Topic: San Joaquin Valley

Overview

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 SJV Water

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Water transfers helped farmers survive this year. Now, all eyes are on the coming water year

Water transfers, trades and sales doubled this year as drought left San Joaquin Valley farmers scrambling for supplies. … [Sam Boland-Brien, program manager at the State Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Water Rights] said he’s seen about twice the amount of transfers this year compared to an average water year. 

Aquafornia news CNN News Wire

The West’s historic drought in 3 maps

More than 94 percent of the West is in drought this week, according to the US Drought Monitor, with six states entirely in drought status: California, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Montana. Parts of the West saw record-setting rainfall that brought some slight relief to the region, but most areas remain dry. Against the backdrop of climate change-fueled drought, wildfires have charred nearly 6 million acres of vegetation across the region. Fire experts say that dry and windy conditions create a prime environment for wildfires to spark and spread.

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Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

County’s fracking lawsuit also targets other oilfield regulatory actions

The lawsuit Kern County filed this week against Gov. Gavin Newsom is aimed at not only ending his de-facto ban on fracking but also at easing state regulatory constraints on at least two other oilfield techniques common locally. As part of its larger argument that the Newsom administration has overstepped its constitutional authority, Monday’s petition for a writ of mandate in Kern County Superior Court asserts Newsom had no right in 2019 to place a moratorium on high-pressure cyclic steaming or require extensive “area of review” analyses prior to approval of underground injections.

Aquafornia news Ceres Courier

Surface water plant operational by June 2023?

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.

Aquafornia news Foothills Sun-Gazette

Assembly ends SB 559 hopes this year

The Valley’s best hope to renovate its water infrastructure has been put on the shelf for now. Senate Bill (SB) 559, the State Water Resiliency Act of 2021, was moved to the state Assembly’s “inactive file” on Sept. 8. … As written SB 559 offered a holisitic, statewide approach to help restore the conveyance capacity by created a fund to provide up to $785 million to repair key parts of the state’s water infrastructure.

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Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Downsized almond industry proceeds with harvest

Almonds in California are no longer sustainable at current levels. That’s the consensus of recent headlines describing the prolonged historic drought — and increasing restrictions on water use — currently impacting the state’s $6 billion industry and its efforts to produce 80 percent of the world’s almonds.  The U.S. Drought Monitor is showing California to be slowly approaching 90% of the state categorized as being in ‘extreme’ drought —especially in the Central Valley.

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Aquafornia news Foothills Sun-Gazette

Sierra Club threatens suit over ag land policy

A month after the Visalia City Council threw out a policy designed to prevent urban sprawl, the Sierra Club is threatening to sue the city over the change … requesting an injunction against implementation of the new policy, which does not include an ag mitigation policy (AMP). … The city attorney advised the General Plan could be “modified” due to changes in case law since 2014, such as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act which could affect the availability of water to some farmland within the city’s growth boundaries.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Farmland repurposing program awaits Gov. Newsom’s OK

A bill that would have created a program to help farmers find new life for farmland idled by coming groundwater restrictions had its own phoenix moment last week in the Legislature when it was simultaneously killed and reborn — this time with money. AB 252, authored by Assemblymembers Robert Rivas (D-Salinas) and Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), died in the state Senate last week but much of its content was reborn in a budget bill with $50 million attached.

Aquafornia news KALW - San Francisco

One Planet: CA Democrats fail to pass climate legislation as wells dry up

About 2,700 wells across the state are projected to go dry this year. If the drought continues, 1,000 more will go dry next year. In 2014, the California Legislature enacted a package of new laws that aimed to stop groundwater over-pumping, but as CalMatters’ Rachel Becker reports seven years later, little has changed for Californians relying on drinking water wells. Depletion of their groundwater continues. Pumping is largely unrestricted, and there are few, if any, protections in place.

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Aquafornia news Mother Jones

Opinion: Biden just handed a bone to big almond

To fill the post of chief agricultural negotiator at the United States Trade Representative’s office, the Biden administration dipped into California’s hot, dusty, drought-plagued San Joaquin Valley and plucked out an almond-industry lobbyist. … Biden is favoring the $6 billion almond industry at a particularly fraught time in its history. The ever-expanding groves of California’s Central Valley churn out nearly 80 percent of the globe’s almonds.
-Written by Mother Jones reporter Tom Philpott. 

Aquafornia news Spectrum News 1

Kern County farmers say water infrastructure is needed

On Aug. 3, the State Water Resources Control Board completely eliminated 2021’s surface water supplies for farms in much of the state. It has impacted farmers like John Moore III, who grows pistachios at Moore Farms in Arvin. … While California is prone to drought, the last reservoir in the state was completed in the 1980s. The state’s population has grown tremendously since then. Moore says the state wouldn’t be in this situation if more infrastructure was built.

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Aquafornia news KQED

Central Valley farmers weigh in on California’s historic drought

Unless you have a personal connection to the Central Valley or work in agriculture, chances are you haven’t been able to speak directly to a farmer about how they’re experiencing this year’s historic drought. Recently on  KQED Forum, three farmers from the Central Valley, where roughly 40% of the nation’s fruits, vegetables and nuts are grown, shared just how little water they have to work with, how they’re adapting, and what the drought means for their industry long term.

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Fresno County CA towns unable to solve drinking water crisis

The longer it takes for two new wells to be dug in Cantua Creek and El Porvenir in western Fresno County, the deeper in debt the towns are mired. Now, with the drought, those well projects are in a race against dropping groundwater levels as farmers, cut off from surface water supplies, are leaning more heavily on the aquifer. The well projects started in 2018 and aren’t scheduled to be completed until sometime next year.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Study finds local oil field wastewater safe for use in irrigation

Central Valley water-quality regulators released a final report Friday concluding oil field wastewater from central Kern County, when blended with other water sources, can safely be used to irrigate a variety of locally grown crops. The report, based on five years’ work and incomplete in some respects, found no evidence of risks to human health from watering tree nuts, citrus, berries, tubers and other ag products with the saline water that comes up from the ground along with oil and which contains small concentrations of toxic chemicals.

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Aquafornia news ABC30 Fresno

California governor recall election: Republican candidate Larry Elder discusses drought while visiting Central California farmers

The California recall election is fast approaching, and candidates are not wasting time. GOP frontrunner Larry Elder made a second stop in the Central Valley this week, focusing on crime and water shortages during a one-on-one with farmers. … Jacobsen said farmers are hurting across the Valley and want state leaders to take action and help solve the water crisis. With the gubernatorial recall election looming, the Republican contender Elder said he wants them to know he’s listening.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Friday Top of the Scroll: California lawmakers shelve plan to fix state’s water supply canals

The major arteries of California’s water-delivery system are crumbling, but a proposal in the state Legislature to spend $785 million fixing them is dead for the year. The legislation, SB 559 was pulled off the table this week by its chief author, state Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger), after an Assembly committee stripped the funding and made other changes to the legislation. Hurtado’s decision turns SB 559 into a two-year bill that could be revived next year.

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Farmers face mounting stress amid hard times

California farmers and ranchers have no shortages of stress this year. They face drought and water supply cuts, devastating wildfires and pandemic impacts. There are also labor shortages and financial pressures from fluctuating commodity prices or trade disruptions. These impacts inspire serious discussions in agricultural communities about looking after farmers’ mental health.

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Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

State’s curtailment orders draw lawsuits from Modesto-area water users and San Francisco

The state’s curtailment of river diversions has drawn lawsuits from eight irrigation districts in and near Stanislaus County, along with San Francisco.  The three filings claim that the State Water Resources Control Board exceeded its authority with the Aug. 20 orders. The plaintiffs also said they did not get enough chance beforehand to make their cases for continued diversions.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Growers hope groundwater markets provide flexibility

Some San Joaquin Valley farmers could someday have a new “crop” to sell —  their groundwater. In the face of looming groundwater pumping restrictions, some groundwater agencies are looking at internal markets to give growers a way to save water and still earn a profit.

Aquafornia news KTLA

Toxic algae bloom reaches danger level at Merced County’s San Luis Reservoir

A bloom of toxic blue-green algae in a Central California reservoir has reached the danger level, the state Department of Water Resource said Tuesday. Lab results from this week’s tests showed an increase in toxin levels at San Luis Reservoir in Merced County, the department said. Boating is allowed but people and pets should avoid physical contact with the water and algal scum. Fish and shellfish from the lake should also be avoided.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

September will be hot. Here’s how to protect your pets (and yourself).

For much of California, the arrival of September has brought extreme, scalding temperatures. Sunday was the hottest day in Los Angeles in nearly 11 months, according to AccuWeather. Temperatures in the Inland Empire and the Sacramento region soared into the triple-digits over the long weekend. And in the next few days, dangerous heat waves are projected for large swaths of the state, weather officials warn.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California drought takes toll on Central Valley farmworkers

For decades, farm labor has kept unincorporated communities alive throughout the Central Valley. But the drought is making it hard to stay. The dearth of essential resources — clean water, adequate housing and fair employment wages — has crippled towns that are easily overlooked and triggered a slow exodus to bigger places.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: How drought, climate change impact California almond agriculture

First came the asparagus field. Then came the melons. And now Joe Del Bosque is considering the unthinkable: tearing out a sprawling almond orchard bursting with healthy, nut-producing trees. … Two decades of almost unrelenting growth vaulted almonds into the upper ranks of California agriculture. Now, though, the state’s $6 billion-a-year industry is being humbled by a devastating drought. Farmers have slowed the pace of new orchard plantings and, in a few cases, have plowed up trees still capable of bearing almonds.

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation awards $3.1 million in grants to develop water data, modeling and forecasting tools and information for water managers

The Bureau of Reclamation selected 20 projects to share $3.1 million in applied science grants to develop tools and information to support water management decisions. These projects in 11 western states include improved water data, modeling and forecasting capabilities.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Opinion: A test for California’s groundwater regulations in the megadrought

Record dry conditions once again in the West have led the federal and state governments to declare water supply shortages. California’s governor has declared that 50 counties, in which approximately 41% of the state’s population exists, are now under a drought state of emergency. This prompted the adoption of emergency regulations ordering water rights holders to curtail their water diversions on numerous northern California rivers.

