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 Modesto Bee

Backers of higher Tuolumne flows welcome latest ruling

A federal agency has ruled that the state can continue to seek higher flows on the Tuolumne River than planned by the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts. The Jan. 19 ruling drew cheers from environmental and fishing groups that have long sought larger releases from Don Pedro Reservoir into the lower river. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Opinion: San Francisco – Save the river you drink from

San Francisco rightly prides itself on being an environmental leader. Given this deep commitment to protecting the environment, the city’s water agency — the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission — should be a leader in smart, sustainable water policy. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. But Mayor London Breed now has a once-in-a-decade chance to turn the SFPUC in a new direction by appointing a progressive, visionary new general manager who reflects the city’s values. San Francisco’s Bay-Delta ecosystem and the Central Valley rivers that feed it are in steep decline…
-Written by John McManus, president of the Golden State Salmon Association, and Kate Poole, the water lead for the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: A Swiss cheese model for fish conservation in California

California water issues are notoriously complicated by a massive diversity of users, ecosystems, applications and futures. Indeed, water in the Delta has been described as a “wicked problem” indicating that these problems cannot be ignored and defy straightforward characterization and solutions. Below we highlight how a Swiss cheese model might be applied to vexing long-term declines in native fish populations in California.

Aquafornia news GV Wire

New Westlands Water District board member appointed

It took only 15 minutes before the Westlands Water District Board of Directors voted to unanimously appoint Ceil W. Howe III to fill a vacancy, bringing bringing the governing body back to full strength. Ceil W. Howe III takes his oath of office after being unanimously appointed to the Westlands Water District Board of Directors on Tuesday. The board could have opted to proceed with a special election to fill the vacancy, but opted for the appointment instead.

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Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News Release: State Water Boards adopts new rule for winery wastewater processing and discharging

The State Water Resources Control Board adopted a general order for how wastewater is processed and discharged at winery locations in an ongoing effort to safeguard groundwater and surface water from wastewater discharges. The order protects groundwater and surface water quality while giving wineries the flexibility to select compliance methods that best fit their site-specific situation, including tiering the compliance requirements to the winery size and associated threat to water quality. 

Aquafornia news California Department of Conservation

News Release: Department of Conservation awards $1.5m in grants to support state’s groundwater management plan

The California Department of Conservation (DOC) today announced five watershed coordinator grants totaling $1.5 million to support regional sustainable groundwater management goals. The grants will go to organizations around the state within medium- and high-priority groundwater basins.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Foundation resources help you understand groundwater’s vital role in California
Special report on groundwater coming soon

To help you learn more about the importance of groundwater, the Water Education Foundation has an array of educational materials on this vital resource. And next week, the Foundation’s online magazine, Western Water news, will publish a special report examining how two local groundwater agencies are taking different approaches to achieve sustainability in the San Joaquin Valley, one of the most critically overdrafted regions in the state.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Longtime Kern water leader leaving for private sector

Kern County’s water community had a shake-up Tuesday when longtime Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District General Manager Eric Averett announced he is leaving to take a private sector job. This comes on top of the pending retirement of another key local water manager. Richard Diamond, General Manager of North Kern Water Storage District, announced he will retire later this year. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Water games: Madera farmers set to test market

Madera County farmers are getting ready to play what could be the “game” of their livelihoods. The county groundwater sustainability agency will launch a groundwater market simulation, or game, next month as a way for growers to see if selling and trading their groundwater helps make the most of what will become a severely limited resource in coming years.

Aquafornia news Market Screener

California Water Service completes water infrastructure upgrade to support Stockton customers

California Water Service (Cal Water) has completed a multiphase infrastructure project in the Magnolia area of Stockton that will keep critical water infrastructure in the area safe and reliable. The upgrade will ensure customers, firefighters, and nearby medical facilities continue to have the water they need for their everyday and emergency needs.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Low income communities drowning in water debt, new California Water Board survey finds

Low income communities across the San Joaquin Valley and other regions of the state are being hit hard by rising water and utility debt according to a recent survey released by the California Water Board.  Michael Claiborne, an attorney with the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, says residents are having to decide which essential service to pay for amid a global pandemic. 

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Will Kamala Harris champion water justice for California?

A month before she began campaigning for the second-highest political position in the United States, now-Vice President Kamala Harris briefly turned her attention to a small town with a big drinking water problem. “Utterly unacceptable that in 2020, we still can’t guarantee clean water to communities across America. It’s a fundamental human right,” Harris said in a July 9 tweet about the town of Earlimart in California’s Central Valley. 

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Aquafornia news Wired

The ongoing collapse of the world’s aquifers

A booming agricultural industry in the state’s San Joaquin Valley, combined with punishing droughts, led to the over-extraction of water from aquifers. Like huge, empty water bottles, the aquifers crumpled, a phenomenon geologists call subsidence. By 1970, the land had sunk as much as 28 feet in the valley, with less-than-ideal consequences for the humans and infrastructure above the aquifers. … All over the world—from the Netherlands to Indonesia to Mexico City—geology is conspiring with climate change to sink the ground under humanity’s feet.

Aquafornia news California Farm Water Coalition

Blog: Delta smelt remain on the brink of extinction – We can change that

Recent fish surveys confirm what many biologists, ecologists, and water experts have known for some time – Delta smelt remain on the brink of extinction. Zero Delta smelt were found in the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s recent Fall Midwater Trawl Survey. Even the Enhanced Delta Smelt Monitoring Program, which is specifically designed to capture the tiny fish, only successfully caught two Delta smelt from September 8 to December 11, 2020.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Water partnerships between cities and farms would help prepare for a changing climate

San Joaquin Valley farms and Southern California cities are facing different but equally daunting water challenges.  For Valley farmers, the requirement to achieve groundwater sustainability in coming years has heightened interest in expanding water supplies to reduce the need to fallow irrigated farmland. For Southern California, falling demands since the early 2000s have reduced water stress during normal and wet years, but a warming climate makes future droughts a major concern. Both regions’ water futures could be more secure if they jointly developed and managed some water supplies.
-Written by Alvar Escriva-Bou, a research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California residents owe $1 billion in water debt. Shutoffs coming?

In a time of record-breaking unemployment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Californians owe an estimated $1 billion in unpaid water utility bills. With reduced revenue, hundreds of water utilities are at high risk of financial emergency. The State Water Board estimates at least 1.6 million households have an average of roughly $500 in water debt — a crisis that could lead to a wave of families facing water shutoffs, liens on their homes or other collection methods. … Data show Black and Latino households are disproportionately affected. 

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Wildfire danger in January? In ultra-dry California, PG&E says safety blackout is coming

At the height of what should be California’s rainy season, PG&E Corp. is warning it might need to shut off power to thousands of customers to reduce the risk of a wildfire. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. said it could impose a “public safety power shutoff” … in portions of nine counties — Calaveras, Fresno, Kern, Madera, Mariposa, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Tuolumne counties. By Sunday, PG&E scaled back the planned blackout down by 15,000 customers to approximately 6,100 in Fresno, Kern, Madera, Mariposa and Tulare counties.

