The State Water Project (SWP) is responsible for bringing
drinking water to 25 million people and provides irrigation for
750,000 acres of farmland. Without it California would never have
become the economic powerhouse it is today.
The nation’s largest state-built water and power development and
conveyance system, the SWP diverts water from the Feather River
to the Central Valley, South Bay Area and Southern California.
Its key feature is the 444-mile long California Aqueduct that can
be viewed from Interstate 5.
The SWP has required the construction of 21 dams and more than
700 miles canals, pipelines and tunnels. To reach Southern
California, the water must be pumped 2,000 feet over the
Tehachapi Mountains; it’s the highest water lift in the world.
Today, about 30 percent of SWP water is used for irrigation,
mostly in the San Joaquin Valley, and about 70 percent is used
for residential, municipal and industrial use, mainly in Southern
California but also in the Bay Area. The SWP was built and is
operated by the California Department of Water Resources.
Reclamation has identified a significant seismic risk problem
at Shasta Dam that may preclude the enlargement of Shasta Dam
in a safe manner. … In addition … modeling disclosed by
Reclamation to NRDC (see last page of this link) indicates that
enlarging Shasta Dam would reduce the water supply for State
Water Project contractors by an average of 14,000 acre feet per
In December, the Metropolitan Water District Board of Directors
will be asked to support a motion to fund a portion of the
planning costs for the Delta Conveyance Project. In preparation
for the upcoming vote, staff began a series of presentations
for the special committee on the Bay-Delta to prepare the
directors for the vote.
In the middle of a pandemic, an economic recession, and
everything else that 2020 is throwing at us, in early August
the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) filed a
lawsuit against every Californian to authorize spending an
unlimited amount of money … for an as yet undefined Delta
Through a partnership with the California Department of Fish
and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Law Enforcement Division – DWR is able to
provide funding for Luna, a seven-year-old German Shepard who
is trained to protect her handler, apprehend suspects, and
detect various threats to Delta species and environments.
In 2012 a team of salmon researchers tried a wild idea: putting
pinky-sized Chinook on a rice field in the Yolo Bypass, a vast
engineered floodplain designed to protect the city of
Sacramento from inundation. … Now, after nearly a decade of
testing fish in fields, a new paper in San Francisco Estuary
and Watershed Science outlines lessons learned as well as next
steps in managing floodplains for salmon.
For this reason, public water agencies and DWR have publicly
negotiated amendments to their long-term water supply contracts
in order to better plan the future of their local water supply
portfolios. … The State Water Contractors applaud this
coordinated and collaborative effort, which provides
flexibility for single and multi-year non-permanent water
transfers and exchanges.
A lot of area surrounding Lake Oroville that is sitting within
the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area was burned by the Bear
Fire, also known as the North Complex West Zone. … The
Department of Water Resources continues to monitor the fire and
is actively working with CAL FIRE, local law enforcement, and
California State Parks to ensure employee and public safety.
DWR’s water delivery and other critical operations are ongoing
with essential staff on site.
Less than two years after the most destructive fire in
California history tore through Paradise, the same region was
under siege from a second monster firestorm that quickly grew
to more than 250,000 acres, sweeping through mountain hamlets
and killing at least three people. … Across the state, 28
major wildfires have prompted more than 64,000 people to
California EcoRestore is an initiative started in 2015 under
the Brown Administration with the ambitious goal of advancing
at least 30,000 acres of critical habitat restoration in the
Delta and Suisun Marsh by 2020. … At the August meeting of
the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, Bill Harrell, gave
an update on the Eco Restore program and the progress that has
been made over the past five years.
San Luis Reservoir and O’Neill Forebay are open in Merced
County, after being shuttered by regional wildfires. However,
state Department of Water Resources officials say that’s not an
invitation to go in the water. DWR on Tuesday issued a harmful
algal bloom warning advisory at the O’Neill Forebay, plus a
caution is in effect for the San Luis Reservoir.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, like governors before him, wants to overhaul
how water moves through the delta. He’s proposing a 30-mile
tunnel that would streamline the delivery of water from the
Sacramento River, a bid to halt the ongoing devastation of the
delta’s wetlands and wildlife while ensuring its flows continue
to provide for the rest of the state. The pressures of climate
change on water supplies have only increased the urgency to
act. And the coronavirus pandemic and months of
shelter-in-place orders haven’t slowed the planning. ….The
tunnel, as much as anything, is the very symbol of the state’s
never-ending water wars.
The Department of Water Resources came to the August Delta
Independent Science Board meeting to provide an overview of the
Delta tunnel project including timeline and review process, as
well as some thoughts on the board’s recent letter.
Simply updating costs to this latest estimate ($15.9 billion in
2020 dollars is equivalent to $15 billion in the 2017$) reduces
the benefit-cost ratio for State Water Project urban agencies
from 1.23 to 0.92, and for agricultural agencies from 1.17 to
0.87. That’s a bad investment, but it is actually much worse
The Department of Water Resources and partners are providing
resources to support water education while many California
families are dealing with the challenges of distance learning.
These free materials include workbooks, posters, and activity
guides for teachers, educators, and parents, as well as online
programs such as Water Wednesdays.
Tunnel proponents say they do not expect to operate the tunnel
at capacity, and it would be in use mainly to draw from the
periodic storms that send more water through the Delta out to
San Francisco Bay. But how much would that be? The usual answer
is: we will leave that to the experts.
After months of relative quiet, Newsom’s administration
released a preliminary cost estimate for the scaled-back
project Friday: $15.9 billion for a single tunnel running
beneath the estuary just south of Sacramento. That’s nearly as
much as the old $16.7 billion price tag put on the larger,
A single tunnel proposed to take water under the sensitive
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and deliver it to farms and cities
in the south could cost $15.9 billion, give or take, according
to an initial assessment discussed at the Delta Conveyance
Authority meeting on Thursday.
