Topic: San Joaquin Valley


San Joaquin Valley

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

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


Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

Kings County adopts groundwater export ordinance

Despite opposition from an impressive who’s-who list of water districts and agencies and the Kings County Farm Bureau, the Kings County Board of Supervisors on a 3-2 vote adopted a groundwater export ordinance that will require a permit to move groundwater out of the county. Leading the charge was Supervisor and farmer Doug Verboon, who says the passage came after 12 years of battling to adopt an ordinance here to protect local groundwater, an ordinance that most counties already have. The county’s aim is to preserve groundwater for local use, critical for both domestic, city, military and agricultural users. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California water wells are drying up in record numbers

For almost four decades, water flowed faithfully from Fred and Robin Imfeld’s private well here in rural Tehama County, a region where thirsty orchards of walnuts, almonds, plums and olives stretch across thousands of acres. But that reliable supply of household water began to sputter last year, and then ceased completely this summer amid California’s driest three-year period on record. … Across California, domestic wells are drying up in record numbers due to severe drought and the overpumping of underground aquifers. The crisis has hit rural farming areas particularly hard and left some families to fend for themselves or wait years for permanent solutions as nonprofits, state water officials and well drillers struggle with a growing backlog of assistance requests.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

After years of turmoil in water district, California farmers want a friendlier face

When Sen. Dianne Feinstein weighed complex water policy decisions that stood to impact the livelihood of farmers and fish, she often dialed Tom Birmingham. On visits to Washington, the longtime head of the state’s most influential farmland water agency would meet in her office over glasses of chilled California chardonnay. Cultivating relationships with power is a hallmark of Birmingham’s 36-year career at the Westlands Water District, the nation’s largest farm water utility that serves a few hundred Central Valley families and corporations growing nearly $2 billion in nuts, fruit, and vegetables a year. Birmingham spearheaded the agency’s quest to keep water flowing as its longest serving general manager, largely through attempts to loosen environmental regulations. 

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Helping endangered rabbit may reduce flooding risk

Saving the endangered Riparian brush rabbits could also protect large swaths of rural south Manteca as well as part of Lathrop from flooding. It is because efforts of the non-profit River Partners at the 2,100-acre Dos Rios Preserve located at the confluence of the Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers to assist the rabbit subspecies, five endangered birds, and three endangered fish could also provide 10,000 acre feet of critical transient floodwater storage to reduce flood stages as far north as Stockton. 

Aquafornia news Water Wrights

Blog: Tom Birmingham; Reflections on Westlands

Fortunes are made and lost on the weather. In 1588 Spain went to attack England and a storm wiped out its armada. The loss was so devastating even with its New World holdings Spain never again arose to its former place of prominence as the greatest European power. From 1930 to 1936 a drought centered in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles caused 2.5 million people to leave the center of the country for other parts. And while bad weather can lead to major problems, what about the good weather? California is blessed with a Mediterranean climate. Hot summers, cool but not frozen winters, plenty of sunshine and good soil. And due to the foresight of others since gone, California’s fickle water supply has been harnessed for the beneficial use of us all. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

State kicks off water year with anticipated 5% allocation

The state Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced Dec. 1 that it would provide 5% of contracted amounts across the board for agricultural and municipal customers in 2023. That may sound bad, but the initial allocation announced for 2022 was 0% for ag and only enough water for municipal contractors to protect health and safety. At this early stage of the water year, it’s hard to get too excited one way or another about the initial allocation, said Ted Page, Chair of the Kern County Water Agency Board of Directors. … With a La Niña winter predicted this year, the state is preparing for a fourth dry year, according to the DWR announcement reprinted below.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

More rain to hit the Bay Area while fresh powder falls over the Sierra Nevada

A line of storms that ushered in a chilly, soggy start to December should continue to move across Northern California early this week, offering more chances for rain in the Bay Area and a fresh coat of powder over the Sierra Nevada. One-third to a half-inch of rain could still fall over lower-lying portions of the Bay Area from Sunday through Tuesday morning — further boosting already healthy rainfall totals over the past several days. Three-quarters of an inch of rain could fall in that same time span over the coastal mountains, particularly in Sonoma County, said Brayden Murdock, a National Weather Service meteorologist. To the east, another 1 to 2 feet of snow was expected to fall Sunday and Monday over parts of the Sierra Nevada …

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Start of the water year reveals below-average precipitation for Kern River watershed

The first of seven monthly Kern River Snow and Water reports put out by water watcher Scott Williams arrived in email boxes Dec. 1 and the news was, fairly, well – “eh.” The watershed is below average in terms of precipitation but not that below average, according to Williams’ report, which uses a compilation of data from multiple public websites. He typically publishes the monthly updates based on water data from Nov. 1 through May 31. The North Fork of the Kern has 3.71 inches of precip, or 86% of average, and the South Fork has 1.82 inches, or 73 percent of average, according to the report. With storms arriving this week, there’s a glimmer of hope for more. But Williams’ report also notes there’s a 76% chance of a La Niña winter this year, which typically means drier weather.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

