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.
Many of my best days as a lawyer were spent driving through the
Sacramento Valley and north Delta with George Basye (always in
his Volvo). As George neared his retirement, he wanted to
ensure that I, as the successor to a number of his clients,
understood the foundations of his client relationships.
George seemingly knew the history of every quarter section of
land up and down the Valley. He had a deep affection not
only for the landscape but, most important to George, for the
individuals and families who had settled and reclaimed the land
and built the agricultural economy of the region.
On Friday, the City of Antioch, along with local and
State dignitaries, broke ground on their new and historic
Brackish Water Desalination Plant. At a price of $110 million,
the project was made possible with $93 million in funding from
the State, and $17 million from the City of Antioch.
Crops are now blooming here in the San Joaquin Valley, which
marks the beginning of harvest season for farmers. As a
drier-than-usual wet season continues to unfold, many are
worried about how current drought conditions will impact this
As she promised, State Senator Melissa Hurtado has reintroduced
legislation that would provide fund to improve California’s
water infrastructure, including the Friant-Kern Canal. On
Friday, Hurtado, a Democrat from Sanger whose district includes
Porterville, introduced the State Water Resiliency Act of 2021
that would provide $785 million to restore the ability of
infrastructure such as the Friant-Kern Canal to deliver water
at their capacity. The bill would also go to fund other
infrastructure such as the Delta-Mendota Canal, San Luis Canal
and California Aqueduct.
Lower groundwater levels can prevent drainage of water and
salts from a basin and increase aquifer salinity that
eventually renders the groundwater unsuitable for use as
drinking water or irrigation without expensive desalination.
Pauloo et al. (2021) demonstrate this process for the
Tulare Lake Basin (TLB) of California’s Central Valley. Even if
groundwater pumping does not cause overdraft, it can cause
hydrologic basin closure leading to progressive salinization
that will not cease until the basin is opened by allowing
natural or engineered exits for groundwater and dissolved salt.
The process, “Anthropogenic Basin Closure and Groundwater
Salinization (ABCSAL)”, is driven by human water
In 1955 he joined Downey, Brand, Seymour and Rohwer in
Sacramento, becoming a partner in 1958 and specializing in
water and natural resources law. He represented the California
Central Valley Flood Control Association and over 30
reclamation, levee, water, and irrigation districts and mutual
water companies in the Sacramento Valley. He was actively
involved in negotiations leading to the water right settlement
agreements between the Sacramento River water users and the
United States in 1964. He formed the North Delta Water Agency
and negotiated the agreement in 1981 between that Agency and
the State of California, protecting water quality and uses
within the northern half of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Climate change is impacting the whole Earth, including the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. There are some big challenges
ahead as the region changes over the next 30 years. In order to
adapt to a world with increased flooding, drought, wildfire and
intense heat, we need to start by understanding what’s going
on. But where to begin? The Delta Stewardship Council is
hosting a climate resilience scavenger hunt as part of its
Delta Adapts initiative…. Now through Feb. 26,
participants can complete as many activities as possible and
submit their findings online.
California’s Sierra snow pack is 68% of average after a series
of storms in recent weeks. The Department of Water Resources
says the statewide average is down slightly from the 70% number
about two weeks ago during the last monthly snow survey. The
snow pack was sagging at about 40% of normal back in
Steelhead season is underway in the Central Valley as three
major hatcheries are set to release over 1.1 million fish into
the Feather, American and Mokelumne rivers later this month.
Steelhead are the migratory form of rainbow trout that make
their journey to the Pacific Ocean and return to freshwater
Tuolumne Utilities District will continue to process
applications for new water hookups because its Board of
Directors failed Thursday to reach a determination on future
supply and availability. The TUD board held a special workshop
Thursday to grapple with the oldest challenge in county history
when it comes to water, but the big picture has not changed.
The district relies on the South Fork Stanislaus River
watershed that still provides a limited amount of runoff, an
average of 104,000 acre-feet annually, and typically has access
to less than one-quarter of that.
For the better part of the last two centuries, the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has been modified in any number of
ways to meet the demands of Californians. But a new
wide-ranging study looks at what might be the most serious
Delta threat that doesn’t come in the form of an excavator –
Much like COVID-19 is changing our election practices and
day-to-day business operations, climate change could change
your water rights, according to the State Water Resources
Control Board. In the past, I have eluded to the shift from
historical facts used for analysis and forecasting to a
fear-based guessing game that allows an unelected bureaucracy
backed by a one-party-rule elected body to usurp your property
rights. -Written by Wayne Western, Jr. the Sun’s Agriculture
Pulse contributor, writing on the San Joaquin Valley’s
agricultural community and water issues.
A local water utility company is set to share information about
how the Littlerock Creek watershed was adversely affected by
the Bobcat fire. Palmdale Water District will host a free,
virtual event at 3 p.m. on Feb. 24 and provide information to
the public about what steps are being taken to mitigate the
damage. Much of the watershed has been burned and there is
concern that potential heavy debris flow will create excessive
sediment in the Littlerock Reservoir and affect water quality.
Federal scientists and regulators repeatedly complained they
were sidelined by Donald Trump’s administration when they
warned of risks to wildlife posed by a California water
management plan, according to newly unveiled documents.
The Kern County Farm Bureau issued a “call to action” this week
asking local growers and ranchers to participate in a series of
upcoming meetings that will influence the role California’s
agricultural lands will be expected to play, or continue to
play, in fighting climate change.
Water makes the world go ‘round, and a major player in
California’s breadbasket doesn’t want to part with more than
they have already. The city of Bakersfield, and the Kern County
Water Agency are suing nearby water districts over their plan
to skim water from Kern County sources for transport to other
parts of the state — water that county officials say they need
for themselves. The Kern Fan Groundwater Storage Project is a
$246 million dollar water storage project planned for
California’s south San Joaquin Valley.
It might be hard to imagine that it has already been more than
five years since we exited the extreme dry years of 2014 and
2015. At that time, local, state and federal water managers
were taking unprecedented actions in response to the dry
conditions to maximize beneficial uses and every Californian
was feeling the impact of multiple dry years. … In their
blog earlier this year, Fritz Durst and Brent Hastey outlined
much of the work that has occurred since 2015 to prepare
for the next dry year. In addition to those actions, we also
have worked to better identify the timing and quantity of water
needed during dry years to maximize habitat benefits with
In the latest Delta Conveyance Deep Dive video, we take a look
at the financing mechanisms that make the project possible,
both now, in the initial planning stages, and in the future if
the project is approved. It might not sound like the most
exciting aspect of the project but it’s certainly one area
where there’s a lot of public interest and concern. With a
project of this scale (the most recent estimate of the total
cost is around $16 billion) it’s not surprising that
people want to know who’s footing the bill.
Reclamation maintains and operates over 8,000 miles of water
distribution systems that use, among other means, reservoirs
and canals to store and deliver water. Water lost to seepage
reduces the efficiency of the water delivery to the users and
can cause undermining/erosion, subgrade soil migration, adverse
vegetation growth, and even canal failure….This prize
competition seeks innovative solutions that can reduce the
costs and burdens associated with installation and maintenance
of seepage reduction methods, and improve durability in a range
of climatic conditions.