For the first time in nearly two decades, the federal
government tapped Glen Canyon Dam for extra power generating
capacity this weekend, triggering emergency water releases
as heat waves persisted across the West.
A judge has awarded the San Diego County Water Authority $44.4
million in a final judgment of two lawsuits over rates paid to
transport water supplies from 2011 to 2014. The award,
announced Friday, included $28.7 million in damages and
interest to be paid by the Metropolitan Water District of
The COVID-109 pandemic isn’t slowing work aimed at moving
arguably the most cantankerous water project ever proposed in
California since voters overwhelmingly rejected the Peripheral
Canal in 1982 — the Delta Tunnel Project. … The State
Department of Water Resources is currently preparing an
environmental impact report on the project. At the same time
they are also seeking all required state and federal approvals.
At the ACWA’s virtual conference held last week, the second
keynote speaker session featured Joaquin Esquivel, Chair of the
State Water Resources Control Board, and Karla Nemeth, Director
of the Department of Water Resources. Here’s what they had to
The Delta Plan Interagency Implementation Committee is
comprised of high-ranking members of 18 state, federal, and
regional agencies… At the July 2020 committee meeting,
members heard presentations on the Central Valley Project
Improvement Act and the state’s new Incidental Take Permit and
how those programs utilize principles of ecosystem-based
Water is a big deal in California, and climate change is
threatening the precious resource. That’s why Gov. Gavin Newsom
finalized a broad plan this week to help prevent future water
challenges … The Water Resilience Portfolio outlines 142
actions the state could take to build resilience as the effects
of warming temperatures grow.
Gov. Gavin Newsom released strategies Tuesday to improve
drinking water quality, revive a stalled multibillion-dollar
tunnel and build new dams. Newsom says the sweeping water
portfolio will help the Golden State prepare for global warming
by reinforcing outdated water infrastructure and reducing the
state’s reliance on groundwater during future droughts.
Zone 7 Water Agency directors authorized General Manager
Valerie Pryor to negotiate an agreement with Napa County’s
water division to buy some of its surplus water this year — a
move that could open doors for similar deals in the future. A
need to meet local water demand for the next few years prompted
Zone 7 to act at its regular meeting July 16.
Veronica Wunderlich is a Department of Water Resources senior
environmental scientist with a focus in herpetology – the study
of reptiles and amphibians. Below, Veronica discusses how she
got started in herpetology –she even had snakes as pets as a
kid, her current work, and how to translate a passion and
interest in wildlife into a career – “If you really love the
creatures you work with, you will never regret working with
In five decades of public service Phil Isenberg has served as
mayor of Sacramento, a member of the Assembly, a lobbyist,
chairs of the Marine Life Protection Blue Ribbon Task Force,
the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force, and, until 2016, the
Delta Stewardship Council. … In a two-part oral history with
Chris Austin, editor of Maven’s Notebook, Isenberg details the
myths and complexities of California water politics.
Documents obtained by SN&R reveal that the director of the
joint powers authority leading the Delta water diversion
effort, under the supervision and current financing of the
state Department of Water Resources, is getting paid $47,000
every month—twice as much as Gov. Gavin Newsom and
significantly more than President Trump.
Water service has been restored to residents in the City of Dos
Palos but a boil water notice remained in effect Wednesday.
According to City Manager Darrell Fonseca, utilities engineers
worked to get the plant’s system up and running and at 7:43
p.m. Tuesday night. Sufficient pressure was achieved , allowing
the city to supply water at lower-than-average water pressure
As California confronts increasing water challenges, the most
equitable statewide solution from a social justice perspective
is the single-tunnel project proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom,
known as the Delta Conveyance Project.
Residents of a town in central California won’t have water for
several days after the town’s water treatment plant became
clogged with algae, officials said. The water outage in Dos
Palos started Monday, when the city declared a water emergency
and urged the town’s 5,000 residents to use only boiled tap
water for drinking and cooking to avoid stomach or intestinal
After being docked for three months due to COVID-19
restrictions, the Department of Water Resources relaunched its
research vessel monitoring program, the Sentinel. It was the
first time since the 1970s that DWR didn’t have a monitoring
vessel taking field samples in the waters of the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta and San Francisco Estuaries.
The City of Dos Palos is shutting down water for its residents
for at least three days to treat after its water treatment
plant became clogged with algae. The city says water is
currently being used faster than it can be treated and sent
out, so residents should prepare for water to stop flowing.
A high level of algae in the California Aqueduct has caused
problems over the past several days in Dos Palos. City Manager
Darrell Fonseca explains, “Our siphon intake at the aqueduct
clogged, and that reduced our water supply, and then as we did
receive the water it takes longer to treat at the plant… but
it also meant reduced pressure to a lot of residents, and for a
while, no pressure at all.”
With supplies curtailed from California’s largest water
projects, farmers have been reducing acreage, water districts
have been working to secure additional supplies, and everyone
has been keeping an eye on the continued dispute between state
and federal governments on managing the Delta.
A note from another former colleague the other day prodded me
into some rethinking — as with everything in this economic
crisis, partly in light of the need for California to think
small. By which I mean, think local.
This spring marked the fifth anniversary of the California
EcoRestore initiative, a coordinated effort across state
agencies to deliver 30,000 acres of restored fish and wildlife
habitat in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, an immensely
important landscape that five years ago only had 5 percent of
its native habitat remaining.
California and federal water regulators are trying to quickly
resolve their legal dispute over competing biological opinions
governing the management of their respective water projects, a
top state official says. The talks are proceeding after Gov.
Gavin Newsom filed suit in February to nullify new federal
opinions that would ease restrictions on surface water for San
Joaquin Valley growers.
The Department of Water Resources urged people to avoid
physical contact with the water at San Luis Reservoir in Merced
County until further notice due to blue-green algae. Boating is
allowed, but swimming and other water-contact recreation and
sporting activities are not considered safe under the warning
advisory due to potential adverse health effects.
