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.
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 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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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 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
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.
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.
The water utility that serves Chico and Oroville said in a
press release that it was asking for the delay because of the
coronavirus pandemic. The company wants to postpone all rate
increases and says it is “committed to deferring other bill
increases during 2020.”
Solano County will receive $750,000 from the state Department
of Water Resources for the development of a Cache Slough
Habitat Conservation Plan. The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday
approved the agreement with the state…
The Sites Project Authority plans to recirculate an
environmental document for the proposed Sites Reservoir after
project leaders modified plans recently to right size the
project proposed for Colusa and Glenn counties. The reservoir
capacity will be reduced from 1.8 million acre feet capacity to
from 1.3 to 1.5 million acre feet.
Fairness – or at least the perception of fairness – could play
a determining role in the future of California’s groundwater,
according to new research. The study, published in Society and
Natural Resources, evaluated 137 surveys of Yolo County farmers
to gauge their perceptions of fairness for groundwater
allocation strategies and dispute resolution options.
Over the past several months, the Authority has undertaken a
rigorous Value Planning effort to review the project’s proposed
operations and facilities in an effort to develop a project
that is “right sized” for current participants while still
providing water supply reliability and enhancing the
environment.The process has resulted in a project that includes
facilities and operations that are different than originally
When the Water Forum Agreement was officially signed 20 years
ago, the occasion marked an unprecedented show of regional
cooperation. For years, interests representing business, the
environment, water suppliers and others had sparred over the
water needs of people vs. the environment of the lower American
Yolo Basin Foundation’s Board of Directors announced this week
that Chelsea Martinez has been named the Foundation’s new
executive director. … Martinez joined the Foundation in 2017
as the Community Outreach & Volunteer Coordinator and has grown
and sustained the Foundation’s volunteer base to over 200
volunteers as well as helped to increase community involvement
in its programs.
Voluntary agreements in California have been touted as an
innovative and flexible way to improve environmental conditions
in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the rivers that feed
it. … Yet, no one said it would be easy getting interest
groups with sometimes sharply different views – and some, such
as farmers, with livelihoods heavily dependent on water — to
reach consensus on how to address the water quality and habitat
needs of the Delta watershed.
Kristin Sicke is Assistant General Manager for Yolo County
Flood Control and Water Conservation District, which manages
water supplies for 200,000 acres in western Yolo County, which
encompasses Woodland, Davis, and the surrounding area. In this
presentation from the 2019 Western Groundwater Congress, Ms.
Sicke describes the district’s efforts to use winter stormwater
flows for groundwater recharge in the Yolo subbasin.
We know one thing for sure: We need to wash our hands well and
often. And for that we need clean, running water. But so far
the federal legislative responses to the novel coronavirus
crisis have not included financial support for water utilities,
most of which are public agencies. And there’s been no federal
mandate to prevent water shutoffs for households unable to pay
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced a water allocation
update Monday and it had disappointing news for some San
Joaquin Valley farmers, as well as wildlife refuges. The San
Joaquin River Exchange Contractors saw their allocation cut
from February’s announced 100% to 75%, which is their contract
minimum. Wildlife refuges likewise were reduced from 100% to
How critical are Sacramento Valley floodplains for a vibrant
fishery? A California Fish and Game Bulletin from 1930 gives us
a clue. The report documents the Sacramento River commercial
salmon catch declining from 6 million pounds in 1918 to less
than 1 million pounds by 1927.
Big Chico Creek is an ideal stream to monitor fish populations
for a number of reasons. For one, the creek’s flow patterns,
especially in the area we surveyed, have hardly been altered
from their natural state, as there are no dams or large
diversions. As such, data from Big Chico Creek can provide
insights on how populations of threatened fish fare under
At the 2020 California Water Law Symposium, a panel discussed
the history of the project. Speaking on the panel was Chief
Caleen Sisk with the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, Doug Obegi with the
Natural Resources Defense Council, and Darcie Houck who is
currently General Counsel with California Energy Commission,
but formerly represented the Winnemem Wintu Tribe when she was
in private practice.
