proposal violates the Delta Plan.

Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Delta Cross Channel gates remain closed until further notice

The Bureau of Reclamation announced today that ongoing drought conditions require the Delta Cross Channel gates to remain closed until further notice to help maintain water quality standards. Typically, the gates are opened on weekends for recreational purposes from May 21 through June, as well as holiday weekends. The gates control the diversion channel near Walnut Grove, about 30 miles south of Sacramento. Keeping the gates closed under current drought conditions targets improving water quality in the Sacramento River channel. 

Aquafornia news UC Santa Cruz

New research: Survival of migrating juvenile salmon depends on stream flow thresholds

Juvenile salmon migrating to the sea in the Sacramento River face a gauntlet of hazards in an environment drastically modified by humans, especially with respect to historical patterns of stream flow. Many studies have shown that survival rates of juvenile salmon improve as the amount of water flowing downstream increases, but “more is better” is not a useful guideline for agencies managing competing demands for the available water.

MWD’s Jeff Kightlinger Reflects On Building Big Things, Essential Partnerships and His Hopes For the Delta
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Veteran Water Boss, Retiring After 25 Years With SoCal Water Giant, Discusses ‘Permanent’ Drought, Conservation Gains & the Struggling Colorado River

Jeff Kightlinger, longtime general manager of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.When you oversee the largest supplier of treated water in the United States, you tend to think big.

Jeff Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California for the last 15 years, has focused on diversifying his agency’s water supply and building security through investment. That means looking beyond MWD’s borders to ensure the reliable delivery of water to two-thirds of California’s population.

Aquafornia news KMPH

Will the nutria ever be wiped out in the Valley?

The swamp rat population in Central California is beginning to diminish. But a state biologist says elimination is still a few years away. FOX26 reporter Rich Rodriguez updates us on the nutria… one of Valley agriculture’s biggest enemies. The State Department of Fish and Wildlife has spent more than three years trying to round up and euthanize nutria.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

State proposes to add funding for water goals

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

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Managing for fish and wildlife during a dry year in the Sacramento Valley

With the driest year in memory, the water resources managers and landowners in the Sacramento Valley are working hard to serve multiple benefits throughout the region with limited water supplies. This has required all hands-on deck and creative management within the region as all surface water supplies have been significantly reduced, with hundreds of thousands of farmland acres idled throughout the region, urban suppliers working with their citizens to implement various conservation measures to reduce water use and there will undoubtedly be challenges for domestic groundwater wells.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: State plans $30 million wall to stop saltwater intrusion into delta – drought fallout

In the latest chapter of California’s unfolding drought, state officials are planning to build a giant rock wall across a river in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to save the vital freshwater estuary from San Francisco Bay’s saltwater. The emergency measure is a page from last decade’s drought when the delta, a maze of sloughs and man-made channels east of the Bay Area, was at risk of becoming too salty to provide water to the nearly 30 million Californians who depend on it. As in 2015, the freshwater rivers that feed the 1,100-square-mile delta have gotten so low that they no longer counter the brackish flows that push in from the bay. 

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Opinion: Bluetech workforce, desal could solve California water crises

Facing extended drought, diminishing snowpack, and depleted aquifers, California water managers face a harsh reality: our 20th century water systems – essentially linear designs in which fresh water is extracted, centrally treated, distributed to users, returned as wastewater, and finally treated and discarded – are breaking down. Although this approach has served us well for decades, we can no longer sustain ourselves with a paradigm that uses water once and throws it away.
-Written by Peter Fiske, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and executive director of the Department of Energy’s National Alliance for Water Innovation.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

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

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

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

SF sues state board over proposed Tuolumne River flows

San Francisco has sued a state agency over proposed Tuolumne River flows that it claims would be “devastating” to Bay Area water users. The Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts joined in the lawsuit as “real parties in interest,” due to similar concerns about their customers not getting enough water. The suit is one more twist in the decades-long battle over how much water to provide for salmon and other fish downstream from Don Pedro Reservoir.

Aquafornia news California Water Research

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

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

Aquafornia news Center for California Water Resources Policy and Management

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

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

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: How unprepared is California for 2021’s drought?

California — already in the clutches of another drought emergency —  is looking over its shoulder at what happened last time, anticipating the worst and evaluating the strategies that worked and those that failed. So is California in a better position to weather this drought? Some things are worse, some better: Groundwater is still being pumped with no statewide limits, siphoning up drinking water that rural communities rely on. In northern counties, residents are reliving the last disaster as water restrictions kick in again, but in the south, enough water is stored to avoid them for now. … The upshot is California isn’t ready — again.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

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

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

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Aquafornia news Reuters

As drought dries California rivers, salmon take truck rides to sea

During a typical spring, the silver young salmon swimming in long tanks at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery east of Sacramento would be released into the American River and then make their way out to the Pacific Ocean to grow to adulthood. But with extreme drought now gripping California and much of West Coast, the rivers are too warm for the salmon to survive. This week, the 3.5-inch (90-mm) smolt, as the young fish are known, embarked on a much different journey when they were loaded on to trucks and driven to the San Francisco Bay for release into cooler waters.

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Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

USDA projects record California almond crop, but will growers have enough water?