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Aquafornia news BenitoLink

Assemblymembers Robert Rivas and Rudy Salas introduce legislation to maximize benefits of Sustainable Groundwater Management requirements

On Jan. 15, State Assemblymembers Robert Rivas and Rudy Salas introduced Assembly Bill 252, which if approved would help alleviate the impacts of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) on farmers and ensure that farmland taken out of production due to SGMA is reused to provide conservation, recreation, or other benefits to local communities. 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Managing groundwater overdraft – combining crop and water decisions (without salinity)

California’s Central Valley produces much of the nation’s food, including about 40% of the country’s fruits and nuts and has the nation’s second most pumped aquifer system. Its drier southern portion, the San Joaquin Valley, has decreasing surface water supply reliability due to frequent and prolonged droughts, stricter environmental regulations, and growing competition among water users. Many farmers pump groundwater to provide their unsupplied water demand. The resulting groundwater overdraft has numerous impacts on the Valley’s agriculture and residents.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Secret Kern River talks underway

It’s hard to say what spurred “confidential mediation” over the Kern River that began last week. Could it be the relentless “Bring Back the Kern!” campaign by a group of young, Bakersfield residents? Could it be a sentence in a recent letter from the State Water Resources Control Board that said, in part, it “will schedule a hearing in the near future to address water availability with respect to the Kern River…”? Could it be both? No one involved in the mediation would say.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn | Attorneys at Law

Blog: Sacramento Superior Court rejects State Water Board’s attempt to apply Water Quality Control Plan to waters not covered by the Clean Water Act

The Sacramento County Superior Court recently issued a final decision in San Joaquin Tributaries Authority v. California State Water Resources Control Board, finding that the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) is not authorized to adopt a state-level water quality control plan for waters that are not classified as waters of the United States. As a result, the State Board is prohibited from applying the Water Quality Control Plan for Inland Surface Waters and Enclosed Bays and Estuaries of California (Inland Surface Waters WQCP) to wetlands that do not meet the federal definition of waters of the United States.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Farm groups prod Biden, Congress on Western water

More than 200 farm and water organizations from 15 states are urging President-elect Joe Biden and congressional leaders to address aging Western water infrastructure in any economic recovery package. Groups including state Farm Bureaus, the Family Farm Alliance and Western Growers issued letters to Biden and lawmakers Wednesday saying existing canals and reservoirs were built more than 50 years ago and are in desperate need of rehabilitation. 

Aquafornia news Sourcing Journal

Experts dispel popular cotton statistics, say more context is needed

Throughout his research, Simon Ferrigno has seen the statistic range from 2,000 to 20,000 liters of water needed to make a T-shirt. Instead of numbers, Ferrigno said the focus should be on whether or not the water that’s used in the process can be cleaned and repurposed for other needs. 

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

San Joaquin River Parkway Trust acquires Sumner Peck Ranch

San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust has purchased another stretch of riverside land — an important piece of a puzzle needed for a 22-mile public-access regional park envisioned in north Fresno. The newly acquired Sumner Peck Ranch boasts oak forest and riparian vistas alongside acres of foothill vineyard, citrus, berries and landscaped event space. … Ranch roads and meandering trails cut through habitat used by deer, beaver, bobcat and migrating geese…

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Clean water plans need more public involvement, activists say

The stage is finally set for years of talking to be translated into actual clean drinking water for potentially thousands of San Joaquin Valley residents. But activists fear the effort will flop before the curtain rises if more isn’t done to engage the people who are drinking that water. The issue is nitrate, which is  rife the valley’s groundwater and considered dangerous for infants and pregnant women.

Aquafornia news Turlock Journal

Current drought conditions contributing to historically dry year

The local region’s current water year is shaping up to be one of the driest on record according to Turlock Irrigation District, with below-average rainfall amplifying California’s existing state of drought.  Data provided by TID Hydrologist Olivia Cramer during Tuesday’s Board of Directors meeting showed that from September 2020 through Jan. 10, 2021, the Tuolumne River Watershed has so far received 5.55 inches of precipitation. Compared to TID’s historical average of 19.02 inches for those same dates, the recent 2020-2021 rainfall numbers account for just 37.9% of normal. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Valley irrigation district OKs plan to harvest mountain stream

A plan to bring water from the South Fork of the Kern River through Isabella Lake and down 60 miles to farm fields west of Bakersfield was unanimously approved by the Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District board of directors on Tuesday. If the environmental documents supporting that plan survive what is sure to be a barrage of lawsuits brought by other Kern River rights holders, Rosedale-Rio Bravo farmers could see South Fork water in their furrows as early as this spring …

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Valley groundwater may get (small) slice of state’s $15 billion surplus

The Governor’s proposal for how to spend California’s $15 billion surplus includes $60 million in direct grants to help replenish groundwater in the valley’s most depleted basins. The measure specifies the money is to be used in “critically over-drafted basins,” which lie mostly in the San Joaquin Valley. Water managers were pleasantly surprised, but not overwhelmed, by the amount.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: After decades of inequity, this woman is bringing long-overlooked voices to California’s land and water decisions

Vicky Espinoza is on a mission. Vicky is passionate about making sure rural, low-income communities and small-scale farmers have a say in land-use and water-management decisions in the San Joaquin Valley. 

Aquafornia news Valley Voice

Kaweah Water Foundation to host safe drinking water public workshop series in January 2021

The newly formed Kaweah Water Foundation will be hosting a series of Safe Drinking Water public workshops in January 2021 for residents within Tulare County.  The workshops will focus on nitrates in the Kaweah area and short-term drinking water solutions for community water systems and domestic well users.

Aquafornia news The Porterville Recorder

ETGSA board approves settlement with Friant Water Authority

The Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency took another step on Thursday to contribute to all the funding that’s needed for much needed repairs of the Friant-Kern Canal. The ETSGA Board unanimously approved a settlement with the Friant Water Authority that oversees the Friant-Kern Canal at its meeting on Thursday. The board met in closed session to discuss the matter the resumed the open session of its meeting on Thursday to approve the settlement. 

Aquafornia news Kern Valley Sun

Reservoir proposal above lake prompts concerns

A proposal for a new reservoir above Lake Isabella has surprised some residents who have expressed some initial concerns about the project’s impact on water flow on the Kern River. Premium Energy Holdings asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for permission to build a “pumped storage” electric power plant above Lake Isabella.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Rain was only 4 percent of average in fall

Manteca-Lathrop-Ripon experienced its second driest fall since rainfall records started being kept in the mid-1800s.  The 0.9 inches of rain the South County received between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30 was 4 percent of average according to the National Weather Service’s Fall 2020 Climate Summary released on Wednesday. 

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Federal funding bill boosts California water priorities

Members of California water and agricultural communities have been applauding a number of provisions related to water infrastructure within the omnibus funding bill President Trump recently signed into law. More than $200 million in the bill will go to repairing parts of the Friant-Kern Canal. Friant Water Authority CEO Jason Phillips attributed the provision to the work of several California lawmakers, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Republican Rep. Devin Nunes and Senator Dianne Feinstein. Phillips said the funding allows the water agency to begin construction early this year.

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Aquafornia news ABC30.com

San Joaquin River access expands after local non-proft buys Sumner Peck Ranch

The San Joaquin River is the longest in Central California and now residents have a chance to see a part of it up close after the San Joaquin River Parkway & Conservation Trust acquired the Sumner Peck Ranch off Friant Road and its river-accessible property.

Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Trump administration advances plan to increase San Luis Reservoir water storage

The Bureau of Reclamation sent Congress the final feasibility report for the B.F. Sisk Dam Raise and Reservoir Expansion Project. This marks an important step forward in returning water supply reliability to south-of-Delta farmers, local communities, and wildlife refuges.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Water authority and GSA to settle on sagging Friant-Kern Canal resolution

The Friant Water Authority cleaned up some of the most important work in the last month of the year hashing out a legal settlement with farmers in southern Tulare County. Represented by the Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) farmers agreed to contribute at least $125 million to repair the significant subsidence-caused sag in the gravity-fed canal that has cut water deliveries by 60%.

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Aquafornia news Fresno Bee

Monday Top of the Scroll: Temperance Flat reservoir: Is Fresno-area dam project dead?

Backers of a $3 billion project to construct the tallest dam in California swear the project isn’t dead, despite the Temperance Flat Reservoir Authority returning money and canceling applications. After it became clear that the reservoir project on the San Joaquin River west of Auberry would not reach upcoming deadlines for studies and funding, Temperance Flat Reservoir Authority declined $171 million designated by the California Water Commission and withdrew its application for additional funding, according to a resolution signed by the Authority on Oct. 30.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin River Restoration Program

Blog: Burning question: how to predict runoff after catastrophic wildfire?

After a record-setting season of catastrophic wildfires in California, no single fire in 2020 burned more than the Creek Fire in the Upper San Joaquin River watershed east of Fresno. The Creek Fire, the largest single-source fire in California history, ravaged nearly 380,000 acres from September to November. Now, with 35% of the watershed burned, hydrologists want to better understand what impact the Creek Fire may have on spring runoff – essential to the San Joaquin Valley’s water supply and to the welfare of a burgeoning salmon population.

