In the month since Governor Newsom announced that he does not support a dual-tunnel Delta water supply conveyance, activity in the more than 20 state and federal lawsuits challenging California WaterFix and other administrative approval processes related to the “twin tunnels” has slowed or been briefly stayed. The stays reflect the uncertainty surrounding the project in light of the Governor’s comments…
The current wet winter, on the other hand, is like getting a new position with a great salary but little job security. The money’s nice, but after seven years of unemployment, there’s a backlog of debts to pay. And the cash could stop coming at any time.
The problem is that removing the four dams will not restore natural river flows. Those flows are, for the most part, controlled by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation which will continue to divert Klamath River water to the Rogue Basin and for federal irrigation in the Upper Klamath and Lost River Basins.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday directed all departments to stop using a popular weed killer until more is known about its potential health and environmental effects. Supervisor Kathryn Barger recommended the moratorium on glyphosate — a main ingredient in the herbicide brand Roundup.
Probably the least expensive option, estimated to cost $150 million to $250 million, would expand the canal’s upper portion — the part visible from the surface — from about 60 feet to as much as double that width, but only along the 25-mile problem section. … An alternative approach, estimated to cost about $400 million, would be to build a nearly identical canal adjacent to the existing one in the areas that have experienced the most subsidence.
The upgraded facility can now handle an average of 18 million gallons per day, with a wet weather flow capacity of up to 36 million gallons. There’s also room for growth, with the facility designed to accommodate up to an average of 22 million gallons per day with the addition of added MBR cassettes.
An engineer with 20-plus years experience working on dams fears the Oroville dam could be in trouble again. He says the same problem which led to the failure of the main spillway in 2017 is still happening. … Now, expert Scott Cahill told News Radio KFBK, water can be seen seeping from the foot of the dam and dozens of points along the new spillway.
Water storage at New Melones Reservoir in southeastern Calaveras County is currently at 84 percent of its 2.4 million acre-feet capacity – 35 percent higher than its 15-year average for March… Although the dam’s emergency spillway has never been tested, Reclamation has been proactively releasing water in anticipation of snowpack runoff.
Ninety-one years ago this week, the worst civil engineering failure in California history killed more than 450 people when a wall of water carved a path of staggering destruction from a canyon north of Los Angeles to the coast.
The stations monitor meteorological conditions over the water and estimate evaporation using four primary methods: eddy covariance, energy balance, aerodynamic bulk mass transfer, and the combination of energy balance and aerodynamic. Data from the stations are transmitted back to the research team via a web portal for real-time monitoring.
As the sea level rises, it could impact more than the California coastline. The rising water could impact the Sacramento region. Some researchers said the rise could threaten levees in the area and increase the risk of flooding throughout the Delta and the Sacramento Valley.
Move over global warming or cooling, California has a new environmental disaster called groundwater. And where there’s an emergency, we have ambulance-chasing regulators and lawmakers with bureaucratic fixes. Why are we having groundwater problems? It’s plain and simple: Groundwater is replacing surface water.
Officials from the California Department of Water Resources, the Public Policy Institute of California and the Water Education Foundation will join regional water managers and federal agency representatives at the daylong event, “Moving Forward Together: From Planning to Action Across the Watershed“ at Cal State Fullerton.
Climate advocates say an overhaul of the nation’s flood insurance program being unveiled by the Trump administration will spur communities around the country to better plan for extreme weather, but could drive up costs for some homeowners. … It will tie premiums to the actual flood risk facing individual homes nationwide starting in October 2020. The current system sets prices based largely on whether a home is inside or outside of the 100-year flood plain.
A collection of legislators are taking another shot at getting state money to repair the canal carrying water to thousands of farms and several cities along the Valley’s eastside. … The bipartisan supported legislation will secure California’s water supply by investing $400 million in general funds to repair subsidence in the Friant-Kern Canal caused during the historic drought.
Over 147 million trees in California forests have died over the last eight years. Most of these forests are near the southern Sierra Nevada, which shows an increasing threat to iconic California landmarks like the Sequoia and Yosemite national forests.
There can be no more excuses for federal inaction. Yet shockingly I have learned from recent investigative reporting that the Trump administration is now pushing federal legislation that would eliminate public health and environmental protections for the Salton Sea and beyond as part of a federal drought plan for the Colorado River.
South Coast agencies purchased more than 27,000 acre-feet of supplemental water during four drought years to make up for lowered allocations from Lake Cachuma and the State Water Project, and for most of those deals, payback includes water in addition to money. Agencies’ so-called “water debt” means that when the city of Santa Barbara purchased from the Mojave Water Agency last year, for example, it was committing to paying back 1 acre-foot of water for every 4 acre-feet it purchased.
The Trump administration has fast-tracked a process to deliver more water to farms. But an investigation by KQED reveals those changes are raising alarm among federal employees. In this interview, we speak with KQED science reporter Lauren Sommer about why, and what’s at stake.
Another group of top state officials visited the Salton Sea this week to promise that this time, things will be different and progress will be made to restore the fast-drying water body. … Newly appointed water board chairman E. Joaquin Esquivel, who grew up in nearby La Quinta and fished in the lake as a boy, said he shares residents’ and longtime experts’ frustrations, and feels personally accountable to family members who still live in the area, as well as the communities around the lake.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler says that unsafe drinking water — not climate change — poses the greatest and most immediate global threat to the environment. In his first network interview since his confirmation last month, Wheeler told CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett that while the administration is addressing climate change, thousands are dying everyday from unclean drinking water.
FEMA said that a wide range of pre-existing problems contributed to the deterioration of both the upper and lower sections of the massive concrete spillway. The agency argues that federal law, regulations and policy restrict payments only to work needed to fix damage stemming from a declared disaster.
Good news for state water contractors: The State Water Project allocation just doubled from last year’s estimate for the 2019 water year. The California Department of Water Resources announced that the allocation has increased from 35 to 70 percent for most state water contractors. The department transports state water to 29 contractors, including the Kern County Water Agency.
Past droughts have stress-tested California’s water management institutions, and some of the vulnerabilities they revealed still linger today. Given that climate change is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of future droughts, recognizing and addressing institutional vulnerabilities is critical.
With rising tides threatening to submerge the Palo Alto Baylands by mid-century, city officials agreed on Monday they need to explore new barriers — both physical and legislative — to protect coastal area from sea level rise. These measures will be approved as part of a new Sea Level Rise Implementation Plan, a document that Public Works staff are in the process of putting together and that could have significant ramification for properties around the Baylands.
Addressing concerns that include floods, droughts, wildfires and state regulations on river flow, two state officials advised farmers and ranchers to remain engaged in those and other natural-resources issues. At the California Farm Bureau Federation Leaders Conference in Sacramento last week, California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot said his top priorities include water and wildfire protection.
Residents and officials who packed a yacht club on the north shore of the Salton Sea on Tuesday vented their anger about what they perceive as unnecessary delays and obfuscations about the environmental and public health disaster unfolding here. The California Water Resources Control Board held the workshop at the North Shore Yacht and Beach Club to both inform the public and garner opinions of residents living in proximity to the sea, which is rapidly vanishing into the desert.