A federal agency Wednesday forecast a record harvest of 3.2 billion pounds of almonds in California. That would be a 3% increase over 2020 for the nuts, the highest-grossing crop in Stanislaus and several other counties. The report will set the tone for the global almond trade, since California accounts for about 80% of the supply. Several thousand people work on farms and in processing plants in the Central Valley.

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Aquafornia news Congressman Jim Costa

News release: Costa legislation aims to improve water quality and supply

At a time when California is facing severe drought conditions that triggered Governor Gavin Newsom’s declaring a state of emergency and providing more than $5 billion dollars for water infrastructure and drought response funding, Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) introduced bipartisan legislation to address California water supply and water quality goals…

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

CA Water Commission: Advancing flood-mar: What are the possibilities?

At the April meeting of the California Water Commission, the Commission continued examining the state’s role in conveyance projects by hearing from two experts on flood-managed aquifer recharge, or Flood MAR. First, Dr. Graham Fogg, UC David professor emeritus of Hydrogeology, discussed scaling up Flood MAR and how that will likely present new conveyance needs.  Then, Jenny Marr, Supervising Engineer at the Department of Water Resources, outlined the state’s approach to flood Mar.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

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

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

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Aquafornia news East Bay Times

East Bay Municipal Utility District proposes rate hike

Customers of the East Bay Muncipal Utility District may have to dig deeper into their pockets to keep the taps and faucets flowing as the utility proposes increasing rates. The utility is seeking to raise water and wastewater rates each by 4% in the fiscal year starting July I, and an additional 4% starting July 1, 2022. The potential move comes as EBMUD reviews and adjusts its budget, which happens every two years. General Manager Clifford Chan will present a proposed budget for utility for the next two years to the EBMUD board of directors on Tuesday.

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Aquafornia news AgAlert

Farmers grapple with implications of water cuts

In water-stressed farming areas of California, farmers removed productive trees and idled other land to divert what little water they have to other crops, as the reality of the 2021 drought became ever more apparent. “We’re removing 15-year-old, prime-production almond trees,” said Daniel Hartwig of Woolf Farming in Fresno County. “We’re pulling out almost 400 acres, simply because there’s not enough water in the system to irrigate them, and long term, we have no confidence that there would be water in the future.” 

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

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

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

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

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

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

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute Of California

Blog: Is California ready for drought?

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

Aquafornia news NRDC

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

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

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Art and water management – Randomness and patterns

Much of water management draws on patterns involving randomness. This is typically done in building models based on organizing equations, but has some relevance to art. The following is a collection of art that relates randomness and patterns with reflections on water management. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Why melting Sierra snow won’t save California from extreme drought

California’s drought conditions have gone from bad to worse in scarcely a month. In the weeks following April 1, the traditional end of the rainy season, warm temperatures have burned off most of the Sierra Nevada snowpack and left the state’s water network gasping. Instead of delivering a generous volume of melted snow into California’s rivers and reservoirs, the snowpack has largely evaporated into the air or trickled into the ground.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Conveyance and water rights; Considerations for conveyance across the Delta

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

Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

As surface water supplies dry up, California rice growers worry about ripple effect

California’s drought is impacting more than how you water your lawn, but also the way your food is grown on hundreds of thousands of acres in the Sacramento Valley. Growing rice is a multi-billion dollar industry that supports 25,00 jobs. … This year, a third of normal rainfall combined with hot weather and drying winds have [rice farmers] pumping more groundwater than usual and fallowing half his rice fields – meaning Durst won’t plant, and he’s not alone. … Industry leaders say this is the third time in forty years this kind of surface water supply reduction has happened – and it’s happened twice in just the last decade.

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

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

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

-Written by Marek Warszawski

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Aquafornia news Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations

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

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

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

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Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Reclamation halts water deliveries to Northern California farmers

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

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Aquafornia news Record Searchlight

California drought forces trucking of young salmon to Pacific Ocean

California’s drought is forcing hatcheries to truck young salmon to the San Francisco Bay because the fish would otherwise likely die trying to swim on their own downstream to the Pacific Ocean. The Coleman National Fish Hatchery along Battle Creek in Shasta County plans to drive about 950,000 fall chinook salmon smolts in May to increase their chances of survival.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

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

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

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Anticipating and addressing the impacts of the drought

California’s current drought is already off to a strong start, with some major challenges already looming just two years in. Compared to the drought of 2012‒16, the normally wetter Sacramento and North Coast regions have been hit much harder than the rest of the state. Beyond the local challenges this poses, drought in the Sacramento region is already having statewide implications, given its key role in supplying water to farms and cities further south. 

Aquafornia news California Farm Bureau

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

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

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Fresno County leaders pass local drought emergency resolution

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

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California drought declaration would trigger war over water supply

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

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Aquafornia news Comstock's magazine

Regenerating our soil

Regenerative farming practices integrate the entire ecosystem — building upon the relationships of the natural world — to simultaneously produce healthier, more abundant crops and restore the Earth’s natural resources. …  And restoring soil health and fertility produces more abundant, nutrient-dense crops that better resist pests and disease. It increases soil’s ability to filter and store water, reduce erosion and sequester carbon. And it builds a diversity and abundance of microbes that drive every function of soil.