Aquafornia news CounterPunch

Opinion: The new derivatives market in California water: disaster natural resources capitalism at work

The San Joaquin Valley, which can be regarded along with arid urban Southern California, as the table on which this game is to be played, has always rested on two absolute poles: every inch of farmland is for sale; and water runs uphill to money. This derivative market, far from “rationalizing” water distribution in the state, is going to disturb the magnetic field that is the Prime Mover and Original Cause of all economic activity in our region.
-Written by Bill Hatch, who lives in California’s Central Valley and is a member of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade of San Francisco. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Don’t fall for fossil fuel propaganda

The consequences of climate change do not impact all Californians equally, and here in the San Joaquin Valley, community members and agricultural workers are on the frontlines of the air pollution, water scarcity and increased heat that are inextricably tied to climate change.  Our health, well-being and future prosperity depend on enacting meaningful solutions to accelerate the transition off of polluting fuels.
-Written by Blanca Escobedo, a policy advocate for the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Blog: Quest for water in the Kern River continues

The steady drumbeat of support to get more water flowing in the Kern River through Bakersfield continued Tuesday at the State Water Resources Control Board. During the public comment portion of the meeting three speakers from Bakersfield and Kern County’s political realm urged board members to finally hear — and grant — a decade-old petition by the City of Bakersfield to appropriate water on the river to run through the heart of town.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Proposed agreement could boost funds to fix Friant-Kern Canal

In what was hailed as a “landmark agreement,” farmers in an area of southern Tulare County blamed for sinking the Friant-Kern Canal from excessive groundwater pumping will chip in a hefty amount to help pay for a fix. How hefty could be decided by their payment choice.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Westside Connect

Work progressing on Newman water project

Work is proceeding on construction of a new well, booster pump station and million-gallon storage tank on the western reaches of Jensen Road north of the city [of Newman]. The $10 million project to upgrade Newman’s municipal water system has been in the works for about a decade.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Friday Top of the Scroll: Water managers urge patience after initial 10% allocation from State Water Project

The rainy season is still young, but that’s about the only consolation to be found in California’s initial estimate this week that farmers who get water from the State Water Project will only get 10 percent of their requested allocations next year. This marks the third consecutive year the initial estimate has been that low.

Aquafornia news AgNet West

Challenge brought against proposed Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir

A coalition of conservation groups is working to prevent the development of a dam in the Del Puerto Canyon. The proposed Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir [in Stanislaus County] would reportedly store more than 80,000 acre-feet of water…. In a lawsuit filed on November 20, the plaintiffs assert that the project would negatively impact the habitat of several species.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Blog: How private well owners in Madera, Fresno can shape water policy

It’s easy to understand why people who rely on private wells for their water can feel powerless about the future of their supply — wells pump water from underground aquifers shared by many neighbors.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Farmland consolidations could save water, promote solar

Hopes are rising in the southern Central Valley that the farmland expected to be fallowed in coming years because of drought and groundwater restrictions won’t sit idle but will instead be consolidated to make room for new land uses including solar power generation.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Audit of CalGEM says California oil regulators issued improper permits

California oil regulators ignored their own regulations and issued improper permits for hundreds of new wells last year, according to an audit … finalized this week. … The audit was requested after stories in The Desert Sun revealed that CalGEM employees used so-called “dummy” folders to approve new injection wells for several oil companies that do risky steam injection.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Water districts get millions for conservation projects

Five Tulare County water districts received a portion of $1.6 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture this month to help farmers better conserve water resources.

Aquafornia news Turlock Journal

Environmentalists take aim at the Del Puerto Canyon dam project

The proposed Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir [in western Stanislaus County] would store 82,000 acre-feet of water for downstream agricultural users. The coalition said the dam would flood an “important cultural and recreation site for the surrounding community and destroying valuable wildlife habitat.”

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Pixley National Wildlife Refuge: A wintertime treasure

While many people look towards the mountains for accessing beautiful nature, the San Joaquin Valley Floor is home to many amazing sights of nature and in particular, birds. Not only is Tulare County home to over 100 types of birds, it is part of the Pacific Flyway – one of the most important bird migration paths in the world.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Hatchery closes down again following three years of renovations

A Kernville hatchery that has served local anglers for almost a century will soon close down again 20 months after it reopened following three years of renovations. The Kern River Hatchery … must close for repairs Dec. 1 mainly because a 50-year-old pipeline that delivers water to the facility needs to be replaced…

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Video: Building a water-resilient California

What are key California water priorities for the coming year, in light of ongoing disruptions from the pandemic, the recession, lingering drought, and a record-breaking fire season? The PPIC Water Policy Center brought together three panels of experts to discuss possibilities at our annual water priorities conference.

Aquafornia news GVWire.com

Look up: Helicopter will dangle electromagnet array over valley this week

If you look up into [San Joaquin] Valley skies this week and see a large, oddly shaped device hanging from a helicopter, don’t be alarmed. It’s part of a research project to map underground water supplies. Beginning Monday, flyovers are expected in areas west and south of Fresno – including Fowler, Kingsburg, Lemon Cove, Orange Cove, Orosi, Parlier, Piedra, Reedley, Sanger, Selma, Woodlake.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: Tom Birmingham: Why restoring tidal marsh is good for SJ Valley farmers

Why would a public water agency that exists primarily to serve irrigation water to farmers on the west side of Fresno and Kings counties undertake an ecosystem restoration project in the Delta?

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

How to comment on sustainable groundwater plans in Madera

After decades of new and deeper wells, degraded water quality and groundwater level declines, residents in the [Madera] area have a chance to influence how local groundwater will be managed and used for decades to come — and the deadline to participate is quickly approaching.

Aquafornia news Valley Voice

Over $1M in grants secured for Kings River improvements

The Kings River Conservation District, along with co-applicant Tulare Lake RCD, received this grant to help remove invasive species and debris from levees and riverbank along the Kings River, improve water flow, strengthen flood protection, increase carbon capture, and improve delivery of clean water to downstream users.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Conservationists challenge ‘destructive’ Central California dam project

A proposed dam in California’s Central Valley is billed as a vital agricultural resource. But conservationists say it would also flood important cultural and recreational sites for surrounding communities and destroy wildlife habitat.

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Tour Nick Gray

Clone of Central Valley Tour 2020
A Virtual Journey - November 19

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

This virtual experience focuses on the San Joaquin Valley, the southern part of the vast region, which is facing challenges after years of drought, dwindling water supplies, decreasing water quality and farmland conversion for urban growth. The tour gives participants an understanding of the region’s water use and issues as well as the agricultural practices, including new technologies and water-saving measures.

Click to register!

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Kern farmers tapped for $14 million to study Delta tunnel

The Kern County Water Agency board of directors voted unanimously to approve an agreement with the Department of Water Resources to pay $14 million over 2021 and 2020 as its initial share of the early planning and design phase for what’s now being called the Delta Conveyance Facility.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Ceres Courier

Opinion: Sacramento fiddles while 31.7% of California is lacking in water supply

Two key projects that the bond measure was passed to help fund, Sites Reservoir and Temperance Flat Reservoir, have stalled. Without the public breathing down their neck in a severe drought, the state has managed to treat the reservoirs as back burner issues.

Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

Department of Conservation awards grant for Kings River improvements

The Corcoran-based Tulare Lake RCD and co-applicant Kings River Conservation District, based in Fresno, were awarded $1,165,644 for the Kings River Conservation District Channel Improvement Project. With this grant, the partners will remove invasive species and debris from the 2,500 acres of levees and riverbank…

Aquafornia news Fox 26 News

Comedian Paul Rodriguez leaving Hollywood to farm lemons in the Valley

Comedian Paul Rodriguez has been entertaining audiences since the 1980s. But the funny man who calls Fresno home has fallen on tough financial times. Thirteen years ago he carried the torch for Valley farmers. He was the leader of the California Latino Water Coalition in its fight for farm water.

