Topic: San Joaquin Valley


San Joaquin Valley

The San Joaquin Valley stretches from across mid-California between coastal ranges in west and the Sierras on the east. The region includes large cities such as Fresno and Bakersfield, national parks such as Yosemite and Kings and fertile farmland and multi-billion dollar agriculture industry.

The federal Central Valley Project and State Water Project (about 30 percent of SWP water is used for irrigation) helped deliver water to the valley. Today, San Joaquin Valley crops include grapes, tomatoes, hay, sugar beets, nuts, cotton and a multitude of other fruits and vegetables. At the same time, water used to grow these crops has led to the need for agricultural drainage.


Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California farmers rush to drill wells for groundwater in drought

On the parched west side of the San Joaquin Valley, the drought has created a windfall for companies like Big River Drilling. A water-well contractor based in the Fresno County community of Riverdale, Big River can hardly keep up with demand for new wells as farmers and rural residents seek to extract more water from underground. … But talk about poor timing: California farmers are supposed to start throttling back their groundwater pumping to comply with a state law called the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Citing climate risks, California is denying fracking permits in droves

Oil companies that blast water and chemicals into the earth to extract fossil fuels are having trouble getting new permits for their California operations even sooner than expected. Gov. Gavin Newsom pledged the state would stop issuing new permits for fracking by 2024, but California has already begun to ban the controversial oil extraction method in practice by denying permits in droves with little fanfare. … [Fracking has] long been a controversial method because of what climate activists see as unacceptable dangers, including the possibility that it can contaminate groundwater.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Where is the water going?

Farmers in the heart of California’s agricultural belt – Kings County – sense something is awry with their water supplies. In this intensively farmed, perennially dry county, water is leaving at a concerning rate. … As far as [walnut farmer Steve Walker] knows, no agency, city or county board is trying to figure out what’s really happening. … But this much he knows — certain groundwater wells in the county are running practically year round, even in wet years. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

State’s groundwater “cop” hands out more criticism of valley plans

Another set of comments critical of how San Joaquin Valley groundwater plans will impact drinking water wells dropped on Friday from the powerful State Water Resources Control Board. The comments focused on plans that cover the City of Fresno and many surrounding towns as well as Visalia and a number of smaller towns in Tulare County. Specifically, it commented on plans covering most of the Kings and Kaweah subbasins.

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Aquafornia news Tehachapi News

Water district asks for hearing in city suit

The Tehachapi-Cummings County Water District has filed a request for a hearing in its lawsuit against the city of Tehachapi. But according to its general manager, Tom Neisler, the filing made in Kern County Superior Court on Nov. 9 is procedural and does not mean that a hearing is imminent. Challenging the city of Tehachapi’s Sept. 7 approval of the Sage Ranch project, the district filed suit on Sept. 16, claiming that the city violated multiple state laws in its approval of the planned development.

Aquafornia news Forbes

How much is water worth? Why a billionaire-owned stake in a California water bank could be worth more than $1 billion

I’m your host Michela Tindera, and this is Priceless. In this episode, we’re headed West to the epicenter of one of the most productive farming regions in the world—California’s Central Valley—where the area is in the throes of a megadrought that has been drying up wells and damaging crops across the western United States. It’s there in the Central Valley, where a billionaire couple own a majority stake in one of California’s largest water storage facilities.  

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Four San Joaquin Valley groundwater plans deemed inadequate

The state’s water agency lambasted groundwater plans drafted by some of California’s largest and most powerful agricultural water suppliers in the San Joaquin Valley, indicating that they fail to protect drinking water supplies from over-pumping. The four large groundwater basins at stake underlie stretches of San Joaquin, Merced, Madera and Fresno counties that are home to nearly 800,000 people and more than a million acres of irrigated agriculture.

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Aquafornia news ABC 30 (Fresno)

Major upgrades coming to water systems in Pixley

Water systems in many small communities across Central California are due for improvements to meet new standards and deal with the drought, including Pixley in Tulare County. … The agency announced its 4th round of funding support through the Small Community Drought Relief Program. It’s an opportunity leaders in Pixley took advantage of immediately.

Aquafornia news Fresh Plaza

Drought and high temperatures in California drive down almond supplies

Almond production in California is expected to drop 10% to 1.3 million tons this year because of high temperatures and drought. Apart from this, the return of La Niña conditions could bring another weak crop next year. The crop shortfall threatens to drive almond prices sharply higher, with some growers expecting a price jump of 50% or more from last year’s $1.83 per pound.

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Aquafornia news UC Riverside

Blog: UCR experts weigh drought’s long-term impacts

Hoori Ajami, groundwater hydrologist  Q: What will happen to the Central Valley, in terms of groundwater and sinkholes, if farmers continue to grow highly water intensive crops?  A: If farmers continue to pump groundwater at the current rate and do not implement any conservation measures such as managed aquifer recharge, the land subsidence issues become worse. The groundwater levels will drop so far it will not be economically feasible to pump groundwater anymore. The Central Valley aquifer system is already amongst the top three highly depleted aquifer systems in the country. 

Aquafornia news GV Wire

$1 trillion bill brings billions to the Valley. What are the projects?

Two Fresno area Democrats who attended the signing of President Joe Biden’s $1 billion infrastructure bill into law on Monday say the package will improve the lives of Valley residents and strengthen the local economy. … Over the next five years, the package will provide: $1.15 billion to improve water storage in California and the San Joaquin Valley … ; $3.2 billion to repair aging California water infrastructure projects; $3.5 billion to improve California’s drinking water infrastructure; $1 billion for rural water projects; $500 million to repair aging dams and ensure safety, for projects like the San Luis Reservoir …

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Consolidating small water systems is a springboard to water justice

As the state of California seeks to fix its crumbling water infrastructure, the State Water Board has embarked on an ambitious program to encourage struggling small water systems to join forces with larger, neighboring water systems. We spoke with the State Water Board’s Michelle Frederick and clean-water advocacy group Community Water Center’s Ryan Jensen about why consolidation is important, how efforts are going, and what could be improved.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

March for the Kern River

About 30 hardy souls marched the length of the dry Kern River bed — nine miles — from near Manor Street in east Bakersfield all the way to Stockdale Highway Saturday morning to protest the lack of water in the river. At the start of the hike, the group filled bottles and jugs with water from the river, which ends shortly after Manor Street as it’s divvied up by a hydra of irrigation canals.   

