In their analyses, they write that the plan poses risks to
threatened fish; that the process is rushed; that they didn’t
receive enough information to provide a complete scientific
review; and that the Trump administration may be skewing the
science to make the environmental impact look less serious.
Delta smelt are poor swimmers. When they have to swim against
voluminous outflows, they struggle. They also lack endurance
for distance and swimming against currents. This was the result
of the taxpayer-funded swim performance test conducted more
than 20 years ago. Why is this important?
Although flooding hasn’t occurred in Clarksburg since the
construction of the levee system in the early 1900s, the
community is considered a moderate to high hazard flood area,
according to a county report. For that reason, a flood risk
reduction feasibility study has been prepared for the town
similar to those conducted for Yolo and Knights Landing with
funds from the California Department of Water Resources.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today was
awarded $8.5 million in funding over three years by the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy to expand its nutria
The Kern County Water Agency supports the state’s “reset” to a
one-tunnel approach because it is more cost effective and still
prepares California’s water system for earthquakes and climate
change while protecting the Delta’s fish and communities.
The Center for Biological Diversity and San Francisco Baykeeper
sued the Trump administration to force the addition of the
longfin smelt, the Sierra Nevada red fox and six other species
to the Endangered Species List… According to the lawsuit, the
agency had previously found the species worthy of endangered
species protections under the Obama administration but
the Trump administration had slow-walked the process…
After much speculation about whether Janet Nguyen might run for
one of Orange County’s hotly contested congressional seats in
2020, the Republican former state senator has thrown her hat in
a surprising ring. And she’s not alone. Nguyen is one of seven
people vying to fill a board of directors seat with the
Municipal Water District of Orange County.
The Bureau of Reclamation updated its 2019 allocation for the
Central Valley Project South-of-Delta, increasing the westside
water allocation to 70 percent of the contract total. Said
Mid-Pacific Regional Director Ernest Conant: “The late storms
provided an added boost to the already above average
precipitation for 2019. Snowpack throughout the state is still
about 150% of average for this time of year.”
Barbara Vlamis is smiling. Often, the executive director of the
Chico-based advocacy group AquAlliance wears a steely
expression, as her work involves David-versus-Goliath battles
against powerful interests—namely, government agencies and
water brokers. Now, she’s satisfied, even a bit celebratory.
Coastal communities should not rule out a sea-level rise in
excess of 6.5 feet, according to the study published this week
in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. …
Should this worst-case scenario come to pass, good portions of
cities like New York City and Miami on the East Coast and Los
Angeles and San Francisco on the West Coast would be underwater
Although they spend their lives hidden beneath the surface,
fish are directly affected by the weather happening outside
their aquatic world. This is particularly true of species that
rely on watersheds in regions like California, where the
availability of water changes dramatically with the seasons.
The big conflicts are deeply interconnected and appear to be
reaching their climactic phases. How they are resolved over the
next few years will write an entirely new chapter in
California’s water history, changing priorities and perhaps
shifting water from agriculture to urban users and
In reality, the WaterFix could not increase water exports while
protecting the Delta ecosystem. That’s because California’s
snow and rainfall are highly variable, making it unlikely that
existing supplies can meet increasing water demands reliably
into the future. Plus, the science demonstrates that San
Francisco Bay’s fish and wildlife need more water, not less, to
flow from the Central Valley to the Bay.
With the administration’s leadership, representatives of
farmers, cities and conservation groups are having productive
negotiations on a complex package of actions that would
increase river flows and improve fish habitats, collectively
called a “voluntary agreement.” A possible final agreement is
months away, but we are making progress.
When people think of natural disasters in California, they
usually think of earthquakes, drought or wildfire. But the
worst disaster to ever hit the Golden State was the Great Flood
of 1862. When people of European descent first arrived in
California, the native people told them tales of great deluges
in which the rivers overran their banks and large areas of land
were inundated. The newcomers paid little heed to these
stories, and often settled in low-lying areas with easy access
to water sources.
Following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to withdraw permits for
the proposed Twin Tunnels project in favor of a smaller single
tunnel, Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano, issued a letter to the
governor expressing support for the decision while also
outlining alternative water plans.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the Central
Valley Project, may update its 65% allocation for
south-of-delta agricultural contractors later this month. But
Lon Martin, general manager of the Los Banos-based San Luis
Water District, said landowners who are planting crops and must
secure water for the remainder of the year “cannot wait until
May and June to make decisions.”
Before California’s Central Valley became known as an
agricultural powerhouse, it contained one of the largest
expanses of streamside forest and wetland habitat in North
America. … Much of that landscape has been transformed into
farmland and urban areas, but at the Cosumnes River Preserve, a
unique partnership of nonprofits and state, federal and local
governments has conserved over 50,000 acres that provide
resources for a variety of wildlife.
DWR has not yet disclosed whether it intends to withdraw the
WaterFix bond resolutions, which are subject to numerous
challenges in litigation DWR filed to validate the bonds. It
remains unclear what will happen with the validation action now
that the project and cost estimates these items are based on no
Gov. Gavin Newsom killed the divisive twin tunnels project
Thursday, calming fears that have roiled the delta communities
and dominated California water politics for more than a decade.
It is a signature decision for the young administration.
The Newsom administration announced it is withdrawing permit
applications that the Brown administration had submitted to the
State Water Resources Control Board, California Department of
Fish and Wildlife, and several federal agencies. Instead, the
administration said it will begin environmental studies on a
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration officially pulled the plug
Thursday on the twin Delta tunnels, fullfilling Newsom’s pledge
to downsize the project to a single pipe as he attempts to
chart a new course for California’s troubled water-delivery
Ellen Hanak, director of the PPIC Water Policy Center,
testified today (April 30, 2019) before the Assembly
Subcommittee on Water, Parks and Wildlife, at a hearing on
balancing water needs into the future in the San Joaquin
Valley. Here are her prepared remarks.
Yes, some fish died — including endangered Chinook salmon — but
overall rebuilding the Fremont Weir has done its job and saved
hundred of others. That was the response of Allen Young, public
information officer for the California Department of Water
Resources, after reports surfaced last week that at least 13
Chinook salmon and other fish couldn’t make it through the weir
designed to get them safely into the Sacramento River and died.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call on Monday for a new comprehensive
water plan for California looks like a smart timeout on one of
the state’s trickiest and most intractable battlefronts. As
with many political hot potatoes, there is no way to make
everyone happy when it comes to water management, because the
sides have mutually exclusive goals…
Local officials have put a renewed focus on making sure one of
the area’s crown recreational jewels – the San Joaquin River
Delta – is clear and operational. Over the weekend the
California Department of Boating and Waterways, in conjunction
with the San Joaquin County Sherriff’s Office boating unit,
removed a sunken vessel from the San Joaquin River that has
been underwater for the past three years.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday ordered key state agencies to
develop a blueprint for meeting California’s 21st-century water
needs in the face of climate change.The executive order
includes few details and doesn’t appear to set a dramatic new
water course for the state. Rather, it reaffirms Newsom’s
intentions to downsize the controversial twin tunnels project
in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, use voluntary agreements
to meet new river flow requirements and provide clean drinking
water to impoverished communities.