Aquafornia news The Business Journal

Farmers donate money to help dairy in fight with city

The Tulare County Farm Bureau presented a check for $65,000 to Ben Curti and Tessa Hall of Curtimade Dairy to assist in their legal fees as they defend against accusations of groundwater pollution from the city of Corcoran…

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California is making progress on safe water for all, but work remains

A first-of-its kind law set up a new fund and program to improve access to safe and affordable drinking water in communities like East Orosi. … But according to a new report from the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office, the road ahead is long — and expensive.

Aquafornia news Stanford Bill Lane Center for the American West

Blog: Central Valley communities struggle for drinking water: Q&A with Felicia Marcus

As chair of the California State Water Resources Control Board, Felicia Marcus had to confront the issue directly. Marcus, who is now the William C. Landreth Visiting Fellow at Stanford’s Water in the West program, headed the EPA’s Southwest Region under President Bill Clinton. … Here are her answers about what has been done and what still needs to be done to untangle the physical, financial and political barriers blocking fair access to clean drinking water in California.

Aquafornia news Legislative Analyst's Office

Report: Expanding access to safe and affordable drinking water in California

Despite federal and state water quality standards, over one million Californians currently lack access to safe drinking water. This is primarily because these residents receive their water from systems and domestic wells that do not consistently meet those established standards….Our review finds that SWRCB has shown positive progress in its initial year of administering the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water (SADW) Fund and implementing SB 200. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Madera groundwater plan accepted by state

The public can finally get a look at how Madera officials plan to correct severe groundwater over pumping and replenish aquifers in that area. For some farmers, that correction will mean pumping limits of up to 50 percent from what’s allowed today.

Aquafornia news Reuters

Calif. county sues Dow Chemical, Shell over TCP pollution

Dow Chemical Company and Shell Oil Company have been hit with a lawsuit by the central California county of Madera alleging they knowingly polluted Madera’s drinking water wells by manufacturing and selling fumigants, used in agricultural fields, laced with a toxic chemical.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Pricey tunnel sparks talk of water sales

Getting water through a tunnel under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta would be pricey. So pricey, some Kern County water districts were looking for an “off-ramp” by potentially selling their main state water supply out of the county. The request was shot down on Nov. 6 by the Kern County Water Agency, which holds the contract for state water on behalf of 13 area water districts.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Updated: Bureau finishes study on Friant-Kern Canal repair

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has signed a record of decision, finalizing an environmental impact statement that gives clearance for the Friant-Kern Canal project to proceed. The canal needs repairs as a result of land subsidence.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California’s climate agenda likely to get big boost from Biden — look for reversal of Trump policies

California’s war with Washington over the environment will soon come to an end. … President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to act quickly to restore and strengthen dozens of protections on public lands, water and wildlife. In addition, California’s efforts to fight climate change will no longer face hurdles put up by the White House, which has downplayed the global threat.

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Answers for private well, drinking water questions in Fresno

Private wells in the central San Joaquin Valley are at risk of water quality issues, failing equipment and declining groundwater supplies. To help residents address these concerns, The Fresno Bee contacted public officials, water advocates and other experts to answer frequently asked questions about common issues.

Aquafornia news AgNet West

California water districts receive funding through WaterSmart initiative

A total of eight projects have been selected for funding in California through the WaterSMART Initiative. The projects are to be developed in Kern, Kings, and Tulare counties. Nearly $2 million will be divided among the eight projects.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

California Rep. Jim Costa to seek ag committee chairmanship

The Fresno lawmaker, who easily won a ninth term, put his hat in the ring Thursday after the defeat of long-time chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn. The House is expected to remain under Democratic control.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Update on the San Joaquin River Restoration Program

At the October meeting of the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, Elizabeth Vasquez, Deputy Program Manager for the San Joaquin River Restoration Program for the Bureau of Reclamation and Paul Romero, Supervising Engineer with DWR’s South Central Region Office, updated the board members on the ongoing implementation of the program.

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Aquafornia news Valley Voice

California water board orders mandatory solution to East Orosi water situation

After more than a decade of East Orosi residents struggling without clean drinking water, the State Water Board on Tuesday took a huge and critically necessary step by issuing a mandatory consolidation order for a neighboring district to connect East Orosi to safe water, ushering in the long-overdue promise of safe drinking water for the marginalized Tulare County community.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Nutria law gave California freshman a pre-election win

President Trump’s signature on a bill expanding the fight against a large, vexatious rodent called the nutria is an instructive victory for a newly reelected Democrat from a swing district in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Science group issues valley-focused advice on climate change

The San Joaquin Valley has received a specially addressed message from the Union of Concerned Scientists about what it thinks people across the region should be doing about looming water shortages, worsening air quality and generally more volatile weather in the years ahead.

Aquafornia news Valley Voice

Opinion: The view from Westlands: Voluntary agreements

Voluntary agreements have been proposed as a collaborative, modern and holistic alternative to the State Water Resources Control Board’s staff proposed update to the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan. … Westlands and other public water agencies are eager to reengage in the process to finalize the voluntary agreements, as they offer the best path forward for California water.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Expiration dates looming for TCP lawsuits

The clock is ticking for some water systems and well owners to file a claim if they’re considering suing Dow Chemical and Shell Oil companies for possibly tainting groundwater with a chemical known as 1,2,3-TCP.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Feds give green light to Friant-Kern Canal repairs

The federal government has approved plans to fix a sag in the Friant-Kern Canal. The Bureau of Reclamation gave its approval Tuesday – signing a Record of Decision giving environmental clearance for the project – following action from the Trump administration to invest about $5 million to study and begin pre-construction work on the canal.

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Aquafornia news Escalon Times

Coping strategies shared for valley climate impacts

The Union of Concerned Scientists has published an educational guide for people living in California’s San Joaquin Valley to better understand how climate change threatens their communities and what they can do to prepare for worsening living conditions.

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Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

New national climate change guide focuses on impact in San Joaquin Valley communities

A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists outlines wide-reaching environmental impacts affecting the health and economy of San Joaquin Valley communities from extreme heat to water scarcity and pollution.

Aquafornia news The Aggie

Opinion: Trump Administration is trying to raise Shasta Dam, again

The Bureau of Reclamation has once again proposed raising Shasta Dam, which is already the largest reservoir in California, after several proposals in the past decade. Each time, it has faced fierce public opposition from state government, environmentalists, locals and Native Americans.

Aquafornia news Union of Concerned Scientists

Blog: Scientists share coping strategies for San Joaquin Valley households at risk of extreme climate impacts

“As temperatures rise, climate change compounds the already difficult circumstances of vulnerable communities, increasing inequities related to access to clean water, clean air and socioeconomic opportunities” said J. Pablo Ortiz-Partida, climate scientist at UCS and co-author of the guide.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Improving water resilience for cities and farms with water partnerships

The San Joaquin Valley and urban Southern California are worlds apart in many ways. Yet each face growing water challenges and a shared interest in ensuring reliable, affordable water supplies to safeguard their people and economies. Both regions’ water futures could be more secure if they take advantage of shared water infrastructure to jointly develop and manage some water supplies.

Aquafornia news YourCentralValley.com

1-day-a-week outdoor water schedule begins in Fresno

The City of Fresno will start its one-day-a-week outdoor water use schedule on Nov. 1 – and will remain in place through March. Outdoor watering is considered watering areas such as lawns, gardens, pools, and other items requiring irrigation or hoses.