State drought funding will help valley communities fix water problems faster

A handful of small valley communities will be able to move more rapidly on water projects thanks to millions in funding recently allocated by the state Department of Water Resources (DWR) as part of its water resilience program. DWR awarded $86 million throughout the state. About $44 million of that will go to small communities facing water insecurity through the department’s Small Community Drought Relief Program.  The announcement of DWR’s ninth, and final, round of funding under this program comes as more than 1,400 wells have gone dry throughout the state this year, 369 of those in the San Joaquin Valley, according to the state’s dry well reporting system. The recently announced funding will help support five projects in the San Joaquin Valley.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Bakersfield sued over “dewatering” of Kern River

Several public interest groups sued the City of Bakersfield Nov. 30 alleging the city has been derelict in its operation of the Kern River by diverting most of its flows to agriculture and other uses leaving a dry riverbed through the heart of town. … Even though the city operates the river per a century of agreements and judicial decrees, the lawsuit states, the city still has an obligation to study the harm those diversions may cause to the environment, fisheries and even the recreational value of a flowing river. The case hinges on a concept known as the “public trust,” under which the state holds all natural resources, including water, in trust for the most “beneficial use” for the public. That includes water covered by 100-year-old rights, which includes most of the rights to waters on the Kern.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Smart meter monitoring can help conserve water — but not without a fight, researchers find

The use of smart meters to enforce water restrictions could encourage widespread conservation — but not without local backlash, a new study has found.  Amid California’s ongoing drought, researchers partnered with the city of Fresno in summer 2018 to access and identify water violations via household meter data. While a resulting surge in fines brought a dramatic reduction in both water use and violations, a barrage of complaints thwarted the program’s survival, according to the study, released on Wednesday by the University of Chicago’s Energy & Environment Lab. 

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Kings Co. wants to block selling groundwater to Southern California. Will a new measure solve the problem?

Kings County Supervisors took a crack at a long-promised push to restrict the ability of swashbuckling Kings County farming giants to sell their groundwater to far-flung southern California locales. Tuesday, the Kings County Board of Supervisors approved the Groundwater Export Ordinance, which was initially conceived to reign-in major water players in the area, including water maven John Vidovich. Instead, based on lingering commentary from local farmers, it may only create additional red tape with the lack of teeth necessary to stop outsiders from buying up water rights for the express purpose of selling the resources to Southern California water agencies.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Ecosystems and rural communities bear brunt of drought

Drought, human-caused climate change, invasive species and a “legacy” of environmental issues are permanently altering California’s landscape and placing some communities and ecosystems at increasing risk, a panel of experts told water officials recently. Invasive species and decades of disruptions from massive land and water developments are partly responsible for a continuous decline in native California species, experts told the California Water Commission on Nov. 16. Also, rural communities, many of whom are lower income and rely on privately owned wells, are disproportionately contending with water contamination and scarcity amid recurring cycles of drought, experts said. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Study: California drought causes economic losses

As California prepares for a fourth consecutive year of drought and farmland across the Golden State increasingly goes idle, growers continue to face mounting economic challenges. In a new report about the financial toll of the state’s extreme drought conditions, researchers estimated that the state’s irrigated farmland dropped by 752,000 acres, or nearly 10%, from 2019 to 2022. Fields meant to harvest rice, almonds and other crops are instead going unplanted, causing the level of fallowed land across California to surpass the prior peak seen during the state’s last drought that ran from 2012 to 2016. As a result, the researchers found, California crop revenues fell by $1.7 billion, or 4.6%, during that time …

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Aquafornia news Fresno Bee

Westlands boss Thomas Birmingham retiring after ‘change coalition’ elected to board

Thomas Birmingham, general manager of the massive Westlands Water District since 2000, Wednesday announced plans to step down at the end of 2022. His announcement follows the election of four new members to the Westlands Board of Directors on Nov. 8 who would give a so-called “change coalition” a solid majority of six seats on the nine-member board. The top priority for the coalition is “a change in leadership,” according to Sarah Woolf, who along with Jon Reiter helped coordinate a group of increasingly frustrated Westlands farmers to run the slate of change candidates, SJV Water reported. 

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: ‘It’s a disaster.’ Drought dramatically shrinking California farmland, costing $1.7 billion

In the fall, rice fields in the Sacramento Valley usually shine golden brown as they await harvesting. This year, however, many fields were left covered with bare dirt. “It’s a disaster,” said rice farmer Don Bransford. “This has never happened. Never. And I’ve been farming since 1980.” … California has just gone through the state’s driest three-year period on record, and this year the drought has pushed the fallowing of farmland to a new high. In a new report on the drought’s economic effects, researchers estimated that California’s irrigated farmland shrank by 752,000 acres, or nearly 10%, in 2022 compared with 2019 — the year prior to the drought. That was up from an estimated 563,000 acres of fallowed farmland last year.