It’s an exceptional year for Sierra snowpack — 150 to 200% in
some places. Mountain snow is the main water source for
agriculture on the Valley’s west side. But those farmers are
getting just 65% of their allocation… Fresno County Farm
Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen says it’s frustrating that in a water
year this good, some farmers still can’t get enough of it to
An automated gate was supposed to open once water levels got
high enough to overflow into the bypass, allowing fish to swim
back into the Sacramento River. But in February … too much
water was pouring through the passage, eroding the structure.
Officials had to close the gate almost entirely, meaning fewer
fish could escape. The Department of Water Resources is now
facing an expensive upgrade to an already multimillion
structure to make it ready for the next rainy season.
Senate Bill 1 … would encourage state agencies, such as
regional water quality control boards, Fish & Wildlife, the Air
Resources Board, and CalOSHA, to resist Trump administration
rollbacks by allowing them to consider applying federal
standards for protection in effect as of January 19, 2017, the
day before Donald Trump took office, and maintain them in case
he is re-elected next year.
One of California Gov. Gavin
Newsom’s first actions after taking office was to appoint Wade
Crowfoot as Natural Resources Agency secretary. Then, within
weeks, the governor laid out an ambitious water agenda that
Crowfoot, 45, is now charged with executing.
That agenda includes the governor’s desire for a “fresh approach”
on water, scaling back the conveyance plan in the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta and calling for more water recycling, expanded
floodplains in the Central Valley and more groundwater recharge.
Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, thinks there is a better way to
find water solutions for California’s Central Valley and to
stop squandering water in wet years that’s needed in dry years.
His bipartisan water legislation unveiled Wednesday promises
federal support for storage and innovation projects to address
shortages that too often plague Valley agriculture and
In court, the California Environmental Quality Act is a
familiar obstacle to projects large and small — housing
developments, solar projects, even bike lanes. It’s also lately
become a weapon in the state’s major water conflicts.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration is taking unprecedented
steps to combat President Donald Trump’s efforts to ship more
water to his agricultural allies in the San Joaquin Valley.
Saying Trump’s water plans are scientifically indefensible and
would violate the state’s Endangered Species Act, the state
Department of Water Resources on Friday began drawing up new
regulations governing how water is pumped from the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the southern half of the state.
While all other Central Valley Project contractors’ allocations
were previously increased to 100% of their contract totals in
recent months, the Bureau of Reclamation announced Wednesday
that agricultural districts South-of-Delta will receive only
65% percent of their historic water allocation. … In light of
current hydrologic and reservoir conditions, Westlands Water
District officials said this minor increase in water allocation
The Department of Water Resources issued notice that it will
seek an updated environmental permit to operate the State Water
Project through a state-based approach in partnership with the
California Department of Fish and Wildlife. … Historically,
DWR has received environmental coverage for its pumping
operations through environmental parameters issued by the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt began working on policies
that would aid one of his former lobbying clients within weeks
of joining the Trump administration, according to a POLITICO
analysis of agency documents … Newly disclosed schedule
“cards” prepared by Interior officials for Bernhardt show more
than three dozen meetings with key players on California water
issues, including multiple lengthy meetings on specific
endangered species protections at the heart of his previous
For centuries, the Delta was a dynamic and rich ecosystem of
tidal wetlands, riparian forests, and vast seasonal
floodplains. But about 98 percent of the native habitat
disappeared after the Gold Rush and a population boom across
the Golden State.
Despite a decades-long rescue effort, the tiny delta smelt
appears closer than ever to vanishing from its only natural
home, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Now, some worry it
won’t be long before the only place the once-abundant species
exists is within the confines of an artificial tank.
California is a wonderful place to study water. So many
interesting and important problems, thoughtful and insightful
authors, and much to be learned. Here is a selection of
readings (updated from a 2012 post) on California water.
Assessing populations of fall-run Chinook salmon in
California’s Central Valley isn’t as simple as counting how
many adults have returned to a given stream to spawn. A process
known as “source-sink dynamics” may be concealing the fact that
certain populations are not self-sustaining.
In SB1, State Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins provides a
compelling case to protect California’s air, navigable water,
drinking water and workers. … However, despite our
recognition that some in our state feel recent administrative
rulings and legislative changes to federal law may not be the
right prescription for California, we believe this legislation
is overbroad, duplicative and unworkable.
The Bureau of Reclamation announced Wednesday that it will
supply South-of-Delta growers with 65% of their contracted
water total. … Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno), who is a grower and
one of the top water policy experts in Congress, said that he
expected the initial west-side allocation in February to be
50%, followed by a 75% revise.
The California Farm Bureau delegation met last week with more
than 20 members of the California congressional delegation,
with a particular emphasis on members newly elected in 2018.
They met with U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, two days
before the Senate confirmed his appointment as the Cabinet’s
newest member. For the first time in several years, they
conducted a briefing for congressional staff members, to
describe key issues facing California farmers and ranchers.
Federal and state water managers have coordinated operations of
the CVP and the parallel State Water Project for many decades.
… But this intergovernmental water policy Era of Good Feeling
(relatively speaking) has come to a sudden and dramatic end
with the ascension of the Trump Administration.
A total of 300,000 salmon were released into the Sacramento
River on Saturday. Half were dropped at their usual location at
Coleman Fish Hatchery near Anderson in Shasta County, and the
other half were released 75 miles downstream, at Scottys
Landing on River Road near Chico. Surgeons fit the fish with
tiny radio transmitters so they can more easily study their
survival chances and homing instincts.
At least 11 Democratic senators asked the inspector general to
investigate a range of claims against Bernhardt … The
inspector general also received a request from Democratic Sens.
Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of
Connecticut, asking the office to examine whether Bernhardt
played a role in the department’s handling of endangered
species in the San Francisco Bay Delta…
Bernhardt has a roster to fill, with gaping vacancies in key
positions. He’s got, by his own account, a departmental ethics
program to fix and an ambitious reorganization scheme that
critics decry or simply dismiss. He’ll have to cope with a
multibillion-dollar national parks maintenance backlog and
thread the needle with an offshore drilling plan. And as he’s
already discovered during his short stint as acting secretary,
he faces opposition from Democratic lawmakers in control of the
Farmers, by trade, are experts in sustainability and by
extension common sense. Growers along with 1.5 million Northern
San Joaquin Valley residents could end up on the receiving end
of an economic Armageddon perpetuated by the state Department
of Water Resources on behalf of the threatened Chinook salmon.
