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 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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Aquafornia news KMPH

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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Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Calif. Senate advances bill to spend $785mil to repair Valley canals

A bill aimed at improving the Valley’s two largest canal systems from continued subsidence-driven damage advanced through one house of the California State Legislature on Friday. Senate Bill 559, a top priority for legislators on both side of the aisle in the San Joaquin Valley and led by Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D–Sanger), seeks to dedicate $785 million in spending for improvements to four sets of waterways, spearheaded by two canals servicing the Central Valley Project: the Delta-Mendota Canal and the Friant-Kern Canal.

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Aquafornia news Senator Melissa Hurtado

News release: Hurtado releases statement after the State Water Resiliency Act passes Senate 34-1

Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) released the following statement after her bill, Senate Bill 559—The State Water Resiliency Act – passed the Senate 34-1 … The State Water Resiliency Act of 2021 will allocate $785 million to repairing vital water delivery systems that provide drinking water to communities throughout California and water to sustain the state’s leading agricultural economy. The funds would go to fixing the Friant-Kern Canal, the Delta-Mendota Canal and major portions of the California Aqueduct…

Aquafornia news PBS

2021 could be one of the driest years in a millennium, and there’s no relief in sight

Nearly half of the country — from the Pacific coast to the Great Plains and upper Midwest — is experiencing moderate to exceptional drought conditions. That’s expected to get worse throughout the summer. … UCLA climatologist Park Williams: “This drought is far from over. 2021 is shaping up to potentially be the driest of all of the drought years in the last century, and definitely one of the driest of the last millennium.”

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Aquafornia news Reuters

‘Big risk’: California farmers hit by drought change planting plans

Joe Del Bosque is leaving a third of his 2,000-acre farm near Firebaugh, California, unseeded this year due to extreme drought. Yet, he hopes to access enough water to produce a marketable melon crop. Farmers across California say they expect to receive little water from state and federal agencies that regulate the state’s reservoirs and canals, leading many to leave fields barren, plant more drought-tolerant crops or seek new income sources all-together. … Stuart Woolf, who operates 30,000 acres, most of it in Western Fresno County … may fallow 30% of his land.

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Aquafornia news Kern Valley Sun

Kern River Conservancy receives grant to study fire’s impact on river water quality

The Kern River Conservancy received a $23,000 grant to study whether last year’s Sequoia Complex Fire harmed the water quality in the wild and scenic section of the Kern River. The Virginia and Alfred Harrell Foundation awarded the grant to the non-profit conservancy, Gary Ananian, the conservancy’s founder and executive director, told the Kern Valley Sun.

Aquafornia news KMPH

Local push to raise levels in two storm water reservoirs

Two large reservoirs in our backyard are capable of holding 40,000 acre feet of water to recharge the underground table. But federal rules prevent them from reaching capacity and it will take an act of Congress to change the rules. Big Dry Creek Reservoir in Clovis and Fancher Creek Reservoir east of Clovis together can hold 40,000 acre feet of storm water. That’s water that can eventually stream into the underground water table. 

Aquafornia news Valley Voice

Chris Mathys, GOP primary candidate, begins effort to declare Delta smelt extinct

The delta smelt could be declared endangered if Chris Mathys, a Republican primary challenger to David Valadao, gets his way. “Federal and state mandated rules related to the delta smelt in California are severely restricting the releases of surface water relied upon by California’s farmers and ranchers. Agriculture products are vital to California’s economy and farmers depend on an adequate water supply to grow nuts, fruits and vegetables that provide food for Americans and the rest of the world,” Mathys wrote in a statement.

Aquafornia news Science Times

California town sinks 2 feet per year; here’s why Corcoran slowly turns into sinkhole

Over the past decade, the farming town of Corcoran, California, has been sinking two feet every year as agriculture firms pump underground water to irrigate crops. The 7.47 square-mile area in California’s San Joaquin Valley has 21,960 people and has sunk 11.5 feet in the last 14 years. According to the USGS California Water Science Center, the sinking is the product of agriculture industries pumping underground water to irrigate their crops for decades. 

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

Friday Top of the Scroll: As California’s drought worsens, the Biden Administration cuts water supplies and farmers struggle to compensate

The impacts of California’s deepening drought hit home for Central Valley farmers earlier this week, when federal officials announced they didn’t have enough water to supply many of their agricultural customers. Urban users south of San Francisco in Santa Clara County saw their normal water deliveries cut in half. California ships water to cities and farms through a combination of state and federal programs that oversee a complex network of hundreds of miles of dams, reservoirs and aqueducts throughout the state.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Paying for California’s water system

The state’s extensive water system supplies cities and farms; prevents pollution of lakes, rivers, and coastlines; protects against floods; and supports freshwater ecosystems and the forested headwaters that are a major source of water supply. Many local, state, and federal agencies oversee this system and raise revenues from a variety of sources. California spends about $37 billion annually, with the lion’s share (84%) coming from local water bills and taxes. The balance comes from state (13%) and federal (3%) contributions.

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Aquafornia news Yale Climate Connections

Installing solar panels over California’s canals could save 65 billion gallons of water a year

Demand for solar power is growing. And recent research suggests that people should consider installing solar panels not only on fields and rooftops, but above waterways as well. Brandi McKuin of the University of California, Santa Cruz, says canopies of solar panels can be installed over canals. The approach would generate clean energy, and by shading the water, reduce evaporation. Her research estimates that covering California’s 4,000 miles of open canals with solar panels could save about 65 billion gallons of water a year.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California drought worsens. What’s ahead for fish, farms, cities

In just a few weeks, California’s water conditions have gone from bad to terrible. Sacramento residents have been asked to cut water usage 10%. Their counterparts on the Russian River are being told to reduce their consumption 20%. Farmers across the Central Valley are letting fields lie fallow and dismantling their orchards. Government agencies are warning of massive fish kills on the Sacramento River. After a warm spring dried up practically the entire Sierra Nevada snowpack — and robbed California of enough water to fill most of Folsom Lake — state and federal officials have been forced to dramatically ramp up their drought response plans.

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Aquafornia news Bakersfield.com

As water flowed through the Kern River, court finds Bakersfield violated agreement

Who has the right to water in the Kern River? It has been the subject of fierce legal battles throughout Bakersfield’s history, and on Friday, the Ventura County Superior Court tried to answer a part of that question. In a court ruling, Judge Kevin DeNoce found the city of Bakersfield must supply the North Kern Water Storage District with 20,000 acre feet of water it owed the district in 2020 and pay the district $2.8 million to reimburse groundwater pumping costs the district incurred last year. It’s the latest court decision in a long-running dispute, and it threatens to limit the city’s ability to use water from the Kern River.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Central Valley communities lost water in last drought. Are small water systems ready this time?

Poplar is one of hundreds of small community water systems in the central San Joaquin Valley facing severe challenges in the task of providing residents with safe and reliable drinking water, particularly during drought. Some 360,000 people are at risk, according to a drought-risk analysis by DWR. Water systems were caught off guard in the last drought, leaving tens of thousands of people at risk of imminent water shortages.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

The sinking Central Valley town

In California’s San Joaquin Valley, the farming town of Corcoran has a multimillion-dollar problem. It is almost impossible to see, yet so vast it takes NASA scientists using satellite technology to fully grasp. Corcoran is sinking. Over the past 14 years, the town has sunk as much as 11.5 feet in some places — enough to swallow the entire first floor of a two-story house and to at times make Corcoran one of the fastest-sinking areas in the country, according to experts with the United States Geological Survey.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: A look at California’s safe and affordable drinking water gaps

The State Water Board recently completed a multi-year needs assessment of the state’s safe drinking water challenges. One big takeaway: more money is needed. The study identified a funding gap of $4.6 billion to resolve safe drinking water problems over the next five years. We talked to Greg Pierce—the study’s lead researcher and associate director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation—about the findings.

Aquafornia news Water Alternatives

Research paper: Disadvantaged unincorporated communities and the struggle for water justice in california

The notion of access to water for drinking and sanitation as being a human right – not a privilege or a commodity to be bought and sold – is based on the understanding that water is essential for life itself and should not be subject to the dictates of the market. This understanding parallels other treatments of vital resources such as housing and healthcare and has been codified in multiple United Nations frameworks. Human rights have been less common as a basis for public policy in the United States, where the more limited concept of civil rights has predominated. This has begun to change, most notably with the passage of California’s 2012 Assembly Bill 685 on the human right to water…

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Opinion: Facing multiple droughts, California agriculture needs consumers to step up

Governor Newsom’s recent emergency declaration confirms what California’s agriculture industry has known for months. Drought has returned to California, in what has become a recurring theme of growing food in our state. Farmers and ranchers accept the risks that come with their way of life and have fought hard to be productive in one of the most heavily regulated industries in the state. Agriculture continues to adapt to meet evolving challenges and now more than ever consumers need to buy California grown produce.
-Written by Ian LeMay, president of the California Fresh Fruit Association.