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Advancing ridgetop to river mouth water management in California

As the Sacramento River Basin pursues ridgetop to river mouth water management, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) Water Policy Center has recently published its Priorities for California’s Water: Responding to the Changing Climate. The authors of the new brief have stated that: “the current drought and a changing climate are affecting California’s ability to manage water, offering a stark reminder that we must accelerate our response to the disruptive changes underway.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Senior rights holders battle state over water pacts

There are no shortages of critical issues facing Oakdale Irrigation District in central California. As the state looks to take 40% of the district’s springtime river flows, district directors are searching for their next water champion. … In October the State of California informed OID and five other water districts, including the City and County of San Francisco, that it would no longer negotiate over stream flow agreements commonly known as “voluntary agreements.” Under these coerced negotiations, the state seeks to take 40% of river flows…

Aquafornia news ABC30 Fresno

California’s drought, heat waves causing lower citrus yield, smaller fruit

Don’t be surprised if the citrus you find at the grocery store this season is smaller than in years past. Growers say early navel varieties generally are running smaller this year, putting a premium on larger offerings. Matt Fisher, a Central California farmer who has citrus groves from Orange Cove to Bakersfield, said multiple factors come into play, including the state’s ongoing drought and triple-digit heat waves.

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Aquafornia news

$1T infrastructure bill benefits Valley ag and rural communities

The California Farm Bureau is applauding Congress for passing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, commending the benefits it extends to local agriculture and rural communities. The one trillion dollar plan passed by congress late Friday night is set to fund improvement projects across the country and projected to create some 2 million jobs. In the bill are benefits for local agriculture and rural communities like water storage and conveyance, road and highway improvements and broadband internet for areas currently without coverage.

Aquafornia news ABC30 Fresno

Fresno Irrigation District adding new recharge basins

Area canals in the Fresno Irrigation District have run dry but at some point during a wet year, a new recharge basin south of Fresno will be full of water. … Because of ongoing drought challenges, FID is drawing a line in the sand and developing four new basins. Stretch said that one located at Malaga and East avenues will deliver water to both growers and families. 

Aquafornia news Mercury News

California drought: Pajaro Valley land is sinking at slow rate

When an excessive amount of groundwater is pumped from wells, it can cause the land above the wells to sink, causing buildings to crumble and pipes to burst. A new report prepared for Pajaro Valley water managers, however, shows that from 2015 to 2018 the land above the valley’s aquifer subsided only 2 inches — hopeful news as coastal communities battle a severe drought. Just over the coastal mountain range in the Central Valley, the “land subsidence” in over-pumped water basins is a lot more dire. Some areas of the fertile valley have reached a subsidence rate of nearly a foot a year … 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

New Kern River Watermaster in the wings

It appears a new Kern River Watermaster will be chosen to replace Dana Munn, whose contract winds up at the end of this year. If he’s officially approved by all the voting members of the “river interests,” Mark Mulkay will likely become the fourth ever Kern River Watermaster. He said he’s discussed it with all the parties and let them know he wants the job. Other sources confirmed that the river interests, entities that hold rights to the Kern River, have unofficially agreed on Mulkay as incoming Watermaster.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

The new state law that could end Tooleville’s fight for clean water

For more than two decades the small Tulare County community of Tooleville has been without a secure supply of safe drinking water. The simplest solution would be to connect the town’s water system to that of its neighbor, the City of Exeter. It would take less than a mile of pipe to get it done. But years of red tape and failed negotiations have kept the consolidation from taking place.

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin, Sonoma to create groundwater storage banks for future droughts

North Bay water suppliers are partnering to create what would essentially be a water banking system to draw from during times of drought – and replenish when supplies are ample. The Sonoma Water agency has already begun the work to bring three existing wells in the Santa Rosa Plain online to supply another source of water to Marin and its other customers in response to the drought. The agency has reactivated these wells for every drought since 1977, but now plans to upgrade them for the first time to allow water to be injected back into them.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

To fight off a California dust bowl, the state will pay farmers to reimagine idle land

Farmer Erik Herman said he couldn’t help but feel a tinge of remorse as he looked out over the dirt field where an orchard of 8,000 fig trees stood until earlier this month, when they were uprooted by bulldozers in the name of conservation. The orchard, seven miles outside Madera in the sprawling San Joaquin Valley, is another casualty of the water shortage that is forcing farmers in the nation’s top-producing agricultural region to abandon otherwise fertile ground en masse.

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Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

Fresno area groundwater agencies build for drought resilience at record pace

In the short span of two years, Kings Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agencies in California’s Central Valley have invested in 600 acres of prime groundwater recharge land. This land represents 15 dedicated basins that are constructed or in development. There are thousands of landowners and many communities that overlie the Kings Subbasin that are dependent on the subbasin’s groundwater supply.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Public can get in on the upcoming Kern River hearing, sort of

The public can weigh in on the Kern River at an upcoming hearing but the proceeding will be very narrowly focused, according to a ruling  released Wednesday. Too narrowly focused, according to one attorney representing several nonprofits hoping to bring water back to the river through town on a regular basis.

Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

Around Kings County: Jackson Ranch wants to help Kettleman City

The statewide drought has put small communities in a bind when it comes to water. Kettleman City may easily be the poster child. Benzine and arsenic in the water wells in this I-5 town led to state and federal help to build an $11 million water treatment plant in 2020 so the town could finally get clean water from the California Aqueduct that runs right through town.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

How does CA drought impact small farmers in Central Valley?