At the May meeting of the California Water Commission,
Assistant Executive Officer Jennifer Ruffolo presented the
draft of the 2019 Annual Review of the Construction and
Operation of the State Water Project for the Commission’s
consideration and possible approval. Once approved, Commission
staff will distribute the review to DWR and the Legislature.
As part of an effort to modernize Pyramid Dam located in Los
Angeles County, the Department of Water Resources (DWR)
recently completed assessments for the dam’s gated and
emergency spillways. The Pyramid Dam Modernization Program is
now entering the investigations phase, which includes
structural and hydraulic analyses for the gated spillway and
erodibility analysis for the emergency spillway.
Two factors are believed to weigh heavily on the Delta smelt’s
fate. The biggest is the reduction in fresh water in the Delta
since water started flowing southward via the California
Aqueduct in the 1960s. … The other threat to Delta smelt are
larger fish particularly non-native striped bass and largemouth
bass that were introduced to the Delta by man.
Governor Newsom’s May Revisions to the 2020-2021 state budget
reflect … a $54.3 billion budget deficit and propose $18
billion in cuts to state expenditures. … This blog post
provides a short summary of the proposed budget changes and
their impacts on California water management.
The metric identifies the amount of carbon dioxide per
acre-foot of water transported by the State Water Project.
Water districts receiving water from the SWP can use this
metric to understand the emissions of their water supply
chains, and customers can better understand the ‘carbon
intensity’ of the water they purchase.
Most people in California receive some of their drinking water
supply from the State Water Project (SWP). The SWP also
supplies water to over 10% of California’s irrigated
agriculture. The SWP and its service area span much of
California, delivering water to 29 wholesale contractors
The State Water Project now expects to deliver 20 percent of
requested supplies in 2020 thanks to above-average
precipitation in May, the California Department of Water
Resources announced. An initial allocation of 10 percent was
announced in December and increased to 15 percent in January.
Today’s announcement will likely be the final allocation update
The Oroville Dam Spillways Reconstruction Project and
Department of Water Resources State Water Project Deputy
Director Ted Craddock, were recognized by the American Society
of Civil Engineers (ASCE) with the Outstanding Projects and
Leaders (OPAL) awards in Washington, D.C.
Danika Tsao and a team of surveyors have been working to
complete pre-construction monitoring for the Grant Line Canal
Barrier Project in San Joaquin County. The project is
considered essential for agricultural water use along the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta … The area of the Grant Line
Canal is known for being a natural habitat for the Swainson’s
Hawk, which is on the state’s threatened species list.
A water budget is an accounting of the rates of the inflows,
outflows, and changes in water storage in a specific area;
however, as simple as that might sound, developing an accurate
water budget can be a difficult and challenging endeavor. To
address this problem, the Department of Water Resources has
developed a water budget handbook…
The conflict over California water, often compared to a war,
rather resembles a geological process. As along an earthquake
fault, surface spasms come and go. The latest twitch is an
injunction momentarily halting some Trump Administration water
plans. But the underlying pressures are a constant. They never
stop exerting themselves.
Members of a committee designed to ensure Delta communities and
tribal groups have their say in a proposed, life-changing
tunnel project have been told to work through the coronavirus
pandemic—or be left out of the process. Some committee members
also claim that state officials misrepresented that fact to one
of the most important commissions monitoring their efforts.
During the marathon hearing Thursday, U.S. District Judge Dale
Drozd hinted the environmental groups’ requests for a ruling by
May 11 will be a tall task. Not only is the case complex and
involves dozens of parties, he said the chaos caused by the
pandemic is impeding the court’s ability to move swiftly.
Work to restore a damaged 9-foot diameter water pipeline in
Moreno Valley continued Monday, May 4, and outdoor watering
restrictions will be lifted for Western Municipal Water
District customers starting Tuesday. … The reduced-use
directive had been in place since Thursday after a contractor
punctured the Santa Ana Valley Pipeline.
For us, better science is the only path that can achieve those
two important goals. Unfortunately, as the state completed its
new permitting effort at the end of March, a decade of research
was largely ignored in favor of political objectives that
impose unjustified restrictions on the State Water Project …
The reduced-use directive was put in place after a contractor
punctured the 9-foot-diameter Santa Ana Valley Pipeline on
Thursday. The water flow in the line has been stopped while
repairs take place, and the moves by the districts were to help
ensure reserves are not depleted.
The California Environmental Quality Act scoping period
concluded on April 17, 2020 after an extended 93-day public
comment period. DWR is reviewing all submitted comments and
will publish a scoping report summarizing the information this
Environmental groups in California on April 29 challenged in
court the state Dept. of Water Resources decision not to
include a proposed 40-mile tunnel in its most recent
environmental assessment needed to reauthorize long-term
operation of the State Water Project—a 700-mile system of dams
and aqueducts that moves water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta to areas in the south.
California water agencies yesterday sued the state over
endangered species protections they claim threaten their
ability to provide water to more than 25 million residents and
thousands of acres of farmland. … At issue is water shipped
from California’s water hub, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River
Delta east of San Francisco, south via the State Water Project,
a massive system of dams, canals and aqueducts.
From the moment he took office, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he
wanted to bring peace to California’s water wars. But now, more
than a year later, most of the warring factions are united
against his plan for governing the Delta. Three of the most
powerful groups in California water sued the state this week
over Newsom’s two-month-old plan for the Sacramento-San Joaquin
U.S. Representative T.J. Cox, Senator Dianne Fenstein and
Represenatives Jim Costa, Josh Harder and John Garamendi on
Thursday called on Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Gov.
Newsom to come up with a coordinated effort to manage the State
Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project.
