The Sacramento Valley, the northern part of the Central Valley,
spreads through 10 counties north of the Sacramento–San Joaquin
River Delta (Delta). Sacramento is an important agricultural
region, growing citrus, nuts and rice among many other crops.
Water flows from the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range to the region’s
two major rivers — the Sacramento and American – and west into
the Delta. Other rivers include the Cosumnes, which is the
largest free-flowing river in the Central Valley, the lower
Feather, Bear and Yuba.
The Sacramento Valley attracts more than 2 million ducks and
geese each winter to its seasonal marshes along the Pacific
Flyway. Species include northern pintails, snow geese, tundra
swans, sandhill cranes, mallards, grebes, peregrine falcons,
heron, egrets, and hawks.
Water levels in the world’s ponds, lakes and human-managed
reservoirs rise and fall from season to season. But until now,
it has been difficult to parse out exactly how much of that
variation is caused by humans as opposed to natural cycles.
Analysis of new satellite data published March 3 in Nature
shows fully 57 percent of the seasonal variability in Earth’s
surface water storage now occurs in dammed reservoirs and other
water bodies managed by people. … The western United
States, southern Africa and the Middle East rank among regions
with the highest reservoir variability, averaging 6.5 feet to
Yuba Water Agency’s board of directors today approved an
agreement that adds the Cordua Irrigation District to the
historic Lower Yuba River Accord, a model water management
agreement that supports endangered salmon and steelhead,
ensures water supplies for cities and farms and reduces
conflict over water use.
Much of the western U.S. continues to endure a long-term
drought, one that threatens the region’s water supplies
and agriculture and could worsen wildfires this year. In fact,
some scientists are calling the dryness in the West a
“megadrought,” defined as an intense drought that lasts
for decades or longer. Overall, about 90% of the West is
now either abnormally dry or in a drought, which is among the
highest percentages in the past 20 years, according to this
week’s U.S. Drought Monitor.
The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Sacramento District
selected Kleinfelder and Stantec to provide engineering
services for levee improvements on the Sacramento River in
Northern California. The design project consists of
seepage/stability improvements along the Sacramento River East
Levee (SREL) downstream of the American River confluence in
Sacramento. The project is part of the ongoing modernization of
Sacramento’s aging flood infrastructure system.
Congressman Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, introduced a bill
Wednesday that would extend “critical water supply provisions”
in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN)
Act for the next seven years in an effort to improve
California’s access to water. On Wednesday, Garcia introduced a
bill that would enact a seven-year extension for “critical
water supply provisions” in the WIIN Act, which became law at
the end of 2016.
Sacramento is typically ranked first or second in the country
for the risk of flooding….This year, the California-Nevada
River Forecast Center is forecasting a low potential for
flooding due to spring snowmelt.
A recent global assessment, released by 16 conservation
organizations, of the world’s freshwater fish species found
that nearly a third are at risk of extinction. Overfishing and
climate change are the most significant and pervasive drivers
of the global decline in freshwater biodiversity, but the
blockages created by dams and the introduction of non-native
species have also played significant roles. The news is
distressing, yet CalTrout sees this as a call to action. Our
organization works diligently to ensure resilient wild fish
thrive in healthy waters.
Despite taking two years off from Congress, David Valadao
(R—Hanford) is getting back to work by introducing new
legislation to help keep water flowing in the Central Valley.
Early this month, Valadao introduced the Responsible, No-Cost
Extension of Western Water Infrastructure Improvements, or
RENEW WIIN, Act, a no-cost, clean extension of operations and
storage provisions of the WIIN Act. The RENEW WIIN Act would
extend the general and operations provisions of Subtitle J of
the WIIN Act and extend the provision requiring consultation on
coordinated operations of the Central Valley Project and State
A part of the natural water cycle, groundwater is an important
element of California’s water supply, especially in the Central
Valley, where one in four people rely on it entirely. It is an
especially important resource in the Solano Subbasin, a
geographic area that includes Dixon, parts of Vacaville,
Elmira, Rio Vista, unincorporated Winters, Davis, the Montezuma
Hills, Isleton, Sherman Island and Walnut Grove. And every
quarter, the Solano Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agency
Collaborative, aka the Solano Collaborative, hosts a Community
Advisory Committee meeting and will so again from 3 to 5 p.m.
A forecast of relatively low numbers of Sacramento and Klamath
River fall Chinook salmon now swimming in the ocean off
the California coast points to restricted ocean and
river salmon fishing seasons in 2021. State and
federal fishery managers during the California Department of
Fish and Wildlife’s salmon fishery information on-line meeting
on February 25 forecast an ocean abundance this year of 271,000
adult Sacramento Valley fall Chinook salmon, about 200,000 fish
lower than the 2020 estimate.
The winter storms that dumped heavy snow and rain
across California early in 2021 are likely not enough to negate
what will be a critically dry year, state water officials
believe. California’s Department of Water Resources on
Tuesday recorded a snow depth of 56 inches and water content of
21 inches at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada. The water
content of the overall snowpack was 61% of the average for
March 2 and 54% of the average for April 1, when it is
historically at its maximum.
California’s rivers, wetlands, and other freshwater ecosystems
are in poor health. Water management practices, pollution,
habitat change, invasive species, and a changing climate have
all taken a toll, leaving many native species in dire straits.
And the current approach for managing freshwater ecosystems is
not working. In this video Jeff Mount, senior fellow at the
PPIC Water Policy Center, discusses the many benefits these
ecosystems bring to California, and outlines a path for
improving their condition to secure these benefits for future
The Bureau of Reclamation and Department of Water Resources
plan to allocate approximately 5 million acre feet of water
this year – as long as California allows them to effectively
drain the two largest reservoirs in the state, potentially
killing most or nearly all the endangered winter-run Chinook
salmon this year, threatening the state’s resilience to
continued dry conditions, and maybe even violating water
quality standards in the Delta.
Approximately 62 acres of land in Rio Vista, including the
former Army Reserve Center, have been incorporated into
legislation by Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano, to increase the
boundaries of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National
Heritage Area. This bill, known as House Resolution 1230,
passed in the U.S. House of Representatives Friday and will
move on to the Senate. The bill is an expansion of bicameral
legislation by Garamendi and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.,
that was signed into law in 2019 to provide $10 million for
community-based efforts to preserve the Delta’s cultural
heritage as well as its historical landmarks.
How do you factor in climate change? It can be a worrisome
question, yet, it’s one that rightfully so demands an answer. A
question that seems to loom over us, especially those who work
within and on behalf of the environment. Yet, it might be
difficult to notice the effects of climate change on Putah
Creek. A walk along the creek exposes you to native riparian
habitat and birds aplenty. Surely, the Chinook salmon return to
their historic spawning habitat along Putah Creek could only
signal a more healthy and stabilized habitat. -Written by Alli Permann, Putah Creek Council Education
Michael Preston grew up in the old village site of the Winnemem
Wintu tribe, along the McCloud River in Northern California
where the Shasta Dam has flooded spiritual and cultural lands.
Since the 1940s, the creation of the dam has also blocked the
usual migration of winter-run salmon, effectively endangering
the species. Now, there are proposals to raise the dam by an
additional 18.5 feet, which will cause further destruction.