Aquafornia news Community Water Center

Blog: State Water Board orders mandatory solution for Central Valley community denied clean water for years

After more than a decade of East Orosi residents struggling without clean drinking water, the State Water Board on Tuesday took a huge and critically necessary step by issuing a mandatory consolidation order for a neighboring district to connect East Orosi to safe water, ushering in the long-overdue promise of safe drinking water for the marginalized Tulare County community.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Friday Top of the Scroll: California slammed over ‘blank check’ for Delta tunnel project

Lobbing another hurdle at California’s $16 billion plan to tunnel underneath the West Coast’s largest estuary, environmentalists on Thursday sued to freeze public funding for the megaproject championed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Led by Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity, a familiar coalition of critics claim the cash-strapped state is pursuing a “blank check” for a project that isn’t fully cooked.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Report: Water partnerships between cities and farms in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley

The San Joaquin Valley and urban Southern California each face growing water challenges and a shared interest in ensuring reliable, affordable water supplies to safeguard their people and economies. Both regions’ water futures could be more secure if they take advantage of shared water infrastructure to jointly develop and manage some water supplies.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Judge backs farm groups in water-quality lawsuits

Environmental groups’ challenges to agricultural waste discharge requirements for the eastern San Joaquin River watershed have been denied by a judge in Sacramento, which a California Farm Bureau Federation attorney described as a legal victory for affected farmers and for farmers statewide.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Historic move: Fresno River rights to be decided

If all you’ve ever seen of the Fresno River is through Madera as you drive over it on Highway 99, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s just a weed-infested, shopping cart collector rather than a real river. But there’s a lot to this unobtrusive waterway, which just made history as the first river in 40 years about to go through a rights settlement under the State Water Resources Control Board.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Setting aside environmental water for the San Joaquin River

Protecting the health of California’s rivers, estuaries, and wetlands has been the grandest—and perhaps thorniest—of the many challenges facing the state’s water managers. The San Joaquin River watershed, the state’s third largest and an important water source for irrigating farmland in the San Joaquin Valley, epitomizes this challenge. Yet California is making progress here, bringing a glimmer of hope.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Temperance Flat Reservoir project status update

At the October meeting of the California Water Commission, Aaron Fakuda representing Temperance Flat Authority and Bill Swanson, Principal Engineer with Stantec discussed the project’s status with the Commission.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Oilfield wastewater slowly gains value in agriculture

For decades it’s been done on a relatively small scale near Bakersfield, and recent studies confirm it doesn’t threaten crop safety. So why aren’t more local oil producers giving farmers the briny water that comes up from the ground along with oil? In a word, money.

Aquafornia news California State University San Marcos

Blog: Ask the expert: The scarcity of water

Kristine Diekman is a professor of art, media and design at Cal State San Marcos, where she teaches media theory and production, and sound studies. She’s also a media artist working in documentary and experimental film, new media and community-based media. Since 2014, Diekman has been working on a digital media project, “Run Dry,” which tells the story of the water crisis in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Woodward’s water vision

The completion of Woodward Reservoir 114 years ago has been a godsend to South San Joaquin Irrigation District as well as the cities of Manteca, Lathrop, and Tracy.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Friday Top of the Scroll: California’s landmark groundwater law falls short, advocates say

Advocates and researchers warn that the way many local agencies have interpreted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act overlooks the needs of disadvantaged communities who rely on groundwater for their drinking water. Many are concerned that households and communities could see their wells go dry in the coming years, leaving them without access to safe and affordable drinking water.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Friant-Kern Canal fix approved over concerns the plan isn’t fully baked

The Friant Water Authority on Thursday approved the final environmental review for a massive project to fix a 33-mile segment of the Friant-Kern Canal despite continued questions about funding and other concerns expressed by some Friant contractors.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

New reservoir in Stanislaus County clears a hurdle

Del Puerto Water District directors approved a final environment study Wednesday on a 82,000 acre-foot reservoir near Patterson. … The reservoir is proposed to increase reliability of water deliveries to thirsty farms and improve management of groundwater. The project in a canyon just west of Patterson has stirred debate. It would inundate part of scenic Del Puerto Canyon and raises fears the dam near Interstate 5 could fail, flooding the city of 23,000.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Board could approve study on new dam in Stanislaus County

The Del Puerto Water District is set to vote Wednesday on approving a final environmental impact study on a much-disputed storage reservoir in western Stanislaus County. … According to proponents, the reservoir storing up to 82,000 acre-feet will provide more reliable water deliveries to farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta… Water pumped from the nearby Delta-Mendota Canal would be stored behind the dam.

Aquafornia news Foothills Sun Gazette

New law lowers cost of clean water projects

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 974 to streamline the permitting process for low-income communities to deliver clean drinking water for residents. The law … offers low-income communities relief for the expensive and exhaustive permit process for small, disadvantaged community water systems with water contaminants beyond the state standard or failing wells.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Locals speak up for the Kern River at the State Water Board

A slew of Bakersfield locals told board members how much an actual, wet river means for residents. Speakers asked board members to make the Kern a priority and finally allocate unappropriated water on the river that has been in limbo at the board for the past 10 years.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: How water justice groups view groundwater sustainability planning

Over-pumping of groundwater has caused domestic wells to go dry in the San Joaquin Valley. Yet many of the first round of plans prepared to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) do not yet propose ways to address this problem. We explored groundwater planning with three members of the environmental justice community—Angela Islas of Self-Help Enterprises, Justine Massey of the Community Water Center, and Amanda Monaco of the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Groundwater: The charge to recharge needs to be data driven

In the world of groundwater recharge, not all dirt is created equal. Where, when, how much and how fast water can best be recharged into the Central Valley’s severely depleted aquifers has become a critical question. A new tool aims to help answer those questions at the field-by-field level or up to an entire county.

Aquafornia news The Confluence

Blog: An artist and educator captures deeply personal stories of life without clean water

Run Dry is a story of small, rural California communities and their struggle to remain connected to the most precious resource—water. This digital media project combines short documentary films, personal stories, photographs, and data visualizations about water scarcity and contamination in the San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news Fox 26 News

Nearly 1,000 nutria are trapped in two Valley counties this year

It’s been a busy spring and summer for trapping nutria in Merced and Stanislaus counties. State Fish and Wildlife have caught nearly 1,000 nutrias along the San Joaquin River corridor and in the grasslands.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Trump makes water demand of farms priority for new office

President Donald Trump on Tuesday created what he called a “subcabinet” for federal water issues, with a mandate that includes water-use changes sought by corporate farm interests and oil and gas. … The first priority set out by the executive order is increasing dam storage and other water storage, long a demand of farmers and farm interests in the West in particular. That includes California’s Westlands Water District, the nation’s largest agricultural water district.

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Aquafornia news CNBC

Water has become a big issue for Big Tech. But Microsoft has a plan

Last month, Microsoft announced it would replenish more water than it consumes by 2030, focusing on 40 “highly stressed” basins where it operates. … Microsoft has provided a grant to the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, to work on software to better predict levels and accessibility in the drought-threatened Central Valley region of California.

Aquafornia news ABC30 Fresno

Dos Palos receives $11 million in state funding to help with water issues

The City of Dos Palos is set to receive $11 million in state funding to address water issues that have plagued the community in recent months and previous years. City leaders say the grant funding will pay for the construction of a new water treatment plant and some improvements to the existing facility, which was built in 1969.

Aquafornia news GVWire.com

Prospective Westlands water board members look past legal challenges to get water, focusing on innovation

Unbeknownst to many, some voters will pick five new members of the Board of Directors of the Westlands Water District. GV Wire had a chance to speak with two of those… Both offered insights into how Westlands can change its reputation, how farmers can change their approach, and what their biggest adversaries are in the fight for water.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: A Craigslist for water trading? Learn how this new water management platform works

To inform landowners about their water budgets, Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District in Kern County partnered with EDF, Sitka Technology Group, WestWater Research and local landowners to co-develop a new online, open-source water accounting and trading platform. We asked general manager Eric Averett to answer a few questions about how the platform…

Aquafornia news AgNet West

Water accounting platform is working well in Kern County

A relatively new water budgeting platform appears to be working well for producers in Kern County. The Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District has worked with multiple stakeholder partners to develop the Water Accounting Platform to help growers more accurately track water use.