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Aquafornia news Farm Progress

Blog: Pairing images to intelligence to manage water

One of the challenges of aerial imagery, whether from an airplane or a satellite, is making sense of what you see. What is that image telling you? Ceres Imaging, a California startup with offices in Nebraska and Washington, is using artificial intelligence to answer that question. … Recently, the company issued a publication where it evaluated microdrip irrigation on nearly 1 million acres in California. From that analysis, they learned the value of more precise irrigation management. And while much of that work was in high-value crops, Ceres also works with pivot irrigators in other regions of the country to manage water.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Failing water infrastructure disproportionately hurts disadvantaged communities

The infrastructure Californians rely on to move water throughout the state is aging, deteriorating and in desperate need of repair. The cost of doing nothing will be borne by all water users — cities, towns, businesses, farms and the environment. However, the negative impacts from further neglect will land disproportionately on already disadvantaged communities.
-Written by Ian LeMay, president of the California Fresh Fruit Association. 

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Facing a drought, California’s farmers make hard choices

In wetter times, these feathery beds of asparagus would produce generations of tender green spears, reaching for the vast San Joaquin Valley sky. [Last] Monday they were disked into the dry dirt, their long lives cut short by unreliable and expensive water. … With no guarantee of irrigation water this summer, Del Bosque and other California farmers are making tough choices, sacrificing one crop to save another. The strategy is part of a larger and longer agricultural shift here in the heart of California’s $50 billion agriculture industry: Low-value, high-water crops are disappearing from the Golden State.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Money for water debt may be available but can California get it to those in need?

As pandemic restrictions begin to ease in California, a race is on to get money in place to help with massive and growing household water debt before the statewide moratorium on shutoffs for non-payment is lifted. Some observers are looking at June 15, when Gov. Newsom said he’ll lift the state’s mask mandate, as a potential date for release from other COVID-19 mandates, including the water shutoff moratorium. That’s also the deadline for lawmakers to pass the state budget, in which Newsom recently injected $1 billion to help pay overdue water bills.

Aquafornia news KMPH

Will the nutria ever be wiped out in the Valley?

The swamp rat population in Central California is beginning to diminish. But a state biologist says elimination is still a few years away. FOX26 reporter Rich Rodriguez updates us on the nutria… one of Valley agriculture’s biggest enemies. The State Department of Fish and Wildlife has spent more than three years trying to round up and euthanize nutria.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Water in shorter supply than ever, Calif. reps takes aim at state’s poor policies on Capitol Hill

With communities on the West Coast once again threatened by extreme drought, Republicans on the House Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing on Wednesday to discuss the issue. Central Valley representatives Kevin McCarthy (R–Bakersfield), Devin Nunes (R–Tulare) and David Valadao (R–Hanford) joined the committee to address the drought.  The message was clear from all of the representatives and witnesses: The drought is a product of poor policies over the last several decades.

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

State proposes to add funding for water goals

As more of California sinks into extreme drought, Gov. Gavin Newsom has asked the Legislature to appropriate billions of dollars to address critical water needs. In the “May revise”—an update to the budget proposal he initially submitted to the Legislature in January—Newsom proposes to spend nearly $3.5 billion on water supply and resilience projects, with total investment reaching $5.1 billion over multiple years. 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Managing for fish and wildlife during a dry year in the Sacramento Valley

With the driest year in memory, the water resources managers and landowners in the Sacramento Valley are working hard to serve multiple benefits throughout the region with limited water supplies. This has required all hands-on deck and creative management within the region as all surface water supplies have been significantly reduced, with hundreds of thousands of farmland acres idled throughout the region, urban suppliers working with their citizens to implement various conservation measures to reduce water use and there will undoubtedly be challenges for domestic groundwater wells.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Emergency water urged for rural Latino communities before California drought worsens

California lawmakers should take prompt action before drought conditions worsen by sending emergency drinking water to vulnerable communities in parched regions of the state, legislative advisers say. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office released a report last week providing recommendations on how to address increasingly dry conditions throughout the state. Based on an analysis of the state’s previous efforts for the last major drought, from 2012 to 2016, analysts said lawmakers should start sending emergency water supplies to vulnerable communities in the San Joaquin Valley region… 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: State plans $30 million wall to stop saltwater intrusion into delta – drought fallout

In the latest chapter of California’s unfolding drought, state officials are planning to build a giant rock wall across a river in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to save the vital freshwater estuary from San Francisco Bay’s saltwater. The emergency measure is a page from last decade’s drought when the delta, a maze of sloughs and man-made channels east of the Bay Area, was at risk of becoming too salty to provide water to the nearly 30 million Californians who depend on it. As in 2015, the freshwater rivers that feed the 1,100-square-mile delta have gotten so low that they no longer counter the brackish flows that push in from the bay. 

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Where’s the water? Drought threatens California’s lifeline

Even as California moves toward a full reopening from pandemic restrictions next month, many counties are still in danger. From drought. Earlier this month, Gov. Gavin Newsom extended emergency drought orders to 41 counties across the state. … All eyes are on a critical resource that can help fight the effects of another dry summer: water. 

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Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Opinion: Bluetech workforce, desal could solve California water crises

Facing extended drought, diminishing snowpack, and depleted aquifers, California water managers face a harsh reality: our 20th century water systems – essentially linear designs in which fresh water is extracted, centrally treated, distributed to users, returned as wastewater, and finally treated and discarded – are breaking down. Although this approach has served us well for decades, we can no longer sustain ourselves with a paradigm that uses water once and throws it away.
-Written by Peter Fiske, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and executive director of the Department of Energy’s National Alliance for Water Innovation.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

ACWA conference: The decade of water resilience – Developing solutions for our water future

Last week, the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) held their spring conference virtually.  Keynote speakers included Wade Crowfoot, Secretary of Natural Resources, and Karla Nemeth, Director of the Department of Water Resources.  In his speech, [Crowfoot] discussed the Newsom Administration’s priorities, calling this the ‘decade of resilience’, and giving three principles for going forward.  He also discussed the Voluntary Agreements.  Director Karla Nemeth gave the Thursday morning keynote speech, touching on the Department’s response to drought, SGMA implementation, the Delta Conveyance Project, and the water use efficiency regulations.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Climate change impact increasingly felt in California

More wildfires. Hotter days. Drought. Sea-level rise. Those conditions are an increasing reality in California, which is steadily becoming an altered state. But if the grimmest predictions of experts about our state and climate change become true, the conditions will become far worse.

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Aquafornia news Stanford - Water in the West

New research: New modeling framework guides managed aquifer recharge under climate change

Current and future climate change effects are intensifying the hydrological cycle, leading to increased variability of both precipitation and runoff. This heightened pattern results in more frequent and severe droughts and floods, as well as more recurrent swings between these two extremes. Harvesting floodwaters using managed aquifer recharge to replenish depleted groundwater aquifers can simultaneously reduce flood and drought risks. 

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Central Valley water districts get OK to sue Dow, Shell over groundwater pollution

A state appeals court has upheld California’s cleanup standards for a cancer-causing chemical that was added to pesticides and has polluted groundwater in the Central Valley, rejecting challenges by manufacturers that may have to pay the costs. The State Water Resources Control Board’s 2017 mandate for removing nearly all TCP (1,2,3-trichloropropane) from drinking water was contested by the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, representing Dow Chemical Co. and Shell Oil, which included the chemical in worm-killing fumigants widely used by farmers through the 1980s. 

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Irrigation districts look to transfers as water dwindles

With very little water to spare this drought year, water districts struggling with limited or no supplies look to their counterparts in other districts to negotiate water transfers to add whatever flexibility they can. Districts on the west side of the Central Valley, both north and south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, face the prospect of receiving no water from the Central Valley Project.

Aquafornia news Center for California Water Resources Policy and Management

Blog: Captive breeding of Delta smelt: Worthy experiment or well-intended folly?

Delta smelt have nearly ceased to appear in “pelagic” fish surveys carried out in their narrow geographic range in the upper San Francisco Estuary. As trawl-generated index values for delta smelt have declined over the past quarter century – understand there is no reliable estimate of the size of the delta smelt population — the chorus of voices advocating for captive rearing and releases of the species has grown louder. 