“Our tribal goal is to bring the salmon back … ” he said,
adding that it’s more than just the fish. With the lack of
salmon, which is a keystone species, other animals, such as
bears, eagles and mountain lions are being starved.
The organization River Partners teamed up with California State
Parks and Butte County Resource Conservation District on
Thursday to host a flood plain restoration and
reforestation event. The event was called the
Bidwell-Sacramento River State Park Riparian Restoration
Project and was held near the Pine Creek Access point of the
Sacramento River in Chico.
San Francisco has long been an international leader on
environmental issues. However, water policy has been a stain on
that record. … Many California rivers are overtapped by
excessive pumping, but few are in worse condition than the
Tuolumne River. In drier years, more than 90% of the Tuolumne’s
water is diverted. On average, 80 percent of the river’s flow
never makes it to the Bay. It’s not a surprise that the river’s
health has collapsed. …
-Written by Bill Martin, a member of the Sierra Club
Bay Chapter Water Committee, and Hunter Cutting, a member
of the Sierra Club Bay Chapter’s San Francisco Group Executive
The Department of Justice can proceed with its claims that
California violated state law when it changed its water quality
control plan for the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta system in federal court, the Ninth Circuit ruled.
Granting a partial stay of the state law claims in federal
court is allowed in limited circumstances, but the federal
government’s actions here don’t amount to the type of forum
shopping that justifies a stay, according to the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Today, Ceres’ Director of Water, Kirsten James is speaking to
Betty Yee, who was first elected as California State Controller
in November 2014 – a position that serves as the state’s chief
fiscal officer. She also chairs the California Franchise Tax
Board and serves as a member of the California Public
Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State
Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) Boards, representing a
combined portfolio of nearly $500bn. She speaks about how her
experience managing the world’s fifth-largest economy has
shaped her thoughts on climate and water risk.
Former Assemblymember Christy Smith announced that she has been
appointed by Speaker Anthony Rendon to serve on the Delta
Stewardship Council. … The Council was created to advance the
state’s coequal goals for the Delta – a more reliable statewide
water supply and a healthy and protected ecosystem, both
achieved in a manner that protects and enhances the unique
characteristics of the Delta as an evolving place.
Private landowners interested in enhancing, restoring and
protecting wetlands are encouraged to apply for the Wetland
Reserve Easements in California program facilitated by the
Natural Resource Conservation Service.
As Executive Officer Jessica R. Pearson identified in her
December blog on the Delta Adapts initiative, “social
vulnerability means that a person, household, or community has
a heightened sensitivity to the climate hazards and/or a
decreased ability to adapt to those hazards.” With an eye
toward social vulnerability and environmental justice along
with the coequal goals in mind, we launched our Delta Adapts
climate change resilience initiative in 2018.
Many of my best days as a lawyer were spent driving through the
Sacramento Valley and north Delta with George Basye (always in
his Volvo). As George neared his retirement, he wanted to
ensure that I, as the successor to a number of his clients,
understood the foundations of his client relationships.
George seemingly knew the history of every quarter section of
land up and down the Valley. He had a deep affection not
only for the landscape but, most important to George, for the
individuals and families who had settled and reclaimed the land
and built the agricultural economy of the region.
For centuries, farmers have found ingenious ways of making the
best of the water available, but access to fresh water is
becoming more and more unpredictable. Extreme weather events
and drought is as much of a threat, as flash flooding in farms
and food producers. … In California’s Central
Valley, a region that produces a quarter of the USA’s food and
relies mostly on water pumped from underground, to irrigate the
crops, is fast running out of its water supply.
AT FIRST GLANCE, THIS STRUCTURE appears to be an enigma. It’s a
bridge between two granite monoliths, an above-ground tunnel,
and an aqueduct carrying water over a creek. This structure is
actually part of an elaborate water system. The Feather River
Canyon is a scenic wonder. Sheer granite slabs rise hundreds of
feet above the water. Almost equally impressive are the
measures engineers have taken to conquer this rugged terrain.
Climate change will continue to impact the West, and
particularly its water supply—the many impacts include longer
and more damaging wildfire seasons as well as prolonged
drought. Federal leadership and action are needed to address
the climate crisis. With the 117th Congress now in session,
Audubon is advocating at the federal level for funding and
policy priorities that restore habitat, protect communities,
and support birds through proactive water management and
Climate change and extreme weather events are forecast to
further reduce water supplies in the American Southwest, and a
new futures market could allow water users to recoup losses if
the price of water spikes. The futures market is the first of
its kind, allowing investors and farmers alike to bet on how
much water in California will cost on a future date. Water
users buy the futures contract to avoid risk and hedge against
rising water prices affected by things such as droughts.
On Friday, the City of Antioch, along with local and
State dignitaries, broke ground on their new and historic
Brackish Water Desalination Plant. At a price of $110 million,
the project was made possible with $93 million in funding from
the State, and $17 million from the City of Antioch.
Tuolumne Utilities District provided an update on Thursday
regarding negotiations to acquire Pacific Gas and Electric Co.
assets in the South Fork Stanislaus River watershed and rights
to water in New Melones Reservoir, though the possible costs
remain unclear due to a confidentiality agreement. The TUD
Board of Directors hosted a rare joint meeting via video with
the county Board of Supervisors, Sonora City Council, local
Me-Wuk Indian tribes, and other stakeholders, during which
members spoke about the need for community-wide cooperation and
collaboration due to the scope of the undertaking.
Despite objections from some of the same landowners who have
complained for nearly a decade that their property is being put
at risk, the Woodland City Council has advanced its Lower Cache
Creek Flood Feasibility Study. Acting this past week, the
council voted unanimously to put the financial well-being of
residents and businesses first in adopting an environmental
impact report which favors a multi-million dollar project to
divert Cache Creek floodwaters.
On a bright February morning, Kulwant Singh Johl, a
third-generation Punjabi American farmer, checked the rain
gauge in front of his neat stucco home in Northern California’s
Yuba-Sutter area. Gusts and drizzles had battered his peach
orchard nonstop for a week, but it still wasn’t enough to
quench the recent drought. … And indeed, the
intensifying drought could devastate livelihoods of many
multigeneration Punjabi American farmers in California. This
year, many may have to sell their hard-earned farm plots and
leave an industry that they hold in high esteem.
In 1955 he joined Downey, Brand, Seymour and Rohwer in
Sacramento, becoming a partner in 1958 and specializing in
water and natural resources law. He represented the California
Central Valley Flood Control Association and over 30
reclamation, levee, water, and irrigation districts and mutual
water companies in the Sacramento Valley. He was actively
involved in negotiations leading to the water right settlement
agreements between the Sacramento River water users and the
United States in 1964. He formed the North Delta Water Agency
and negotiated the agreement in 1981 between that Agency and
the State of California, protecting water quality and uses
within the northern half of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Steelhead season is underway in the Central Valley as three
major hatcheries are set to release over 1.1 million fish into
the Feather, American and Mokelumne rivers later this month.
Steelhead are the migratory form of rainbow trout that make
their journey to the Pacific Ocean and return to freshwater
It is the 35th anniversary of one of the costliest and
devastating storms in the history of Northern California. From
Feb. 11 to Feb. 20, 1986, a series of three storms, each
stronger than the previous, brought record-setting rain that,
in some areas, overwhelmed flood control measures. In the end,
the storms claimed 13 lives, and the damage was estimated at
$400 million. The storm also brought eventual changes to
California’s existing flood control system.