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Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

Drought emergency: Dry conditions sending wildlife into East Bay neighborhoods

The drought emergency in the Bay Area is not only affecting humans, but also wildlife. From turkeys strolling along streets, to wild pigs appearing on surveillance video digging up yards, bone dry conditions in the hills has sent thirsty wildlife into neighborhoods, particularly in the East Bay. Other creatures spotted in neighborhoods recently include mountain lions and even the occasional bear. Wildlife experts say its the season for these visitors. Dry hillsides causing wildlife to stroll to low lying areas to find food and precious water.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Study shows California groundwater quality threatened by drought

Researchers have suspected for years that drought conditions worsen groundwater quality, but a study published this week provides strong evidence proving the long-held assumption. While previous studies have focused on the risk of wells being overdrawn and run dry during drought, the study from the United States Geological Survey and the California State Water Resources Control Board is the first to directly link drought to deteriorating water quality on a regional scale. The study looked at 30 years of data from California’s Central Valley.

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Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Friant-Kern Canal repairs scheduled to begin in November

The first phase of much-needed repairs of the Friant-Kern Canal is set to begin late this fall. It was reported at Tuesday’s Tulare County Board of Supervisors meeting construction on the first phase of the project is set to begin in November. As part the process to move the project along the board unanimously approved a Memorandum of Understanding for the project to move forward.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Can a historic Black town be revitalized?

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.

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse

California lawmakers scorn ‘corporate agribusiness’ while mulling drought relief for small farmers

Lawmakers accused almond growers of over-planting and livestock ranchers of unsustainable practices, while others sought policy ideas to help small family farmers.

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Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

‘Wonderful’: Tooleville relieved in state’s force for water consolidation

Last week, the State Water Board finally intervened in the unincorporated area of Tooleville’s 20-year struggle to obtain the basic human right to clean drinking water with a letter to the city of Exeter and the Tooleville Mutual Nonprofit Water Association, giving the two parties six months to hash out terms for a voluntary consolidation of Tooleville to Exeter’s water system or face a mandatory order with much less cooperation.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California water suppliers cast 1st challenge to strict drought rules

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.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

How drought forced California to mandate drinking water consolidation for Tooleville

Life in Tooleville wasn’t easy before the latest drought. Residents of this tiny, two-road farmworker community, tucked into the edge of the Sierra Nevada foothills in eastern Tulare County, have been living on bottled water since 2014 because its two wells are contaminated with hexavalent chromium. Then in July, one of those wells started to dry up, thanks to plummeting groundwater levels. State Water Resources Control Board officials agree Tooleville’s other well will likely hit sand in a matter of months.

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Aquafornia news AgNet West

Hopes that dry year will prompt action on water management and storage

There is hope that the unfortunate conditions of California’s water supply this year will prompt decisive action on water management and storage. President and CEO of Western Growers, Dave Puglia noted that his conversations with growers have been disheartening. There is significant concern that if California gets another dry year, many farmers will not be able to recover. The dire circumstances of the current water year underscore the imperative need for an updated approach to water management.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Salmon program takes giant leap thanks to land donation

One farmer has single handedly ramped up the pace of a program trying to save native salmon in the San Joaquin River by donating a key sliver of land to the federal government. Connley Clayton donated about eight acres of his Madera County riverfront land to the government’s San Joaquin River Restoration Program. The land will provide crucial space for the government to build a passage that fish can use to swim around the Sack Dam, a significant impediment to salmon returning upriver from the sea.

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Madera County CA, overwhelmed by drought, dry water wells

Madera County is running out of time as groundwater levels plummet to new depths. Wells are going dry everywhere. Drillers have months-long waitlists. Residents are scrambling for water tanks. And farmers will soon face a reckoning after agriculture’s footprint, particularly nut trees, has more than doubled in the past 50 years — far outpacing irrigation supplies.

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Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Faulconer gets briefed on Calif. drought – “a human crisis by design”

The San Joaquin Valley is quickly become home to another ignominious superlative: greatest number of water outages per community. The state’s ever-worsening drought conditions are pushing Valley communities to the brink on the precipice of a statewide recall election. As the Sept. 14 election nears, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer returned to the San Joaquin Valley on Friday for a briefing with members of the Latino Water Coalition, Fresno County Supervisors, and an assemblage of some of the top water experts in the region.

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Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Editorial: Wake-up call – California’s water is running out

Mandatory limits on water use are likely to be imposed in the near future on California residents, businesses and farms. Get ready. You can’t change the weather, which has deprived the state of its necessary rain and snowfall. But you can change your response. After examining the state’s shockingly low reservoirs, Gov. Gavin Newsom told reporters recently that a statewide limit on water use may be needed to head off a supply crisis caused by California’s historic drought, which continues to worsen.

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Aquafornia news The Washington Post

California’s ‘Cantaloupe Capital’ struggles as drought pummels agriculture across West

This small town [Mendota] in California’s agriculture-rich Central Valley advertises itself as the “Cantaloupe Center of the World.” But as relentless drought punishes California and the West, the land is drying up and the cantaloupes are disappearing. Farmers have let large portions of their melon fields lie fallow as they struggle to get by on dramatically curtailed water supplies. Some are giving their vines barely enough water to stay alive in an effort to conserve. In other cases, fields that have already been planted will never get harvested because there’s not enough water for the fruit to survive.

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Aquafornia news City News Group, Inc.

‘Valley District’ lowers property tax rate for constituents

After twenty years at or above the current level, the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District Board of Directors voted to lower its property tax rate. Valley District, a wholesale water provider and State Water Contractor, is required to set a property tax rate each fiscal year for the debt service fund on its State Water Contract.

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Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

Tooleville wells nearly run dry, state begins consolidation with Exeter

Maria Olivera’s house sits on a dirt road that dead-ends at the Friant Kern Canal, the 152-mile aqueduct quenching the endless thirst of the San Joaquin Valley crops that feed the country. She’s called Tooleville home since 1974, where residents have been fighting to attain the basic human right to clean drinking water for the better part of two decades.

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

California Water Board to order water consolidation for Tooleville

The state of California took the first step to order and potentially pay for the city of Exeter in Tulare County to extend water service to hundreds of homes in a nearby town without safe and stable drinking water. For decades, the 340 residents of Tooleville have relied on contaminated groundwater as their main source of tap water….

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Woodville PUD awarded $2.2 million grant to improve quality of drinking water

The Woodville Public Utilities District will receive a state grant of more than $2.2 million to improve the quality of drinking water for its community. The grant was recently announced by the State Department of Water Resources as part of a program to support communities facing water supply challenges. The department announced the first round of funding which will eventually total $200 million through the Small Community Drought Relief Program. In the first round, 10 small water systems in Tulare, Siskiyou, Shasta, Lake and Kern Counties were chosen to receive $25 million. 

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: Fresno writer remembers watery joys of the past, even as the drought wears her down

As if I’m a thirsty person craving my next drink, I keep thinking about water. I hear the stories. A 20-acre family farm sits fallow. Down the road, another piece of land has the same barren look. Is the problem reasonable crop values or access to water? Likely, a bucket of both.  Fresno averages 11.5 inches of rain per year. Total precipitation from Oct. 1, 2020 to date is 6.59 inches, or 60% of normal — a larger percentage than most parts of the state.  In the canal I floated down as a kid, not a drop of water has flowed all season.
-Written by Danielle R. Shapazian, a nurse and writer who lives in Fresno.  

Aquafornia news Sierra Sun Times

Fresno State reports resources available to Central Valley well owners affected by drought

Resources are available to help San Joaquin Valley residents affected by drought maintain access to drinking water. A group of organizations in the San Joaquin Valley coordinated by the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley Water Workgroup have developed an outreach plan and a list of resources available to private well owners or part of a small community who have lost or are concerned about losing access to drinking water due to groundwater level. 

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Aquafornia news KMPH

Senator Hurtado not satisfied with money allotted for canal restoration projects

California’s water infrastructure is decades old and drastically needs to be fixed. Valley Senator Melissa Hurtado just got water repair money from the Governor but it’s far less than what she wanted. Senator Hurtado got $100-million from Governor Newsom in her water bill. But it’s $685-million short of what she was seeking. The money will go to four water projects, the San Joaquin and San Luis Divisions of the California Aqueduct, Delta-Mendota Canal and the Friant-Kern Canal.

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Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

California reservoirs: dropping daily

California’s fifth largest reservoir — San Luis — is now at 16 percent of capacity. The nation’s largest off-stream reservoir with the ability to hold 2,041,000 million acre feet exists to divert excess winter and spring river flows headed for the Pacific Ocean. As such it underscores the fact the entire Central Valley, the southern Sierra, the North Bay, and the East Bay are in exceptional drought — the worst designation of the United States Department of Agriculture drought monitor. Historically on Aug. 16 San Luis would be at 36 percent of capacity.

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Aquafornia news GV Wire

Fresno, Clovis battle drought with ‘purple pipe’ water. Toilet-to-tap next?

As the drought crisis worsens throughout California, Fresno and Clovis leaders, as well as residents, are answering the challenge. Both cities are recycling water through “purple pipe” systems to offset non-potable usages like landscape irrigation, cooling towers, and agricultural irrigation.  In addition, they are beginning to investigate “toilet to tap” systems already in use in Orange and San Diego counties.

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Aquafornia news SJV Sun

South Valley communities on verge of running out of water press Newsom to halt 18% rate hike

As if California’s drought situation could get no worse, water agencies and poor communities in the southern San Joaquin Valley are confronting a new reality. While they receive no water from the State Water Project, they’re being hit with rate hikes of up to 18 percent from last year by California water officials. In a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, state water users in the old Tulare Lake bed  – including water agencies that serve some of the state’s poorest communities – called for the Department of Water Resources to halt its planned hike on water rates.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California drought drains wells and dreams in Central Valley

Fourteen years ago, Heriberto Sevilla came across a ranch on the outskirts of Madera set among fields of stalk grass and bright wildflowers. Pepper trees dotted the meadow, and children played in the natural lakes created by heavy rains. It was the perfect place to raise a big family. … But then a darkness came over the little Eden the Sevillas had created. Amid two years of relentless drought, the well’s output slowly tapered off. The family was forced to buy gallons of precious water from the grocery store to take showers, clean dishes and cook. 