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Aquafornia news Globe Newswire

News release: ACWA Fall Conference explores top California water issues

The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) Fall Conference & Exhibition Nov. 29-Dec. 1 will draw local water agency leaders from throughout California to Indian Wells for three days of updates, analyses and perspectives on multiple issues affecting the state’s water community. The event will also feature an international perspective on water management and connect attendees with a leader behind a movement to change policy priorities in addressing catastrophic wildfires. Delivering the Opening Breakfast keynote on Nov. 30, Ambassador Marco Sermoneta, Consul General of Israel to the Pacific Northwest, will share his insights about how Israel has addressed water management challenges.

Aquafornia news ABC7 - San Francisco

Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability researchers use airborne technology to spot groundwater recharge sites

Recently, researchers from Stanford flew California skies on a kind of airborne treasure hunt. Probing hundreds of feet into the ground with electromagnetic signals, they were in search of liquid gold – water, or more precisely a place to capture and store it. … [Rosemary Knight, Ph.D., a researcher with the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability] just released a new study, confirming the airborne technology’s ability to locate what is now popularly called “paleo valleys.” They’re long, buried riverbed pathways created thousands of years ago by the movement of glaciers that once covered the Sierra. Filled with porous material, experts believe they could act like a high-speed express lane to carry diverted flood water deep into the aquifer.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Question of water rights looms over controversial proposed new dam

A controversial proposed dam seems to have a new pathway forward. But how far will it get through California’s byzantine world of water rights? Nobody seems to agree on an answer.  The Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir is a joint project between the Del Puerto Water District and the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractor Authority on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. A Stanislaus County Superior Court judge on Oct. 31 dismissed a host of environmental challenges against the project as well as all concerns brought by another group of irrigators, the Friant Water Supply Protection Association.

Aquafornia news The Daily Independent

Groundwater Authority hears plans on pipelines that will get water into Indian Wells Valley

Plans are advancing for importing water into the Indian Wells Valley. At its Nov. 9 board meeting, the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority heard a presentation on three proposed pipeline paths to get that water into IWV. The presentation was given by Provost & Pritchard, a consulting group IWVGA contracted to perform this imported water pipeline alignment study. Jeff Davis–principal engineer with Provost & Pritchard–presented the study to the IWVGA board. Davis told the board that while there were many paths they investigated for the pipeline, they’ve narrowed it down to three proposed paths which each carry their own positive and negative aspects. These three paths cross different regions of IWV, and are therefore titled the West Alignment, the Central Alignment, and the East Alignment.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Peyron testifies in front of Congress about Tule River Tribe’s water crisis

The Tule River Tribe Chairman presented his case in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, continuing the decades long effort to enact federal legislation to provide water rights for the Tule River Reservation that would address a dire need. Tule River Tribe Chairman Neil Peyron testified in front of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs concerning the proposed Tule River Tribe Reserved Water Rights Settlement Act of 2022. On September 15, California’s two Democratic U.S. Senators, Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein introduced the Tule River Tribe Reserved Rights Settlement Act. The legislation is a product of an effort that has lasted more than 50 years made by the Tule River Tribe to obtain recognition of their federal reserved Indian water rights.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

San Joaquin Valley residents, growers vying for water in fourth year of drought

Noemi Barrera has spent four months without running water for herself and her four children, and is among many people in California living without it as wells across the state run dry.  …  Tooleville sits on a well that is now nearly unusable due to contamination from groundwater overdrilling. The state stepped in last year after the neighboring town Exeter refused to connect municipal water to the community’s residents. … Barrera grew up in the citrus-covered community but never faced this lack of running water until she brought Ruby home from the hospital and could not take a shower. And she is aware that many communities across the state’s vital Central Valley are staring down the same daily life, as their basins are depleted by unprecedented drought and ongoing groundwater pumping.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

State water agency wades into lawsuit to maintain its authority over groundwater plans

A lawsuit over groundwater plans in the northern end of the San Joaquin Valley is being closely watched as it could have implications for how the state’s groundwater mandate moves forward, according to a recent briefing on the issue at the Kern Groundwater Authority. At the Nov. 16 meeting, authority attorney Valerie Kincaid explained that the lawsuit, filed in 2020, seeks to have a court invalidate six groundwater plans in the Delta-Mendota Subbasin, which runs along the western edge of the valley from west of Fresno north to west of Modesto. The Department of Water Resources filed an amicus brief in the suit, which was bought by the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Kincaid explained. An amicus, or friend of the court brief, can be filed by a group that has a strong interest in a case.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: California drought – San Joaquin Valley cities not saving water

Remember a couple weeks ago when it rained half an inch in Fresno and snowed in the Sierra? Sure was nice while it lasted. But with nothing but sunny skies in the short-term forecast and La Niña ocean conditions expected once again this winter, all signs point to a fourth consecutive year of California drought. … Because the San Joaquin Valley is experiencing California’s worst drought conditions as well as our economic dependence on agriculture, those of us living here should be extra diligent about conserving water. Especially when instructed to do so by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who in July 2021 called for a 15% voluntary reduction in water use rather than impose mandatory restrictions similar to those implemented in 2015 by former Gov. Jerry Brown.
-Written by Fresno Bee columnist Marek Warszawski.

