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.
For salmon to survive in Butte Creek, the fish will need as
much water as they can get from Pacific Gas and Electric Co.
… PG&E showed the Enterprise-Record that water system
Tuesday during a helicopter tour.
Four years of dry, hot weather have raised lake temperatures
and depleted many of the state’s reservoirs. In response, the
state has cut flows from Lake Shasta to protect an endangered
species of salmon and raised flows from Folsom Lake to prevent
salt water from intruding into the Delta.
The new state rules for water conservation kicked in June 1,
requiring residential customers in Chico to use 32 percent less
water than they used during the same months in 2013. Oroville
customers have to use 28 percent less.
More than one-tenth of the largest wild population of
threatened salmon in the Central Valley died after repair work
near a power plant led Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to cut off a
cooling flow of water into a creek, wildlife and utility
officials said Friday.
A search for new sources of water by the Rio Linda-Elverta
Community Water District has found that wells closest to the
former McClellan Air Force Base have the highest levels of
hexavalent chromium, or chromium-6, a known carcinogen.
State and federal fish and water managers are trying to find a
way to avoid a massive die-off of young fish in the Sacramento
River. … The changes in river flow might further impact the
amount of water that Sacramento River Settlement Contractors
are able to draw from the river for farms.
Even in dry years, water rights that date back before 1914
usually hold strong. However, Friday the State Water Resources
Control Board announced water rights would be curtailed even
for landowners who had rights dating back to 1903.
Yet even as California farmers eye what could be a lucrative
expansion into the world’s most discriminating rice market in
Japan, their ambitions have been complicated by the state’s
severe drought and the surge in the dollar.
The city of Lincoln, Sacramento Suburban Water District and
Georgetown Divide Public Utility District have been told they
have to reduce water consumption by 32 percent over the next
nine months compared to 2013.
Scientists have found new ways to reduce mercury in wetlands,
providing hope that Sacramento-area waterways can be
decontaminated of the potentially toxic element that dates back
to Gold Rush-era mining activities.
Cattle rancher Mary Wells lives in a remote valley of
summer-gold grass where eagles wheel in the sky, wild pigs roam
the surrounding hills and rattlesnakes slither over a parched
14,000-acre domain that looks almost untouched by humans.
Some 3 million hatchery rainbow and brown trout are in
quarantine at two North State hatcheries after captive-raised
fish at the Darrah Springs Trout Hatchery in Paynes Creek
tested positive for whirling disease.
In 2000, most of the Sacramento region’s water agencies and
environmental groups came together in the historic Water Forum
Agreement that established a framework to provide a reliable
water supply through 2030 and to preserve environmental
resources of the lower American River.
While state-mandated requirements of Colusa County’s
groundwater are still years away, concerns about aquifer health
among local farmers already exist. About 50 local residents and
growers participated in a public informational meeting about
groundwater at the Colusa County Fairgrounds on Tuesday night.
Blessed by its perch at the confluence of two major rivers, the
Sacramento region has grown for generations in sprawling style,
confident that water would be there in ample supply. Even now,
amid a historic drought that has prompted deep, state-mandated
water cuts for urban users, capital area leaders show no sign
of backing off their plans for another major growth surge.
After spending decades trapped in the lower Yuba River,
endangered Chinook salmon could once again swim the cold pools
in the upper reaches of the waterway — staving off extinction
and settling a dispute that has lingered for years.
On Tuesday, the board of the East Bay Municipal Utility
District, or EBMUD, unanimously authorized district staff to
negotiate the purchase of up to 21,000 acre-feet of Sacramento
River water from the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, Sycamore
Mutual Water Co. and Reclamation District 1004 outside of
A revised draft of water conservation regulations released
Tuesday night by the State Water Resources Control Board
offered little reprieve to Sacramento-area communities that had
pushed back against mandated cutbacks of up to 36 percent.
Interest in the Vic Fazio Yolo Wildlife Area, also known as the
Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, is so brisk that the Yolo Basin
Foundation has had to turn away schools that seek to introduce
students to the environmental value of the more than
As Californians face deepening cuts in water usage because of
the drought, critics are raising concerns about tens of
millions of gallons of Sacramento municipal water being tapped
by a local plant that bottles and resells it at a profit.