Aquafornia news Turlock Journal

Opinion: It’s too bad Josh Harder isn’t in Sacramento instead of Congress

Not only does the Turlock-native Congressman refrain from partisan politics for the most part, although those who don’t understand why a Democrat would vote for Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker as opposed to Kevin McCarthy will argue that point, but Harder knows a drought when he sees one. The second term 10th District congressman in late July noted that California is in dire straits. Harder pointed out the reservoirs we rely on are at a lower point now than they were at the depth of the last drought that ended in 2019.
-Written by Turlock Journal columnist Dennis Wyatt. 

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: State Water Board focuses on Valley towns without clean water

It’s very important to lead with your values. That’s exactly what is happening at the California Water Quality Control Board regarding racial equity and environmental justice. … Water is life, and here in the Central Valley, water access is as big an issue here as almost anywhere else on Earth. In California we have a “human right to water” approach that was built into our system when the Legislature passed the Human Right to Water Act.
-Written by Lourin Hubbard, operations manager for the Central Valley Water Quality Control Board.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Public is in the ring in fight over Kern River

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. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

California enacted a groundwater law 7 years ago. But wells are still drying up — and it’s spreading

Kelly O’Brien’s drinking water well had been in its death throes for days before its pump finally gave out over Memorial Day weekend. … Soon O’Brien learned that other wells were failing around her. She heard about one neighbor to the north, another to the east. The list kept growing: She started a Facebook group for owners of dry wells to share their woes and resources, and it grew to more than 665 members. 

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Aquafornia news Marketplace

California farms destroying crops instead of paying for water

When Stuart Woolf was growing up on his dad’s ranch in Huron, California, he never liked working the tomato harvest. “I thought, ‘I am never going to do this.’ Everything was kind of wet, hot and stinky,” Woolf said.  These days, though, now as president of the 20,000-acre ranch, Woolf is prioritizing tomatoes over some of his other crops, like cotton and almonds, since they’re relatively less water-intensive. With the drought desiccating California’s Central Valley, farmers like Woolf are having to reevaluate their business models based on how much water they can afford.

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Aquafornia news The Hill

Experts say record-setting heat and wildfires just a taste what’s coming in our future

Extreme weather events in recent headlines, including wildfires, heat waves and flooding, could offer a preview of what to expect in forecasts of the near future, experts suggest. … Already, historic heat waves have ravaged the Pacific Northwest, wildfires blaze across California and Oregon and agencies are recording some of the hottest months on record. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said last week that July was the hottest month ever recorded.

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Aquafornia news The Economist

Why pumping groundwater isn’t a long-term solution to drought

Signs of drought proliferate across the American West. California is rationing water for farmers in the state’s Central Valley. Salmon are dying en masse in the Pacific Northwest as river temperatures climb. Lake Mead, on the border of Nevada and Arizona, is drying up. … Groundwater is the source of drinking water for half of Americans, and nearly all of the country’s rural communities. … But groundwater has become dangerously depleted in places where pumping has exceeded the rate at which aquifers are naturally replenished.

Aquafornia news KTLA

NOAA predicts 70% chance of La Niña winter: Here’s what that means for drought-stricken SoCal

It’s looking increasingly likely the U.S. will see La Niña conditions this winter, something that could spell bad news for an already parched Southern California. As of Thursday, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says there’s a 70% chance that La Niña returns for a second straight winter, this time between the period of November 2021 and January 2022. As such, a La Niña Watch has been issued by the agency. So what does that mean for winter weather?

Aquafornia news The Atlantic

A well fixer’s story of the California drought

The well fixer and I were standing at the edge of an almond orchard in the exhausted middle of California. It was late July, and so many wells on the farms of Madera County were coming up dry that he was running out of parts to fix them. In this latest round of western drought, desperate voices were calling him at six in the morning and again at midnight. They were puzzled why their pumps were coughing up sand, the water’s flow to their orchards now a trickle.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

The face of California’s water world is changing

In California’s water world, long dominated almost exclusively by men, women are blazing a path — sometimes straight to the top. … Karla Nemeth [director of California’s Department of Water Resources] … said law and engineering backgrounds used to be strictly prioritized in water, but the field is opening up to other disciplines and collaborative skills. Nemeth, arguably one of the state’s most powerful water leaders, helms DWR, which manages California’s water resources, infrastructure and systems. 

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Deep pockets vie for Kern pistachio orchards

Pistachios have recently become perhaps the top choice for institutional investors in Kern County agriculture, apparently surpassing almonds. Farmland brokers say prices and demand for local pistachio orchards — the few properties listed for sale, anyway — have increased since about 2019 because of the trees’ longevity, crop price stability and higher tolerance for limited and lower-quality water supplies.

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Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: San Luis Reservoir algal bloom increases to warning level

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is urging the public to avoid contact with water at San Luis Reservoir in Merced County until further notice due to blue-green algae (cyanobacteria). Boating is allowed, but swimming and other water-contact recreation and sporting activities are not considered safe due to potential adverse health effects. O’Neill Forebay remains at caution advisory. For more information on caution and warning level advisories, go to Harmful Algal Bloom website under Advisory Signs.

Aquafornia news The Press

Residents asked to comment on groundwater plan updates

The Town of Discovery Bay is seeking public comment on the latest additions to its groundwater sustainability plan (GSP). Comments are due by Aug. 16. Unlike other East County communities which use a blend of water drawn from the Delta and groundwater, Discovery Bay residents are completely reliant on groundwater for all household and commercial uses.

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Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Opinion: Why drought should have California’s almond, alfalfa farmers deeply worried

Like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — arid nations with limited water supplies — California should consider banning or limiting the cultivation of water-intensive crops. At a time of severe water shortages, it makes sense to end the cultivation for export of crops like almonds and alfalfa, a plant mostly used to feed cows. Where does the world get 80 percent of its almonds? The Golden State. Where does Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (and Japan and China) get much of their alfalfa? You guessed it. California.
-Written by San Diego U-T columnist Chris Reed.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation re-announces 60-day comment period for Central Valley Project Delta and Friant draft contracts

Due to technical difficulties the Bureau of Reclamation re-announced today ongoing congressionally mandated contract conversions pursuant to the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act. Today’s release includes draft repayment contracts from the Central Valley Project Delta and Friant contractors for a 60-day public comment period. These represent seven of over 80 repayment contract conversions requested by federal CVP contractors. 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Green

Climate change hits sushi supply chain amid California water war

If you’ve eaten sushi anywhere in the U.S., chances are the rice came from California’s Sacramento Valley. Fritz Durst, a sixth-generation farmer, has grown the grain and other crops there for more than four decades. But this year, amid a historic drought, Durst is planting only half as many acres of rice as usual. … Farmers like Durst would be having an even worse year if it weren’t for water siphoned from the Sacramento River to irrigate fields. Those diversions, though, have dire consequences for another part of the sushi supply chain: The salmon industry. 

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Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: State agencies announce first round of commitments for $200 million in drought funding to support small communities

Moving to provide immediate support to communities facing water supply challenges, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) Wednesday announced the first round of funding commitments for $200 million available through the Small Community Drought Relief Program. DWR, in coordination with the State Water Resources Control Board, is directing $25 million to 10 small water systems in Tulare, Siskiyou, Shasta, Lake and Kern Counties.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Local group files papers in fight over Kern River

A new player has entered the legal fray over the Kern River — the public. Actually, it’s a consortium of Bakersfield and other nonprofit, public interest groups that hope to sway the state Water Resources Control Board to, ultimately, re-water the mostly dry Kern River through town. The Flowing Kern Coalition made its debut Tuesday when it filed a notice of intent to appear at an upcoming proceeding on the Kern River.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California just recorded its hottest July ever. Charts show it’s part of a trend

California just closed the books on its hottest July on record, a whopping 5.3 degrees above normal. It was the latest in a rash of record-setting months over the past year, as the state saw its hottest July, June, October, September and August in history, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA data shows that the average monthly temperature in July was 80 degrees, 5.3 degrees above normal, or the average temperature from 1901 to 2000. June’s average temperature was 75 degrees, 6.8 degrees above normal.

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Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

State again exercises discretion to reject fracking permits in western Kern

For the second time, State Oil and Gas Supervisor Uduak-Joe Ntuk has used his discretionary authority, as opposed to technical standards, to reject a series of permit applications to use the controversial oilfield technique known as fracking. Ntuk sent a letter Monday to Bakersfield-based oil producer Aera Energy LLC saying he has reviewed and denied applications filed by the company to hydraulically fracture 14 wells in the South Belridge oil field in western Kern County.

Aquafornia news Random Lengths News

Living with climate change in farmworker communities

In the southern San Joaquin Valley town of Poplar, extreme heat in the summer is the normal condition in which people live and work. It is one of the poorest communities in the state.  Air conditioning in trailer homes or crowded houses normally consists of old swamp coolers, which hardly lower temperatures. At work people bundle up, using layers of clothing to insulate against heat and dust.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

CA water district accused of improper diversions from canals

An obscure farm-irrigation agency in the San Joaquin Valley, the Panoche Water District has been struggling with a monumental scandal the past three years, with top officials under criminal indictment for embezzling public funds and illegally dumping toxic waste. It turns out the district has also been allegedly taking water from the federal government. Earlier this year Panoche agreed to pay the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation nearly $7.5 million to compensate for “unauthorized diversion of water” from two federal canals, according to a settlement agreement obtained by The Bee. 

Aquafornia news Water Foundation

Blog: No easy scapegoats when drinking water systems fail

While recent commentary saddled the state with all the blame for the lack of drinking water in Teviston, local jurisdictions in the San Joaquin Valley must also accept responsibility. Small water systems are caught between the historic legacy of discriminatory policy, dropping groundwater levels caused by overpumping, and chronically failing water systems. Local governments have long resisted providing aid to these communities or initiating processes that could require nearby systems to provide water, particularly when those solutions may impact wealthier neighbors.

Aquafornia news NDTV

A drought-hit California town Corcoran finds itself sinking into the ground

[S]igns of this subsidence are nearly invisible to the human eye. There are no cracks in the walls of the typical American shops in the town’s center, nor crevices opening up in the streets or fields: to measure subsidence, Californian authorities had to turn to NASA, which used satellites to analyze the geological change. And yet, over the past 100 years, Corcoran has sunken “the equivalent of a two-story house,” Jeanine Jones, a manager with the California Department of Water Resources, told AFP.

Aquafornia news Al Jazeera

Historic drought threatens California farms

In the valleys of central California, the search for water has turned into an all-out obsession as the region suffers through a drought that could threaten the US’s food supply. Residents have watched with dismay as verdant fields turned into brown, dusty plains, leaving shrivelled trees, dying plants and frustrated farmers. Much of California, and of the broader US West, has suffered through years of lighter-than-usual precipitation and a particularly dry winter.

