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 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.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: Is California suffering a decades-long megadrought?

California has entered another drought. But depending on who you ask, the last one may have never really ended. Some researchers believe the region is actually more than two decades into an emerging “megadrought” — a hydrological event that is on par with the worst dry spells of the past millennium. Except this time, they say, human-caused climate change is driving its severity — and will make it that much harder to climb back out of.

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Aquafornia news Ag Net West

Central Coast Water Board approves Ag Order 4.0

General Waste Discharge Requirements for Discharges from Irrigated Lands, simply known as Ag Order 4.0, will officially begin to be implemented. Just prior to the deadline, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board approved the measure Thursday evening. There has been unease among farmers throughout the lengthy development process as to how the rule will affect production. 

Aquafornia news Daily Republic

Proposed bond legislation clears Assembly Ag Committee

A proposed $3.3 billion bond that proponents argue will “accelerate California’s economic recovery and build a healthier, more equitable and resilient food and farm system,” cleared the Assembly Agriculture Committee …. $75 million is earmarked for groundwater protection, $50 million of which would go to the Department of Conservation for grants to groundwater sustainability agencies, counties and others “for development or implementation of local programs supporting or facilitating reduced use of groundwater and multi-benefit land repurposing at the basin scale.”…The bill would go before voters in the fall of 2022 if it clears the Legislature.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Another bill introduced to fund repairs for Friant-Kern Canal

After years of neglect, numerous measures to make sure much needed and overdue repairs of the Friant-Kern Canal are fully funded continue to be introduced. Congressman Jim Costa and Senator Dianne Feinstein were the latest to introduce legislation on Thursday that would help fund repairs for the Friant-Kern Canal. Along with Congressman Josh Harder they introduced a bill that has bipartisan support, the Canal Conveyance Restoration Act that would provide more than $800 million for repairs to three San Joaquin Valley canals, including the Friant-Kern Canal, along with restoring salmon runs in the San Joaquin River. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California gold fever still reigns. New prospectors seek to reopen giant mine

For the past four years, a Canadian mining company has been in Nevada County, about 60 miles northeast of Sacramento, collecting samples of what it suspects is one of the world’s highest-grade underground gold deposits, potentially worth billions. … The legacy of gold, while widely celebrated, is not something that many in this area, now home to more retirees and Bay Area transplants than men in hard hats and overalls, want to revisit. … [T]he scars it left on the landscape remain visible, and unwanted. Creeks still get mucked up with iron and sulfuric acid from old mines. Soils contain arsenic left over from drilling. …

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Bakersfield children’s book takes a trip down the Kern River

The successful Bakersfield children’s book series “Indy, Oh Indy” has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund its sixth upcoming book, titled “The Mighty Kern River.” The book was inspired by a larger effort from the grassroots group Bring Back the Kern to raise awareness about Bakersfield’s mostly dry river and efforts to revive a more regular flow of water through town.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

OID and SSJID cancel large water sale to thirsty West Side

The worsening drought has canceled a large water sale to West Side farmers by the Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts. They announced Wednesday that their own customers will need the water, which had been declared surplus in early March. A revised forecast of Stanislaus River runoff scuttled the sale, which could have brought up to $25 million to the sellers.

Aquafornia news The Brentwood Press

State and local groundwater sustainability efforts make progress

While high-profile surface-water initiatives like WaterFix and the Delta Conveyance Project grab most of the headlines pertaining to water management in the state, efforts to make significant changes to the way groundwater is utilized have been underway since 2014. Now, the state and the local water agencies are seeking public comment on documents related to the management of groundwater. In 2014, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed a three-bill legislative package collectively known as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) to better manage groundwater supplies over the long term.  

Aquafornia news University of California

Blog: A path toward clean drinking water for all Californians

California was the first U.S. state to legally recognize access to safe, clean and affordable water as a human right. But substantial parts of the state lack access to drinking water that meets those criteria. A new study published by the California State Water Board and supported by UCLA research identifies a risk for failure among a significant portion of the state’s small and medium-sized public water systems. 

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Friday Top of the Scroll: Costa spearheads $800 million water infrastructure bill to restore key Valley canals

Congressman Jim Costa (D–Fresno) introduced a bill on Thursday that would provide over $800 million in funding to water projects in California. If the Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration Act is enacted, $653 million in Federal funds will go to restore the capacity of three canals in the Central Valley, and $180 million will be used to restore salmon runs on the San Joaquin River. 

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Editorial: If California is America’s climate leader, we’re all in trouble

As the latest evidence of extended drought and extreme wildfire danger confirms, California’s climate is changing quickly. Its policy on burning planet-warming fuels — not so much.  A state Senate bill to ban hydraulic fracturing and otherwise restrict oil and gas extraction died in its first committee Tuesday, with Gov. Gavin Newsom and three Democratic lawmakers withholding support. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Kern River Watermaster retires

Dana Munn, a fixture in the Kern County water world, has taken an early retirement from Shafter-Wasco Irrigation District due to medical issues, he announced Tuesday. Munn has also served in the crucial position of Kern River Watermaster since 2014. He was the river’s third watermaster since the position was created in 1955 as a liaison to the Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the Lake Isabella Dam.

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

‘A scary scenario’: Water bills in San Jose headed for costly, decade-long spike starting this summer

Residents across San Jose can expect to see their water bills increase in the coming months no matter what company they get their water from — a trend that could continue year after year for the next decade. Santa Clara Valley Water District, the region’s wholesale water provider, plans to raise its rates by up to 9.6% each year for the next eight years, followed by an 8.7% jump the following two years. The monthly rate increases would equate to an approximate $4.50 to $5.10 increase per month for customers, according to the water district.

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Aquafornia news Jacksonville Journal-Courier

Opinion: Why Wall Street investors’ trading California water futures is nothing to fear – and unlikely to work anyway

Water is one of the world’s most vital resources. So is there reason to freak out now that profit-hungry hedge funds and other investors can trade it like a barrel of oil or shares of Apple? That’s exactly what CME Group recently did in California when it launched the world’s first futures market for water in December 2020. Put simply, a futures market lets people place bets on the future price of water. 
-Written by Ellen Bruno, of University of California, Berkeley and Heidi Schweizer, of North Carolina State University.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Plan to ban California fracking falls short in Legislature

A far-reaching proposal to outlaw hydraulic fracturing and ban oil and gas wells from operating near homes, schools and healthcare facilities failed in the California Legislature on Tuesday, a major setback for progressive leaders who hail the state as the nation’s bellwether on environmental protection. Gov. Gavin Newsom in September called on state lawmakers to ban fracking and voiced his support for safety buffer zones around wells …

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California drinking water infrastructure at risk of failing

A new state analysis estimates a $4.6 billion funding gap for water system infrastructure needed to ensure Californians have access to safe and affordable drinking water. The State Water Resources Control Board this month released the first-ever drinking water needs assessment, showing that approximately 620 public water systems and 80,000 domestic wells are at-risk of failing to provide a sufficient amount of drinking water that meets basic health standards. 

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Newsom inks $536 million wildfire package as drought explodes across California

Drought-riddled California will spend over $500 million in the coming months cutting fuel breaks, lighting prescribed burns and conducting other wildfire prevention tactics under legislation signed by Governor Gavin Newsom. The Democratic governor said the $536 million budget deal is the first of many preventative steps he will authorize with the Golden State careening toward another expected brutal wildfire season.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Last chance to register for next week’s Water 101 workshop

There’s just one week left to register for our Water 101 Workshop, which offers a primer on the things you need to know to understand California water. One of our most popular events, this once-a-year workshop will be held as an engaging online event on the afternoons of Thursday, April 22 and Friday, April 23.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Creating a place for nature in the San Joaquin Valley

The San Joaquin Valley’s quest for groundwater sustainability will result in large amounts of irrigated agricultural lands being retired. A new book explores how some of these lands could be restored to natural areas that bring multiple benefits. We talked to Scott Butterfield, a senior scientist at The Nature Conservancy and one of the book’s editors, about this vision.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Innovation needed to solve state’s water challenges

Earlier this month, camera crews once again gathered in the Sierra Nevada to watch a man plunge a pole through the snow. The pole was removed and, following a tense few moments, Californians learned we experienced another dry winter, and we are plunging further into drought. These snowpack surveys are quaint rituals, but they’re also a jarring reminder of how little technological innovation has occurred in California’s water sector. 
-Written by Danielle Blacet, deputy executive director at the California Municipal Utilities Association, and Adrian Covert, senior vice president of public policy at the Bay Area Council.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Opinion: Failure to prepare deepens the pain from dry years

It’s that time of year, when we find out it’s that kind of year. We appear at the doorstep of a “critically dry year,” and most reservoir levels are significantly below average. Those conditions bring painfully to mind the awful drought years of 2014 and 2015, and threaten water supplies for California farms and cities, and for the protected fish species that must also get by in these lean years.
-Written by Danny Merkley, director of water resources, and Chris Scheuring, senior counsel for the California Farm Bureau.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Southern California water agency looking to buy water during drought

With California in the throes of a second year of drought conditions, the mega-water agency of Southern California served notice Tuesday that it’s prepared to spend up to $44 million to buy water from Northern California to shore up its supplies. The board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves 19 million urban residents, authorized its staff to begin negotiating deals with water agencies north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, where supplies are generally more plentiful.

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Aquafornia news KQED

California could phase out fracking, other oil drilling under bill headed for first test in legislature

Legislation that would gradually phase out fracking and other extraction methods that account for most of California’s petroleum production faces its first big test in Sacramento on Tuesday. The nine-member Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee is set to vote on a proposal, Senate Bill 467, that would bar new permits for hydraulic fracturing, cyclic steaming, steam flooding and water flooding. The legislation would begin taking effect in 2023 and also prohibit renewing existing permits for fracking and the other targeted methods, which a committee bill analysis says accounts for an estimated 80% to 95% of the state’s oil production.

Aquafornia news GV Wire

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Biden administration declares California drought disaster. What is Newsom waiting for?

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack designated 50 California counties as natural disaster areas last month because of the drought. And, over the weekend, Fresno Congressman Jim Costa said on KSEE-24’s Sunday Morning Matters program that Gov. Newsom should declare a statewide emergency because of the dangerously dry conditions. …Yet, Newsom… last week rejected a request from a bipartisan coalition of state lawmakers from the Valley to declare a statewide drought emergency. 

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Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Opinion: California Pollinator Coalition hopes to solve key ag issue

Today at breakfast, you have most likely eaten something brought to you by two of America’s hardest workers – pollinators and California farmers. That apple juice, fresh cream cheese, sesame seed bagel or almond croissant came to you by way of a partnership nearly invisible to most folks. But that partnership stepped into the spotlight last week with the announcement of a profoundly important coalition formed to promote sustainability for native and managed pollinators as well as California farms and ranches.
-Written by Laurie Davies Adams, President and CEO of the Pollinator Partnership, and Josette Lewis, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer with the Almond Board of California.

Aquafornia news Sacramento News & Review

Delta tunnel authority changes leaders as Newsom fights the recall by turning to billionaire champions of the project

The little-known Joint Powers Authority charged with getting the embattled Delta tunnel across its finish line recently changed executive directors, marking an exit for Kathryn Mallon, who had stirred controversy for her exorbitant pay and alleged pressuring of a citizens advisory committee to work through the most dangerous part of the pandemic. Meanwhile, as California Governor Gavin Newsom begins campaigning against the effort to remove him from office, he’s soliciting huge donations from the same south-state barons of agriculture who have promoted the environmentally fraught tunnel concept for years.