The water transfers could occur on an annual basis sending
water from willing sellers north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta to water users south of the Delta and in the San
Francisco Bay Area. Based on annual approvals, the transfers
could occur through 2024. In addition, the transfers could
occur by various methods, including groundwater substitution,
cropland idling, reservoir releases and conservation.
Unprecedented efforts by leaders at the state and national
level have led to the kind of cooperation that will provide
valuable benefits to water users and the environment. I know
because that’s what we’ve been doing in the Sacramento Valley
for many years. The kinds of success we’ve achieved can be
replicated in other parts of the state.
The group leading the effort to build a new off-stream
reservoir in Northern California recently hired a new executive
director. The Sites Project Authority Board of Directors
selected Jerry Brown, who previously served as general manager
of Contra Costa Water District, overseeing the operations and
management of a large water system with more than 500,000
Winter-flooded rice fields already provide essential habitat
for migratory birds, but could they also provide benefits to
help the state’s salmon populations? Scientists at the
University of California, Davis, are finalizing their fieldwork
on an experiment to find out what management practices farmers
might adopt in their fields to maximize fish survival.
Sealing a baffling fight over a ditch that involved dead cows,
helicopters and a criminal trial, a federal judge ruled Tuesday
that a California county didn’t trample a rural cattle
rancher’s rights in its curious attempt to sabotage his water
In February 2017, damage to the Oroville Dam’s spillways
prompted the evacuation of more than 180,000 people living
downstream along the Feather River. The raging muddy waters
also triggered an emergency decision to relocate millions of
young salmon from the Feather River Hatchery to the Thermalito
Annex Hatchery to be raised and held until river water
conditions improved. … Those fish survived and were later
released to the wild – helping fuel a record class salmon
harvest in the ocean two years later.
The nature of Butte County’s concerns over Gov. Gavin Newsom’s
scaled back Delta tunnel project was made clear last Tuesday,
when Supervisor Debra Lucero questioned a staffer from the
state Department of Water Resources.
Vallee and his team are here to maintain an array of
hydrophones used to track migrating native fish. The work is
part of a multi-agency effort to provide more timely and
detailed information about the movements of salmon, steelhead,
and sturgeon in the Central Valley. Deploying hundreds of
listening stations across the watershed, the program lets
scientists follow thousands of tagged fish as they navigate
from hatcheries and headwater streams toward the Pacific Ocean.
Cindy Messer considers one of her greatest professional
accomplishments also the toughest experience in her 23-year
career. Messer was sworn in as chief deputy director of the
California Department of Water Resources the day after the
Oroville Dam crisis began in February 2017… But within
months, her boss retired, and she became acting interim
director for the recovery phase.
During the Feb. 25 Butte County Board of Supervisors meeting,
supervisors Debra Lucero and Tami Ritter called to remove
Matthew Tennis from the Water Commission. … The reason for
proposing the removal, Lucero said, was that she believed
Tennis violated the Brown Act when he allegedly voiced support
for the pipeline from Paradise to Chico while talking in front
of a community group in Chico.
The preserve [inside the Neal Road Recycling and Waste Facility
near Chico]—which is overseen by California Open Lands, a local
nonprofit land trust—also has been a focus of the State Water
Resources Control Board’s Office of Enforcement, which is
investigating the landfill for allegedly discharging last
winter about 24 million gallons of waste-contaminated
stormwater into the preserve and a neighboring watershed.
The Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District celebrated its 100-year
anniversary in February, according to a press release. The
district’s water rights were established in 1883, one of the
earliest and largest water rights on the Sacramento River, and
it was formally organized on Feb. 21, 1920.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District awarded a
$64 million construction contract on February 14 … for nearly
three miles of levee improvements along the Sacramento River
East Levee. This project will kick off major construction in
the region to complete approximately $1.5 billion of work to
upgrade levees along the American and Sacramento Rivers as well
as widening the Sacramento Weir and Bypass.
The message was loud and clear for state water officials at a
public meeting Monday evening in Redding: Don’t send any more
water south through a proposed Delta tunnel project. A group of
more than 100 Native Americans rallied on the lawn of the
Redding Civic Auditorium before they marched into a scoping
meeting held inside the Redding Sheraton Hotel across the
A project that started in early January has been completed in
late February by California Water Service of replacing 2,466
feet of 6-inch PVC water main pipes to enhance fire protection
in the area. The infrastructure upgrade is meant to strengthen
the water system reliability as the main had been originally
installed in the 1930s and 1940s. The replacement will aide
firefighters and customers’ daily needs.