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Floodplain restoration helps both fish and people where Tuolumne and San Joaquin meet

Out where the Tuolumne River joins the San Joaquin, an intriguing way of managing water is taking hold. Dos Rios Ranch is nine years into its restoration, a $45 million-plus effort across nearly 2,400 acres. It seeks to enhance flood protection, wildlife habitat and water supplies in one grand vision. Crews have reshaped former farm fields to mimic the floodplains that spread across much of the Central Valley in the time before dams and levees.

Aquafornia news Daily Kos

Gov. Newsom’s May budget revision allocates $200 million to plug abandoned and orphaned oil wells

California Governor Gavin Newsom on May 14 unveiled his May budget revision that allocates $200 million to plug abandoned and orphaned oil and gas wells, many located near low-income residential areas where the majority of residents are Latino and Black. In January 2020, a report by the California Council on Science & Technology revealed that California taxpayers could be on the hook for more than $500 million to plug thousands of “orphan” wells drilled and abandoned by oil and gas companies. .. Plugging all 107,000 oil and wells in California when they become idle would cost more than $9 billion, the report also found.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: How unprepared is California for 2021’s drought?

California — already in the clutches of another drought emergency —  is looking over its shoulder at what happened last time, anticipating the worst and evaluating the strategies that worked and those that failed. So is California in a better position to weather this drought? Some things are worse, some better: Groundwater is still being pumped with no statewide limits, siphoning up drinking water that rural communities rely on. In northern counties, residents are reliving the last disaster as water restrictions kick in again, but in the south, enough water is stored to avoid them for now. … The upshot is California isn’t ready — again.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

State plans to order drought restrictions, but it doesn’t have good water data to do it

As California descends deeper into drought, state regulators are planning to do something they’ve done few times in modern history: order thousands of people, farms, and even cities and towns that hold historic water rights to stop drawing water from the rivers, lakes and ponds they rely on. The move is intended to make sure the dwindling flows in California’s waterways are reserved for those with the most senior water rights, as well as for fish and other wildlife. Many of those with lesser rights would have to turn to storage, groundwater or another source, if they have it.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco sues state over bid to restrict its Sierra water supplies

The city of San Francisco is reviving a long-simmering feud with the state over water, filing a lawsuit Friday that charges state regulators with trying to take away the city’s coveted Sierra Nevada water supplies. The suit claims the state water board is demanding the city forfeit too much water from the Tuolumne River as part of a licensing deal for two dams in the faraway basin. State regulators have said the water is needed to maintain proper river flows and support struggling salmon, but city officials contend the demands would leave Bay Area residents and businesses vulnerable to water shortages.

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Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: A few lessons for California’s new drought

We asked some colleagues for lessons that might be useful in managing the California’s new drought. Here is a first sampling of thoughts. … Katrina Jessoe. Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Davis: Climate models indicate that California’s droughts will become more frequent and severe. Warming temperatures will further reduce surface water availability, by increasing evaporation from soil, reservoirs, and irrigated land. While reductions in surface water supplies will be costly to agriculture, residential users and the environment, these costs could be substantially reduced through the reallocation of scarce supplies. Supplying water to those who value it most will not eliminate the costs of drought, but will make them less painful. 

Aquafornia news Ag Net West

Another record almond crop forecasted by USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is forecasting another record almond crop for California. The 2021 California Almond Subjective Forecast estimates a three percent increase from last year’s 3.12-billion-pound crop. According to USDA-NASS, California growers could be looking at a 2021 crop of 3.2 billion pounds. If that number comes to fruition, it would be the largest almond crop on record. 

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Aquafornia news Sacramento CBS Local

Folsom Lake levels continue to drop amid drought emergency, push for water conservation

Less than a week after Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a drought emergency for Northern California, Folsom Lake is standing at one of its lowest levels ever. … Ryan Ojakian is with the Regional Water Authority (RWA). Now, there’s a push from the RWA for its 20 water providers that serve about 2 million people in the Sacramento region to shift to using more groundwater than surface water to reduce reliance on Folsom Lake and the Lower American River.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Lessons for California: Australian reservoirs took a long time to recover from megadrought

Rain has long signaled the end of a drought, but a new analysis of Australia’s worst dry spell in a century reveals many water reservoirs remained low nearly a decade after the rain returned. Research published in the journal Science on Thursday studies 15 years of data collected before, during and after the Millennium Drought dried out Victoria, Australia, from 2001 to 2009 and reveals flaws in the long-held belief that reservoirs naturally replenish after drought ends.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Friday Top of the Scroll: Report: Drought to hit rural Latino communities hardest

Rural, low-income Latino communities across California were hardest hit by the last drought and could see drinking water shortages again this year as extreme drought spreads across the state, according to a report released Thursday by non-partisan advisors to California’s lawmakers. The report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office warns state officials to prepare by ramping up monitoring of wells in vulnerable communities and lining up emergency drinking water supplies to send there. 

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Aquafornia news Reuters

As drought dries California rivers, salmon take truck rides to sea

During a typical spring, the silver young salmon swimming in long tanks at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery east of Sacramento would be released into the American River and then make their way out to the Pacific Ocean to grow to adulthood. But with extreme drought now gripping California and much of West Coast, the rivers are too warm for the salmon to survive. This week, the 3.5-inch (90-mm) smolt, as the young fish are known, embarked on a much different journey when they were loaded on to trucks and driven to the San Francisco Bay for release into cooler waters.

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Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

USDA projects record California almond crop, but will growers have enough water?

A federal agency Wednesday forecast a record harvest of 3.2 billion pounds of almonds in California. That would be a 3% increase over 2020 for the nuts, the highest-grossing crop in Stanislaus and several other counties. The report will set the tone for the global almond trade, since California accounts for about 80% of the supply. Several thousand people work on farms and in processing plants in the Central Valley.

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Aquafornia news Congressman Jim Costa

News release: Costa legislation aims to improve water quality and supply

At a time when California is facing severe drought conditions that triggered Governor Gavin Newsom’s declaring a state of emergency and providing more than $5 billion dollars for water infrastructure and drought response funding, Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) introduced bipartisan legislation to address California water supply and water quality goals…

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Fail: Tule Basin drinking water plan kicked back for a redo

When Sandra Chavez’ mother discovered she had stage four cancer last year, one of Sandra’s first thoughts was about their water. Her family’s private well is contaminated with nitrates and Chavez wondered if years of drinking the water could have caused her mother’s sickness. Chavez and her family have relied on bottled water since they found out their well water was unsafe in 2015. But sometimes they don’t have enough and are forced to drink the contaminated water. So when Chavez found out about a new program providing free bottled water delivery for families with nitrate-contaminated wells, she was frustrated she hadn’t been contacted.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California’s unusually dry winter could be the new normal, according to decades of data

As Californians can tell by the already beige hills, the early fire weather warnings and the dusty umbrellas sitting deep inside closets, it’s been drier than usual this winter. And according to decades worth of precipitation data, that’s the new normal. What’s considered “normal” for baseline rainfall amounts is determined by a 30-year average that gets recalculated every decade. The latest recalculation, according to Jan Null, a forecaster who runs Golden Gate Weather Services, “show a noticeably drier state” through 2020 compared to the previous “normal” calculation covering 1981 through 2010. 

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Aquafornia news YourCentralValley.com

Drought forces California farmers to destroy crops

With the uncertainty of water, some Central Valley farmers are destroying their crops ahead of the summer season in order to survive. It’s impacting jobs and soon possibly the grocery shelves. Every crop at Del Bosque Farms is planted meticulously, and every drop of water is a precious commodity. Joe Del Bosque started the family farm in 1985. He grows melons, asparagus, cherries, almonds, and corn, but the drought brings a flood of concern.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Fears of a massive salmon die-off this summer in Sacramento River water conflict

An entire run of endangered winter-run chinook salmon, as well as the fall-run salmon that make up the core of the California fishery, are in danger of being wiped out this year if the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation keeps diverting water to farmers at its current rate. With state water resources constrained by the extreme drought, that’s the alarm that environmental, fishing and tribal groups are sounding after reports show the Sacramento River will reach dangerous temperatures during spawning season, based on federal scientific scenarios that analyze the bureau’s planned water releases. 

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

CA Water Commission: Advancing flood-mar: What are the possibilities?