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Aquafornia news Sierra Club

Beavers are firefighters who work for free

The beaver does more to shape its environment than nearly any other animal on Earth. They can cause incredible amounts of destruction to infrastructure; downing power lines, and blocking and rerouting waterways. But their dam-building also can improve water quality, reduce flood risk, and create the conditions for complex wetland habitats to form —providing refuge for wildlife and storing carbon in the process. 

Aquafornia news The Conversation

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

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

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: California’s latest drought in 4 charts

California is grappling with drought again, facing many of the same conditions and challenges that were features of the 2012–16 drought—including stressed ecosystems, depleted reservoirs, hard-hit farms and rural communities, threats to urban water supplies, and the potential for extensive wildfires. Knowing what’s different and what’s similar to our last major drought can help us better prepare the most vulnerable sectors for ongoing dry times. To put this drought in context, this is only its second year. Historically, droughts have lasted up to six years. Our most recent one lasted five. 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Do largemouth bass like droughts?

As we rapidly enter another drought, long-standing questions on ecological impacts of increased temperatures, reduced water levels and flows re-emerge. This reality recently reminded me of some of my own previous work looking at growth rate variations of largemouth bass in response to droughts in the southeastern USA (Rypel et al. 2009). Results from this work may be useful/interesting for biologists and managers in California considering similar questions.

Aquafornia news The Sierra Fund

Report: New tools to remediate California’s abandoned mine lands

Gold Rush communities celebrate their mining past but are largely unaware of the lasting impacts of that era. For more than 100 years public and private investors have purchased and developed land for public uses seemingly unaware of the presence and implications of the physical and chemical hazards found on abandoned mine lands (AMLs). As a result, residents of the Sierra Nevada’s Gold Country – the state’s headwaters – are living on top of and surrounded by abandoned mines. The toxic metals discharged by legacy mines continue to flow down river and deposit into the San Francisco Bay Delta …

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Join us May 6 for a fun-filled virtual open house

Join us May 6 for our annual open house where you can test your water trivia knowledge, win prizes and meet the people behind our programs that foster a deeper understanding of California’s most precious natural resource – water. The Foundation’s open house will be held next Thursday via Zoom from 4:30–5:30 p.m. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California to truck young salmon to the Pacific because of low river levels

California officials will again truck millions of young salmon raised at fish hatcheries in the Central Valley agricultural region to the Pacific Ocean because projected river conditions show that the waterways the fish use to travel downstream will be historically low and warm due to increasing drought. Officials said the massive trucking operation is aimed at ensuring “the highest level of survival for the young salmon on their hazardous journey to the Pacific Ocean.”

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Aquafornia news KCRA3

Sierra snow survey canceled due to impacts of dry weather, water supply also at risk

A lack of wet weather is taking a toll on the state’s water supply. Chris Orrock, a spokesperson for the California Department of Water Resources …  said while drought-like conditions are very common for the state, this year is worse than normal, especially considering back-to-back dry winters with little snow and rain. It is so dry, in fact, that DWR canceled Thursday’s snow survey at Phillips Station because there was not enough snow on the ground. 

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Aquafornia news Water Foundation

Blog: Looming California Drought

This weekend’s rain in Northern California, while welcome, did little to address the dry conditions across our state. As the state’s recent dismal snow survey showed, we are in for tough times ahead. Less snow means lower reservoirs, less water in our rivers and streams, and more groundwater pumping. And that spells trouble, particularly for disadvantaged communities and sensitive ecosystems, which have historically borne the brunt of California drought in consequences like dry wells and salmon die-offs.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Newsom promises while the Delta dies

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

Aquafornia news Sacramento News & Review

Opinion: Recall politics? No thanks, because the Delta keeps losing either way

Today’s commentary breaks my heart.  Why?  Because Restore the Delta is focused on water quality issues, flood control issues, future planning, and training the next generation of local water experts – for that is where hope exists.  We are focused on the future because in some ways we have become very cynical about any positive meaningful change to Delta management presently — from the lack of care at the highest levels of government, to local pockets of Delta communities that will not acknowledge the deterioration of the estuary before their eyes.

-Written by Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, who serves on the Executive Committee at Large for Restore the Delta. 

Aquafornia news Audubon

Blog: Putting wetlands to work for disaster recovery

No one will forget the intense challenges that 2020 brought us, from record-breaking hurricanes and wildfires to a global pandemic that devastated our economy and public health. As Congress and the Biden administration look to help our country rebuild and recover from these compounding crises, investing in nature presents an opportunity to deliver multiple benefits for communities, birds, and other wildlife. Audubon presents a new suite of policy recommendations for making our communities and wildlife more resilient to climate change, by putting our wetlands, barrier islands, and other ecosystems to work.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Federal agencies announce final schedule for Clear Creek spring pulse flows

The Bureau of Reclamation, NOAA Fisheries, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced their plan today for pulse flow releases from Whiskeytown Dam into Clear Creek in May. Pulse flows are rapid increases and decreases in dam-released flows occurring over a short time. The release of water aims to advance recovery of threatened Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon by attracting adult salmon to move upstream to take advantage of cooler summer water temperatures and improved habitat. Flow releases for the pulse will begin on May 7 and reach a peak of 900 cubic feet per second May 8 to 11. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Blog: Revitalizing California’s floodplains benefits people and wildlife

Throughout California’s history, rivers have been diverted, rerouted and contained by concrete. While these actions have brought agriculture and communities to arid land, and reduced large-scale flooding, it has also eliminated some of the natural benefits provided by untamed rivers. Today, efforts are underway to restore some of the natural riparian areas to the benefit of both humans and wildlife.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: How dry is California? What should we prepare for?