Voluntary agreements in California
have been touted as an innovative and flexible way to improve
environmental conditions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
and the rivers that feed it. The goal is to provide river flows
and habitat for fish while still allowing enough water to be
diverted for farms and cities in a way that satisfies state
The Department of Water Resources has released a draft report
with recommendations and guidance to help small water suppliers
and rural communities plan for the next drought, wildfire, or
other natural disaster that may cause water shortages.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on
Tuesday voted to sue the state of California over a permit one
state agency granted to another at the end of March. The permit
is related to operations of the State Water Project, which
serves 27 million people and irrigates 750,000 acres of
The state recently got a new permit for water delivery
operations from its wildlife agency. In the past, that kind of
authority came from adhering to federal rules. Now, with a
dispute between the state and federal government over water
management and endangered species act protections, the state
issued its own permit. Critics of the state’s move say they
plan to file lawsuits.
Several Congressional leaders sent a letter to Governor Gavin
Newsom expressing disappointment in the decision to issue an
incidental take permit for long-term operations of the State
Water Project. … The letter was signed by Representatives
Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunes, Ken Calvert, Tom McClintock, Doug
LaMalfa, and Paul Cook.
The agreement pays Antioch $27 million, which guarantees that
they will be able to utilize its 150-year old water rights and
remain in the Delta for the long-term. The $27 million, in
addition to $43 million in State grants and loans, completes
the financing for the $70m Brackish Water Desalination Plant.
In the century-long “us-versus-them” mentality of California
water, a plan released by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Department of
Water Resources last week achieved something perhaps never
accomplished before in the Golden State’s water industry. It
incited universal scorn.
William Gianelli, the Department of Water Resources’ (DWR’s)
third Director, passed away at the age of 101 in Monterey,
California on March 30. Known for being an engineering expert,
water community leader, and champion of the State Water Project
(SWP), Gianelli dedicated more than 30 years to public service
in both state and federal government.
A new set of water regulations aimed at protecting California’s
native fish came down from the state earlier this week to near
universal condemnation from both agricultural and environmental
water folks. The regulations are contained in a 143-page
“incidental take permit” issued by the state Department of Fish
and Wildlife …
Today, responding to a global pandemic is every governor’s top
priority. When we emerge from this crisis, Gov. Gavin Newsom
will face a challenge to ensure California’s future economic
and environmental health. In this context, his water policies
will represent critical decisions.
The rules take the form of a state Fish and Wildlife Department
permit that will govern State Water Project deliveries from the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta… But the permit does not
explicitly control the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Central
Valley Project, which exports Delta water to San Joaquin Valley
farms. That means the two big government pumping operations
will likely adhere to different standards — possibly allowing
the federal project to boost deliveries at the expense of the
The nature of Butte County’s concerns over Gov. Gavin Newsom’s
scaled back Delta tunnel project was made clear last Tuesday,
when Supervisor Debra Lucero questioned a staffer from the
state Department of Water Resources.
Cindy Messer considers one of her greatest professional
accomplishments also the toughest experience in her 23-year
career. Messer was sworn in as chief deputy director of the
California Department of Water Resources the day after the
Oroville Dam crisis began in February 2017… But within
months, her boss retired, and she became acting interim
director for the recovery phase.
Besides reviewing and making final determinations on submitted
plans that show how local agencies will manage their
groundwater basins for long-term sustainability, DWR staff
provide essential resources to local water agencies to help
them better understand and manage their local basins. … Below
are some examples of DWR staff contributions to groundwater
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is soliciting public
comment on the scope of environmental review for a revised
Delta tunnel project despite prior findings of independent
technical experts that a key project proposal is “impractical,”
stating that it “does not recommend” further study.
Because the State and Federal water managers coordinate
operations of the State Water Project and Central Valley
Project, the State Water Contractors argue that dumping the
biological opinions governing those operations and restarting
the process would create “uncertainty in water supply
availability, potentially affecting the [State Water
Contractor] members’ water supplies from the SWP.”
Over the past month, DWR has been holding scoping meetings in
the Delta and select locations throughout the state. At
meetings in Walnut Grove, Stockton, Clarksburg and Brentwood, a
diverse group of farmers, fishermen, elected officials,
climate/social justice activists, economists and engineers came
out in force to oppose what is often referred to as the
If our state wants to remain economically competitive, it must
re-engineer the troubled estuary that serves as the hub of
California’s elaborate water-delivery system — the
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The best and most viable
way to do this is via the single Delta tunnel project proposed
by Gov. Gavin Newsom…
The Sacramento splittail is a lovely, silvery-white fish that
lives primarily in Suisun Marsh, the north Delta and other
parts of the San Francisco Estuary (SFE; Moyle et al. 2004).
The name comes from its unusual tail, in which the upper lobe
is larger than the lower lobe. It is a distinctive endemic
species that for decades has fascinated those of us who work in
The message was loud and clear for state water officials at a
public meeting Monday evening in Redding: Don’t send any more
water south through a proposed Delta tunnel project. A group of
more than 100 Native Americans rallied on the lawn of the
Redding Civic Auditorium before they marched into a scoping
meeting held inside the Redding Sheraton Hotel across the
As Delta smelt continue to decline throughout the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, novel approaches are being
implemented to open up additional habitat for these imperiled
fish. … The Department of Water Resources, in collaboration
with other stakeholders, has been conducting a pilot research
study to investigate how operational changes at the Suisun
Marsh Salinity Control Gates affect Delta smelt habitat
The San Diego County Water Authority‘s board voted to largely
end a decade-long legal battle with the Metropolitan Water
District of Southern California after securing over $350
million in concessions.
A rally before the start of the Department of Water
Resources’(DWR) public scoping meeting for the Delta Conveyance
Project (DCP) set the tone for the event — residents of East
County were in no mood to consider another tunnel project in
Plumas supervisors reminded the state that the best way to
protect natural resources is by not depleting them, especially
when other natural resources are available, such as the Pacific
Ocean. Supervisors encourage the state’s Natural Resources
Agency to support developing technology to promote practical
ways to use ocean water.