At the April meeting of the California Water Commission, the Commission continued examining the state’s role in conveyance projects by hearing from two experts on flood-managed aquifer recharge, or Flood MAR. First, Dr. Graham Fogg, UC David professor emeritus of Hydrogeology, discussed scaling up Flood MAR and how that will likely present new conveyance needs.  Then, Jenny Marr, Supervising Engineer at the Department of Water Resources, outlined the state’s approach to flood Mar.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Opinion: Six factors will ensure California agriculture’s future

I am proud to be a part of California agriculture. Our state has the impressive responsibility of feeding our country—and even the world. We have led the nation in agricultural production for the past 60 years due to our richly productive land and climate. Yet, our agriculture industry now faces serious and urgent challenges, from recovering from last year’s multiple crises to the ever-increasing competition in the global market. 
-Written by Robert Rivas, D-Hollister, chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Editorial: Gov. Newsom must resolve California and Stanislaus water wars

Don’t be fooled. Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision Monday to declare drought in most of California, including here, is no reason for most farmers in Stanislaus County to break out the party hats. They know full well that words on a declaration will not generate an extra drop of water for their orchards and row crops. They also know that a drought declaration could take some power over the water we do have from our locally elected irrigation leaders — who represent institutions guiding us through periodic droughts for more than 100 years — and hand it to nonelected Sacramento bureaucrats.

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Aquafornia news Food & Water Watch

Blog: Newsom expands California drought emergency, commits $5.1 billion to water infrastructure and debt relief

Governor Gavin Newsom announced an expansion of the drought emergency to 41 of the state’s 58 counties, dedicating $5.1 billion to boost water infrastructure and an additional $1 billion to paying off nearly the entirety of Californian household water debt. Yet, while the governor’s plan includes $150 million for groundwater cleanup and water recycling measures, it does nothing to speed up the process to bring overdrafted water basins into full and sustainable operation. The deadline is currently 2040 for critically overdrafted basins and 2042 for remaining high and medium priority basins.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Extremely dry conditions spill across the American West

Spring is generally a time of renewal for the watersheds of the western United States. Warmed by the lengthening days, the region’s towering mountain ranges shed their mantle of snow, releasing freshets of water into welcoming streams and reservoirs. This year, though, the cycle is in disarray. Outside of the Olympic and Cascade ranges of Washington state, winter snows were subpar. The spring melt has been a dud. From the Klamath to the Colorado and Rio Grande, watersheds are under stress once again, and water managers face difficult tradeoffs between farms, fisheries, and at-home uses. 

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: State water agencies, CA water data consortium and EDF partner on groundwater accounting platform and data standards

State water agencies, the California Water Data Consortium (Consortium) and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) announced a new partnership today to make an open-source groundwater accounting platform freely available to help groundwater sustainability agencies manage the transition to sustainable supplies. 

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Aquafornia news ABC10.com

New tool lets California well water users see drought impact

The state is facing major water impacts, but for those reliant on water wells — in mobile home parks, rural communities, and areas where water district access is limited — the concern is growing. The Department of Water Resources has created a website that can help those who rely on well water to figure out just how much at-risk they are of a water shortage. The site was created after the last drought, but with California’s drought only recently worsening, it had not been widely used or needed until now. The interactive map allows users to explore their area and keep tabs on their well water situation.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Farmers grapple with implications of water cuts

In water-stressed farming areas of California, farmers removed productive trees and idled other land to divert what little water they have to other crops, as the reality of the 2021 drought became ever more apparent. “We’re removing 15-year-old, prime-production almond trees,” said Daniel Hartwig of Woolf Farming in Fresno County. “We’re pulling out almost 400 acres, simply because there’s not enough water in the system to irrigate them, and long term, we have no confidence that there would be water in the future.” 

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Drought proclamation and infrastructure plan bring focus to managing water in a dry year

California’s water resources managers are proactively working with our various partners through the harshest dry year we have seen in recent memory….  We are encouraged that the Governor’s drought proclamation will bring important focus on our precious water resources and inspire balanced approaches that will allow water resources managers (state, federal and local) to creatively manage our limited water supplies this year for multiple benefits.   

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation increases flow releases from New Melones Reservoir for Bay-Delta requirements

Today, the Bureau of Reclamation announced a plan to increase flow releases from New Melones Reservoir to assist with meeting Delta salinity and outflow requirements. Additional flow releases will begin on the lower Stanislaus River on May 10 and will reach a total flow of 1,000 cubic feet per second and again on May 11 to reach 1,500 cfs. This increased flow of 1,500 cfs will likely occur for an extended duration. During the increased releases, water levels will be higher and currents faster. Visitors should use caution when near or on the Stanislaus River during these increased flows.

Aquafornia news Weather West

Blog: California drought continues to intensify; Cooler temperature and robust marine layer to offer some temporary relief

Well, unfortunately, the overall drought trajectory has not changed since the last post: it’s still getting worse. And pretty rapidly worse, at that, across much of NorCal. There, virtually no precipitation at all has fallen in places that are usually still pretty wet in April/May, and unusually persistent/recurrent north/northeast “blow drier” winds have resulted in even more evaporation and snowmelt across the landscape.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Gavin Newsom declares drought across much of California

Gov. Gavin Newsom expanded his drought emergency declaration to 39 more counties Monday, underscoring the rapid deterioration of California’s water supply in recent weeks. The governor broadened his earlier drought order, which was limited to two counties on the Russian River, to cover most of parched California, which is plunging into its second major drought in less than a decade. The new order covers the Sacramento and San Joaquin river watersheds, the Tulare Lake basin region and the Klamath region in far Northern California. About 30% of the state’s population is now covered by the declarations…

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute Of California

Blog: Is California ready for drought?

California is now in its second year of drought, hard on the heels of the last one in 2012-16. But drought is not an equal-opportunity crisis; it can be more or less disruptive depending on geography, storage, how water supplies are managed—and, of course, precipitation. And some sectors—notably rural water water systems and the environment—are more vulnerable.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Could this $36 million Central Valley river restoration project help with California’s droughts?

As California enters what could be a record-breaking drought, a just-completed nine-year floodplain restoration project at the confluence of the San Joaquin and Tuolumne rivers offers an ambitious attempt at one mitigation solution. At a 1,600-acre former dairy ranch called Dos Rios, the conservation organization River Partners removed berms that farmers had originally constructed to protect their alfalfa and wheat crops from the river. It turned fields into seasonal pools where endangered baby salmon and migratory birds can rest, and water can trickle down to refill aquifers.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Our latest Western Water article examines efforts to help consumers afford water as bills pile up amid pandemic

As California slowly emerges from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, one remnant left behind by the statewide lockdown offers a sobering reminder of the economic challenges still ahead for millions of the state’s residents and the water agencies that serve them – a mountain of water debt. … Our latest article in Western Water explores the hurdles to helping consumers, how some water agencies have devised workarounds and how far more lasting solutions remain out of reach.Western Water is just one of the publications produced by our journalism team…

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

In California’s farm country, climate change is likely to trigger more pesticide use, fouling waterways

Every spring, California farmers brace themselves for signs of wriggling organisms destined to launch multigenerational attacks on their crops. Many insect species survive the winter as eggs or larvae and then emerge in early spring as the first generation to feed and breed on millions of acres of California vineyards, orchards and row crops. Climate change will complicate farmers’ efforts to control these pests in complex and unpredictable ways. The most alarming consequence is apt to be ramping up pesticide applications, with broad implications for the safety of California’s waterways—just as the state gears up for a future filled with drought.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Bakersfield brewers send suds with a message to State Water Board

Bakersfield raised a brew, literally, to the State Water Resources Control Board on Friday in honor of the Kern River. An iced down package of seven locally made craft beers was delivered to board members as part of the latest outreach effort by Bring Back the Kern, a local group advocating for water to flow through Bakersfield in the Kern River.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield.com

Kern farmers make do under drought conditions

Kern County ag producers are making changes big and small — from redeveloping entire orchards to fine-tuning their irrigation systems — as they try to adjust to worsening drought conditions across the Central Valley. Strategies vary depending on access to water and ability to shift irrigation to different fields. Some landowners are trying to hold onto as much water as they can in case prices rise later in the year.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Conveyance and water rights; Considerations for conveyance across the Delta

At the April meeting of the California Water Commission, as part of their continuing work on examining the state’s role in financing conveyance projects that could help meet needs in a changing climate, the Commissioners heard from a panel of speakers about state policy considerations for conveyance and the cross-cutting issues of flood-managed aquifer recharge (flood-MAR), green infrastructure, collaborative partnerships and governance, and innovation. … Michael George, Delta Watermaster, … pointed out that it’s physically, ecologically, and economically impossible to squeeze water out of the Delta for export. 