Representatives of seven states finished a landmark agreement to shore up the dwindling Colorado River and signed a letter to Congress on Tuesday calling for legislation to enact the deal. The set of agreements would prop up water-starved reservoirs that supply cities and farms across the Southwest and would lay the groundwork for larger negotiations to address the river’s chronic overallocation…
A pilot program that used ultraviolet light to combat aquatic invasive plants has shown promising results. Results from the program, which was deployed in Lakeside Marina in the summer of 2017, show the use of ultraviolet-C light successfully killed submerged aquatic plants, according to the Tahoe Resource Conservation District.
The often shown symbol of the California drought, Santa Barbara County, with nearly dry water reservoirs and dead lawns for an estimated eight years, is now declaring itself out of the emergency crisis. The decision was made Tuesday morning by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.
It is interesting to go to water district meetings and see diametrically opposite sides using the same arguments they have used for years. No one is changing what they say even though an election changed the political landscape quite a bit. … But there are things we can do to intelligently frame the discussion of what is feasible — based on our actual needs.
By allocating $1 million last week toward a creek restoration project set to rejuvenate threatened and endangered species and reduce flooding in Pescadero, county officials locked in funding needed to begin a dredging effort experts expect will give the Butano Creek a chance to reset.
When a wild river floods, water and sediment spills over its banks onto adjacent land, it builds up a natural floodplain. Floodplains allow a river’s high flows to spread out and slow down, forming temporary reservoirs that pool over the rainy season. That means more water percolating down into underlying aquifers … and less floodwaters barreling toward cities.
Our rules, cobbled over time from various state water right decisions or federal biological opinions, are too rigid. … Things are done by an aging book. We are not adapting our management based on testing new hypotheses collaboratively advanced by stakeholders who are willing to celebrate the results regardless of outcome.
The California State Water Resources Control Board will soon issue orders to owners and operators of more than a thousand facilities in California requiring investigation and sampling for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known by the acronym PFAS. … PFAS are a class of chemicals widely used in consumer products for their grease- and stain-resistant properties, including nonstick products, carpeting, furniture, and makeup.
Every year, millions of waterbirds migrating from Alaska to Patagonia take a break from that epic journey to rest, eat and breed in a stretch of wetlands spanning six Western states called the Great Basin. A warming climate has made that migration more challenging by altering how mountain snowmelt flows into the network of lakes and rivers stretching from the Sierra Nevada to the Rockies, according to a new study.
To better understand how vineyard and housing development could affect its Upvalley water sources, the city of Napa may join forces with the county on a study of runoff and inflow into Lake Hennessey and Milliken Reservoir.
The statewide snowpack has reached 160 percent of its annual year-to-date average and the snow-covered peaks of the Sierra Nevada can be seen from Highway 198. … But, if you think that’s a lot of rain, think again. Sunday marks the 113th anniversary of the 1906 flood, which filled Visalia’s downtown streets with about a foot of water. The water didn’t dissipate for 10 days.
On Tuesday, March 19, the California Water Resources Control Board will hold a session on the North Shore to hear from state officials about their progress addressing the many issues related to the Salton Sea. This is a good opportunity for these officials to break through the remaining obstacles to progress at the Salton Sea and find a productive way forward.
Otters, birds, and turtles might be the last animals you would expect to find living next door to the Interstate 680 toll-plaza. But, tucked between the freeway, an oil refinery and a wastewater facility hides an oasis on the mend. … The 21-acre constructed wetland is in the middle of an industrial zone and is part of the Mt. View Sanitary District Wastewater Treatment Plant. “It’s the very first wetland on the west coast to use treated wastewater to create wetlands,” explained district biologist Kelly Davidson.
While high drama plays out in nations across the planet, California has also been having a bit of drama — torrential rains turning communities into isolated islands up north, mudslides and flooding down south. So, it seems to make sense that state officials have officially declared the latest drought to be over, finished, soaked.
It’s done. The Colorado River Board of California voted 8-1-1 Monday to sign on to a multi-state drought contingency plan, which, somewhat ironically, might not be needed for two years because of an exceptionally wet winter. The Imperial Irrigation District, a sprawling rural water district in the southeastern corner of California, refused to sign on until the federal government pledged to provide $200 million to clean up the Salton Sea, which has not occurred.
Water is coming out from Friant Dam into the San Joaquin River. The dam is at about 82 percent of capacity, and the warm weather is melting the mountain snow. Michael Jackson, area director for the Bureau of Reclamation, says the flow out of the dam is being increased. Flood releases don’t usually start until April, so the extra water is good news for valley growers, with extra irrigation water available.
Ventura has released reports detailing the environmental impacts of two sizable projects expected to increase the city’s water supply and reliability… One involves tapping into the city’s long-held investment into state water. The other project would capture effluent from Ventura’s wastewater treatment plant, treat it and turn it into drinking water.
The Bureau of Reclamation announced that the water allocation for South-of-Delta Central Valley Project (CVP) agricultural water contractors has been increased from 35 percent to 55 percent. The increase is an improvement for the farmers and farmworkers in the Westlands Water District, but, given the healthy hydrological conditions throughout the state, today’s announcement is a disappointment.
Mercury mines were once a critical player in San Luis Obispo County’s economy. They helped keep America’s economy running — playing a part in everything from the California Gold Rush to World War II. One SLO County mine even helped establish Cambria as a city, back in the 19th century. Now that mine, as well as many others, are hiding in plain sight.
A pending transfer in ownership of the Contra Costa Canal will allow for upgrades in its water quality and safety, but it could also make for changes for hikers and cyclists along some of its trails. A bipartisan package of public lands bills President Donald Trump signed Tuesday moves the Contra Costa Water District a step closer to gaining ownership of the aging Contra Costa Canal system.
They are a semiaquatic South American rodent a bit smaller than a beaver. Females can give birth three times a year and have up to 12 babies each litter. They are really good at tearing up crops, burrowing tunnels into levees, and other destructive behavior that is tough on farmers. And they’ve been discovered in California’s San Joaquin Valley, a major food-producing area.
For the first time in eight years, California is drought-free. According to the United States Drought Monitor, which uses data from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, parts of the most northern and southern counties are still “abnormally dry,” but the state has no drought conditions to show. Could the drought’s end mark the return of practices such as excessive lawn-watering? Not necessarily.
A state environmental group is calling for the removal of an old dam on the Eel River, contending it threatens the future of protected salmon and steelhead while acknowledging it is a key part of the North Bay’s water supply. Scott Dam, a 138-foot concrete dam erected in 1922, is one of five aging dams California Trout asserts are “ripe for removal” to benefit their natural surroundings and communities.
Full and rising reservoirs from this winter’s storms have the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors poised to terminate the drought-caused emergency declaration, although South Coast purveyors are worried a water shortage will persist for an extended time, according to a county staff report.
It may be a unique situation when a dam removal might mean more water for farmers instead of less, but the Klamath Basin is a unique place. A report released last summer by the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) is leading more and more Basin farmers and ranchers to believe that dam removal may have something big to offer.