Aquafornia news Forbes

Blog: Southern California water price jumps 48% in 3 weeks as rainy season disappoints

Californians received a double dose of not so happy water news last month; cutbacks were made to water allocations and a key water price index surged higher. … The state’s Department of Water Resources has wasted no time in sounding alarm bells; officials have already announced 50 percent cutbacks from December 2020’s projected water allotments to State Water Project allocations for the 2021 water year. California residents were warned “to plan for the impacts of limited water supplies this summer for agriculture as well as urban and rural water users.”

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Increasing groundwater salinity changes water and crop management over long timescales

Salinity has often become a major limit for irrigated agriculture in semi-arid regions, from ancient Mesopotamia to parts of California today. A previous blog post showed that conjunctive use with more saline groundwater can differ fundamentally from freshwater aquifers. Higher salinity limits groundwater use for irrigation during dry years, when less surface water is available to dilute groundwater salinity, and increases aquifer pumping in wetter years to avoid water-logging. Brackish groundwater can no longer serves as drought storage, but becomes a supplemental water supply in all years, limited by availability of fresh surface water for diluting salts. This greatly reduces groundwater’s ability to support permanent crops and increases variability in annual crop acreage across different water years, thus reducing profit.

Aquafornia news Grist

7 million Californians live near oil and gas wells. This bill could change that

Despite its green reputation, California has a big fossil fuel problem on its hands: neighborhood oil and gas drilling. In California, there’s nothing preventing frackers or drillers from setting up shop right next to your home, school, or hospital — and indeed, this is the reality for 7.4 million Californians currently living within 1 mile of oil and gas drilling operations, who are disproportionately non-white and low-income. Now, a new state bill called S.B. 467, slated for a hearing in the California Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water on Tuesday, may reshape the lives of frontline communities by eliminating fracking and instituting mandatory buffer zones between oil and gas extraction and places where Californians live, work, and study. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

California wages uphill battle against invasive species

It’s nothing less than an invasion. Interlopers are coming into California by land, by sea…and by FedEx. That’s what happened with the European green crab, a voracious cannibal that stowed away in packages of worms sent by overnight delivery to commercial fisherman in California. Unknown to anyone, the tiny crustaceans were concealed in seaweed that wrapped the cargo and were freed into the Pacific when fishermen tossed it overboard. … California spends $3 million a year attempting to eradicate nutria, a large, homely, orange-toothed rodent that destroys wetlands and bores holes into levees. Another $3 million a year goes to educating boaters about quagga mussels, which hitch rides on hulls and cling to equipment in the state’s vast water transport system.  And, for the last 20 years, authorities have spent more than $34 million to manage Atlantic cordgrass in the San Francisco Bay-Delta.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California braces for extreme 2021 wildfire season – it’s very dry out there

The chamise plants that blanket California’s shrubby chaparral should have grown new sprouts by now, flowering after winter rains before baking in the arid summer heat. They are highly flammable and abundant in wildland areas — and, for that reason, a bellwether to wildfire researchers. This month, a San Jose State University team analyzing moisture levels was shocked at what it found at study sites in the Santa Cruz Mountains. At two locations researchers found no new growth to cut from the shrubs. It’s an ominous sign of just how dry the vegetation is around California, where boundless numbers of plants and trees have been starved of life-sustaining water thanks to an entire winter of paltry precipitation. Those dry plants are fuel for wildfires, and they’re primed to burn explosively.

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Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Cities with the most properties at risk of flooding

Here’s a look at the nation’s top 10 cities with the most properties at risk of flooding, according to 2020 data from the First Street Foundation’s First National Flood Risk Assessment. Flooding is a huge problem in America and is only getting worse as global warming increases the frequency and strength of tropical storms and hurricanes, and the warmer atmosphere holds more water, leading to more rainfall. Warmer temperatures also trigger winter snow to melt faster and earlier. Flooding in the United States is likely to cause some $20 billion in damages this year and cost as much as $32 billion by 2051, according to research from First Street. Sundae took a look at the nation’s top 10 cities with the most properties at risk of flooding… #10. San Jose … #5. Fresno … #3. Sacramento…

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

News release: ACWA testifies in support of climate resilience bond proposal with amendments

ACWA staff testified with a support-if-amended position on AB 1500 (E.Garcia) during an Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee hearing on April 8. The bill is one of two climate resilience bond proposals that are currently advancing through the state Legislature and could be headed for the June 2022 ballot. AB 1500 would create a $6.7 billion bond measure. ACWA, with input from the State Legislative Committee’s Bond Working Group, is requesting amendments to the bills to add funding for water-related climate resilience projects that help provide a reliable water supply during drought and flood. The amendments propose the bill include funding for conveyance, dam safety, groundwater protection and sustainable groundwater management, flood management, integrated regional water management and safe drinking water for disadvantaged communities, as well as water quality and water reuse and recycling.

Aquafornia news Capital and Main

Blog: California is greenlighting oil wells linked to groundwater pollution

Throughout 2020 and early 2021, California issued more than 300 permits to oil and gas companies for new underground injection wells — an intensive form of oil production and wastewater disposal. But the actual number of new injection wells is likely higher, owing to the state’s opaque approval process that has drawn scrutiny from auditors and environmentalists. Some of these undercounted wells may be polluting groundwater used for public drinking and agricultural purposes, according to regulatory filings reviewed by Capital & Main. The impact of injection wells on groundwater in California is understudied, regulators say. 

Aquafornia news UC San Diego News Center

New research: Scientists map “pulse” of groundwater flow through California’s Central Valley

Groundwater is a key resource for water users in California’s Central Valley, a major agricultural hub with an economic output of tens of billions of dollars annually. Surface deformation in the Central Valley has long been linked to changes in groundwater storage, but the timing and movement of water flow beneath the surface has been poorly understood due to a lack of reliable data. Now, for the first time, scientists at the University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and School of Global Policy and Strategy, as well as the U.S. Geological Survey are using advanced satellite data to map the “pulse” of groundwater flow through the San Joaquin Valley, the southern portion of the Central Valley.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

SF Baykeeper sues Biden administration to list local longfin smelt as endangered species

A tiny silver fish few people in the Bay Area have heard of could be a new symbol of the state’s continuing battle over water resources. San Francisco Baykeeper sued the Biden administration on Thursday to list the local population of longfin smelt as an endangered species. The environmental group’s legal action comes nine years after the federal government first declared that the fish warranted that status. Once an important source of food for marine mammals, birds and chinook salmon, the local population of the longfin smelt has dropped by 99.9% since the 1980s. Scientists and environmentalists say that reduction is a direct result of too much water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin river system being diverted to farms and other water users rather than flowing through the bay to the Pacific.

Aquafornia news Storm Water Solutions

Blog: California is ramping up its efforts to address sources of pyrethroid concentrations in its watersheds

In June 2017, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Central Valley Region adopted a Basin Plan Amendment for the Sacramento River and San Joaquin River Basins for the control of pyrethroid pesticide discharges. The amendment establishes controls for pyrethroid discharges, including prohibition of discharges of pyrethroid pesticides above certain concentrations, total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) for pyrethroid pesticides, recommendations for agency regulation of pyrethroids and potential monitoring requirements. Synthetic pyrethroids are the most common forms of commercially available urban pesticides for ants, termites and flying insects…

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Updated Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project hot off the press

Our Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project has just been updated to reflect the latest developments affecting California’s largest surface water delivery system. The 24-page guide explores the history of the Central Valley Project, from its roots as a state water project that stalled amid the Great Depression to its development as a federal project that stretches from Shasta Dam in far Northern California to Bakersfield in the southern San Joaquin Valley. 

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Markets, water availability prove key in land values

Despite market unknowns created by the pandemic and lower commodity prices, California agricultural land values remained largely stable, an indication buyers have confidence in the long-term land market in the state: This was a key takeaway from a virtual business conference held by the California Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. The conference also discussed impacts of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act on California land values. Even though record supplies of the state’s highest-value crops led to lower prices for farmers last year, appraisers said the softer prices also helped move those products. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: California needs comprehensive groundwater management

While California’s landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act promised comprehensive protection of the state’s groundwater, significant gaps remain in its coverage.  The Department of Water Resources now has an opportunity to reduce or eliminate those gaps and should seize the moment. We know all Californians will experience another year of water shortages and warmer, drier conditions that will require conservation and which are likely to fuel destructive wildfires in our forests and around our communities. We are all in this together. Groundwater is critical for California, particularly in dry years when it provides up to 60% of the water supply for farms and people. 
-Written by Jeanette Howard, director of The Nature Conservancy’s freshwater science team; Melissa M. Rohde, a groundwater scientist at The Nature Conservancy; and Barton H. Thompson, senior fellow of the Woods Institute for the Environment, and faculty director of Water in the West at Stanford University.

Aquafornia news ABC30 Action News

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California legislators want Gov. Newsom to declare state of emergency over water ‘crisis’

California’s hottest commodity could become even more scarce as state and federal officials announce water cutbacks on the brink of another drought. Now, state legislators are banding together to ask Governor Newsom to declare a state of emergency amid what they call a water crisis. … [State Senator Andreas] Borgeas authored a letter alongside the Assembly agriculture committee chair and several other state lawmakers to send to the governor. This comes after the California Department of Water Resources announced a 5% allocation to farmers and growers in late March.

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Aquafornia news Storm Water Solutions

Blog: Playing the right card with storm water basins

Despite its semi-arid climate, characterized by mild, moist winters and hot, dry summers, the area in and around Fresno, California, has experienced numerous flood events. From elevations reaching 5,000 feet in the Sierra-Nevada mountain range, streams carry runoff from a 175-square-mile area flow onto the valley floor, where they periodically inundate farmland and urban development, including downtown Fresno. Storm flows have caused local streams and canals to overflow an average of once every four years since 1953. In the early 1950s, a group of citizens banded together to find solutions to the area’s increasing storm water management problems. 

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Q/A with Delta Conveyance Project Executive Director Tony Meyers

In the first episode in the Delta Conveyance Team Spotlight video series, [DWR] spoke with the project’s Executive Director Tony Meyers about his long and eventful career in engineering, including work on some of DWR’s most ambitious and significant infrastructure projects. In this excerpt, he reflects on the appeal of large-scale engineering projects and speaks about the importance of the Delta Conveyance Project in protecting the security of California’s water supply.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

SSJID, OID still waiting for federal approval of plan to help threatened fish & stressed farmers

OID and SSJID … have invested considerable money into improving salmon habitat on the Stanislaus River and as well as conservation measures aimed at reducing growers’ use of water — have proposed pushing the spring pulse flow from an anticipated 1,400 cfs at Vernalis to almost 3,000 cfs. … The SSJID and OID have also worked with the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority and State Water Contractors that may get only 5 percent of the water they need from the Bureau this year to purchase the [water] by diverting it once it enters the Delta.  

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Opinion – Are water wars about to boil?