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

No bear, but John Cox tells Fresno that he has the ‘beast’ in him to tackle Calif. issues

California gubernatorial candidate John Cox swung through Fresno on Thursday as part of his “Meet the Beast” campaign tour, holding a press conference at Machado Farms. … With the state once again in the midst of another drought, Cox said he would do something that Newsom has so far refused to: declare a state-wide emergency. Instead of a state-wide declaration, Newsom enacted an emergency in Mendocino and Sonoma Counties. 

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: River flows helps CA Delta estuary, fish — not wasted water

It’s that time of drought again. During one of the driest years on record, once again curtailing water deliveries to local farms, Fresno-area lawmakers wasted little time trotting out one of their favorite falsehoods. That every year, including the parched ones like 2021, California “wastes” millions of gallons of water by “flushing it to the ocean.” Central San Joaquin Valley residents have heard this declaration so often and for so long, from the mouths of politicians and parroted on talk radio, that many of us believe it’s true. 

-Written by Marek Warszawski

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Aquafornia news Daily Democrat

Garamendi’s bill bolsters federal financing for California water storage

Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA-03) introduced legislation (H.R. 2979) making low interest federal financing available for reservoir and drought resiliency projects, with Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-WA-04) as the original cosponsor. This bipartisan legislation (H.R. 2979) would amend the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) of 2014 to make public water projects like the off-stream Sites Reservoir Project eligible for low interest, longer term federal loans from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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Aquafornia news Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations

News release: Did BOR shift economic burden from water contractors to taxpayers?

On Monday May 3rd, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), the West Coast’s largest trade organization of small-scale commercial fishermen and women, signed on to a letter asking Representative Katie Porter (D – Ca 45th) in her capacity as Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Government Operations and Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, to open an investigation into Reclamation’s manipulation of government cost accounting standards and its own longstanding criteria for allocating costs owed by Central Valley Project water and power contractors (Contractors).

Aquafornia news Stanford Medicine

New research: Higher levels of nitrate in drinking water linked to preterm birth, Stanford study finds

Pregnant women exposed to too much nitrate in their drinking water are at greater risk of giving birth prematurely, according to a Stanford University study of more than 1.4 million California births. Agricultural runoff containing fertilizer and animal waste can greatly increase the nitrate level in groundwater, which naturally contains a low level of the chemical. … The strongest effects of nitrate on prematurity risk were seen in California’s agricultural regions, including the San Joaquin Valley and the Inland Empire, the study noted. A higher proportion of births in these areas are to Hispanic women than in other regions of the state …

Aquafornia news ABC10

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California falls further into extreme drought 

 A big change in drought conditions came out Thursday morning for all of California. With an update from the US Drought Monitor, 73% of California is now listed in Extreme Drought, the second most severe classification the US Drought Monitor utilizes. So far, 5% of California is listed as being in Exceptional Drought, which is the US Drought Monitor’s top-level drought designation. The increase to 73% is a significant jump from 53% in Extreme Drought from last week. This news comes on the heels of other drought changes, such as water restrictions for agriculture north of the Delta. 

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Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

IWVGA to discuss Searles nonpayment of replenishment fee

The fate of Searles Valley Minerals may hinge on a special virtual meeting of the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority later this week, at least according to SVM’s Camille Anderson. The meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday. At it, the IWVGA will discuss how to respond to SVM’s non-payment of the authority’s groundwater replenishment fee. … The groundwater authority was formed in response to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014, which requires all California basins to eventually achieve sustainability. The replenishment fee is part of the IWVGA’s long-term plan to reach sustainability, but has proven wildly controversial for some.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

Farmersville ready for growth with new wastewater facility

Farmersville is opening the floodgates for growth upon the completion of the wastewater treatment facility expansion, the most expensive public works project in the city’s history. The newly-updated wastewater treatment facility comes in at about $23 million, switching from percolating basins to updated technology like digesters and clarifiers to meet the city’s growing population and updated state requirements. City manager Jennifer Gomez said she’s excited to see the project of over 10 years come to completion.

Aquafornia news Nasdaq

NQH2O: Nasdaq Veles Water Index April 2021 market update

If any doubt persisted over the first months of the year, it has now become clear that this past winter’s dry conditions will not be reversing anytime soon. With 88% of California classified as experiencing severe drought and no less than 53% classified as extreme, according to the California drought monitor, there is no question that conditions have worsened, confirming fears that another dangerously dry summer looms on the horizon. In fact, so troubling is the situation that on April 21, amid the barren backdrop of a greatly depleted Lake Mendocino, Governor Newsom issued a state of emergency declaration for Mendocino and Sonoma counties …

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Some rural California residents doubt they’ll ever get clean water

When Ramona Hernandez turns on her kitchen faucet in El Adobe, an unincorporated town just a few miles southeast of Bakersfield, the water that splashes out looks clean and inviting. But she doesn’t dare drink it. … Drinking the tap water in this tiny community of dusty ranches and unpaved roads could expose Hernandez to arsenic. So, for years, she and her husband, Gerardo, have shuttled twice a week to the nearby town of Lamont to load up on bottled water. At a cost of about $80 a month, it’s enough for drinking and cooking. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Today on Big Day of Giving consider supporting your favorite water nonprofit

At the Water Education Foundation, we focus on telling the complex story of water in California and the West because of its critical role in sustaining our lives, growing our food and nourishing our environment. As a nonprofit we rely on the generosity of people who value what we do – enhancing public understanding of our most important natural resource and catalyzing critical conversations to inform collaborative decision-making. Donate here to help us keep doing what we do, and join us for a virtual open house at 4:30 p.m. today.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Anticipating and addressing the impacts of the drought

California’s current drought is already off to a strong start, with some major challenges already looming just two years in. Compared to the drought of 2012‒16, the normally wetter Sacramento and North Coast regions have been hit much harder than the rest of the state. Beyond the local challenges this poses, drought in the Sacramento region is already having statewide implications, given its key role in supplying water to farms and cities further south. 

Aquafornia news The Revelator

Public health crisis looms as California identifies 600 communities at risk of water-system failures

A familiar scene has returned to California: drought. Two counties are currently under emergency declarations, and the rest of the state could follow. It was only four years ago when a winter of torrential rain finally wrestled the state out of its last major drought, which had dragged on for five years and left thousands of domestic wells coughing up dust. That drinking-water crisis made national headlines and helped shine a light on another long-simmering water crisis in California: More than 300 communities have chronically unsafe drinking water containing contaminants that can come with serious health consequences, including cancer.

Aquafornia news California Farm Bureau

Blog: President’s message – Water investments would help to assure essential farming jobs

One thing that’s been re-emphasized, time and again, during the pandemic travails of the past 14 months: Farming is essential. During the coming few months, as California struggles through another drought, we’ll learn whether our elected and appointed public officials feel the same way. [A]n overarching, long-term problem needs to be solved to make sure farm employees can not just work safely, but can have jobs, period: water supplies.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Fresno County leaders pass local drought emergency resolution

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday passed a resolution proclaiming a local drought emergency. The vote on the resolution during Tuesday’s special meeting was unanimous. The resolution comes after Fresno leaders joined officials from three other Central Valley counties on Friday to declare a regional drought emergency and urge Gov. Gavin Newsom to do the same statewide. Fresno County Chairman Steve Brandau said the drought “is a crisis that we are putting upon ourselves.” He said he’s not a water expert, but it has been “painful” for him to watch “as water flows out into the ocean unused for human resources.” 

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California drought declaration would trigger war over water supply

Experts say a statewide drought declaration … could bring significant consequences for the regulatory structure governing California’s complicated water-delivery system. Many farmers believe an emergency order could loosen environmental regulations and free up water supplies for them. Environmental groups fear the very same thing – that more of California’s dwindling water supply could be directed to farming at the expense of fish and wildlife.

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Aquafornia news Ag Net West

State Senate lays out $3.4 billion drought relief package

California Senators have unveiled a $3.4 billion drought relief package to address the hardships created by ongoing dry conditions. The Senate Budget Plan on Drought, Safe Drinking Water, Water Supply Reliability, and Ratepayer Assistance would be the single largest investment to address drought challenges in California. During the Senate Budget & Fiscal Review Subcommittee 2 on Resources, Environmental Protection and Energy hearing, the proposal was passed by a 4-0 vote. The proposal offers a comprehensive approach to drought relief, with funding designated for water supply projects, research, and water-use efficiency projects.