There has been recent commentary and discussion around a
commodity futures market for water in California. In the
Sacramento Valley, we are not involved in this process; nor are
we participating in these contracts. Although we are not
entirely clear on this market or what is being traded, it is
clear that this new market does not involve real/wet
water–which is our focus in the Sacramento Valley. We will
continue to focus on serving water for cities and rural
communities, farms, fish, birds, other wildlife and recreation.
For the better part of the last two centuries, the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has been modified in any number of
ways to meet the demands of Californians. But a new
wide-ranging study looks at what might be the most serious
Delta threat that doesn’t come in the form of an excavator –
Growers all over the U.S. are concerned about labor, and those
in the Golden State are no exception. The California Fresh
Fruit Association (CFFA) announced the results of their “Top
Issues Survey” for 2021, and labor- and water-related issues
were prominently featured. CFFA members were recently surveyed
to rank the top issues for the association to focus its efforts
on this year.
Investors, farmers, and Reddit users can now all hedge bets on
the price of water in California thanks to the launch of the
first water futures market in the country late last year. It
represents a new financial outlook on water in California — one
driven by the market. Since its launch Dec. 7, the futures the
market has seen 180 trades — equivalent to over 550 million
gallons of actual water. But the water futures market has
nothing to do with the movement of real water: it’s just about
In a recent study published in Environmental Research Letters,
[Julia] Szinai and her colleagues present a framework that
outlines the links between and vulnerabilities of
[California's] energy and water systems. The findings can be
used to evaluate how both climate change and our adaptation
decisions might affect the interconnected systems. It’s a first
and an “exhaustive” quantification of the linkages between
energy and water…
The process to recoup over $1 billion in repairs to Oroville
Dam’s spillways after the 2017 crisis is receiving more federal
funds. The Department of Water Resources announced Feb. 1 that
the Federal Emergency Management Agency released an additional
approximately $308 million in requested funds for the Oroville
Dam spillways reconstruction and emergency response. These
funds are in addition to over $260 million that FEMA has
already committed to …
The Kern County Farm Bureau issued a “call to action” this week
asking local growers and ranchers to participate in a series of
upcoming meetings that will influence the role California’s
agricultural lands will be expected to play, or continue to
play, in fighting climate change.
Sub-seasonal to seasonal forecasts could someday give western
water managers as much as a two-year head start in planning for
either a wet or dry winter. The scientific methodology already
exists for what is known as S2S precipitation forecasting, but
putting it to work requires improving weather and climate
models and buying enough super-computer time to run the models
to test them. Now, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) report could spur Congress to approve the
$15 million annual investment necessary to translate S2S
forecasting from concept to implementation through pilot
projects in the West.
Tools such a SWIIM–which stands for Sustainable Water and
Innovative Irrigation Management–provides a new standard in
water measurement that allows growers to receive an accurate
accounting of the water both delivered and consumed by their
orchards. … And, of course we are talking about SGMA, the
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
California is in the early stages of a severe multi-decadal
drought, exacerbated by the climate crisis. As Dan Walters
pointed out in his recent commentary, we must move quickly to
prepare for water shortages and wildfires. A potent strategy to
improve the state’s water storage capacity involves an ancient
technology so ubiquitous that it is often overlooked: soil. The
urgency of California’s drought and wildfire risks require that
we invest in soil health now. -Written by Ellie Cohen, CEO of The Climate
Center, and Torri Estrada, executive director of
the Carbon Cycle Institute.
The Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District recently
ruled in Wyatt v. City of Sacramento that a City’s imposition
of a surcharge in the form of a “general tax” on
property-related utility services payable to the City’s general
fund did not violate Proposition 218 (Prop. 218). The
appellate court decision confirms that a surcharge imposed on a
utility enterprise is a cost of providing utility services and
is therefore properly part of the Prop. 218 analysis of
determining whether revenues exceed funds required to provide
A storm is forecast to bring rain to the Bay Area on Thursday
Feb. 11, 2021. After a stretch of sunny, dry weather, the first
significant rainfall is heading to the Bay Area since an
atmospheric river storm pummeled Northern California two weeks
ago. A new storm is forecast to roll in Thursday night,
forecasters said Tuesday. It won’t be anywhere near as big as
the late January storm that triggered landslide warnings and
evacuations in Santa Cruz County communities, and washed out a
big chunk of Highway 1 in Big Sur.
An organic food company has committed $750,000 to studying a
sustainable farming strategy in the Sacramento Valley.
Cascadian Farm, a manufacturer of cereal, granola, granola bars
and frozen vegetables, announced the partnership with The
Nature Conservancy last week. The money will fund a trial on a
strategy that could turn working farmland into wildlife
habitat, regenerate groundwater and reduce flood risk.
Although the 1971 San Fernando earthquake and the near failure
of the Lower Van Norman Dam have given rise to construction
improvements … the overwhelming majority of California dams
are decades past their design life span. And while earthquakes
still loom as the greatest threat to California’s massive
collection of dams, experts warn that these aging structures
will be challenged further by a new and emerging hazard:
“whiplashing shifts” in extreme weather due to climate change.
The flood of state bills addressing sea level rise this year is
surging faster than the ocean itself, as legislators recognize
the urgent need to prepare for the consequences expected in the
Chico City Council unanimously voted to analyze and study the
current and future needs for the Chico Water Pollution Control
Plant (WPCP) to develop a regional sewer connection to
Paradise, according to the Town of Paradise. The connection
will be from a specified area in Paradise, called the Sewer
Service Area, and will include many parcels along Skyway,
Pearson, and Clark Road.
California Water Service (Cal Water) has announced temporary
leadership changes for its Oroville District. Evan Markey has
been named Interim District Manager, while previous District
Manager George Barber is serving as Interim Director of Field
Operations for the utility’s northern California region. Tavis
Beynon will continue to serve as the Interim District Manager
for the Chico District.
Reclamation maintains and operates over 8,000 miles of water
distribution systems that use, among other means, reservoirs
and canals to store and deliver water. Water lost to seepage
reduces the efficiency of the water delivery to the users and
can cause undermining/erosion, subgrade soil migration, adverse
vegetation growth, and even canal failure….This prize
competition seeks innovative solutions that can reduce the
costs and burdens associated with installation and maintenance
of seepage reduction methods, and improve durability in a range
of climatic conditions.
Paradise had geared up for disaster. The Butte County town had
an evacuation plan and emergency-notification systems.
Paradise, neighboring communities and the county had undertaken
“vegetation management” programs to reduce wildfire hazards.
Yet for all its preparation, Paradise wasn’t truly ready for
something like the Camp Fire. … The report comes as
California, struggling with drought-like conditions, confronts
another potentially difficult wildfire season.
California almond farmers enjoyed record-breaking harvests over
the last five years, after production dipped in the wake of
2014’s historic drought. That year a chorus of headlines
vilified almonds for sucking up a gallon of water per nut,
though irrigation efficiency has been improving. Now, as
global temperatures rise, a caterpillar barely the size of a
paper clip may threaten California’s position as the world’s
leading producer of almonds, walnuts and pistachios.