Not counting long and ugly court battles, the two most likely solutions to California water wars are voluntary agreements or involuntary edicts. Our Modesto Bee Editorial Board long has favored voluntary agreements, or compromises negotiated mainly between local irrigation districts (representing our farmers) and state and federal officials. The other side, chiefly represented by environmental and fishing interests, would prefer that the California State Water Board simply take huge amounts of water from our Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers, mostly to benefit fish — what could be called involuntary edicts. 
-Written by Garth Stapley, The Modesto Bee’s opinion editor.

Aquafornia news Restore the Delta

Blog: The dam problem for the Bay-Delta estuary

The dams that are built in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River Watershed protect thousands of people and billions of dollar’s worth of agriculture but they are far too old and far too many of them need repair. Some unnecessary dams are drying rivers and putting business in front of the environment.

Aquafornia news California Fisheries Blog

Blog: Drastic measure to meet Delta outflow

For seven days in mid-March 2021, the Bureau of Reclamation substantially increased Folsom Lake storage releases. Roughly, the releases tripled in volume (Figure 1). The release of over 20,000 acre-feet of water is significant for a year in which Folsom storage is not much better than it was in the worst year on record – 1977 (Figure 2).1 With the release in mid-March, the lake level dropped 3 feet. Yes, there was rain in the forecast and a decent snowpack, but certainly no flood concerns. So why? The reason was to meet state water quality requirements for Delta outflow. Delta outflow increased from 7,000 cfs to 12,000 cfs for a few days (Figure 3).

Aquafornia news The Hill

Third-driest year reported in California

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has marked 2021 as the third-driest water year, a period marked from October to March, on record for the Golden State, potentially setting up another deadly wildfire season after last year’s record setting blazes. The department’s annual snow survey released this month recorded precipitation levels at 50 percent the annual average for the water year.  The dry conditions can also be seen in the state’s water supply, with the department reporting that California’s major reservoirs are at just 50 percent of overall capacity.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

CA Water Commission: Ensuring the reliability of the State Water Project, Part 1: Strategic Priorities and Programs

One of the California Water Commission’s statutory responsibilities is to conduct an annual review of the construction and operation of the State Water Project and make a report on its findings to the Department of Water Resources and the Legislature, with any recommendations it may have.  Having just finished the 2020 State Water Project review, the Commission has launched its 2021 State Water Project review with a theme focused on creating a resilient State Water Project by addressing climate change and aging infrastructure to provide multiple benefits for California. 

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

More water spending sought for West in infrastructure bill

As drought worsens in the West, a coalition of more than 200 farm and water organizations from 15 states that has been pushing to fix the region’s crumbling canals and reservoirs is complaining that President Joe Biden’s new infrastructure proposal doesn’t provide enough funding for above- or below-ground storage.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: Complexities – Thinking about the San Francisco Estuary during the 2021 Bay-Delta Science Conference

In anticipation of this week’s Bay-Delta Science Conference, I thought it would be useful to consider some of what it takes to understand a complex ecosystem like an estuary and to encourage everyone working in the San Francisco Estuary – scientists, policymakers, and local stakeholders – to continue shifting our ecosystem management focus from the simple to the complex. I’ll explain why in a moment. Here are four suggestions for improving ecosystem management in the San Francisco Bay-Delta:

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California is on the brink of drought – again. Is it ready?

California is at the edge of another protracted drought, just a few years after one of the worst dry spells in state history left poor and rural communities without well water, triggered major water restrictions in cities, forced farmers to idle their fields, killed millions of trees, and fueled devastating megafires. … Just four years since the state’s last drought emergency, experts and advocates say the state isn’t ready to cope with what could be months and possibly years of drought to come.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

State will hear Kern River water rights case

Is there water available on the Kern River and, if so, how much? Parties to the long-running river dispute will finally get a hearing by the State Water Resources Control Board on those questions, at least. The big question — who should get the water? — will have to wait. Still, this is the first significant public movement on the Kern River in the past 11 years.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: How California stands to benefit from Biden infrastructure proposal

Perhaps more than any other part of the country, California stands to benefit from the $2.2 trillion proposal introduced last week by President Biden…. the sweeping plan would inject huge sums of money into wider roads, faster internet, high-speed trains, charging stations for electric cars, airport terminals, upgraded water pipes and much more. … The infusion is being seen not only as the path to a long-overdue upgrade of the freeways, dams and aqueducts that have long been California’s hallmark but also as a way to scale up and export the state’s ambitious climate policies.

Aquafornia news The Weather Network

Another California drought in 2021 is possible, along with more wildfires

It was in 2016 that the state of California declared a four-year drought had finally come to an end. Now, in 2021, it could be entering another very dry season. It is in the winter season that folks on the West Coast welcome dreary days packed with cloud and rain. California usually sees the most rain and snow in the month of February. This year, however, was different: It was quite dry all of the winter season, and we can blame La Niña for this pattern. … Thirty per cent of California’s water supply comes from the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountain ranges and only 57 per cent of normal precipitation has fallen this season. This, coupled with lower than average snowpack for 2020 as well, could spell trouble down the road when it comes to water supply.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Fact sheet: Access to safe drinking water

Although most residents have safe drinking water, more than 250 water systems serving 900,000 people were out of compliance with drinking water standards in 2020. This is a chronic issue for some systems; more than 170 have been out of compliance for three or more years. More than half of these noncompliant systems are in the San Joaquin Valley—California’s largest farming region and home to a third of the state’s low-income communities. Some tribal water systems face similar challenges. Data are lacking on water quality provided by roughly 1,500 very small, county-regulated water systems and more than 350,000 domestic wells, but some of these supplies may have chronic issues as well.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

UC Merced study imagines solar panels atop irrigation canals

Placing solar panels atop Central Valley canals could get the state halfway to its goal for climate-friendly power by 2030, a new study suggests. And the panels could reduce enough evaporation from the canals to irrigate about 50,000 acres, the researchers said. They are from the Merced and Santa Cruz campuses of the University of California.  The idea has already drawn interest from the Turlock Irrigation District, as one of several options for boosting the solar part of its electricity supply.

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Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Deal to help fish threatened by federal agencies

Water releases designed to benefit the critical outmigration of juvenile salmon on the Stanislaus River as well as assist farms and communities along the west side of the San Joaquin Valley already starting to suffer the effects of two consecutive dry years is languishing in the federal bureaucracy. Up to 100,000 acre feet is proposed to be released that belongs to the South San Joaquin and Oakdale irrigation districts that would provide a critical impulse flow from April 15 to May 15. That water based on measurements at Vernalis south of Manteca where the Stanislaus River joins the San Joaquin River would significantly improve the survivability of the threatened salmon.

Aquafornia news National Review

Opinion: Reform California’s water policies

As California emerged from a historically tough five-year drought in 2017, then-governor Jerry Brown signed two new laws that required local water agencies to limit water use to 55 gallons per person per day, with water-use allotments dropping to 50 gallons by 2030. Despite some misreporting to the contrary, these limits on individuals were not enforceable. Instead, the state imposed fines on districts that failed to meet the new targets. It was pretty clear what direction the state was taking: Since then, California has gone all in for extreme conservation measures that could eventually lead to rationing as water-use allotments drop. Unless something changes, it may be only a matter of time before such policies lead to personal restrictions on lawn-watering, car-washing, and even showering.
-Written by Steven Greenhut, the western-region director for the R Street Institute and a columnist for the Southern California News Group.

Aquafornia news Galt Herald

Groundwater status, plan discussed at meeting

Seven agencies that have been working together to sustain the groundwater in the Cosumnes Subbasin, which includes the communities of Galt, Herald, Wilton and Rancho Murieta South, held a workshop March 24. The presentation was intended to help residents understand how groundwater will be used in the next two decades in the Cosumnes Subbasin. The group has until Jan. 31, 2022 to submit its plan to the state on how it intends to meet its target of replacing 20,000-acre feet per year (AFY) in underground basins called aquifers to sustain the groundwater. One of the takeaways from meeting is the plan will cost $2.25 million in the early years. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: Drought is back. But Southern California faces less pain than Northern California

Drought is returning to California as a second, consecutive parched winter draws to a close in the usually wet north, leaving the state’s major reservoirs half empty. But this latest period of prolonged dryness will probably play out very differently across this vast state. In Northern California, areas dependent on local supplies, such as Sonoma County, could be the hardest-hit. Central Valley growers have been told of steep cuts to upcoming water deliveries. Environmentalists too are warning of grave harm to native fish. Yet, hundreds of miles to the south, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California reports record amounts of reserves — enough to carry the state’s most populous region through this year and even next.

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Aquafornia news UC Irvine

Podcast: How drought and climate change threaten California’s water

Rain is scarce in much of California, and most of California’s people live in water-starved regions. And yet the state is, by some measures, the fifth largest economy in the world. How? Because during the last century, California has built a complex network of dams, pumps and canals to transport water from where it falls naturally to where people live. But climate change threatens to upend the delicate system that keeps farm fields green and household taps flowing. In this episode of the UCI Podcast, Nicola Ulibarri, an assistant professor of urban planning and public policy who is an expert on water resource management, discusses how droughts and floods have shaped California’s approach to water…

Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News release: $2.5 million settlement reached for Mule Creek State Prison violations of Clean Water Act

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has agreed to pay a $2.5 million penalty for discharging comingled stormwater at Mule Creek State Prison, in violation of the Clean Water Act. The penalty was assessed for unpermitted discharges between January 2018 and April 2019 to Mule Creek, a tributary to Dry Creek and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The case began three years ago when the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Central Valley Water Board) received a complaint that the prison was discharging wastewater into the nearby creek. Central Valley Water Board staff confirmed discharges were occurring from the prison to Mule Creek.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Ag land values rely heavily on water availability

California agricultural land values that are rising and falling the most are doing so under the perception of water availability – no surprise there. This is putting farmland in the Fresno Irrigation District (FID) in a positive light as that agency has done a good job over the years managing conjunctive use of irrigation water.

Aquafornia news Latham & Watkins

Blog: California water law – Legal challenges of water supply assessments

Mark Twain is often credited with saying, “Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over.” This remains true in California, where drought conditions, climate change, and population growth throughout the state’s history have made water an increasingly valuable and regulated resource. The legal landscape involves complex questions related to water quality, water sustainability, and competing claims to water rights. One notable area of controversy involves the adequacy of water supply for new development projects.

Aquafornia news Your Central Valley.com

Explaining California’s complex water system with emotion and storytelling

California has one of the most complex and complicated water systems in the nation. There are hundreds of water districts, different reservoirs and rivers and canals controlled by different jurisdictions, and lots of politically charged legislation.   Understanding this system is a difficult undertaking, but those at the Modesto Irrigation District believe they’re up to the task.   Through emotional storytelling and strong characters, the MID set out to explain how the rivers in their district nourish communities by talking to the men and women who depend on them. The interviews and stories eventually turned into a feature-length documentary called Until the Last Drop.  