Climate change is having a profound effect on the millions of migrating birds that rely on annual stops along the Pacific Flyway as they head from Alaska to Patagonia each year. They are finding less food, saltier water and fewer places to breed and rest on their long journeys, according to a new paper in Nature’s Scientific Reports.
The waters are getting warmer due to more heat being kept in the atmosphere from excess carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels. … When the earth heats up, so do the waters in the Arctic where the polar ice caps and sea ice are melting. This excess water flows down into rivers, streams and bays where people live. The result: Sea levels rise, causing flooding to coastal cities.
Political leaders responsible for the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin are launching discussions about which multi-million-dollar water projects could help solve the aquifer’s woes—and how basin pumpers will pay for them. In the future, the basin, which serves much of Paso Robles wine country, could start receiving water from the State Water Project, Lake Nacimiento, and/or the Salinas Dam.
For the moment, Mother Nature is smiling on the Colorado River. Enough snow has piled up in the mountains that feed the river to stave off a dreaded shortage declaration for one more year, according to federal projections released Friday afternoon.
If, as being widely reported, the Colorado River basin states … ultimately decide to proceed with a Lower Colorado River Basin Drought Contingency Plan that cuts out the Imperial Irrigation District (IID), no one should be surprised. It’s simply continuing a long, and perhaps successful, tradition of basin governance by running over the “miscreant(s)”.
One way or another, $53 million of Utahns’ money soon may get sunk into a deep-water export terminal on the West Coast in an effort to shore up the state’s fading coal industry. On Monday, a Senate panel advanced a bill that would transfer a special fund to the Utah Office of Energy Development… That fund was set up to legitimize a $53 million CIB loan that four coal-producing counties hoped to invest in a controversial export terminal under development in Oakland, Calif.
Blockbuster claims in a lawsuit that a racist, sexist, corrupt culture contributed to the near-catastrophic failure of Oroville Dam two years ago can go forward, a Sacramento judge ruled Thursday. The decision … sets the stage for what plaintiffs’ attorneys vow will be a deep dive into claims of a poisonous work culture that nearly disastrously compromised the nation’s tallest dam.
Waterfalls are graceful monuments to nature’s power. In each gentle curve and thrilling plunge, these watery edifices record the dynamic forces thought to be key players in their formation. But now, a study published in Nature suggests a new mechanism for creating a waterfall that throws a wet blanket on some of geologists’ long-held assumptions.
The Glory Hole’s inlet is 72 feet in diameter and the outlet shrinks down to 28-feet wide. Right now, the water is coming out at 3,800 cubic feet per second. Just in case you are wondering, that is enough water to fill an Olympic-sized pool every 23.2 seconds.
As the Trump administration moves toward a drought contingency plan for the Colorado River, the Bureau of Reclamation is pushing legislation that would exempt its work from environmental reviews. That includes potential impacts on what has emerged as a major sticking point in the drought negotiations: Southern California’s Salton Sea, a public health and ecological disaster.
Last month, we broke ground on a long overdue revamp of the West Fontana Channel. … It was created in the 1970s after the County of San Bernardino got serious about flood control following the devastating flooding that occurred in 1969. But unlike Day Creek, San Sevaine and other flood control facilities, the West Fontana Channel was never fortified with concrete to ensure it could handle all of the fast-moving runoff it gets inundated with after heavy storms.
For the bulk of her career, Jayne Harkins has devoted her energy to issues associated with management of the Colorado River, both with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Colorado River Commission of Nevada. Now her career is taking a different direction. Harkins was appointed last August to take the helm of the United States section of the International Boundary and Water Commission, the U.S.-Mexico agency that oversees myriad water matters between the two countries…
Heavy snowfall this winter is expected to delay the seasonal opening of many Yosemite tourist attractions, including Yosemite Valley campgrounds, Half Dome’s climbing cables and Tioga Road into the high country, park officials announced Wednesday.
The chances for passage this year of legislation to jump-start serious water planning in New Mexico, including by pumping millions of dollars into the effort, evaporated last week when a Senate committee tabled a key bill.
The 2018 Farm Bill is an example of bipartisanship and what can be accomplished when leaders from both sides of the aisle work together for a common cause. The Farm Bill is America’s food bill and for years it has given support to farming communities. It also serves as a safety net for the old, young and working poor.
A sprawling stretch of salt ponds on the western edge of San Francisco Bay, once eyed for the creation of a virtual mini-city, is back at the center of debate over regional development after the Trump administration this month exempted the site from the Clean Water Act.
Pretty soon, the next phase of life for the Sacramento River waterfront could become evident — with help from the public needed to make it happen. … The Waterfront Idea Makers contest that the City of Sacramento commissioned to breathe new life into its riverfront enters a critical stretch this month. On March 13, the city will host an open house at the Hall, Luhrs & Co. building in Old Sacramento to showcase the design teams’ work and submissions from the public and kids.
Thanks to a wet winter across the state, the entirety of California is free of drought for the first time since 2011, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor’s Thursday update. Don’t confuse that with former Gov. Jerry Brown’s April 2017 announcement that the statewide drought had officially ended.
A countywide effort to manage sea level rise is beginning to coalesce. In recent months, San Mateo County officials have taken steps to form a new government agency to address coastal erosion, flooding, storm water infrastructure and sea level rise.
Hundreds of Bakersfield agriculture, oil and political leaders came together March 7 to examine the challenges and opportunities associated with providing California residents and businesses with a secure, reliable supply of clean water. Lest the wet winter create a sense of complacency around one of the state’s most vital needs, specialists from various fields urged collective attention to the costly and increasingly complex problems that surround sourcing, storing and conveying water.
It won’t arrive in time for this wet winter, but hopes are rising that Central Valley politicians will soon deliver on one of their top political goals in recent years: investment in California water storage. Bills introduced last week by Bakersfield Republicans in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., would redirect money from the state’s high-speed rail project toward a series of reservoir projects, as well as repairs to a canal serving Kern County farmers.
On March 6, the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) issued a public Environmental Assessment on the Operations Plan for the Klamath Irrigation Project. … It will definitely decide how many Chinook salmon people have for harvest for Tribal members and commercial fishermen. It could also return us to the days where 84-92 percent of the juvenile salmon died in the Klamath River and reignite the Klamath River water wars…
Climate change through the rest of the 21st century could be much more threatening to coastal California than previously anticipated, based on newly published research led by the U.S. Geological Survey. The new numbers are dramatic: Dynamic flooding in California could total more than $150 billion in property damage … When factoring in population trends, extreme scenarios could increase the total number of affected Californians to more than 3 million.
Implementing the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act—which requires overdrafted groundwater basins to achieve balance between supply and demand by the 2040s—could require taking at least 500,000 acres of irrigated cropland out of production in the San Joaquin Valley. … We talked to Soapy Mulholland, president and CEO of Sequoia Riverlands Trust, about this impending challenge.