Representatives of the Placer County Water Agency, San Juan
Water District, city of Roseville and Sacramento County Water
Agency, in a joint letter, took exception to being lumped in
with communities that don’t have strong water rights under
California law and largely import their water from other
Federal and state agencies along with Sacramento River
Settlement Contractors (SRSCs) agreed this week on an
integrated framework of actions for Central Valley
Project/State Water Project operations for mid-April through
November. The actions will flexibly manage and operate the
system to serve multiple beneficial purposes that include water
for cities and rural communities, farms, fish and wildlife and
their habitats in the Sacramento Valley. The suite of actions
will also help provide water for areas of the state that are in
dire need of additional water supplies.
The revised conservation mandates unveiled by state water
regulators Saturday would require most Sacramento-area
communities to make even bigger cuts in water use than
originally proposed, disappointing area leaders who argue the
state should take into account the region’s hot weather and
large lot sizes.
Farmers along the Sacramento River who have long-time water
rights will receive 75 percent of their historic supply again
this year. Last year cutbacks occurred as well for these
growers, known as Sacramento River settlement contractors.
It’s much clearer how water storage money from the Proposition
1 water bond will be spent, following Monday’s well-attended
meeting in Chico hosted by a couple of members of the
California Water Commission. But it’s much less clear what it
will be spent on.
In separate letters to the State Water Resources Control Board
this week, water agency officials in Carmichael, Fair Oaks,
West Sacramento and other suburbs argued that their customers
already had made significant cuts in water use in the last
decade and should not be forced to reduce consumption by 35
percent over 2013 usage.
As California continues reeling from the drought, Gov. Jerry
Brown on Saturday headed into the farmlands north of
Sacramento, where concerns about the state’s parched spell are
mounting after a dry winter.
Even Northern California farmers with some of the best water
rights in the state will see their water allocations decreased
by 50 percent this year. Districts along the Feather River got
the news Wednesday from the Department of Water Resources.
Two suburban water agencies serving half a million people
combined in suburban Sacramento and Placer counties have
stepped up merger negotiations, saying they can better survive
the drought as a larger organization.
Gov. Jerry Brown mandated a 25 percent water reduction in
California, but what that means won’t be clear until the state
water board sets the rules in May. … Some local entities,
such as Butte College, haven’t seen new rules stemming from the
governor’s order, but have already taken steps to reduce usage.
While Yuba City residents are looking at the likelihood of
mandatory water restrictions for the rest of this year,
Marysville citizens aren’t facing the same water challenges.
… Q&A: Marysville’s Water Supply
A massive new round of levee improvements is ahead for
Sacramento over the next decade, this time focusing primarily
on the Sacramento River south of downtown. … The U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers and Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency
unveiled the package of projects recently and are planning a
series of public meetings in April.
The parties in a dispute over the fate of cultural materials
discovered in Sutter County have expressed a willingness to
solve the issue, but the path toward an agreement remains
uncertain and time is short.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the [United Auburn Indian
Community] UAIC disagree about the return of the items
uncovered last summer during the Feather River West Levee
project, even as both sides meet to resolve the issue.
The Bureau of Reclamation was honored at the 2015 American
Society of Civil Engineers Region 9 (California) Infrastructure
Symposium and Awards Dinner on March 6, 2015. The Mid-Pacific
Region was awarded the 2014 Outstanding Project Award for the
development of the Red Bluff Pumping Plant and Fish Screen
Los Angeles is offering rice farmers in the Sacramento Valley
more money than the city has ever paid for water — $700 per
acre-foot. At this price, rice farmers could make more money
selling water than they can make on their crops.
So far, landowners in the Sacramento Valley have made
commitments for 85,000 acre-feet of water if Sites Reservoir is
built. … A few weeks ago Reps. John Garamendi, D-Walnut
Grove, and Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, introduced a bill to speed
up the Sites Reservoir feasibility study. In the meantime, the
Sites JPA is looking to hire a general manager …
The sound of splashing drew me to the stream. A dark finned
back cut the surface. Salmon? … The scene I’m [Peter
Moyle] recalling from December was not the Sacramento
River or some other salmon highway, but a lowly back alley long
associated with carp and suckers: Putah Creek, my hometown
stream west of Sacramento.