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Little snow and rain mean drought – dry, difficult months lie ahead for California

California’s wet season is coming to a close without a much-sought “March miracle” storm, setting the stage for a painful escalation of drought in the coming months. The April 1 snow survey, which measures the peak accumulation of snow in the Sierra and southern Cascades just before it melts, will show only about 60% of average snowpack. … The grim survey results expected Thursday, which mark a second straight year of significantly dry conditions, reinforce concerns about a difficult fire season ahead and bolster the expanding calls for water conservation.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: With San Francisco Bay on life support, Newsom withholds the cure

San Francisco Bay’s life support systems are unravelling quickly, and a wealth of science indicates that unsustainable water diversions are driving this estuary’s demise. Yet, with another drought looming, federal and state water managers still plan to divert large amounts of water to their contractors and drain upstream reservoirs this summer. Meanwhile, the state’s most powerful water districts are preparing yet another proposal to maintain excessive water diversions for the long-term. By delaying reforms that the law requires and that science indicates are necessary, Gov. Gavin Newsom encourages wasteful water practices that jeopardize the Bay and make the state’s water future precarious. 
-Written by Jon Rosenfield, a senior scientist for SF Baykeeper.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Council hires new Chief Deputy Executive Officer

The Delta Stewardship Council (Council) announced the hiring of Ryan Stanbra, the Council’s legislative and policy advisor, to the key post of chief deputy executive officer. … Appointed by Governor Brown in 2015, Ryan joined the Council in the role of legislative and policy advisor. He has played a pivotal role in advising on critical Council initiatives like implementation of reduced reliance on the Delta, interagency coordination and outreach for the Delta Levees Investment Strategy, increasing funding for critical science investments, and more. He has served in the acting chief deputy executive officer role since January.

Aquafornia news Business Wire

News release: Rural, disadvantaged California community solves century-old water quality issue by tapping the sky

Arsenic naturally occurs in the region’s groundwater and Allensworth is served by two groundwater wells that have contained arsenic levels up to 60 percent higher than state defined safety levels for drinking water. … To tackle those challenges in Allensworth, the community is collaborating with SOURCE to outfit their local community center with two Hydropanels to sustainably generate drinking water. The Hydropanels use the warmth of the sun to draw clean, pollutant-free water vapor out of the air through a patented, water-absorbing material and into a reservoir inside the panel. 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

April Fools Blog: Looking for a new challenge? Retrain as a Delta Smelt

The Federal government is beginning a program for the unemployed to retrain as much-needed Delta Smelt.  Following a two-day course, candidates will learn to: Seek out turbid waters; Spawn in sand at secret locations; Surf the tides; Make themselves present for counting in mid-water trawls. Major California water projects and water users are preparing to hire successful graduates for 1-2 year non-renewable contracts. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Sierra, Sequoia national forest plans revised after California fires

New forest management plans that could be in effect for the next 15 years in California’s Sierra Nevada are almost complete – using public comments made prior to the catastrophic Creek Fire that burned nearly a third of Sierra National Forest. The aftermath of that wildfire – the largest single fire in California’s history – isn’t prompting big changes in national forest plan revisions that have been in the works for years, federal land managers said. … Aside from air quality, these forests directly affect the lives of millions of people in California most prominently via billions of gallons of water that annually flow from these forests into the central San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: California and feds still plan to drain reservoirs & kill salmon

Updated water supply allocations announced last week would still drain upstream reservoirs in order to deliver 4.5 million acre feet of water to the contractors of the federal Central Valley Project (CVP) and State Water Project (SWP), devastating fish and wildlife. This week, the fisheries biologists at the National Marine Fisheries Service projected that these planned operations are likely to result in lethal water temperatures that will kill 89% of endangered winter-run Chinook salmon below Shasta Dam this year. This mortality estimate is even worse than what was observed in 2014 and 2015, when salmon populations were devastated by warm water in their spawning grounds. 

Aquafornia news KCRA

Lessons learned from previous California drought helpful in ‘dry years’

As the rain season comes to a close across Northern California, water districts are keeping a close eye on rain totals that are below average, and water managers are explaining what another “dry water year” means for our region. According to California’s Department of Water Resources, or DWR, the state is well into its second consecutive dry year. That causes concern among water managers. However, it comes as no surprise. … With the memory of drought years between 2012 and 2016 not too distant, [DWR information officer Chris] Orrock explained how lessons learned from that time period are still being implemented.

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Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Report provides guidance on repurposing California farmland to benefit water, landowners, communities and wildlife

Over the coming decades, California’s San Joaquin Valley will transition to sustainable groundwater management under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), ensuring reliable groundwater supplies for generations to come. Sustainable groundwater management and a changing climate will inevitably affect how land is used on a sweeping scale. By some estimates, the amount of farmland that will have to be taken out of production to balance groundwater demand and supply is equivalent to the size of Yosemite National Park — a transition that could serve a huge blow to the agricultural economy, rural communities and the environment. 

Aquafornia news O’Melveny

Blog: California Court of Appeal upholds subordination of dormant groundwater rights

Last week, the Court of Appeal for the Fifth Appellate District of California issued a long-awaited decision in the Antelope Valley Groundwater Cases, resolving a dispute more than two decades in the making. The case adjudicated groundwater rights in the Antelope Valley Adjudication Area (AVAA) in northern Los Angeles County and southeast Kern County. The adjudication, which commenced in 1999, involved private water suppliers, public agencies, the federal government, and overlying landowners who pump water for agricultural, industrial, commercial, and domestic uses. Although currently unpublished, the court’s opinion illustrates several important developments in California groundwater law.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Monday Top of the Scroll: California weighs changes for new water rights permits in response to a warmer and drier climate

As California’s seasons become warmer and drier, state officials are pondering whether the water rights permitting system needs revising to better reflect the reality of climate change’s effect on the timing and volume of the state’s water supply. A report by the State Water Resources Control Board recommends that new water rights permits be tailored to California’s increasingly volatile hydrology and be adaptable enough to ensure water exists to meet an applicant’s demand.

Aquafornia news Merced Irrigation District

News release: Restoration of salmon habitat continues on the Merced River

Efforts are continuing to support restoration of crucial habitat for salmon spawning and rearing on the Merced River. Last fall, Merced Irrigation District completed the Merced River Instream and Off Channel Habitat Restoration Project. Adult salmon, which migrated from the ocean to the river, are already known to have used the new gravel beds for spawning. Now, in the coming months, surveys will be done by biologists to further study the use of the new stretch of river and the developing juvenile salmon that may rear there.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Strong state oversight needed to ensure California’s wetlands are protected

When the first European explorers arrived in California’s Central Valley, they found a vast mosaic of seasonal and permanent wetlands, as well as oak woodlands and riparian forests. What remains of those wetlands are still the backbone of the Pacific Flyway; along with flooded agricultural fields, they support millions of migrating waterbirds each year. According to a just-released study from Audubon, tens of millions of land birds rely on the Central Valley as well… But today, the situation is dire. More than 90% of wetlands in the Central Valley – and throughout California – have disappeared beneath tractors and bulldozers. 
-Written by Samantha Arthur, the Working Lands Program Director at Audubon California and a member of the California Water Commission.

Related article:

  

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Water shortages and fires loom after a dry winter

The lack of rain and snow during what is usually California’s wet season has shrunk the state’s water supply. The Sierra Nevada snowpack, a crucial source of water as it melts over the spring and summer, is currently at 65 percent of normal. Major reservoirs are also low. Two state agencies warned last week that the dry winter is very likely to lead to cuts in the supply of water to homes, businesses and farmers. The federal Bureau of Reclamation also told its agricultural water customers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to expect no water this year.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Blog: USC student tackles Kern River for media project

It may surprise you (it surprises me all the time) but a lot of young people are deeply interested in how our world runs. Especially young people who also have a passion for journalism. One of those young people, Jonathan Horwitz, a graduate fellow at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, contacted me some months ago asking about water. He wanted to do a multimedia project on the subject and eventually settled on the complexities of the Kern River. Below is a link to his finished product, which I think deserves an A+.

Aquafornia news My Mother Lode

Vandals hit local water authority’s supply system

Vandals caused thousands of dollars in damage to a Calaveras County water authority’s supply system and now the public’s help is being sought to catch the suspects. The crime occurred sometime during the weekend of Saturday, March 6th at the Utica Water and Power Authority’s (Utica) public water supply system east of Forest Meadows near the end of Pennsylvania Gulch Road in the Murphys area. Authority officials note that this is the only water supply for more than 10,000 residential, commercial and agricultural customers between Murphys and Angels Camp. 

Aquafornia news Science News

Simple structures can help streams survive wildfires and drought

Many of the wetlands in the western United States have disappeared since the 1700s. California has lost an astonishing 90 percent of its wetlands, which includes streamsides, wet meadows and ponds. In Nevada, Idaho and Colorado, more than 50 percent of wetlands have vanished. Precious wet habitats now make up just 2 percent of the arid West — and those remaining wet places are struggling. Nearly half of U.S. streams are in poor condition, unable to fully sustain wildlife and people, says Jeremy Maestas, a sagebrush ecosystem specialist with the NRCS who organized that workshop on Wilde’s ranch in 2016. As communities in the American West face increasing water shortages, more frequent and larger wildfires and unpredictable floods, restoring ailing waterways is becoming a necessity.

Aquafornia news The Press

California seeks input on Delta benefit program

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has announced a series of workshops intended to solicit public input on the development of a community benefit program associated with the Delta Conveyance Project (DCP). According to DWR, community benefit programs go beyond traditional concepts of mitigation. They attempt to provide greater flexibility in addressing possible community impacts associated with the major construction projects.

Aquafornia news KCRA

Below-average winter prompts California water conservation

The second consecutive dry winter has prompted state water managers to reduce allocations to the state water project that supplies millions of Californians and 750,000 acres of farmland. The state Department of Water Resources announced this week that it will only be able to deliver 5% of the requested allocations following below-average precipitation across the state. That figure is down from the initial allocation of 10% announced in December. Many of the state’s major reservoirs are recording just 50% of average water storage for this time of year, and won’t see a major increase due to a snowpack that is averaging just 65% of normal, according to state statistics..

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Friday Top of the Scroll: Delta study predicts stronger floods and less water supply

[F]or those who live in the legal Delta zone – some 630,000 people – the braided weave of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers and their maze of associated wetlands and levees provides a place of home, community, and recreation. And, as a recent study by the Delta Stewardship Council shows, climate change is tugging on the watery thread holding it all together. … The council’s overview reveals a grim outlook for the millions of people that are tethered to the region’s water: drought similar to that experienced in 2012-2016 will be five to seven times more likely by 2050. This will result in more severe and frequent water shortages and, as the report bluntly states, “lower reliability of Delta water exports.”

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Aquafornia news AgNet West

Blog: SGMA video series now available in three languages

The Water and Land Use Series of videos is now available in Hmong as well as English and Spanish. The videos provide insight on how the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is taking shape. PhD Candidate at UC Merced, Vicky Espinoza has been working on the videos for several months. The series is available on the YouTube Channel CaliWaterAg. The goal of the project has been to make SGMA information more accessible and encourage more engagement from community members.

Aquafornia news Grist

Farms, feathers, and fins share water in California

The rivalry between farms and wildlife for water and land was long seen as a zero-sum game, especially in California where water is such a precious commodity that the state’s water futures are traded on the stock exchange. That competition has been particularly sharp in the Central Valley: 95% of the region’s historic wetlands have transformed into farmland, and the region’s increasingly scarce water supply has been prioritized for farming. As a result, some of the migratory birds that rely on the Central Valley for habitat, food, and water sources have seen steep declines in the past century. 