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

How did drinking water in northeast Fresno CA homes go bad?

In early January 2016, Fresno city officials began picking up on social media chatter among northeast Fresno residents who were concerned about rusty, discolored water coming out of their pipes. Starting Jan. 25, the city began testing the water in five homes around an area bounded by Chestnut Avenue on the west, Gettysburg Avenue on the south, Willow Avenue on the east and Copper Avenue to the north. Test results showed everything checked out fine, including pipes between the water main and the homes. However, the tests did find iron, zinc, copper and in a few of the homes, lead.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

West Nile virus: another alarming side effect of US drought

The West Nile virus was once associated with higher humidity and moisture, conditions that help mosquitoes thrive. But a growing body of research has found that drought conditions – such as those being felt across the American west – could amplify its effects. States are already on alert. California reported its first death of the year in July. By the end of that month, the state’s department of public health (CDPH) had documented the virus in 4 people, 94 dead birds, 563 mosquito samples, 10 chickens and 1 horse.

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Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Friant-Kern Canal repair process continues with repayment contract

Another hurdle has been cleared in the pending and much needed repairs of a 33-mile stretch of the Friant-Kern Canal. Known as the Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Project, repairs will be done on the 33-mile stretch of the canal form between Lindsay and Strathmore to North Kern County. When the federal government provided $206 million in funding for the project last year that meant the project would finally become a reality. 

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Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

President Joe Biden’s agriculture secretary touched down in Fresno. Here’s what he saw

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack stressed innovation and collaboration Thursday as he visited a Fresno County farm dealing with California’s drought. … Vilsack’s visit comes the same week the State Water Resources Control Board imposed an “emergency curtailment” order covering the rivers of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed — essentially the entire Central Valley.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California farmers cut off from rivers in emergency drought order

California regulators cut off thousands of farmers from their main irrigation supplies Tuesday, banning them from pulling water from the state’s main rivers and streams as the drought worsens. The State Water Resources Control Board, following hours of debate and comment, voted 5-0 to impose an “emergency curtailment” order covering the rivers of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed — essentially the entire Central Valley. It’s the most dramatic step taken to date by state regulators since the drought was officially declared in most of California’s counties — and surpasses any of the moves made during the previous drought. 

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Aquafornia news Daily Californian

Researchers study impact of California drought, wildfires

As California grapples with the effects of an ongoing drought, UC Berkeley researchers are studying changes in the magnitude of streamflows and drought-induced tree mortality in order to advise climate change policy.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation announces 30-day comment period for Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project repayment contract

The Bureau of Reclamation and the Friant Water Authority announced today a 30-day public comment period for a repayment contract related to costs of extraordinary operation and maintenance work on the Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project. This project will restore a 33-mile stretch of the canal that has lost over half of its original capacity to subsidence. 

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Opinion: The Tuolumne

The waters of the Tuolumne River flow through Modesto two ways. One is in the natural riverbed that cuts through the city just south of downtown. The other is in the original “Delta bypass tunnel” — the 46.7 mile pipeline across the San Joaquin Valley beneath the Hetch Hetchy Trail that moves water diverted from the reservoir the urban trail is named after.
-Written by Dennis Wyatt, columnist for the Manteca Bulletin.

Aquafornia news Capital and Main

Toxic ‘forever chemicals’ suspected at oil sites across California

At least 162 oil refineries and other petroleum-holding facilities in California have likely stored or used materials containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a class of synthetic chemicals that persist indefinitely in the environment and are linked to severe illnesses, according to state water regulators. The California State Water Resources Control Board sent a letter to facility operators in March ordering them to submit work plans evaluating the presence of the toxic compounds at their facilities, including areas where PFAS are stored or disposed of and the potential ways the chemicals could have contaminated soil, surface water, storm water and groundwater …

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

In drought’s grip, Manteca-Lathrop has flood worries

South San Joaquin County as well as the rest of California is in severe drought. But one of the big worries of more than a few people including rural South Manteca farmers and residents, elected leaders in Manteca and Lathrop, and the handful of city residents not oblivious to the fact they reside in one of the most flood prone areas in California is too much water. On Monday when the forecast calls for a high of 93 degrees with absolutely no chance of rain, the San Joaquin Area Flood Control Agency (SJAFCA) is updating the community on the Manteca dryland levee project. 

Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

News release: Updated computer models released for key California water projects

The Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) today released the next versions of two computer models that simulate operations of the State Water Project (SWP) and the Central Valley Project (CVP). Water managers use the models – CalSim II and CalSim 3 – to examine project operations under various assumptions for hydrologic conditions, project  facilities and regulatory requirements.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation launches website with real-time information, interactive resources on drought

The Bureau of Reclamation launched a new web portal today that provides real-time drought-related information and details of drought actions taken in collaboration with stakeholders and partners. The science-based web portal is designed to increase public and media understanding of drought conditions and the all-of-government efforts to mitigate these conditions by the Biden-Harris administration. 

Aquafornia news ABC7

California recall candidate Larry Elder ‘not sure’ climate change is reason for state’s wildfires

Conservative talk show host Larry Elder is currently leading the pack of Republicans hoping to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom in California’s recall election. A new poll from the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies found that among voters most likely to participate in the recall, Elder has the most support, followed by San Diego businessman John Cox, former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer and Assemblymember Kevin Kiley.

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Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: The California water model – Resilience through failure

A review of 170 years of water-related successes in California suggests that most successes can be traced directly to past mistakes.  California’s highly variable climate has made it a crucible for innovations in water technology and policy.  Similar water imperatives have led to advances in water management in other parts of the world.  A close look at California’s water model suggests that “far-sighted incrementalism” is a path to progress. 

Aquafornia news UC Merced

News release: New AI institute expands UC Merced’s smart, sustainable agriculture effort

With a new $20 million federal grant, UC Merced becomes part of a multi-institutional research collaborative to develop artificial intelligence — or AI — solutions to tackle some of agriculture’s biggest challenges related to water management, climate change and integration of new technology into farming. The new institute is one of 11 launched this year by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and among two funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture. 

Aquafornia news Fresno Bee

Republican recall candidate Kevin Faulconer visits Fresno, offers plan for valley water

Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer made a stop in Fresno on Wednesday to plead his case on why he’s a key candidate in the potential recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom.  Faulconer’s talking points during the visit consisted almost entirely of the state’s water woes as he stood outside the Department of Water Resources office in central Fresno, where he was accompanied by Fresno County Supervisor Buddy Mendes.  

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

$65M in fed bill for more water storage

Not a drop of new “moon shoot” water storage has been created in California for more than 40 years. It’s a point that isn’t lost on Congressman Josh Harder. Nor is the fact water issues facing the heart of the Northern San Joaquin Valley are interconnected with communities often hundreds of miles away from the 10th District that he represents in Congress. It is why the Turlock Democrat has pursued do-able water projects — including those outside of his district that would reduce efforts to try and commandeer water from the Stanislaus and Tuolumne watersheds to address fish flow, urban, and irrigation needs elsewhere — since taking office in 2019.

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Aquafornia news Air Quality Matters

Deep dig: Farther-down drilling into Valley aquifers brings more ‘up-top’ pollution

As drought conditions worsen in the western U.S., it is there that water is becoming more and more scarce. As for that which is at the surface and below, you know, the subsurface supply, is everything being done that can be done to get the most out of this extremely valuable resource? In California’s San Joaquin Valley, according to information imparted on the Jul. 20, 2021 edition of the PBS “News Hour,” agriculture drinks up half of the groundwater supply. In some Valley locations, water availability is extremely limited. 

Aquafornia news AccuWeather

Why has western heat been so intense? 5 reasons

No other region in the country is warming faster than the western United States when it comes to increasing daytime highs, a trend that became apparent with the unprecedented and record-shattering heat wave that took over the Pacific Northwest earlier this summer. Heat has been building all across the west this year. In June, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California all had record heat statewide. Salt Lake City had its warmest June in 74 years of records with an average temperature of 80.2 F, which is 8.6 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.

Aquafornia news Ag Net West

Cost of regulatory compliance more than triples in six-year period

A study tracking regulatory compliance costs in California was recently released, with striking findings. Researchers looked at data from 22 different farms of various sizes in the San Joaquin Valley between 2012 and 2018. During that timeframe, regulatory costs increased by 265 percent. Professor of Agribusiness at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and co-author of the report, Lynn Hamilton said several factors contributed to the significant increase. 

Aquafornia news Ag Net West

Audio: Harsh reality of California drought shown in no water=no crops campaign

The drought in California isn’t quite fathomable to all. In efforts to showcase the harsh reality producers are experiencing, Western Growers has a new campaign called “No water= No Crops.” In a series of videos, the campaign focuses on a few California producers who are struggling with the water shortages. Joe Del Bosque of Del Bosque Farms is one of the farmers in the campaign. He started out his planting year thinking he’d have enough water but that quickly changed as the dry water year encroached.

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Aquafornia news KCRW

‘Drought isn’t nature, drought is man,’ says journalist Mark Arax

Through fierce reporting and captivating prose, journalist Mark Arax paints a vivid and complex portrait of California and its water. Born into a family of farmers in Fresno, Arax has witnessed firsthand the cyclical nature of droughts and floods in the state. He delves into the history and future of agriculture and water in his 2019 book “The Dreamt Land.” Arax joins Evan Kleiman to talk about the lessons gleaned from the state’s fraught water history, and what they might mean for its present and future.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Another valley town on the brink of going dry

The small, rural community of Tooleville is on the brink of going dry after one of its two wells went down Friday morning. It’s the second community in Tulare County to suffer water problems in the last two months as California struggles through the grip of a devastating drought. The only well in the town of Teviston, also in rural Tulare County, broke down June 9 leaving residents there dry until the pump was fixed July 16.

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Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Fixing sinking Friant-Kern Canal is unprecedented task. The latest hurdle? Scheduling payments.