Aquafornia news Food and Environment Reporting Network

Why America’s food-security crisis is a water-security crisis, too

There’s no healthcare screener for water insecurity. The issue is not even on most public health professionals’ radar… Most estimates put U.S. water insecurity at 2.2 million residents….Accurate data are essential to closing the water gap because food insecurity increases the probability of water insecurity…. You might think access to ample potable water is a basic human right. Legally, in the U.S., it isn’t (although California has taken a stab at making it so). Still, many Americans spend more than 12 percent of their income for water and sewer service.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Hidden riverbeds may be key to recharging aquifers

Thousands of years ago during the last Ice Age, rivers flowed from giant glaciers in the Sierra Nevada down to the Central Valley, carving into rock and gouging channels at a time when the sea level was about 400 feet lower. When the glaciers retreated, meltwater coursed down and buried the river channels in sediment. These channels left by ancient rivers lie hidden beneath California’s Central Valley. Scientists call them paleovalleys, or incised valley fill deposits. As much as 100 feet deep and more than a mile wide in places, they are filled with coarse-grained sand, gravel and cobbles. Because these paleovalleys are highly permeable, scientists have pointed to them as ideal pathways for water to quickly percolate down and recharge groundwater.

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Aquafornia news Merced County Times

Water at center of dispute over Planada dairy expansion 

Some residents in Planada are calling on county officials to block a proposed expansion of a dairy. Merced County is currently in the process of deciding whether to allow the Hillcrest Dairy just north of the town to expand its herd from 8,050 cows to 9,750 cows. Some residents are saying that the expansion would make current problems with bad smells and flies worse, as well as threaten the community’s supply of groundwater. … The matter is still in the process of review, and has yet to come before the Board of Supervisors. But it will ultimately be their call as to whether or not the expansion with the dairy moves forward. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Geological Survey

Low-flying helicopter to survey the Coalinga and Pyramid Hills areas for groundwater research

Starting around November 17, 2022 and lasting up to a month, a helicopter towing a large hoop from a cable will make low-level flights over areas of the western San Joaquin Valley in Fresno, Kings, and Kern Counties near Coalinga and the Pyramid Hills, with limited surveying near Lost Hills. Residents of these areas may see a low-flying helicopter towing a large hoop hanging from a cable. USGS scientists will use the data to improve understanding of groundwater salinity and below-ground geology to better understand groundwater conditions near California’s oil fields. The helicopter will tow a sensor that resembles a large hula-hoop about 100-200 feet above the ground to measure small electromagnetic signals. 

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Water rules add to challenges for farmers

Already grappling with drought, lower commodity prices and higher production costs, more farmers are feeling the added pinch of groundwater regulations as local agencies implement plans that include pumping limits and new fees to balance long-term groundwater resources as required by the state. … Regulations and fees by local agencies as part of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, affect farmers more directly this year, including farmers in Madera County. Madera County farmer Jay Mahil said groundwater sustainability agency fees that are part of his county property tax bill are “coming at a time when growers are receiving all-time low returns on commodity prices, and farm input costs have doubled.”

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Westlands shake-up: Reformers sweep election, oust water board’s president. Is its GM next?

A slate of candidates aiming to reform the powerful Westlands Water District swept into victory on Monday night, cementing a new board majority and likely spelling the end of the line for the district’s general manager. The four candidates – Justin Diener, Ernie Costamagna, Jeremy Hughes, and Ross Franson – captured the four available seats in preliminary results. In the process, they are primed to boot the lone incumbent running for re-election from his seat – current Westlands board president Ryan Ferguson.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Priorities for California’s water

In the last decade, California—along with the rest of the world—has entered a new phase of climate change. The changes that scientists predicted have started to arrive. California’s already variable climate is growing increasingly volatile and unpredictable: The dry periods are hotter and drier, and the wet periods—lately too few and far between—are warmer and often more intense. … The snowpack—that once-reliable annual source of water—is diminishing as temperatures rise. Water withdrawals during multiyear droughts are depleting the state’s reservoirs and groundwater basins. … This report considers the state of water in California: What changes are we seeing now, and what should we expect in the near future? 

Aquafornia news ABC 10 - Sacramento

California Drought: A look into snowpack data at the ’snow lab’

The latest drought monitor, released Thursday, showed some minor improvements in drought status. Most of these improvements came along California’s northern coast but the areas experiencing the worst of the drought, like the San Joaquin Valley, saw no improvement. The monitor stops collecting data for its weekly updates at 4 a.m. Pacific time, so much of the rain that fell from the early week storm was not accounted for on this week’s update. This means the state may be in a bit better shape on next week’s monitor, but still has a long way to go to escape drought.