Amid this year’s severe drought, Hmong farmer June Moua had to leave a portion of her 10-acre plot of land in eastern Fresno County dry and fallow. Large sections of the rows of crops she did plant, including bunches of water-intensive greens, have wilted and shriveled into crunchy bits of brown foliage. Her kale and bok choy are casualties of the central San Joaquin Valley’s dwindling water supply. Declining groundwater levels have made it harder for her to pump water from her well into her fields.

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation announces public scoping for proposed Aquaterra Water Bank Project

The Bureau of Reclamation, in coordination with the McMullin Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency, invites the public and media to attend a virtual public scoping meeting on the proposed Aquaterra Water Bank Project on Nov. 10.  The project includes construction, operation, and maintenance by McMullin GSA of a 146,000 acre-foot per year dry-year return water bank in Fresno County. The project is anticipated to recharge up to 208,000 acre-feet of water during wet-year conditions once constructed. 

Aquafornia news AccuWeather

Series of wintry storms take aim at Northwest

Another series of storms is set to sweep through the Pacific Northwest and Northern California into next week and not only bring much-needed rain and mountain snow but also flooding concerns. A dip in the jet stream across the Bering Sea through the northern Pacific Ocean will push waves of energy toward the Canadian Rocky Mountains and Northwest this week, according to AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Senior Meteorologist Paul Pastelok, who added that temperatures will be near to below normal.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: California must act urgently on climate

A delegation of 15 state lawmakers is joining a conference of world leaders in Scotland to discuss climate change solutions. As leaders of the world’s 5th largest economy, their participation is important, but it’s more urgent for them to act once they return. … The climate is already changing. This summer was California’s hottest on record, after the 2010s were the hottest decade ever. California just experienced its driest year in a century. Every corner of the state faces severe drought.
-Written by Mike Young, the political and organizing director for California Environmental Voters.

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Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Farm revenue could actually rise this year, say economists

In a new report by the University of California Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics, agricultural economists have found a few surprises with the drought. For one, farm revenues and prices this year may have only small impacts or even be higher than in 2020, due to global supply and demand conditions driving up prices. Feed grain and seed prices are higher in the Midwest, along with beef and milk prices. 

Aquafornia news KFGO

California farm town lurches from no water to polluted water

The San Joaquin Valley farm town of Teviston has two wells. One went dry and the other is contaminated. The one functioning well failed just at the start of summer, depriving the hot and dusty hamlet of running water for weeks. … But for years, probably decades, the water coming from Teviston taps has been laced with the carcinogen 1,2,3-Trichloropropane, or 1,2,3-TCP, the legacy of pesticides.

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Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

These small Fresno County farmers are struggling to get water from their wells amid the drought

June Moua started growing cherries, tomatoes and grapes in east Fresno County 10 years ago. Now she grows a few different types of crops. But her most profitable are the water-intensive Asian greens like mustard greens and bok choy. … She says she learned how to farm from her father when she was younger. Since then, she’s learned even more through trial and error. She enjoys bringing these Southeast Asian crops to farmers markets in Los Angeles, but the drought has put her in a tough position.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Opinion: Gov. Newsom’s Department of Water Resources minions to poor folks of Kettleman City: Drop dead

If you want to see the future of California fill up your tank with $4.80 per gallon gasoline and take the Golden State autobahn better known as Interstate 5 and head 160 miles south to Kettleman City.  It’s slightly bigger than the proverbial wide spot on the road. It is home to around 1,200 souls of which most are in households where often both parents toil in fields sometimes along with their teen-age children who join them during summers, weekends, and even after school.
-Written by Dennis Wyatt, managing editor of the Manteca Bulletin.   

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

A California town refused to help its neighbors with water. So the state stepped in

Exeter, less than a mile away … has refused to connect Tooleville to its water system. The engineering is simple: 0.7 miles of pipe. The human risk of not doing it is high. Tooleville water is contaminated with the carcinogen hexavalent chromium (chrom-6), and sometimes nitrates linked to agriculture and bacteria….Among a slew of water bills signed in September was one inspired largely by Tooleville’s struggle. Called the “proactive water solutions bill,” SB 403 gives the state the power to mandate and fund consolidation when there is an at-risk water system.

Aquafornia news AP News

Friday Top of the Scroll: Judge won’t validate water deal for California farm supplier

A California judge has declined to validate a contract granting permanent access to federally controlled water for the nation’s largest agricultural water supplier, a move that means the U.S. government is not bound by terms of the deal. Environmentalists had blasted the contract between the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Westlands Water District as a sweetheart arrangement designed to benefit corporate agricultural interests over environmental needs and taxpayers. It was crafted during the Trump administration under then-Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a former lobbyist for Westlands …

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

These charts show how California’s top crops are changing

California’s top crops have changed as drought strains the state’s water resources and farmers’ ability to access them. But that does not necessarily mean farmers are choosing crops that consume less water. Drought pushes farmers to shift their scarce water resources to crops with higher payoffs, such as nuts and vegetables, said Daniel Sumner, an agricultural economics professor at the UC Agricultural Issues Center — a trend particularly noticeable this year with its uniquely severe drought.

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Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Analyst: Initiative could lower water bills, cause reduction in other programs

A analysis of an initiative that would set aside 2 percent of the state budget to meet the state’s water needs could lower water costs at the local level but also could cause reductions in other programs. That’s the conclusion of a report from the California Legislative Analysts on the Water Infrastructure Fundy Act of 2022. Proponents of the initiative are trying to gain enough support to place it on the November, 2022 ballot. The initiative would require the state set aside 2 percent of its budget to meet the state’s water needs. 

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Storms bring pause for state drought orders in Modesto and beyond. They could return

The recent storms allowed California to suspend the drought curtailment orders that had been imposed during the summer. Cities and irrigation districts now are free to capture river runoff that had been unavailable because of the orders. Officials warned that they could fall back into place if the state gets another stretch of dry weather.