Even as winter and early-spring storms have filled reservoirs
to the brim and piled snow on Sierra Nevada mountaintops, state
and federal officials say they’re limited in how much water
they can send south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
David Bernhardt, President Trump’s pick to the lead the
Interior Department, was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday
amid persistent ethical concerns and doubts about his
independence from the energy and water industry groups he long
represented as a lobbyist.
Bruce Babbitt, the former Arizona
governor and secretary of the Interior, has been a thoughtful,
provocative and sometimes forceful voice in some of the most
high-profile water conflicts over the last 40 years, including
groundwater management in Arizona and the reduction of
California’s take of the Colorado River. In 2016, former
California Gov. Jerry Brown named Babbitt as a special adviser to
work on matters relating to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and
the Delta tunnels plan.
When Babbitt speaks, people take notice, and he didn’t
disappoint before a packed house at the annual Anne J.
Schneider Lecture April 3 in Sacramento, offering thoughts on
some of California’s thorniest water issues and proposing a
Bay-Delta Compact, a kind of grand bargain to end persistent
conflict surrounding the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Assemblyman Jim Frazier spoke out in frustration Wednesday when
his bill to increase local representation on the Delta
Stewardship Council died Tuesday in a committee hearing. Unable
to get his bill past the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife
Committee, Frazier blamed Southern California water special
For the millions of Californians who live and work far from the
Delta, it can be easy to overlook the splendor of the largest
estuary in western North America. Whether you are one mile or
hundreds of miles from the Delta, however, all Californians
have a stake in the survival and preservation of this fragile,
dynamic ecosystem that is also the keystone of the state’s
water supply system.
Our rules, cobbled over time from various state water right
decisions or federal biological opinions, are too rigid.
Pumping rules in the Delta on Nov. 30, for example, are very
different than those 24 hours later, regardless of the weather.
… Simply put, we are stuck in yesterday’s way of regulating
Administered by the National Park Service (NPS), NHAs are
defined by NPS as a grassroots, community-driven approach to
heritage conservation and economic development. They differ
from national parks in several significant ways. Primarily, NPS
does not take ownership of the land encompassed within an NHA
and no land-use restrictions are placed upon landowners.
The Amended Plan … has touched off a series of lawsuits due
to its controversial unimpaired flow requirements for the Lower
San Joaquin River and its tributaries … The Federal
Government’s lawsuits challenge the Amended Plan by asserting
that it fails to comply with CEQA and congressional mandates
that control the operation of the New Melones Dam, which is
part of the federally run Central Valley Project (CVP).
So just what would a one-tunnel project look like? A workshop
for Metropolitan Water District board members compared a single
tunnel project at both 3000 cfs and 6000 cfs to the California
WaterFix project, looking at water delivery capability, the
ability to divert stormwater flows, water quality benefits,
reverse flows, seismic events, and project costs.
Political leaders from the valley are urging the Environmental
Protection Agency to closely scrutinize new water quality
standards proposed for the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta. …
“The State Water Resources Control Board’s proposal to the EPA
misses the mark,” said Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, who joined
almost a dozen congressmen, including conservatives Kevin
McCarthy and Tom McClintock, in sending a letter to the EPA.
When the State Water Resources Control Board voted in December
to adopt the Bay-Delta Plan, its members ignored the direction
of former Governor Brown and current Governor Newsom to pursue
voluntary agreements with our irrigation districts. Many saw
this as an act of defiance by former Chair Felicia Marcus, the
executive director, and many of the activist staff.
As Secretary, Jared Blumenfeld oversees the state’s efforts to
fight climate change, protect air and water quality, regulate
pesticides and toxic substances, achieve the state’s recycling
and waste reduction goals, and advance environmental justice.
… Blumenfeld joined TPR for an exclusive interview to discuss
the administration’s priorities…
A previously unreleased invoice indicates that David Bernhardt,
President Trump’s choice to lead the Interior Department,
continued to lobby for a major client several months after he
filed official papers saying that he had ended his lobbying
activities. The bill for Mr. Bernhardt’s services, dated March
2017 and labeled “Federal Lobbying,” shows, along with other
documents, Mr. Bernhardt working closely with the Westlands
Water District as late as April 2017, the month Mr. Trump
nominated him to his current job, deputy interior secretary.
Now that the federal government has filed its own lawsuits
against an unimpaired-flows plan for San Joaquin River
tributaries, farmers and other parties to the lawsuits wait to
learn where they will be heard–and prepare for a lengthy court
battle. California Farm Bureau Federation … filed its own
lawsuit against the unimpaired-flows plan in February…
Current water sharing proposals fail to achieve the balance
needed to restore our salmon runs. Meanwhile, additional
massive increases in Delta diversions are planned by the Trump
administration under these agreements, which would make
conditions for salmon even worse. This is a formula for
extinctions and the end of salmon fishing in California. There
is no support for this proposal among fishermen or
Felicia Marcus, who stepped down as Chair of the State Water
Resources Control Board early this year, joins us to discuss
California’s water challenges, what the state learned from the
recent drought and the future of its water wars.
Turning the tables on California, the Trump administration sued
Thursday to block the state’s ambitious plan to reallocate
billions of gallons of river water to salmon and other
struggling fish species. … The State Water Resources Control
Board voted in December to reallocate the flows of the San
Joaquin River and its tributaries. The move is designed to help
steelhead and salmon by taking water from San Joaquin Valley
farmers and a handful of cities.
Antioch’s plan to build a long-awaited brackish desalination
plant got a major boost this week when the City Council
officially accepted a $10 million state grant that will pay
toward design and construction. The city’s grant was one of
three statewide to be awarded in March 2018 from the Department
of Water Resources for desalination projects under Proposition
Bay Area anglers say they are pleased California State Parks is
drastically reducing the number of sites treated with
pesticides on the grass and weed-choked Sacramento-San Joaquin
River Delta. … The move to reduce spraying and pelleting on
parts of the Delta this year comes in the wake of last year’s
increased use of pesticides that anglers’s claim wiped out the
weeds, but also killed dozens of beavers, fish, turtles and
For the past year the state’s worked to eradicate the rodents
for a second time. The rodents were brought to California in
the 1900s for the fur trade and fur farming. “[The] challenge
is we keep looking and we keep finding more nutria,” said Peter
Tira with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“However, we do know there’s about 1.8 million acres of
suitable nutria habitat. This is the largest nutria eradication
ever attempted in the United States.”
Democrats and their allies are moving to push back against a
former lobbyist and frequent foe of California
environmentalists who is on his way to becoming the next
secretary of the Interior Department. They don’t have the power
to block Trump nominee David Bernhardt, but they do have far
more ability to oppose his agenda than they had for the last
two years, when he served as the powerful deputy secretary of
Rate increases are being proposed in part to help pay for
improvements to the Regional Wastewater Control Facility, which
is set to go through the first phase of a modification project
aimed at extending the life of existing amenities at the plant.