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Aquafornia news Reuters

California tries to harness megastorm floods to ease crippling droughts

The land along the Arroyo Pasajero Creek, halfway between Sacramento and Los Angeles, is too dry to farm some years and dangerously flooded in others. Amid the cycles of wet and dry — both phenomena exacerbated by climate change — a coalition of local farmers and the nearby city of Huron are trying to turn former hemp and tomato fields into massive receptacles that can hold water as it percolates into the ground during wet years. This project and others like it across California’s Central Valley breadbasket aim to capture floodwaters that would otherwise rush out to the sea, or damage towns, cities and crops. … The project near Huron is one of about 340 recharge systems that have been proposed by water agencies in California – enough to store 2.2 million acre-feet by 2030 if they all are built …

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Aquafornia news PBS NewsHour

​In California, where water is a human right, some communities still go thirsty

For some in Pixley, the needs for a place to worship and for reliable water are both affecting everyday life, and they hold nearly equal value among some. … California is in a prolonged drought, which only adds to Pixley’s problems. The community is one of nearly 400 in California whose water systems rated as “failing”. State emergency grants and water-focused legislation offer solutions, but communities face a long road ahead as California enters a fourth year of drought and running water becomes harder to guarantee in some places.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

“Drop out” from race for seat on a powerful Kern water board appears poised to win

If challenger Eric Averett maintains his lead over incumbent Phil Cerro for a seat on the powerful Kern County Water Agency board, it may prove just how effective a campaign statement can be. Averett said he tried to withdraw his name from the ballot after belatedly learning Cerro would run. But he missed the deadline to have his name removed, Averett told SJV Water in September. He vowed not to campaign – dropping out of the race in spirit – and said he would support Cerro. But when Averett filed his paperwork to run, he did one thing Cerro didn’t, he submitted a campaign statement.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Video: Solar development in the San Joaquin Valley

Hundreds of thousands of acres of San Joaquin Valley farmland may come out of irrigated production in the coming decades to help balance overdrafted groundwater basins under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. At the same time, California needs to ramp up clean energy development to meet the goals of SB 100—and the valley has high solar potential. At a virtual event last week, PPIC Water Policy Center research fellow Andrew Ayres moderated a panel of experts and local stakeholders; they explored how solar development could help California meet multiple objectives while overcoming some challenges and delivering lasting benefits to the region.

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Aquafornia news WaterWorld

A shift in groundwater perspective

In California, the historically unmonitored and unregulated practice of groundwater pumping has led to declining groundwater levels in many basins across the state. These declining levels have also created pockets of displacement — some greater than 25 feet. … [I]nterferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR), a satellite-based data analysis technique that measures changes in the earth’s surface over time with millimeter precision, … has not only enabled the DWR to develop its first-ever statewide subsidence monitoring system but it’s also bringing undetected subsidence to the surface, giving water managers a consistent source of ground-movement intelligence to help them improve groundwater management and bring stability to unstable ground.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Tiny, rural Allensworth takes on climate change with help from state grant

The state awarded $300,000 to the Allensworth Progressive Association, a local nonprofit, to “implement neighborhood-level projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve public health and the environment and expand economic opportunity for residents,” according to a press release from the Governor’s office. The money will be used, in part, for planning flood control and infrastructure for wastewater management. … Funding comes from the state’s Transformative Climate Communities program, which awarded $96 million to 10 disadvantaged communities throughout the state last month. The projects aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 64,000 metric tons, according to the press release.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Put solar in California deserts, not fertile farmlands

Successfully coping with severe droughts in California and the Southwest requires tough choices, all of them expensive and none of them perfect. But taking millions of acres out of cultivation and replacing them with solar farms is not the answer. California produces over one-third of America’s vegetables and three quarters of the country’s fruits and nuts – more than half of which is grown in the San Joaquin Valley. According to the California Farmland Trust, the San Joaquin Basin contains the world’s largest patch of Class 1 soil, which is the best there is.
-Written by Edward Ring, co-founder of the California Policy Center and author of the book “The Abundance Choice – Our Fight for More Water in California.” 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Video: Understanding the Kern River, east to west

Water on the Kern River works hard from start to finish. In this Law of the River video, we continue our journey down the river starting at Truxtun Avenue and Coffee Road in the heart of Bakersfield. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Proposed Central Valley dam likely to move forward after judge’s ruling

Both sides of a controversial proposed Central Valley dam hailed a Nov. 3 court ruling kicking back the project’s environmental documents as a success. A Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge ruled there was insufficient information about a road relocation that is part of the proposed Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir project, which would sit just above the town of Patterson in the Diablo Range on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.  More definitive information on the proposed realignment of Del Puerto Canyon Road will have to be provided in the Environmental Impact Report by project proponents, the Del Puerto Water District and the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractor Authority.