California is in the second year of a drought. Governor Newsom this week made his first drought declaration. Just how dry is this drought, so far?  What are some likely implications?  And what might State and local governments do about it?

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

As climate changes, researchers look to floods to save California from drought

California Governor Gavin Newsom declared drought in two counties Wednesday and predicted others would soon join. He bemoaned the prospect of another period of drought only a few years removed from a five-year drought that strained the state’s water resources.  A study published this week in Science Advances revealed one solution to the drought-like conditions and their increased frequency due to a changing climate is a counterintuitive one — floodwaters.

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Aquafornia news Oakdale Leader

Conditions foil proposed OID, SSJID water release

An unseasonably dry March and lack of sufficient water supplies have foiled a proposed water release by the Oakdale and South San Joaquin Irrigation Districts that would have boosted Stanislaus River flows beginning this past week for the benefit of out-migrating salmon, and also supplied water to farms and communities in the San Joaquin Valley most vulnerable to extreme drought conditions. The plan would have sent up to 100,000 acre-feet of water down the river between April 15 and May 15 in what are known as “pulse flows” to help young salmon navigate their way toward the Delta and, eventually, out to sea. 

Aquafornia news Business Wire

News release: Nautilus Data Technologies proves data centers do not have to waste drinking water and energy

Typical data centers guzzle local drinking water to keep systems cool. By one estimate, traditional evaporative air-cooling annually consumes up to eight million gallons of water for each megawatt (MW) of energy needed to run the facility. Silicon Valley alone is home to 411 MWs of data center capacity – with those estimates, it would be more than three billion gallons of water wasted per year in one of the most drought-stricken areas of the country.

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Aquafornia news Rediscovering the Golden State

Blog: Adventures of a water drop, California style

Let me introduce myself. I am a California water drop. I condensed from billions of water vapor molecules in the air above the North Pacific Ocean to become embedded in the clouds that evolved into a large storm system. Through alternating ups and downs, and freeze and thaw cycles, I was carried in a rotating middle latitude wave cyclone as it drifted southeast and toward California. As the storm swept across the Golden State, I was forced to rise higher over the mountains and I grew as a giant ice crystal until I fell as a fluffy-turned-heavy snowflake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

News release: Virginia Madueño appointed to the Delta Stewardship Council

California Governor Gavin Newsom has appointed Virginia Madueño to serve as a member of the Delta Stewardship Council (Council) effective April 14, 2021. The compensation for this position is $50,497.

Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

Battle lines set over proposal to drill for natural gas in Suisun Marsh

A new proposal to drill for natural gas in the East Bay has environmentalists up in arms, and not just because it’s a polluting fossil fuel. It’s the location that has people really upset. That’s because it’s in the Suisun Marsh, the largest marshland on the West Coast, a highly protected natural habitat for migratory birds, fish and wildlife. … A dozen environmental and community groups have submitted a letter opposing a plan by Brentwood-based Sunset Explorations to build an acre pad on private property in the marsh and drill an exploratory gas well there.

Aquafornia news NRDC

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

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

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Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Rain forecast for this weekend — not a joke!

It won’t solve California’s drought problems, but it’s better than nothing. The first rain in a month could wet the Bay Area and much of Northern California this weekend, forecasters say, as a late-season storm from the Gulf of Alaska appears to be headed toward the region. Computer models show the rain will begin late Saturday in the North Bay, spreading across the wider Bay Area and Santa Cruz Mountains on Sunday. … The weekend system also could bring snow to the Sierra Nevada on Sunday.

Aquafornia news Red, Green, and Blue

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

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

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Aquafornia news Daily Republic

Changes to Shasta water release designed to protect salmon

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

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Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Suisun Marsh fishes in 2020 – Persistence during the Pandemic

Suisun Marsh is central to the health of the San Francisco Estuary. Not only is it a huge (470 km2) tidal marsh in the center the northern estuary (Figure 1), but it is an extremely important nursery area for species such as splittail, striped bass, longfin smelt, and, formerly, delta smelt. Since January 1980, a team from The University of California, Davis, in partnership with the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), has systematically monitored the marsh’s fish populations. The team had been sampling the fish and invertebrates every month with trawls and beach seines, with a nearly unbroken record. Then Covid-19 restrictions settled in…

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

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

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

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Alameda County Water District names next general manager

The Alameda County Water District board has promoted Ed Stevenson to serve as the district’s new general manager. The district, which provides water to roughly 350,000 homes in Fremont, Newark and Union City, announced that  Stevenson, a 24-year district employee, will take over after current general manager Robert Shaver retires on July 1 following 30 years of service. 