Recent rains have left the San Joaquin Valley’s reservoirs in better shape, but groundwater depletion and the resulting ground subsidence continue to beset farmers and water managers. What will this year hold? … Your best opportunity to understand the challenges and opportunities of this vital resource in the nation’s breadbasket is to join us on our Central Valley Tour April 3-5.
A system that transfers and diverts water from the Eel River basin has been in Pacific Gas and Electric’s control for over 35 years, but the utility’s bankruptcy filing in January — coupled with its interest in either selling or abandoning the project — has Humboldt County officials intent on closely following what happens next.
When an atmospheric river meets mountainous terrain like the Sierra Nevada, the water vapor condenses and becomes rain or snow. Strong atmospheric rivers can bring about floods and landslides, but the water and snowpack they leave behind provide California with 25 to 50 percent of its yearly precipitation in just a few days.
The Imperial Irrigation District is being written out of a massive, multi-state Colorado River drought plan at the eleventh hour. IID could sue to try to stop the revised plan from proceeding, and its board president called the latest development a violation of California environmental law. But Metropolitan Water District of Southern California general manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said attorneys for his agency, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and others in a working group are finalizing new documents to remove IID from the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan.
Bonds to continue the next phase of an improvement program are critical to the Tahoe Basin. That was the message delivered to the Nevada Assembly Government Affairs Committee on Tuesday. Assemblyman Mike Sprinkle, D-Sparks, said the $8 million in this biennium’s bonding package will cover Nevada’s share of the Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program for two years.
Rebuffed by an Arizona House panel, a Globe lawmaker convinced a Senate committee Tuesday that Pinal County farmers should get $20 million more to help drill new wells to replace Colorado River water they will give up. The 6-3 vote by the Senate Appropriations Committee came after Republican Rep. David Cook argued the farmers were promised the cash as part of the drought contingency plan enacted by in January.
A bill introduced by a state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) that will address ocean acidification and water quality issues has been introduced and it’s being supported by a wide variety of stakeholders. Senate Bill 69, authored by Wiener, is aimed at reducing land-based sources of pollutants, the restoration of wetlands and the sequestration of greenhouse gases and to protect wildlife and keystone species.
The water within the Paradise Irrigation District is clean. The trouble is, the infrastructure within the district may not be, according to Paradise Irrigation District’s Kevin Phillips. “The water is clean but some of the pipes are contaminated, that’s why (contamination) is so random,” he said. “One service line can be contaminated, but the one next door isn’t. If the water were contaminated, then it would be everywhere.”
Imperial Valley officials are reportedly close to finishing an important habitat restoration project at the Salton Sea. The remake of Red Hill Bay was supposed to be a model for a management plan around the shrinking lake, but the effort is two years overdue and still months away from completion. The Salton Sea needs a management plan because water is evaporating faster than it’s being replaced…
Still unconvinced Klamath River dam removal wouldn’t result in excessive silt at Crescent City Harbor, Del Norte County supervisors are asking the nonprofit organization behind the effort to set aside mitigation dollars. With a 4-1 vote Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors directed Community Development Director Heidi Kunstal to draft a letter to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation with its request.
A bill from Sen. Bill Dodd that would increase legislative oversight of the controversial Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta WaterFix project and allow for more public scrutiny has cleared its first committee hurdle. The action comes less than a month after Gov. Gavin Newsom said he wants to scale back the project proposed by former Gov. Jerry Brown to a single tunnel.
Local officials have received an OK to divert more water into Lake Casitas, years after prolonged drought conditions shrunk the reservoir to historic lows. But the new measures were in effect just a matter of days and just for one storm.
In the midst of the wet winter storms bringing rain and snow to California this year, you might not expect drought preparations to be among the state’s current priorities. And yet, they need to be. In this post, I’ll explore why to set the stage for a blog series that explores what the state can do to prepare for the more frequent and intense droughts we expect in California’s future. The series draws on work my colleagues and I did for California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment.
The sandy playa that used to be underwater is now being baked by the sun and blown around by the winds that frequently scour the desert floor here. The dust is tiny and can easily get airborne. That is a public health crisis for a region already suffering from some of California’s highest asthma rates.
Santa Monica will experience more frequent droughts and coastal flooding, hotter temperatures and poorer air quality as the world’s climate changes throughout the next century. However, officials said the city’s geography and the City of Santa Monica’s Climate Action & Adaptation Plan (CAAP) will shield residents from some of the impacts of climate change. The plan, released last month, describes how the city will ensure residents have affordable water during droughts, contain sea level rise and deal with high heat days.
California’s state water agency is set to appeal a federal determination that some of the Oroville Dam’s reconstruction costs are ineligible for reimbursement. The Federal Emergency Management Agency last week approved an additional $205 million for the project, on top of the $128.4 million it sent last year, according to the state Department of Water Resources. But FEMA officials told the state they likely won’t fund some portions of the 2-year, estimated $1.1 billion rebuilding effort that followed the Oroville Dam’s near-failure in February 2017.
California’s recent drought may have officially ended, but the state’s water data drought remains in full effect. Shockingly, we don’t always know the answers to basic questions such as how much water is available in our state, let alone where and when. That’s why improving California’s woefully deficient stream gage network should be a top priority for the state.
Death Valley, the hottest and driest place in North America, isn’t exactly known for record rainfall or pop-up lakes stretching as far as the eye can see. But after a massive storm lashed the desert with rain and brought chilly temperatures through Southern California, that’s exactly what happened, according to photographer Elliott McGucken. He was trying to get to Badwater Basin, where he thought there could be flooding, when he saw the giant lake.
It’s not often that communities in California and Louisiana face similar water challenges. California is better known for having too little water and Louisiana too much – both challenges exacerbated by climate change. But record-setting wet winter weather led both states last week to release significant amounts of water from reservoirs and rivers to prevent flooding, underscoring the need for new approaches to build climate-resilient communities across the country.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on Tuesday sealed California’s participation in a landmark Colorado River drought management plan, agreeing to shoulder more of the state’s future delivery cuts to prevent Lake Mead from falling to dangerously low levels. With California signed on, the plan can move to Congress, which must approve the multi-state agreement before it takes effect. The MWD board took the step over the objections of the Imperial Irrigation District, which holds senior rights to the biggest allocation of river water on the entire length of the Colorado.
California’s Central Valley is already the bread basket for the nation. But now a new Oakdale company — in partnership with the University of California, Davis — wants to help make it the hemp capital of the country. The California Hemp Corporation was formed by Oakdale residents Jeff McPhee and Kent Kushar last year… “We want to grow hemp up and down the San Joaquin Valley, just like every other one of our crops,” McPhee said. “This crop will change California.”
Environmental groups Monday asked a federal appeals court to reconsider a ruling that struck down part of a high-profile removal plan for four dams on the Klamath River in California and Oregon, saying it set a precedent that would exempt dozens of dams nationwide from meeting water quality standards.
Rising temperatures, rising sea levels and a disappearing snowpack were part of a scary story told to SCV Water Agency officials recently as they learned the effects of climate change over the next 100 years. … The latest climate assessment was intended to advance “actionable science” that would serve the growing needs of state and local-level decision-makers from a variety of sectors.
