The San Joaquin River, which helps
drain California’s Central Valley, has been negatively impacted
by construction of dams, inadequate streamflows and poor water
quality. Efforts are now underway to restore the river and
continue providing agricultural lands with vital irrigation,
among other water demands.
After an 18-year lawsuit to restore water flows to a 60-mile dry
stretch of river and to boost the dwindling salmon populations,
the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement is underway.
Water releases are now used to restore the San Joaquin River and
to provide habitat for naturally-reproducing populations of
self-sustaining Chinook salmon and other fish in the San Joaquin
River. Long-term efforts also include measures to reduce or avoid
adverse water supply impacts from the restoration flows.
Currently every drop of water that comes out of faucets in
Ceres comes straight out of the ground. But come June 2023,
some of that water will be directly piped from the Tuolumne
River after it’s been treated. Construction is about 25 percent
completed and running $1 million under budget, a manager of the
project told the Ceres City Council on Monday evening.
… Ceres will ultimately receive up to 15 million gallons
of water per day while Turlock takes 30 million gallons. Two
additional phases will increase the plant’s capacity to produce
45 million gallons per day for the two cities.
The Bureau of Reclamation’s California Great-Basin Region
announces the selection of Levi Johnson as the Deputy Manager
for the Central Valley Operations Office. CVO oversees water
and power operations of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project,
one of the world’s largest and most complex water storage and
delivery systems. The CVP comprises 19 dams, 18 reservoirs, 11
powerplants, and over 500 miles of canals and aqueducts within
California’s Central Valley.
The Oakdale and South San Joaquin Irrigation Districts have
joined in a lawsuit challenging the State Water Resources
Control Board’s authority to prevent the two water agencies
from diverting and storing Stanislaus River runoff in Donnells,
Beardsley, New Melones and Tulloch Reservoirs. The state water
board, in an emergency drought order issued Aug. 20, declared
that OID, SSJID and 4,500 other water rights holders in
California must immediately stop diverting water due to
unprecedented drought conditions.
As drought-stricken California considers constructing new dams,
a new study finds that many of the state’s existing structures—
despite efforts to prioritize healthy water temperatures— are
failing the cold-water ecosystems that depend on them. The
study, published in PLOS One, crunched data from 77 cold-water
streams across California to characterize their “thermal
regime” — that is, their annual temperature fluctuations over
an eight- to 12-year period.
The Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service today announced the Notice of Funding Opportunity for
projects that enhance Chinook salmon and steelhead trout
production and associated habitats in the Central Valley,
consistent with the Central Valley Project Improvement Act.
Reclamation and the Service plan to award up to $40 million
(subject to appropriations) in fiscal year 2022 through
multiple grants or cooperative agreements to projects
prioritized by the CVPIA Near-Term Restoration Strategy.
Leaders from a newly formed revitalization task force joined
California State Parks representatives last week in announcing
a partnership to honor a piece of California Black history in
the Central Valley. Randall Cooper, chief executive officer of
the Global Economic Impact Group, which will lead
revitalization effort, said the once-prosperous community
of Allensworth was devastated by a series of racist
decisions and policies and never was able to recover.
… Water access was another hindrance to the town’s
potential. … [W]hite farmers dammed the river and diverted
the water, leaving Allensworth’s Black farmers high and dry.
Freshly cut off from their chief water supply, a group of
California water agencies in one of the state’s most fertile
farming areas sued on Wednesday to freeze the latest round of
emergency drought rules. In a lawsuit filed in Sacramento
County Superior Court, the suppliers argue they were denied due
process when state regulators ordered thousands of landowners
last month to cease diversions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin
River Delta due to drought conditions.
Given the current drought, it’s no surprise that California’s
dams are struggling to provide cool water habitats to support
native freshwater ecosystems. But what if they were never able
to support them under any conditions? New research shows how
current stream management fails to provide the patterns of cool
water that California’s native ecosystems need. The challenges
stem from two issues: an oversimplification of stream
temperature targets and the assumption that dam regulation can
replicate desirable cold water patterns.
This summer, tens of millions of salmon have been cooked in
California in their own native habitat. Record-breaking heat
and drought have drawn down the water flows and turned up the
temperatures of the state’s streams and rivers. The heat shock,
along with the impacts of parasites and fungal blights that are
fueled by warmer waters, has decimated the wild salmon
populations. To stem the crisis, scientists have literally
gone above and beyond, hurling salmon over dams via pneumatic
cannons and trucking millions of fish to the Pacific Ocean to
bypass unlivable rivers.