Recently, Governor Newsom announced his framework and support
for Voluntary Settlement Agreements (VSAs) — a monumental
effort that could bring to an end the conflict and litigation
over water that flows through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
With great hope and guarded optimism, I applaud the governor’s
The Colusa Groundwater Authority, the California Department of
Water Resources and The Nature Conservancy have partnered to
conduct an on-farm, multi-benefit demonstration program for
growers in two select project locations around Colusa County.
Partnering with the state of California and the Sacramento Area
Flood Control Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers is overseeing
a $383 million project to raise the height of Folsom Dam. At a
site along Folsom Lake, Rocklin-based Odin Construction
Solutions is tackling the first phase of that effort, raising
what’s known as Dike 8.
More than $188 million in flood risk management work for
Northern California were outlined in two separate budget
releases on February 10, adding to an already robust Sacramento
District workload. … Continued upgrades to Natomas Basin
levees leads the way with $131.5 million.
By the most conservative estimate, 500,000 acres of agriculture
land are expected to go fallow in the San Joaquin Valley as
SGMA is implemented over the next 20 years, [David] Orth said,
while some studies say it could be as much as 1 million acres.
Since this process is just starting in the Sacramento Valley,
it’s unclear how the area might be impacted, but in general,
north of the Delta is in better shape.
This means that the numbers used for the three gages in Tehama
County have different levels for what is considered flood
monitor stage when there is the possibility of flooding, as
well as the level that is considered to be flood stage, said
Cindy Matthews, a senior service hydrologist with the National
The approval came after a 3-2 vote. Mayor Adam McElvain
proposed to table to the plan and vote again next year. … The
public works staff says they need the added funding to maintain
infrastructure and keep up with inflationary costs. One council
member said Redding is still using some infrastructure
installed in the early 1900’s.
Overpumping of groundwater has led to a variety of negative
effects including reduced groundwater levels, seawater
intrusion, and degraded water quality. It has also led to
subsidence, which causes damage to critical water
infrastructure. In some cases, years of overpumping have left
entire California communities and farms without safe and
reliable local water supplies.
Since 2016, the Yolo County Resource Conservation District has
been leading a project to improve flood escape for wildlife,
implement agriculture-compatible restoration, and engage the
public. This effort will create five miles of cover for
wildlife escaping flood events, enhance year-round habitat for
migratory birds, pollinators and other wildlife…
Ken W. Davis, an aquatic biologist and wildlife photographer,
prefers the more isolated ambiance of nature’s waterways – and
the quiet of his lab – and has been studying aquatic
invertebrates for 30 years. Much of his work now is dedicated
to the health of Putah Creek, and its tributaries, and has an
ultimate goal of seeing an ecosystem that includes elements
that existed prior to the construction of the Monticello Dam in
The California-American Water Company accuses the Air Force of
having acted negligently by contaminating a water well in
Sacramento County with perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and
perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is found in firefighting
foam it used at a base.
At a panel discussion hosted by California Natural Resources
Secretary Wade Crowfoot, the panelists discussed how by
spreading out and slowing down water across the landscape can
provide multiple benefits year-round by allowing farmers to
cultivate the land during the spring and summer, and provide
habitat for fish and wildlife in the fall and winter months.
Combined with a safer spillway completed in 2017, federal dam
officials say the flood-prone region is on its way to 300-year
or more flood safety, meaning there will only be a one-in-300
chance in any given year that the combination dam and
downstream levee system will fail.
Weak and problematic levees are a big reason why there was so
much destruction when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in
2005. It cost Louisiana and Mississippi more than $150 billion
dollars and killed more than 1,800 people. But could something
like this happen in the Sacramento region? The answer CapRadio
heard from levee experts is yes, Sacramento could see that type
of flooding, but there are a lot of things that lower that
More rain and snow area headed to Northern California on
Tuesday, although the storm won’t be nearly enough to make up
for what’s been a relatively dry January. … The Department of
Water Resources’ precipitation index was at 63 percent of
normal for the Valley and Sierra. The Sierra snowpack is 82
percent of normal.