Aquafornia news Environmental Working Group

Blog: In California, Latinos more likely to be drinking nitrate-polluted water

Environmental Working Group analyzed California State Water Resources Control Board data on the San Joaquin Valley communities with nitrate levels in drinking water meeting or exceeding the federal legal limit. We found that almost six in 10 are majority-Latino. Latinos are also a majority in Valley communities with nitrate at or above half the legal limit, which is linked to increased risk of cancer and other diseases.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Researchers use satellite imaging to map groundwater use in California’s Central Valley

Researchers at the University of California San Diego report in a new study a way to improve groundwater monitoring by using a remote sensing technology (known as InSAR), in conjunction with climate and land cover data, to bridge gaps in the understanding of sustainable groundwater in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news Foothills Sun Gazette

Army Corps breaks ground on Success Dam enlargement project

On the heels of a historic drought, at the beginning of the implementation of historic groundwater legislation, and in light of potential flooding, Porterville will have more water in the future and a larger dam to prevent it from damaging the city below.

Aquafornia news SFGate.com

Rural California communities struggle to provide clean drinking water

Mo Mohsin has been trying to bring clean drinking water to the residents of the Cobles Corner mobile home park ever since he bought the property back in 2003. The struggle, however, has been all uphill. The water system that serves the rural Stanislaus County community of 20 or so homes has violated state drinking water standards 25 times since 2012,

Aquafornia news Escalon Times

Multimillion dollar tunnel to increase water reliability

The SSJID board has been pursuing a replacement tunnel after sorting through options to substantially increase the reliability of water flows as well as reducing costly annual maintenance work that puts crews at risk. … The 13,000-foot tunnel is now projected to cost more than $37 million. SSJID would cover 72 percent of the cost and Oakdale Irrigation District 28 percent…

Aquafornia news Visalia Times Delta

Friant-Kern Canal fix stalled again after Newsom vetoes bill

Gov. Gavin Newsom put the final nail in the bipartisan bill’s coffin on Wednesday when he vetoed the legislation, arguing that the bill was too focused on one canal project: The Friant-Kern.

Aquafornia news UC San Diego

News release: Researchers use satellite imaging to map groundwater use in California’s Central Valley

Researchers at the University of California San Diego report in a new study a way to improve groundwater monitoring by using a remote sensing technology (known as InSAR), in conjunction with climate and land cover data, to bridge gaps in the understanding of sustainable groundwater in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Newsom vetoes Friant-Kern Canal fix bill

California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would have provided funding to fix the ever-sinking Friant-Kern Canal. SB 559 would have required the Department of Water Resources to report to the legislature by March 31, 2021, on federal funding for the Friant Water Authority or any other government agency to restore the capacity of the Friant-Kern Canal. The bill would also have required DWR to include a proposal for the state to pay up to 35 percent of the cost of the project.

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Farms over-pump Madera groundwater, private wells go dry

The land east of Madera has changed in the 25 years since Rochelle and Michael Noblett built their home… There are more houses, more irrigated agriculture and less grazing land. There’s also been a significant decline in water availability, as the level of groundwater drops below what some domestic wells can reach. That’s why the couple was shocked when the county allowed a new irrigation well and almond orchard … in the midst of the most recent drought, even as private wells were going dry…

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Happy 50th “Kern Riversary!” 1970 vote brought river into public hands

Fifty years ago this week, the Bakersfield City Council committed an audaciously historic act. On Monday evening Sept. 28, 1970, council members decided to sue Tenneco West for a slice of the Kern River.

Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

Hurtado makes splash as Newsom signs water bill

Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) secured Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature on legislation that will speed the permit process for low-income Central Valley communities to deliver clean drinking water for residents. Senate Bill 974 exempts new water projects that serve small, rural communities from some provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act…

Aquafornia news ABC30 Fresno

Creek Fire: Water deliveries from dams might be affected due to evacuations

Among the people forced to flee the Creek Fire were workers who keep the vast network of hydroelectric dams running. Eric Quinley, general manager of the Delano-Earlimart Irrigation District, worried some of his table grape growers might not get enough water in the future to finish up the growing season.

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council

Blog: DWR is suing everyone for a blank check for a Delta tunnel

In the middle of a pandemic, an economic recession, and everything else that 2020 is throwing at us, in early August the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) filed a lawsuit against every Californian to authorize spending an unlimited amount of money … for an as yet undefined Delta tunnel project.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Dominos from the massive Creek Fire teetering over Central Valley farmers

When the Creek Fire erupted on Sept. 5 and chewed through the forest toward Southern California Edison’s Big Creek power system, little did anyone know how that might affect grape growers in Delano nearly a month later.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Study: Small farmers shortchanged by SGMA

When governor Jerry Brown signed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) into law in September 2014, he said that “groundwater management in California is best accomplished locally.” With the first round of plans made available for public comment this year, it appears that, while the state certainly ceded control to local management agencies, those same agencies have prioritized the interests of big agriculture and industry over small farmers and disadvantaged communities.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Locals gear up for fight to keep Kings River water

Just as they did more than two generations ago, Kern County farmers are looking to another Central Valley river to the north to refill their groundwater shortfall. But this time around, natives in the Kings River watershed are “sharpening their knives” to fight off what they say is a desperate water grab.

Aquafornia news The Rolla Daily News

Research links sinking land to regions of high groundwater demand

Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology … are using a form of artificial intelligence known as machine learning to map the sinking – called land subsidence – to help water policy officials make informed decisions. … To carry out their research, Smith and his Ph.D. student, Sayantan Majumdar, compiled hydrologic and subsidence data from satellites and ground-based GPS stations across the western U.S., including California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Newsom aims to phase out new hydraulic fracking permits in California by 2024

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday vowed to work with the state legislature to phase out new permits for hydraulic fracking by 2024, but left untouched a more widely used oil extraction technique in the state that has been linked to hundreds of oil spills.

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Aquafornia news The Business Journal

Feds release environmental review for Friant-Kern Canal project

The project would restore capacity from 1,600 cubic-feet-per second to the original 4,000 cubic-feet-per second at what the Bureau has determined to be the most critical area — the Deer Creek check structure in Tulare County. … Estimates to fix the canal range from $400 million to $500 million, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: How California became ground zero for climate disasters

California is one of America’s marvels. By moving vast quantities of water and suppressing wildfires for decades, the state has transformed its arid and mountainous landscape into the richest, most populous and bounteous place in the nation. But now, those same feats have given California a new and unwelcome category of superlatives.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Last minute loan keeps drinking water projects afloat

Drinking water advocates had fretted the Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) program, intended to help struggling water systems in mostly poor, rural areas, would fall victim to the pandemic-flattened economy. But a last minute loan from the Underground Storage Tank Clean-Up Fund will ensure SAFER receives its full $130 million — at least this coming fiscal year.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Monday Top of the Scroll: 20-mile replacement canal is preferred fix for the sagging Friant-Kern Canal

A rapid-fire review of potential fixes to the Friant-Kern Canal favors building a replacement canal for 20 miles alongside the existing canal where land subsidence has caused it to sag, severely restricting water flow, according to final environmental documents released Friday.

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Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

California oil: Companies profit from illegal spills; the state lets them

Along with being a global leader on addressing climate change, California is the seventh-largest producer of oil in the nation. And across some of its largest oil fields, companies have for decades turned spills into profits, garnering millions of dollars from surface expressions that can foul sensitive habitats and endanger workers, an investigation by The Desert Sun and ProPublica has found….Under state laws, it’s illegal to discharge any hazardous substance into a creek or streambed, dry or not.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Opinion: Almond growers are committed to finding water solutions that work for people, farms, and fish

Through research funded by the Almond Board of California we are exploring ways to recharge groundwater aquifers, be good stewards of the water that we all collectively share as a state, and even helping the salmon industry understand how agricultural land, like rice fields, could play a role in supporting salmon health.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

East Tule agency to charge farmers for pumping water

Farmers whose only access to water is pumping from their own well will get their first glimpse at what the state’s new groundwater management law will cost them next month. On Oct. 1, the East Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency will hold a public hearing to discuss a groundwater extraction fee…

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Deep Creek Cemetery searches for water

The last few years have been dry for one of the oldest cemeteries in Tulare County. The well at the Deep Creek Cemetery has been parched since 2014 and now they are in talks with the Farmersville City Council to potentially connect to the city’s water system.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Evaporation adds up. How much? Google it – someday

There are lots of new water gizmos popping up these days but there’s only one Google. Which makes the massive tech company’s involvement in a proposed water measurement tool both intriguing and slightly suspicious to some agricultural water managers.