The modification project will also improve working conditions
for employees, and bring the site into compliance with national
pollutant discharge standards.
On our Bay-Delta Tour June 5-7, participants will hear from a
diverse group of experts including water managers,
environmentalists, farmers, engineers and scientists who will
offer various perspectives on a proposed tunnel project that
would carry water beneath the Delta, efforts to revitalize the
Delta and risks that threaten its delicate ecological balance.
Any new path on California water must bring Delta community and
fishing interests to the table. We have solutions to offer. We
live with the impacts of state water management decisions from
loss of recreation to degradation of water quality to
collapsing fisheries. For example, how can new and improved
technology be employed to track real time management of
More than 400 nutria have been captured in the first year of an
effort to eradicate the invasive South American rodent from
California. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife said
Monday the semi-aquatic rodents were trapped in five counties
in the San Joaquin Valley. Nutria are an agricultural pest,
destroy wetlands critical to native wildlife and threaten water
delivery and flood control infrastructure through destructive
In the month since Governor Newsom announced that he does not
support a dual-tunnel Delta water supply conveyance, activity
in the more than 20 state and federal lawsuits challenging
California WaterFix and other administrative approval processes
related to the “twin tunnels” has slowed or been briefly
stayed. The stays reflect the uncertainty surrounding the
project in light of the Governor’s comments…
As the sea level rises, it could impact more than the
California coastline. The rising water could impact the
Sacramento region. Some researchers said the rise could
threaten levees in the area and increase the risk of flooding
throughout the Delta and the Sacramento Valley.
Good news for state water contractors: The State Water Project
allocation just doubled from last year’s estimate for the 2019
water year. The California Department of Water Resources
announced that the allocation has increased from 35 to 70
percent for most state water contractors. The department
transports state water to 29 contractors, including the Kern
County Water Agency.
The Trump administration has fast-tracked a process to deliver
more water to farms. But an investigation by KQED reveals those
changes are raising alarm among federal employees. In this
interview, we speak with KQED science reporter Lauren Sommer
about why, and what’s at stake.
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has been battling the
destructive Nutria for two years. State biologists believe it
will be another three years before they win the war against the
pesky rodent. The nutria is considered a triple threat to
Valley wetlands, agriculture and water delivery systems.
Our rules, cobbled over time from various state water right
decisions or federal biological opinions, are too rigid. …
Things are done by an aging book. We are not adapting our
management based on testing new hypotheses collaboratively
advanced by stakeholders who are willing to celebrate the
results regardless of outcome.
A pending transfer in ownership of the Contra Costa Canal will
allow for upgrades in its water quality and safety, but it
could also make for changes for hikers and cyclists along some
of its trails. A bipartisan package of public lands bills
President Donald Trump signed Tuesday moves the Contra Costa
Water District a step closer to gaining ownership of the aging
Contra Costa Canal system.
The Bureau of Reclamation announced that the water allocation
for South-of-Delta Central Valley Project (CVP) agricultural
water contractors has been increased from 35 percent to 55
percent. The increase is an improvement for the farmers and
farmworkers in the Westlands Water District, but, given the
healthy hydrological conditions throughout the state, today’s
announcement is a disappointment.
They are a semiaquatic South American rodent a bit smaller than
a beaver. Females can give birth three times a year and have up
to 12 babies each litter. They are really good at tearing up
crops, burrowing tunnels into levees, and other destructive
behavior that is tough on farmers. And they’ve been discovered
in California’s San Joaquin Valley, a major food-producing
Ventura has released reports detailing the environmental
impacts of two sizable projects expected to increase the city’s
water supply and reliability… One involves tapping into the
city’s long-held investment into state water. The other project
would capture effluent from Ventura’s wastewater treatment
plant, treat it and turn it into drinking water.
A bill from Sen. Bill Dodd that would increase legislative
oversight of the controversial Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
WaterFix project and allow for more public scrutiny has cleared
its first committee hurdle. The action comes less than a month
after Gov. Gavin Newsom said he wants to scale back the project
proposed by former Gov. Jerry Brown to a single tunnel.
Hundreds of Bakersfield agriculture, oil and political leaders
came together March 7 to examine the challenges and
opportunities associated with providing California residents
and businesses with a secure, reliable supply of clean water.
Lest the wet winter create a sense of complacency around one of
the state’s most vital needs, specialists from various fields
urged collective attention to the costly and increasingly
complex problems that surround sourcing, storing and conveying
After more than a decade in the making, the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area Act by Rep. John
Garamendi, D-Solano, was signed into law by President Donald
Trump… A National Heritage Area is designated to encourage
historic preservation. Under Garamendi’s legislation, the Delta
is the first National Heritage Area in California’s
Every spring, a group called the Pacific Fishery Management
Council gets together and looks at the salmon forecasts from
the Puget Sound all the way down to the Sacramento River in
California….The Sacramento River runs are expected to rebound
a bit, but the Klamath and Columbia River forecasts are lower
than last year.
When then-candidate Donald Trump swung through California in
2016, he promised Central Valley farmers he would send more
water their way. Allocating water is always a fraught issue in
a state plagued by drought, and where water is pumped hundreds
of miles to make possible the country’s biggest agricultural
economy. Now, President Trump is following through on his
promise by speeding up a key decision about the state’s water
supply. Critics say that acceleration threatens the integrity
of the science behind the decision, and cuts the public out of
For a region so crucial to the growth of California as we know
it today, you might think there would be libraries full of
books about the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. And yet, as UC
Merced scholar Gregg Camfield wrote several years ago, the most
obvious thing about the literature of the Delta “is how little
there is.” Advocates of the largest estuary on the west coast
of the Americas are trying to collect those scattered bits and
pieces in a new anthology of the Delta.
Bills introduced last week by Bakersfield Republicans in
Sacramento and Washington, D.C., would redirect money from the
state’s high-speed rail project toward reservoir projects, as
well as repairs to Friant-Kern Canal. … The proposals by U.S.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy and state Assemblyman Vince Fong seize upon
a common frustration among many valley Republicans that
billions of state and federal dollars dedicated to high-speed
rail would be better spent on capturing water from wet years…
Henry Ford said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin
again, this time more intelligently.” Rules enacted a decade
ago that were intended to protect California’s iconic salmon
and Delta smelt populations aren’t working and federal agencies
are now in the process of modernizing them, this time using
much better science.
For California’s salmon fishermen, the downstream effects of
political decisions in Washington are too obvious to ignore.