After some negotiation, the Friant Water Authority Board of Directors will vote on a repayment contract with the Bureau of Reclamation regarding the repair of a portion of the Friant-Kern Canal.  The Friant Water Authority and the Bureau of Reclamation held its second round of negotiations Thursday morning, which was a two-hour process hammering out contract language in the repayment deal. … At the center of the issue is a 33-mile stretch of the Friant-Kern Canal that has lost over half of its original capacity to subsidence. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: Thousands of Central Valley farmers may lose access to surface water amid worsening drought

Forced to reckon with a worsening drought, California’s water regulators are preparing to forbid thousands of farmers from tapping into the state’s major rivers and streams. It’s an extraordinary step — and one that regulators didn’t take during the last drought, which was considered one of the worst on record. The State Water Resources Control Board on Friday released an “emergency curtailment” order that would cut thousands off from rivers and streams in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river watersheds.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

AQUAFORNIA BREAKING NEWS: CA drought prompts water cutoff threat to Central Valley farmers

The State Water Resources Control Board on Friday released an “emergency curtailment” order that would cut thousands off from rivers and streams in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river watersheds. The five-person board still has to vote on the order Aug. 3, and it would take effect about two weeks later.

Aquafornia news NPR

Without enough water to go around, farmers in California are exhausting aquifers

A lot of the fruits, vegetables and nuts that you see in grocery stores come from California. Growing them takes a huge amount of water, which is a huge problem when the state is in the middle of a drought. California’s farmers are pumping most of that water from underground aquifers. They can’t keep doing that, though, especially as the climate changes. NPR’s Dan Charles has the story.

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Tour Nick Gray

Central Valley Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - November 4

Join us as we guide you on a virtual journey through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Lemoore says deadly water tank explosion was preventable

The city of Lemoore said Wednesday afternoon that a water tank explosion that killed one worker and injured another last month was “preventable.” Officials have said the tank lifted approximately 70 feet off the ground in the explosion, which occurred when methane gas ignited as welding was being done as part of a city project.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Not quite at 2015 level, but Tule River low

When it comes to the water year this summer, it could be referred to as a season on the brink. Tule River Water Master David De Groot announced on Monday water from the Tule River began to be run off over this past weekend. … De Groot said the water runoff will last 30 days through mid-August. He added the Tule River’s flow was just at 15.6 percent of normal …  the lowest level the lake will be at since the dire drought of 2014-2015.

Aquafornia news PBS News Hour

Thousands of wells could go dry in California as most of the state experiences extreme drought

One day last month, water in the community of Teviston, about 66 miles south of Fresno, suddenly stopped flowing.  The town’s services office fielded calls from residents who said their taps ran dry, and when city leaders opened their own faucets, nothing came out. Soon, officials realized  that the town’s main well had stopped working. … [T]he water level below the community has been dropping for the last 14 years, and two different wells had already failed.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Drought has desperate ranchers asking: “Can I feed tomorrow?”

California may only be one year into the drought, but its toll feels much bigger to San Joaquin Valley livestock operators. … Andrée Soares, president of Star Creek Land Stewards, Inc [is] based in Los Banos on the west side of the valley but her animals are often spread up and down the state doing targeted grazing for fire prevention. Soares doesn’t know where her animals will be in the next few months or how they will eat. 

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Aquafornia news The Street

The water risks facing California: New index offers future price visibility

A new futures contract based on the Nasdaq Veles California Water Index provides longer-term visibility into the price of water, according to Roland Fumasi of RaboResearch. California is facing another dry summer in 2021, and for agricultural producers, that means a difficult growing season. … The situation has put a strain on the state’s traditionally fragile water resources, resulting in water price spikes for producers looking to sustain their crops.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Teviston CA has a new pump in well, running water restored

After over a month of transporting water from nearby towns and delivering bottled water to residents, the rural Tulare County community of Teviston had running water again Monday. Teviston’s only well broke down in early June, leaving hundreds of residents without running water. Teviston Community Services District board member, Frank Galaviz, said that the well is “back online” in an interview on Monday with The Bee. … In total, Teviston residents went without running water for two to three weeks, said board President Martin Correa. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Kern River water rights case gets hearing date

Whether the Kern River truly has spare water and, if so, how much, has been left up in the air for more than a decade. Now, 11 years after the State Water Resources Control Board ruled the Kern River was not fully appropriated, it will finally start the process of getting at those two key questions: Is water available? How much? A status conference hearing has been scheduled by the board’s Administrative Hearing Office for Aug. 17 at 9 a.m., the board announced on Monday.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation announces contract repayment negotiations for the Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project

The Bureau of Reclamation and the Friant Water Authority scheduled a teleconference contract repayment negotiation session for costs of extraordinary operation and maintenance work on the Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project. The date and time of the teleconference-only negotiation session are: July 22, 2021, from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. PDT Call 1-202-640-1187 and, when prompted, type in participant passcode 523 487 550# The public is welcome to listen during the session and comment after the negotiations close. 

Aquafornia news KQED

Drought-stricken California hasn’t mandated statewide water restrictions. Here’s why

After two consecutive dry winters and a series of early summer heat waves, the vast majority of California is gripped by drought. Water levels in reservoirs like Lake Oroville, Shasta Lake and Lake Mendocino are dangerously low. Wells in parts of the San Joaquin Valley and along the Russian River are drying up, and local water officials have mandated water restrictions up to 40% in some areas. Already, more than 85% of California is experiencing extreme drought conditions … and experts forewarn a third year of drought could be on the horizon if the state doesn’t see significant winter rain storms.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

State ponies up $200 million toward $2.35 billion repair bill for major canals

Several of the state’s key canals will get a sprinkle of state money this year and next toward fixing more than $2 billion in damage caused by sinking land from excessive groundwater pumping. On July 12, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a massive budget “trailer” bill, which authorizes actual funding for programs and services outlined in the state budget that was passed June 15. The trailer bill included $200 million for the Department of Water Resources to spend over the next two years on the California Aqueduct, Delta-Mendota Canal and Friant-Kern Canal. Together, repairs for those canals are estimated at $2.35 billion.

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Aquafornia news GV Wire

In first Valley visit, U.S. senator gets pushed on farm water

Alex Padilla made his first official visit to the Central Valley as U.S. Senator, holding several discussions about water. Padilla, along with other elected officials, held a media availability at his only public event of the day — a tour of the Dos Palos water treatment plant. There, he spoke about the need to upgrade infrastructure for drinking water, as well as water for farmers. Padilla says the infrastructure bill being debated in the Senate will help with water, especially in underserved areas.

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Aquafornia news ABC 7 News

Could meters be the key to conserving water in California agriculture? Watsonville growers explain

As he set goals last Thursday for the Bay Area to conserve water, Gov. Gavin Newsom acknowledged the lack of metering provides no sense of how much water is used by California agriculture. Growers in the Watsonville area in Santa Cruz County, however, are metered, and the meters have resulted in significant water conservation.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Valley rivers going dry

Southern San Joaquin Valley Rivers are running at near historic lows — again. In fact, the Bakersfield City Council passed a resolution Wednesday officially declaring the Kern River as running at only 17% of normal, it’s second driest year since record keeping began in 1893. The driest year on record was 2015, the worst year of the 2012-2016 drought. The resolution notes the river is so low this year, the city won’t have any “excess” water to sell to local agricultural irrigation districts. This is the first time the City Water Resources Department has made such a resolution.

Aquafornia news Kings River Conservation District

News release: KRCD board appoints David M. Merritt as general manager

Kings River Conservation District (KRCD) Board announced on July 13, 2021, the appointment of David M. Merritt as KRCD’s new general manager. … Mr. Merritt started his tenure with KRCD in 2010 as the Deputy General Manager of Power Resources. Through his leadership, KRCD successfully divested its gas turbine power generation facility, the Malaga Peaking Plant, in 2015. Mr. Merritt has further improved the long-term reliability of its Jeff L. Taylor Pine Flat Power Plant, which is a key KRCD asset. 

Aquafornia news Capital and Main

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California oil lobby seeks to strip environmental protections for groundwater amid drought

A prominent oil and gas lobbying group seeks to strip environmental protections from groundwater sources designated by the state for agricultural use and which may grow increasingly important to California’s water-scarce future, according to a memo obtained through a records request. The proposal, which hasn’t been publicly announced, suggests removing protections for groundwater reserves underneath 1,500 square surface miles in western Kern County, where  the upper groundwater zone alone can extend down thousands of feet.

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Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Drought reduces projected almond crop in Central Valley

The worsening drought forced a 13% cut in the projected almond crop in California. The U.S. Department of Agriculture now expects about 2.8 billion pounds from the August-October harvest. The initial estimate in May was for a record 3.2 billion pounds. Some growers have opted to strip nuts from branches so their trees can get by with less irrigation this summer, Monday’s report said. Water is especially short in parts of the western and southern San Joaquin Valley.

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Aquafornia news Sierra Nevada Ally

“Water battery” being considered on Mokelumne River

 [A] developer hopes to submit [an application] by the end of the year [to] utilize excess solar and wind energy to power their pumped storage technology … By using renewable energy to transfer water back and forth between two reservoirs, the project would be a non-consumptive means of using water to generate power. In the case of the Mokelumne Pumped Storage Water Battery Project, the Salt Springs Reservoir has been identified as the lower reservoir, as it already has a small hydro-facility on it that generates about 44 megawatts of energy.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Key players in California water confront drought, fish and more at Modesto summit

A key message emerged when California water leaders gathered in Modesto: Stop grumbling about drought, and get cracking on real fixes.  Rep. Josh Harder, R-Turlock, convened the Thursday afternoon summit at the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau.  Several speakers called for new reservoirs and groundwater recharge to hold wet-year surpluses for use in dry times like 2021. The manager of a West Side irrigation district invited others to follow her lead in using water recycled from city sewage plants. 

Aquafornia news The Guardian

In California’s interior, there’s no escape from the desperate heat: ‘Why are we even here?’