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Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Opinion: Water bonds failed bone-dry California. A 2022 initiative offers a different path

Over the past decades there have been many “Water” initiatives or propositions presented to California’s voters. Some of them have included such wet provisions as funding for large public soccer field complexes and most of them had more to do with conservation and urban needs than increased storage and infrastructure. They also relied heavily on bonds to fund themselves. Two recent water propositions have brought and dashed hope for Valley water needs: 2014’s Prop. 1 and 2018’s Prop. 3.
-Written by Don Wright, a contributor to The San Joaquin Valley Sun and the publisher of

Aquafornia news Fox 40 (Sacramento)

Historic rain causes problems for some San Joaquin County farmers

Despite the historic rainfall totals from the weekend, that much rain in such a short amount of time caused problems for some Central Valley farmers.  Bruce Blodgett with the San Joaquin County Farm Bureau said the record rainfall from last weekend was encouraging but it’s not enough to move the needle on the statewide drought. … According to the farm bureau, growers won’t know the true impact of the rain for months.

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Aquafornia news Imperial Valley Press Online

Satellites track water use to aid crop efficiency

As California weathers another drought, tools that can help farmers and ranchers maximize the water they do get are being sharpened. The newest effort to measure such water use was launched last week by a public-private coalition featuring three federal agencies – the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Geological Survey – and a number of universities and private entities.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

Water conservation is key in expanded California drought declaration

Despite a wet week so far all signs are pointing to yet another year of drought, and the governor is putting more effort behind his water conservation agenda. … Bolstering conservation efforts, the proclamation enables the State Water Resources Control Board to ban wasteful water practices, including the use of potable water for washing sidewalks and driveways. The governor issued an executive order in July calling on Californians to voluntarily reduce water use by 15% compared to 2020 to protect water reserves and complement local conservation mandates.

Aquafornia news ABC30 Fresno

Storms come as relief for Valley farmers dealing with drought conditions

The green beans growing on this Clovis farm were ready to be picked. But now crews will have to wait a few days until the muddy rows dry up. … [Farmer David] Sarabian says most of the green beans should be fine as drier conditions settle in but there will be some crop loss. … The slow, steady rain that soaked his farm was more manageable than the windy storm he watched whip through the [San Francisco] Bay Area on Sunday.

Aquafornia news KALW

One planet: In California, one million people lack access to clean water

On this edition of Your Call’s One Planet Series, we’re discussing a four-part series by Capital & Main on the disproportionate impact of California’s worsening drought on communities of color and low-income people living in rural and farming areas in California. Nearly 10 years ago, California enacted the Human Right to Water Act to help beleaguered communities in the state. This landmark legislation obligates the state to work towards safe, clean, affordable and accessible drinking water to the one million residents without it. What is being done to provide rural communities with affordable and clean water?

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Aquafornia news Mother Jones

Opinion: It’s just nuts – big almond and pistachio will likely make a killing despite the epic drought

For farmers in California’s San Joaquin Valley—the Saudi Arabia of nuts—2021 brought many challenges. Scant snowfall in the Sierra Nevada mountain range delivered almost no irrigation water to the region’s vaunted complex of dams and aqueducts. Record-high temperatures baked farm fields. Before this past weekend’s furious storms, California endured its driest year in recorded history.  Yet the region’s ever-expanding and very thirsty almond and pistachio operations are thriving anyway.
-Written by Tom Philpott, food and ag correspondent for Mother Jones.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

State gives more water to popular I-5 pitstop, but locals say it won’t be enough

Christmas travelers driving Interstate 5 this year may need to hunt up a different stopping point as Kettleman City could be shut down for lack of water. The state Department of Water Resources (DWR) has said it will give the tiny community in western Kings County a few more acre feet of water — but only enough for the personal taps of its 1,100 residents. The town’s gas stations and fast food joints that bring in droves of motorists on busy holidays could be left high and dry.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Cal Water applies for permission to raise penalties for irrigation violations

Local customers of California Water Service may soon face enforcement actions against their use of outdoor irrigation if state regulators give the company permission to advance to the next phase of its water shortage contingency plan. … Approval of Cal Water’s request would double fines for customers watering outdoor landscapes more than two days per week outside the hours of 6 p.m. to 8 a.m., unless local ordinances say otherwise. 

Aquafornia news Grist

Study: Toxic fracking waste is leaking into California groundwater

Between the late 1950s and 2008, Chevron disposed [fracking wastewater] produced in Lost Hills in eight cavernous impoundments at its Section 29 facility. Euphemistically called “ponds,” the impoundments have a combined surface area of 26 acres and do not have synthetic liners to prevent leaking. That meant that over time, salts and chemicals in the wastewater could leak into the ground and nearby water sources like the California Aqueduct, a network of canals that delivers water to farms in the Central Valley and cities like Los Angeles. And that’s exactly what happened, according to new research … 

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

New suit attempts to squash late-calendar water transfers to Valley during drought

Environmental advocates and a pair of Delta-centric water agencies launched a suit seeking to halt water transfers to San Joaquin Valley water users occurring in the late fall. It’s the latest in a half-decade of litigation aimed at stopping all water transfers – a key drought-era tool for parched Valley water users – from water users awash with water north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news WaterWorld

Free platform tracks agricultural water across West

A new online platform launched yesterday that uses satellites to estimate water consumed by crops and evapotranspiration across the West. Called OpenET, the platform makes water management data available in 17 western states. Data on the amount of water used in agriculture has been fragmented and often expensive, keeping it out of the hands of many farmers and decision-makers. OpenET hopes to allow users to easily view and download important water data. 