A new set of winery wastewater guidelines will be imposed on a
statewide basis. The State Water Resources Control Board
recently adopted a general order regulating how wastewater will
be processed and discharged. … While the wine industry
is concerned with water quality issues, there is some concern
that a statewide mandate may not be the best approach to the
Curious about water rights in California? Want to know more
about how water is managed in the state, or learn about the
State Water Project, Central Valley Project or other water
infrastructure? Mark your calendars now for our virtual
Water 101 Workshop for the afternoons of April 22-23 to hear
from experts on these topics and more.
While wetter streets and a greener White House may offer San
Franciscans some hope for the future, the situation remains
dire for salmon in the Tuolumne River. … [I]t’s hard not to
feel that the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s water
policies are partially to blame. Californians are significantly
reducing or eliminating dependence on river water. But the
SFPUC continues to side with agricultural users to fight
limitations on the water it takes from the Tuolumne. -Written by Robyn Purchia, an environmental attorney,
blogger and activist
The volatility of stock market trading has made global
headlines over the past couple of weeks thanks to the frenzy
surrounding a US video games retailer. It’s a dizzying yarn of
Reddit vigilantes taking coordinated action to bankrupt hedge
funds that were short selling GameStop stocks, resulting in
rollercoaster share prices, trading restrictions and US
congressional hearings. It provides a stark illustration of the
absurdity of the stock market, and yet, late last year, the US
state of California decided to allow water to become a tradable
In an act of cultural appreciation, two open spaces in Redding
are being renamed using the native Wintu language. What has
been known as the Henderson Open Space along the bank of the
Sacramento River in the heart of the city will now be known as
“Nur Pon Open Space.” About $5-million have been spent in the
area in the last 10 years, including the construction of a
salmon spawning channel.
A California agricultural developer has agreed to pay a civil
penalty to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act
(CWA) on property near the Sacramento River in Tehama County,
California. The developer must also preserve streams and
wetlands, effect mitigation, and be subject to a prohibitive
injunction, according to the Department of Justice. Roger J.
LaPant Jr. originally purchased the property in 2011 and sold
it in 2012 to Duarte Nursery Inc. which sold it that same year
to Goose Pond Ag Inc.
According to the U.S. Intelligence Community Assessment
of Global Water Security, by 2030 humanity’s “annual
global water requirements” will exceed “current sustainable
water supplies” by 40%, highlighting the importance of building
a water resilient future.
The California Department of Water Resources has secured $308
million in funding to pay for reconstruction and repair work
that has been done on the Oroville Dam’s spillways. The funds,
released by FEMA, are in addition to the $260 million that the
agency provided for repairs on the lower portion of the dam’s
main spillway. Repair work on the damaged emergency and main
spillways has been ongoing for nearly four years following
February 2017’s spillway crisis. The $308 million announced
Monday was at first rejected but later approved by FEMA
following an appeal from the DWR last year.
While Global Warming only intensifies weather conditions, the
geological record shows that Megafloods have occurred in
California every century or two, likely triggered by
“atmospheric rivers” dumping a conveyor belt of drenching rains
out of the Pacific. The last Megaflood occurred in 1861-62,
flooding all western states, putting vast sections of
California underwater for months, ruining a quarter of the
state’s economy, and pushing California into near-bankruptcy.
Bruce Kamilos last week was hired to serve as the next general
manager of the Florin Resource Conservation District (FRCD),
which manages the Elk Grove Water District. Kamilos will
replace the district’s current General Manager Mark Madison,
who will retire on May 1.
Hundreds of California wineries will be governed by statewide
wastewater processing rules for the first time. The move
toward a statewide regulatory framework is a five-year effort
and was finalized this week by the State Water Resources
Control Board. The board approved an order setting up
guidelines for wastewater processing at most of the more than
3,600 bonded wineries in the state, reported the North Bay
Business Journal. The new order promises to bring at least
1,500 of those wineries into a regulatory framework for
wastewater disposal for the first time.
Six years ago, in the middle of a crippling drought,
Californians were ordered to let their lawns turn yellow. They
put buckets in their showers to conserve. Scofflaws had to
attend “drought school.” Meanwhile, farmers throughout the
Central Valley had to idle many of their fields. This week’s
deluge left many Californians shoveling snow and splashing
through puddles as an “atmospheric river” swept the state. More
precipitation is in the forecast for next week. But experts
worry that without repeated downpours over the next two months,
the painful memories of the last drought could become reality
Ten days ago the state set new heat records and brush fires
broke out. Burn areas in the Santa Cruz Mountains rekindled.
Then, over the last three days, a 2,000-mile-long filament of
water in the sky burst over the areas that last week sat brown
and smoking. Snow fell on peaks and even some lower hills in
the Bay Area. The California Department of Water Resources
Central Sierra snow measurement station jumped from 42 percent
of average to 62 percent of average.
We are now past the halfway mark in California’s normally
wettest winter months, and the wet season to date has been
anything but. Most of the state has received less than half of
its average annual precipitation to date. Coming after a very
dry Water Year 2020 these conditions are concerning. More
precipitation will certainly occur in February and March, but
will it be enough to erase the state’s large
California researchers now investigating the source of [the
Sacramento River's Chinook] salmon’s nutritional problems find
themselves contributing to an international effort to
understand thiamine deficiency, a disorder that seems to be on
the rise in marine ecosystems across much of the planet. It’s
causing illness and death in birds, fish, invertebrates, and
possibly mammals, leading scientists from Seattle to
Scandinavia to suspect some unexplained process is compromising
the foundation of the Earth’s food web by depleting ecosystems
of this critical nutrient.
Nearly half of food grown in the United States gets thrown out.
More food is tossed once it reaches a household fridge than at
any other point in the supply chain. With every strawberry that
doesn’t get eaten comes the wasted water to grow it, the wasted
gas to transport it, the methane it emits while it rots, and
The biologists working in a fish hatchery near Shasta Dam grew
increasingly concerned last year when newly hatched salmon fry
began to act strangely — swimming around and around, in tight,
corkscrewing motions, before spiraling to their deaths at the
bottom of the tanks. … [S]cientists eventually unlocked part
of the mystery: The fish had a deficiency of thiamine, or
Each spring and fall, an estimated 1 billion birds migrate
through the Pacific Flyway, which snakes down from Alaska,
along the West Coast of the United States and Mexico,
and into South America. … Now new research reveals what
has been long-suspected but never confirmed: California’s
Central Valley and the Colorado River Delta are hotspots for
North America’s migratory landbirds.
Californians have recently endured increasingly aggressive
wildfires, rolling power outages, and smoke-filled air for
days. Unless the state government changes course, we can
add water shortages to this list. … However, the dirty
little secret is that 50 percent of California’s water supply
is used for environmental purposes and is ultimately flushed
out into the Pacific Ocean, 40 percent goes to agriculture, and
only 10 percent goes for residential, industrial, commercial,
and governmental uses. -Written by Daniel Kolkey, a former judge and former
counsel to Governor Pete Wilson and board member of Pacific
The Regional Water Authority (RWA) is delighted to announce
that Michelle Banonis has been selected as the organization’s
new Manager of Strategic Affairs. Banonis has over two decades
of experience in water, ecosystems, engineering, policy, and
law, and most recently served as the Assistant Chief Deputy
Director of the California Department of Water Resources where
she worked on water-related issues of statewide significance
with multiple interests.