It’s not merely a question of profit for us. We are the
stewards of the public fisheries resources who rely on their
long-term health for our existence. The viability of our future
can be challenged by who is in power in Washington, no matter
who they are.
The Trump Administration has ordered federal biologists to
speed up critical decisions about whether to send more water
from Northern California to farmers in the Central Valley, a
move that critics say threatens the integrity of the science
and cuts the public out of the process. The decisions will
control irrigation for millions of acres of farmland in the
country’s biggest agricultural economy, drinking water for
two-thirds of Californians from Silicon Valley to San Diego,
and the fate of endangered salmon and other fish.
The real-world implications of Gov. Newsom’s rejection of the
twin tunnels project became more apparent last week as the
Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation requested and were granted a 60-day stay of
hearings with the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB).
The current dilemmas boil down to this: As the state punishes
cannabis growers in the Emerald Triangle for environmental
degradation, it is simultaneously pursuing an aqueduct project
in the Central Valley that environmental groups claim will
cause ecological harm of massive proportions. This project
stands to benefit the “big ag” industry, which California’s
newly legal cannabis companies are increasingly participating
One tunnel or two, neither idea adds a drop of the water to
needs of the nearly 40 million people who call California home.
The tunnels simply divert existing water supplies while putting
in severe jeopardy the largest freshwater estuary west of the
Mississippi River, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta that
juts into the western edge of Stockton. Clearly, there must be
better solutions. Three approaches leap to mind: storage,
conservation and desalination.
Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano, introduced the Sites Reservoir
Protection Act Thursday to provide federal support for the
building of Sites Reservoir and other water infrastructures in
the Central Valley. The act, also known as House Resolution
1453, would direct the Bureau of Reclamation to complete a
feasibility study for the project Colusa and Glenn counties.
When California’s new governor announced during his February 12
State of the State address that he didn’t support WaterFix as a
two-tunnel behemoth, he received a loud burst of applause. Yet,
in the next breath, when Newsom added he supported a one-tunnel
version, no applause followed. That’s partly because the
one-tunnel announcement hasn’t alleviated fears of people
living on the north side of the estuary. Hood, Clarksburg and
Courtland property owners still face the very real possibility
of being hit with eminent domain.
Asparagus was a signature crop of the Sacramento–San Joaquin
Delta from the turn of the twentieth century through the 1970s.
Delta asparagus was known for its great quality and flavor. …
By the mid-1980s the local asparagus crop had declined due to
competition from growers in low-wage countries, such as Peru
and Mexico. Californians in the know argue that imported
asparagus doesn’t come close to the flavorful fresh Delta
asparagus that is increasing hard to find in the Bay-Delta
If you stand on a fragile levee of the Sacramento River these
days and watch the chocolate brown water rushing toward the
delta only a few feet under your boots, one can’t help but
wonder why the state and federal governments aren’t capturing
more of this precious resource. Why is all but a tiny fraction
heading out to sea?
An assortment of groups … joined the legal fray in courts
over the State Water Board decision in December to reduce water
diversions for farms and cities from the Tuolumne, Stanislaus
and Merced rivers. The emotions leading up to the Dec. 12
decision have touched off debate on what exactly could
restore a severely impaired delta estuary and depleted salmon
populations and what it will cost for Central Valley
In a step to secure water supplies well into the future, the
Palmdale Water District Board of Directors unanimously approved
extending the contract for water imported from Northern
California for another 50 years, to 2085. The contract with the
state Department of Water Resources for State Water Project
water … accounts for 50% or more of the district’s water
supply. It is becoming especially important as a result of
the court settlement that sets limits on groundwater pumping
for the Antelope Valley.
As his term as governor drew to a close, Jerry Brown brokered a
historic agreement among farms and cities to surrender billions
of gallons of water to help ailing fish. He also made two big
water deals with the Trump administration. It added up to
a dizzying display of deal-making. Yet as Gavin Newsom takes
over as governor, the state of water in California seems as
unsettled as ever.
Prompted by the collapse of fish populations, the State Water
Resources Control Board is trying to prevent humans from
totally drying up these rivers each year. The regulators’
lodestar for how much water the rivers need is the amount of
water a Chinook salmon needs to migrate.
The Merced Irrigation District board gave direction Wednesday
to take legal action challenging the state’s Bay-Delta water
quality control plan, which is strongly opposed by communities
in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.
Southern Californians could lose billions of gallons of water a
year to Central Valley farmers under a deal Gov. Jerry Brown’s
administration has struck with water officials working for
President Donald Trump. There’s no guarantee the agreement with
Trump will accomplish what Brown’s team is seeking: a lasting
compromise on environmental regulations that could stave off
significant water shortfalls for farms and cities across
A state board on Wednesday approved a contentious proposal to
boost water flows through a Central California river, a move
that would increase habitat for salmon but deliver less water
to farmers and cities such as San Francisco. The plan under
consideration by the Water Resources Control Board would alter
management of the Lower San Joaquin River and three tributaries
to address what environmental groups say is a crisis in the
delta that empties into San Francisco Bay.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein is joining forces with House Republicans
to try to extend a controversial law that provides more water
for Central Valley farms, but with a sweetener for the
environment: help with protecting California’s rivers and fish.
The proposed extension of the WIIN Act, or Water Infrastructure
Improvements for the Nation Act, would keep millions of federal
dollars flowing for new dams and reservoirs across the West.
A crucial certification needed to build two tunnels that
officials believe would help solve California’s water delivery
problems was withdrawn Friday, ensuring that Gov. Jerry Brown’s
pet water project won’t be approved before he leaves office in
California’s most senior Democrat and most powerful Republican
in Washington are teaming up to extend a federal law designed
to deliver more Northern California water south, despite the
objections of some of the state’s environmentalists. While
controversial, the language in their proposal could help settle
the contentious negotiations currently underway in Sacramento
on Delta water flows — the lifeblood of California agriculture
as well as endangered salmon and smelt.
Under pressure from Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration, state
regulators once again postponed a vote on a contentious plan to
force San Francisco and several big San Joaquin Valley
irrigation districts to give up some of their water supplies
for environmental protection. On the eve of Wednesday’s
scheduled vote, Brown and the man who will succeed him next
year, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, asked for a month’s delay and
promised to get involved in ongoing settlement negotiations.
Nine Democratic legislators representing the the Sacramento-San
Joaquin River Delta are calling on the Trump administration to
deny California’s request for a $1.6 billion loan to help pay
for the twin tunnel project championed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Those who depend on the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers
for agriculture and drinking water may have received a reprieve
Tuesday night. The State Water Resources Control Board was set
to adopt a proposal to double the amount of water allowed to
flow unimpeded down the rivers and out to the Sacramento-San
Joaquin delta on Wednesday.
Most signs point to the State Water Board approving a
much-disputed river flow plan next week that will mean less
water for farms and cities in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.