The state Department of Water Resources said Thursday the
Federal Emergency Management Agency agreed to cover
approximately $300 million in repair costs the agency had
previously denied. … All told, the state now expects to be
reimbursed for approximately $750 million of the $1.1 billion
cost of the crisis…
Recently, the Department of Water Resources released a report
to supplement the 2017 California Aqueduct Subsidence Study
that addresses specific issues within a 10-mile-wide study
corridor… At the February meeting of Metropolitan’s Water
Planning and Stewardship Committee, Ted Craddock, DWR Assistant
Deputy Director of the State Water Project, provided an
overview of the report.
Access to reliable, clean drinking water should be a
fundamental human right for all Californians. Unfortunately,
many disadvantaged communities throughout the state lack access
to clean drinking water, and our aging water delivery
infrastructure threatens water reliability for millions of
Recently, the Department of Water Resources posted a short
video providing an overview of the California Environmental
Quality Act and the preparation of environmental documents for
the Delta Conveyance Project. The video was narrated by Ken
Bogdan, Senior Staff Counsel for the Department of Water
Resources; this post is based in part on the video, with extra
information added from internet sources and the Notice of
State water officials offered an early look at the downsized
California WaterFix project earlier this month, and
conservationists and far-traveling indigenous tribes say they
still believe it has the potential to permanently alter life in
and around the Delta.
Wednesday, the House Natural Resources Committee is scheduled
to vote on a resolution granting Committee Chair Raul Grijalva
(D–Ariz.) wide-ranging subpoena power over the Interior
Department. One inquiry in the hopper: a closer look at the
process that yielded the Trump Administration’s
freshly-released biological opinions governing the
federally-operated Central Valley Project.
The EIR scoping meetings for the single-tunnel delta conveyance
facility (DCF) began this week. My comments focus on two
critical areas where DWR appears to be repeating their mistakes
of their past despite the Newsom administration’s stated
intention of taking a fresh approach
California’s governor revealed a plan on Tuesday that would
keep more water in the fragile San Joaquin River Delta while
restoring 60,000 acres of habitat for endangered species and
generating more than $5 billion in new funding for
Democratic congressman from Fresno introduced two pieces of
legislation that aim to repair aging canals and water
infrastructure in California that’s been damaged by sinking
ground levels – called subsidence, caused by groundwater
The Santa Monica City Council approved a water self-sufficiency
plan Tuesday that will double the price of water and wastewater
removal by 2024. The rate increases will finance about $42
million in infrastructure projects that will allow Santa Monica
to stop importing water from the Metropolitan Water District of
Southern California by 2023.
As I watch the way Governor Gavin Newsom is handling water
policy, I have two thoughts. First, the governor is on a track
that seems driven by adherence to some of Governor Jerry
Brown’s worst water policies. And, second, he’s not getting
As we enter a new decade, California faces increasing
environmental challenges caused by climate change, creating an
uncertain future for our water resources. … It is time for
California’s Department of Water Resources to implement water
policy for the state that shores up our precious waterways and
diversifies water supplies in the face of these imminent
On Friday, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR)
announced an increase in 2020 State Water Project (SWP)
allocations to 15 percent of requested supplies, up from the
year’s initial 10 percent allocation announced on December 2.
For decades, California’s coastal aquifers have been plagued by
invading seawater, turning pristine wells into salty ruins. But
the state’s coastal water agencies now plan to get more
aggressive in holding back the invasion by injecting millions
of gallons of treated sewage and other purified wastewater deep
The problem with the theory is that a delta tunnel (state
officials like to call it a “conveyance”) would yield all those
benefits only if it were one piece of a larger complex of
projects, policies and agreements to keep water flowing through
the overly depleted San Joaquin River and limit the volume and
timing of water diversions. And those other parts of the puzzle
simply aren’t there.
The Newsom administration appears to be a house divided on
water, as competing interests pull it in opposite directions.
The main flash point is the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a
threatened estuary and source of water for a majority of
At the January meeting of Metropolitan Water District’s
Conservation and Local Resources Committee, Nancy Vogel,
Director of the Governor’s Water Portfolio Program at the
Natural Resources Agency, gave committee members an overview of
the draft resilience portfolio.
Since July, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and State
Water Contractors have engaged in fruitless negotiations over
how to pay for a single-tunnel Delta Conveyance Facility. On
December 23, right before the holidays, DWR made their 6th
proposal to the State WaterContractors with a major shift in
The Santa Fe Irrigation District approved three percent water
rate increases for the next three years at a Jan. 16 hearing.
… The rate increases aim to help meet the district’s
objectives to ensure equity across customer classes, encourage
conservation and maintain financial stability as it faces
challenges such as the rising costs of imported water.
Now Trump’s team is set to impose new environmentally damaging
Bay-Delta water diversion and pumping rules. … These new
rules would wipe out salmon and other wildlife by allowing
wholesale siphoning of water from Northern California rivers to
a few agriculture operators in the western San Joaquin
Response to Wednesday’s action by the California Department of
Water Resources to initiate an environmental impact report for
a tunnel project in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta was
not popular with the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors.
As Gov. Gavin Newsom and his administration attempt to
establish a comprehensive and cohesive water policy for the
state, officials are seeking public input on the draft water
resilience portfolio released earlier this month. The document
was issued in response to Newsom’s April 2019 executive order
directing his administration to inventory and assess a wide
range of water-related challenges and solutions.
Even though water districts and cities throughout the San
Bernardino Valley rely on local rainfall and mountain runoff
for about 70 percent of their water supply, local supplies are
not enough. The region relies on Sierra snowmelt from Northern
California to meet the remaining 30 percent.