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Aquafornia news The Record

Fifth annual H2O Hackathon returns as students solve algal bloom problem

After a year hiatus because of COVID-19, the H2O Hackathon returned to San Joaquin County on Saturday with middle school, high school and college students tackling a virtual challenge to help solve California’s water problems. … The challenge for this year’s event was to protect the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary from harmful algal blooms, bacteria that live in freshwater, estuarine and marine environments that grow out of control and produce toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals and birds.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California gold fever still reigns. New prospectors seek to reopen giant mine

For the past four years, a Canadian mining company has been in Nevada County, about 60 miles northeast of Sacramento, collecting samples of what it suspects is one of the world’s highest-grade underground gold deposits, potentially worth billions. … The legacy of gold, while widely celebrated, is not something that many in this area, now home to more retirees and Bay Area transplants than men in hard hats and overalls, want to revisit. … [T]he scars it left on the landscape remain visible, and unwanted. Creeks still get mucked up with iron and sulfuric acid from old mines. Soils contain arsenic left over from drilling. …

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Harmful algal blooms in the Delta (and elsewhere)

Harmful algal blooms (or HABs) occur when colonies of algae, under the right conditions, grow out of control and produce toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, and birds. Every U.S. coastal and Great Lakes state experiences harmful algal blooms. In California, reports of harmful algal blooms have increased from 91 in 2016 to 241 in 2019. In 2020, Stockton experienced a severe harmful algal bloom; it marked the first year that algal blooms spread into the San Joaquin and Calaveras Rivers so early in the summer and fall months. Drought and heat are factors that increase harmful algal blooms …

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: The pillars for sustainable water management in the Sacramento River basin

On Wednesday, March 3rd, the Northern California Water Association (NCWA) Board of Directors officially adopted our 2021 Priorities. The water leaders in this region look forward to working with our many partners in 2021 to cultivate a shared vision for a vibrant way of life in the Sacramento River Basin. We will continue to re-imagine our water system in the Sacramento River Basin as we also work to harmonize our water priorities with state, federal, and other regions’ priorities to advance our collective goal of ensuring greater water and climate resilience throughout California for our communities, the economy, and the environment. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Last chance to register for next week’s Water 101 workshop

There’s just one week left to register for our Water 101 Workshop, which offers a primer on the things you need to know to understand California water. One of our most popular events, this once-a-year workshop will be held as an engaging online event on the afternoons of Thursday, April 22 and Friday, April 23.

Aquafornia news The Reporter

Lower Putah Creek Salmon Study extended through SCWA approval

How many salmon populate the Lower Putah Creek? What are the demographics of these fish? In what ways can their habitat be preserved so the lower creek remains healthy? Researchers at the University of California, Davis are researching these questions, and the Solano County Water Agency (SCWA) has given them another year of funding to continue their research as part of the Lower Putah Creek Salmon Study through the rest of the 2021-22 fiscal year. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Southern California water agency looking to buy water during drought

With California in the throes of a second year of drought conditions, the mega-water agency of Southern California served notice Tuesday that it’s prepared to spend up to $44 million to buy water from Northern California to shore up its supplies. The board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves 19 million urban residents, authorized its staff to begin negotiating deals with water agencies north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, where supplies are generally more plentiful.

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Aquafornia news GV Wire

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Biden administration declares California drought disaster. What is Newsom waiting for?

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack designated 50 California counties as natural disaster areas last month because of the drought. And, over the weekend, Fresno Congressman Jim Costa said on KSEE-24’s Sunday Morning Matters program that Gov. Newsom should declare a statewide emergency because of the dangerously dry conditions. …Yet, Newsom… last week rejected a request from a bipartisan coalition of state lawmakers from the Valley to declare a statewide drought emergency. 

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Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Suisun Marsh drilling plan re-evaluated after backlash

The Suisun Marsh — known as the largest swath of contiguous wetlands on the West Coast and a haven for thousands of migrating waterfowl — has become the Bay Area’s latest battleground between fossil fuel producers and environmentalists hellbent on fighting climate change. A Brentwood company, Sunset Exploration Inc., announced in January it wants to explore for natural gas by drilling a section of the 116,000-acre marshland about 9 miles southwest of Suisun City in an area known as Hunter’s Point, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Aquafornia news Office of Governor Gavin Newsom

News release: Nancy Vogel named Deputy Secretary for Water at California Natural Resources Agency

Nancy  L. Vogel of Sacramento has been appointed Deputy Secretary for Water at the California Natural Resources Agency, where she has been Director of the Governor’s Water Portfolio Program since 2019 and was Deputy Secretary of Communications from 2015 to 2017. 

Aquafornia news Sacramento News & Review

Delta tunnel authority changes leaders as Newsom fights the recall by turning to billionaire champions of the project

The little-known Joint Powers Authority charged with getting the embattled Delta tunnel across its finish line recently changed executive directors, marking an exit for Kathryn Mallon, who had stirred controversy for her exorbitant pay and alleged pressuring of a citizens advisory committee to work through the most dangerous part of the pandemic. Meanwhile, as California Governor Gavin Newsom begins campaigning against the effort to remove him from office, he’s soliciting huge donations from the same south-state barons of agriculture who have promoted the environmentally fraught tunnel concept for years.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

California wages uphill battle against invasive species

It’s nothing less than an invasion. Interlopers are coming into California by land, by sea…and by FedEx. That’s what happened with the European green crab, a voracious cannibal that stowed away in packages of worms sent by overnight delivery to commercial fisherman in California. Unknown to anyone, the tiny crustaceans were concealed in seaweed that wrapped the cargo and were freed into the Pacific when fishermen tossed it overboard. … California spends $3 million a year attempting to eradicate nutria, a large, homely, orange-toothed rodent that destroys wetlands and bores holes into levees. Another $3 million a year goes to educating boaters about quagga mussels, which hitch rides on hulls and cling to equipment in the state’s vast water transport system.  And, for the last 20 years, authorities have spent more than $34 million to manage Atlantic cordgrass in the San Francisco Bay-Delta.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