Aquafornia news Politico

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California’s drought is back, but nobody wants to hear it from Newsom

California’s drought conditions might normally prompt calls for shorter showers and shutting off sprinklers. But Californians are in no mood to hear it after a year of pandemic deprivation. Especially from Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is facing an almost certain recall election after imposing multiple rounds of business closures and constantly telling residents to stay home. … California is particularly parched because 2020 was not only dry, but extremely hot. Experts think the state is about where it was in 2014, when former Gov. Jerry Brown asked Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent.

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Aquafornia news Water Foundation

Blog: Water solutions are climate adaptation solutions

Most Californians rely on groundwater in some way, through the kitchen faucet, when buying food, or at a green local park to relax and recreate. Those underground aquifers are even more important during droughts. In California’s Southern San Joaquin Valley, groundwater pumping more than tripled in the 2012-2016 drought to make up for lost rain. But that over-pumping comes at a cost, causing land to sink as much as two feet a year, damaging bridges, roads, and houses, and drying up drinking water wells and rivers. The people and places most hurt are the ones without the money to drill down to find diminishing groundwater.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Flow rules stalled as tunnel advances

As California stares down the barrel of yet another dry year, alarm bells are already ringing over conditions in the Delta. Environmental groups, fishermen, tribes, and a host of others are calling on the State Water Resources Control Board to complete and implement a long-delayed update to the Water Quality Control Plan for the Bay and Delta (Bay-Delta Plan), to protect the imperiled ecosystem. At the same time, plans for a structure with the potential to divert more water than ever to southern cities and farms are creeping ahead. 

Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

California water officials tell communities to prepare for potential water shortages

An extra dry summer with potential for water shortages – that’s what state and federal officials are telling Californians to prepare for. Predictions for 2021 are bleak. Lake levels are low and the Sacramento region is not getting the spring showers many hoped for. According to the US drought monitor, most of the Central Valley is experiencing severe to extreme drought conditions. This week the Department of Water Resources lowered its expected forecast of water deliveries made to cities and farms by half. But any conservation restrictions would be up to local authorities.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

New leaders named to Kern water districts

The personnel deck of who’s who in Kern County water has shuffled recently at several agricultural water districts. The Rosedale-Rio Bravo and North Kern water storage districts both recently named new general managers. And the newly formed Westside Water Authority, made up of four different ag water districts, also brought on a new general manager.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Drought is real and California is now facing water restrictions

State and federal water officials have delivered their most dire warning yet of California’s deepening drought, announcing that water supply shortages are imminent and calling for quick conservation. Among a handful of drastic actions this week, the powerful State Water Board on Monday began sending notices to California’s 40,000 water users, from small farms to big cities like San Francisco, telling them to brace for cuts. It’s a preliminary step before the possibility of ordering their water draws to stop entirely. 

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Environmental groups challenge Trump’s decision to lease federal land for fracking

A new lawsuit brought by environmental groups against the Bureau of Land Management seeks to rescind leases for seven parcels of federal land auctioned to energy companies in the waning days of the Trump administration. They are the first federal land oil and gas leases of their kind to be sold in nearly a decade and would open vast tracts to oil exploration and fracking. The land in question sits in California’s Central Valley, an agricultural region that already experiences some of the worst air and water quality in the country.

Aquafornia news Anthropocene Magazine

Irrigation canals covered in solar panels are a powerful combination

Shading California’s irrigation canals with solar panels could reduce pollution from diesel irrigation pumps while saving a quarter of a billion cubic meters of water annually in an increasingly drought-prone state, a new study suggests. Pilot studies in India and small simulations have shown that so-called “solar canals” have lots of potential benefits: Shading the water with solar panels reduces water loss from evaporation and keeps aquatic weeds down. 

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Blog: America’s drinking water future

In 2020 wildfires ravaged more than 10 million acres of land across California, Oregon and Washington, making it the largest fire season in modern history. Across the country, hurricanes over Atlantic waters yielded a record-breaking number of storms. While two very different kinds of natural disasters, scientists say they were spurred by a common catalyst – climate change – and that both also threaten drinking water supplies. As the nation already wrestles with water shortages, contamination and aging infrastructure, experts warn more frequent supercharged climate-induced events will exacerbate the pressing issue of safe drinking water.

Aquafornia news Estuary News

Scientists nail climate links to extreme events

While a supermajority of Americans finally believe we are warming the world, a 2020 Yale Climate Opinion survey shows that most people still aren’t very worried about it. … But Californians do. Reeling from a decade of record-shattering drought, heat waves, and wildfires, people in the Golden State overwhelmingly tell Public Policy Institute of California pollsters that the effects of global warming have already begun. Indeed … researchers can now link climate change with some of today’s extreme events [including the wild swings in precipitation that cause intense rainstorms at one end and severe droughts at the other] beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Video: Water use in California

California’s water use varies dramatically across regions and sectors, and between wet and dry years. With the possibility of another drought looming, knowing how water is allocated across the state can make it easier to understand the difficult tradeoffs the state’s water managers must make in times of scarcity. The good news is that we’ve been using less over time, both in cities and on farms. While there are still ways to cut use further to manage droughts, it won’t always be easy or cheap to do so. California’s freshwater ecosystems are at particular risk of drought, when environmental water use often sees large cuts. Watch the video to learn how Californians use water.

Aquafornia news Civil Eats

20 hotspots to start fixing nitrogen pollution in agriculture

Nitrogen pollution is one of agriculture’s biggest and most intractable problems. Crops can’t grow without the critical nutrient, and because sources of nitrogen are easy to come by—synthetic fertilizer is cheap and manure from large animal agriculture operations is plentiful—farmers often apply too much, to try to ensure the highest yields. Because plants can’t use it all, the excess makes its way into groundwater and washes into waterways where it contaminates drinking water and creates vast dead zones in oceans and lakes. … California’s largest hotspot unsurprisingly includes 21 counties that cover the Central Valley, America’s produce capital.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

‘Hasty’ California oil and gas lease sale draws suit against BLM

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management decided to sell oil and gas leases on public land in California for the first time in nearly a decade without taking a hard look at the environmental and public health impacts, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in a federal court in the state. The agency’s “hasty” environmental review ignored comments from experts and failed to consider evidence showing fracking could pollute already scarce groundwater resources, environmental groups say in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California filing. The decision violated the National Environmental Policy Act …

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Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

State warns of possible water shortages

California farmers relying on State Water Project water were warned Monday to prepare for potential shortages by reducing water use and adopting practical conservation measures.

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Aquafornia news Ecowatch

Blog: Installing solar panels over canals could save gallons of water

Installing solar panels over California’s network of water canals could save the state an estimated 63 billion gallons of water and produce 13 gigawatts of renewable power every year, according to a feasibility study published in Nature Sustainability. California moves more water than any other system in the world, with 75% of the state’s available water in its northern third and the southern two-thirds accounting for 80% of the state’s demand. Covering the canals with solar panels would reduce evaporation by shading the canals from the sun (along with the co-benefit of reducing canal-choking plant growth) and the cooling effects of the water could boost solar panel efficiency.

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Aquafornia news Capital and Main

PFAS water lawsuits expose financial impacts on state’s poor communities

Santa Clarita, a comfortable exurb of some 213,000 residents about 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles, is one of hundreds of California communities and districts grappling with the pricey problem of drinking water that’s been tainted by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), chemicals that have been linked to cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility and increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease. Last year the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency (SCV Water) joined a multidistrict lawsuit filed in South Carolina that goes after chemical manufacturers and makers of PFAS-laden aqueous firefighting foam.

Aquafornia news The Pioneer

The bane of water guzzling agriculture

[A] study has ascertained that indiscriminate exploitation of groundwater is resulting in sinking of land worldwide. … According to a report by The Guardian, countries like India, China and Mexico are rapidly draining groundwater to meet their food demands. Agriculture is at the forefront of excessive exploitation of groundwater. … In California, USA, where 80% of pure water is used for irrigation of cultivated crops, about one million acres of agricultural land is used for growing alfalfa as a fodder crop, which is exported to China. An article in the New York Times has expressed concern that the US exports one billion gallons of water to China as alfalfa per year.

Aquafornia news The Weather Channel

World Water Day highlights value of water

While water shortages and lack of access are usually associated with developing countries, there were more than 2 million people in the United States without running water or basic indoor plumbing as of 2019, according to the U.S. Water Alliance. Among them are members of the Navajo Nation who drive 40 miles every few days to haul water to their homes; communities in California dealing with contaminated wells; and people across the country living with outdated water systems.

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: The collaborative habitat creator

When Ann Hayden first joined EDF in 2002, shortly after finishing her own stint in the Peace Corps in Belize and graduate school where she studied environmental science and management, she was immediately thrown into one of California’s thorniest water debates: the restoration of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Bay-Delta, the hub of the state’s water supply. She hit the jackpot when she was hired by Tom Graff, founder of EDF’s California office and a renowned water lawyer, and Spreck Rosekrans, who garnered the respect of the water community for his ability to understand the state’s hypercomplex water operations.

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Fish in hot water – Moments that write history #7

As of 2021, California is home to 31 distinct kinds of native salmon, steelhead and trout species, 20 of which are found only in our state. These fish are prized for their economic and cultural significance by local communities, and for their recreational attributes by anglers from around the world. But these fish face an alarming threat that can’t be ignored. If current trends continue, nearly half of these fish will be extinct within the next 50 years. How do we know this? And perhaps an even better question: what can be done about it? 

Aquafornia news Representative Josh Harder

News release: Harder requests new funding for flood protection project impacting 165,000 people, 262 critical sites

Today, Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) sent a letter with Rep. Jerry McNerny (CA-9) requesting new federal funds for the Lower San Joaquin River Flood Risk Management and Feasibility Study projects. The $36.5 million in requested funds would go toward the Army Corps of Engineers and San Joaquin Area Flood Control Agency’s critical flood damage reduction efforts. If implemented, the project will protect 165,000 Valley residents, reduce annual property damage by 84%, and increase the resilience of 262 critical infrastructure sites, 12 of which are essential to daily life in the Valley. The project is expected to yield $7 for every $1 of taxpayer money invested.

Aquafornia news Westlands Water District

News release: Westlands Water District awarded $1.6 million Watersmart Grant from U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has announced that Westlands Water District was awarded a $1,609,000 grant from Reclamation’s WaterSMART Fiscal Year 2021 Water and Energy Efficiency Grant Program.  The grant was awarded to fund the District’s Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) Project, which will retrofit 760 manually read groundwater well meters with advanced, automated metering devices that can transmit data over a regional network. By ensuring even greater water metering precision and eliminating the need to manually read the meters, the project is expected to save nearly 103 billion gallons of water and reduce 5.3 metric tons of carbon emission over 20 years.

Aquafornia news West Side Index & Gustine Press-Standard

Groundwater recharge project will bank water for future use

Two local water agencies are moving forward with plans to fully develop a groundwater banking project near Newman. The groundwater recharge project has exceeded expectations in pilot studies, said Jarrett Martin, general manager of the Central California Irrigation District and Anthea Hansen, general manager of the Del Puerto Water District. They said plans are in the works to expand the 20-acre pilot project to an 80-acre recharge zone. Martin said the two agencies have been awarded grants totaling $6.4 million to expand the recharge project to its full buildout, which is envisioned at 80 acres.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Students find saving water ‘elementary’

When a region’s groundwater is critically depleted and its dirt as hard as a frying pan, how do you refill the aquifer? Ask a fifth grader. Actually, ask the fifth and sixth grade combination class at Bakersfield’s Munsey Elementary School taught by Barbara Elrod. Elrod’s students discovered a pretty cool way to both conserve water and recharge aquifers through “grey water.” That’s water from sinks, showers and washing machines. Turns out most of that water has soap in it and soap is a surfactant. 