Aquafornia news City News Service

Proposal to place solar panels over LA Aqueduct advances

A proposal to place solar panels over the 370-mile Los Angeles Aqueduct in an attempt to reduce evaporation and add capacity for renewable energy for residents was approved by a council committee this week. Around one-tenth of the water in the aqueduct is lost from evaporation each year due to the length of travel for water to make it through the aqueduct, according to the office of Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who introduced the motion. O’Farrell is the chair of the council’s Energy, Climate Change, Environmental Justice, and River committee.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Court orders more study on Del Puerto Reservoir proposal

A court ruling on the proposed Del Puerto Reservoir is a minor setback, a leader on the project said. The ruling involved only the environmental effects of relocating Del Puerto Canyon Road from the reservoir site, said Anthea Hansen, general manager of the Del Puerto Water District. The plaintiffs also had cited concerns about wildlife, recreation and excessive pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta…. Del Puerto is partnering on the new reservoir with the four irrigation districts that make up the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors Authority. They farm about 250,000 acres in a stretch from Crows Landing to Mendota.

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Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Keyes gets $20.4 million in grants to upgrade drinking water

Keyes is getting $20.4 million of the $609 million announced Wednesday for clean-water projects in California. The money comes from the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill signed nearly a year ago by President Joe Biden. It will go to projects that remove pollutants from water, many of them in largely low-income places like Keyes. Officials gathered at a plant that already filters arsenic from wells supplying the 1,500 or so customers of the Keyes Community Services District. The new funding includes a $10.4 million grant that pays off a state loan that had funded the project, completed in 2019.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

Friant Water Authority not concerned with low water levels

While the water year began with one of the lowest storage amounts ever, the Friant Water Authority believes low water allocations will leave them largely unaffected.  The Friant Water Authority contended with several factors when it came to water allocation last year. Chief among them was “water debt” owed to the State Water Project. This year, despite a deepening drought, the authority will no longer have that burden. … After the one month mark of the 2023 water year, numbers are where they are expected to be, as far as October is concerned according to [Friant Water Authority's Ian] Buck-Mcleod. As the forecast predicts rain in the upcoming weeks for the majority of the state, he said this is a positive look for the waterways. 

Aquafornia news KMPH - Fresno

Study details how devastating the drought has been on California agriculture

The latest drought in California has been costly to agriculture. Twelve-thousand people have lost their jobs and economic losses total three billion dollars. Josue Medellin-Azuara is one of four educators from U.C. Merced who sized up California’s drought on agriculture for the past two years. … California agriculture generates 50-billion dollars in revenue and employs more than 420,000 people. The 2020-21 water years account for the second driest two year period since records began in 1895. Little or no water cost growers $1.3 billion in 2021 and $1.7 billion in 2022. 752-thousand acres of farmland was fallowed and 12,000 people lost their jobs.

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Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

News release: DWR provides funding to City of Coalinga for emergency water purchase

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today awarded $1.2 million to the City of Coalinga for an emergency water transfer to supply the community through the winter months. Though rain is in the forecast for some parts of the state, California remains in extreme drought. The City of Coalinga, located in Fresno County, had previously notified the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that it could run out of water by December without additional supplies. In coordination with Reclamation, which supplies water to the city via the Central Valley Project, Coalinga was able to purchase 600 acre-feet of water for approximately $1.1 million from the Patterson Irrigation District. To support the city, DWR is providing $1.2 million to cover the cost of the water purchase plus additional expenses through its Urban Community Drought Relief grant program.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

California county can sue prison over Clean Water Act violations

Amador County, Calif., has standing to sue a state prison for allegedly violating the Clean Water Act by discharging pollutants from prison labor operations into the local water supply, a federal trial court said. The Mule Creek State Prison uses inmate labor to conduct meat packing, coffee roasting and packing, and textile manufacturing operations. The CWA prohibits the discharge of pollutants into navigable waters unless the discharge complies with delineated standards. The county’s suit was consolidated with a suit by the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, and the US District Court for the Eastern District of California previously ruled that the … 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Why California nut growers’ UC Davis gift is controversial

Stewart and Lynda Resnick donated $50 million to fund a new center for sustainable agriculture practices at UC Davis, but environmentalists reacted with suspicion to the school’s mid-October announcement of their gift. … $10 million of the Resnicks’ gift is earmarked for research grants that are focused on identifying value-added properties in pistachio, almond and pomegranate byproducts. These crops are all part of the billionaire couple’s portfolio. … As California faces a continuing record drought, the Resnicks’ companies are the state’s biggest single water users — an estimated 150 billion gallons a year for their crops, Forbes Magazine estimated in 2021. The annual amount of water they use to grow more than 120,000 thousand acres of their produce in the southern San Joaquin Valley …

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Ripon cuts watering to once a week thru Feb. 28 due to drought

The City of Ripon’s new watering schedule went into effect on Tuesday. The winter schedule calls for a once-a-week schedule, from Nov. 1 to Feb. 28. Manteca, by contrast, still allows watering twice a week in the winter as California enters its fourth year of drought. Places within city limits with addresses ending in odd numbers may water on Sundays while those with even addresses may do so on Saturdays.