This particular California winter has unfolded in good news/bad news fashion. Courtesy of a string of recurring atmospheric rivers, potent storms have caused flooding, power outages and canceled flights. But they have also lifted all but a thin slice of the state near the Oregon border completely out of drought.
It’s a growing problem many say cannot be solved by firefighters alone. Enter the Cal Poly W.U.I. F.I.R.E Institute. It stands for the Wildland Urban Interface Fire Information Research and Education Institute. Turner is working with Cal Poly staff like forest management professor Chris Dicus to create a collaborative space for research, training, and outreach.
On February 14, 2019, the California Office of the State Fire Marshall (“OSFM”) published long awaited draft regulations to reduce the volume of pipeline oil spills in coastal areas. The proposed regulations, which implement AB 864 (2015), will impose substantial and costly burdens on companies that own and operate pipelines within California near environmentally and ecologically sensitive areas
The Trump administration released its 2020 budget request on Monday, proposing major cuts to federal government spending. While the cuts are unlikely to become reality — Congress has rejected many of Trump’s previous requests — the budget is an important signal of the administration’s priorities and suggests a major funding fight in October.
The Metropolitan Water District is positioning itself to shoulder California’s entire water contribution, with its board voting Tuesday on a proposal to essentially write out of the drought plan another agency that gets more Colorado River water than anyone else. That agency, the Imperial Irrigation District, has said it won’t approve the plan unless the federal government agrees to commit $200 million to address the Salton Sea.
Every spring, a group called the Pacific Fishery Management Council gets together and looks at the salmon forecasts from the Puget Sound all the way down to the Sacramento River in California….The Sacramento River runs are expected to rebound a bit, but the Klamath and Columbia River forecasts are lower than last year.
The federal government issued the final permit Friday allowing the Rosemont Mine to be built despite written EPA warnings that the mine will pollute surface water and shrink, if not dry up, two nationally important streams. … The EPA’s regional office also warned that the mine’s cutoff of stormwater flows into neighboring streams and its groundwater pumping will significantly degrade federally regulated water bodies.
The Sacramento Valley’s flood management system is a good example where a portfolio of actions has greatly reduced flood damages and deaths, with relatively little management expense and attention in a highly flood-prone region. This case also illustrates how the many individual flood management options presented in the table can be assembled into a diversified cost-effective strategy involving the many local, state, and federal parties concerned with floods.
It started with the desert lilies in December. Since then a wave of wildflower blooms has been crescendoing across Southern California’s Anza-Borrego desert in a burst of color so vivid it can be seen from mountain tops thousands of feet above.
A long battle over development of the Cargill salt ponds in Redwood City may soon return after the EPA declared the site exempt from the federal Clean Water Act — causing concern by environmentalists and the city’s mayor. The Environmental Protection Agency announced its decision earlier this month, effectively removing one of several barriers to development of the 1,400-acre Bayside property.
The Napa County Planning Commission is sending the controversial, draft Water Quality and Tree Protection Ordinance back to the Board of Supervisors with a few recommended changes, but no sea change in direction. Commissioners heard from about 50 speakers on Wednesday. Some warned that too many additional environmental restrictions will hurt farming. Some said that bold action is needed to protect drinking water and combat climate change.
Millions of Californians could end up with higher water bills after the Trump administration on Friday announced that federal emergency officials aren’t going to reimburse the state for $306 million in repairs to Oroville Dam stemming from the 2017 spillway crisis. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said federal taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for problems that existed prior to a massive hole forming in the dam’s concrete spillway in February 2017…
For a region so crucial to the growth of California as we know it today, you might think there would be libraries full of books about the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. And yet, as UC Merced scholar Gregg Camfield wrote several years ago, the most obvious thing about the literature of the Delta “is how little there is.” Advocates of the largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas are trying to collect those scattered bits and pieces in a new anthology of the Delta.
The Colorado River’s federal managers have projected that if dry conditions continue, they could be unable to deliver any water at all to downstream users (including Phoenix, Tucson, Los Angeles, and San Diego) within five years. That’s the doomsday scenario that has led the Colorado River’s water managers and users to the cusp of adopting the Drought Contingency Plan, a temporary yet broad agreement to reduce water use and ensure that the reservoirs continue to provide a reliable water supply.
Much of the United States could be gripped by significant water shortages in just five decades’ time, according to predictions made in a new study. … In the researchers’ projections, water supply is likely to be under threat in watersheds in the central and southern Great Plains, the Southwest and central Rocky Mountain States, California, and areas in the South (especially Florida) and the Midwest.
California is now the lone holdout on an emergency drought plan for the Colorado River, and the other river states are turning up the heat to get the deal done. Representatives from Nevada and five other Western states sent a letter to California on Saturday urging water officials there to set aside their concerns and “and immediately and unconditionally approve” the so-called Drought Contingency Plan.
There’s still a lot scientists don’t know about the yin-yang interaction between fire and water. Of particular interest is better understanding how the heat intensity of wildfires changes the the water content of burned soil. The science behind such work is known as hydrology, which studies the properties, distribution and circulation of water on or below the earth’s surface.
California is battling federal authorities over how to clean up a contaminated former nuclear research site near Simi Valley that was also caught up in the flames of November’s Woolsey Fire. The fire complicated cleanup efforts after burning large portions of the site, scorching nearly 100,000 acres of land, and destroying 1,643 buildings. The Santa Susana Field Laboratory operated as a nuclear research and rocket test facility on 2,850 acres from 1948 to 2006.
Oregon’s dam safety regulations are getting an overhaul, for the first time in nearly a century. A bill pending in the Legislature would rewrite the laws governing construction, inspections and enforcement authority for hundreds of state-regulated dams. The bill would increase the state’s power to force owners of aging, dangerous dams to do maintenance and make repairs. And it would require state approval and oversight of all new dam construction and removal of old dams.
Plenty of snow in the Sierra and lots of rain just about everywhere else in California have helped alleviate drought conditions across the state. But there’s also another positive byproduct of the wet winter — a likely boost in the amount of hydroelectricity in California’s energy mix.
Bills introduced last week by Bakersfield Republicans in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., would redirect money from the state’s high-speed rail project toward reservoir projects, as well as repairs to Friant-Kern Canal. … The proposals by U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy and state Assemblyman Vince Fong seize upon a common frustration among many valley Republicans that billions of state and federal dollars dedicated to high-speed rail would be better spent on capturing water from wet years…
When congress passed the CWA in 1972, they made it clear in documents accompanying the legislation that they supported “the broadest possible constitutional interpretation” of protected waters of the United States.
Political disputes, interstate suspicion and funding concerns have long been a fact of life when it comes to the Colorado River. Those same factors now are delaying a final agreement on how to handle drought in the river basin. But, at least none of the states involved has called out its navy. Arizona did that 85 years ago to prevent completion of Parker Dam, the concrete structure on the Colorado River that backs up Lake Havasu on the border between California and Arizona.