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Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

Unchecked oil and gas wastewater threatens California groundwater

California has a reputation as a leader on climate and environmental policy. So it doesn’t advertise the fact that it allows the oil and gas industry to store wastewater produced during drilling and extraction in unlined pits in the ground, a practice that began in the early 1900s. Now, though, researchers have revealed the environmental costs of California’s failure to regulate how its $111 billion oil and gas industry manages the wastewater, known as produced water. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

San Joaquin salmon coaxed through the long, hot summer

Spring-run Chinook Salmon are starting to spawn in the San Joaquin River after a brutally dry, hot summer. But the success of the juvenile fish is uncertain as the drought and high temperatures continue. Spring-run salmon, which return to the river from the ocean as adults in spring months, have been absent from the San Joaquin River for more than 70 years because of dams that dried up the river. But the federal government has reintroduced the fish in an attempt to bring back the once native population.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Bomb cyclone and ‘atmospheric river’ pummel California

California bore the brunt on Sunday of what meteorologists referred to as a “bomb cyclone” and an “atmospheric river,” a convergence of storms that brought more than half a foot of rain to parts of the Bay Area, along with high winds, flash floods and the potential for heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada. … The convergence of storms comes at a challenging time for California, which has been besieged by wildfires and drought, the result of extreme weather brought on by climate change.

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Aquafornia news MarketWatch

Opinion: Drought is among the biggest dangers to the U.S. New water technology is making its way across the country

If you’re having a salad for lunch today, chances are it comes from the “Salad Bowl of the World,” the lush farmland that stretches for some 90 miles across California’s Salinas Valley. Lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, strawberries, celery, cauliflower and more grow in abundance there, a source of pride and profits for farmers who work the land.  But none of it would be possible without water, and that’s the problem. 
-Written by Paul Brandus, a columnist for MarketWatch and the White House bureau chief for West Wing Reports.

Aquafornia news The Armenian Mirror-Spectator

California Dreamin’: a Mark Arax trilogy

As the L.A. Times correspondent responsible for covering the Central Valley, Arax would become aware of the danger posed by “Big Ag” and the ruthless use of technology to produce ever increasing amounts of crops that the soil and water of California cannot forever accommodate. The statewide water distribution system — a dizzying series of canals, aqueducts and rivers (redirected, merged, siphoned off) built mainly from the 1930-’60s represents so many engineering miracles and triumphs — yet it is also outdated and its growth today unsustainable. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Lack of water drying up new housing in rural communities

Water has become a major roadblock to desperately needed housing in rural communities throughout the San Joaquin Valley. Water scarcity and lack of infrastructure has scared off developers just when housing is most needed, according to officials and nonprofits that work on both water and housing. … For developers to build housing, they must obtain a “will serve” letter, official confirmation by the water provider in the area that the new development can receive water. 

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Opinion: For our water future, let’s fix Central Valley canals

Water is life for us here in the Central Valley. It impacts every facet of our day-to-day lives, from our jobs to sustaining our daily needs. This summer, a few communities in my district ran dry. One town —Teviston—was without running water for a full month. The families there were unable to turn their taps on to cook, bathe their children or even flush the toilet. Drought and water conservation is becoming a way of life for us across the state, but especially in the San Joaquin Valley. Fortunately, farmers and farmworkers are resilient and have found ways to cope.
-Written by Sen. Melissa Hurtado, D-Sanger, representing California’s 14th Senate District.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

Drought dollars could begin flowing out of Sacramento in 2021/22 budget

The Tulare County Board of Supervisors received an update by their chief lobbying consultant, Paul Yoder, earlier this month. Out of all the hoopla that comes with policy lobbying in Sacramento, Yoder was keen to point out that drought legislation could become a priority in the state capitol. At least that’s the way it seems according to the state budget. 

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Water district fights curtailment amid FERC relicensing

When the State of California issued its water curtailments late last summer, TID and neighboring districts pushed back. A coalition of water districts from Modesto, Oakdale, Manteca, and San Francisco sued the state over its curtailment order. Michelle Reimers, TID’s general manager and chief executive, says she understands the idea behind the curtailments. Aside from the pre-1914 water rights the districts own and what that means under California law, Reimers says TID is bothered by the blanket order because it fails to consider how well-managed irrigation districts like hers operate and manage their systems. 

Aquafornia news KDRV - Medford

Farmers propose solutions to drought conditions in the Western United States

The Family Farm Alliance aims to protect water for Western agriculture and describes itself as a powerful advocate before the government for family farmers, ranchers, irrigation districts, and allied industries in 17 Western states. The drought-stricken Klamath Basin is one area that they’ve identified as needing legislative change. The alliance says it has this goal to ensure the availability of reliable and affordable irrigation water needed to produce the world’s food, fiber, and fuel.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California drought – Newsom declares statewide emergency

Gov. Gavin Newsom today declared a drought emergency for the entire state of California, as conservation efforts continue to fall far short of state targets. Newsom also authorized California’s water regulators to ban wasteful water use, such as spraying down public sidewalks, and directed his Office of Emergency Services to fund drinking water as needed. But he stopped short of issuing any statewide conservation mandates.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Calif., Federal water officials ask judge to OK water restrictions amid pressure to rollback Trump plan

Amid the fallout of California’s worst water year in its history, the state will find its two primary water arteries under the management of a temporary, plan tendered to a Federal judge on Thursday, throwing out 2019 environmental rules that boosted water supplies to the Central Valley and Southern California. The plan … comes amid a cacophony of lawsuits waged both by the Newsom administration and environmental interest groups…

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Virginia investor spends big on Kern farmland with access to banked water

In a sizable series of transactions that speaks to looming uncertainties in local ag, a Wasco farming family recently sold 2,400 acres in west Bakersfield — and with them, options to buy 45,000 acre-feet of water banked by the Semitropic Water Storage District — to a Virginia-based investment company drawn to California farmland.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: Madera County groundwater situation is shown to be dire

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) made the County of Madera responsible for groundwater management for the more than 200,000 acres that are not part of an irrigation or water district (the “white areas”) in Madera County. Like many regions in the Central Valley, Madera County is heavily groundwater dependent. … [T]he Madera County Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) has been implementing a range of aggressive management actions to reduce water use, implement projects to increase supply, and take additional measures to track groundwater use …
-Written by Rob Poythress, chair of the Madera County Board of Supervisors. Supervisors Leticia Gonzalez, David Rogers, Brett Frazier and Tom Wheeler contributed to this story. 