California water issues are notoriously complicated by a
massive diversity of users, ecosystems, applications and
futures. Indeed, water in the Delta has been described as
a “wicked problem” indicating that these problems cannot
be ignored and defy straightforward characterization and
solutions. Below we highlight how a Swiss cheese model might be
applied to vexing long-term declines in native fish populations
The State Water Resources Control Board adopted a general order
for how wastewater is processed and discharged at winery
locations in an ongoing effort to safeguard groundwater and
surface water from wastewater discharges. The order protects
groundwater and surface water quality while giving wineries the
flexibility to select compliance methods that best fit their
site-specific situation, including tiering the compliance
requirements to the winery size and associated threat to water
California’s wildfire threat could ease over the next few
weeks, with a series of storms bringing much-needed moisture
after heat and drought torched record acreage in the state. The
first downpour is already spreading across Northern California
Friday, and that will be followed by progressively stronger
systems through next week …
The Colusa and Glenn Groundwater Authorities will host an
online workshop about a Well Monitoring Pilot Program the
agencies are implementing. The voluntary, non-regulatory
program will gather information about groundwater use in the
Colusa Subbasin while also providing participants with
near-real time access to information on well production and
groundwater levels at their wells, according to a press
In the latter part of 2020, various actions were implemented in
the Sacramento Valley to promote salmon recovery that point
positive as we begin 2021. Even during a global pandemic,
partners were working together on efforts to advance science to
inform salmon recovery decisions and tangible projects to
improve habitat for fish
The Sites Reservoir was awarded $13.7 million in the 2021
federal spending bill. The 2021 federal spending bill …
included $1.4 trillion to fund government agencies and a $900
billion pandemic relief package. Sites Reservoir is proposed
for construction in remote ranch lands in Colusa County, about
70 miles north of Sacramento. It was originally given a $5.1
billion price tag, but the Sites Project Authority reduced it
to $3 billion in May.
The Water Forum is pleased to announce the selection of Jessica
Law as its new Executive Director. The Water Forum is a diverse
group of local governments, environmentalists, water managers,
businesses and others working together to balance the coequal
goals of providing reliable water supplies for the Sacramento
region and preserving the environment of the Lower American
As we reflect on this tumultuous year, we have much to be
thankful and a lot to learn. Along with the truly special
people that grace our lives, we are all thankful for the
Sacramento Valley’s unique combination of water, land and
sun–the essential ingredients for bountiful life and the
amazing biodiversity of our region.
The city of Folsom has experienced a significant decrease in
pinhole leaks in copper water pipes in local residences since
adding orthophosphate to the water system. This past summer,
Folsom experienced what residents dubbed “a pinhole leak
apocalypse.” Water leaks in homes developed nearly 1,400
times. On the recommendation of consultants, the city
started adding orthophosphate to the water treatment system in
October. Folsom’s environmental and water resources
director, Marcus Yasutake, says it’s had the desired effect.
Representatives from the Yuba Water Agency plan to meet with
members of the State Water Resources Control Board to discuss
certain requirements imposed by a recent water quality
certification that is expected to cost the agency anywhere from
$500 million to $1 billion to implement in order to continue
operations along the Yuba River, which resulted in Yuba Water
filing a lawsuit in both state and federal court in November.
The Biggs-West Gridley Water District, Ducks Unlimited and the
Bureau of Reclamation recently announced the completion of
Phase II (of five total phases) of the water supply project for
the world-renowned Gray Lodge Wildlife Area.
The fall salmon run is happening right now on the American
River, and for many in the greater Sacramento area, that
usually means a visit to the Nimbus Fish Hatchery to check out
the fish ladders and nearby spawning grounds. Although the
hatchery visitor center is closed because of the pandemic,
observing the salmon run can still happen, in a safe way, from
the hatchery’s nature trail.
In the Central Valley, where agricultural and urban development
have claimed 95 percent of the region’s historic wetlands,
flooded croplands provide food and habitat that help egrets,
sandhill cranes and other iconic water birds get through the
winter. But many farmers are moving toward wine grapes, olives
and other “permanent crops” that don’t provide the same habitat
benefits as row crops. And now these land use changes, combined
with the uncertain effects of a warming world, have left
scientists scrambling to safeguard critical habitat in one of
most important wintering regions for water birds in North
After salmon spawn, or reproduce, it marks the end of their
lifecycle. For the Department of Water Resources (DWR) it marks
an important time for dissecting and studying salmon carcasses
to learn about the species’ population and assess their numbers
in the Feather River.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture and more than
twenty partners are hosting Healthy Soils Week 2020 to
highlight the importance and multiple benefits of soil
health on the farm to the ecosystem. The leaders in the
Sacramento Valley have fully embraced nature-based solutions as
called for by Governor Newsom in his October 7 Executive Order
and healthy soils are important for population health and
multi-benefit water management.
The Bureau of Reclamation, Ducks Unlimited, Inc. and Biggs-West
Gridley Water District completed the second phase of a
five-phase construction project to improve water conveyance for
the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. This milestone includes
increasing capacity of two major canals that feed water to the
Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, home to more than a million waterfowl
While Republican members of Congress praised the most recent
step toward approving raising the height of Shasta Dam, fishing
and environmental groups criticized it as the illegal actions
of a “lame duck federal agency.”
With its Séka Hills olive oil, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation [in
Northern California’s Capay Valley] is reclaiming its ancestral
land with a crop for the future. … Wherever possible, the
tribe uses sustainable farming practices, and has received
several grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s
Natural Resource Conservation Service for water and rangeland
Work crews have been busy this week along Twin Cities Road near
Courtland. They are conducting core sampling, the first step in
drafting an environmental impact report for a tunnel plan known
as the Delta Conveyance Project.
Westlands Water District announced Wednesday that it recently
completed the Lower Yolo Restoration Project, which restored
the habitat for fish and other wildlife species in part of the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. … The land had been previously
used for cattle grazing, and now it has transformed into tidal
marsh, riparian and upland buffer habitat.
The California Natural Resources Agency recently announced the
investment of almost $50 million in Proposition 68 funding for
projects to promote salmon recovery. More than $220 million in
Proposition 1 and Proposition 68 funds have also been dedicated
for multi-benefit flood protection projects in the past two
years that will benefit salmon.
The Trump Administration Thursday released the Shasta Lake
Water Resources Investigation Final Supplemental Environmental
Impact Statement to increase water storage capacity in the
Shasta Lake reservoir by 634,000 acre-feet,
A research team from California State University, Chico will
continue its exceptional work to re-establish juvenile salmon
and salmonid habitats along the Sacramento River, after
learning it would continue to be funded by the United States
Bureau of Reclamation.
A sewer pipe to Chico as part of a Paradise sewer project is
back on the front burner, just 17 months after it voted to look
to secure funding for preliminary engineering work
(environmental review, project design, and right of way) on a
local treatment plant. The town heard a report from HDR
Engineering on Tuesday night that recommends the Town Council
walk away from its May 2019 decision
The Yuba Water Agency is in the process of applying for a new
license to continue its hydroelectric operations along the Yuba
River, but agency leaders say some requirements issued by the
State Water Resources Control Board threaten the effort by
making it too costly. The agency filed lawsuits in state and
federal court Friday to essentially vacate the state board’s
requirements to obtain what is called a water quality
Scientists expect flooding to get worse because weather
extremes are growing as the climate crisis worsens globally,
said UCLA Climate Scientist Daniel Swain. … Waiting to
systematically address flooding issues, like California’s done
with wildfire, could mean breaching of levees, Central Valley
wide flooding and even flooding in areas like Los Angeles as
the climate crisis worsens, said Swain.