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Aquafornia news InsideClimate News

In a dry state, farmers use oil wastewater to irrigate their fields, but is it safe?

For decades, farmers in California’s Kern County have turned to wastewater from oil production to help irrigate their crops during extended dry spells. … But the use of the recycled water, a byproduct of oil and natural gas extraction that is mixed with surface water for irrigation, has stirred controversy.

Aquafornia news Ensia.com

Across the US, millions of people are drinking unsafe water

Once a week, Florencia Ramos makes a special trip to the R–N Market in Lindsay, California. “If you don’t have clean water, you have to go get some,” says Ramos, a farmworker and mother of four who lives in the neighboring Central Valley town of El Rancho. She has been purchasing jugs of water at the small store for more than a decade now.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: California Supreme Court holds public agencies may not categorically classify groundwater well permit approvals as ministerial

In Protecting Our Water and Environmental Resources v. County of Stanislaus, the Court held that the County may not categorically classify all groundwater well permit issuances as ministerial decisions. Such a classification exempts well permit issuances from environmental review.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Proposed $171 million Central Valley groundwater bank faces TCP contamination

Irvine Ranch Water District and Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District had just begun environmental review for their joint banking project this past April when TCP reared its head. … TCP (trichloropropane) is a carcinogenic leftover from a nematode pesticide made by Shell Oil and Dow Chemical that was liberally applied to Central Valley farmland from the 1950s through the 1980s.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Nation’s largest solar farm approved for Tulare County

The project proposes to cover 3,600 acres near the town of Ducor with enough solar panels to … provide 100% of the power needed for 180,000 homes… The Tulare County Farm Bureau did submit a letter reminding the board of the law’s intent to preserve farm land and not to create solar farms, but ultimately agreed the project would give landowners with sparse access to irrigation water options to make their lands profitable.

Aquafornia news The Packer

Opinion: Growers must solve California’s water challenges

I visited in late August with Matt Angell about California San Joaquin Valley water issues. Angell is a chairman of San Joaquin Resource Conservation District 9, is a managing partner at Pacific Farming Co., and also is managing director of Madera Pumps. The conversation included discussion of California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and what that will require of growers in the years ahead.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Cox introduces $800 million water bill

Rep. T.J. Cox, a Democrat who represents a portion of Southwestern Tulare County, introduced the Western Water Storage Infrastructure Act, an $800 million bill addressing surface and groundwater storage and water delivery. … The bill is designed to essentially replace funding authorized by the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation, WIIN, Act, which has been exhausted.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Foster Farms accused of wasting water to kill chickens in drought-prone California

According to the 21-page complaint, Foster Farms’ Livingston, California, plant uses 3-4 million gallons of drinkable water daily, more than all the other water users in the rural city of 14,000 combined. The main reason, the Animal Legal Defense Fund argues, is Foster Farms’ water-intensive slaughter system.

Aquafornia news Modesto Irrigation District

News release: Documentary explores the past, present and uncertain future of San Joaquin Valley rivers and water supplies

“Until the Last Drop,” a feature-length documentary filmed along the banks of the Merced, Tuolumne, Stanislaus and San Joaquin Rivers is scheduled for virtual release Labor Day weekend 2020. In this probing film, Modesto Irrigation District along with Final Cut Media examine the rivers that have transformed the San Joaquin Valley, helped create cities and nourish the world.

Aquafornia news UC Davis Center for Regional Change

Report: Sustainable for whom? The impact of groundwater sustainability plans on domestic wells

Studies estimate that 1.5 – 2.5 million Californians rely on domestic wells to meet their household water needs. But because domestic wells are often shallow, they are also often sensitive to changes in groundwater levels. As such, sustainable groundwater management has an important role to play in safeguarding the health and safety of residents and the achievement of California’s recognized Human Right to Water.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Tainted valley groundwater could stymie banking deals

The big kahuna of California water — Metropolitan Water District of Southern California — has stopped taking supplies from one Kern County groundwater bank because the water is heavily tainted with a cancer-causing agent that is pervasive in Central Valley’s aquifers. While only one banking program has been affected so far, the emergence of this issue could have huge implications for water storage and movement in the Central Valley.

Aquafornia news Merced Sun-Star

San Luis Reservoir, O’Neill Forebay open after California fires

San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay are open in Merced County, after being shuttered by regional wildfires. However, state Department of Water Resources officials say that’s not an invitation to go in the water. DWR on Tuesday issued a harmful algal bloom warning advisory at the O’Neill Forebay, plus a caution is in effect for the San Luis Reservoir.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Environmentalists pledge to fight first local auction of federal oil leases since 2012

The Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity last week said it’s targeting a federal plan to auction in December seven parcels totaling about 4,330 acres in or near existing oilfields in the county. The CBD called the auction plan a “breathtakingly vicious” move by the Trump administration to expand drilling and fracking at a time of wildfires driven by climate change in an area with some of the country’s worst air quality.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Farmers: California drainage project violates Constitution

Major California farmers last week revived a long-standing lawsuit challenging a politically tenuous federal irrigation drainage plan that has never been fully implemented.

Aquafornia news EcoWatch

Opinion: Why fixing the nation’s water crisis and combating a pandemic are linked

The San Joaquin Valley in California has the highest rates of drinking water contamination and the highest amount of public water systems with maximum contaminant level violations in the state. … The most recent contamination occurred in the city of Tulare, where local government buildings received a boil-water notice after a test of county wells found coliform bacteria.

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Blog: Rebalancing agricultural and natural land

Over the next 20 years, San Joaquin Valley farmers may need to temporarily fallow or permanently retire over half a million acres of cropland as California pushes towards sustainable groundwater use. … Below, the paper’s lead authors, Benjamin Bryant and Rodd Kelsey, discuss their research examining how conservation planning can guide the land use change being driven by SGMA to achieve multiple benefits…

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Legislature kills last-ditch bill with funding for Friant-Kern Canal

A bill that would have provided funding for the Friant-Kern Canal was abandoned by the California State Legislature on Sunday. It’s route to abandonment is a short, but confusing one centering on California’s wildfires

Aquafornia news Restore the Delta

News release: Harmful algal outbreak worsens in SF Bay-Delta waters

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board has reported that a recent collection of water samples from cyanobacteria harmful algal blooms along the Stockton waterfront contain microcystins up to 220 times higher than the “danger” level. These extremely dangerous readings were found at 5 out of 6 testing sites along the Stockton waterfront.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Summit reviews water needs of San Joaquin Valley

One expert at a virtual summit meeting on California’s water infrastructure said 1 in 5 acres will come out of agricultural production in the San Joaquin Valley by 2040.

Aquafornia news Valley Economy

Blog: Water Blueprint proposes a valley-wide sales tax to fund its irrigation water plan. Is it feasible?

Earlier this month, CSU-Fresno hosted the event “Funding Water Infrastructure in the San Joaquin Valley.” The majority of the event was focused on the so-called “Water Blueprint for the San Joaquin Valley,” a high profile new investment plan for irrigation water. At the event, the Blueprint rolled out a proposed funding plan – the centerpiece of which is a proposed 0.5% special sales tax in the 8 counties of the San Joaquin Valley.

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Aquafornia news Valley Economy

Blog: New $15.9b Delta tunnel cost estimate: Revisiting DWR’s 2018 analysis with updated costs shows it is a bad investment

Simply updating costs to this latest estimate ($15.9 billion in 2020 dollars is equivalent to $15 billion in the 2017$) reduces the benefit-cost ratio for State Water Project urban agencies from 1.23 to 0.92, and for agricultural agencies from 1.17 to 0.87. That’s a bad investment, but it is actually much worse than that.