Aquafornia news Gizmodo

Putting solar panels on California canals could solve two crises

A new analysis finds that covering water canals in California with solar panels could save a lot of water and money while generating renewable energy. Doing so would generate between 20% and 50% higher return on investment than would be achieved by building those panels on the ground. The paper, published Thursday in Nature Sustainability, performs what its authors call a techno-economic analysis, calculating the impacts and weighing the costs and benefits of potentially covering the thousands of miles of California’s open irrigation system.

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Aquafornia news California Department of Fish and Wildlife

News release: Wildlife officers shut down illegal cannabis operation on CDFW property

Wildlife officers with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Marijuana Enforcement Team (MET) conducted a raid of a clandestine cannabis grow on the North Grasslands Wildlife Area, Gadwall Unit in Los Banos. The property is home to dozens of species of nesting waterfowl, migratory birds, rabbits, pheasants, birds of prey, small rodents and native plants. … Several dead birds, including one Western Meadowlark were discovered within the grow site. Thousands of feet of black polyethylene pipe were stretched across the property and was siphoning water from the permanent wetlands in the closed zone. Officers also discovered dozens of dangerous pesticides and chemicals.

Aquafornia news AgNet West

Understanding the California water futures market

California has recently established a water futures market that has brought with it some criticism as well as confusion. As the first of its kind in the country, it will function similarly to futures markets for other commodities. The market will allow water users to lock in a particular price they are willing to pay for water. This new futures market is entirely different from water markets that allow the purchasing of water allocations.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

New director appointed to Kern County Water Agency

Longtime family farmer Laura Cattani was appointed to the board of the powerful Kern County Water Agency during a special meeting on Monday. She is the second woman to serve on the board of directors in the 60-year history of the agency. Cattani will bring much needed diversity to the board, several directors said during Monday’s meeting, not only because she’s a woman, but also for her age. Cattani is 39.

Aquafornia news The Confluence

Blog: From the ground up – climate change and environmental justice in California

As a scholar, my work is situated at the intersection of climate change, public health, and public policy. I am an interdisciplinary researcher, and my interests are centered on environmental justice….During California’s last extreme drought, I was doing my field work and visited East Porterville, which was ground zero for how water injustice was hitting migrant communities, particularly undocumented Latino migrants. They had very little water, and what they had was often contaminated.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Lathrop closer to being able to discharge treated water into SJ River

The city of Lathrop’s longstanding goal of discharging highly-treated wastewater into the San Joaquin River could clear a major hurdle tonight. Based on the current plan the wastewater would be mainly discharged directly into the river during winter months when irrigation demands are low and river flow is high and reduced in the summer months when irrigation demands along the river are at their peak.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Opinion: Dry year intensifies focus on California groundwater

Groundwater aquifers are best understood and managed locally; therefore, the key to successfully implementing SGMA lies in maintaining local control, something Farm Bureau vigorously advocates. In addition, we have stressed that to reduce dependence on groundwater, we must expand surface water storage and recharge our groundwater aquifers when excess water is available….Unless March somehow makes up for the lack of rain and snow thus far this winter, we could see an increased dependence on groundwater this growing season.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Finding a balance between supply and demand to get to groundwater sustainability

The San Joaquin Valley has begun to grapple with implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Figuring out the math of balancing water supply and demand in ways that cause the least economic harm to farmers and local economies is challenging, and difficult tradeoffs are inevitable. We talked with Emmy Cattani, a fifth-generation farmer from Kern County, about some options.

Aquafornia news Pleasanton Weekly

Zone 7 GM Pryor to appear on statewide water panel discussion

A trio of briefings on aging infrastructure and climate change from the State Water Project will open with a stakeholder panel discussion featuring Zone 7 Water Agency General Manager Valerie Pryor during the California Water Commission’s meeting on Wednesday (March 17), starting 9:30 a.m. The meeting agenda includes three briefings under Item No. 9 including an overview of the State Water Project and updates on the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and the California Department of Water Resources’ “efforts to address issues related to aging infrastructure.”

Aquafornia news SJV Water

New director appointed to Kern County Water Agency

Longtime family farmer Laura Cattani was appointed to the board of the powerful Kern County Water Agency during a special meeting on Monday. She is the second woman to serve on the board of directors in the 60-year history of the agency, which is the second largest contractor on the State Water Project. Cattani will bring much needed diversity to the board, several directors said during Monday’s meeting, not only because she’s a woman, but also for her age. Cattani is 39.

Aquafornia news ABC30 Action News

Valley farmers assess impacts of recent storms

Storm activity has been bittersweet for Valley farmers. In some cases, hail has damaged crops, making them unusable, while snow and rainfall are helping Central California recover from a water deficit. … Eric Engelman inspected his almonds in Fresno County after the recent back-to-back storms brought heavy rain and even quarter-sized hail to parts of the Valley. For foothill communities like Coarsegold, they even brough snowfall. … It’s a detrimental part of the almond growing process to experience hail. Any damage that was done won’t be known until closer to harvest. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: As drought alarms sound, is California prepared?

We’re facing another very dry year, which follows one of the driest on record for Northern California and one of the hottest on record statewide. The 2012-16 drought caused unprecedented stress to California’s ecosystems and pushed many native species to the brink of extinction, disrupting water management throughout the state.  Are we ready to manage our freshwater ecosystems through another drought?
-Written by Jeffrey Mount, senior fellow, and Caitrin Chappelle, associate director, at the Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Center.

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Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: California’s new drought

As March begins to drag on with little precipitation in the forecast and few weeks left in California’s traditional wet season, we are in another dry year. This is California’s second dry year in a row since the 2012-2016 drought.  Statistically, California has the most drought and flood years per average year than anywhere in the US.  This statistical fact seems to becoming increasingly extreme, as predicted by many climate change models.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

‘We’re getting hit left and right’: Dwindling salmon runs to restrict 2021 commercial season

Dwindling Chinook salmon runs have forced the Pacific Fishery Management Council to shorten the commercial salmon fishing season. The Sacramento Valley fall-run Chinook salmon runs are projected to be half as abundant as the 2020 season while the Klamath River fall Chinook abundance forecast is slightly higher than the 2020 but is still significantly lower than the long-term average. During a press briefing on Friday morning, John McManus President of the Golden State Salmon Association said the added restrictions will deal a blow to commercial fishermen.

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Aquafornia news UC Merced

News release: Mercury control and mitigation research earns professor and student honors

Professor Marc Beutel and his graduate student Mark Seelos have been recognized for papers and a presentation on toxic mercury mitigation by the North American Lake Management Society. … In the winning paper … Beutel and his former Ph.D. advisor, UC Berkeley Professor Alex Horne, detailed what happened when an engineered oxygenation cone using pure oxygen gas was installed in the bottoms of very large reservoirs to protect fish health. The papers are based on their research at Camanche Reservoir and a fish hatchery downstream of the reservoir on the Mokolumne River.

Aquafornia news Vox

Drought in California – Why 77 percent of the Western US is abnormally dry

The Western US is in the midst of yet another dangerous dry spell. The drought has been building over the past year, and since November, a greater stretch of the West has been in the most severe category of drought than at any time in the 20 years that the National Drought Mitigation Center has been keeping records. … Ryan Jensen saw the impacts of California’s last major drought firsthand while working for the Community Water Center in the San Joaquin Valley. When residential wells ran dry, students had to shower in their school locker rooms. To keep toilets running, some rural households relied on hoses slung over fences from their neighbors.

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Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: DWR seeks public comment on draft California’s groundwater – Update 2020: Publication provides communities with information about their groundwater

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) released the draft California’s Groundwater – Update 2020, containing information on the condition of the state’s groundwater, which is especially important as California faces a critically dry water year. DWR encourages community members and water managers to review the publication and provide input.

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Aquafornia news UCLA Luskin

Blog: California households owe $1 billion in water bills, highlighting affordability crisis

For many Californians, water bills are piling up at unprecedented rates during the pandemic, exacerbating water affordability issues that disproportionately impact low-income residents and communities of color. A recent survey by the California State Water Resources Board, which was supported by research from the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, shows the extent of water bill debt accumulation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Households owe a combined $1 billion in unpaid bills, which has increased substantially since the pandemic. The report finds that roughly 12% of Californians have overdue payments on their water bills. 

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Friday Top of the Scroll: Groups sue over California county’s plan to drill oil wells

Environmental and community groups have sued a California county after the prime oil-drilling region approved a plan to fast-track thousands of new wells in a state that’s positioned itself as a leader in combating climate change. The Kern County Board of Supervisors on Monday approved a revised ordinance that could lead to approval of more than 40,000 new oil and gas wells over roughly 15 years. … The oil and gas industry faces challenges from California lawmakers and environmental groups for creating air and water pollution and contributing to climate change.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Opinion: The time has come for California to ban front yard lawns for new homes

The climate change cabal in Sacramento is ignoring some extremely low hanging fruit in their bid to protect us from ourselves. The reason they don’t see it is simple. It doesn’t involve raising taxes, rewarding corporations or disruptor greenies they align with, nor does it destroy jobs. The California Legislature needs to ban grass lawns for front yards as well as general commercial development for all new building projects.
-Written by Dennis Wyatt, editor of the Manteca Bulletin.​

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications

Farm Hands West: Michael reelected to San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority Board

Cannon Michael has been reelected as chairman of the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority Board and Keith Murfield has announced his retirement as CEO of the United Dairymen of Arizona.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Groundwater session added to April 22-23 virtual Water 101 workshop

Learn from top water experts at our annual Water 101 Workshop about the history, hydrology and law behind California water as well as hot topics such as water equity, the Delta and flows, new federal administration and more. This year’s workshop, set for April 22-23, will be held virtually and feature a presentation devoted solely to groundwater.

Aquafornia news Pasadena Star News

Opinion: Racial justice requires equitable access to reliable drinking water

Vice President Kamala Harris was right on point last year when she said that clean water is a fundamental human right. President Biden has put those words into action by signing an executive order establishing a White House council on environmental justice. Every Californian has a right to clean, reliable affordable drinking water.
-Written by Jose Barrera, California’s state deputy director for the League of United Latin American Citizens. 

Aquafornia news KQED

The San Francisco Bay once teemed with oysters. What happened?

There’s one type of oyster that’s indigenous to the San Francisco Bay, and that’s the Olympia oyster (Ostrea lurida). It’s named after Olympia, Washington, though these small, tangy oysters can be found up and down the west coast from Alaska all the way down into central Mexico. Olympias — or Olys for short — can still be found in the San Francisco Bay today. But scientists say pollution from agricultural runoff is too high for commercial fishing.

Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

Blog: Implications of California’s water futures market 

In California’s Water Futures Market: Explained, Cora Kammeyer describes how futures markets operate generally and the particulars of California’s version. This new water futures market has attracted considerable attention and hyperbole. Here we explore the potential implications of this novel financial tool through the lens of California water supply reliability.  The water futures market opened on December 7, 2020, intended to improve the transparency of water trade prices and to enable participants to hedge their financial risk. 