In the Heart of the San Joaquin Valley, Two Groundwater Sustainability Agencies Try to Find Their Balance
WESTERN WATER SPECIAL REPORT: Agencies in Fresno, Tulare counties pursue different approaches to address overdraft and meet requirements of California’s groundwater law

Flooding permanent crops seasonally, such as this vineyard at Terranova Ranch in Fresno County, is one innovative strategy to recharge aquifers.Across a sprawling corner of southern Tulare County snug against the Sierra Nevada, a bounty of navel oranges, grapes, pistachios, hay and other crops sprout from the loam and clay of the San Joaquin Valley. Groundwater helps keep these orchards, vineyards and fields vibrant and supports a multibillion-dollar agricultural economy across the valley. But that bounty has come at a price. Overpumping of groundwater has depleted aquifers, dried up household wells and degraded ecosystems.

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Douglas E. Beeman

Water Resource Innovation, Hard-Earned Lessons and Colorado River Challenges — Western Water Year in Review
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK-Our 2019 articles spanned the gamut from groundwater sustainability and drought resiliency to collaboration and innovation

Smoke from the 2018 Camp Fire as viewed from Lake Oroville in Northern California. Innovative efforts to accelerate restoration of headwater forests and to improve a river for the benefit of both farmers and fish. Hard-earned lessons for water agencies from a string of devastating California wildfires. Efforts to drought-proof a chronically water-short region of California. And a broad debate surrounding how best to address persistent challenges facing the Colorado River. 

These were among the issues Western Water explored in 2019, and are still worth taking a look at in case you missed them.

Western Water California Groundwater Map Gary Pitzer

Recharging Depleted Aquifers No Easy Task, But It’s Key To California’s Water Supply Future
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: A UC Berkeley symposium explores approaches and challenges to managed aquifer recharge around the West

A water recharge basin in Southern California's Coachella Valley. 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 recharged.

Western Water Gary Pitzer

Bruce Babbitt Urges Creation of Bay-Delta Compact as Way to End ‘Culture of Conflict’ in California’s Key Water Hub
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Former Interior secretary says Colorado River Compact is a model for achieving peace and addressing environmental and water needs in the Delta

Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt gives the Anne J. Schneider Lecture April 3 at Sacramento's Crocker Art Museum.  Bruce Babbitt, the former Arizona governor and secretary of the Interior, has been a thoughtful, provocative and sometimes forceful voice in some of the most high-profile water conflicts over the last 40 years, including groundwater management in Arizona and the reduction of California’s take of the Colorado River. In 2016, former California Gov. Jerry Brown named Babbitt as a special adviser to work on matters relating to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the Delta tunnels plan.

Western Water California Groundwater Map Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Gary Pitzer

As Deadline Looms for California’s Badly Overdrafted Groundwater Basins, Kern County Seeks a Balance to Keep Farms Thriving
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: Sustainability plans required by the state’s groundwater law could cap Kern County pumping, alter what's grown and how land is used

Water sprinklers irrigate a field in the southern region of the San Joaquin Valley in Kern County.Groundwater helped make Kern County the king of California agricultural production, with a $7 billion annual array of crops that help feed the nation. That success has come at a price, however. Decades of unchecked groundwater pumping in the county and elsewhere across the state have left some aquifers severely depleted. Now, the county’s water managers have less than a year left to devise a plan that manages and protects groundwater for the long term, yet ensures that Kern County’s economy can continue to thrive, even with less water.

Key California Ag Region Ponders What’s Next After Voters Spurn Bond to Fix Sinking Friant-Kern Canal
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Subsidence chokes off up to 60% of canal’s capacity to move water to aid San Joaquin Valley farms and depleted groundwater basins

Water is up to the bottom of a bridge crossing the Friant-Kern Canal due to subsidence caused by overpumping of groundwater. The whims of political fate decided in 2018 that state bond money would not be forthcoming to help repair the subsidence-damaged parts of Friant-Kern Canal, the 152-mile conduit that conveys water from the San Joaquin River to farms that fuel a multibillion-dollar agricultural economy along the east side of the fertile San Joaquin Valley.

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Douglas E. Beeman

What Would You Do About Water If You Were California’s Next Governor?
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Survey at Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit elicits a long and wide-ranging potential to-do list

There’s going to be a new governor in California next year – and a host of challenges both old and new involving the state’s most vital natural resource, water.

So what should be the next governor’s water priorities?

That was one of the questions put to more than 150 participants during a wrap-up session at the end of the Water Education Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit in Sacramento.


Examine Key California Rivers on the Last Two Water Tours of 2018
Join us as we explore the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers; hear from farmers, water managers, environmentalists

Northern California Tour participants pose in front of Shasta Dam.The Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers are the two major Central Valley waterways that feed the Delta, the hub of California’s water supply network. Our last water tours of 2018 will look in-depth at how these rivers are managed and used for agriculture, cities and the environment. You’ll see infrastructure, learn about efforts to restore salmon runs and talk to people with expertise on these rivers.

Early bird prices are still available!

Western Water California Groundwater Map Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Gary Pitzer

Vexed by Salt And Nitrates In Central Valley Groundwater, Regulators Turn To Unusual Coalition For Solutions
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: Left unaddressed, salts and nitrates could render farmland unsuitable for crops and family well water undrinkable

An evaporation pond in Kings County, in the central San Joaquin Valley, with salt encrusted on the soil. More than a decade in the making, an ambitious plan to deal with the vexing problem of salt and nitrates in the soils that seep into key groundwater basins of the Central Valley is moving toward implementation. But its authors are not who you might expect.

An unusual collaboration of agricultural interests, cities, water agencies and environmental justice advocates collaborated for years to find common ground to address a set of problems that have rendered family wells undrinkable and some soil virtually unusable for farming.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

As Decision Nears On California Water Storage Funding, a Chairman Reflects on Lessons Learned and What’s Next
WESTERN WATER Q&A: California Water Commission Chairman Armando Quintero

Armando Quintero, chair of the California Water CommissionNew water storage is the holy grail primarily for agricultural interests in California, and in 2014 the door to achieving long-held ambitions opened with the passage of Proposition 1, which included $2.7 billion for the public benefits portion of new reservoirs and groundwater storage projects. The statute stipulated that the money is specifically for the benefits that a new storage project would offer to the ecosystem, water quality, flood control, emergency response and recreation.