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Aquafornia news Comstock's magazine

Regenerating our soil

Regenerative farming practices integrate the entire ecosystem — building upon the relationships of the natural world — to simultaneously produce healthier, more abundant crops and restore the Earth’s natural resources. …  And restoring soil health and fertility produces more abundant, nutrient-dense crops that better resist pests and disease. It increases soil’s ability to filter and store water, reduce erosion and sequester carbon. And it builds a diversity and abundance of microbes that drive every function of soil.

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Aquafornia news Sierra Club

Beavers are firefighters who work for free

The beaver does more to shape its environment than nearly any other animal on Earth. They can cause incredible amounts of destruction to infrastructure; downing power lines, and blocking and rerouting waterways. But their dam-building also can improve water quality, reduce flood risk, and create the conditions for complex wetland habitats to form —providing refuge for wildlife and storing carbon in the process. 

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Opinion: California is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. Here’s why we are losing our biodiversity at an alarming rate.

California is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, and the San Diego region is one of the most diverse in California, but we are losing our biodiversity at an alarming rate. The coming summer months and dry conditions are going to further hurt that richness of life here. Conserving our water resources directly and indirectly benefits our wildlife and is consistent with the overall conservation ethic in San Diego, which is why we need to prepare in case drought conditions worsen.

-Written by Chuck Bonham, director of the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California could get 600,000 acres of new federally protected wilderness

California could get 600,000 new acres of federally protected wilderness under legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate recently. The designation would ensure the lands remain free of development, vehicles and commercial activity. … It would also designate more than 583 miles of river — including 45 miles of San Gabriel River tributaries, as well as Little Rock Creek — as “wild and scenic rivers,” a protection that prohibits dams or new mining.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Why California is planning to ban fracking

A little more than a week ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that not only would California effectively ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, by 2024, but the state also would work to phase out oil extraction entirely by 2045. … It was — like the governor’s promise last year that the state would ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035 — a sweeping pronouncement meant to show urgency in addressing climate change while the state he leads struggles with many of its most dire effects. But meeting those goals requires complex regulatory maneuvering.

Aquafornia news The Conversation

Blog: Installing solar panels over California’s canals could yield water, land, air and climate payoffs

Climate change and water scarcity are front and center in the western U.S. The region’s climate is warming, a severe multi-year drought is underway and groundwater supplies are being overpumped in many locations. … About 4,000 miles of canals transport water to some 35 million Californians and 5.7 million acres of farmland across the state. Covering these canals with solar panels would reduce evaporation of precious water – one of California’s most critical resources – and help meet the state’s renewable energy goals, while also saving money.

Aquafornia news Brownstein Water

Blog: Bridging intention and outcomes

On March 24, 2021, the Groundwater Resources Association of California and California Groundwater Coalition hosted the virtual 2021 Groundwater Law & Legislation Forum, featuring a keynote address from California’s Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot and updates on pending groundwater legislation, DWR’s SGMA implementation, and ACWA’s position on potential bond measures. One panel focused on the intersection of environmental justice, groundwater management and the role the legislative process can play…

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: California’s latest drought in 4 charts

California is grappling with drought again, facing many of the same conditions and challenges that were features of the 2012–16 drought—including stressed ecosystems, depleted reservoirs, hard-hit farms and rural communities, threats to urban water supplies, and the potential for extensive wildfires. Knowing what’s different and what’s similar to our last major drought can help us better prepare the most vulnerable sectors for ongoing dry times. To put this drought in context, this is only its second year. Historically, droughts have lasted up to six years. Our most recent one lasted five. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Trump-era water rules should be reversed

On the way out the door, the Trump administration committed many environmental and financial scandals. One can cost low-income water users while lining the pockets of one of California’s largest and most powerful water districts. The focus of one scandal was the failure of the Trump administration to collect required fish and wildlife mitigation costs set out in the Central Valley Project Improvement Act. Passed by Congress in 1992, it established new financing rules.
-Written by Caty Wagner, the Southern California Water Organizer for Sierra Club California, and Brandon Dawson, the acting director of Sierra Club California.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Is Newsom making any difference on fracking?

British journalist James Bartholomew is widely credited with creating the phrase “virtue signaling” to describe positioning oneself on the popular side of an issue without actually doing anything about it. Politicians are particularly prone to uttering words or making token efforts on difficult issues to stave off criticism about their failure to act meaningfully. Gov. Gavin Newsom is California’s champion virtue-signaler as he faces a recall election later this year. … There’s no better example than Newsom’s ever-shifting attitude toward hydraulic fracturing to increase petroleum production.
-Written by Dan Walters

Aquafornia news The Sierra Fund

Report: New tools to remediate California’s abandoned mine lands

Gold Rush communities celebrate their mining past but are largely unaware of the lasting impacts of that era. For more than 100 years public and private investors have purchased and developed land for public uses seemingly unaware of the presence and implications of the physical and chemical hazards found on abandoned mine lands (AMLs). As a result, residents of the Sierra Nevada’s Gold Country – the state’s headwaters – are living on top of and surrounded by abandoned mines. The toxic metals discharged by legacy mines continue to flow down river and deposit into the San Francisco Bay Delta …

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Central Valley lawmakers push emergency drought declaration

More than a dozen Central Valley lawmakers and elected officials met on Friday to declare a regional drought emergency and urge Gov. Gavin Newsom to do the same statewide. Three state senators and three Assembly members joined the chairs of the boards of supervisors from Fresno, Madera, Tulare and Kings counties in a bipartisan news conference at Harlan Ranch in Clovis to call for action that the group said is necessary to divert a crisis.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

First infrastructure package breezes through Senate

The Senate approved a $35 billion water infrastructure bill after defeating controversial amendments — marking the advancement of the first piece of a larger infrastructure package.

Aquafornia news Water Foundation

Blog: Looming California Drought

This weekend’s rain in Northern California, while welcome, did little to address the dry conditions across our state. As the state’s recent dismal snow survey showed, we are in for tough times ahead. Less snow means lower reservoirs, less water in our rivers and streams, and more groundwater pumping. And that spells trouble, particularly for disadvantaged communities and sensitive ecosystems, which have historically borne the brunt of California drought in consequences like dry wells and salmon die-offs.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Newsom promises while the Delta dies

The West Coast’s most important estuary is dying, and Gov. Gavin Newsom has hastened its demise. As he took office two years ago, Newsom promised to generate voluntary agreements among farmers, environmentalists and government officials on the rules for allocating water that flows through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. … [C]onditions in the delta have grown so dire that in March the National Marine Fisheries Service estimated that high water temperatures could kill 90% of endangered winter-run Chinook salmon in the Sacramento River this year.
-Written by Jacques Leslie.

Aquafornia news KCRA

Federal dollars available for California farmers, ranchers facing drought

Federal dollars are on the table to help farmers and ranchers during the drought. The U.S. Department of Agriculture declared a drought disaster in 50 California counties last month. Advertisement Grants are now available to help with costs associated with the dry conditions. After a winter with little rain and snow, California is dry. … Nicole Montna Van Vleck walked between two rice fields on Wednesday. One was newly planted and covered in water. The other was bone-dry.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

From dust bowl to California drought: a climate scientist on the lessons we still haven’t learned

California is once again in a drought, just four years after the last dry spell decimated ecosystems, fueled megafires and left many rural communities without well water. Droughts are a natural part of the landscape in the American west, and the region has in many ways been shaped by its history of drought. But the climate scientist Peter Gleick argues that the droughts California is facing now are different than the ones that have historically cycled through the Golden State.

Aquafornia news Ag Information Network Of The West

Blog: Nasdaq Veles California water index

As water allocations are slashed due to low supplies, what options do farmers have? California Farm Water Coalition executive director Mike Wade says thousands of acres are likely to go fallow, but better solutions are needed. One tool that has just been created this past year is the Nasdaq Veles California Water Index. But Wade says it’s still too early to tell if this is truly going to be effective in helping growers manage their risk.

Aquafornia news Sacramento News & Review

Opinion: Recall politics? No thanks, because the Delta keeps losing either way

Today’s commentary breaks my heart.  Why?  Because Restore the Delta is focused on water quality issues, flood control issues, future planning, and training the next generation of local water experts – for that is where hope exists.  We are focused on the future because in some ways we have become very cynical about any positive meaningful change to Delta management presently — from the lack of care at the highest levels of government, to local pockets of Delta communities that will not acknowledge the deterioration of the estuary before their eyes.

-Written by Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, who serves on the Executive Committee at Large for Restore the Delta. 