Now Trump’s team is set to impose new environmentally damaging
Bay-Delta water diversion and pumping rules. … These new
rules would wipe out salmon and other wildlife by allowing
wholesale siphoning of water from Northern California rivers to
a few agriculture operators in the western San Joaquin
The Central Valley fall-run population is a fraction of its
historic size and continues to face challenges as a result of
factors that range from loss of habitat and changing ocean
conditions to pressures from predation and harvest in
freshwater and the ocean. Even under good environmental
conditions, fall-run Chinook face a slew of challenges over the
course of their lives.
The issue, which came in front of the county supervisors
Tuesday, has been “put on pause,” she said, until more
information is available. Specifically, the supervisors are
waiting to make a decision on the moratorium until they know
how many homes have been built in the area in the past two to
three years, and how many more are slated to be built.
Severe droughts have happened simultaneously in the regions
that supply water to Southern California almost six times per
century on average since 1500, according to new research. The
study is the first to document the duration and frequency of
simultaneous droughts in Southern California’s main water
sources—the Sacramento River basin, the Upper Colorado River
Basin, and local Southern California basins.
The factors causing the decline of many fish and fisheries in
the upper San Francisco Estuary have made their management
controversial, usually because of the correlation of declines
with increased water exports from the Delta and upstream of the
Delta… To address this problem better, the California Fish
and Game Commission is developing new policies for managing
Delta fish and fisheries, with a special focus on striped bass.
As they walked to the river’s edge holding baby salmon in cups,
second graders warned the tiny fish of predators before gently
setting them free into the water. Two classes from Oakdale
Heights Elementary School took part in a salmon study that came
to a close Friday at Riverbend Park in Oroville.
The river barreled over, sinking the streets of Sacramento in
6-feet of water. It was streaming fast, flooding the hotels and
houses of Gold Rush migrants hoping to find fortune in the
bountiful land of California.
Biologists, heavy equipment operators, government agencies, and
non-profits all working together. Hopefully, they’re major
steps toward restoring the endangered chinook salmon winter run
in the Sacramento River.
What started as a plan for a fun trip down the Sacramento Rver
turned into a storytelling mission for Mitch Dion and his
friend Tom Bartels, who set out to interview farmers,
politicians and others who were impacted by the river.
Department of Water Resources is preparing Oroville Dam’s
primary spillway for use this winter season. The reconstructed
spillway was completed this spring and used for the first time
in April since the 2017 spillway crisis threatened 188,000
The Sites Project Authority is hoping to make substantial
progress on the off-stream water storage project proposed for
Colusa and Glenn counties in the new year and will look to hire
a new leader at the beginning of 2020 to help with the next
Site preparation activity for upcoming levee improvements along
the Sacramento River east levee will begin this week, kicking
off a five-year U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project to upgrade
levees throughout the Sacramento region and widen the
Despite efforts over decades, the Delta’s delicate ecosystem
and species continue to decline. … At the 2019 ACWA Fall
Conference, Vice Chair of the State Water Board DeDe D’Adamo,
Department of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth, and Delta
Stewardship Council Susan Tatayon gave their thoughts on moving
forward in the Delta in this panel discussion moderated by the
Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Director
The idea is to make this sort of wildlife friendly farm
replicable elsewhere in the Delta. As part of that vision, the
Nature Conservancy has a program called BirdReturns, in which
staff identify farmland that would ideally be flooded for
migratory birds. The group then “rents” that land from farmers
for the duration of the birds’ stay, making it profitable for
farmers even when it’s fallow.
Large numbers of fall-run Chinook salmon have returned to the
Mokelumne River in Clements this fall despite challenging
salmon fishing on the river and adjacent sloughs this season. A
total of over 12,658 salmon have gone over Woodbridge Dam in
Lodi as of Dec. 10, according to William Smith, manager of the
CDFW’s Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery.