A 19-month study of the safety of the Oroville Dam project has
found no “unacceptable risks.” The Department of Water
Resources released its Comprehensive Needs Assessment on Oct.
30, and notes its findings generally agree with those of an
Independent Review Board and a regular five-year review by the
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission…
A team of experts released their findings Monday, concluding
that no urgent repairs are needed right now on the Oroville
Dam. The report goes on to say that the largest earthen dam in
America is safe to operate. However, the Oroville Dam is not
completely in the clear.
Burning rice straw after harvest was a traditional and
economical practice that was phased out in 2000. … The side
effect is it has created millions of acres of seasonal wetlands
in the rice-growing region of the state – and with a variety of
conservation contracts, provided additional income for growers
whose costs rose when straw burning was prohibited.
When driving over the Yolo Bypass in the winter, one can’t help
but notice the flooded fields. … Historically, the area used
to be wetlands and floodplain habitat, but now, farmers grow
rice there. After harvest, the fields are flooded to not only
help decompose the leftover rice straw but also, as a surprise
to many, recreate a surrogate habitat for many area wildlife,
most notably birds.
The Bureau of Reclamation announces the selection of four
funding award recipients to implement $40 million in salmon
habitat improvement projects along the Sacramento River. The
restoration projects will enhance and improve spawning and
rearing habitat for salmon at approximately 25 different
locations across 132 river miles.
Reclamation, working with the Sacramento River Settlement
Contractors and federal and state fish and wildlife agencies,
are implementing fall water operations to benefit salmon
populations in the Sacramento River.
At least 700 sub-adult and adult winter-run Chinook salmon
(winter Chinook) returned this year to Battle Creek. …
Establishing another self-sustaining population in a second
watershed (in addition to population in Sacramento River), such
as Battle Creek, is a high priority and a major component of
the Central Valley salmonid recovery plan.
For months, leaks have been springing in the pipes under homes
in Folsom, causing costly repairs for hundreds of homeowners.
City officials think they may have finally found a culprit:
Folsom’s water is just so pure.
Chinook salmon have become a welcome and familiar sight in
recent years in Putah Creek. Considered a keystone species
across the Pacific Northwest, Chinook salmon hold a special
place in our past and present as a cultural and food resource.
This includes for indigenous peoples of California, such as the
Patwin people, on whose land UC Davis is located.
The Bureau of Reclamation plans to temporarily close the Delta
Cross Channel gates at 4 p.m. on Oct. 13. The closure is
related to a lower Mokelumne River pulse flow to help prevent
adult fall-run Chinook salmon from being diverted off their
migratory route… The gates are scheduled to re-open at 10
a.m. on Oct. 24.
The [Butte] county’s Forest Health Watershed Coordinator Wolfy
Rougle said there is indeed reason to worry about preventing
toxic runoff quickly, particularly with the magnitude of the
North Complex fires’ destruction, and the county’s resources
are stretched thin…So small nonprofit organizations typically
have boots on the ground to do the work with concerned
residents, like the Camp Fire Restoration Project.
This moment in time provides an opportunity for introspection,
a time to think about our families and friends, what is
essential in our lives, and how we can contribute to population
health and wellness. In the Sacramento Valley … our team is
working hard to envision the role that water suppliers and
local governments can serve to help people live healthier and
more fulfilling lives.
The Bureau of Reclamation plans to temporarily close the Delta
Cross Channel gates at 4 p.m. on Oct. 13. The closure is
related to a lower Mokelumne River pulse flow to help prevent
adult fall-run Chinook salmon from being diverted off their
migratory route… The gates are scheduled to re-open at 10
a.m. on Oct. 17.
The goal is to monitor progress of the pandemic on campus and
catch outbreaks before it’s too late to control them. Some
schools, such as UC San Diego and others have been testing
wastewater since August and September.
As we have transitioned from summer to fall in the Sacramento
Valley, we are finishing the agronomic season and there is now
a focus on fall and winter operations on the Sacramento River.
Water resources managers and fish and wildlife agencies
continue to work together in the Sacramento River watershed to
serve water for multiple benefits, including two salmon runs
and the essential time for birds (and other species) migrating
along the Pacific Flyway.
Tehama County Board of Supervisors received an update Tuesday
… on groundwater levels and well depths following reports of
south county wells going dry. … The majority of the calls
come from areas west of Interstate-5 as far as Rancho Tehama,
where at least two people have reported wells going dry. A few
others have reported declining groundwater levels.
The way Beverly Fickes sees it, there’s more at stake than just
a vote to increase water rates Monday in Happy Valley. She
believes the result of that vote could change the very nature
of the semi-rural area southwest of Redding.
Reclamation has identified a significant seismic risk problem
at Shasta Dam that may preclude the enlargement of Shasta Dam
in a safe manner. … In addition … modeling disclosed by
Reclamation to NRDC (see last page of this link) indicates that
enlarging Shasta Dam would reduce the water supply for State
Water Project contractors by an average of 14,000 acre feet per
The day the gates closed on the Shasta Dam in 1943,
approximately 200 miles of California’s prime salmon and
steelhead spawning habitat disappeared. Although devastating
for all four distinct runs of Central Valley Chinook salmon,
the high dam hit the Sacramento winter-run Chinook the hardest.
California State Parks, Butte County Resource Conservation
District and River Partners kicked off a Bidwell-Sacramento
River State Park riparian restoration project earlier this
week. The project will restore 24 acres of natural habitat
adjacent to the Pine Creek Access Unit and the Sacramento
The Park and Natural Resource Manager for Chico and Butte
County Linda Herman confirmed the dead fish being reported are
on the back side of the pond near the fresh water area, saying
the fish have succumbed to lack of oxygen in the water due to a
thick layer of ash that has formed atop many parts of the pond.
Floodplains were the historic rearing areas for juvenile
salmon, and the remaining floodplains in California are an
important food-rich habitat as present-day salmon grow and
attempt to survive their trip out to the ocean. We sat down
with Hailey Wright, a Department of Water Resources
environmental scientist, to discuss the salmon lifecycle and
her work designing and implementing projects in the Yolo
The Olivehurst Public Utility District, which provides drinking
water to Olivehurst, Calif., north of Sacramento, is seeking
unspecified damages from the companies after discovering
1,2,3-trichloropropane, or TCP, in its water supply wells,
according to the complaint, which was filed Sept. 9 and
docketed Thursday in California Superior Court.
A lot of area surrounding Lake Oroville that is sitting within
the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area was burned by the Bear
Fire, also known as the North Complex West Zone. … The
Department of Water Resources continues to monitor the fire and
is actively working with CAL FIRE, local law enforcement, and
California State Parks to ensure employee and public safety.
DWR’s water delivery and other critical operations are ongoing
with essential staff on site.
Reclamation announces a virtual open house website for the
Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation Draft Supplemental
Environmental Impact Statement. Website visitors will be able
to learn more about the project, review summaries of Draft
Supplemental EIS chapters, and submit comments.
The Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District (Regional
San) is currently completing major upgrades to its wastewater
treatment plant. In anticipation of these upgrades, USGS
scientists are gathering data to establish baselines for
current nutrient levels and dynamics in the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta (Delta).
When salmon spawn, it marks the end of their lifecycle. But it
doesn’t mark the end of DWR’s salmon research. DWR studies the
carcasses to learn about salmon populations and assess their
numbers in the Feather River.
California rice growers wishing to participate in a
state-funded program to flood their fields for winter wildlife
habitat have until Sept. 14 to submit their requests to the
state. Growers who qualify this year will receive $15 per acre
to flood their rice fields.
This week, water suppliers and landowners along the Sacramento
River joined with federal and state agencies in a new science
collaborative designed to inform ongoing efforts to improve
conditions for salmon on the Sacramento River, while also
helping better manage water for cities and rural communities,
farms, refuges and wildlife management areas that depend upon
A reservoir originally meant to supply water to Solano County
has now become a recreation destination. In this week’s
Destination California, FOX40 took a trip out to Lake Berryessa
to find out why families are flocking there.
CDFW’s drone program got its start in the early 2010s as GIS
Program Manager Steve Goldman and others saw the technology
becoming more affordable and useful. In 2014, Goldman put
together a dedicated team to research policy and best
practices. The program officially launched in 2016 when it
received Federal Aviation Administration authorization…
Regional San’s landmark recycled water program—previously known
as the South County Ag Program—has been rebranded. Now known as
Harvest Water, the program will be one of the largest water
recycling projects in California and will deliver up to
50,000-acre feet per year of tertiary-treated recycled water to
an estimated 16,000 acres of farm and habitat lands in southern
A rash of Folsom residents have reported tiny, pinhole-size
leaks appearing in their copper pipes in recent weeks, causing
in some cases thousands of dollars worth of water damage. City
officials and Sacramento-area plumbers are aware of the surge
in complaints, but are still trying to uncover the cause…
The water level at Folsom Lake is dropping by nearly half a
foot each day, and soon boaters who rent a slip at Folsom Lake
Marina will have pull their boats out. Marina managers told the
tenants they should plan on removing their boats from the water
by around Aug. 16…
The effort is part of an overall plan to develop a Lower Cache
Creek flood study through the US Army Corps of Engineers, the
Central Valley Flood Protection Board and the California
Department of Water Resources. And despite any objections to
the project, it may be more than five years before the first
spadeful of earth is turned to build the barrier.
In 2003, Congress passed The Nutria Eradication and Control
Act, which established a fund to help Maryland and Louisiana
battle the animals. Recently, the House of Representatives
passed bipartisan legislation that now allows California to
also receive support. The bill now heads to the Senate.
WaterWorks Park in Redding opened on June 5 in violation of
California’s coronavirus rules and “repeated direction” not to
do so, according to the Shasta County Health and Human Services
Agency. It has continued to operate since then — sparking a
nearly two-months long battle with health officials.
According to a release issued by the Nature Conservancy, the
program provides an opportunity for growers to receive
financial compensation for recharging groundwater during the
course of normal farming operations on a variety of crops while
also providing critical wetland habitat for waterbirds
migrating along the Pacific Flyway.
The nearly $2-billion EchoWater project aims to meet a 2010
requirement issued by California and local authorities. They
have called for cleaner discharge into the Sacramento River by
2023 from the Sacramento Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant in
Elk Grove. With 21 projects, the EchoWater program’s largest
components are now under construction and, despite
complexities, remains on track to complete major work in 2022.
As part of a settlement reached with fishing and environmental
groups, the California State Water Resources Control Board says
it will increase transparency and conduct heightened
evaluations when deciding water quality standards and flow
limits for the state’s critical waterways. …
Environmentalists celebrated the deal as a “landmark
settlement” that stands to boost protections for fish by
improving water quality in the Sacramento River and the San
For the past five years, Monty Currier, a California Department
of Fish and Wildlife environmental scientist, has been working
to rebuild the fishery at Mountain Meadows Reservoir after
the PG&E impoundment went dry in 2015 from the
combined effects of maintenance work and the drought. The
unfortunate fish kill presented Currier with something of a
A Sebastopol-based environmental group’s lawsuit against the
city of Vacaville in connection with hexavalent chromium found
in groundwater has failed in federal court, city officials
announced Tuesday. On Monday, Chief United States District
Judge Kimberly Mueller issued an order rejecting California
River Watch’s lawsuit regarding the safety of Vacaville’s water
A water main break has caused major flooding on part of
southbound Highway 99 at 12th Avenue in Sacramento, California
Highway Patrol officials confirmed Monday evening. … Tim
Swanson, a spokesperson for the City of Sacramento, said the
break started as a leak that was expected to be repaired in the
“We believe olives are California’s crop of the future,” said
Dan Flynn, executive director of the UC Davis Olive Center.
“Because as the water supply tightens up, either through state
policy or extended drought periods, we’re seeing a longer,
warmer season — olives are really well-suited to manage that
more than other crops…”
A federal judge on Monday squashed environmentalists’ bid to
punish a Northern California city for delivering drinking water
tainted with the carcinogen that prompted the film “Erin
Brockovich.” The environmental group California River Watch
sued the city of Vacaville over its water supply in 2017,
claiming it was violating federal hazardous waste laws…
The latest proposal would trim the budget by $2 billion and the
storage capacity by about 300,000 acre-feet, according to Jerry
Brown, the new executive director of the project. Sites would
use existing canals for conveyance rather than build new
pipelines. The plan also eliminates a pumped-storage system for
generating and storing energy during high flow events. He said
the business case for that element of the project “just didn’t
Ben Ewing is an environmental scientist for CDFW’s North
Central Region. Based out of the region headquarters office in
Rancho Cordova, Sacramento County, Ben serves as the district
fisheries biologist for Alpine, Amador, Calaveras and Lake
“The people of Bakersfield need a flowing river — with water in
a thriving river parkway, quality of life in Bakersfield will
be significantly improved,” says the petition, posted recently
by local resident Jonathan Yates on Change.org.
The muck, which resembles algae or another type of water
bacteria, has drawn the concern of a pond activist over the
potential effects a poisonous algal organism could have on the
animals that inhabit the pond in East Sacramento’s prized park.
Now the city of Sacramento and the California Water Board have
said they will examine the ominous algal globs.
“I secured provisions in this bill to authorize and expedite
construction of flood protection and aquatic ecosystem
restoration projects, address harmful algal blooms in the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and give local agencies greater
flexibility in using federal Army Corps funds to meet local
The most apparent observation I had after developing the
comments was the substantial amount of work that has been
undertaken in the Sacramento Valley to complete habitat
projects and advance science for Chinook salmon recovery in the
last 5 years.
The large and rapid variations in rainfall recorded in the LSC
stalagmites demonstrate that climate in Northern California is
sensitive to changes happening elsewhere in the world, and that
rainfall in this area may be capable of increasing or
decreasing in response to relatively small changes in global
The net pen program allows the young fish to leapfrog what
would be a 250-mile river journey to the ocean, where the
salmon would face thousands of water pumps, reverse currents in
the Delta, and the chance of poor water quality and a
procession of predators…
The Fremont Weir Adult Fish Passage Modification Project, which
began modified operations in January of 2019, successfully
allowed thousands of migrating fish to pass between the
Sacramento River and Yolo Bypass in its first year of
Yuba Water Agency’s Board of Directors committed approximately
$14 million in grants and loans for water infrastructure
upgrades, levee maintenance and Yuba County’s annual California
Public Employees’ Retirement System payment.