In Cantua, a small town deep within California’s farming heartland, the heat had always been a part of life. “We can do nothing against it,” said Julia Mendoza, who’s lived in this town for 27 years. But lately, she says, the searing temperatures are almost unlivable. … Global heating is driving stronger, longer heatwaves in the region, said Jose Pablo Ortiz Partida, a climate scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists, a non-profit advocacy group. Researchers have been warning of such extreme heatwaves for decades, he said, but the barrage of heat surges that California and the western US have been alarming, he said.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Newsom’s oil regulators deny new fracking permits, but industry is pushing back

California denied 21 oil drilling permits this week in the latest move toward ending fracking in a state that makes millions from the petroleum industry but is seeing widespread drought and more dangerous fire seasons linked to climate change. … Fracking involves injecting high-pressure water deep underground to extract oil or gas from rock. Critics say it can pollute groundwater and contributes to climate change.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Solar on farmland could help California keep the lights on

To the extent most Californians are thinking about energy right now, they’re probably wondering whether the lights will stay on during the next heat wave. It’s a reasonable fear, especially after the state’s power grid operator issued an urgent call for electricity supplies last week and warned of possible shortfalls this summer. The California Independent System Operator is seeking bids from power plants that can fire up after sundown, when solar panels stop generating but air conditioners keep humming.
-Written by Sammy Roth, LA Times columnist. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

“Silver tsunami” could open doors to California’s top water jobs

Job alert: The Shafter-Wasco Irrigation District, which serves nearly 30,000 acres of farms in Kern County, is hiring a new general manager. But what exactly does the general manager of an irrigation district do? It’s a question that isn’t easily answered, even by water executives themselves…. [Dale] Brogan managed the Delano-Earlimart Irrigation District in Tulare and Kern counties for 28 years. He’s helping to fill the role at Shafter-Wasco until someone is hired on permanently. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Energy Information Administration

Blog: California’s hydroelectric generation affected by historic drought

[A]s a result of this year’s harsh drought conditions, we expect hydroelectric generation in California to be lower in 2021 than it has been in recent years. In the first four months of 2021, hydroelectric generation in California was 37% less than in the same four months in 2020 and 71% less than during those months in 2019. According to our Short-Term Energy Outlook, hydroelectric generation in California this year will be 19% less than last year, decreasing from 16.8 million megawatthours (MWh) in 2020 to 13.6 million MWh in 2021.

Aquafornia news Good News Network

Huge supply of water is saved from evaporation when solar panels are built over canals

Now, California is eyeing the benefits derived from several successful canal installations in India. With the world’s largest irrigation canal network, and 290 days of average sunshine, California is uniquely positioned to ease its own severe water shortages with this emerging innovation of canal-covering solar farms. UC Santa Cruz has investigated this method for use in California and estimates that—on top of generating green energy—it would save 63.5 billion gallons of water from evaporation annually, a massive windfall for a state that sometimes rations water and which regularly suffers from droughts.

Aquafornia news Fox News

Western farmers fight for fairness, businesses amid drought ‘like Hurricane Katrina’

As the western United States continues to face a months-long bout with extreme drought, American farmers are feeling catastrophic effects to their livelihoods. … John Moore, a fourth-generation crop farmer from Kern County, California, highlighted the misunderstanding lawmakers have toward the agricultural community. In his mind, heeding to some Trump-era water policies would’ve changed the entire landscape of how farmers face droughts like these.

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Aquafornia news WIRED

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: A massive water recycling proposal could help ease drought

Lake Mead, which provides water for 25 million people in the American West, has shrunk to 36 percent of its capacity. One rural California community has run out of water entirely after its well broke in early June. Fields are sitting fallow, as farmers sell their water allotments instead of growing crops, putting the nation’s food supply in peril. As the West withers under extreme drought, legislators in the US House of Representatives have introduced HR 4099, a bill that would direct the Secretary of the Interior to create a program to fund $750 million worth of water recycling projects in the 17 western states through the year 2027.

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Aquafornia news ABC 10

Sacramento offering more rebates for water conservation

If you’re a Sacramento homeowner, the city is now offering twice as much money for you to conserve water. According to a press release, the city’s Department of Utilities announced it is doubling its River Friendly Landscape rebates while funding is available. The program includes: Turf conversion, which doubled from $1.50 to $3 per square foot of grass replaced. Irrigation upgrades of up to $800 for new sprinklers or smart irrigation controllers. Installing a smart controller in the home. 

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Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Dealing with drought: Farmers challenged as water supply dwindles

The drought is here, and agriculture is scrambling. Water regulators have cut the amount that can be taken from lakes, rivers and streams. Farmers who ordinarily get that water either have to forgo planting some of their fields, or pump water from the ground, or a combination of the two. Farmers dependent on wells are also affected… Neither the state nor the federal water projects are delivering water for agriculture from Northern California to south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

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Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Drought: The end of California’s groundwater free-for-all

The water spigots on California farms will soon be twisted tighter. As the state faces a growing threat from drought, an increasing number of water agencies are planning to require flow meters on agricultural wells, part of a landmark effort to measure and constrain pumping that used to be free and unlimited. It’s a controversial step aimed at protecting water supplies that could change cultivation practices in the Golden State’s thirsty fields.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Two federal decrees affect California water wars

The powerful interests who vie for shares of the state’s ever-changing water supply — dubbed “water buffaloes” — are adept at fending off political and legal assaults by their rivals and the outcomes of their clashes are often stalemates. That’s why it was surprising in June to see two game-changing decrees out of Washington, one from the new Biden administration and another from the Supreme Court, affecting two of the state’s most prominent water interests, Southern California’s Imperial Irrigation District and the San Joaquin Valley’s Westlands Water District.
-Written by CalMatters columnist Dan Walters.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Longtime Tule River Water Master Richard L. Schafer dies at 95

Richard L. Schafer left an “indelible” imprint on water systems — and the people who run them — in the southern San Joaquin Valley over his extensive career. The longtime Tule River Water Master, who had worked with just about every agricultural water district in the area, died Thursday. He was 95. Aside from his work on Tulare County water systems, Mr. Schafer, as he was called even by longtime associates, was also a mentor to those coming up in the water world behind him.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

State still hasn’t fixed Porterville drinking water crisis from the last drought. Will residents go dry again?

The epicenter of dry wells during California’s last devastating drought was undoubtedly Porterville. The small Tulare County town saw wells go dry en masse in its unincorporated east side. It became a national headline as the media descended. Amid the glare of tv cameras, the state pledged to help and agreed to build three new wells. Five years have gone by, the state is in the grip of another drought and Porterville is walking a tightrope as the state connected more than 755 new homes to the city’s water system but only built one new well.

Aquafornia news Restore the Delta

Blog: Drought – Coalition opposes temporary urgency changes for CVP and SWP

A coalition of Delta-based groups has sent a formal Petition for Reconsideration to the State Water Board opposing the Board’s June 1 order to relax water quality standards for Delta operations of the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project. The Temporary Urgency Change Order (TUCO) was issued by the Water Board on June 1, 2021 … The coalition’s petition shows that 4.5 million acre-feet of water will be delivered to state and federal water contractors (including about 10 percent for Central Valley wildlife refuges), based on Water Board information. 

Aquafornia news Idaho State Journal

Idaho almond trial drawing a lot of interest from California

Interest from California growers in the possibility of growing almonds commercially in Idaho has not waned. In fact, it’s increasing. University of Idaho fruit researchers have been conducting a major almond trial at the university’s agricultural research and extension station in Parma since 2014.  … California is the global leader in almond production but growers there are increasingly concerned about burdensome regulations, an uncertain water supply and expensive land prices, Fallahi says.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Report: Groundwater overhaul could threaten drinking water of more than a million Valley residents

As drought settles over the San Joaquin Valley, a new report warns of other circumstances that could result in entire communities losing drinking water. More than a million Valley residents could lose their public water in coming decades under the sweeping groundwater legislation known as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), according to the paper published earlier this month by the non-profit Pacific Institute. Signed into law in 2014, SGMA aims over the next two decades to reduce California’s groundwater deficit by balancing water pumped out of the ground with the amount replenished.

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Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Report: Dispute resolution clauses in interorganizational coordination agreements

California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), a landmark piece of legislation in the quest for comprehensive management of California’s groundwater, required the creation of Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs), and authorized local governments either to form GSAs separately or join with other local governments in the same groundwater basin. This was the genesis of 74 interorganizational agreements now examined in a new report, which focuses on whether, given the high stakes and history of conflict in water resources management in California, participants were prepared for disagreements with dispute resolution clauses in their planning.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

It’s some of America’s richest farmland. But what is it without water?

In America’s fruit and nut basket, water is now the most precious crop of all. It explains why, amid a historic drought parching much of the American West, a grower of premium sushi rice has concluded that it makes better business sense to sell the water he would have used to grow rice than to actually grow rice. Or why a melon farmer has left a third of his fields fallow. Or why a large landholder farther south is thinking of planting a solar array on his fields rather than the thirsty almonds that delivered steady profit for years.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

A California town is without running water amid drought

This is how California’s water crisis is going these days: The only functioning well in the rural community of Teviston broke in early June, leaving more than 700 residents without running water as temperatures in the Central Valley soared to triple-digits in a drought. … Teviston residents are relying on limited bottled water for necessities such as staying hydrated, cooking, bathing and flushing toilets. Some residents, like Galaviz, are traveling to neighboring towns to stay with family or friends to shower and wash clothes.

Aquafornia news SF Gate

How much water goes into oil fracking in drought-stricken California?

When California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced plans to ban hydraulic fracturing, a highly controversial method of oil and gas production more widely known as fracking, he focused primarily on climate change impacts. He may have a water conservation argument to make as well. … The practice of fracking entails injecting large amounts of water, sand and chemicals deep underground at high pressures in an attempt to crack open rock layers and release oil or gas trapped inside. 

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

How is California’s landmark groundwater law impacting Sonoma County?

The drought is intensifying efforts to conserve all of Sonoma County’s water resources, including a supply that has eluded oversight until recently: groundwater. But even as plans for groundwater monitoring and sustainable use proceed, tensions are building over its management. The authority to evaluate and regulate groundwater comes from a 2014 law crafted in the middle of the state’s last drought. 

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Aquafornia news Press Democrat

These are the California crops that use the most water

When discussing the drought, the question of which crops use the most water comes up a lot. A Pacific Institute analysis of California Department of Water Resources data sheds light on the state’s top 10 water-intensive crops in 2015, the most recent year for which the department has published water-use estimates. … The analysis ranked pasture first among California’s top 10 most water-intensive crops …, followed by nuts and alfalfa…

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Aquafornia news Visalia Times-Delta

East Orosi one step closer to clean water as Tulare County moves to become administrator

East Orosi is one step closer to achieving clean drinking water, a basic human right that is denied to many of California’s disadvantaged communities, particularly in the rural San Joaquin Valley. Last Tuesday, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to take steps to become the manager of the small agricultural community’s water board. That means the town of about 500 will soon have the financial resources and technical know-how to gain clean water.