SF Baykeeper sues Biden administration to list local longfin smelt as endangered species

A tiny silver fish few people in the Bay Area have heard of could be a new symbol of the state’s continuing battle over water resources. San Francisco Baykeeper sued the Biden administration on Thursday to list the local population of longfin smelt as an endangered species. The environmental group’s legal action comes nine years after the federal government first declared that the fish warranted that status. Once an important source of food for marine mammals, birds and chinook salmon, the local population of the longfin smelt has dropped by 99.9% since the 1980s. Scientists and environmentalists say that reduction is a direct result of too much water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin river system being diverted to farms and other water users rather than flowing through the bay to the Pacific.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Updated Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project hot off the press

Our Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project has just been updated to reflect the latest developments affecting California’s largest surface water delivery system. The 24-page guide explores the history of the Central Valley Project, from its roots as a state water project that stalled amid the Great Depression to its development as a federal project that stretches from Shasta Dam in far Northern California to Bakersfield in the southern San Joaquin Valley. 

Aquafornia news ABC30 Action News

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California legislators want Gov. Newsom to declare state of emergency over water ‘crisis’

California’s hottest commodity could become even more scarce as state and federal officials announce water cutbacks on the brink of another drought. Now, state legislators are banding together to ask Governor Newsom to declare a state of emergency amid what they call a water crisis. … [State Senator Andreas] Borgeas authored a letter alongside the Assembly agriculture committee chair and several other state lawmakers to send to the governor. This comes after the California Department of Water Resources announced a 5% allocation to farmers and growers in late March.

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Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Q/A with Delta Conveyance Project Executive Director Tony Meyers

In the first episode in the Delta Conveyance Team Spotlight video series, [DWR] spoke with the project’s Executive Director Tony Meyers about his long and eventful career in engineering, including work on some of DWR’s most ambitious and significant infrastructure projects. In this excerpt, he reflects on the appeal of large-scale engineering projects and speaks about the importance of the Delta Conveyance Project in protecting the security of California’s water supply.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

SSJID, OID still waiting for federal approval of plan to help threatened fish & stressed farmers

OID and SSJID … have invested considerable money into improving salmon habitat on the Stanislaus River and as well as conservation measures aimed at reducing growers’ use of water — have proposed pushing the spring pulse flow from an anticipated 1,400 cfs at Vernalis to almost 3,000 cfs. … The SSJID and OID have also worked with the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority and State Water Contractors that may get only 5 percent of the water they need from the Bureau this year to purchase the [water] by diverting it once it enters the Delta.  

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Managing water for multiple benefits – Why spring diversions on the Sacramento River are important

As we begin spring in the Sacramento Valley, the region illuminates – we see the brown landscape turn verdant, and the Valley bustles with activity as people share the hope of a new year and collectively cultivate a shared vision in the region for a vibrant way of life. With the dry year in Northern California, the water resource managers are working overtime to carefully manage our precious water systems including rivers, streams, reservoirs and diversions to serve multiple benefits. To effectively do this, water resources must be managed in an efficient manner, with the same block of water often used to achieve several beneficial uses as it moves through the region’s waterways. 

Aquafornia news Restore the Delta

Blog: The dam problem for the Bay-Delta estuary

The dams that are built in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River Watershed protect thousands of people and billions of dollar’s worth of agriculture but they are far too old and far too many of them need repair. Some unnecessary dams are drying rivers and putting business in front of the environment.

Aquafornia news California Fisheries Blog

Blog: Drastic measure to meet Delta outflow

For seven days in mid-March 2021, the Bureau of Reclamation substantially increased Folsom Lake storage releases. Roughly, the releases tripled in volume (Figure 1). The release of over 20,000 acre-feet of water is significant for a year in which Folsom storage is not much better than it was in the worst year on record – 1977 (Figure 2).1 With the release in mid-March, the lake level dropped 3 feet. Yes, there was rain in the forecast and a decent snowpack, but certainly no flood concerns. So why? The reason was to meet state water quality requirements for Delta outflow. Delta outflow increased from 7,000 cfs to 12,000 cfs for a few days (Figure 3).

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: Complexities – Thinking about the San Francisco Estuary during the 2021 Bay-Delta Science Conference

In anticipation of this week’s Bay-Delta Science Conference, I thought it would be useful to consider some of what it takes to understand a complex ecosystem like an estuary and to encourage everyone working in the San Francisco Estuary – scientists, policymakers, and local stakeholders – to continue shifting our ecosystem management focus from the simple to the complex. I’ll explain why in a moment. Here are four suggestions for improving ecosystem management in the San Francisco Bay-Delta:

Aquafornia news California Department of Justice

News release: California Department of Justice expresses concern over proposal to allow exploratory drilling in the Suisun Marsh