Despite efforts over decades, the Delta’s delicate ecosystem
and species continue to decline. … At the 2019 ACWA Fall
Conference, Vice Chair of the State Water Board DeDe D’Adamo,
Department of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth, and Delta
Stewardship Council Susan Tatayon gave their thoughts on moving
forward in the Delta in this panel discussion moderated by the
Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Director
The manipulation of rivers in California is jeopardizing the
resilience of native Chinook salmon. It compresses their
migration timing to the point that they crowd their habitats.
They may miss the best window for entering the ocean and
growing into adults, new research shows. The good news is that
even small steps to improve their access to habitat and restore
natural flows could boost their survival.
In a recent exclusive interview, U.S. Agriculture Secretary
Sonny Perdue told Western Farm Press that the low-interest loan
will help fund projects associated with the off-stream storage
site in western Colusa County. … “The USDA is putting up
almost $500 million in rural development funds,” Perdue said.
The Feather River Recovery Alliance has filed a motion to
intervene with the Department of Water Resources’ pending
application to re-license operation of the Oroville Dam. …
The motion requests that the Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission reopen the licensing process that was conducted over
a decade ago, and prior to the community becoming aware of
safety concerns at the Oroville Dam.
Rather than physically move water hundreds of kilometers across
earthquake country between Northern California and San
Bernardino, the plan involves reallocating water virtually,
just as you would electronically transfer funds from one bank
account to another. Once the Chino Basin Program is
operational, in times of drought the southern region can draw
water from the new reserve instead of from the State Water
Project… That will mean water impounded by Oroville Dam can
be released into the Feather River, benefitting endangered
Back in 2016, California Water Service Co. took two of its
groundwater wells in Chico out of service after tests showed
they were contaminated with toxic flourinated chemicals known
as PFAS—or per- and polyfluoralkyl substances—that have been
linked to cancer and other adverse health effects. The move was
There were questions about the gates that release the water
from Lake Oroville, even before the spillways broke up in
February 2017. Those questions never really got answered. The
focus was on fixing the obvious damage. We could get around to
talking about the gates after that. Maybe.
Reliable water is critical to every aspect of the economy as
more than 40 percent of the nation’s fruits, nuts and
vegetables are grown in the Central Valley, much of that using
water from the Central Valley Project (CVP) and its largest
reservoir — Shasta Lake.
Despite increased maintenance of Oroville Dam since the
spillway fell apart in February 2017, members of the
community-led Oroville Dam Ad Hoc Group have expressed concern
about the age and wear of mechanics within the spillway’s main
gates, citing similar failures on dams of the same era.
In the forecast stretching from Tuesday through Friday are
plummeting temperatures, hurricane-force gusts that could reach
or exceed 100 mph in some locations, giant waves of up to 37
feet, as much as four feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada and
heavy rain in lower elevations between San Diego and Salem.
With winter rains on their way, officials worry a dam that
creates a small lake 17 miles west of Redding could collapse,
inundating downstream homes with up to 20 feet of water if
sediment and debris clogging two outlet pipes is not cleared.
Two 30-inch outlet pipes at Misselbeck Dam have been clogged
with silt and debris since last summer, forcing water from
Rainbow Lake to flow over the top of a deteriorated
Work on the Rio Vista Side Channel Habitat Project in Red Bluff
has been completed, marking another milestone for the Upper
Sacramento River Anadromous Fish Habitat Restoration Program,
with immediate results observed… Within one week of opening
the side channel, endangered winter‐run Chinook juveniles were
observed making use of it.
The American Society of Civil Engineers has recognized the
Oroville Dam rebuild as one of 10 outstanding civil engineering
projects. Two runners-up and a winner will be chosen at the
2020 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement gala in
Washington D.C. on March 13.
On Thursday (11/21) we may find out whether the California
Department of Water Resources (DWR) is proposing operations of
the State Water Project that are significantly more protective
than the Trump Administration’s biological opinions, or whether
DWR will be aligning with the Trump Administration.
The extra 90 cubic feet per second are designed, in part, to
attract salmon up the creek – and the flows start a little
later than in recent years due to the failure of state
Department of Fish and Wildlife pumps in the Yolo Bypass. Rich
Marovich, streamkeeper for the Solano County Water Agency
and Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee, said because
it has been so dry this fall, the later release may be
The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is hitched to so many things.