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Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Valley’s westside farmers are angling for a water lifeline. Federal water officials could cut it off

As farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley struggle to irrigate crops and weather an ever-worsening historic drought, a bit of relief could be on the horizon courtesy of farmers in the north Valley. But it could be all for naught if Federal water managers don’t sign-off. What’s at stake? A proposed transfer of 100,000 acre-feet of water from the Southern San Joaquin Irrigation District (SSJID) and Oakdale Irrigation District to farmers utilizing water from the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority.

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Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

Tulare County takes over East Orosi water system

Help may be on the horizon for the about 700 residents of East Orosi dependent on bottled water. The Tulare County Board of Supervisors has directed county staff to begin negotiating the scope of work and a budget … to take control of the East Orosi Community Services District public water system. … East Orosi’s water has been plagued with nitrates from fertilizers and coliform bacteria since at least 2003, for which their water system has been cited for violating the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) both contaminants dozens of times.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Opinion: Can California start taking droughts seriously, please?

Drought may be the sneakiest of natural disasters. Although human history teems with people engulfed by abrupt aridity — the Akkadians of four millenniums ago, the Maya in the ninth and 10th centuries A.D., the Great Plains farmers of the 1930s — even today drought is a poorly appreciated phenomenon. … The American West is once again facing drought, one of the worst on record. Across a vast region encompassing nine states and home to nearly 60 million people, the earth is being wrung dry. 
-Written by Farhad Manjoo, NY Times opinion columnist.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Editorial: This is why proposed Stanislaus River water sale makes good sense

State water officials should approve a plan to sell up to 100,000 acre-feet of Stanislaus River water to thirsty buyers on the Valley’s west side and south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The $40 million deal could fall apart if the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation succeeds in blocking it. The California State Water Resources Control Board should reject the Bureau’s interference for several solid reasons.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Riverbanks looks at recycling wastewater for nearby farmland

Riverbank is looking at upgrading its sewage plant to produce water clean enough for crops. The city would join three others in Stanislaus County that recycle water from kitchen and bathroom drains for use on farms. Modesto, Ceres and Turlock send their highly treated effluent to the Del Puerto Water District on the West Side. Riverbank would sell its water to farmers just to the north, possibly including some in the South San Joaquin Irrigation District.

Aquafornia news ABC30 Fresno

New bill would make it easier to transfer water throughout California

Growers are dealing with severe cutbacks in the surface water deliveries they normally receive from reservoirs. The lack of steady irrigation has already impacted spring cropping decisions made by farmers. … A bill introduced by Republican Congressman David Valadao would allow more water to be moved south from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta while keeping protections in place for fish such as the delta smelt and salmon.

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Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

News release: Forty-two percent of public water supply wells in California’s San Joaquin Valley vulnerable, finds new report

Forty two percent of shallow wells supplying water to community water systems in California’s San Joaquin Valley are vulnerable to going partially or fully dry under the state’s minimum thresholds, finds a new report from the Pacific Institute. Most impacted wells are shallower, and tend to be in disadvantaged communities.

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Aquafornia news The Revelator

Opinion: California’s opportunity to shape worldwide biodiversity policy

California, like the rest of the world, must wrestle with a hard truth: Our climate has changed. As we face another water-shortage crisis, we must acknowledge a sobering reality: We’re not in a drought. This is our new normal. And we need to adapt. It’s becoming increasingly clear that we can’t solve our drought, or the myriad other environmental crises, without protecting our ecosystems. And we can’t protect our ecosystems without acknowledging that this work is globally connected.
-Written by Assembly Member Laura Friedman, D-Glendale; LA-based environmental and social policy advisor Rosalind Helfand; and Mike Young, political and organizing director of the California League of Conservation Voters.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Water wells going dry in Madera County

On Sunday evening, a well motor failed in a Madera Ranchos community water system that serves around 1,000 homes. Last week, another well pump stopped working in Parksdale, southeast of Madera. Neither community has lost water service. Both are experiencing low pressure. Madera County Public Works runs both water systems. From Madera Acres to the Bonadelle Ranchos, private wells are running dry at an alarming rate. Self-Help Enterprises, an organization that supports communities with water challenges, has been tracking the problem.

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Aquafornia news NPR

Heat wave unleashes record-high temps from California to Great Plains

It might be tempting to shrug at the scorching weather across large swaths of the West. This just in: It gets hot in the summer. But this record-setting heat wave’s remarkable power, size and unusually early appearance is giving meteorologists and climate experts yet more cause for concern about the routinization of extreme weather in an era of climate change. These sprawling, persistent high-pressure zones popularly called “heat domes” are relatively common in later summer months. This current system is different.

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Aquafornia news Union Democrat

Monday Top of the Scroll: Irrigation districts agree to send water from New Melones south to drought-stricken farmers

As much as 100,000 acre-feet of water — enough to meet the annual demand of more than 40,000 Tuolumne County residents for at least five years — that’s currently stored in New Melones Reservoir could soon be sent south to aid drought-stricken farmers under an agreement between the Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts.

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Aquafornia news CNN

A California reservoir is expected to fall so low that a hydro-power plant will shut down for first time

Water in a key California reservoir will fall so low this summer that its hydroelectric power plant will be forced to shut down for the first time, officials said Thursday, straining the state’s already-taxed electric grid. An unrelenting drought and record heat, both worsened by the changing climate, have pushed the water supply at Northern California’s Lake Oroville to deplete rapidly. As a result of the “alarming levels,” officials will likely be forced to close the Edward Hyatt Power Plant for the first time since it opened in 1967…

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Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

As a hot, dry summer begins in California, more water wells are failing

In this blistering year in California, drinking water wells are going dry in increasing numbers, rekindling memories of the historic drought of 2012 to 2016, when more than 2,600 wells across the state stopped producing water. So many wells went dry in 2014 in the town of East Porterville that Tulare County supplied portable public showers. California is not yet to that level of emergency…. But because the trend lines do not look promising, government agencies and nonprofit groups are preparing for a difficult summer in which thousands of wells could fail.

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Aquafornia news Bay Nature

When is it too hot to grow food in California?

Kou Her’s family has run the 12-acre Herr Family Farms in Sanger, just east of Fresno, for the last 20 years, raising a variety of vegetables for Bay Area produce and farmer’s markets. In those 20 years, Kou and his parents haven’t seen anything like the heat wave gripping the Central Valley this week. “I am terrified,” Her said by phone Wednesday evening. “I’ve never experienced three days of 110 before. I hope we don’t have significant damage by the end of the weekend.”

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Madera ranchers circle the wagons over county groundwater plan

Central Valley cattle ranchers are gearing up for a fight against what they see as groundwater rustling. Their fear is that newly formed groundwater agencies in some areas could devalue their land by not giving them a fair share of their own groundwater. Ranchers believe those fears were realized on June 8 when the Madera County Board of Supervisors approved a groundwater allocation that will partially exclude rangeland. Ranchers who own rangeland that has never been irrigated won’t receive a share of the county’s “transitional water” allotment.

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Aquafornia news Sen. Bill Dodd

News Release: Sen. Dodd’s Water Access & Equity Bill Clears Committee

Legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would help hundreds of thousands of Californians who have fallen behind on their water bills and are at risk of being disconnected from water service cleared a key committee on Wednesday. … Sen. Dodd’s legislation comes as the State Water Resources Control Board heard results of a survey that found water debt in California climbed to about $1 billion. The survey estimated 12% of California households are behind on their water bills with an average debt of $500 per household. 

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Climate change batters the West before summer even begins

A heat dome is baking Arizona and Nevada, … At Lake Mead, which supplies water for 25 million people in three southwestern states and Mexico, water levels have plunged to their lowest point since the reservoir was filled in the 1930s. In California, farmers are abandoning their thirstiest crops to save others, and communities are debating whether to ration tap water….And it’s not even summer yet.

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Aquafornia news Food and Water Watch

Blog: Drilling California dry – An analysis of oil and gas water usage during the Newsom Administration

As California suffers from a major drought and enters a climate change fueled wildfire season, oil and gas operators continue to use hundreds of millions of gallons of freshwater for drilling operations annually. It’s a vicious symbiotic cycle: fracking and drilling contribute to climate change and suck up finite water resources, then drought and wildfires worsen from climate change.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Drought exposes need to upgrade water facilities

Severe drought highlights the need for greater investment to improve aging California water facilities, and increases calls for allocation of federal and state resources to tackle the problem. A national coalition that includes the California Farm Bureau urged U.S. Senate leaders last week to take action to address the shortcomings of aging water infrastructure, and to include “a broad range of water uses” in any federal infrastructure legislation. 

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Aquafornia news South Valley Water Association

Blog: Schafer Dam enlargement

In the 1960s, Tulare County Supervisor Dennis Townsend was working for the water master of the Tule River when the dam at Success Lake got its first big test. … Starting in early 2024, a similar deluge would be contained because the spillway is being raised by 10 feet, increasing reservoir storage by a third. The federally funded project will boost flood protection for Porterville and the downstream lands from a 50-year flood event to a 100-year flood event, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California tells Central Valley farmers to brace for water shortages

The seriousness of California’s drought is being driven home to thousands of farmers in the Central Valley. State regulators warned 6,600 farmers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed on Tuesday that they’re about to lose the right to pull water from the estuary’s rivers at some point this summer. The watershed covers a major swath of the Central Valley. 

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Online public meetings still OK but some water agencies are pulling the plug

While most public water agencies are still mulling whether to keep an online option for their meetings, some have already clicked off Zoom and marched straight back to early 2020. The Westlands Water District, which covers a huge swath of western Fresno County, will no longer have a public online option for the public to access its meetings starting June 15.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: California must use budget surplus to fix water problems

As California plunges into another “historic” drought, people across the state are worried about water shortages. But the last drought never really ended for some Californians, like residents of East Porterville that still have emergency water storage tanks in their front yards. With the state’s current financial surplus, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fund drought preparedness and water safety in communities that have lived for decades with shallow and contaminated drinking water wells, inadequate water treatment, and other infrastructure failures…
-Written by Carolina Garcia, a resident of Tombstone Territory, and Sandra Chavez, a member of the Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) Advisory Group. 