During its meeting Tuesday, the Butte County Board of
Supervisors will consider sending a letter of concerns to the
Biggs-West Gridley Water District over plans to transfer
Feather River water to the San Joaquin Valley.
Just a few months ago the state announced that new local
groundwater sustainability plans will be required throughout
California. … About 85 people gathered in Orland Thursday
night for the first of what will be many meetings on
Elation. That’s how Woodland City Manager Paul Navazio
described his feelings upon receiving, hand-carrying and then
depositing into the city’s bank an $18.5 million check from the
state Water Resources Control Board.
This handbook provides crucial
background information on the Sustainable Groundwater Management
Act, signed into law in 2014 by Gov. Jerry Brown. The handbook
also includes a section on options for new governance.
Two major developments in the [Yuba County Water] agency’s
history were coming to a head — the application for a new
license that will determine how the water project is run for
the next 50 years and the takeover of the operation of the
project’s hydropower plant.
A potentially far-reaching ruling released Tuesday by a
Sacramento-based appellate court rejects two challenges – but
not a third one – to a landmark environmental-impact review of
California’s network of fish hatcheries and the practice of
stocking the state’s waterways with fish.
Like some famous recluse whose profile only increases by
remaining hidden – an archaic notion, of course, in these viral
days of overexposure and oversharing – the Sutter Buttes don’t
give up their secrets readily, if at all, and rarely allow
outsiders glimpses into the volcanic core of its being.
January ended with a record temperature of 74 degrees Saturday
at Sacramento’s Executive Airport and almost no measurable
rainfall for the month – making it the driest January on record
since reliable records started being kept in 1849, the National
Weather Service said.
Sacramento State plans to launch a new institute that will
merge environmental science and policymaking, particularly
concerning climate change and water-related issues that
challenge California and the world.
More than a decade ago, an SN&R writer interviewed
Sacramento native Joan Didion about her then-new book, Where I
Was From. Part of the conversation involved the development of
Natomas, which Didion remembered fondly. “It was always so
beautiful,” she said, “even when it was underwater.”
A pair of regional flood management studies that are meant to
identify problems, look at ways to address the issues and
identify funding sources to make fixes has also determined some
concerns aren’t easy to rectify.
California’s drought has made it abundantly clear how important
it is to know exactly how much water is available. …
Scientists from the Desert Research Institute in Reno, the
California Department of Water Resources and the US Bureau of
Reclamation are placing a floating weather station in the water
at Folsom Lake.
Sacramento plodded through its hottest year on record in 2014,
with an average high temperature a full degree above the city’s
next-hottest year, according to a Bee analysis of records from
the National Climatic Data Center.
The Bureau of Reclamation has released the final environmental
documents on a Safety of Dams project at Folsom Reservoir’s
Dike 1 in the Granite Bay Recreation Area. The Dike 1
improvement modifications are being performed under
Reclamation’s Safety of Dams Program to address water seepage
through the Dike 1 embankment.
The only answer to the question of when the drought will end is
that there’s no sure answer. … The major reservoirs in
Northern California are below historical averages, but they are
above the levels from 2014, which is cause for cautious
optimism for some northern state water contractors.
California’s drought really didn’t have an impact on me until
last January when my wife, Linda, and I went to Folsom Lake to
take our dog for a walk. Sure, I had seen that the American
River was low when driving across the Watt Avenue Bridge.
Authorities have recovered thousands of stolen archaeological
artifacts reportedly taken from Lake Oroville over the last 20
years. …State regulations, as well as other federal laws,
protect items of cultural significance from being removed from
The storm predicted to strike Northern California starting
Wednesday night originated in the complex high-altitude wind
currents constantly whipping around the globe. … Snow levels
in the Sierra Nevada will be relatively high – around 5,500
feet – at least initially.
Crews are out working in the Sacramento River in Redding this
week repairing a side channel they hope will soon be filled
with spawning salmon. But the workers aren’t with one of the
state or federal agencies charged with managing fish and
wildlife. Instead, the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District out of
Willows is spending about $250,000 to improve salmon habitat in
Floodplains are extremely productive habitats for native fish
and birds, yet floodplains in California are cut off from
rivers by levees and development. … Recognizing these
constraints, reconciliation ecology encourages land and water
managers to re-engineer human-dominated landscapes to be more
hospitable for native species without significantly diminishing
human uses. California’s Yolo Bypass, an engineered floodplain
on the Sacramento River, is an excellent case study of this new
approach to native species conservation.