The Sacramento region is preparing for the long term impacts of
the climate crisis when it comes to water supply. Central to
the plan is a groundwater storage program with two to three
times the space of Folsom Lake.
On June 18, 2020, the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed
the lower court’s determination that the State Water Resources
Control Board lawfully adopted emergency regulations and
curtailment orders … in 2014 and 2015 during a period of
severe and persistent drought conditions.
The Solano County Board of Supervisors this week, in
partnership with the Solano County Water Agency, agreed to
purchase about 74 acres along the Solano side of Putah Creek.
The property is located … between the Monticello Dam and the
diversion dam at Lake Solano, and will be kept as conservation
land and for habitat restoration. About a half a mile of the
property fronts the creek.
It was a big day for the El Dorado Irrigation District as
members of the board, staff and other officials gathered above
Folsom Lake to celebrate the kick-off of a major infrastructure
project. … In February the board unanimously approved
spending $42 million to replace critical components of the
Folsom Lake water intake and restore needed reliability and
capacity that has been lost to mechanical failure over the
The creation of the Council was, in many ways, an experiment in
governance by the California State Legislature and
Schwarzenegger administration to address years of gridlock over
how to manage the Delta’s limited natural resources and chart a
science-based path forward for future management. After ten
years with the Council, I can say, with conviction, the
experiment is working.
The Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District is
constructing the $375 million South Sacramento County
Agriculture & Habitat Lands Recycled Water Program, or the
South County Ag Program. As part of the wastewater provider’s
$2 billion treatment plant upgrade, the district will construct
new distribution pipelines to deliver recycled water from its
to irrigation systems in southern Sacramento County.
Over the years we have spent a lot of effort helping fish to
spawn on both sides of the Pacific Ocean, yet occasionally a
project comes along that requires us to do exactly the
opposite. … While this may seem a bit odd, considering recent
efforts to bolster salmon populations in the basin, we were
tasked with preventing spawning in a small area of the
Sacramento River in order to facilitate the construction of a
new bridge at Jelly’s Ferry near Red Bluff, California.
The Bureau of Reclamation, in partnership with the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service, plans to begin construction of the Lower
Clear Creek Floodplain and Stream Channel Restoration Project
Phase 3C on the week of June 22. This project is funded through
the Central Valley Project Improvement Act.
The rough dirt and ragged rocks at the Riverbend Park’s
waterfront will soon be replaced with a smooth beach to restore
the one that was swept away by flooding. Construction began
earlier this week to restore the beach that was washed away by
the severe floods caused by the Oroville Dam Spillway crisis.
The Yuba Water Agency will have a new leader beginning in July.
Incoming General Manager Willie Whittlesey will continue
shadowing current agency head Curt Aikens for the next few
weeks before the transition becomes official.
Tehama County has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases. A number of
cases have been identified in the Corning area, according to
city officials. … The county says a private company, Biobot
Analytics, tested samples from the Corning Wastewater Treatment
Plant each week in May to estimate the actual number of people
who might be infected.
The report, recently released by the city, shows minimal, or
“zero,” levels of cancer-causing chemicals and dissolved solids
that were present as little as four years ago when the city
relied on well water. Today the city obtains its water from the
Sacramento River after which it is treated and delivered to
homes and businesses.
“In short, the city is looking to sell/transfer up to 5,000
acre-feet of water in 2020. This water is in excess to what the
city would need to meet demands in 2020 and would not impact
any existing customers north or south of Highway 50…” said
Christine Brainerd, city of Folsom communications director. …
The city retains the rights to the water.
The Solano County Water Agency has filed an appeal with the
Delta Stewardship Council regarding the consistency
determination submitted by Westlands Water District for the
Lower Yolo Ranch Restoration Project. The letter points out
that there are numerous existing agricultural and municipal
water supply intakes in the Yolo Bypass Cache Slough Complex
that will be impacted…
Grimes and Knights Landing are among three projects that have
been selected to receive grant funding under the second phase
of the Small Communities Flood Risk Reduction Program,
according to the California Department of Water Resources.
This practice entails on-site grinding of whole, removed trees
and the incorporation of the wood chips back into the almond
fields before the next replanting. … In terms of soil health,
the [University of California] researchers found a 58% increase
in soil carbon as well as a 32% increase in water holding
capacity compared to conventional burning practices. Overall
productivity of the trees increased by 20% as well.
It was during the drought in the late-1980s that Robin Kulakow
and her fellow birdwatchers began noticing that Putah Creek was
running dry. The same observation was being made at places such
as Camp Davis, a popular site near the university where youth
paddled their canoes and participated in other activities.
Drive through new developments across the Capital Region like
East Sacramento’s McKinley Village or Folsom’s Folsom Ranch …
and one will see a distinctly different landscape than ones
installed just 10 years ago. Low- to medium-water-use plants
are surrounded by bark mulch with little or no grass, irrigated
primarily with a drip system.
A local non-profit is suing the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and
a Southern California water district, over a long term water
transfer program. AquAlliance works to protect the Sacramento
River watershed. It is the main plaintiff in a lawsuit that
charges the proposed transfer would send too much water out of
Northern California and would cause severe impacts on area
communities, farms, and the environment.
The Three Rivers Levee Improvement Authority plans to finish a
levee improvement program at the Goldfields later this year
that has been in the making since 2004 and will have cost
approximately $500 million once all is said and done.
The 2017 Central Valley Flood Protection Plan’s Investment
Strategy looked at … retooling the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Drainage District to provide a small continuous funding stream
for ongoing expenditures of the flood management system. At the
April meeting of the Central Valley Flood Protection Board,
consultants discussed the upcoming feasibility study.
The return of drought to California has been widespread—58% of
the state now experiences some level of dryness, according to
the U.S. Drought Monitor—with extreme drought concentrated in
4% of the state, primarily in the northwestern region of
Siskiyou, Trinity and Humboldt counties.
The event was the first weather balloon launch from a Yuba
Water Agency site near Beale Air Force Base. But it will not be
the last. During atmospheric rivers, scientists plan to release
a balloon every three hours from this point to collect data.
And the more data, the better, because understanding the
structure of these storms can help with forecasting and flood
An ambitious plan to build the largest new reservoir in
California in 40 years to supply water to homes and businesses
from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, along with Central Valley
farmers, is being scaled back considerably amid questions about
its $5 billion price tag and how much water it can deliver.
The City of Lathrop assured residents impacted by the economic
downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that it would not turn
off municipal water to individual homes through the months of
March and April for non-payment. And it appears those
assurances will now run through at least the end of May as
public health officials and municipalities grapple with the
realities of the pandemic and the impacts to local communities.
At the April meeting of the Central Valley Flood Protection
Board, Board members heard an informational briefing on the
Yolo Bypass Salmonid Habitat Restoration and Fish Passage
Project being planned for the Fremont Weir. Referred to as the
Big Notch, this project will construct a gated notch at Fremont
Weir to create seasonal floodplain habitat for juvenile fish as
well as to improve migration for adult fish.