When then-candidate Donald Trump swung through California in 2016, he promised Central Valley farmers he would send more water their way. Allocating water is always a fraught issue in a state plagued by drought, and where water is pumped hundreds of miles to make possible the country’s biggest agricultural economy. Now, President Trump is following through on his promise by speeding up a key decision about the state’s water supply. Critics say that acceleration threatens the integrity of the science behind the decision, and cuts the public out of the process.
Rescues of unhealthy seals and sea lions have nearly tripled for this time of year in Orange County, according to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, which this week took in its 41st pinniped since the year began. … While the exact reason for the increase in the number of strandings this year is unknown, Higuchi said it could be tied to warmer ocean waters caused by an El Nino weather pattern or excess stormwater runoff from all of this winter’s rains.
A “major problem” in southeast Tulare County forced hundreds of people out of their homes and endangered thousands of animals. … Tulare County Sheriff’s Department was sent scrambling to notify residents in the area of Strathmore that Frazier Creek Canal spilled over and water levels were rising. Frazier Creek is directly linked to the Friant-Kern Canal. … Friant-Kern Water Authority officials later determined the flooding wasn’t caused by “overtopping” of the Friant-Kern Canal’s banks. The issue was drainage from Frazier Creek.
In this edition of In Depth we take on two water topics. First, there’s growing concern that a lot of the rainwater we’ve been getting is just going down the drain and out to sea. We plumb the depths of California’s water system to find out where it’s coming up short and what can be done to fix it. Then, new research suggests that the historical link between wet winters and less severe fire seasons has broken down. We discuss why even in the rainiest of years, we still can’t count out damaging wildfires.
It seems like a simple question: How many people can Southern Nevada support with the water it has now? But the answer is far from easy. The number can swing wildly depending on a host of variables, including the community’s rates of growth and conservation and the severity of drought on the Colorado River. (Last in the paper’s Water Question series.)
The question comes up with every dire media report or bleak new forecast about the Colorado River: How much longer can Nevada’s largest community continue to rely on a single source of water to power its prosperity? It’s an important question, maybe the most important. No Southwestern state gets less water from the river than Nevada. No major city depends on that water more than Las Vegas. But the Colorado is in trouble. (Part 1 of 8 in a series.)
We love our Russian River for its eternal beauty, its nurturing forces, its quenching properties, its recreation and play and its renewing spirits. We love our river — except when we don’t. And right now we are distraught over the destruction its breached muddy torrents visited upon us yet again.
Recent plans to enlarge California’s Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet have raised concerns over possible cultural and ecological implications on wildlife among the Winnemem Wintu people and environmental groups alike. … The change in flood patterns would likely affect vital sacred sites for the Winnemen Wintu Puberty Ceremony for young women, according to the Winnemem Wintu website. The project would also relocate roads, railroads, bridges and marinas, according to a fact sheet from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
Henry Ford said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Rules enacted a decade ago that were intended to protect California’s iconic salmon and Delta smelt populations aren’t working and federal agencies are now in the process of modernizing them, this time using much better science.
Yes, it’s caused traffic jams, power outages and even some floods. But there’s a big ray of good news behind all the rain that California has been receiving this year. Soaked by relentless storms, California as of this week has less land area in drought status than at any time in the last seven years.
More than 300 communities across the state and one out of every four schools in the Central Valley lack access to safe drinking water, according to the state Water Board. … Responding to the crisis, Gov. Gavin Newsom is calling for a new water tax. If the proposal passes, the levy will generate $110 million in annual revenue. But some Californians – many working directly with the state’s water authorities – oppose the plan. They say there are better ways to raise the money needed than taxing tap water.
What better way to decompress from a stressful federal government job than by trekking 2,600 miles on foot from Mexico to Canada? That’s what Jared Blumenfeld, the new head of the California Environmental Protection Agency, did three years ago, setting out on the arduous and beloved Pacific Crest Trail that traces California’s searing deserts, rugged mountains and sparkling coastline.
The Crossroads Open Space soccer field in Santa Maria is filled with water thanks to the most recent storm. Located on S. College Dr., the field also serves as a basin to collect storm runoff. The city says the water will soak into the ground, recharging the groundwater basin.
Conditions are right for spectacular blooms throughout the California desert this year, experts say. The benefits of rain are endless, especially in Southern California, where drought-like conditions often persist for months on end. Thanks to this year’s significant rainfall, the annual wildflower blooms are set to be quite spectacular, according to Jorge Moreno, information officer for California State Parks.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved $205 million to reimburse California for the Oroville Dam spillway reconstruction costs, the state Department of Water Resources announced Thursday. … However, FEMA has notified DWR that it doesn’t think some of the reconstruction costs are eligible for reimbursement,
Hundreds of Bakersfield agriculture, oil and political leaders came together Thursday to examine the challenges and opportunities associated with providing California residents and businesses with a secure, reliable supply of clean water. Lest the wet winter create a sense of complacency around one of the state’s most vital needs, specialists from various fields urged collective attention to the costly and increasingly complex problems that surround sourcing, storing and conveying water across the Golden State.
Lawmakers in Colorado want the U.S. state to study the potential of blockchain technology in water rights management. Republican senator Jack Tate, along with representatives Jeni James Arndt (Democratic) and Marc Catlin (Republican), filed senate bill 184 on Tuesday, proposing that the Colorado Water Institute should be granted authority to study how blockchain technology can help improve its operations.
Former Interior Secretary and Arizona governor Bruce Babbitt will be the distinguished speaker at the 2019 Anne J. Schneider Memorial Lecture on April 3 at the Crocker Art Museum in downtown Sacramento. Babbitt’s talk is titled “Parting the Waters — Will It Take a Miracle?”
Behind the initial damage toll of $155 million from last week’s Russian River flood is some positive news: only 35 homes and businesses have been red-tagged as uninhabitable. After the last major Russian River flood, in 2006, 66 homes and businesses were red-tagged. … The steadily declining numbers reflect three decades of progress in fortifying river communities to withstand floods, most notably an ongoing program to elevate homes.
The Trump Administration has ordered federal biologists to speed up critical decisions about whether to send more water from Northern California to farmers in the Central Valley, a move that critics say threatens the integrity of the science and cuts the public out of the process. The decisions will control irrigation for millions of acres of farmland in the country’s biggest agricultural economy, drinking water for two-thirds of Californians from Silicon Valley to San Diego, and the fate of endangered salmon and other fish.
Deadly severe wildfires in California have scientists scrutinizing the underlying factors that could influence future extreme events. Using climate simulations and paleoclimate data dating back to the 16th century, a recent study looks closely at long-term upper-level wind and related moisture patterns to find clues.
The moment a lone duck was sucked into a 200ft-deep drain at a reservoir in northern California – and reportedly survived – has been captured on video. Known locally as the “Glory Hole”, the giant spillway is designed to capture excess water at Lake Berryessa reservoir in Napa County. Rick Fowler, the lake’s water resources manager, filmed the bird as it drifted towards the fast-swirling vortex and dropped down into the hole.