The California Department of Justice (DOJ) filed comments with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) regarding Sunset Exploration’s proposal to drill for natural gas in the Suisun Marsh. Located in the San Francisco Bay-Delta, this 88,000-acre wetland is home to a number of endangered and threatened species, including California Ridgway’s rail, black rail, and Chinook salmon – and is just a few short miles from environmental justice communities in Solano County…. DOJ urges the Army Corps to fully consider the proposal’s significant environmental impacts, including harm to these communities and protected species, as well as increased greenhouse gas emissions, before deciding whether to grant the requested permit.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: With San Francisco Bay on life support, Newsom withholds the cure

San Francisco Bay’s life support systems are unravelling quickly, and a wealth of science indicates that unsustainable water diversions are driving this estuary’s demise. Yet, with another drought looming, federal and state water managers still plan to divert large amounts of water to their contractors and drain upstream reservoirs this summer. Meanwhile, the state’s most powerful water districts are preparing yet another proposal to maintain excessive water diversions for the long-term. By delaying reforms that the law requires and that science indicates are necessary, Gov. Gavin Newsom encourages wasteful water practices that jeopardize the Bay and make the state’s water future precarious. 
-Written by Jon Rosenfield, a senior scientist for SF Baykeeper.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Council hires new Chief Deputy Executive Officer

The Delta Stewardship Council (Council) announced the hiring of Ryan Stanbra, the Council’s legislative and policy advisor, to the key post of chief deputy executive officer. … Appointed by Governor Brown in 2015, Ryan joined the Council in the role of legislative and policy advisor. He has played a pivotal role in advising on critical Council initiatives like implementation of reduced reliance on the Delta, interagency coordination and outreach for the Delta Levees Investment Strategy, increasing funding for critical science investments, and more. He has served in the acting chief deputy executive officer role since January.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

April Fools Blog: Looking for a new challenge? Retrain as a Delta Smelt

The Federal government is beginning a program for the unemployed to retrain as much-needed Delta Smelt.  Following a two-day course, candidates will learn to: Seek out turbid waters; Spawn in sand at secret locations; Surf the tides; Make themselves present for counting in mid-water trawls. Major California water projects and water users are preparing to hire successful graduates for 1-2 year non-renewable contracts. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta bundle features map and layperson’s guide at a special price

Explore the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, one of California’s most vital ecological and water resources, with a special discounted education bundle that includes our brand-new Delta Map and our recently updated Layperson’s Guide to the Delta. Purchased separately, the map retails for $20 and the guide sells for $15. But with our Delta Education Bundle you can get both items for just $30.

Aquafornia news NRDC

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

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

Aquafornia news KCRA

Lessons learned from previous California drought helpful in ‘dry years’

As the rain season comes to a close across Northern California, water districts are keeping a close eye on rain totals that are below average, and water managers are explaining what another “dry water year” means for our region. According to California’s Department of Water Resources, or DWR, the state is well into its second consecutive dry year. That causes concern among water managers. However, it comes as no surprise. … With the memory of drought years between 2012 and 2016 not too distant, [DWR information officer Chris] Orrock explained how lessons learned from that time period are still being implemented.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Strong state oversight needed to ensure California’s wetlands are protected

When the first European explorers arrived in California’s Central Valley, they found a vast mosaic of seasonal and permanent wetlands, as well as oak woodlands and riparian forests. What remains of those wetlands are still the backbone of the Pacific Flyway; along with flooded agricultural fields, they support millions of migrating waterbirds each year. According to a just-released study from Audubon, tens of millions of land birds rely on the Central Valley as well… But today, the situation is dire. More than 90% of wetlands in the Central Valley – and throughout California – have disappeared beneath tractors and bulldozers. 
-Written by Samantha Arthur, the Working Lands Program Director at Audubon California and a member of the California Water Commission.

Related article:

  

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Blog: Refreshing the Estuary Blueprint

The San Francisco Estuary Partnership’s next update to it’s 2016 Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for the Estuary—or Estuary Blueprint—will bring a new focus on equity and environmental justice to ongoing efforts to restore and protect the Bay and Delta.

Aquafornia news The Press

California seeks input on Delta benefit program

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has announced a series of workshops intended to solicit public input on the development of a community benefit program associated with the Delta Conveyance Project (DCP). According to DWR, community benefit programs go beyond traditional concepts of mitigation. They attempt to provide greater flexibility in addressing possible community impacts associated with the major construction projects.

Aquafornia news KCRA

Below-average winter prompts California water conservation

The second consecutive dry winter has prompted state water managers to reduce allocations to the state water project that supplies millions of Californians and 750,000 acres of farmland. The state Department of Water Resources announced this week that it will only be able to deliver 5% of the requested allocations following below-average precipitation across the state. That figure is down from the initial allocation of 10% announced in December. Many of the state’s major reservoirs are recording just 50% of average water storage for this time of year, and won’t see a major increase due to a snowpack that is averaging just 65% of normal, according to state statistics..

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Friday Top of the Scroll: Delta study predicts stronger floods and less water supply

[F]or those who live in the legal Delta zone – some 630,000 people – the braided weave of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers and their maze of associated wetlands and levees provides a place of home, community, and recreation. And, as a recent study by the Delta Stewardship Council shows, climate change is tugging on the watery thread holding it all together. … The council’s overview reveals a grim outlook for the millions of people that are tethered to the region’s water: drought similar to that experienced in 2012-2016 will be five to seven times more likely by 2050. This will result in more severe and frequent water shortages and, as the report bluntly states, “lower reliability of Delta water exports.”