Aquafornia news Audubon

Blog: Putting wetlands to work for disaster recovery

No one will forget the intense challenges that 2020 brought us, from record-breaking hurricanes and wildfires to a global pandemic that devastated our economy and public health. As Congress and the Biden administration look to help our country rebuild and recover from these compounding crises, investing in nature presents an opportunity to deliver multiple benefits for communities, birds, and other wildlife. Audubon presents a new suite of policy recommendations for making our communities and wildlife more resilient to climate change, by putting our wetlands, barrier islands, and other ecosystems to work.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Water, drought, California and the West

In what may become an iconic image for drought-stricken California, Gov. Gavin Newsom stood on the parched bed of Lake Mendocino on April 21 to announce an emergency declaration for Sonoma and Mendocino counties. … [T]he reservoir was at a historically low 43% of capacity, the harbinger of what could be a devastating drought cycle not only for the Northern California counties that fell within his drought declaration, but for most of the state — indeed, the American West. 
-Written by Michael Hiltzik, a Los Angeles Times columnist.

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Aquafornia news Scientific American

Millions of groundwater wells could run dry

Millions of drinking wells around the world may soon be at risk of running dry. Overpumping, drought and the steady influence of climate change are depleting groundwater resources all over the globe, according to new research. As much as 20% of the world’s groundwater wells may be facing imminent failure, potentially depriving billions of people of fresh water. … Residents of California’s Central Valley are preparing for another arid summer and the rising risk of dry wells, The Fresno Bee reported yesterday. It’s a recurring pattern there. 

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

State Water Board: Update on the oil and gas monitoring program

Hydraulic fracturing has occurred in California and nationwide for decades; however, recent advancements in horizontal drilling technologies and “well stimulation” techniques have been instrumental in triggering an oil and gas boom, making the U.S. the world’s largest producer of oil and gas reserves. California produces more oil than all but three other states (Texas, North Dakota and Alaska), and Kern County is responsible for more than 70 percent of the state’s oil production. Environmentalists and other members of the public became concerned that the hydraulic fracturing process may contaminate groundwater aquifers …

Aquafornia news ABC30 - Fresno

Valley farmers preparing for drought conditions to worsen

Hunter Farms in Atwater is bracing for a second straight year of drought. Scott Hunter grows almonds and pistachios but won’t plant as many pumpkins this time around…. Hunter hopes his surface water deliveries will be enough to keep the crops going. During the last extended drought, he had to pump groundwater as deliveries started to dry up. Scott is frustrated by the state’s inability to establish a stable water system for farmers and communities….

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Aquafornia news ABC7 Los Angeles

Worms help power Valley winery’s wastewater system

Worms are helping a [San Joaquin] Valley winery on its path to becoming more green. Olympic-sized swimming pools at O’Neill Winery are actually beds filled with worms helping the company become greener. … The technology allows the company to take about 80 million gallons of processed water and clean it. O’Neill Winery is the seventh-largest winery in California. They produce wines and spirits sold around the United States.

Aquafornia news The Hill

California pushes to ban fracking and oil extraction

On Friday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) unveiled a new initiative to ban new and future permits for hydraulic fracking beginning in 2024. The ban is part of California’s effort to move away from oil extraction to source fuel, focusing on developing renewable sources such as wind and solar. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the sourcing of oil from deep subterranean rocks, using a high-pressured water mixture drilled into the earth that releases natural gas and oil. 

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Editorial: Biden offers California a clear, clean water strategy

California’s continuing failure to adopt a comprehensive water strategy is exacerbating its looming drought crisis. For nearly two decades, the state has put its focus on dam projects and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta tunnel fiasco. The primary aim is creating new ways of diverting additional water to Central Valley farmers at the expense of the fragile, over-tapped Delta, which supplies about one-third of the Bay Area’s fresh water supply. There’s a better approach. President Biden’s infrastructure plan calls for $50 billion to ease the West’s drought crisis by heavily investing in water efficiency and recycling programs.

Aquafornia news CBS Los Angeles

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: ‘Historic’ drought forces water restrictions in NorCal, but restrictions could soon extend statewide

The Marin Municipal Water District on April 20 enacted a series of water conservation rules, including banning home car washes, no watering of outdoor lawns between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., and no refilling decorative pools or fountains. A day later, California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a drought emergency for the Russian River watershed in Mendocino and Sonoma counties. Marin County borders Sonoma. Newsom chose to make the declaration in those two counties only, rather than statewide, as some officials and farmers in the agricultural-rich Central Valley had hoped. But Newsom said a broader drought declaration could come as conditions change.

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Aquafornia news The Business Journal

Federal, state money aims to mitigate drought harms

As drought realities set in, money is flowing to water authorities to fix wells and watersheds. Fresno and Madera water sources will get their piece of $26 million in grants from the State of California’s Department of Water Resources, according to a press release from the agency. The money is intended to go toward overdrafted groundwater basins that communities rely on during times of drought. … Sixteen individual construction projects will be funded in the Central Valley. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: What can help get us through this drought

Living in California means living with droughts – there’s no getting around it.  The devastating 2014-15 drought resulted in water shortages for our communities, farms and the environment, prompting California’s water leaders and decision-makers to implement early planning, improved collaboration, added conservation measures and new local supply projects to help balance the water needs of people and fish in preparing for the drought that is currently before us. … Let’s improve storage and conveyance so we can better manage our fluctuating and unpredictable climate. 
-Written by Chandra Chilmakuri, assistant general manager of the State Water Contractors.

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Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: How dry is California? What should we prepare for?

California is in the second year of a drought. Governor Newsom this week made his first drought declaration. Just how dry is this drought, so far?  What are some likely implications?  And what might State and local governments do about it?

Aquafornia news ABC30 Fresno

Storm system brings snow to High Sierra, doesn’t make dent in rain deficit

A storm system is bringing rain to the Valley and snow to the High Sierra. Several inches of snow accumulation are expected by the time the storm is through. There was light snowfall in Shaver Lake Sunday evening, but not much was sticking.  … The National Weather Service in Hanford said even though this storm is bringing in snow in the High Sierra, it will not make a dent in the precipitation deficit we’ve been seeing.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

As drought deepens, California farmers see grim future

As yet another season of drought returns to California, the mood has grown increasingly grim across the vast and fertile San Joaquin Valley. Renowned for its bounty of dairies, row crops, grapes, almonds, pistachios and fruit trees, this agricultural heartland is still reeling from the effects of the last punishing drought, which left the region geologically depressed and mentally traumatized. Now, as the valley braces for another dry spell of undetermined duration, some are openly questioning the future of farming here, even as legislative representatives call on Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a drought emergency.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: DWR awards $26 million in grants to support critically overdrafted groundwater basins

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today awarded $26 million in grant funding for capital project investments to improve water supply security, water quality and the reliability of domestic wells – advancing access to safe, affordable drinking water.   This funding provides important assistance for successful local implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which establishes a framework for managing the state’s groundwater resources and will help California be better prepared for longer, more severe droughts.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

As climate changes, researchers look to floods to save California from drought

California Governor Gavin Newsom declared drought in two counties Wednesday and predicted others would soon join. He bemoaned the prospect of another period of drought only a few years removed from a five-year drought that strained the state’s water resources.  A study published this week in Science Advances revealed one solution to the drought-like conditions and their increased frequency due to a changing climate is a counterintuitive one — floodwaters.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Newsom orders halt to new fracking in California starting in 2024 – and wants to end all drilling by 2045

Gov. Gavin Newsom directed the state Friday to stop issuing permits for the oil extraction method known as fracking by January 2024 and to draw up plans to end all fossil-fuel drilling in California by 2045 — the most sweeping declaration of its kind in the nation. … Eliminating all extraction would have far-reaching consequences in California, the nation’s seventh-largest producer of crude oil… [Fracking has] long been a controversial method because of what climate activists see as unacceptable dangers, including the possibility that it can contaminate groundwater.

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Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Nestlé doesn’t have valid rights to water it’s been bottling, California officials say

California water officials on Friday issued a draft order telling Nestlé to ”cease and desist” taking much of the millions of gallons of water it pipes out of the San Bernardino National Forest to sell as Arrowhead brand bottled water. The order, which must be approved by the California Water Resources Control Board, caps years of regulatory probes and a public outcry over the company’s water pipeline in the San Bernardino Mountains, where opponents argue that siphoning away water harms spring-fed Strawberry Creek and the wildlife that depends on it.