Aquafornia news Food and Environment Reporting Network

California’s San Joaquin Valley looks to solar, not farming, as climate change worsens

California’s San Joaquin Valley will become increasingly difficult to farm as climate change intensifies. But with the right regulations and policies, the state’s multi-billion dollar agricultural belt could become something else — a clean energy powerhouse that the state desperately needs. At a panel event on Tuesday, energy professionals and community leaders gave a glimpse of the valley’s potential future — one where alfalfa fields give way to solar farms and carbon is sequestered beneath fallowed orchards. They also acknowledged how daunting an economic transition it would be.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Panoche, California water theft went undetected for years

California’s water police struggle to track where water is flowing and whether someone is taking more than they’re supposed to. A criminal case unfolding in the San Joaquin Valley underscores how the federal government seems to have similar problems. Prosecutors say they uncovered a massive water theft that went on for 23 years without anyone noticing. … According to prosecutors, Falaschi engineered a brazen scheme to steal $25 million worth of water from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, operator of the Central Valley Project. More specifically, Falaschi stands accused of having his underlings siphon water from the Delta-Mendota Canal, the main conduit for delivering federal water to farms along the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and part of Silicon Valley. He then billed Panoche customers for this stolen water …

Aquafornia news CNN

As price of water skyrockets in California, this city paid $1.1M to keep faucets running through March

Coalinga usually gets its water through an aqueduct which runs from the San Luis Reservoir, about 70 miles northwest of the city. But as the West’s megadrought pushes reservoir levels to precarious new lows, the US Bureau of Reclamation this year reduced the amount of water Coalinga could take from the reservoir by 80%, city officials told CNN. The restriction left Coalinga short about 600-acre feet of water through March 2023 … With the city on track to run out of water by mid- to late November, officials turned to the increasingly expensive open market to make up the difference. They finalized a purchase from a California public irrigation district last week. The city’s price tag for life’s most basic necessity was roughly $1.1 million dollars. … [T]he same amount of water used to cost $114,000.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Change is coming to the Westlands Water District board. What will it mean for the future of the sprawling district and its controversial general manager?

The makeup of the Westlands Water District board will change this election – shifting power to a coalition of growers with a list of new actions, at the top of which appears to be ousting longtime General Manager Tom Birmingham. “There needs to be a change of leadership, that’s a foundational issue,” said Sarah Woolf, a member of a Westlands farming family, who helped organize the coalition. … Woolf applauded the district’s recharge efforts, but noted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which requires subbasins to bring aquifers into balance by 2040, was passed eight years ago and recharge efforts at Westlands have languished behind other districts. 

Tour Nick Gray

San Joaquin River Restoration Tour 2022
Field Trip - November 2-3

This tour traveled along the San Joaquin River to learn firsthand about one of the nation’s largest and most expensive river restoration projects.

The San Joaquin River was the focus of one of the most contentious legal battles in California water history, ending in a 2006 settlement between the federal government, Friant Water Users Authority and a coalition of environmental groups.

Hampton Inn & Suites Fresno
327 E Fir Ave
Fresno, CA 93720

Central Valley Tour 2022
Field Trip - April 20-22

Central Valley Tour participants at a dam.This tour ventured 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water California Groundwater Map Gary Pitzer

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

A water recharge basin in Southern California's Coachella Valley. To survive the next drought and meet the looming demands of the state’s groundwater sustainability law, California is going to have to put more water back in the ground. But as other Western states have found, recharging overpumped aquifers is no easy task.

Successfully recharging aquifers could bring multiple benefits for farms and wildlife and help restore the vital interconnection between groundwater and rivers or streams. As local areas around California draft their groundwater sustainability plans, though, landowners in the hardest hit regions of the state know they will have to reduce pumping to address the chronic overdraft in which millions of acre-feet more are withdrawn than are naturally recharged.

Western Water Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Douglas E. Beeman

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

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

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

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


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

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

Early bird prices are still available!

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

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

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

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

Western Water California Water Bundle Gary Pitzer

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

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

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


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

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

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


San Joaquin River Restoration Tour 2018

Participants of this tour snaked along the San Joaquin River to learn firsthand about one of the nation’s largest and most expensive river restoration projects.

Fishery worker capturing a fish in the San Joaquin River.

The San Joaquin River was the focus of one of the most contentious legal battles in California water history, ending in a 2006 settlement between the federal government, Friant Water Users Authority and a coalition of environmental groups.


San Joaquin River Restoration Tour 2017

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Western Water Excerpt Jenn Bowles

Preservation and Restoration: Salmon in Northern California
Winter 2017

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


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

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


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

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

Aquapedia background Layperson's Guide to Flood Management


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

Aquapedia background


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

Aquapedia background

Arsenic Contamination

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

Aquapedia background

Whiskeytown Lake

Photo Credit: Jenn Bowles, Executive Director

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

Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)

A man watches as a groundwater pump pours water onto a field in Northern California.A new era of groundwater management began in 2014 with the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which aims for local and regional agencies to develop and implement sustainable groundwater management plans with the state as the backstop.

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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


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

This handbook provides crucial background information on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, signed into law in 2014 by Gov. Jerry Brown. The handbook also includes a section on options for new governance.