Cleaning up and protecting U.S. drinking water from a class of toxic chemicals used in many household items could cost in the tens of billions of dollars nationally, witnesses testified Wednesday before a House panel urging the federal government to move more quickly on the cleanup. … The compounds, called perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, have been used for decades. Water sampling shows the contaminant … has seeped into many public water systems in the United States and globally, including around military bases and industries.
Water is now flowing freely along a 480-foot stretch of San Francisquito Creek after Stanford University removed the aged Lagunita Diversion Dam. … Removing the 8-foot-high structure now allows water to flow freely downstream to support endangered-fish-species habitat in the creek. San Francisquito is home to a population of the Central California Coast Distinct Population Segment of steelhead.
Heavy rains this winter will help replenish groundwater aquifers and benefit projects that use excess surface water to recharge groundwater basins. At the California Department of Water Resources, planners focus on a voluntary strategy known as Flood-MAR, which stands for “managed aquifer recharge.” The strategy combines floodwater operations and groundwater management in an effort to benefit working landscapes, and could also aid local groundwater agencies as they implement the state Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
Water is starting to seep down the rebuilt Oroville Dam spillway. California Department of Water Resources officials said Wednesday this is common and will not affect the operation of the dam’s gates, which are not watertight. … Both spillways at the 770-foot earthen dam, the nation’s tallest, collapsed in February 2017, forcing nearly 200,000 people downstream to evacuate.
The Success Dam Enlargement Project, headed by the US Army Corps of Engineers, has been working its way towards construction since October 2018. … On Tuesday morning the timeline was published, and it reveals that construction on the Success Dam Enlargement Project will begin in mid 2020. Until then, plenty of work is scheduled to happen before construction starts.
Swollen rivers and creeks fed by atmospheric-river storms caused flooding with both short-term and long-term impacts for California farmers. Mary Ann Renner, a dairy farmer in the Humboldt County town of Ferndale, said the flood from the Eel River was not the worst she’s seen—but was close.
For California’s salmon fishermen, the downstream effects of political decisions in Washington are too obvious to ignore. It’s not merely a question of profit for us. We are the stewards of the public fisheries resources who rely on their long-term health for our existence. The viability of our future can be challenged by who is in power in Washington, no matter who they are.
While handing out at the Guerneville Safeway store $50 grocery gift cards to residents affected by last week’s flood, Jeniffer Wertz was forced to turn away several people Sunday after running out of cards. “It was heartbreaking,” said Wertz, a volunteer for the nonprofit Russian River Alliance. For people whose homes, cars or businesses were damaged by the worst flooding along the Russian River in two decades, local nonprofit leaders say, the need for financial help is immediate.
California’s largest lake has long attracted visitors. Many go there year-round to see thousands of birds congregating around the lake and its nearby habitats, but the lake is changing and that’s changing bird populations.
With another deadline missed Monday, the head of the Bureau of Reclamation is now looking for the governors in the states in the Colorado River basin to tell her what they think she should do to keep water levels from dropping even lower. But there’s just two weeks for them to do that.
The real-world implications of Gov. Newsom’s rejection of the twin tunnels project became more apparent last week as the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation requested and were granted a 60-day stay of hearings with the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB).
The extra water from Shasta Lake would raise the lake by an estimated 20 feet, inundating the McCloud River, which is protected by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. That piece of legislation was designed to protect the trout that heavily populate those waters. And it’s not just state law that speaks out. One of the provisions of the 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act is to protect fisheries up and down the state’s major rivers. Raising Shasta Dam now would only be possible by overturning those two laws.
During our three-day Central Valley Tour April 3-5, you will meet farmers who will explain how they prepare the fields, irrigate their crops and harvest the produce that helps feed the nation and beyond. We also will drive through hundreds of miles of farmland and visit the rivers, dams, reservoirs and groundwater wells that provide the water.
The Sacramento Valley’s flood management system is a good example where a portfolio of actions has greatly reduced flood damages and deaths, with relatively little management expense and attention in a highly flood-prone region. This case also illustrates how the many individual flood management options presented in the table can be assembled into a diversified cost-effective strategy involving the many local, state, and federal parties concerned with floods.
Santa Rosa officials said Tuesday that managers at the city’s wastewater plant have been forced to release at least 250 million gallons of treated sewage into two creeks and the nearby Laguna de Santa Rosa amid record inflow to the facility that began in last week’s storm. The three-day deluge pushed more than five times the normal flow of wastewater and runoff into the city’s Laguna de Santa Rosa plant. It was the highest inflow ever recorded at the site, according to the city.
Dam by dam, owners of smaller hydroelectric projects around the West look at them with a cold eye as relicensing looms. Created with optimism a century ago, dams are now seen as fish-killers and river-distorters. New energy sources are getting cheaper. After decades of operation, owners approach relicensing knowing that, if they are to continue generating a single watt of electricity, they must fix the problems.
Office of Emergency Management Director Robert Lewin recommended that the county Board of Supervisors terminate its proclamation of a local emergency due to drought conditions, which has been renewed every 60 days since January 2014. South Coast water agencies don’t like the messaging of ending the drought emergency, and said they have ongoing drought impacts, including water shortages, and will need customers to keep conserving water.
The state Department of Water Resources announced that releases from the powerplant were being increased from 1,750 cubic feet per second to 5,000 cfs. Ten-day projections show the lake reaching 835 feet on March 14, according to DWR. The department has said it does not anticipate that it will utilize the rebuilt Oroville Dam spillway anytime soon; however, crews have been making preparations in case its use becomes necessary. The spillway becomes usable once water reaches its gates at 813 feet, which should happen Tuesday morning.
The powerful storm that swept over Sonoma County last week caused an estimated $155 million in damage to homes, businesses, roads and other public infrastructure, county officials announced Saturday. The updated assessment came at the end of a week marked by the largest flood on the lower Russian River in nearly a quarter century. Guernville and other riverside communities took the heaviest blow, but flooding elsewhere — in Sebastopol, Healdsburg and Geyserville — led to widespread damage countywide.
The problem started on Feb. 17, when Paonia’s water operators noted a loss of water in a 2 million gallon storage tank. A team went out looking for a leak, but could not locate it. As the leak continued, the town’s water system lost enough pressure that the state of Colorado imposed a boil order. In response, town officials declared a state of emergency.
The current dilemmas boil down to this: As the state punishes cannabis growers in the Emerald Triangle for environmental degradation, it is simultaneously pursuing an aqueduct project in the Central Valley that environmental groups claim will cause ecological harm of massive proportions. This project stands to benefit the “big ag” industry, which California’s newly legal cannabis companies are increasingly participating in.
The announcement by Mayor Eric Garcetti last month that Los Angeles will recycle all the wastewater produced at the Hyperion plant by 2035 signals an end to the era of addressing water shortages by importing water from far-flung places and initiates a long-anticipated era of reusing locally available supplies. The shift will require L.A. residents to understand both the necessity of the plan and the technology that will produce safe water.
Dr. Ellen Bruno is an Assistant Cooperative Extension Specialist in quantitative policy analysis at UC Berkeley. Her research evaluates the effectiveness of different policy instruments for improving the management of our increasingly scarce water resources.