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Aquafornia news Oakdale Leader

Conditions foil proposed OID, SSJID water release

An unseasonably dry March and lack of sufficient water supplies have foiled a proposed water release by the Oakdale and South San Joaquin Irrigation Districts that would have boosted Stanislaus River flows beginning this past week for the benefit of out-migrating salmon, and also supplied water to farms and communities in the San Joaquin Valley most vulnerable to extreme drought conditions. The plan would have sent up to 100,000 acre-feet of water down the river between April 15 and May 15 in what are known as “pulse flows” to help young salmon navigate their way toward the Delta and, eventually, out to sea. 

Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

Warm temperatures trigger unprecedented decline in Sierra snowpack’s water content

As extreme drought conditions continue to expand across the San Francisco Bay Area, a leading climate researcher issued a new warning Thursday of another sign that a water supply crisis is developing across the region. Dan McEvoy, a researcher with the Western Region Climate Center, told KPIX 5 he was startled to discover that several locations in Sierra had seen the biggest decline in snowpack’s water content on record for the time span covering the first three weeks of April…. [T]he snowpack in the central Sierra has declined significantly to just 37% of average. … Much of Northern California experienced temperatures 4-degrees above average for the period.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Storms to drench much of the Bay Area this weekend. Here’s what to expect

A burst of rain is expected to drench the Bay Area this weekend, bringing much-needed moisture to a parched region. The rains will likely be intense — but short-lived, tapering off to another stretch of warm, dry conditions by the middle of next week, meteorologists said. Showers were expected to start in the North Bay as early as Saturday evening, with steady rainfall pounding much of the Bay Area Sunday. Lingering showers were expected in the central coast through Sunday night, according to the National Weather Service.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Friday Top of the Scroll: Drought brings threat of dry wells in San Joaquin Valley

Thousands of wells that bring water to San Joaquin Valley homes are at risk of drying up this summer, leaving families without running water for drinking, cleaning and bathing. While no one knows the extent of the threat from this second year of drought conditions, Jonathan Nelson with the Community Water Center says “the alarm bells are sounding.” Homes, farms and entire communities that rely on shallow wells as their only source of water are vulnerable to declining groundwater levels from dry conditions and agricultural pumping.

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Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Opinion: MID board should raise farm irrigation pricing

After two dry winters, the April 1 snowpack measurement, which is typically the deepest and highest in water concentration, is far below average at 59% according to the Department of Water Resources. … [T]o substantially decrease water demands the Central Valley needs to address agricultural water usage. The main problem with agricultural water use is pricing. … [It's] cheaper for farmers to use more water than it is for them to invest in water-efficient technologies. 
-Written by Caitlin Perkey, a masters of public administration student at California State University, Stanislaus in Turlock.

Aquafornia news Inverse

The primary source of water for 2.5 billion people is in danger

The Central Valley in California is a farming powerhouse, growing more than 250 crops and producing $17 billion of agricultural products every year to feed the world. The competing demands of both agriculture and a growing local population — along with droughts made worse by the climate crisis — have put a dramatic strain on the local wells supplying groundwater for both the farmers and rural residents. … In short: the wells are literally running dry. According to a new study, the same groundwater problem plaguing the Central Valley is occurring around the world, threatening the drinking water of billions of people.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: How solar panels over water could help fight climate change

Install photovoltaic panels atop canals, and avoid the land-use battles over habitat protection and rural community character that are a growing roadblock for the solar industry. Save water in a drought-prone state that can use every last drop. …But when I’d heard these ideas floated in the past, I’d also heard skepticism from the people who run California’s water systems…. Then a surprising thing happened….
-Written by Sammy Roth, a Los Angeles Times staff writer.

Aquafornia news Turlock Journal

Program will provide clean water to Turlockers impacted by nitrate-laden wells

Turlock residents impacted by nitrate groundwater contamination will soon be supplied with safe drinking water as the state seeks out more permanent solutions. The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board is leading the charge on a program which will provide bottled water deliveries or bottle-filling kiosks to six geographic zones deemed to have the most-serious groundwater contamination issues. The Turlock Subbasin has been identified as a Priority 1 zone by the board and is one of the two largest zones included in the program. 

Aquafornia news CBS News

Experts say climate change threatens America’s food supply. Can farmers in the Mississippi Delta save it?

If the Midwest is the breadbasket of America, then California is its produce section. Two-thirds of the nation’s fruits and nuts and more than one-third of its vegetables are produced in the Golden State. But California’s abundance is threatened by wildfires, extreme weather and chronic drought — the effects of climate change.

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Aquafornia news Grist

California’s water systems are in deep trouble

A new report is highlighting the gaps in California’s water infrastructure — and how much money the state will need to fix it. The report, published by the state’s Water Resources Control Board, found that 620 public water systems and 80,000 domestic wells are at risk of failing to provide affordable and uncontaminated water, a problem that California will need $4.7 billion of extra funding to solve. The report includes the first-ever analysis of the state’s domestic wells — a common water source for rural communities. Threats to these systems are often poorly understood due to lack of good data. 

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Aquafornia news Water in the West

New research: Using floodwaters to weather droughts

Floodwaters are not what most people consider a blessing. But they could help remedy California’s increasingly parched groundwater systems, according to a new Stanford-led study. The research, published in Science Advances, develops a framework to calculate future floodwater volumes under a changing climate and identifies areas where investments in California’s aging water infrastructure could amplify groundwater recharge. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Blog: Virtual Water Summit – May 25

The Water Association of Kern County’s annual Water Summit is virtual this year but will still pack a punch of who’s who in the water world. The day kicks off with an update on water brought to the San Joaquin Valley via the federal Central Valley Project. The speaker will be Deputy Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton. Next will be an update on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and where the process is at this point. The speaker will be Steven Springhorn, Acting Deputy Director Groundwater Management Department of Water Resources.

Aquafornia news AgNet West

Central Valley canals primed to receive support for failing infrastructure

Concurrent efforts to address the needs of Central Valley canals are moving forward. The Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration Act aims to restore the capacity of here San Joaquin Valley canals. … More than $653 million in federal funding would be provided to support repairs of the Friant-Kern Canal, the Delta Mendota Canal, and the California Aqueduct….The bill also includes $180 million to help restore salmon runs on the San Joaquin River. 

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Can dryland farming help California agriculture adapt to future water scarcity?

Large areas of California farmland, particularly in the San Joaquin Valley, face future restrictions on groundwater pumping to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. We talked to Caity Peterson—an adjunct fellow at the PPIC Water Policy Center and a consulting agroecologist—about a joint research project* on the potential for dryland farming to reduce the amount of land needed to be retired from production to balance water budgets.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Marin to be first big Bay Area water agency to push ahead with water restrictions

As drought conditions worsen across Northern California, the Marin Municipal Water District is about to become the Bay Area’s first major water agency to make the leap to mandatory water restrictions. The utility is expected to adopt a plan Tuesday that would require nearly 200,000 residents of southern and central Marin County to limit outdoor watering to one day a week as well as to stop washing their cars, refilling their swimming pools and power-washing their homes, among other things. Offenders could face fines of up to $250…

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Aquafornia news Good Day Sacramento

Free bottled water coming to thousands of homes with contaminated water

People in some Stanislaus and Merced counties are being warned if their water comes from groundwater wells, it could be contaminated with harmful amounts of nitrate. Now those homes could be receiving free bottled water as a solution. Some have already been buying bottles for years, to avoid getting sick. … At his Salida home with a water fountain flowing in his front yard, Jose Olagues can’t drink from the faucet in his own home. … Bottled water keeps him from becoming sick.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation adjusts Sacramento River operations to benefit salmon amid drought conditions

Reclamation announced today that spring-time operations at Shasta Dam will adjust to benefit endangered winter-run Chinook salmon in the Sacramento River during this critically dry water year. … No additional water from Shasta Reservoir will be released during this temporary adjustment—only the withdrawal elevation and timing of water releases will change.

Aquafornia news The Record

Fifth annual H2O Hackathon returns as students solve algal bloom problem

After a year hiatus because of COVID-19, the H2O Hackathon returned to San Joaquin County on Saturday with middle school, high school and college students tackling a virtual challenge to help solve California’s water problems. … The challenge for this year’s event was to protect the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary from harmful algal blooms, bacteria that live in freshwater, estuarine and marine environments that grow out of control and produce toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals and birds.

Aquafornia news Freethink

Solar canals in California could save 63 billion gallons of water a year

Solar canals: What if, instead of letting the sun dry up canals in drought-prone California, we covered them with solar panels?  It may sound weird — but solar panels and canals seem to make a brilliant combination. Instead of allowing the sun to evaporate the water in canals, solar panels can shade the precious liquid, while also capturing the sun’s energy.