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Late-winter storm brings needed rain, snow to California

A Pacific storm brought more much-needed rain and snow to California on Wednesday at the tail-end of a largely dry winter. Winter storm warnings were in effect in the southern Cascades, down the length of the Sierra Nevada and the mountains of Southern California, the National Weather Service said….The Sierra snowpack is an important contributor to California‘s water supply, but at the start of March its water content was about half the average normally recorded on April 1, when it is typically at its most robust.

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Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Editorial: Newsom should kill plan to drain state reservoirs

On the tail end of the second dry winter in a row, with water almost certain to be in short supply this summer, California water officials are apparently planning to largely drain the equivalent of the state’s two largest reservoirs to satisfy the thirst of water-wasting farmers. Gov. Gavin Newsom must stop this irresponsible plan, which threatens the environmental health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the water supply for about one-third of the Bay Area residents. We should be saving water, not wasting it. 

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: California proposes to transition away from toxic pesticides

California’s Governor broke new ground this year when he committed to “transition away from harmful pesticides.” His budget proposal to update fees charged on pesticide sales would generate new funding that could be used to offer better protections for farm workers, agricultural communities, and vulnerable ecosystems, as well as help farmers adopt more sustainable practices. … Pesticides remain a widespread drinking water contaminant, particularly in rural areas, and exposure to these pesticides has been linked to increased vulnerability to COVID-19.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Jared Huffman: Support is needed to help pay water bills

State residents have been struggling to keep up with their water bills during the COVID-19 pandemic, but government officials say help is on the way. Survey results from the State Water Resources Control Board released in late January estimate about 1.6 million or 12% of households across the state have not paid their water bills resulting in an estimated $1 billion in statewide household water debt. The average household debt is $500. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation selects Agricultural Water Conservation and Efficiency grant recipients totaling $1.65 million

The Bureau of Reclamation announced the selection of Semitropic Water Storage District and Bard Water District as the two recipients of the Agricultural Water Use Efficiency Grant Program for fiscal year 2020. Combined with Natural Resources Conservation Service support and local cost-share contributions, approximately $5 million in water efficiency improvement projects will be implemented during the next two years. The AWUE program works with NRCS to promote district-level improvements to increase on-farm water use efficiency and conservation projects. Reclamation is funding the two projects with NRCS support.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Plan to allow thousands of California oil wells approved

A plan to fast-track drilling of thousands of new oil and gas wells over the next 15 years in California’s prime oil patch was approved Monday by Kern County officials over objections by environmental groups….The ordinance came up for discussion as the industry faces challenges from lawmakers as well as ever-present opposition from environmental groups for creating air and water pollution and significant contributions to climate change.

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Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications

Crowfoot calls for patience with voluntary agreements

Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot said the Delta flows issue has been decades in the making and “it’s going to take some time to figure this out.”

Aquafornia news High Country News

Invasive mussels in aquarium supplies alarm wildlife managers

Zebra mussels — fingernail-sized mollusks named for their striped shells — are benign in their native Black Sea and Caspian Sea ecosystems. But they are disastrous almost everywhere else. Since they were first discovered in the Great Lakes in 1986, these rapid-spawning animals have infested every watershed in the Lower 48 except the Columbia River Basin….The mussel found in [a pet store in] Seattle came from the California distributor….

Aquafornia news University of Miami

Blog: Should water be traded as a commodity?

In times of drought, California’s Central Valley is full of farmers hindered by the lack of water. And this region, where the bulk of the nation’s fruits and vegetables are cultivated, is driving up the demand for water. Although many farmers without easy access to water often buy and pump it in from their neighbors, droughts often fuel massive price increases. And this often makes water so cost-prohibitive that it can discourage farmers from even planting crops. This predicament led a firm to recently list water as the newest commodity on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Now, water futures are traded daily. This helps farmers lock in a price for water, so they have a cushion if a drought threatens their crop revenues.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Managing water and crops with groundwater salinity – A growing menace

Salinity is an eventual threat to agriculture and groundwater sustainability in parts of California, and other irrigated parts of the world. Irrigation, lower groundwater levels, and natural conditions have dramatically increased groundwater salinity in parts of California over the last 150 years. Nearly two million tons of salt accumulates per year in the San Joaquin Valley (CV-SALTS), where 250,000 acres of irrigated land have been fallowed, 1.5 million acres are potentially salt-impaired (Great Valley Center 2005), with $1.2 – $2.2 billion/year losses by 2030 without management. 

Aquafornia news Bakersfield.com

Jack Thomson (1922-2021): Farmer helped establish State Water Project, served on various local boards

[Jack Thomson] was a man who’d done for others his whole life — a founding member of the Kern County Water Agency who helped bring Northern Californian water to Kern County, a volunteer for countless local causes, the man neighborhood kids came to for help shearing their sheep before the county Fair — who even in his sunset years refused to stop working. … Thomson, former president of the Kern County Farm Bureau and one-time member of the California Water Commission, died Feb. 24 from kidney failure at age 98, his family said.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Plan to allow thousands of California oil wells faces vote

After a state appeals court blocked Kern County’s effort to speed up new oil and gas drilling, officials overseeing the state’s prime oil patch have revised an ordinance that could permit tens of thousands of new wells over the next 15 years. The Kern County Board of Supervisors is poised to vote Monday on the plan that would streamline the permitting process by creating a blanket environmental impact report for drilling as many as 2,700 wells a year. … The county hasn’t been able to issue permits in a year and the industry is facing challenges from lawmakers as well as environmental groups for creating air and water pollution and for significant contributions to climate change.

Aquafornia news HortiDaily

Blog: Will California remain leader in U.S. agricultural production?

[A] new 18-chapter book, written by agricultural economists at UC Davis, UC Berkeley and UC Riverside, addresses issues such as labor, water, climate and trade that affect all of California agriculture. … Water, climate and trade pose challenges and opportunities for California agriculture. In the last decade, water scarcity and decreased water quality, along with regulations to address these issues like the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, have prompted farmers to use scarce water to irrigate more valuable crops, as with the switch from cotton to almonds. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Will March rain help California winter drought conditions?

California, and Southern California in particular, is bone dry. The calendar says spring officially begins with the equinox March 20, but the meteorological winter — consisting of December, January and February — is already in the record books. In other words, the wettest months are over. Let’s take a look at where the Golden State stands.

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Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Dozens of environmental bills on California 2021 legislative agenda

California’s legislative session came to a wild ending in 2020 when the clock ran out on major bills. Key pieces of environmental legislation were among those that died on the floor, and conservationists are hoping 2021 brings a different story….Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, [proposed a climate resiliency bond that] would include $240 million for Salton Sea restoration, $250 million for groundwater management and $300 million for grants for clean and reliable drinking water.

Aquafornia news Well+Good

Unsafe drinking water is a wellness issue

When Malini Ranganathan, PhD, an associate professor at American University and interim faculty director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center, conducted research in Exeter, a flourishing agriculture town in California’s Central Valley, she didn’t expect to see similar conditions to what she’d witnessed in India’s low-income housing areas. Residents in one of the world’s richest states were depending on bore water and water tankers to drink because tap water was unsafe. 

Aquafornia news USA Today

Friday Top of the Scroll: Megadrought worsens in the Western U.S., California

Much of the western U.S. continues to endure a long-term drought, one that threatens the region’s water supplies and agriculture and could worsen wildfires this year. In fact, some scientists are calling the dryness in the West a “megadrought,”  defined as an intense drought that lasts for decades or longer.  Overall, about 90% of the West is now either abnormally dry or in a drought, which is among the highest percentages in the past 20 years, according to this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor.

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Aquafornia news KHTS

Garcia introduces bill aimed at improving California’s access to water

Congressman Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, introduced a bill Wednesday that would extend “critical water supply provisions” in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act for the next seven years in an effort to improve California’s access to water. On Wednesday, Garcia introduced a bill that would enact a seven-year extension for “critical water supply provisions” in the WIIN Act, which became law at the end of 2016.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

Valadao hopes to pump funding into water infrastructure

Despite taking two years off from Congress, David Valadao (R—Hanford) is getting back to work by introducing new legislation to help keep water flowing in the Central Valley. Early this month, Valadao introduced the Responsible, No-Cost Extension of Western Water Infrastructure Improvements, or RENEW WIIN, Act, a no-cost, clean extension of operations and storage provisions of the WIIN Act. The RENEW WIIN Act would extend the general and operations provisions of Subtitle J of the WIIN Act and extend the provision requiring consultation on coordinated operations of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project. 

Aquafornia news The (Vacaville) Reporter

Online public meeting planned to discuss groundwater sustainability

A part of the natural water cycle, groundwater is an important element of California’s water supply, especially in the Central Valley, where one in four people rely on it entirely. It is an especially important resource in the Solano Subbasin, a geographic area that includes Dixon, parts of Vacaville, Elmira, Rio Vista, unincorporated Winters, Davis, the Montezuma Hills, Isleton, Sherman Island and Walnut Grove. And every quarter, the Solano Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agency Collaborative, aka the Solano Collaborative, hosts a Community Advisory Committee meeting and will so again from 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday. 

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Restricted season likely with poor Sacramento, Klamath river salmon numbers

A forecast of relatively low numbers of Sacramento and Klamath River fall Chinook salmon now swimming in the ocean off the California coast points to restricted ocean and river salmon fishing seasons in 2021. State and federal fishery managers during the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s salmon fishery information on-line meeting on February 25 forecast an ocean abundance this year of 271,000 adult Sacramento Valley fall Chinook salmon, about 200,000 fish lower than the 2020 estimate.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: This year will likely be critically dry for California

The winter storms that dumped heavy snow and rain across California early in 2021 are likely not enough to negate what will be a critically dry year, state water officials believe. California’s Department of Water Resources on Tuesday recorded a snow depth of 56 inches and water content of 21 inches at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada. The water content of the overall snowpack was 61% of the average for March 2 and 54% of the average for April 1, when it is historically at its maximum.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Improving the health of California’s freshwater ecosystems

California’s rivers, wetlands, and other freshwater ecosystems are in poor health. Water management practices, pollution, habitat change, invasive species, and a changing climate have all taken a toll, leaving many native species in dire straits. And the current approach for managing freshwater ecosystems is not working. In this video Jeff Mount, senior fellow at the PPIC Water Policy Center, discusses the many benefits these ecosystems bring to California, and outlines a path for improving their condition to secure these benefits for future generations.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California’s wet season nears an end with big concerns about drought

A disappointingly dry February is fanning fears of another severe drought in California, and cities and farms are bracing for problems. In many places, including parts of the Bay Area, water users are already being asked to cut back. The state’s monthly snow survey on Tuesday will show only about 60% of average snowpack for this point in the year, the latest indication that water supplies are tightening. With the end of the stormy season approaching, forecasters don’t expect much more buildup of snow, a key component of the statewide supply that provides up to a third of California’s water.

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Aquafornia news The Business Journal

Grant to help build Native American cultural center on San Joaquin River

The US Green Building Council Central California (USGBC-CC) has received a grant from the San Joaquin River Conservancy (Conservancy) to commence planning for a Native American and Environmental Resource Center at the San Joaquin River. The project will enable public access and create an Indigenous and Environmental Resource Center at the Circle V property located on the San Joaquin River, outside of Fresno in Madera County. The USGBC-CC received final approval for the grant funding as part of the California Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks, and Coastal Protection Fund and the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Fund of 2006 from the Wild Life Conservation Board.