The board, also known as the State Water Resources Control
Board, is set to vote Wednesday to require irrigation districts
to leave more water in the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced
rivers in an effort to restore salmon.
Two-hundred members of the California Conservation Corps from
as far away as San Diego and Fortuna descended on a Delta levee
bordering southwest Stockton’s Van Buskirk Park on Tuesday to
practice their flood control skills. … CCC
Communications Director Dana Howard, also on hand to observe
Tuesday’s training exercise, took the opportunity to announce
the recent opening of the Corps’ first newly constructed
facility in Northern California in decades.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors issued a rare rebuke of
the city water department Tuesday, claiming the agency is on
the wrong side of a state water debate that pits California
against President Trump. The San Francisco Public Utilities
Commission, which provides water to the city and more than two
dozen suburbs, has fiercely opposed a far-reaching state plan
to revive California’s river system, including the languishing
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, because it means giving up
precious water supplies.
The spring and summer of 2018 saw frenzied activity around
California WaterFix, the latest iteration of a decades-long,
on-again-off-again effort to convey fresh water from the
Sacramento River to the South Delta export pumps while
bypassing the Delta itself. Governor Jerry Brown has made
WaterFix a top priority, but as his administration heads into
its final months, the project – one of the largest
infrastructure projects in state history – still faces a raft
More than 1,000 acres of unused farmland in East Contra Costa
County are slowly being converted back to the vibrant wetlands
they once were in what’s hailed as the largest tidal marsh
restoration project ever in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River
Delta. The Dutch Slough Tidal Marsh Restoration Project, which
recently broke ground, is the California Department of Water
Resources’ first major tidal wetlands restoration in the Delta.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife hit a milestone
in its ongoing efforts to control the state’s nutria
infestation on Friday morning when they successfully trapped
Nutria number 300 at a pond in Merced County. … The
department is currently expanding its operations in San Joaquin
County, and is concerned by several reports of nutria on the
doorstep of the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta, a critical
region for California’s agricultural infrastructure.
A series of programs is under way to restore wetlands, the
newest starting this week. The Department of Water Resources
will break ground Wednesday at Dutch Slough in Oakley for what
DWR calls its largest tidal wetlands restoration project —
nearly 1,200 acres — in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
Other projects by other agencies are transforming salt ponds to
wetlands in the Napa-Sonoma Marsh and along South San Francisco
The rivers that once poured from the Sierra Nevada, thick with
snowmelt and salmon, now languish amid relentless pumping,
sometimes shriveling to a trickle and sparking a crisis for
fish, wildlife and the people who rely on a healthy California
delta. A state plan to improve these flows and avert disaster,
however, has been mired in conflict and delays.
The second year of a program to improve conditions for the
endangered delta smelt shows promise in creating a bloom in the
plankton that nourish the imperiled fish. State and federal
water leaders were joined Monday by Sacramento Valley farmers
and water providers along the banks of the Yolo Bypass to hail
the importance of the Delta Smelt Resiliency Strategy — a
multipronged effort around restoring wetland habitat across the
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to bolster the smelt
Like any highway, the River Road (Highway 160) was designed by
engineers. But its path was not dictated by geometry and
physics so much as geography and hydrology. In the
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, everything is dictated by
the rivers. The landscape, the transportation, the recreation,
the cuisine and the culture. The region includes some of the
state’s most important wetlands, some of its quirkiest history
and some of its most colorful places to eat. Here’s our guide
to some of the promising pit stops on a delta road trip.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein and some state representatives in the Bay
Area are calling for voluntary settlement agreements, rather
than a State Water Board proposal, to bolster the salmon
population in tributaries of the San Joaquin River. In a letter
Friday to water board chairwoman Felicia Marcus, Feinstein said
a voluntary settlement will achieve more in restoring fish in
the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers.
For years, state boats have sprayed thousands of pounds of
herbicides into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to kill
invasive aquatic weeds. And, for years, California officials
have insisted they closely monitor their chemical use to
protect the ecologically fragile estuary and the drinking and
irrigation water the Delta supplies to millions of
Californians. A pending court case casts fresh doubt on those
Adam Farrow, who spends much of his time on the water, was
extolling the virtues last week of the area west of Stockton
where Eight Mile Road ends and the San Joaquin River and Little
Potato Slough converge.
The Colorado River Basin is more
than likely headed to unprecedented shortage in 2020 that could
force supply cuts to some states, but work is “furiously”
underway to reduce the risk and avert a crisis, Bureau of
Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman told an audience of
California water industry people.
During a keynote address at the Water Education Foundation’s
Sept. 20 Water Summit in Sacramento, Burman said there is
opportunity for Colorado River Basin states to control their
destiny, but acknowledged that in water, there are no guarantees
that agreement can be reached.
With talk of boosting water deliveries to Central Valley
agriculture, the Trump administration is telling growers
exactly what they want to hear. But given California’s complex
water system and a web of federal and state environmental
regulations, such promises could prove more political than
practical. … The office of Deputy Interior Secretary
David Bernhardt will make final recommendations on the agency’s
steps in early September.
The Trump administration is trying a bold new tactic to bring
more water to Central Valley farmers — one that could come at
the expense of millions of urban Southern Californians. In an
unprecedented move, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation served
notice to California officials Aug. 17, stating it wants to
renegotiate a landmark 1986 agreement governing the big federal
and state water projects and how they pump water through the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to their member agencies in
southern half of the state.
Farmers in the Central Valley are broiling about California’s plan to increase flows in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems to help struggling salmon runs avoid extinction. But in one corner of the fertile breadbasket, River Garden Farms is taking part in some extraordinary efforts to provide the embattled fish with refuge from predators and enough food to eat.
And while there is no direct benefit to one farm’s voluntary actions, the belief is what’s good for the fish is good for the farmers.
Two days of hearings before the State Water Resources Control
Board created some hope of voluntary agreements with local
irrigation districts, which are under pressure to release more
water in rivers to help salmon. Tuesday and Wednesday, the
state board heard heartfelt comments from people concerned
about collapsing fish populations in the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta and fears about job losses and economic calamity in the
Northern San Joaquin Valley if water rights are stripped from
The State Water Resources Control Board, composed of five
people appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown, will hold two days of
hearings starting Tuesday on a proposal to leave more of the
water in the lower San Joaquin River and its three tributaries,
the Tuolumne, Merced and Stanislaus. The mandate would mean
more water will follow its natural course through the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and out to the ocean.
The State Water Board is making it clear that it won’t vote
next week on a much-disputed proposal to require higher river
flows for improving water quality in the Sacramento-San Joaquin
river delta. Felicia Marcus, who chairs the water board, said
in a letter Wednesday to the California Natural Resources
Agency that final action will be taken at a board meeting
The San Diego County Water Authority’s board of directors gave
conditional support Thursday to the California WaterFix, the
state’s $17 billion plan to upgrade key water
infrastructure. San Diego joins the Metropolitan
Water District in Los Angeles and Santa Clara County
Water District in Silicon Valley in backing one Gov. Jerry
Brown’s signature long-term projects.