Western Water California Water Bundle Gary Pitzer

Statewide Water Bond Measures Could Have Californians Doing a Double-Take in 2018
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Two bond measures, worth $13B, would aid flood preparation, subsidence, Salton Sea and other water needs

San Joaquin Valley bridge rippled by subsidence  California voters may experience a sense of déjà vu this year when they are asked twice in the same year to consider water bonds — one in June, the other headed to the November ballot.

Both tackle a variety of water issues, from helping disadvantaged communities get clean drinking water to making flood management improvements. But they avoid more controversial proposals, such as new surface storage, and they propose to do some very different things to appeal to different constituencies.


Central Valley Tour Offers Unique View of San Joaquin Valley’s Key Dams and Reservoirs
March 14-16 tour includes major federal and state water projects

Get a unique view of the San Joaquin Valley’s key dams and reservoirs that store and transport water on our March Central Valley Tour.

Our Central Valley Tour, March 14-16, offers a broad view of water issues in the San Joaquin Valley. In addition to the farms, orchards, critical habitat for threatened bird populations, flood bypasses and a national wildlife refuge, we visit some of California’s major water infrastructure projects.


San Joaquin River Restoration Tour 2017

The 2-day, 1-night tour traveled along the river from Friant Dam near Fresno to the confluence of the Merced River. As it weaved across an historic farming region, participants learn about the status of the river’s restoration and how the challenges of the plan are being worked out.


Tour of the San Joaquin River is Almost Sold Out
Our final 2017 tour dives deep into river restoration

A few tickets are still available for our Nov. 1-2 San Joaquin River Restoration Tour, a once-a-year educational opportunity to see the program’s progress first-hand. The tour begins and ends in Fresno with an overnight stay in Los Banos. 


Agricultural History and Habitat Restoration Come to Life on San Joaquin River Tour
Our two-day tour in November takes you into the heart of California's San Joaquin Valley

Explore more than 100 miles of Central California’s longest river while learning about one of the nation’s largest and costliest river restorations. Our San Joaquin River Restoration Tour on Nov. 1-2 will feature speakers from key governmental agencies and stakeholder groups who will explain the restoration program’s goals and progress.


Explore Key California Rivers on the Last Two Water Tours of the Year
Join us as we meander along the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers

The Sacramento and San Joaquin are the two major rivers in the Central Valley that feed the Delta, the hub of California’s water supply network.

Our last two water tours of 2017 will take in-depth looks at how these rivers are managed and used for agriculture, cities and the environment. You’ll see infrastructure, learn about efforts to restore salmon runs and talk to people with expertise on these rivers.

Western Water Excerpt Jennifer Bowles

Preservation and Restoration: Salmon in Northern California
Winter 2017

Protecting and restoring California’s populations of threatened and endangered Chinook salmon and steelhead trout have been a big part of the state’s water management picture for more than 20 years. Significant resources have been dedicated to helping the various runs of the iconic fish, with successes and setbacks. In a landscape dramatically altered from its natural setting, finding a balance between the competing demands for water is challenging.


Explore Diverse Wildlife Habitat on Central Valley Tour
See how water is managed in ecologically fragile areas

Our water tours give a behind-the-scenes look at major water issues in California. On our Central Valley Tour, March 8-10, you will visit wildlife habitat areas – some of which are closed to the public – and learn directly from the experts who manage them, in addition to seeing farms, large dams and other infrastructure.


Winter Rain Increases Flows on the San Joaquin River
March Central Valley water tour will analyze drought impacts

The recent deluge has led to changes in drought conditions in some areas of California and even public scrutiny of the possibility that the drought is over. Many eyes are focused on the San Joaquin Valley, one of the areas hardest hit by reduced surface water supplies. On our Central Valley Tour, March 8-10, we will visit key water delivery and storage sites in the San Joaquin Valley, including Friant Dam and Millerton Lake on the San Joaquin River.

Aquapedia background Layperson's Guide to Flood Management


Sacramento's K Street during the 1862 flood that inundated the Central Valley.ARkStorm stands for an atmospheric river (“AR”) that carries precipitation levels expected to occur once every 1,000 years (“k”). The concept was presented in a 2011 report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) intended to elevate the visibility of the very real threats to human life, property and ecosystems posed by extreme storms on the West Coast.

Aquapedia background


Contaminants exist in water supplies from both natural and manmade sources. Even those chemicals present without human intervention can be mobilized from introduction of certain pollutants from both point and nonpoint sources.  

Aquapedia background

Arsenic Contamination

Both the drought and high nitrate levels in shallow groundwater have necessitated deeper drilling of new wells in the San Joaquin Valley, only to expose water with heightened arsenic levels. Arsenic usually exists in water as arsenate or arsenite, the latter of which is more frequent in deep lake sediments or groundwater with little oxygen and is both more harmful and difficult to remove.

Aquapedia background

Whiskeytown Lake

Photo Credit: Jenn Bowles, Executive Director

Whiskeytown Lake, a major reservoir in the foothills of the Klamath Mountains nine miles west of Redding, was built at the site of one of Shasta County’s first Gold Rush communities. Whiskeytown, originally called Whiskey Creek Diggings, was founded in 1849 and named in reference to a whiskey barrel rolling off a citizen’s pack mule; it may also refer to miners drinking a barrel per day. 

Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)

A new era of groundwater management began in 2014 with the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which aims for local and regional agencies to develop and implement sustainable groundwater management plans with the state as the backstop.

SGMA defines “sustainable groundwater management” as the “management and use of groundwater in a manner that can be maintained during the planning and implementation horizon without causing undesirable results.”

Western Water Magazine

Rewriting History: California’s Epic Drought
September/October 2015

This issue examines the impacts of California’s epic drought, especially related to water supplies for San Joaquin Valley rural communities and farmland.