Our estuary is a critical habitat for fish and wildlife, home
to millions of people, and the hub of our state’s water
delivery system. From the Sierra Nevada to the mouth of the San
Francisco Bay, what happens in one part of the Delta watershed
affects the entire estuary.
City Council members – sitting as the directors of the
Vacaville Groundwater Sustainability Agency – approved a
collaboration agreement Tuesday with the other sustainability
agencies in the Solano Subbasin in order to keep the
groundwater grant funding flowing.
The district’s decades-long election drought occurred as a
result of an insufficient number of candidates to require
elections. … Changes in the district’s operations led to a
greater number of candidates for the recent election. The
district’s biggest issue is implementing the Sustainable
Groundwater Management Act …
The latest public relations effort cost California water
ratepayers $29,000 to produce an eight-page color advertising
insert that ran in recent days in six Sacramento Valley
newspapers including The Sacramento Bee. … Critics argue it’s
inappropriate for a state agency to be spending public money on
an advertisement that they say serves little purpose other than
to try to make the government look good.
Ponds at wastewater treatment plants are like magnets for birds
and bird-watchers, especially those along the migration flyway
in California’s Central Valley area. Among them is the Clear
Creek plant in Redding, along the Sacramento River, which
serves as its receiving stream.
The nation’s largest water agency signed an agreement that
legally bars it from participating in a controversial plan to
raise Shasta Dam, a move applauded by environmental groups that
fiercely opposed the proposal out of fears enlarging the
state’s biggest reservoir would swamp a stretch of a protected
Northern California river and flood sites sacred to a Native
On a secluded corner of Marywood Drive in Paradise sit two
vacant lots, side by side. The empty space used to hold
single-family residences surrounded by Ponderosa pines. That
was until the November 2018 Camp Fire — California’s deadliest
and most destructive wildfire — leveled the Butte County town
and destroyed more than 13,000 homes. Now, one year later,
these lots are being rebuilt by two Paradise natives, Christine
and Dave Williams, who bought the properties after the fire.
Woodland city officials are continuing to build the case for
Cache Creek flood control, recently approving $900,000 for
another study that could be yet another downpayment on a
multi-million dollar project ultimately paid for by federal,
state and local governments.
A little-known, local water district – the Omochumne-Hartnell
Water District – will hold their first board member election in
43 years on Nov. 5. … The district was established in 1953,
mainly to help supply surface water off the Cosumnes River to
the landowners in this area.
On a cool and misty morning somewhere south of Redding,
California, jet boats roar across the tranquil Sacramento
River. Armed with tridents, machetes and poleaxes, it seems
akin to a scene from an action movie; except that “California
Department of Fish and Wildlife” is painted on the boats.
Solano County has filed requests for water and sewer hookups at
the Brown Street location of the proposed Tiny Shelter homeless
pilot project – services that will cost the county thousands of
dollars to reconnect the property to Vacaville’s main lines.
Last year, the worst wildfire in California history nearly
leveled a town called Paradise. Since then, residents have
scattered and a lawsuit simmers. Can recovery efforts ever
return a community to its old self?
Jim Brobeck, water policy analyst for AquAlliance, said the
Agricultural Groundwater Users of Butte County may not have the
public’s best interests in mind. The priority of farmers,
Brobeck said, is to make sure they have water in their wells,
not to protect the shallowest portion of an aquifer. Water
purveyors, he said, like to “exercise” aquifers and may well do
so to the point where the public suffers.
The state Department of Water Resources and Butte County
announced the settlement Tuesday, more than two years after
spillways at the Oroville Dam crumbled and fell away during
heavy rains. The repairs resulted in heavy truck traffic that
damaged Butte County roads. Butte County sued in August 2018.
A major fish restoration project is underway on private
property near Cottonwood. River Partners shared a video of new
side channels that are being built to help the recovery of
struggling wild salmon populations in the Sacramento River.
Sacramento Metro Fire has a new tool to assist in their
firefighter trainings, which also helps recycle millions of
gallons of water at the same time. The Pump Pod is a mobile
tank that assists in catching and recycling thousands of
gallons of water during firefighter training exercises.