About half the Sycuan Indian tribe relies heavily on a single groundwater well for water. The whole tribe now wants access to the same water most San Diegans enjoy – Colorado River water, Northern California water and desalinated Pacific Ocean water. Most of San Diego’s state legislative delegation is pushing a bill that could make it happen.
Just months before the Woolsey Fire, Las Virgenes Mutual Water District had joined CalWARN, a mutual assistance system set up for water utilities. General manager Dave Pedersen had heard about it from a neighboring agency. Before dawn Nov. 9, the district requested emergency generators. Within a few hours, they had gotten a response.
Scientists found that wet winter weather, historically a predictor of more modest California fire seasons, is no longer linked to less damaging fires. The link between more rain and less fire fell apart thanks to modern fire management and accelerating climate change, the study said. “It’s going to be a problem for people, for firefighters, for society,” said study co-author Alan Taylor, a Pennsylvania State University geography professor.
A spectacular snowpack and a series of storms in the San Joaquin Valley are bringing smiles to valley farmers’ faces. On Friday, the Fresno Irrigation District started moving water to farms in the cities of Fresno, Clovis, and their surrounding ag land. While this isn’t an early start compared to typical years, the water is especially welcome after several drought years.
Days after Imperial Irrigation District officials said there had been a breakthrough in negotiations with federal officials to commit to the restoration of the Salton Sea in a mammoth Colorado River drought plan, a top federal official offered a different assessment. … The Reclamation statement said it’s up to IID to decide when they want to join the drought plan, indicating a possible avenue for them to join later that would not stymie the entire agreement.
Around 3,000 Santa Barbara County residents are being told to evacuate their homes once again this week. Rainstorms forecasted starting Tuesday are expected to be severe enough to potentially cause debris flows and mudslides, especially with already-saturated ground.
California’s Salton Sea, the state’s largest inland body of water, formed when a dam broke. It stayed alive fed by agricultural water runoff. Today, it’s water supply is slowing, and the sea is drying up and losing its place as a fishing and recreation hotspot. But … the Salton Sea is finding new life as haven for artists.
A four-year restoration project on James Creek in Mendocino County has led to “the return of spawning coho salmon to the upper reaches of a tributary of Big River,” the Mendocino Land Trust announced. The project was a collaboration between the Land Trust, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Jackson Demonstration State Forest, and “initial post-restoration informal surveying has already shown increased coho salmon spawning activity.”
After three difficult years when Chinook salmon population numbers were down and fishing opportunities were limited, commercial fishermen are hoping the upcoming season will be better. “What we’re seeing is a better forecast of salmon in the ocean this year than we saw last year,” said Harry Morse, public information officer for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We’re cautiously optimistic.”
Think California should build a lot more dams to catch these deluges? Forget it. … There’s one dam being planned north of Sacramento in Colusa County that makes sense: Sites. There are also some dam expansion projects that could work. But California is already dammed to the brim. Every river worth damming has been. And some that weren’t worth it were dammed anyway.
Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Creek, working with Republican Doug LaMalfa of the First District, have introduced the Sites Reservoir Protection Act to support building the reservoir and other water infrastructure in the Central Valley. The act, also known as House Resolution 1453, would direct the Bureau of Reclamation to complete a feasibility study for the project in Colusa and Glenn counties.
Imperial Irrigation District officials announced at a special board meeting late Friday that the federal Bureau of Reclamation has agreed to their condition that the drought contingency plan package include restoration of the Salton Sea. They said federal officials will write a strong letter of support backing IID’s requests for $200 million in Farm Bill funding for wetlands projects around the shrinking sea, which is California’s largest inland water body.
One tunnel or two, neither idea adds a drop of the water to needs of the nearly 40 million people who call California home. The tunnels simply divert existing water supplies while putting in severe jeopardy the largest freshwater estuary west of the Mississippi River, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta that juts into the western edge of Stockton. Clearly, there must be better solutions. Three approaches leap to mind: storage, conservation and desalination.
Four new voting members, each appointed by representatives of the Delta region, would be added to the Delta Stewardship Council if a bill authored by Assemblyman Jim Frazier becomes law. … Frazier introduced Assembly Bill 1194 this week. It would increase the voting membership of the council to 11 members.
It’s a treasure that is all too easy for Palo Alto to take for granted — an abundant supply of pristine water that flows from the Sierra Nevada snowpacks and passes through the Hetch Hetchy system before splashing out of local showers and faucets. Palo Alto is one of 25 cities that belong to the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency (BAWSCA), which manages the member cities’ supply agreement with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. … Even so, the cities don’t always know which projects they’re helping to fund.
To make a real structural shift, utilities must engage a broader group of actors in the process, and that is where cap and trade comes into play, this time for water systems. … A smattering of cap-and-trade schemes already aim to address water pollution in various water bodies. Yet most such trading programmes have focused on water quality. Now their frameworks must be expanded to account for water quantity, encouraging efficiency, reinvestment, and supply diversification.
But the river remains an unpredictable force, one that could give rise to even more destructive floods in an era of increasingly extreme weather, experts say. … County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins has her sights on the opportunities to tame floodwaters in the river’s middle reaches, starting near Windsor and upstream, where it broadens and meanders more freely in a floodplain less constricted by roads and other development.
Climate change plus population growth are setting the stage for water shortages in parts of the U.S. long before the end of the century, according to a new study in the AGU journal Earth’s Future. Even efforts to use water more efficiently in municipal and industrial sectors won’t be enough to stave off shortages, say the authors of the new study. The results suggest reductions in agricultural water use will probably play the biggest role in limiting future water shortages.
The winter wonderland conditions are in stark contrast to what they were a year ago, when the outlook for California’s reservoirs looked bleak. Sierra snowpack was at 19 percent of historical levels and many parts of the state were experiencing drought conditions. “Right now we’re not concerned about drought at all,” Pete Fickenscher, a senior hydrologist at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Service, said.
Complaints are mounting against Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt over allegations he used his position to help the interests of his former lobbying client, California’s powerful Westlands Water District. The nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint accusing Bernhardt of ethics violations by partaking in decisions directly related to his past lobbying work, resulting in rules that would free up more river water to Fresno-based Westlands and weakening protections for certain endangered fish populations.
Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano, introduced the Sites Reservoir Protection Act Thursday to provide federal support for the building of Sites Reservoir and other water infrastructures in the Central Valley. The act, also known as House Resolution 1453, would direct the Bureau of Reclamation to complete a feasibility study for the project Colusa and Glenn counties.
The aging, leaking Combie Canal, a concrete flume located along a steep hillside above the Bear River, received the OK for a nearly $20 million replacement Wednesday. The canal is a “critical piece of infrastructure” that serves two water treatment plants, Nevada Irrigation District staff say, with more than half of the district’s flows for deliveries made through the nearly 50-year-old system.
Funding awarded for the new Temperance Flat Dam may have fallen short, but hopes for construction are still very much alive. Jason Phillips, Director of Friant Water Authority and alumni of the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority, has insight as to why those involved with the project are still optimistic.