The 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act
A Handbook to Understanding and Implementing the Law

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.

Tour Images from the Central Valley Tour

Central Valley Tour 2015
Field Trip (past)

This 3-day, 2-night tour, which we do every spring, travels the length of the San Joaquin Valley, giving participants a clear understanding of the State Water Project and Central Valley Project.


Water & the Shaping of California
Published 2000 - Paperback

The story of water is the story of California. And no book tells that story better than Water & the Shaping of California.


Water & the Shaping of California
Published 2000 - hardbound

The story of California is the story of water. And no book tells that story better than Water & the Shaping of California.


Restoring a River: Voices of the San Joaquin

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 agreed to.


A Climate of Change: Water Adaptation Strategies

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.


Salt of the Earth: Salinity in California’s Central Valley

Salt. In a small amount, it’s a gift from nature. But any doctor will tell you, if you take in too much salt, you’ll start to have health problems. The same negative effect is happening to land in the Central Valley. The problem scientists call “salinity” poses a growing threat to our food supply, our drinking water quality and our way of life. The problem of salt buildup and potential – but costly – solutions are highlighted in this 2008 public television documentary narrated by comedian Paul Rodriguez.


Salt of the Earth: Salinity in California’s Central Valley (20-minute DVD)

A 20-minute version of the 2008 public television documentary Salt of the Earth: Salinity in California’s Central Valley. This DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues surrounding the problem of salt build up in the Central Valley potential – but costly – solutions. Narrated by comedian Paul Rodriquez.


Delta Warning

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.


Shaping of the West: 100 Years of Reclamation

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 day issues.

Maps & Posters

San Joaquin River Restoration Map
Published 2012

This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, features a map of the San Joaquin River. The map text focuses on the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, which aims to restore flows and populations of Chinook salmon to the river below Friant Dam to its confluence with the Merced River. The text discusses the history of the program, its goals and ongoing challenges with implementation. 

Maps & Posters Groundwater Education Bundle

California Groundwater Map
Redesigned in 2017

California Groundwater poster map

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 water.

Maps & Posters

California Water Map, Spanish

Spanish language version of our California Water Map

Versión en español de nuestro mapa de agua de California


Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project
Updated 2013

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project provides an overview of the California-funded and constructed State Water Project.


Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management
Published 2013

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 management approach.


Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater
Updated 2017

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.


Layperson’s Guide to Flood Management
Updated 2009

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 projects. 


Layperson’s Guide to California Water
Updated 2015

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to California Water provides an excellent overview of the history of water development and use in California. It includes sections on flood management; the state, federal and Colorado River delivery systems; Delta issues; water rights; environmental issues; water quality; and options for stretching the water supply such as water marketing and conjunctive use.


Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project
Updated 2021

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).


Layperson’s Guide to the Delta
Updated 2020

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.

Maps & Posters California Water Bundle

California Water Map
Updated December 2016

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 River.

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San Joaquin Valley

Located in the middle of California, the San Joaquin Valley is bracketed on both sides by mountain ranges. Long and flat, the valley’s hot, dry summers are followed by cool, foggy winters that make it one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world.

The valley stretches from across mid-California between coastal ranges in west and the Sierras on the east. The region includes large cities such as Fresno and Bakersfield, national parks such as Yosemite and Kings, millions of people, and fertile farmland.

Aquapedia background

San Joaquin River and San Joaquin River Restoration Program

San Joaquin RiverFlowing 366 miles from the Sierra Nevada to Suisun Bay, the San Joaquin River provides irrigation water to thousands of acres of San Joaquin Valley farms and drinking water to some of the valley’s cities. It also is the focal point for one of the nation’s most ambitious river restoration projects to revive salmon populations.

Aquapedia background California Water Map Layperson's Guide to California Water

Pacific Flyway

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.

Aquapedia background

Merced River

The Merced River is one of three major rivers that empty in the San Joaquin Valley from the east, along with the Tuolumne and the Stanislaus rivers. 

With the help of these tributaries, the San Joaquin River irrigates millions of acres of cropland in the San Joaquin Valley.

Aquapedia background

Kesterson Reservoir

The former Kesterson Reservoir in the San Joaquin Valley provides a cautionary tale of the environmental impacts of agricultural drainage.

Aquapedia background

California Aqueduct

The California Aqueduct, a critical part of the State Water Project, carries water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Deltato the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.

Western Water Magazine

Meeting the Co-equal Goals? The Bay Delta Conservation Plan
May/June 2013

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.

Western Water Magazine

Viewing Water with a Wide Angle Lens: A Roundtable Discussion
January/February 2013

This printed issue of Western Water features a roundtable discussion with Anthony Saracino, a water resources consultant; Martha Davis, executive manager of policy development with the Inland Empire Utilities Agency and senior policy advisor to the Delta Stewardship Council; Stuart Leavenworth, editorial page editor of The Sacramento Bee and Ellen Hanak, co-director of research and senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California.

Western Water Magazine

How Much Water Does the Delta Need?
July/August 2012

This printed issue of Western Water examines the issues associated with the State Water Board’s proposed revision of the water quality Bay-Delta Plan, most notably the question of whether additional flows are needed for the system, and how they might be provided.

Western Water Magazine

Saving it For Later: Groundwater Banking
July/August 2010

This printed issue of Western Water examines groundwater banking, a water management strategy with appreciable benefits but not without challenges and controversy.

Western Water Magazine

Small Water Systems, Big Challenges
May/June 2008

This printed copy of Western Water examines the challenges facing small water systems, including drought preparedness, limited operating expenses and the hurdles of complying with costlier regulations. Much of the article is based on presentations at the November 2007 Small Systems Conference sponsored by the Water Education Foundation and the California Department of Water Resources.

Western Water Magazine

Salt of the Earth: Can the Central Valley Solve its Salinity Problem?
July/August 2007

This Western Water looks at proposed new measures to deal with the century-old problem of salinity with a special focus on San Joaquin Valley farms and cities.