With virtually no public notice, state officials quietly gave
away a significant portion of Southern California’s water
supply to farmers in the Central Valley as part of a deal with
the Trump administration in December 2018. One year later, it
remains unclear why the California Department of Water
Resources signed the agreement…
At the December meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council,
Caitlin Sweeney, Director of the San Francisco Estuary
Partnership, briefed the Council on the 2019 update to the
State of the Estuary report. She began with some background on
While Newsom has been forced to address climate change on many
fronts during the past year – think wildfires, blackouts and
automobile standards – the state’s myriad water challenges must
remain a priority. Our state’s water system is decades old and
needs to be re-envisioned for a new era.
California’s governor has restarted a project to build a giant,
underground tunnel that would pump billions of gallons of water
from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the southern part of
the state. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration on Wednesday
issued a Notice of Preparation for the project, which is the
first step in the state’s lengthy environmental review process.
The factors causing the decline of many fish and fisheries in
the upper San Francisco Estuary have made their management
controversial, usually because of the correlation of declines
with increased water exports from the Delta and upstream of the
Delta… To address this problem better, the California Fish
and Game Commission is developing new policies for managing
Delta fish and fisheries, with a special focus on striped bass.
The Henry J. Mills Water Treatment Plant will be out of service
for nine days and the Western Municipal Water District will not
be able to import water, forcing the agency to rely on its
reserves, officials said. The work began Friday, Jan. 10, and
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California crews will
be fixing and modifying the facility until Jan. 19, according
to the agency.
South Coast Water District will gear up to undertake its next
milestone for desalination: financing the project. On Thursday,
Jan. 9, after press time, General Manager Rick Shintaku
requested authorization from SCWD’s Board of Directors to enter
into an agreement with Clean Energy Capital to conduct a cost
analysis for the proposed desalination project.
Who can deny the value of potable water to every living thing
in this city, this county, this state? Four million residential
and industrial customers in 43 cities in the Los Angeles, San
Gabriel and San Fernando Basins are dependent on multiple water
sources – groundwater pumped from below them, by aqueduct from
the Colorado River, the Sierra Nevada snowpack, Mono Lake, the
Owens Valley and recycled from wastewater treatment plants.
Farm organizations welcomed a new water planning document from
state agencies while they analyzed the document’s proposed
strategies. Titled the California Water Resilience Portfolio
and released last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration
described the document as an effort to guide water management
in a way that works for people, the environment and the
Consistent with the science developed over the last three
decades, the Newsom administration is pursuing comprehensive,
watershed-wide solutions that address the numerous factors that
limit the abundance of native fish in the Delta. These types of
solutions are the ones that are most likely to achieve the
state’s co-equal goals of the 2009 Delta Reform Act…
Governor Newsom’s administration recently released a draft
Water Resilience Portfolio plan… This plan also emphasizes
diverse relatively precise policy initiatives for state
agencies, often in support of local and regional water
problem-solving and with some aspirations to bring state
agencies together. It is a good read, clearly reflecting
intense and diverse discussions over several months.
Department of Water Resources is preparing Oroville Dam’s
primary spillway for use this winter season. The reconstructed
spillway was completed this spring and used for the first time
in April since the 2017 spillway crisis threatened 188,000
As of Thursday, the statewide Sierra Nevada snowpack — a major
source of California’s water supply — stood at 90% of its
historical average. That’s the highest total in early January
in four years, when it came in at 101% on Jan. 2, 2016.
The new guidelines call for diverting more water from the
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to agribusiness and urban
areas further south. Barbara Barrigan-Parilla with the group
Restore the Delta, says despite Newsom indicating he was going
to sue over the new federal guidelines, that hasn’t happened
The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) is set to
conduct the first snow survey of 2020 on Thursday. … The
information is critical to the water managers who allocate
California’s natural water resources to regions downstream.
The governor’s apparent willingness to play into the hands of
monied, agri-business players at the expense of the health of
the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta remains the biggest
mystery of his short tenure. It also threatens to trash his
reputation as a strong protector of California’s environment.
Votes of support by local jurisdictions bring the project one
step closer to reality. Reality is a costly giant tunnel that
would divert Sacramento River water bound for the
Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta and transport the water directly
to Central Valley farms and urban users in the Bay Area and
The Feather River Recovery Alliance has filed a motion to
intervene with the Department of Water Resources’ pending
application to re-license operation of the Oroville Dam. …
The motion requests that the Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission reopen the licensing process that was conducted over
a decade ago, and prior to the community becoming aware of
safety concerns at the Oroville Dam.
The fracas over California’s scarce water supplies will tumble
into a San Francisco courtroom after a lawsuit was filed this
week claiming the federal government’s plan to loosen previous
restrictions on water deliveries to farmers is a blueprint for
wiping out fish.
The complaint says the Trump administration did not fully
consider scientific facts or logic, and arbitrarily concluded
that the projects would not have a damaging effect on
endangered fish species, including salmon and steelhead. …
The projects at issue divert water from the Sacramento and San
Joaquin Rivers to the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin
River Delta, primarily for agricultural and municipal uses.
The California Department of Water Resources announced an
initial State Water Project allocation of 10% for the 2020
calendar year. According to a DWR announcement, the initial
allocation is based on several factors, such as conservative
dry hydrology, reservoir storage, and releases necessary to
meet water supply and environmental demands.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration has given environmentalists
much of what they presumably want as it released a 610-page
draft Delta environmental report recently that calls for $1.5
billion in habitat restoration among other environmental
projects. … But as much as they cheered the lawsuit
announcement, environmentalists were aghast at the report
because the state plan will allow some additional water for
Despite increased maintenance of Oroville Dam since the
spillway fell apart in February 2017, members of the
community-led Oroville Dam Ad Hoc Group have expressed concern
about the age and wear of mechanics within the spillway’s main
gates, citing similar failures on dams of the same era.