Butte County supervisors are being asked to voice sincere
dissatisfaction with an environmental document reviews the
potential impacts of a 10-year water transfer program from the
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
Clad in a blue head scarf, Gov. Jerry Brown went to the Sikh
Temple of Sacramento on Sunday to honor the “peach king of
California,” … Bains said his crops still have plenty of
water from deep wells and the Oroville Dam and Feather and
Sacramento rivers, but called the drought “a big threat. It’s
not like we’re going to have water forever without rain.”
A miraculous thing happens each fall in the Sacramento Valley,
and it’s not the end of 100-degree weather: Salmon return to
the area’s rivers and creeks. One hundred miles from the
Pacific Ocean, the valley hosts one of the largest annual
salmon spawning runs in America.
With the resounding passage of the $7.5 billion state water
bond, Sites Reservoir supporters are confident the storage
project will be erected in Colusa County, although its
completion could still be imperiled by competing projects and
Good for the Sites Joint Powers Authority. The group of
Sacramento Valley leaders and water district personnel is
working on further planning and financing for the off-stream
reservoir proposed to be built at the border of Glenn and
The Sacramento Valley is a resting stop for millions of birds
in the Pacific Flyway. Wet weather in Canada earlier this year
is predicted to bring a record number of birds. And they’ll
face a landscape with little water.
The public will have a chance next week to witness the annual
spectacle of the American River salmon run. About 10:40 a.m. on
Nov. 3, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will
open the fish ladder at Nimbus Hatchery on American River.
Things were bad enough for Rochelle Landers before her well
went dry. … She has an acre in the Sierra foothills, in a
sparsely populated town an hour northeast of Sacramento with a
seemingly abundant water supply despite the drought.
There’s a plan for water transfers could move up to 511,000
acre-feet of water each year for the next 10 years from the
Sacramento Valley to the San Joaquin Valley and the Bay Area.
… The Bureau [of Reclamation] is in the middle of writing the
“Long-Term Water Transfers Environmental Impact
Statement/Environmental Impact Report.”
The Water Education Foundation’s popular Northern California
Tour features a diverse group of experts talking about
groundwater, flood management, the drought, water supplies,
agricultural challenges, and the latest on salmon restoration
efforts. The tour also includes a houseboat cruise on Lake
Shasta. … The tour travels the length of the Sacramento
Valley with visits to Oroville and Shasta dams.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced $5.4 million
in funding to invest in Northern Calif. tribes’ environmental
programs, water infrastructure development, community education
and capacity building. The announcement was made at the 22nd
annual Regional Tribal Conference in Sacramento, Calif.
Voicing frustration at past failed attempts to keep elderberry
bushes alive at Riverbend Park, the Feather River Recreation
and Park District board of directors approved a plan to try
again. … The plants provide a habitat for the endangered
Sacramento Valley longhorn elderberry beetle.
The biggest changes to California groundwater law in 150 years
are on the way. What it means for local water leaders is a lot
of work. The goal within 20 years is for all groundwater basins
in the state to achieve sustainability.
Five new wells are on the drawing board for Glenn-Colusa
Irrigation District, the biggest surface water district in the
Sacramento Valley. … Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District is
considering the five wells as a backup to surface water during
dry and critically dry years, presenters explained.
The Sacramento Region is one step closer to reducing its
reliance on Folsom Reservoir. The state of California has
recommended the Regional Water Authority receive almost $10
million for projects to improve water supply.
On the heels of a successful Farm to Fork weekend in
Sacramento, we have another opportunity to think about the
future of farming. In the Sacramento Valley, the farmers are
not only producing a commodity in the traditional economic
sense, they are also the leading conservationists in the
region, developing innovative 21st century projects and
programs that will benefit salmon, migratory waterfowl and
other birds, flood protection, as well as provide the pastoral
settings that urbanites are craving in our increasingly frantic
and busy environment we live.
This 24-page booklet traces the development of the
landmark Water Forum Agreement, signed in April 2000 by 40
Sacramento region water purveyors, public officials, community
group leaders, environmentalists and business representatives.
The publication also offers insight on lessons learned by
Water Forum participants.