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: Bad news – CVP and SWP plan to drain CA’s largest reservoirs

The Bureau of Reclamation and Department of Water Resources plan to allocate approximately 5 million acre feet of water this year – as long as California allows them to effectively drain the two largest reservoirs in the state, potentially killing most or nearly all the endangered winter-run Chinook salmon this year, threatening the state’s resilience to continued dry conditions, and maybe even violating water quality standards in the Delta.

Aquafornia news ABC7 San Francisco

More than half of California in ’severe’ drought mode, 31% in ‘extreme,’ including parts of North Bay

Ninety-nine percent of the state is dry, according to ABC Seven News Meteorologist Mike Nicco. More than half of the state is in severe drought mode and 31% is in the extreme drought conditions which includes part of the North Bay. The Bay Area is abnormally dry right now, but that should have changed in January and February as they are typically our wettest months.

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Aquafornia news The Reporter

Congress passes Garamendi bill to expand National Heritage Area into Rio Vista

Approximately 62 acres of land in Rio Vista, including the former Army Reserve Center, have been incorporated into legislation by Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano, to increase the boundaries of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area. This bill, known as House Resolution 1230, passed in the U.S. House of Representatives Friday and will move on to the Senate. The bill is an expansion of bicameral legislation by Garamendi and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that was signed into law in 2019 to provide $10 million for community-based efforts to preserve the Delta’s cultural heritage as well as its historical landmarks. 

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Monday Top of the Scroll: ‘It’s a toxic blend’: where the kids are warned not to swallow the bath water

An invisible line splits the rural road of Avenue 416 in California’s Tulare county, at the point where the nut trees stretch east toward the towering Sierra Nevada mountains in the distance. On one side of the line, residents have clean water. On the other side, they do not. On the other side lies East Orosi, an unincorporated community of about 700 where children grow up learning to never open their eyes or mouths while they shower. They know that what comes out of their faucets may harm them, and parents warn they must not swallow when they brush their teeth. They spend their lives sustaining themselves on bottled water while just one mile down Avenue 416, the same children they go to school with in the community of Orosi can drink from their taps freely and bathe without a second thought.

Aquafornia news Times of San Diego

Water Authority to split $44.4m among local agencies after win in legal battle with MWD

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors Thursday announced a plan to distribute a rebate of $44.4 million to its 24 member agencies across the region. They did so after receiving a check for that amount from the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to pay legal damages and interest after a long legal battle. The money resulted from the water authority’s decade-long litigation in Superior Court seeking to compel MWD to set legal rates and repay overcharges. 

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Friday Top of the Scroll: More than 25m drink from the worst US water systems, with Latinos most exposed

Millions of people in the US are drinking water that fails to meet federal health standards, including by violating limits for dangerous contaminants. Latinos are disproportionately exposed, according to the Guardian’s review of more than 140,000 public water systems across the US and county-level demographic data. … Texas, where millions of residents lost access to water and power during the recent storm, has the most high-violation systems, followed by California and Oklahoma. The average number of violations is highest in Oklahoma, West Virginia and New Mexico.

Aquafornia news The San Francisco Examiner

Opinion: The SFPUC is tarnishing SF’s record as an environmental leader

San Francisco has long been an international leader on environmental issues. However, water policy has been a stain on that record. … Many California rivers are overtapped by excessive pumping, but few are in worse condition than the Tuolumne River. In drier years, more than 90% of the Tuolumne’s water is diverted. On average, 80 percent of the river’s flow never makes it to the Bay. It’s not a surprise that the river’s health has collapsed. …
-Written by Bill Martin, a member of the Sierra Club Bay Chapter Water Committee, and Hunter Cutting, a member of the Sierra Club Bay Chapter’s San Francisco Group Executive Committee

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

California must face water quality challenge in federal court

The Department of Justice can proceed with its claims that California violated state law when it changed its water quality control plan for the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta system in federal court, the Ninth Circuit ruled. Granting a partial stay of the state law claims in federal court is allowed in limited circumstances, but the federal government’s actions here don’t amount to the type of forum shopping that justifies a stay, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 

Aquafornia news Responsible Investor

‘CalPERS is overlaying physical climate risk with water scarcity insights’: California’s Betty Yee on water risk

Today, Ceres’ Director of Water, Kirsten James is speaking to Betty Yee, who was first elected as California State Controller in November 2014 – a position that serves as the state’s chief fiscal officer. She also chairs the California Franchise Tax Board and serves as a member of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) Boards, representing a combined portfolio of nearly $500bn. She speaks about how her experience managing the world’s fifth-largest economy has shaped her thoughts on climate and water risk. 

Aquafornia news Sierra Club Angeles Chapter

Blog: California’s new futures market for water

On December 7, 2020, financial futures based on California water prices began trading. This post is a short introduction to these water futures. First, what’s a future? A future is a type of contract. It obligates the seller, who receives money, to provide some good at some future date, to the buyer, who pays money now to lock in the right to buy that good at that price. Humans have been using futures for thousands of years, primarily for agricultural products. But in recent years the futures markets have been expanding. 

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Aquafornia news Santa Clarita Magazine

Christy Smith appointed to Delta Stewardship Council

Former Assemblymember Christy Smith announced that she has been appointed by Speaker Anthony Rendon to serve on the Delta Stewardship Council. … The Council was created to advance the state’s coequal goals for the Delta – a more reliable statewide water supply and a healthy and protected ecosystem, both achieved in a manner that protects and enhances the unique characteristics of the Delta as an evolving place.

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Farmworkers, climate and wildfires are the focus of new legislation in California

The California Legislature is planning an active session this year to make up for lost time in 2020.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: Delta adapts – Assessing climate change vulnerabilities

As Executive Officer Jessica R. Pearson identified in her December blog on the Delta Adapts initiative, “social vulnerability means that a person, household, or community has a heightened sensitivity to the climate hazards and/or a decreased ability to adapt to those hazards.” With an eye toward social vulnerability and environmental justice along with the coequal goals in mind, we launched our Delta Adapts climate change resilience initiative in 2018. 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: A remembrance of George Basye

Many of my best days as a lawyer were spent driving through the Sacramento Valley and north Delta with George Basye (always in his Volvo).  As George neared his retirement, he wanted to ensure that I, as the successor to a number of his clients, understood the foundations of his client relationships.  George seemingly knew the history of every quarter section of land up and down the Valley.  He had a deep affection not only for the landscape but, most important to George, for the individuals and families who had settled and reclaimed the land and built the agricultural economy of the region.

Aquafornia news Interesting Engineering

“Water wars” – fights over a precious resource

Picture the desert landscape of a Mad Max movie populated with vigilantes devoted to acquiring not gasoline — but water. This scenario isn’t as far-fetched as you might think. “Water wars” describes conflicts between countries, states, or groups over the right to access water resources, usually freshwater. … As Los Angeles expanded during the late 19th century, it outgrew its water supply, and L.A.’s mayor, Fred Eaton, came up with the plan to divert water from the Owens Valley to L.A. via an aqueduct. 

Aquafornia news Far Eastern Agriculture

Follow the Food: Can agriculture overcome its own water problems?

For centuries, farmers have found ingenious ways of making the best of the water available, but access to fresh water is becoming more and more unpredictable. Extreme weather events and drought is as much of a threat, as flash flooding in farms and food producers. … In California’s Central Valley, a region that produces a quarter of the USA’s food and relies mostly on water pumped from underground, to irrigate the crops, is fast running out of its water supply. 

Aquafornia news Audubon

Blog: Federal priorities for a secure water future in the West

Climate change will continue to impact the West, and particularly its water supply—the many impacts include longer and more damaging wildfire seasons as well as prolonged drought. Federal leadership and action are needed to address the climate crisis. With the 117th Congress now in session, Audubon is advocating at the federal level for funding and policy priorities that restore habitat, protect communities, and support birds through proactive water management and conservation.

Aquafornia news Cronkite News

Investments in California’s water may help lower costs during drought

Climate change and extreme weather events are forecast to further reduce water supplies in the American Southwest, and a new futures market could allow water users to recoup losses if the price of water spikes. The futures market is the first of its kind, allowing investors and farmers alike to bet on how much water in California will cost on a future date. Water users buy the futures contract to avoid risk and hedge against rising water prices affected by things such as droughts. 

Aquafornia news The Weather Channel

California’s wet season hasn’t brought much drought relief and the outlook isn’t promising

California’s wet season has not brought much relief so far and the outlook is not promising. …Unfortunately, the outlook is not promising. Little to no precipitation is expected through the end of February. California, with the exception of far northern areas, will likely experience drier than average conditions during the March through May period, according to NOAA. Above-average temperatures are also anticipated for the southern half of the state this spring.

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Aquafornia news East County Today

City of Antioch breaks ground on water project in Delta

On Friday,  the City of Antioch, along with local and State dignitaries, broke ground on their new and historic Brackish Water Desalination Plant. At a price of $110 million, the project was made possible with $93 million in funding from the State, and $17 million from the City of Antioch.

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

News Release: MAGSA awarded $10 million grant to expand On-Farm Recharge Project

The McMullin Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency (MAGSA), a Groundwater Sustainability Agency in the Central Valley’s Kings Subbasin, has been awarded a $10 million grant by the State Water Resources Control Board through the Prop 1 Stormwater Grant Program to expand the existing McMullin On-Farm Recharge (OFR) Project located near Helm in Fresno County.  The Project is identified in MAGSA’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan and is a key element in a vision developed by MAGSA to achieve groundwater sustainability under California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) through innovative approaches in groundwater banking and crediting.

Aquafornia news KMPH

Lack of rain could potentially impact crops in the Central Valley

Crops are now blooming here in the San Joaquin Valley, which marks the beginning of harvest season for farmers. As a drier-than-usual wet season continues to unfold, many are worried about how current drought conditions will impact this year’s crop.

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Aquafornia news The Porterville Recorder

Monday Top of the Scroll: Hurtado reworks bill to help Friant-Kern, but also state as a whole

As she promised, State Senator Melissa Hurtado has reintroduced legislation that would provide fund to improve California’s water infrastructure, including the Friant-Kern Canal. On Friday, Hurtado, a Democrat from Sanger whose district includes Porterville, introduced the State Water Resiliency Act of 2021 that would provide $785 million to restore the ability of infrastructure such as the Friant-Kern Canal to deliver water at their capacity. The bill would also go to fund other infrastructure such as the Delta-Mendota Canal, San Luis Canal and California Aqueduct. 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Groundwater salinization in California’s Tulare Lake basin, the ABCSAL model

Lower groundwater levels can prevent drainage of water and salts from a basin and increase aquifer salinity that eventually renders the groundwater unsuitable for use as drinking water or irrigation without expensive desalination. Pauloo et al. (2021)  demonstrate this process for the Tulare Lake Basin (TLB) of California’s Central Valley. Even if groundwater pumping does not cause overdraft, it can cause hydrologic basin closure leading to progressive salinization that will not cease until the basin is opened by allowing natural or engineered exits for groundwater and dissolved salt. The process, “Anthropogenic Basin Closure and Groundwater Salinization (ABCSAL)”, is driven by human water management.