A provider of drinking water in Sacramento County is seeking
reimbursement from the U.S. Air Force for a filtration system
it installed to take contaminants out of groundwater near the
former Mather Air Force Base.
To survive the next drought and meet
the looming demands of the state’s groundwater sustainability
law, California is going to have to put more water back in the
ground. But as other Western states have found, recharging
overpumped aquifers is no easy task.
Successfully recharging aquifers could bring multiple benefits
for farms and wildlife and help restore the vital interconnection
between groundwater and rivers or streams. As local areas around
California draft their groundwater sustainability plans, though,
landowners in the hardest hit regions of the state know they will
have to reduce pumping to address the chronic overdraft in which
millions of acre-feet more are withdrawn than are naturally
Building on the Governor’s call to “position California to meet
broad water needs through the 21st Century” there are unique
opportunities in the Sacramento River Basin to more effectively
integrate 21st Century infrastructure into our multi-benefit
water management approaches to help achieve resiliency.
After morning services, Florin Ciuriuc joined the line of
worshipers waiting to fill their jugs with gallons of free
drinking water from a well on the property, a practice church
leaders had encouraged. Church leaders boasted it was the
cleanest water in Sacramento, according to Ciuriuc. In fact,
test results showed the water contained toxic chemicals from
firefighting foam used for decades on a now-shuttered Air Force
base a mile away.
A salmon habitat project will get underway Monday just outside
the city of Red Bluff. One of several such projects in the
North State, the Rio Vista Side Channel Habitat Project will
offer protection for juvenile salmonids, including endangered
Katie Fyhrie, a grower at Cloverleaf Farm in Davis, Calif.,
worries that the farm won’t be able to keep producing stone
fruits—which depend on the timing and duration of winter
chill—in the long-term. … With that in mind, Fyhrie and her
team have started growing elderberries.
How does one achieve temperature and flow targets for listed
species with such different requirements, while also meeting
the needs of human water users? A recent study sought to
achieve an equitable solution by using a multi-objective
approach to identify trade-offs and model an optimal dam
release scenario to meet the needs of salmon, sturgeon, and
California isn’t in an official drought and under mandatory
water conservation, but climate change means that saving water
is always crucial. That’s why a recent announcement should not
go unnoticed: The Sacramento Regional County Sanitation
District won state approval to deliver recycled water to
agricultural and habitat conservation land in the southern part
of the county.
By century’s end, Sacramento is expected to feel much like
Tucson or even Phoenix, Arizona, according to the state’s 2018
Climate Assessment for the Sacramento Valley. Daily
temperatures are projected to rise 10 F in the valley by 2100,
and the number of days topping 104 F are on track to increase
from four days a year to 40.
Following losses in court, a Fresno-based irrigation district
has backed off its plans to do an environmental study on
raising the height of Shasta Dam. The Westlands Water District
announced Monday that it has stopped working on the report
because it could not meet the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s
schedule for the project.
If there is a hell for salmon, it probably looks like this.
There were many more golf balls in the water than salmon this
summer, whacked there by enthusiasts at Aqua Golf, a driving
range on the bank of the Sacramento River. Below the surface,
the gravel salmon need to make their nests had been mined
decades ago to build Shasta Dam, 602 feet tall and with no fish
passage. The dam cut off access to all of the cold mountain
waters where these fish used to spawn.
There are nut festivals. There are fruit and vegetable
festivals. Hot sauce and spicy food are cheered in other
places. There are wine and beer events. All are fun and bring
entertainment to our lives. But for all of that, there is
something extraordinary about Saturday’s Salmon Festival in
At the August meeting of the California Water Commission, Karla
Nemeth, Director of the Department of Water Resources (DWR),
spoke to the commissioners about the Department’s strategic
plan and the work underway on the Delta conveyance project,
which she noted nests into the strategic plan as a key feature
of what needs to be done to modernize the State Water Project.
Lawns cool the air, reduce urban heat-island effect, remove
pollutants, and provide play spaces. … From a design
standpoint, they make uncluttered views, provide background and
contrast for flowers, and create our outdoor living spaces.