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

Dangerous heatwave grips US south-west as temperatures hit 120F in some areas

Dangerously hot temperatures across the US south-west will continue to climb this week, reaching higher than 120F (49C) in some areas, exacerbating the region’s already-dire drought conditions and increasing the risk of new fire ignitions. Extreme heat will be felt across much of Utah, along with southern and central California, Nevada and Arizona. More than 48 million people across the west are now under heat advisory watches or warnings …

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Drought in Tulare County never ends

Severe drought is gripping most of California, but its misery isn’t spread equally. While most of the state compares today’s extreme conditions to previous droughts, people in Tulare County speak of drought — in the singular, as in a continuous state of being. … Tulare County’s never-ending drought brings dried up wells and plenty of misery The entire West is suffering from extreme dryness, heat and fire risk, and the small, rural towns of northern Tulare County, outside of Visalia, are caught in its vortex.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Final plan for water releases into Sacramento River could kill up to 88% of endangered salmon run

The California water board has approved a plan for water releases into the Sacramento River that could kill off an entire run of endangered chinook salmon and put at risk another population that is part of the commercial salmon fishery. … Because the [Bureau of Reclamation’s] plan involves releasing water to irrigation districts earlier in the season, the river will be lower and warmer during salmon spawning season and could result in killing as many as 88% of endangered winter-run chinook eggs and young fish.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: California drought sparks perpetual fight about water

California never has enough water to meet all demands and even when supplies are relatively robust there’s a triangular competition over their allocation. Farmers, municipal users and environmental advocates vie for shares of water that has been captured by California’s extensive network of dams and reservoirs. … When California experiences one of its periodic droughts and reservoirs shrink from scant rain and snowfall, its perpetual conflict becomes even sharper.
-Written by Dan Walters, a CalMatters columnist

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Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Oilfield disposal site in western Kern set to close

A large oilfield wastewater disposal pond near Buttonwillow will likely close this summer, and its operator and last remaining customer will together pay $645,000 in penalties and fees, under a recent court settlement that further restricts a decades-old practice that has become a focus of regional water quality regulators. The accord concludes a 2019 lawsuit that accused facility owner Valley Water Management Co. and Colorado-based oil producer Sentinel Peak Resources of dumping fluid containing harmful chemicals above a reservoir that provides local drinking and irrigation water.

Aquafornia news NewsChannel 3-12 - Santa Barbara

Central Coast farmers concerned over ‘extreme drought’ conditions happening throughout region

Farmers are concerned for their crops as dry conditions has worsen throughout the Central Coast. Earlier this year, it started off a major storm. Ever since, farmers have not seen much rainfall. According to the National Weather Service, the ‘extreme drought’ conditions has expanded throughout Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Bills to fund canal repairs moving forward

Excessive groundwater pumping has collapsed the land beneath several key canals, crimping their ability to move water. Fixing them will be expensive. There are two bills moving through the state Legislature and Congress that could provide some funding. This is the second try for the state bill, Senate Bill 559 by Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger). … Representative Jim Costa (D-Hanford) and Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Ca.) introduced S. 1179, the Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration Act, on April 15.

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Aquafornia news Central Valley Water Board

Pistachio processing facility in Tulare County will pay $221,440 fine for odor violations

A Central Valley pistachio processing plant whose wastewater ponds triggered numerous odor complaints from nearby residents will pay a $221,440 fine, a portion of which will fund improved ventilation at two public schools in the area. The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Central Valley Water Board) fined Setton Pistachio after determining the company had violated the terms of an August 2020 cease and desist order (CDO) directing it to immediately eliminate objectionable odors coming from ponds at its plant in Terra Bella in Tulare County.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Opinion: State water board choice is key to providing clean water for all

California’s drought highlights the importance of an appointment sitting on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk – filling the final seat on the State Water Resources Control Board.   This is a critical agency appointment at a critical time. The drought highlights many inequities in California water policy. Disadvantaged communities in Stockton face the prospect of a drought summer plagued by harmful algae blooms in Delta rivers.  Those algae outbreaks, which can harm children and kill pets, are caused by excessive nutrients and inadequate freshwater flow.  
-Written by Belinda Faustina, a strategic advisor with Los Angeles Waterkeeper, and Barbara Barrigan-Parilla, the executive director of Restore the Delta.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Kern County Water Summit: SGMA implementation update

At the Kern County Water Summit held last week, hosted by the Water Association of Kern County, Acting Deputy Director of the Department of Water Resources Statewide Groundwater Management Program Steven Springhorn provided an update on the Department’s progress on SGMA implementation, including the Department’s review of the submitted Groundwater Sustainability Plans and the existing and proposed SGMA-related assistance.

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

State releases its first reviews of local SGMA plans

Against the backdrop of what’s shaping up as a devastating drought year, the California Department of Water Resources has released its first assessments of groundwater sustainability plans developed by local agencies to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. The department released reviews of four local plans, approving two but sending the other two back to local groundwater sustainability agencies, saying the plans need more work. 

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: How better data can help California avoid a drinking water crisis

[During the last drought], small rural communities reliant on shallow wells — many of them communities of color — were among the most affected. More than 2,600 households reported losing access to water because their wells went dry between 2012–16. (That number is likely an undercount as reporting was voluntary.) Much has changed however since the 2012–16 drought. Drought reporting systems such as MyDryWaterSupply are available today, and better data on domestic well depths and locations, as well as groundwater levels, aid our understanding of drought risk. 
-Written by Rich Pauloo, co-founder of the Water Data Lab; and Alvar Escriva-Bou, a research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California Water.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Putting farmland out to pasture not an easy task

Not all farmland in the San Joaquin Valley will survive in a post-SGMA world. Estimates are that the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act will force between 500,000 to one million acres of land that’s currently farmed to be taken out of production to save groundwater. Which lands and what will become of those lands are major question marks at this point. If Gov. Newsom’s revised budget is approved as is, those questions could have an extra $500 million to help find answers.

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Aquafornia news Palo Alto Online

New water management plan ponders steep cutbacks

When the Palo Alto City Council publicly backed the Bay-Delta Plan in 2018, it was swimming against the political tide. The plan, formally known as the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary plan, sets limits on how much water agencies can siphon from the three tributaries of the San Joaquin River. While it aims to protect salmon, steelhead and other river species, it has also attracted intense opposition and litigation from water districts that claim that the new restrictions will undermine the reliability of their water supply.

Aquafornia news Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck

Blog: GSAs shooting 50% on GSPs—DWR releases first GSP assessment results for high priority basins

The wait is over for some Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs). The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) released the first Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) assessments for four basins yesterday, June 3, 2021. DWR approved the 180/400 Foot Aquifer Subbasin in Salinas Valley and the Santa Cruz Mid-County Basin. DWR determined both GSPs “satisf[y] the objectives of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and substantially compl[y] with the GSP Regulations.” 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Jobs and irrigation during drought in California

During droughts organizations and stakeholders look for ways of getting the most from every water drop. This is not an exception in California where roughly 40 percent of all water use (on average) is agricultural, 10 percent to cities and the rest is uncaptured or environmental uses (mostly on the North Coast). … Yet the notion that applied water in agriculture is often wasteful is common in media drought coverage.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Monday Top of the Scroll: 74% of California and 52% of the Western U.S. now in ‘exceptional’ drought

Drought conditions in California remain at record highs, with most of the state now classified in “extreme” or “exceptional” drought, reflecting conditions across the Southwest, according to a new report from climate scientists. Much of the Bay Area and the northern Central Valley have been included in the most severe “exceptional drought” zone, along with much of southeast California, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported.

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Latest water war over Kings River involves claim by water district in Kern County

A water war is under way in Sacramento right now that could have far-reaching impacts on families in the Central Valley. … Hearings got under way Wednesday, as Semitropic Water Storage District in Kern County makes its administrative appeal to the State Water Resources Control Board for water rights to the Kings River. It filed its first petition in 2017, asking for access to 1.6 million acre feet of floodwater from the Kings River.

Aquafornia news Sierra Sun Times

California State Senator Melissa Hurtado to California Water Commission: Keep water funds meant for the Central Valley in the Central Valley

On Thursday, Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) issued the following statement regarding a bi-partisan letter she sent that urges the California Water Commission to prioritize water storage projects in the Central Valley when assessing how to reallocate funds from Proposition 1: … California is currently in a state of emergency due to drought. As a result, the amount of water allocated to Central Valley farmers has been greatly reduced. 

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Kern County Water Summit: Two perspectives on the State Water Board report, recommendations for an effective water rights response to climate change

Earlier this year, the State Water Resources Control Board released a report, Recommendations for an Effective Water Rights Response to Climate Change, that considered how the State Wate Board could include climate change when considering new water right applications.  Since the report’s release, it has been the subject of much discussion and has sparked concerns amongst existing water right holders.  At the Kern County Water Summit, hosted by the Water Association of Kern County, a panel addressed the topic.  

Aquafornia news Office of Sen. Bill Dodd

News release: Senate passes Sen. Dodd’s water access & equity bill

The state Senate today approved legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, to help hundreds of thousands of Californians who have fallen behind on their water bills and are at risk of being disconnected from water service. … Sen. Dodd’s legislation comes as the State Water Resources Control Board heard results of a survey that found water debt in California climbed to about $1 billion. The survey estimated 12% of California households are behind on their water bills with an average debt of $500 per household. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Search for groundwater gets high-tech boost

Groundwater is one of the hottest ticket items in California’s water world these days. But much about it is a mystery. Where is it? How does it move? Which are the best spots to percolate water into the ground for storage? At least two technologies hope to answer some of those questions: airborne electromagnetic surveys and interferometric synthetic aperture radar. That’s AEM and InSAR for short.

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Aquafornia news KCRA

Farmers facing California drought impacts feel strain of low water supply

California farmers and ranchers are preparing for a difficult growing season as the state faces drought conditions. The California Board of Food and Agriculture met on Tuesday to discuss ways to help farmers and ranchers, as well as to discuss the proposed $5.1 billion included in the governor’s budget to address drought challenges and water infrastructure. After back-to-back dry years, the state’s water supply is strained, forcing farmers like Joe Martinez in Solano County to figure out ways to get the most out of their water.

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Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Stanislaus homes with tainted wells start getting free bottled water. How to qualify

Free bottled water has begun to arrive at homes with nitrate-tainted wells in parts of Stanislaus and Merced counties.  The ambitious effort, funded by farmers and other parties, launched the week of May 10 with free testing of residential wells. Those that exceeded the nitrate threshold can start getting the 5-gallon jugs about 17 to 21 days later. 

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