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Aquafornia news Grist

Farms, feathers, and fins share water in California

The rivalry between farms and wildlife for water and land was long seen as a zero-sum game, especially in California where water is such a precious commodity that the state’s water futures are traded on the stock exchange. That competition has been particularly sharp in the Central Valley: 95% of the region’s historic wetlands have transformed into farmland, and the region’s increasingly scarce water supply has been prioritized for farming. As a result, some of the migratory birds that rely on the Central Valley for habitat, food, and water sources have seen steep declines in the past century. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

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

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

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Flow rules stalled as tunnel advances

As California stares down the barrel of yet another dry year, alarm bells are already ringing over conditions in the Delta. Environmental groups, fishermen, tribes, and a host of others are calling on the State Water Resources Control Board to complete and implement a long-delayed update to the Water Quality Control Plan for the Bay and Delta (Bay-Delta Plan), to protect the imperiled ecosystem. At the same time, plans for a structure with the potential to divert more water than ever to southern cities and farms are creeping ahead. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Drought is real and California is now facing water restrictions

State and federal water officials have delivered their most dire warning yet of California’s deepening drought, announcing that water supply shortages are imminent and calling for quick conservation. Among a handful of drastic actions this week, the powerful State Water Board on Monday began sending notices to California’s 40,000 water users, from small farms to big cities like San Francisco, telling them to brace for cuts. It’s a preliminary step before the possibility of ordering their water draws to stop entirely. 

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Aquafornia news California Division Of Boating And Waterways

News release: Division of Boating and Waterways begins control efforts in the Delta for aquatic invasive plants

The Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) today announced plans for this year’s control efforts for aquatic invasive plants in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its southern tributaries. Consistent with COVID-19 safety protocols, DBW personnel started herbicide treatments today to help control several invasive plants found in the Delta. … The invasive plants include water hyacinth, South American spongeplant, Uruguay water primrose, Alligator weed, Brazilian waterweed, curlyleaf pondweed, Eurasian watermilfoil, hornwort (aka coontail), and fanwort.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Video: Water use in California

California’s water use varies dramatically across regions and sectors, and between wet and dry years. With the possibility of another drought looming, knowing how water is allocated across the state can make it easier to understand the difficult tradeoffs the state’s water managers must make in times of scarcity. The good news is that we’ve been using less over time, both in cities and on farms. While there are still ways to cut use further to manage droughts, it won’t always be easy or cheap to do so. California’s freshwater ecosystems are at particular risk of drought, when environmental water use often sees large cuts. Watch the video to learn how Californians use water.

Aquafornia news Civil Eats

20 hotspots to start fixing nitrogen pollution in agriculture

Nitrogen pollution is one of agriculture’s biggest and most intractable problems. Crops can’t grow without the critical nutrient, and because sources of nitrogen are easy to come by—synthetic fertilizer is cheap and manure from large animal agriculture operations is plentiful—farmers often apply too much, to try to ensure the highest yields. Because plants can’t use it all, the excess makes its way into groundwater and washes into waterways where it contaminates drinking water and creates vast dead zones in oceans and lakes. … California’s largest hotspot unsurprisingly includes 21 counties that cover the Central Valley, America’s produce capital.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: The collaborative habitat creator

When Ann Hayden first joined EDF in 2002, shortly after finishing her own stint in the Peace Corps in Belize and graduate school where she studied environmental science and management, she was immediately thrown into one of California’s thorniest water debates: the restoration of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Bay-Delta, the hub of the state’s water supply. She hit the jackpot when she was hired by Tom Graff, founder of EDF’s California office and a renowned water lawyer, and Spreck Rosekrans, who garnered the respect of the water community for his ability to understand the state’s hypercomplex water operations.

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Fish in hot water – Moments that write history #7

As of 2021, California is home to 31 distinct kinds of native salmon, steelhead and trout species, 20 of which are found only in our state. These fish are prized for their economic and cultural significance by local communities, and for their recreational attributes by anglers from around the world. But these fish face an alarming threat that can’t be ignored. If current trends continue, nearly half of these fish will be extinct within the next 50 years. How do we know this? And perhaps an even better question: what can be done about it? 

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Highlights from the Peter B. Moyle and CalTrout Endowed Professorship

The Peter B. Moyle and California Trout Endowed Professorship was established by a group of donors concerned with the conservation and management of coldwater fishes in California. The endowed chair honors Peter Moyle and the historical and productive working relationship between CalTrout and UC Davis, with an endowment fund resting at over $2 million. Dr. Andrew L. Rypel was appointed to this professorship as the inaugural holder in 2017, therefore this report reflects year-3 work on behalf of the chair. A total of 13 peer-reviewed scientific publications were produced by the Rypel Lab at UC Davis in 2019-2020.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Managing water on our floodplains for multiple benefits: the proof is in the projects

Through collaborative projects, birds and endangered fish are returning to areas they once reared in more than 100 years ago. Partnerships among farmers, conservationists, universities, and state and federal agencies are proving that by reactivating our historic floodplains and using our bypasses during key times of the year, we can create high-quality habitat that produces safe haven and up to 149 times more food for salmon than the river. These key projects demonstrate some of the work being done on the wet-side of the levee.