Tour Images from the Central Valley Tour

Central Valley Tour 2015
Field Trip (past)

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


Water & the Shaping of California
Published 2000 - Paperback

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


Water & the Shaping of California
Published 2000 - hardbound

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


Restoring a River: Voices of the San Joaquin

This 30-minute documentary-style DVD on the history and current state of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program includes an overview of the geography and history of the river, historical and current water delivery and uses, the genesis and timeline of the 1988 lawsuit, how the settlement was reached and what was agreed to.


A Climate of Change: Water Adaptation Strategies

This 25-minute documentary-style DVD, developed in partnership with the California Department of Water Resources, provides an excellent overview of climate change and how it is already affecting California. The DVD also explains what scientists anticipate in the future related to sea level rise and precipitation/runoff changes and explores the efforts that are underway to plan and adapt to climate.


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

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


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

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


Delta Warning

15-minute DVD that graphically portrays the potential disaster should a major earthquake hit the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. “Delta Warning” depicts what would happen in the event of an earthquake registering 6.5 on the Richter scale: 30 levee breaks, 16 flooded islands and a 300 billion gallon intrusion of salt water from the Bay – the “big gulp” – which would shut down the State Water Project and Central Valley Project pumping plants.


Shaping of the West: 100 Years of Reclamation

30-minute DVD that traces the history of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and its role in the development of the West. Includes extensive historic footage of farming and the construction of dams and other water projects, and discusses historic and modern day issues.

Maps & Posters

San Joaquin River Restoration Map
Published 2012

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

Maps & Posters Groundwater Education Bundle

California Groundwater Map
Redesigned in 2017

California Groundwater poster map

Fashioned after the popular California Water Map, this 24×36 inch poster was extensively re-designed in 2017 to better illustrate the value and use of groundwater in California, the main types of aquifers, and the connection between groundwater and surface water.

Maps & Posters

California Water Map, Spanish

Spanish language version of our California Water Map

Versión en español de nuestro mapa de agua de California


Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project
Updated 2013

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


Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management
Published 2013

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background information on the principles of IRWM, its funding history and how it differs from the traditional water management approach.


Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater
Updated 2017

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background and perspective on groundwater. The guide explains what groundwater is – not an underground network of rivers and lakes! – and the history of its use in California.


Layperson’s Guide to Flood Management
Updated 2009

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to Flood Management explains the physical flood control system, including levees; discusses previous flood events (including the 1997 flooding); explores issues of floodplain management and development; provides an overview of flood forecasting; and outlines ongoing flood control projects. 


Layperson’s Guide to California Water
Updated 2021

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to California Water provides an excellent overview of the history of water development and use in California. It includes sections on flood management; the state, federal and Colorado River delivery systems; Delta issues; water rights; environmental issues; water quality; and options for stretching the water supply such as water marketing and conjunctive use. New in this 10th edition of the guide is a section on the human need for water. 


Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project
Updated 2021

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project explores the history and development of the federal Central Valley Project (CVP), California’s largest surface water delivery system. In addition to the project’s history, the guide describes the various CVP facilities, CVP operations, the benefits the CVP brought to the state and the CVP Improvement Act (CVPIA).


Layperson’s Guide to the Delta
Updated 2020

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Delta explores the competing uses and demands on California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Included in the guide are sections on the history of the Delta, its role in the state’s water system, and its many complex issues with sections on water quality, levees, salinity and agricultural drainage, fish and wildlife, and water distribution.

Maps & Posters California Water Bundle

California Water Map
Updated December 2016

A new look for our most popular product! And it’s the perfect gift for the water wonk in your life.

Our 24×36 inch California Water Map is widely known for being the definitive poster that shows the integral role water plays in the state. On this updated version, it is easier to see California’s natural waterways and man-made reservoirs and aqueducts – including federally, state and locally funded projects – the wild and scenic rivers system, and natural lakes. The map features beautiful photos of California’s natural environment, rivers, water projects, wildlife, and urban and agricultural uses and the text focuses on key issues: water supply, water use, water projects, the Delta, wild and scenic rivers and the Colorado River.

Aquapedia background

San Joaquin Valley

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

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

Aquapedia background

San Joaquin River and San Joaquin River Restoration Program

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

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

Pacific Flyway

The Pacific Flyway is one of four major North American migration routes for birds, especially waterfowl, and extends from Alaska and Canada, through California, to Mexico and South America. Each year, birds follow ancestral patterns as they travel the flyway on their annual north-south migration. Along the way, they need stopover sites such as wetlands with suitable habitat and food supplies. In California, 90 percent of historic wetlands have been lost.

Aquapedia background

Merced River

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

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

Aquapedia background

Kesterson Reservoir

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

Aquapedia background

California Aqueduct

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

Western Water Magazine

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

This issue of Western Water looks at the BDCP and the Coalition to Support Delta Projects, issues that are aimed at improving the health and safety of the Delta while solidifying California’s long-term water supply reliability.

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Magazine

Saving it For Later: Groundwater Banking
July/August 2010

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

Western Water Magazine

Small Water Systems, Big Challenges
May/June 2008

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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