Following nine years of research, a California agency has
proposed to increase water flows in the San Francisco Bay-Delta
Estuary. But the decision is causing contention between farmers
and fisheries. … The California Water Board is scheduled
to vote on the proposal in August.
Since 2010, Boating and Waterways has put more than 14,000
gallons of Roundup into the Delta, according to a McClatchy
review of data provided by the agency. The Roundup
treatments are part of a concerted effort to kill nonnative
aquatic plants, which have become so pervasive in the Delta
that NASA scientists can see them from space.
Nearly six decades ago, shortly after becoming governor, Pat
Brown persuaded the Legislature and voters to approve one of
the nation’s largest public works projects, the State Water
Plan. New reservoirs in Northern California, including the
nation’s highest dam at Oroville on the Feather River, would
capture runoff from snowfall in the Sierra, and a massive
aqueduct would carry water southward to San Joaquin Valley
farms and fast-growing Southern California cities.
I [Carl Nolte] just spent a couple of days in another world,
right in the heart of California. This is the Sacramento-San
Joaquin River Delta, which is as close — and as far away — from
the state’s big cities as you can imagine. You can see the edge
of the delta from a BART train heading toward Pittsburg.
More than two decades after Los Angeles was forced to cut water
diversions to protect California’s natural resources, the state
is poised to impose similar restrictions on San Francisco and
some of the Central Valley’s oldest irrigation districts. The
proposal represents a dramatic new front in one of California’s
most enduring water fights: the battle over the pastoral delta
that is part of the West Coast’s largest estuary and also an
important source of water for much of the state.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke paid a visit Friday to two
reservoirs that are embroiled in an intense fight over water
allocations in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. … Zinke was
accompanied by Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, whose two
amendments to block part of the state’s “water grab” passed the
House of Representatives on Thursday. Zinke, along with
Congressman Tom McClintock, sat at a picnic table to talk with
media at Don Pedro.
Critical permits and legal challenges are still pending, and
some farming groups still haven’t committed to paying for part
of Gov. Jerry Brown’s controversial $17 billion Delta tunnels
project. But even with the uncertainty, backers of the project
are poised to ask the Trump administration for a $1.6 billion
federal loan that millions of Californians ultimately would
have to repay through increases in their water bills.
A Modesto councilman called on the city to contribute toward
efforts to resist a state water grab that’s become an
emotionally charged issue in the region. Councilman Mani Grewal
said at Tuesday’s council meeting the state plan to take large
amounts of Tuolumne River water to rejuvenate the
Sacramento-San Joaquin River delta would create a “regulatory
drought” in Stanislaus County.
The framework of a plan for the Sacramento River watershed
released Friday by the state Water Resources Control Board
calls for an increase in the amount of water running into the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and out to sea, but it leaves the
question of where that water would come from largely
A final draft plan for the San Joaquin River system has been
released by state water regulators. … But Friday the State
Water Board also released a “framework” for a similar plan
being prepared for the Sacramento River watershed, which would
see even larger reductions of diversions in the north valley.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Tuesday
reaffirmed its approval of an $11-billion investment in a
massive water delivery project with a vote that highlighted a
deepening division on the agency’s board.
Nearly three months ago, a Delta farmer from Roberts Island
delivered the carcass of a dead nutria to the desk of Tim
Pelican, San Joaquin County’s agricultural commissioner. It was
the first of two nutria discovered in the county in April.
California water officials on Friday released a plan to
increase flows through a major central California river, an
effort that would save salmon and other fish but deliver less
water to farmers in the state’s agricultural heartland.
State regulators proposed sweeping changes in the allocation of
California’s water Friday, leaving more water in Northern
California’s major rivers to help ailing fish populations — and
giving less to farming and human consumption.
For more than 100 years, invasive species have made the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta their home, disrupting the
ecosystem and costing millions of dollars annually in
remediation. The latest invader is the nutria, a large rodent
native to South America that causes concern because of its
propensity to devour every bit of vegetation in sight and
destabilize levees by burrowing into them. Wildlife officials
are trapping the animal and trying to learn the extent of its
Proposition 68 was approved with 56 percent of the vote to
authorize the state to borrow $4.1 billion for investments in
outdoor recreation, land conservation and water projects,
according to the latest results Wednesday morning.
For more than 100 years, invasive
species have made the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta their home,
disrupting the ecosystem and costing millions of dollars annually
The latest invader is the nutria, a large rodent native to South
America that causes concern because of its propensity to devour
every bit of vegetation in sight and destabilize levees by
burrowing into them. Wildlife officials are trapping the animal
and trying to learn the extent of its infestation.
Deep, throaty cadenced calls —
sounding like an off-key bassoon — echo over the grasslands,
farmers’ fields and wetlands starting in late September of each
year. They mark the annual return of sandhill cranes to the
Cosumnes River Preserve,
46,000 acres located 20 miles south of Sacramento on the edge of
the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Deep, throaty cadenced calls — sounding like an off-key bassoon
— echo over the grasslands, farmers’ fields and wetlands
starting in late September of each year. They mark the annual
return of sandhill cranes to the Cosumnes River Preserve,
46,000 acres located 20 miles south of Sacramento on the edge
of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
For more than 100 years, invasive species have made the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta their home, disrupting the
ecosystem and costing millions of dollars annually in
remediation. … Even though invasive plants and animals long
have been known to exist in California’ water hub, tracking
their extent in an area as large as the Delta — 738,000 acres —
is an uneven task that could benefit from greater coordination
and funding, a panel of experts recently told the Delta
Independent Science Board.
Legislation that creates a fund to help remove derelict
commercial vessels from the Delta passed the Assembly on
Wednesday. It was one of two bills authored by Assemblyman Jim
Frazier, D-Discovery Bay, to clear the Assembly and now heads
to the Senate for consideration.
Before the midday heat had set in, Jeff Cann and Tim Kroeker
were out of their Dodge pickup, trudging through waist-deep
water in waders and rubber boots. The two wildlife biologists
had come to this vast expanse of sun-soaked Central Valley
wetlands on a recent morning to check in on the first traps
that California has authorized in its nascent effort to hunt —
and exterminate — the nutria.
The South Bay’s largest water agency gave a big lift to Gov.