The American Society of Civil Engineers has recognized the
Oroville Dam rebuild as one of 10 outstanding civil engineering
projects. Two runners-up and a winner will be chosen at the
2020 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement gala in
Washington D.C. on March 13.
California officials sent mixed signals Thursday when they said
they will sue to block a Trump administration rollback of
endangered species protections for imperiled fish — while also
proposing new water operations that mimic parts of the Trump
plan. The state moves reflect political pressure the Newsom
administration has been under as it confronts one of
California’s most intractable environmental conflicts — the
battle over the ailing Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta…
Kern County Water Agency General Manager Curtis Creel will
retire Dec. 7, leaving a very large and important hole to fill.
The agency is the second largest contractor on the State Water
Project and pays 25 percent of the bill for that massive
endeavor, giving it a very big voice on most water issues.
The latest public relations effort cost California water
ratepayers $29,000 to produce an eight-page color advertising
insert that ran in recent days in six Sacramento Valley
newspapers including The Sacramento Bee. … Critics argue it’s
inappropriate for a state agency to be spending public money on
an advertisement that they say serves little purpose other than
to try to make the government look good.
Paul Souza is regional director of the Pacific Southwest
division of the US Fish and Wildlife Service… At the November
meeting of Metropolitan Water District’s Water Planning and
Stewardship Committee, Mr. Souza gave a presentation on the
recently released biological opinions for the long-term
operations of the Central Valley Project and the State Water
The Mojave Water Agency on Thursday cut the ribbon on its Deep
Creek Hydroelectric Clean-Energy System, a project that
produces electricity from California Aqueduct water and
replenishes the groundwater in the Victor Valley.
In October, the Trump Administration released politically
manipulated “biological opinions” under the federal Endangered
Species Act that dramatically weaken protections for the
Bay-Delta, endangered fish species and commercially valuable
salmon runs. … However, in an uncharacteristically subdued
response, the Newsom Administration stated that it “will
evaluate the federal government’s proposal, but will continue
to push back if it does not reflect our values.”
The glaring light of extinction of the Delta smelt reveals
decades of treachery and deceit by corporate agribusiness,
metropolitan water districts, politicians and their
collaborators in the resource agencies charged by law to
protect wildlife species from extinction. The moral squalor
that has permitted this crisis is contemptible.
Freshman Democratic Rep. TJ Cox represents some of the farmers
who would likely benefit from the additional water. … Facing
what could be a tough reelection fight in 2020, Cox’s future in
Congress could depend on whether Bernhardt’s former client gets
what it wants.
As part of a statewide effort to reduce seismic and hydrologic
risk to State Water Project facilities, the California
Department of Water Resources’ Castaic Dam Modernization
Program begins this week with an assessment of a stream release
structure at Castaic Dam in Los Angeles County.
An environmental group, highly critical of a federal agency’s
newly proposed recommendations to protect endangered species in
the Delta, states that they would seriously harm those species
and their habitat. The new recommendations, released Oct. 22 by
the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, are to be
used as guidelines for operating the federal pumping plant in
The Trump administration last week launched an attack on the
health of San Francisco Bay and Delta and California’s salmon
fishing industry with new rules allowing big increases in water
diversions from this teetering, vulnerable ecosystem. … The
new Trump administration rules replace prior ones that weren’t
strong enough to protect salmon and other wildlife in the last
drought. They only make the situation worse.
Amid horrific wildfires and rolling blackouts, the Trump
Administration this week brought welcome relief to the Golden
State by allowing more water to be sent to farmers and folks in
the south. Will California liberals accept the deregulatory
California is providing health care to undocumented immigrants
while President Donald Trump wants to build a border wall, and
Gov. Gavin Newsom circumvented the White House with a side deal
on auto emissions standards. But when it comes to water, Trump
and California are closer than you might think.
The health of North America’s largest estuary, the San
Francisco Estuary, is showing some signs of improvement, but
much of the historic damage caused to the massive watershed has
either not improved or worsened, according to a new report.
In a move that would boost water deliveries to San Joaquin
Valley agriculture and Southern California cities, federal
fishery agencies are weakening decade-old endangered species
protections for some of the state’s most imperiled native fish
The Delta smelt is such a small and translucent fish that it
often disappears from view when it swims in the turbid waters
of its home in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. However, it’s
also been disappearing from the Delta entirely.
The state Department of Water Resources and Butte County
announced the settlement Tuesday, more than two years after
spillways at the Oroville Dam crumbled and fell away during
heavy rains. The repairs resulted in heavy truck traffic that
damaged Butte County roads. Butte County sued in August 2018.
Just how far will Gov. Gavin Newsom go in his high-profile
fight with the Trump administration over environmental
protections? The next few months will provide an answer, as
Newsom is forced to take a stand on Trump rollbacks in a
long-contested battleground — the Northern California Delta
that helps supply more than half the state’s population with
drinking water and fills irrigation canals on millions of acres
Santa Maria and several other Central Coast Water Authority
members are planning to claim an additional 12,214 acre-feet of
state water that was set aside decades ago. The move — which
would be funded by issuing a $42 million bond — would increase
Santa Maria’s annual right to state water from 17,820 to over
27,000 acre-feet each year.
The proposed water rates include a fixed meter charge per month
and a variable consumption charge per unit of water. The city
says most single family residences will see about a $15
increase in January of 2020. … The last rate increase was
approved by the city council five years ago, but he says a lot
has changed since then.
The southern part of California’s Central Coast from San Luis
Obispo County to Ventura County, home to about 1.5 million
people, is blessed with a pleasing Mediterranean climate and a
picturesque terrain. Yet while its unique geography abounds in
beauty, the area perpetually struggles with drought.
The southern part of California’s Central Coast from San Luis Obispo County to Ventura County, home to about 1.5 million people, is blessed with a pleasing Mediterranean climate and a picturesque terrain. Yet while its unique geography abounds in beauty, the area perpetually struggles with drought.
