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.
The White House announced the intent to nominate several
officials to serve at the Department of the Interior, including
Tanya Trujillo as Assistant Secretary for Water and Science.
Trujillo is a water lawyer with more than 20 years of
experience working on complex natural resources management
issues and interstate and transboundary water agreements. She
most recently worked as a project director with the Colorado
River Sustainability Campaign. Before then, she served as the
Executive Director of the Colorado River Board of California.
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,
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.
Ballona Wetlands activists and Westside residents are planning
an Earth Day protest, calling on local leaders to shut down the
Playa del Rey oil field and pushing back against what they call
a disguised restoration project meant to restore the gas
company’s infrastructure below the ecological reserve.
The San Diego County Water Authority is no stranger to conflict
– virtually all of its dealings over the past decade have been
shaped by its feud with the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan
Water District of Southern California. Now that feud is fueling
fights within the agency itself.
The Colorado River is one of the most highly developed surface
water systems in the world, but demand for the river’s water
continues to exceed supply. University of Arizona geosciences
professor Connie Woodhouse discusses the impact of a warming
climate on the Colorado River. She is the featured speaker for
the annual College of Science lecture series April 15. Connie
Woodhouse spoke with Leslie Tolbert, Regent’s professor emerita
in Neuroscience at the University of Arizona.
Despite bipartisan calls to declare a state of emergency over
California’s deepening drought, Gov. Gavin Newsom sidestepped
questions Tuesday about when he may issue a proclamation. The
governor said his administration is talking with federal
officials daily about the status of the state’s water supply
after two years of minimal rainfall that have dried out much of
Imperial Irrigation District apparently has decided not to
sweat Michael Abatti’s decision to appeal his case against the
district to the nation’s highest court. IID announced Monday it
will not file a response to Abatti’s petition to the U.S.
Supreme Court over his ongoing legal dispute with the district
over water rights. The exception would be if the court requests
a response. IID General Counsel Frank Oswalt said in a press
release that a response is unnecessary.
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.
Poseidon Water announced that the Third District California
Court of Appeal issued a decision denying the petition by
seawater desalination opponents to overturn the Sacramento
County Superior Court’s 2019 ruling upholding the California
State Lands Commission’s 2017 approval of an amended lease for
the proposed Huntington Beach Desalination Project (“Project”).
The Court of Appeal decision reaffirms that the State Lands
Commission correctly analyzed the Project under the California
Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and that the Project protects
the state’s Public Trust resources.
Extreme drought conditions throughout the West are lowering
levels in the crucial water reservoir, Lake Mead. Scars of long
years of low precipitation are hard to go unnoticed at Lake
Mead, and the hot, dry summers have been felt for the last
several years in Arizona. 2020 was especially dry, with little
monsoon. Now, the West is in uncharted territory. Lake Mead is
projected to drop by several feet this year, from elevation
1,083 to about 1,068, according to officials with the Central
Arizona Project. The lake is hovering around 39 percent of its
[T]he 800 to 900 people in Tohatchi, and another 600 to 800 in
Mexican Springs, eight miles to the west, all depend on a
single well and single pump. If the pump running it fails,
or if the water level in it drops — both issues that have
troubled nearby Gallup this year — water will cut out for the
homes, the head-start center, the schools, the clinic, the
senior center, five churches, and the convenience store and gas
station. … [T]he Navajo Nation has waited more than a
century for pipes and water treatment plants that would bring
drinking water to all of its people while watching nearby
off-reservation cities and farms grow, swallowing up water from
the Colorado River Basin that the tribe has a claim to.
Climate change affects our weather patterns, sea levels,
wildlife populations, and global temperatures, but very few
people understand the ramifications it’s had on the human
population. Believe it or not, our food, water, and air quality
have all been seriously affected by climate change, and as a
result, climate change has affected human health in a number of
dangerous and potentially deadly ways. … [D]roughts cause
wildfires, which are contributing to air quality problems.
We’ve already seen what the immense plumes of smoke created by
wildfires can do to air quality
in California and Australia.
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.
The Patch reports the Fire Department investigation found the
source of the March 23rd brush fire in the Ballona Wetlands
Ecological Reserve to be a homeless encampment in the area of
origin. The fire was accelerated by strong winds. While the
causes of these incidents are always concerning, there is
another important part of the story: an ecological and
historical one. Why did an intense brush fire burn at all in a
wetland? After all, wetlands are supposed to be wet.
The frequency of natural disasters has soared in recent
decades. Total damage topped $210 billion worldwide in 2020.
With climate change, the costs attributed to coastal storms
will increase dramatically. At the same time, coastal habitats
such as wetlands and reefs are being lost rapidly. Some 20% of
the world’s mangroves were lost over the last four decades.
More than half of the Great Barrier Reef was degraded by
bleaching in 2020 alone. In California, we have lost more than
90% of our coastal marshes.
-Written by Michael W. Beck, is a research professor in the
Institute of Marine Sciences at UC Santa Cruz.
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.
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
The Goleta Water District on Tuesday will discuss a resolution
to enroll the district in an initiative program and to execute
agreements with Tesla, Inc., for battery systems at the Corona
Del Mar Water Treatment Plant and Ellwood Reservoir. Under the
proposed agreement, Tesla would design, furnish, install,
operate and maintain the battery systems through the California
Public Utilities Commission Self-Generation Incentive Program.
… The two battery systems, estimated to be currently
worth approximately $1 million, will be owned by the district
and provide emergency backup power during electrical outages
and PSPS events, including approximately seven hours for
Ellwood Reservoir and 8.3 hours for CDMWTP.