This 24-page booklet details the conflict between
environmentalists, fish organizations and the Yuba County Water
Agency and how it was resolved through the Lower Yuba River
Accord – a unique agreement supported by 18 agencies and
non-governmental organizations. The publication details
the history and hydrology of the Yuba River, past and present
environmental concerns, and conflicts over dam operations and
protecting endangered fish is included.
This 30-minute documentary, produced in 2011, explores the past,
present and future of flood management in California’s Central
Valley. It features stories from residents who have experienced
the devastating effects of a California flood firsthand.
Interviews with long-time Central Valley water experts from
California Department of Water Resources (FloodSAFE), U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, Central Valley Flood
Management Program and environmental groups are featured as they
discuss current efforts to improve the state’s 150-year old flood
protection system and develop a sustainable, integrated, holistic
flood management plan for the Central Valley.
This 30-minute documentary-style DVD on the history and current
state of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program includes an
overview of the geography and history of the river, historical
and current water delivery and uses, the genesis and timeline of
the 1988 lawsuit, how the settlement was reached and what was
This 25-minute documentary-style DVD, developed in partnership
with the California Department of Water Resources, provides an
excellent overview of climate change and how it is already
affecting California. The DVD also explains what scientists
anticipate in the future related to sea level rise and
precipitation/runoff changes and explores the efforts that are
underway to plan and adapt to climate.
15-minute DVD that graphically portrays the potential disaster
should a major earthquake hit the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
“Delta Warning” depicts what would happen in the event of an
earthquake registering 6.5 on the Richter scale: 30 levee breaks,
16 flooded islands and a 300 billion gallon intrusion of salt
water from the Bay – the “big gulp” – which would shut down the
State Water Project and Central Valley Project pumping plants.
30-minute DVD that traces the history of the U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation and its role in the development of the West. Includes
extensive historic footage of farming and the construction of
dams and other water projects, and discusses historic and modern
Fashioned after the popular California Water Map, this 24×36 inch
poster was extensively re-designed in 2017 to better illustrate
the value and use of groundwater in California, the main types of
aquifers, and the connection between groundwater and surface
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water
Management (IRWM) is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication
that provides background information on the principles of IRWM,
its funding history and how it differs from the traditional water
The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater is an in-depth,
easy-to-understand publication that provides background and
perspective on groundwater. The guide explains what groundwater
is – not an underground network of rivers and lakes! – and the
history of its use in California.
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to Flood Management explains the
physical flood control system, including levees; discusses
previous flood events (including the 1997 flooding); explores
issues of floodplain management and development; provides an
overview of flood forecasting; and outlines ongoing flood control
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project
explores the history and development of the federal Central
Valley Project (CVP), California’s largest surface water delivery
system. In addition to the project’s history, the guide describes
the various CVP facilities, CVP operations, the benefits the CVP
brought to the state and the CVP Improvement Act (CVPIA).
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Delta explores the competing
uses and demands on California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Included in the guide are sections on the history of the Delta,
its role in the state’s water system, and its many complex issues
with sections on water quality, levees, salinity and agricultural
drainage, fish and wildlife, and water distribution.
A new look for our most popular product! And it’s the perfect
gift for the water wonk in your life.
Our 24×36 inch California Water Map is widely known for being the
definitive poster that shows the integral role water plays in the
state. On this updated version, it is easier to see California’s
natural waterways and man-made reservoirs and aqueducts
– including federally, state and locally funded
projects – the wild and scenic rivers system, and
natural lakes. The map features beautiful photos of
California’s natural environment, rivers, water projects,
wildlife, and urban and agricultural uses and the
text focuses on key issues: water supply, water use, water
projects, the Delta, wild and scenic rivers and the Colorado
The Pacific Flyway is one of four
major North American migration routes for birds, especially
waterfowl, and extends from Alaska and Canada, through
California, to Mexico and South America. Each year, birds follow
ancestral patterns as they travel the flyway on their annual
north-south migration. Along the way, they need stopover sites
such as wetlands with suitable habitat and food supplies. In
California, 90 percent of historic wetlands have been lost.
This issue of Western Water looks at the BDCP and the
Coalition to Support Delta Projects, issues that are aimed at
improving the health and safety of the Delta while solidifying
California’s long-term water supply reliability.