A drought in California has led to a spike in the state’s water
prices, nearly doubling the value of futures contracts for the
essential commodity this year and creating opportunities in
water-related investments. As of Aug. 24, the Nasdaq Veles
California Water Index , which represents the weighted average
price of water-rights transactions across five major
markets in California and is published weekly, has climbed
by roughly 87% year to date to $923.54 per one-acre foot.
As discussed in our July 28, 2021, Policy Alert, the State
Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) recently adopted the
Draft Emergency Reporting and Curtailment Regulation
(Regulation), to authorize curtailments of water diversions in
the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta). The Regulation
was approved by the Office of Administrative Law and became
effective on August 19, 2021.
Water regulators on Friday formally ordered thousands of
farmers across California to cut back their water use this
summer or face fines of up to $10,000 a day. The State Water
Resources Control Board began sending formal “curtailment
notices” to the holders of 4,500 water rights permits that
allow them to pull water from the Sacramento and San Joaquin
rivers and their tributaries.
Toxic algae in Sierra National Forest, now being considered in
the mysterious deaths of a family this week, was being retested
on Thursday by the California State Water Resources Control
Board and Mariposa County. … Mariposa residents John
Gerrish, Ellen Chung, their daughter, Miju, and family dog,
Oski, were found dead in this area on Tuesday after
not returning from a day hike in the Hites Cove area of Devil’s
Gulch, between Mariposa and Yosemite National Park. The
family may have been exposed to cyanobacterial toxins, the
water board said, which can form in algal blooms.
It was clear during the first hearing on the Kern River Tuesday
that the public has a seat at the table as never before.
Tuesday’s hearing was mostly procedural — setting out which
issues would be sorted first and how. Permeating the discussion
at nearly every turn, however, was the public trust doctrine,
which gives the public a right to natural resources, such as a
river with actual water in it.
In response to worsening drought conditions, the board of
Southern California’s regional water wholesaler will consider
declaring a Water Supply Alert that calls upon residents to
voluntarily conserve the precious resource. According
to officials with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern
California (MWD), Southern California’s water supply has been
severely impacted by extreme drought in both the Northern
Sierra and the Colorado River, saying crucial storage
reservoirs have never been lower.
The Bureau of Reclamation and California Department
of Fish and Wildlife are announcing a
public teleconference negotiation session regarding San Joaquin
River flows to benefit fish from the San
Joaquin Fish Hatchery. This negotiation session is
for a 25-year contract renewal for the same amount of water (55
cubic feet per second); no additional water is under
Amid extreme drought, Gov. Gavin Newsom is asking for statewide
conservation of 15%, farmers are facing cutbacks in water
deliveries, and a mass die-off of salmon is expected. Drought
affects us all, so our response must improve the natural
systems that make our water, air and food — our existence —
possible. The State Water Resources Control Board has taken the
rare drastic step of adopting emergency regulations to curtail
diversions of water rights holders when water is not
available. -Written by Sandi Matsumoto, director of The
Nature Conservancy’s California Water Program, and Julie
Zimmerman, the lead freshwater scientist at The Nature
Conservancy in California.
Both Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir might have applauded a
bold proposal currently being fought over in California: Shift
control of the 1.3-million-acre Sierra National Forest to the
National Park Service, which would manage it as a national
monument benefiting species, helping combat climate change, and
inching the Biden administration’s “30 by 30 initiative” a bit
closer to fruition. … It’s a stunning
landscape that rises to nearly 14,000 feet atop Mount
Humphreys. Deep canyons cut through the High
Sierra here and drain the boulder-strewn Kings, San
Joaquin, and Merced rivers.
Buried in an hours-long State Water Resources Control Board
hearing recently was the admission that California experts
overestimated the spring inflow by 800,000-acre feet. Put
another way, the state banked on water that never came. That
admission, coupled with public policy that favors environmental
uses of water over human needs, led to California’s recent
curtailment of the most senior of water rights – a private
property right that once had value in California and threatens
to ripple far and wide.
A deeply troubled group of high-ranking state officials, tribal
leaders, environmentalists and fishermen met July 27 to discuss
the triple whammy that is threatening some species of Pacific
salmon with extinction — a combination of record-breaking heat,
drought and disastrous federal water policies — particularly
those of the Trump administration, which drained mountain
reservoirs of cold water, sending it to the Central Valley.