Aquafornia news Escalon Times

Blue-green algae health concerns for humans and animals

Warm temperatures are here and when conditions are right, blue-green algae can rapidly bloom on the surface of reservoirs, rivers, creeks, lagoons, lakes and ponds. San Joaquin County Public Health and Environmental Health officials, and the state Regional Water Quality Control Board, are urging swimmers, boaters, and recreational water users to avoid contact with blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Water agency approves 7,000-percent cost increase

Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority voted 4-1 to pass the replenishment fee despite significant public opposition. … Although residential users will see an estimated $24 per month increase, Searles Valley Minerals will see a 7,000-percent increase in water costs.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Bruce Babbitt: Gov. Newsom must clarify his Delta tunnel plan

Tunnel proponents say they do not expect to operate the tunnel at capacity, and it would be in use mainly to draw from the periodic storms that send more water through the Delta out to San Francisco Bay. But how much would that be? The usual answer is: we will leave that to the experts.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Planning on playing in local waterways? Avoid the blue-green algae blooms

Public health officials are urging boaters, swimmers and recreational water users to be on the lookout for hazardous blue-green algae blooms as warm temperatures persist. San Joaquin County Environmental Health Department officials posted advisory signs at local marinas warning people to stay out of the water where toxic algae is present.

Aquafornia news The Mountain Democrat

Georgetown Utility District starts water transfer to Westlands

With all permits in place, on Aug. 20 the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District announced the State Water Resources Control Board Division of Water Rights approved the temporary transfer of up to 2,000 acre-feet of GDPUD’s water to the Westlands Water District. The transfer of the water began Aug. 19 and is expected to continue until Sept. 23.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California says Delta tunnel project will cost $15.9 billion

After months of relative quiet, Newsom’s administration released a preliminary cost estimate for the scaled-back project Friday: $15.9 billion for a single tunnel running beneath the estuary just south of Sacramento. That’s nearly as much as the old $16.7 billion price tag put on the larger, twin-tunnel plan…

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Aquafornia news Visalia Times Delta

Opinion: CPUC proposal would increase water rates for low-income customers

Residents and small businesses in Visalia who were struggling, even before the economic shut down of COVID-19 to make ends meet, should be very concerned about a proposal the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is considering that would increase water bills for millions of Californians, including low-income customers who use the least amount of water.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

California to Friant-Kern Canal: “No $ for you!”

Any hope that California might kick in money to fix the sagging Friant-Kern Canal was killed Thursday when a bill that would have provided $400 million toward the effort was stripped of all funding.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Proposed single Delta tunnel could cost $15.9 billion

A single tunnel proposed to take water under the sensitive Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and deliver it to farms and cities in the south could cost $15.9 billion, give or take, according to an initial assessment discussed at the Delta Conveyance Authority meeting on Thursday.

Aquafornia news Visalia Times Delta

Coliform bacteria shuts down water in Tulare County courthouse, jail

The Tulare County Civic Center is on a boil-water notice after a bacteria that commonly lives in human feces was discovered in the county’s wells.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Kings of the river: Meet the water baron you (likely) haven’t heard of

You may have never heard of John Vidovich, but his impact on the day-to-day life of the average southern San Joaquin Valley farmer is difficult to be understated. Vidovich is the owner of Sandridge Partners, LP – a farmland investment firm that has undertaken more than 100,000 acres of Valley farmland.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

This Madera County community is running out of water — and the only well might fail

Residents of Fairmead, California worry they are on the brink of losing water service, as the town’s only community well shows signs it may fail before a new one can be built.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Blog: New executive director named at Water Association of Kern County

The Water Association of Kern County Board of Directors has named Jenny Bertagna Holtermann as the new executive director.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Delivering dollars for Central Valley water

Water is the lifeblood of our region and there are immense challenges to providing and maintaining a reliable and resilient water supply for both farms and communities in the Central Valley. As your congressional representatives, we’ve been working together to bring resources back home to address our collective needs.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Climate change report forecasts hard times for Kern ag

A new report warns Kern County agriculture will face tough challenges in the decades ahead as climate change makes irrigation water scarcer and weather conditions more variable and intense. The study concludes these hurdles “ultimately challenge the ability to maximize production while ensuring profitability.”

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation’s largest Dam Safety project moves forward

On Tuesday, the Bureau of Reclamation submitted the B.F. Sisk Dam Safety of Dams Modification Report to Congress. This is Reclamation’s largest project under the 1978 Safety of Dams Act, and when complete, will modernize the structure to reduce risk to water supply and downstream communities in an earthquake.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation announces 30-day public comment period for Central Valley Project Friant Water Authority operation, maintenance and replacement contract

The Bureau of Reclamation announced Wednesday a 30-day public comment period for a 35-year contract renewal of the transfer of operation, maintenance and replacement activities related to Friant-Kern Canal and other associated works to the Friant Water Authority.

Aquafornia news The Atlantic

Erin Brockovich has not slowed down

Twenty years ago, Erin Brockovich was released, and the brash, unvarnished legal assistant turned activist at the heart of the film … had the surreal experience of becoming a household name almost overnight. “Let me be the first to tell you that life takes an interesting turn when your name becomes a verb,” the real Erin Brockovich writes in the introduction to her new book, Superman’s Not Coming.

Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

Sen. Hurtado hopes to freshen farmworkers’ water

Contaminated water has long plagued California’s Southern Central Valley, a region home to many farmworkers. SB 974, a bill by Senator Melissa Hurtado, seeks to provide safe drinking water by exempting small disadvantaged communities from certain CEQA provisions.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Unlikely source promises (a little) water for the Kern River

The City of Bakersfield is poised to ink a deal with Buena Vista Water Storage District that will provide at least some water in the riverbed through the main part of the city between April and June — even in drier years.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Are you on a private well? We’re investigating risks to drinking water and need your help

Thousands of families who rent or own homes with private wells are at risk of losing their drinking water in Madera, Fresno, Tulare and Kings counties — and some already have. The Fresno Bee is investigating the risks to private wells and proposed solutions, and we need to hear your stories and your questions to guide our reporting.

Aquafornia news Redding Record-Searchlight

Friday Top of the Scroll: Trump administration studies raising the height of Shasta Dam

The decades-long battle over an effort to raise the height of Shasta Dam took another turn Thursday when the Trump Administration released a new environmental report on the plan, just five years after completing a similar study.

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Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

One step closer for $71 million for Friant-Kern Canal

Funding for much needed repairs at least in the short-term for the Friant-Kern Canal continues to move closer to becoming reality. The House of Representatives last week passed H.R. 7617… Included in that minibus is $71 million for repairs to the Friant-Kern Canal during the next fiscal year.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Lindsay to spend thousands to clean city’s water

Last week at the Lindsay City Council’s July 28 meeting, city services and planning director Michael Camarena presented a feasibility study. He noted that the city’s water system has been out of compliance with the Stage 2 disinfection byproduct rule for total trihalomethanes and five haloacetic acid maximum contaminant levels.

Aquafornia news Center for American Progress

Blog: Bridging the water access gap through COVID-19 relief

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb, guidance around how to control the virus’s spread has become a steady drumbeat: Wash your hands, wipe down surfaces, and stay home. Implicit in these recommendations is the assumption that households have safe and clean running water and indoor plumbing.

Aquafornia news InsideClimate News

Tired of wells that threaten residents’ health, small California town takes on the oil industry

In September 2018, Estela Escoto sat down with a team of lawyers and community organizers and weighed her options. Escoto’s town—Arvin, California—had just granted an oil drilling and well-servicing company, Petro-Lud, a permit to drill four new wells near a neighborhood densely packed with young families and a park where children played soccer.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Blog: Clean water advocates hoping to safeguard SAFER funding

The state is peppered with failing small water systems, many serving low-income communities without the resources to repair them. … That’s where the new Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) program comes in.

Aquafornia news Long Beach Press Telegram

House-passed bill includes nearly $385 million to fix Whittier Narrows Dam

Four years after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers upgraded the flood risk for the Whittier Narrows Dam from high urgency to very high urgency, the U,S. House of Representatives on Friday approved a budget package that included nearly $385 million to fix the dam.

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Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Work on enlarging Tule River Spillway to begin

Much needed work at Schafer Dam at Success Lake is finally set to begin. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District will begin construction to realign Avenue 146 and widen the existing Tule River Spillway at Success Lake in Porterville on Sunday.

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