Jerry Brown’s plan for a pair of water conveyance tunnels
through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta on Tuesday,
committing $650 million to the effort. The $17 billion tunnels
project, which would help move water from Northern California
to the drier south, has been among the governor’s top
priorities but has lacked the necessary funding to move
In a dramatic reversal of its stance just six months ago,
Silicon Valley’s largest water district has scheduled a vote
Wednesday on a plan to commit up to $650 million to Gov. Jerry
Brown’s controversial proposal to build two massive tunnels
under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is vital to water
supplies for 25 million people and 4 million acres of farmland.
It is linked to the Pacific Ocean via San Francisco Bay, which
makes this water supply uniquely vulnerable to sea level rise.
Yet understanding sea level rise in the Delta is complicated.
Peter Moyle, an eminent authority on the ecology and
conservation of California’s fishes, stands on the narrow deck
of a survey boat and gazes out over the sloughs of Suisun
Marsh. The tall, tubular stems of tule reeds bend in the wind
as a flock of pelicans soars past, their white wings edged in
black. It’s an idyllic scene that hints at an earlier
time, back before the Gold Rush, when undisturbed creeks and
tidal marsh covered the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Sometime after Tim Pelican arrived at work Monday, a farmer
stopped by to deliver a package to San Joaquin County’s
agricultural commissioner. The farmer’s package contained a
dead nutria, a 2½–foot-long, 20-pound beast that looks like a
beaver but is smaller and has a round, ratlike tail and white
The “triple threat” of invasive rodent species has made its way
to the edge of the delta, officials said, putting the state’s
fragile water infrastructure at risk. The California Department
of Fish and Wildlife said Tuesday that it had discovered the
nutria, a large rat-like mammal that inhabits wet, rural areas,
on agricultural land west of Stockton.
The destructive invasive swamp rodents known as nutria are
officially on the doorstep of one of the state’s most
critically important waterways. State wildlife officials
announced Tuesday that a nutria was killed on agricultural land
west of Stockton in San Joaquin County.
Two tunnels, one or none? The question continues to swirl
around plans to perform major surgery on the sickly heart of
California’s water system. Confronted with a shortage of
funding, state officials announced last month that they would
move ahead with the construction of one giant water tunnel
under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta rather than two.
Facing pressure from Gov. Jerry Brown, Southern California’s
largest water agency could vote as soon as April on whether to
take a majority stake in the twin-tunnels project Brown plans
for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
About the size of a beagle, they can quickly turn a lush green
marsh to a wasteland. … They are called nutria, and right now
they’re starting to spread through the waterways leading into
the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the ecologically fragile
network of sloughs and rivers that functions as the heart of
California’s flood-control and water distribution system.
The State Water Resources Control Board and the parties seeking
to incorporate voluntary settlement agreements in the Bay-Delta
Water Quality Control Plan should identify a specific,
tractable set of problems that can be addressed over the next
15 years through this plan. … Members of the Brown
administration asked a small group of us to offer views on
elements that should be considered in such settlements.
Faced with a shortage of money and political support after
seven years of work, Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is
working on a plan to scale back one of his key legacy projects,
a $17 billion proposal to build two massive tunnels under the
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to make it easier to move
water from Northern California to the south.
In the final days of 2017, President Donald Trump’s
administration announced it would consider sending as much
water as possible from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to
farmers and cities to the south. The notice comes as a
follow-up to a speech Trump made in Fresno during his
presidential campaign, when he condemned the downstream flow of
river water into the ocean as “insane.”
A tiny fish caught in California’s tug of war over water has
become harder to find than ever, a state survey found, despite
a very wet winter last year that had raised hopes for a bounce
back after five years of drought.
The Trump administration, teeing up a fight with California
regulators, is trying to pump more water through the fragile
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the southern half of the state
despite fresh evidence of the estuary’s shrinking fish
It’s been more than half a century since Californians started
talking seriously about building a new conveyance system –
canals or tunnels – to divert water around the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Bay Delta to south Delta pumps for export to farms and
cities in the south.
In a landmark vote closely watched across California, Silicon
Valley’s largest water agency on Tuesday rejected Gov. Jerry
Brown’s $17 billion plan to build two giant tunnels under the
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s board
voted to pay for about a quarter of the tunnels project, Gov.
Jerry Brown’s $17.1 billion effort to re-engineer the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and improve water deliveries to
south state cities and farms.
With two key California WaterFix votes looming, Gov. Jerry
Brown expressed confidence Thursday that water agencies will
commit to enough funding to sustain the massive project. Brown
was in Los Angeles to lobby for the $17-billion proposal, which
would re-engineer the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the hub of
California’s complex waterworks.
Bryan Brock stared out at a rice field on Twitchell Island,
nestled between the meandering river paths of the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. … Medium-grain rice was planted
here in 2009 as a research project to see if rice could help
the Delta survive the impacts of subsidence. The results have
yielded both good and bad news.
Estuaries are places where fresh and
salt water mix, usually at the point where a river enters the
ocean. They are the meeting point between riverine environments
and the sea, with a combination of tides, waves, salinity, fresh
water flow and sediment. The constant churning means there are
elevated levels of nutrients, making estuaries highly productive
The engineers who scrambled to prevent Delta farms from
flooding this year have long insisted that the levees
surrounding those low-lying islands are not as fragile as
they’re sometimes portrayed to be.
Whatever the prognosticators say, the latest effort by south
San Joaquin Valley Republicans to wring more water out of the
Delta is undeniably ambitious. A bill that cleared the House of
Representatives last week requires the Delta to be governed by
20-year-old water quality standards that scientists say are
inadequate for the estuary’s freshwater ecosystem.
When it comes to California and climate change, the predictions
are staggering: coastal airports besieged by floodwaters,
entire beaches disappearing as sea levels rise. Another
disturbing scenario is brewing inland, in the sleepy backwaters
of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The [Delta] Conservancy, a state agency that oversees
environmental and economic opportunities in the Delta, recently
won approval from the American Carbon Registry for a new carbon
banking methodology. This means wetland restoration in the
Delta (and other coastal areas of the state) can now generate
money by selling greenhouse gas credits to
The Delta Landscapes Project (funded by California Department of
Fish & Wildlife) offers new insights into the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta, examining how to achieve better restoration
outcomes by understanding how the natural systems originally
Given the complexities of the restoration efforts and the large
number of agencies and stakeholders involved, in-person dialog
among restoration practitioners, landowners and regulators is
necessary to adapt the scientific findings into a usable
framework for on-the-ground decision-making.
Civic Center Galleria
1110 West Capitol Ave.
West Sacramento, CA 95691
Roberts Island hasn’t flooded severely since 1884. Yet here
they are, fourth-generation farmer Mike Robinson and his son,
Michael, spending their Friday night inspecting every inch of
the 15-mile levee from a truck crawling along at 5 mph.
After three days of king tides and massive rainfall, levees in
the Delta have begun to fail, flooding islands, duck clubs and
other land north of Pittsburg, an island owner and emergency
official said Thursday.