Indeed, while the rest of California breathed a sigh of relief with the return of wet weather after the severe drought of 2012–2016, places such as Santa Barbara still grappled with dry conditions.
At the August meeting of the California Water Commission, Karla
Nemeth, Director of the Department of Water Resources (DWR),
spoke to the commissioners about the Department’s strategic
plan and the work underway on the Delta conveyance project,
which she noted nests into the strategic plan as a key feature
of what needs to be done to modernize the State Water Project.
Newsom has said he won’t approve Senate President Pro Tem Toni
Atkins’ bid for a legal backstop against environmental
rollbacks by the Trump administration. And Washington is poised
to reduce protections for endangered fish species in the
state’s largest watersheds. The result may be the heightened
regulatory uncertainty that opponents of the bill said they
hoped to avoid…
Whatever satisfaction might be gained by telling the president
to pound sand is nowhere near as important as protecting the
water supply of Modesto and thousands of farmers depending on
the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers.
Newsom saw SB 1 as a mortal threat to something he’s been
supporting since shortly before he took office: a tentative
truce in California’s longstanding water wars. The truce
revolves around the flow of water in and out of the Delta from
California’s most important river systems, the Sacramento and
Today, the California Department of Water Resources began
assessment work on Pyramid Dam’s spillways in Los Angeles
County as part of a statewide effort to reduce seismic and
hydrologic risk to State Water Project facilities spanning 705
miles throughout California.
We applaud Gov. Gavin Newsom’s efforts in leading discussions
with the United States Department of the Interior, public water
agencies and environmental groups to craft voluntary agreements
that will restore the ecological health of the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta while providing California with clean, reliable
When the salmon are healthy, the world is healthy. That means
the waters are clean and fast-running and the bottom gravel is
clean. It means the rivers … are pouring as they should into
our oceans, bringing nutrients and sediments into the salt- and
Recently, the Sacramento Press Club hosted a panel discussion
on the future of California water featuring Secretary Wade
Crowfoot, Metropolitan General Manager Jeff Kightlinger, and
State Water Contractors General Manager Jennifer Pierre.
While there’s no court action yet, the Water Authority is
gearing up for what in the water world amounts to a rare change
in relationship status. After decades buying water from the
Water Authority, Rainbow and Fallbrook want a divorce.
Here we provide an updated account of Suisun Marsh fishes to
show why the marsh is so important for conserving fishes in the
upper San Francisco Estuary in general…and why we continue to
be enthusiastic about working there.
The Department of Water Resources is continuing to work on the
environmental planning and permitting to modernize State Water
Project infrastructure in the Delta. This effort is consistent
with Governor Newsom’s direction and support for a
single-tunnel project to ensure a climate resilient water
The City Council is split on how much to raise water rates over
the next five years to fund projects that will wean Santa
Monica off of imported water. … Bi-monthly water and
wastewater bills for single-family homes would increase by $23
on average under the lower rate structure and $36 under the
higher rate structure.
Computer models are in use every day, all around us. Car makers
use them to test the safety of vehicles, meteorologists use
them to predict the weather, and marketing professionals use
them to analyze connections between people and products. Rooted
in math and science and computer programming, models are also
an important tool in water management…
The State Water Project helped make Kern County the number one
agricultural county in the nation and ensures Bakersfield
always has a clean, high quality supply of drinking water while
protecting our region against drought. The State Water Project
reflects our past generation’s drive to make California the
great state it is today.
Ventura started paying for its right to state water in 1971. On
Monday night, policymakers took the biggest step yet to being
able to access it. The Ventura City Council voted 6-0 to
approve a study certifying no major environmental impacts would
result from building the 7-mile pipeline near Camarillo. The
action means the city’s next move is hiring a consultant to
draft the interconnection’s final design.
San Joaquin County has filed a lawsuit in Superior Court asking
the state Department of Water Resources to abide by local
drilling permit requirements to protect wildlife and water
quality in accordance with California law.
Opponents of the twin tunnels breathed a collective sigh of
relief in April when Gov. Gavin Newsom put a formal end to the
California WaterFix project, but that action also called for
the assessment of a single-tunnel project in the Delta. The
first major step in that direction took place last week when
the Department of Water Resources (DWR) initiated a series of
negotiations with public water agencies that participate in the
State Water Project (SWP)…
While it may not be obvious to some, sustainable groundwater
management is inherently connected to the long-term survival of
the Delta. Not only does the state’s most significant
groundwater use occur in regions that also rely upon water from
the Delta watershed, reduced reliance on the Delta and improved
regional self-reliance are central to many of the goals
outlined in the Delta Stewardship Council’s Delta Plan.
Are you planning a road trip this summer? Consider taking a
detour to one of the many beaches along the California State
Water Project (SWP) – you’ll find them teeming with fish,
natural beauty, and fun ways to spend your vacation.
An earthquake doesn’t have to happen in your neighborhood or
city, or even your region, for it to have an impact, especially
on Southern California’s water supply. According to UCLA
Professor Jon Stewart, the three main water systems that bring
water to Southern California each cross the San Andreas Fault
at least once.
For many years, federal “biological opinions” for delta smelt
and winter run chinook salmon have dictated restrictions on
operations of the pumps, reservoirs and canals of the federal
Central Valley Project and State Water Project… Informed by a
decade of science and on-the-ground experience with what we
know has not worked, long-awaited new federal biological
opinions are finally nearing completion.
The latest update of the California Water Plan was released
this past week. You may not have heard the news. You may not
even know there is a California Water Plan. And that’s just
fine, because it doesn’t mean a darn thing.
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) urged people to avoid
physical contact with the water at San Luis Reservoir in Merced
County until further notice and avoid eating fish from the lake
due to the presence of blue-green algae. DWR increased the
advisory from warning to danger after detecting an increased
amount of microcystins.