Historically, lawns provided all those benefits at high cost,
literally and environmentally.
Trucking juvenile hatchery salmon downstream is often used in
the California Central Valley to reduce mortality during their
perilous swim to the ocean. But is it all good? Researchers …
published an article in Fisheries this month exploring the
history and implications of salmon trucking in a changing
All of September, crews have been dumping rocks into the bed of
the river to create an ideal habitat for salmon to spawn. Dams
along the American River cut off access to the salmon’s natural
A project to restore a portion of Brentwood’s Marsh Creek got a
big boost with a new $1.4 million U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency grant. … The Three Creeks Parkway Restoration project
aims to improve the creek’s floodplain, provide quality habitat
for Chinook salmon and Swainson’s Hawk as well as expand
recreational opportunities in the area.
It appears that Woodland is now in the “advancement” stage with
the Army Corps of Engineers willing to work on a plan for
longterm flood protection along the city’s northeast side.
However, the effort could just as quickly be reversed,
according to members of the City Council, if they don’t get
farmers on board with their efforts.
I’m writing to express our tribe’s dismay at Gov. Gavin
Newsom’s announcement that he plans to veto Senate Bill 1. …
Vetoing this bill will green-light President Trump’s plan to
divert even more water from our struggling rivers for
industrial agriculture. Many well-respected fish biologists and
environmentalists have concluded Trump’s attempt to ignore the
best science and rewrite the rules will essentially be an
“extinction plan” for Chinook salmon and other threatened fish.
The law said schools had to test by July, but many schools
still hadn’t submitted the results by the deadline. As of
September 9, about a quarter of California schools now report
detectable levels of lead in school drinking water but it
appears many schools in our area still haven’t submitted the
Before all those thousands of miles of levees went in, the
Central Valley had one of the West Coast’s largest salmon runs,
with a million or more of these mighty fish returning each
year. A big reason for the salmon’s suc-cess was that the
valley was among the most extensive floodplains in the world.
The Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta has more non-native species
than native ones, and its estuary is considered the most
invaded in the world. We talked to Jim Cloern—an emeritus
scientist with the US Geological Survey and an adjunct fellow
at the PPIC Water Policy Center—about this challenge.
Something is amiss on Sherman Island, a whale-shaped swath of
farm and grazing land at the confluence of the Sacramento and
San Joaquin rivers. If you don’t know what ails the place, it
might be hard to pinpoint the problem.
Newsom saw SB 1 as a mortal threat to something he’s been
supporting since shortly before he took office: a tentative
truce in California’s longstanding water wars. The truce
revolves around the flow of water in and out of the Delta from
California’s most important river systems, the Sacramento and
There’s no certain answer as to how the nutria population
re-emerged after being declared eradicated in California
decades ago but the population is spreading and causing serious
concern. The Department of Fish and Wildlife was recently
awarded $10 million to wipe out the large, invasive rodents and
that effort is now well underway.
Efforts to increase recycled water use in California got a
significant boost this week with the State Water Board’s
issuance of an order authorizing the Sacramento Regional County
Sanitation District’s program to deliver an average of 45
million gallons per day of recycled water from the Sacramento
Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant …
At the Association of California Water Agencies‘ spring
conference, a panel of lawyers covered the basics of the legal
framework for the Delta. The panel was billed as ‘All the
Acronyms You Need to Know”, but no 1.5 hour panel discussion
could possibly cover all that. However, the panel did a good
job of hitting the main ones and highlighting current issues.
Tiscornia Beach, an area on the lower American River frequented
by summer visitors, tested 7.5 times higher than the safety
threshold on Tuesday, according to data from the county and the
Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. Samples of
river water taken two weeks earlier at nearby Discovery Park
tested almost 5.5 times higher than the safety threshold.
Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to veto a bill passed by California
lawmakers that would have allowed the state to keep strict
Obama-era endangered species protections and water pumping
restrictions for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Newsom’s
intentions … comes less than 24 hours after state lawmakers
passed the sweeping legislation.
The western pond turtle in Butte County is currently shaking in
its shell, due to habitat alteration and introduced species
that are killing off the local reptile. … The turtle is being
evaluated for listing as threatened or endangered, according to
California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials.