Should the state of California honor a commitment made in 2003 to restore the Salton Sea, despite moving water away from the area to thirsty coastal cities? Or should this artificial, long-festering sea be left alone to dry up entirely? While politicians have dithered, Bombay Beach’s atmospheric decay has drawn filmmakers, novelists and other artists who marvel at the thriving community hidden inside seemingly derelict properties.
In Orange and Los Angeles counties, more than 90 percent of the estuaries, lagoons and other coastal waters that existed in the 19th century have been lost to roads, buildings and other development. But what remains provides a crucial habitat for resident animals and migrating birds, including several endangered species.
Solar panels have trouble producing renewable energy whenever it snows. With winters expected to increase in severity because of climate change, generating power in the cold, snowy season will likely become a major issue in years to come. Fortunately, scientists from UCLA just invented a way to produce energy from snow. The researchers call their handy device a snow-based triboelectric nanogenerator (snow TENG). It works by generating power via static electricity.
The Colorado River Sustainability Campaign has been an important behind-the-scenes player for environmentalists working on the waterway, which provides water to 40 million people. … When asked who funds his project, Sam Tucker listed five foundations. Those foundations’ grant databases showed that his campaign has received at least $8.6 million since 2016. … Almost half — $4 million — of the campaign’s money came from one source: the Walton Family Foundation. (Second of two parts.)
While you may have heard about the Trump administration’s attempts to narrow the scope of Waters of the United States (WOTUS), California is expanding its regulations, including broadening the definition of wetlands subject to permitting requirements. … Projects impacting California surface waters and wetlands that are outside federal jurisdiction will now need state authorization under new and more expansive rules.
Arizona’s top water official says a lawsuit filed Tuesday by California’s Imperial Irrigation District could pose a threat to the newly approved multistate drought contingency plan. But Tom Buschatzke, director of the Department of Water Resources, said he’s not worried the plan will fall apart — at least not yet.
In SB1, State Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins provides a compelling case to protect California’s air, navigable water, drinking water and workers. … However, despite our recognition that some in our state feel recent administrative rulings and legislative changes to federal law may not be the right prescription for California, we believe this legislation is overbroad, duplicative and unworkable.
In just the past week, water about an inch deep has popped up out of nowhere in both the northbound and the southbound lanes just south of the 880 interchange. … Underground aquifers are full from all the recent rain and pressure is now forcing water to bubble up in weak spots in the surface.
The last thing California needs is another tax. But that’s what Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed – a regressive water tax that will hit financially challenged Californians hardest. … Yet California’s taxpayers have been working so hard they have showered the state with a $22 billion surplus. Spending a fraction of that would take care of the clean water problem.
Congressman Jared Huffman says the Water, Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee, which he chairs in the U.S. House of Representatives, is finally getting to do things “we weren’t allowed to do” for the past six years when Republicans controlled the House. Things like protecting public lands, making climate change part of all environmental programs, trying to prevent offshore drilling and looking at the state of the nation’s wildlife and fisheries.
The petition, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges violations of the California Environmental Quality Act by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and names the Coachella Valley, Palo Verde and Needles water districts as well. It asks the court to suspend the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan until a thorough environmental analysis has been completed.
An unlikely advocate seems to be around every bend of the Colorado River these days: the Walton Family Foundation. The $3.65 billion organization launched by Walmart founder Sam Walton has become ubiquitous in the seven-state basin that provides water to 40 million people, dishing out $100 million in grants in the last five years alone. … The foundation’s reach is dizzying and, outside the basin, has received scant attention. (First of two parts.)
There are at least six high-profile projects in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming that combined could divert more than 300,000 acre-feet of water from the beleaguered Colorado River. That’s the equivalent of Nevada’s entire allocation from the river. These projects are in different stages of permitting and funding, but are moving ahead even as headlines about the river’s dwindling supply dominate the news.
The Bureau of Reclamation announced Wednesday that it will supply South-of-Delta growers with 65% of their contracted water total. … Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno), who is a grower and one of the top water policy experts in Congress, said that he expected the initial west-side allocation in February to be 50%, followed by a 75% revise.
Frustration was evident, whether it was from a flooded homeowner or a government agency trying to explain its processes during Wednesday’s “listening session” regarding flooding in north Chico. … Despite the anger, there seemed to be some progress, whether it was the cleaning of Rock Creek west of Highway 99 by the Rock Creek Reclamation District, or more property owners funding efforts themselves. Lucero suggested that property owners could pay more into the existing county service areas set up for drainage maintenance.
In an effort to end Thousand Oaks’ near total reliance on imported water, public works staff is asking the City Council to commit $16.6 million over the next two years to build a groundwater treatment plant at the city’s publicly owned golf course. The Los Robles Greens Golf Course Groundwater Utilization Project—which will be offset with an estimated $6 million in State Water Project (Prop. 1) grants—is the single most expensive item on the city’s proposed $97-million 2019-21 capital improvement program budget…
The dominant water issue facing our community and every community in California today is the insecurity of the water supply. The California Legislature is facing up to the serious need to take less water from the surface and groundwater for human use to preserve wildlife habitats and industries such as fishing. Both depend upon water filling the streams and waterways that ultimately find their way to the ocean.
California State Treasurer Fiona Ma announced the competitive sale this week of $299.6 million in California Department of Water Resources water system revenue bonds to refinance certain State Water Project capital improvements, including a portion of the costs of the Oroville Dam Spillways Response, Recovery and Restoration Project.
The National Flood Insurance Program provides coverage to more than 5 million households and small businesses across the United States, including more than 229,000 in California. The program has been hard hit by payouts from major flood disasters in recent years and is heavily in debt. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which houses the program, has recently announced significant changes. We talked to Carolyn Kousky, a flood insurance expert at the Wharton Risk Center at the University of Pennsylvania … about the program.
I am standing where stream flow begins, in a nameless tributary of the Russian River to the east of Hopland, California. This particular spot and location has been a grazing livestock ranch, primarily sheep, going back more than 100 years. This is one of thousands of spots in the watershed where water comes to the surface, joins in a channel, and starts its path downstream.
Wade Crowfoot, California’s new Natural Resources Secretary, recently delivered a keynote address at Los Angeles Business Council’s annual Sustainability Summit. He focused on the economic, social and environmental challenges the state and localities are addressing in response to a new climate normal; on prioritizing new wildfire and water supply & stormwater policies; and, commended the city of Los Angeles for its ambitious climate actions.
President Donald Trump signed a bill Tuesday authorizing a plan for Western states to take less water from the overburdened Colorado River. The president’s signing capped a years-long process of sometimes difficult negotiations among the seven states that rely on the river. … Next, representatives from Arizona and the other Colorado River basin states who had a hand in crafting the deal are expected to meet for a formal signing ceremony.
The California Farm Bureau delegation met last week with more than 20 members of the California congressional delegation, with a particular emphasis on members newly elected in 2018. They met with U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, two days before the Senate confirmed his appointment as the Cabinet’s newest member. For the first time in several years, they conducted a briefing for congressional staff members, to describe key issues facing California farmers and ranchers.
EPA won’t regulate any pollution to surface waters that passes through groundwater. … If pollution travels through groundwater, EPA says, it “breaks the causal chain” between a source of pollution and surface waters. That could affect regulation of pollution from a variety of sources, including seepage from coal ash and manure management ponds, sewage collection systems, septic system discharges, and accidental spills and releases.
A new study released by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation predicts a release of up to 9 million acre-feet of water from Lake Powell to Lake Mead this year, which means a possible shortage declaration looming in 2020 might be averted. The snowpack in the Colorado River Basin is about 130 percent of average, with flows into Lake Powell predicted to be 128 percent of average during the runoff season.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled on Friday that the EPA’s 2015 power plant wastewater pollution rule was not stringent enough, siding with environmentalists. Circuit Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan ruled in favor of various environmental groups that portions of the wastewater rule regulating legacy wastewater and liquid from impoundments were “unlawful.”
The US hydro fleet, despite experiencing flat growth in total capacity since the 1970s, is experiencing a renaissance. It isn’t only in California, but across the country – with some of the nearly 2200 facilities commanding substantial earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, owing in part to their renewable characteristics but also to their very long asset lives.
Balancing fisheries restoration and water-supply reliability is central to a water struggle playing out in Mendocino, Lake, Sonoma and Humboldt counties after Pacific Gas and Electric Co. withdrew its application to relicense the Potter Valley Project, leaving the now “orphaned” project in the hands of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Federal and state water managers have coordinated operations of the CVP and the parallel State Water Project for many decades. … But this intergovernmental water policy Era of Good Feeling (relatively speaking) has come to a sudden and dramatic end with the ascension of the Trump Administration.
Residents are concerned a proposed project aimed at tackling the pollution problem in the Tijuana River Valley will ultimately negatively affect them. … Some residents voiced they are not happy to hear about a proposal to build what they have dubbed a “sewage pond” near their homes.
Wildfires alter the chemistry of streams for years, causing significantly lower concentrations of dissolved organic matter, which provides a vital energy source to organisms living in streams and rivers… University of New Hampshire researchers and their collaborators with the University of California-Merced and Ohio State University examined the effects of wildfire on stream chemistry and water quality in Yosemite National Park, Calif.
Cannabis is the most highly regulated crop in California, and the state just added another layer of regulation. This article breaks down the State Water Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB) recently updated Cannabis Cultivation Policy – Principles and Guidelines for Cannabis Cultivation (“Policy”) into six key takeaways.
Attorneys general from 14 states and the District of Columbia on Tuesday vehemently opposed the Trump administration’s proposal to roll back a regulation known as Waters of the United States, a move they said would end federal oversight of 15 percent of streams and more than half of the nation’s wetlands.
The main target of the order is Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, which grants states the power to certify that construction projects will not harm water quality. … The order directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to consult with states and tribes about whether Section 401 guidance should be modified. Some state organizations have expressed firm opposition to the administration’s attempt to supersede state permitting authority.
A bill moving through the state legislature looks to make repairs and enhancements to the Friant-Kern Canal. Senate Bill 559 was authored by Senator Melissa Hurtado, representing the 14th Senate District, and was co-authored by several other San Joaquin Valley lawmakers. The legislation recently advanced through the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water with a vote of 7 to 0.
At least 11 Democratic senators asked the inspector general to investigate a range of claims against Bernhardt … The inspector general also received a request from Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, asking the office to examine whether Bernhardt played a role in the department’s handling of endangered species in the San Francisco Bay Delta…
U.S. presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said on Monday she would ban all fossil fuel extraction on federal land and in coastal waters, setting herself apart from a crowded field of Democratic hopefuls who have made climate change a central campaign issue but have yet to outline specific policies.
Here’s something worth celebrating: In a rare bipartisan resolve to prevent a water crisis in the Southwest, Congress has authorized a plan to reduce consumption from the Colorado River – a major conservation milestone. It shows that when we work together as Americans, we can address some of the biggest challenges facing our nation today.
A total of 300,000 salmon were released into the Sacramento River on Saturday. Half were dropped at their usual location at Coleman Fish Hatchery near Anderson in Shasta County, and the other half were released 75 miles downstream, at Scottys Landing on River Road near Chico. Surgeons fit the fish with tiny radio transmitters so they can more easily study their survival chances and homing instincts.
Daryl Vigil, water administrator at Jicarilla Apache Nation, who worked on the study, said it’s relatively new for local and federal lawmakers to include tribes in national water policy conversations. “That conversation and that opportunity wasn’t available before,” Vigil said. “But now with the conclusion of this DCP and the inclusion of tribes in that dialogue, I think that sets the stage for that to happen.”
If farmers cannot prove that they are replenishing the amount of groundwater as they are taking out, they are not going to be allowed to use the groundwater pumps. … Temperance Flat would provide additional storage opportunities—up to an additional 1.2 million acre-feet—and will allow farmers to have carryover water from year to year. This will carry the farmers through the dry years, and it will give the allowance to stabilize the groundwater condition.
Spring has arrived, which means it’s a great time to visit dozens of Northern California waterfalls. … Waterfall photographer Leon Turnbull gave his top six picks of Northern California waterfalls to visit during late spring.
Smith River Neighborhood Watch coordinator Joni Forsht began by telling local Easter lily bulb growers that though the goal wasn’t to put them out of business, she wanted them to change their methods “as far as what you’re putting on the lily bulbs and where it’s going.” But before Wednesday’s meeting was over, the growers said they felt attacked.
The tall, bamboo-like plants clustered in dense thickets along sections of the Salinas River in the Salinas Valley have long attracted the attention of those who have strolled in that area. Green and stately with long, sword-like leaves, they belong to a species known as Arundo donax, or more commonly, giant cane. … But the plant is a nuisance and local officials have decided to do something about it.
Every day, 46,000 people drive Highway 37, the scenic route that connects Marin County with Vallejo, Napa and just about everywhere east. This thread, though essential, is also tenuous in that it’s strung atop a berm barely above sea level. Traversing the vast salt marshes known as the San Pablo Baylands, the 21-mile stretch is emerging as an early challenge to planners confronting California’s changing climate.
2019 marks the sixth straight winter that scientists from NASA/JPL have been flying over portions of the Sierra range, using light-detection and ranging lasers called lidar to map and decode the snowpack. The Airborne Snow Observatory program, or ASO, is based on technology that NASA has been using for years to look at Mars and other planets.
Farmers, by trade, are experts in sustainability and by extension common sense. Growers along with 1.5 million Northern San Joaquin Valley residents could end up on the receiving end of an economic Armageddon perpetuated by the state Department of Water Resources on behalf of the threatened Chinook salmon.
Climate change is already negatively affecting the health of Marin residents and within 15 years attendant sea-level rise could threaten the county’s shoreline buildings, roads and original utility systems. This was the sobering message Marin supervisors received after Supervisor Kate Sears requested an update on the local health impacts of climate change and efforts to prepare for sea- level rise.
The Eastern Sierra snowpack that feeds the Los Angeles Aqueduct was measured this month at 171% of normal and is expected to meet 70 percent of the city’s annual water needs. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said Friday the aqueduct will flow at or near full capacity for much of the next 12 months, providing about 119 billion gallons (450.4 billion liters).
A new analysis from Trout Unlimited shows the U.S. Geological Survey underestimates the number of streams nationwide that flow only following rain. … The analysis comes as the Trump administration is soliciting comments on its Waters of the U.S., or WOTUS, rule that would eliminate Clean Water Act protections for ephemeral streams, which flow only following rainfall.
The Yosemite toad is considered endangered, and its numbers are falling. Scientists say the amphibian chytrid fungus is one reason, but climate change also may contribute to some pools drying up before tadpoles mature.
With recurring sewage spills, some San Diegans are still afraid to go into the water at some of the county’s southern-most beaches. Now, local leaders are fighting the U.S. and Mexican governments to clean up the waste-filled waters near the border.
All along the lazy Lake County shorelines of creeks, ponds and lakes you may be able to sneak up on Western pond turtles to observe their slow-motion antics. … Besides watery places of residence, however, they require a terrestrial habitat to thrive. For instance, if the turtles’ resident pond or marsh dries up seasonally or in a drought, they might end up living outside of their aquatic environment for two-thirds of a year.
Researchers say the end of California’s drought could offer a surprising benefit: reduced transmission of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus. Drought is the most important weather-related factor that affects the rate of West Nile infection, scientists say.
Congress passed an historic Colorado River drought deal on Monday, which is now on its way to President Trump’s desk for his signature. That leaves Arizona back to wrestling with water issues that it mostly set aside during the two years it fixated on the negotiations for the Colorado River deal.
Prior to the installation of the system, the rain garden was hardpan dirt, allowing all the rainwater—contaminated and polluted with oil, gas, sediment, cigarette butts and plastic wrappers—to drain directly into Orrs Creek and the Russian River. The new garden is 3- to 5-feet deep and composed of carefully constructed layers of soil and rock, allowing the water to be cleaned mechanically and biologically filtering the biocontaminants.
Even as winter and early-spring storms have filled reservoirs to the brim and piled snow on Sierra Nevada mountaintops, state and federal officials say they’re limited in how much water they can send south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
Environmental groups have dropped their opposition to a bill they had originally blasted as a way for the state to green-light a controversial plan to pipe water from eastern Nevada to Las Vegas after the bill was amended last week. … But AB30 was altered significantly enough on Wednesday to allow those groups to feel comfortable enough to now say they are neutral on the bill.
Bernhardt has a roster to fill, with gaping vacancies in key positions. He’s got, by his own account, a departmental ethics program to fix and an ambitious reorganization scheme that critics decry or simply dismiss. He’ll have to cope with a multibillion-dollar national parks maintenance backlog and thread the needle with an offshore drilling plan. And as he’s already discovered during his short stint as acting secretary, he faces opposition from Democratic lawmakers in control of the House.
When state surveyors measured the Sierra snowpack on April 2, they found 106.5 inches of snow, with an equivalent of 51 inches of water — … Compared to average measurements for this time of year, those readings represent 200% of normal levels. That means the snows that drew skiers this winter will soon deliver thrills to another group of outdoor enthusiasts: whitewater rafters.
From the first LA River cleanup in April 1989 when 10 people showed up to the thousands that arrive on the river banks each April, the group has attracted 70,000 volunteers who have collectively removed 700 tons of trash in 29 years, the group reported. … Many argue the cleanup events are the No. 1 reason for the nonprofit’s successes in making the LA River a cause celeb.
Massive fish-die offs. Dead birds. A toxic stench. Bryan Mendez and Olivia Rodriguez are dissatisfied that those sad facts are the only things most Californians ever hear about the Salton Sea, one of the largest inland seas in the world.
Fed up neighbors in Imperial Beach are taking action over the pollution problem. The coastline in South County has been plagued by sewage spills coming from Mexico for years. … After spending the morning cleaning the sand, neighbors took to the streets to demand clean water. Holding signs, and repeating protest chants, demonstrators marched on the Imperial Beach Pier and then held a rally.
The severe drought that struck California from 2011 to 2015 had an obvious impact on rivers, forests, and wildlife. Now, a new study shows it also had some surprising effects on the state’s notorious air pollution, adding new wrinkles to the state’s efforts to clear the skies.
At its core, the ill-advised attempt to “restore” the Salton Sea is nothing short of environmental malpractice. It will inevitably fail at a very high cost to both wildlife and taxpayers, succeeding only in perpetuating a hazardous condition.
Residents in north Chico say they have never seen flooding like the deluge that came their way this year, and they want to know how to stop it. Storm water from Rock Creek and Keefer Slough surged into their backyards, front yards, and in some cases into their homes. It crept into orchards and overtook Highway 99, north of Chico and continued westward.
While California recovers from the worst drought in state history, a myriad of impacts resulting from climate change threaten Southern California’s imported water supply. As a shadow of drought hangs over the region, this documentary explores the dire consequences of inaction that lie ahead.
David Bernhardt, President Trump’s pick to the lead the Interior Department, was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday amid persistent ethical concerns and doubts about his independence from the energy and water industry groups he long represented as a lobbyist.
Eldorado Irrigation District staff said the proposed improvements and replacements are needed because the existing equipment does not allow selective temperature withdrawal at multiple elevations for the benefit of downstream fisheries. In addition the existing pumps and boosters have reached the end of their useful life, having undergone multiple repairs over the years.
Zig-zagging around us, among the trees, is a sprawling network of irrigation ditches. It’s almost laid out like a farm. Instead of the food crops grown all around this site, Schlatter’s team grows trees and willows, prime habitat for birds, coyotes, frogs and other wildlife. The whole site only receives water a couple times a year.
The legislation, which received bipartisan support, will invest $400 million from the State’s General Fund towards the Friant-Kern Canal, one of the Central Valley’s most critical water delivery facilities.
The State Water Board was given the power to force a larger, better run utility to absorb a smaller neighbor that consistently fails to deliver clean water. They would like South Kern to connect to Bakersfield’s system, which serves high-quality water to 144,000 people. … The three sides have been in negotiations for two and a half years, a struggle between one of the largest cities in California’s Central Valley, state officials, and two tiny water suppliers that is the first significant test of the four-year-old statute.
Assemblyman Jim Frazier spoke out in frustration Wednesday when his bill to increase local representation on the Delta Stewardship Council died Tuesday in a committee hearing. Unable to get his bill past the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, Frazier blamed Southern California water special interests
Lawmakers on Wednesday moved an amended version of the bill following pressure from conservationists, American Indian tribes and rural communities who oppose siphoning water from remote Nevada valleys to the state’s largest city. Although the bill still requires approval from both the Assembly and Senate to become law, opponents say the watered-down version assuages their concerns about the pipeline.
In Medieval Europe, all roads led to Rome. In Arizona, all rivers lead to the Colorado. In fact, it’s no exaggeration to say the state of Arizona lies almost entirely within the Colorado River drainage basin, which also sprawls across southwestern Wyoming and down through parts of Utah, Colorado, Nevada, California and New Mexico.
More than a decade in the making, a new state definition of wetlands will likely take effect early next year—as will procedures intended to protect them from dredge-and-fill activities. The State Water Resources Control Board adopted final amendments to the state wetland policy last week, after including changes that moved it closer to its original intent of limiting its application to agriculture.
When Babbitt speaks, people take notice, and he didn’t disappoint before a packed house at the annual Anne J. Schneider Lecture April 3 in Sacramento, offering thoughts on some of California’s thorniest water issues and proposing a Bay-Delta Compact, a kind of grand bargain to end persistent conflict surrounding the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
An international team of researchers has carried out the first systematic global review of water reallocation from rural to urban regions—the practice of transferring water from rural areas to cities to meet demand from growing urban populations. … The study, published in Environmental Research Letters, found North America and Asia are hotspots for rural-to-urban water reallocation,
Over the past 50 years, hydrology has experienced a revolution in theory, technical application, and interdisciplinary collaboration. … But as impressive as these technological advancements are, the hydrological revolution owes as much to a shift in culture.
This bill calls for $150M in funding over the next ten years from the state’s General Fund to conduct laser surveys via ten airplane trips over the Trinity Alps and the Sierra Nevada each year. They would also fly over hydrologic areas that drain to, or supply water to, certain major reservoirs and lakes.
Nevada County residents tend to think of the Yuba River or Scotts Flat Reservoir when they want to go play in the water. But Rollins Reservoir, while arguably getting less local love, generates a lot of income for the community from out-of-town visitors.
Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Office will deliver at least 322,000 acre feet of water — or a 92% allocation — rather than a full 350,000 from Upper Klamath Lake to the Klamath Project this summer and fall.
Will hatchery-raised salmon have a better chance of surviving their journey to the Pacific Ocean and back if they get a 75-mile head start? That’s the question a three-year study hopes to answer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and four partner organizations. The plan Saturday is to release 180,000 salmon fry into the Sacramento River 75 miles downriver from the Coleman National Fish Hatchery.
Let’s face it, the 2018-2019 water year has been awesome! … Even with this great news, the California Department of Water Resources says, “the days of taking water for granted is over.” Niki Woodard is the Deputy Assistant Director for California Department of Water Resources and she believes the small steps we take at home add up and can make a huge difference for our state.
Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) ripped the State Water Resources Control Board on Tuesday for arguing that the harm caused by the Bay-Delta Plan to the drinking water of disadvantaged communities is not “significant”. Gray’s comments came as his legislation, Assembly Bill 637, cleared the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee with bipartisan support.
Activities that remove vegetation and disturb the soil are the most harmful. “Things like energy exploration and development can do some of that as well as off-highway vehicles,” Duniway said. He said livestock overgrazing is another culprit, as well as droughts and wildfires. Climate models predict those conditions will only get worse.
“Postcards from Mecca,” the current La Quinta Museum exhibit, is a display of photos from the eastern end of the Coachella Valley, taken between 1916 and 1936 by Susie Keef Smith and Lula Mae Graves, two adventurous women who called the desert home. … Included are photos of a tunnel and workers building the 242-mile Colorado River Aqueduct … delivering Colorado River water to Southern California.
The Anderson Cottonwood Irrigation District, or ACID, Canal was covered in tree debris after the snow and rain storms. The workload was enough that Congressman Doug Lamalfa called in the California Conservation Corps.
The Los Angeles County Flood Control District has committed $8 million toward the restoration of Baldwin Lake, a severely polluted body of water that is the centerpiece of the county Arboretum visited by 400,000 people annually, officials said.
It’s not clear how much water this year’s snowpack will produce, but the record snowpack in 2017 produced about one million acre feet of water. That’s too much for a funnel only about one-third that size. That means that water managers have to figure out where to put the excess water as it melts off the mountains. And the problem becomes potentially worse if a warm streak hits and melts the snow fast
Since 1993, the Lake Almanor community has been fortunate to have representatives from the California Department of Water Resources (CDWR) assisting in the testing and assessment of the health of the lake and its tributaries. … The testers check for water temperature at the test location, dissolved oxygen, turbidity (amount of suspended matter in the water) and for various metals and minerals.
For the millions of Californians who live and work far from the Delta, it can be easy to overlook the splendor of the largest estuary in western North America. Whether you are one mile or hundreds of miles from the Delta, however, all Californians have a stake in the survival and preservation of this fragile, dynamic ecosystem that is also the keystone of the state’s water supply system.
Casey Hashimoto, general manager of the Turlock Irrigation District since 2010, announced Tuesday that he will retire at the end of 2019. The leader of one of Stanislaus County’s largest water and power providers disclosed his plans at the morning board meeting. Hashimoto, an electrical engineer, joined TID in 1985 and was an assistant GM for 10 years.
In California, the amount of water exiting aquifers under the state’s most productive farming region far surpasses the amount of water trickling back in. That rampant overdraft has caused land across much of the region to sink like a squeezed out sponge, permanently depleting groundwater storage capacity and damaging infrastructure. … New research from Stanford University suggests a way to map precisely where and how to use groundwater recharge to refill the aquifers and stop the sinking.
All this reliance on an overallocated river has left its final hundred miles as the ultimate collateral damage. Since the early 1960s, when Glen Canyon Dam impounded the river near Page, Arizona, it has rarely reached the Pacific Ocean. The thread is frayed beyond recognition, leaving no water for the river itself.
Responding to congressional approval of a Southwestern drought pact, officials from the Imperial Irrigation District said Tuesday the Salton Sea is the untested plan’s “first casualty.” … IID had refused to sign the plan because it wanted a “firm commitment” of more than $400 million in state and federal funds to resolve environmental issues at the Salton Sea.
An increasing number of solutions to California and Arizona’s long-term water problems now involve Mexico. Some of the ideas are seemingly far-fetched, like a pipeline to bring water from the Gulf of California to the Salton Sea in Imperial County. Some are already happening, like Mexico agreeing to reduce its water use in the event of a Colorado River shortage. … That stands in contrast not only to recent threats by President Donald Trump to shut down the border, but some existing water projects.
Our rules, cobbled over time from various state water right decisions or federal biological opinions, are too rigid. Pumping rules in the Delta on Nov. 30, for example, are very different than those 24 hours later, regardless of the weather. … Simply put, we are stuck in yesterday’s way of regulating things.
The wetland is fed by a concrete canal that removes drainage water from American farms across the border in Arizona. … But there’s a problem. As the Colorado River basin heats up and dries out like climate projections predict, Juan Butrón-Méndez is concerned people will stop thinking of the water that flows to the wetland as waste, find a way to use it and, in turn, harm the Ciénega.
California has until recently lagged behind other states when it comes to tackling the myriad problems posed by one group of chemicals found with increasing frequency in drinking water systems nationwide. A sweeping new bill requiring testing for the whole group of chemicals, rather than a few, would help change that.
A bill that would authorize the federal government to enact a drought plan for Colorado River basin states in times of shortage has passed Congress and is on its way to the White House for the president’s signature. … Its aim is to protect water users from deep losses and keep the reservoirs and river healthy.
Our soggy spring has been a big boost to these so-called “vernal ponds,” ephemeral bodies of water which play a critical role in preservation of threatened and endangered creatures… The team found larvae of the threatened California tiger salamander in 28 of the 58 pools they monitor. The endangered vernal pool tadpole shrimp was found in 49 of these pools. That’s the third-highest tally in recent years.
This week California’s State Water Resources Control Board adopted important new rules to protect the state’s remaining wetlands resources. Enacted after over a decade of Board hearings, workshops and deliberation, those rules are overdue, welcome and critically necessary. Their adoption is particularly timely now, given the Trump Administration’s wholesale assault on and erosion of federal programs designed to protect our nation’s wetlands under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA).
Officials met in Imperial Beach Friday to discuss the sewage pollution that continues to plague South Bay shorelines — shuttering beaches more than 100 days every year. The event was billed as an “inaugural dialogue,” which in the future will include a host of other binational issues, including climate change and commerce.
On March 29, the State Water Resources Control Board announced that cannabis cultivators with water rights are not allowed to divert surface water for cannabis cultivation activities at any time from April 1 through October 31 of this year unless the water diverted is from storage. … It’s really just common sense because it prohibits using water from surface sources, such as streams, creeks, and rivers during California’s dry season.
Two of the four plants are scheduled to close by 2025. The fate of the third rests upon a longshot bid to keep it open beyond 2022. … Navajo Generating Station was built as part of a federal effort to bring water to Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz. Power from the plant was used to pump water up and out of the Colorado River and across the desert. The federal government still owns a stake in NGS through the Interior Department.
You can’t see them. You can’t swim in them. But groundwater aquifers are one of the most important sources of water in the North Coast. … People who live in rural areas rely almost exclusively on groundwater, and while cities in Sonoma County get most of their water from the Russian River, groundwater provides a critical back-up source that is used during droughts or in emergencies.
Under the Clean Water Act, states are allowed to enforce rules more stringent than federal standards. On Tuesday, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted rules that largely mirror the federal regulations the Trump administration plans to repeal. California’s new rules had been in the works since 2008, but the process took on added urgency when the Trump administration announced its intention to relax federal wetlands protections.
Specifically, the Feather River Recovery Alliance is asking FERC to not reissue a license to the state Department of Water Resources to operate the Oroville Dam until terms of the agreement are renegotiated, including a new recreation plan. The group says it received 6,469 local signatures on the petition.
Despite its designation as a desert, the Coachella Valley is blessed with water. The very names associated with the most prominent places and businesses in the desert, such as the Oasis Hotel, Mineral Springs Hotel, Deep Well, Indian Wells, Palm Springs, Snow Creek, and Tahquitz River Estates, all conjure up pretty images of water. But the early story of desert water is more utilitarian than picturesque: it quite literally can be seen as a history of ditches.
Klamath Irrigation District has filed a lawsuit against Reclamation in federal court in Medford. Klamath Water Users Association will follow suit in a separate legal filing, jointly with Klamath Drainage District, Shasta View Irrigation District, Tulelake Irrigation District and individual farmers Rob Unruh and DuVal. Limitation to water supply stem from protections in the biological opinion for endangered sucker in Upper Klamath Lake and Coho Salmon in the Klamath River.
San Diego officials are proposing a variety of upgrades to Mission Bay Park’s Fiesta Island including new parks, playgrounds, volleyball courts, marsh areas and habitat preserves. The proposed master plan for the mostly undeveloped 470-acre island is envisioned as a balance between improving the island and retaining its rural ambiance, city officials said.
It might be tempting to sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labors, especially given all the rain and snow this winter. But our work is not done. In fact, the San Diego County Water Authority’s board leadership will ask the board of directors to consider options to leverage the investments we have made in decades past to meet the challenges and opportunities of decades to come.
New research finds that climate change is putting stress on wetlands in the West’s Great Basin and that is putting pressure on bird populations navigating the Pacific Flyway. Changing water conditions linked to climate change are impacting the wetland habitats that waterbirds rely on. The basin includes most of Nevada and parts of Utah, Arizona, Oregon and the eastern edge of California.
Tohono O’odham Chairman Edward D. Manuel testified Thursday that lack of water has been killing crops and livestock – and, essentially, the tribe’s economy – and things will only get worse if federal funding is allowed to lapse. That’s why Manuel joined officials from other tribes, utilities and advocacy groups to urge passage of a bill by Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson, that would make permanent a federal fund used to help the government meet its obligations under legal settlements over water-rights issues.
Chris Orrock of the California Department of Water Resources joins the podcast to chat with John Howard and Tim Foster about what this wealth of snow means for California’s water reserves and flood dangers, and the implications for wildfires later in the year.
His departments and agencies have moved to weaken or eliminate dozens of protections, and the rollbacks are coming so fast it’s not always possible for the state to keep up. It’s not for lack of trying. On Tuesday, the State Water Resources Control Board approved new standards to protect California’s wetlands and seasonal streams and ponds that are slated to lose their current federal protection under the Clean Water Act as part of the Trump administration’s rollbacks.
Among other ramifications, the new procedures largely duplicate (and in some respects are inconsistent with) federal procedures, but add a significant new layer to the already byzantine regulatory process for permitting projects that involve fill of federal and state waters and wetlands.
Our predecessors settled in a valley bordered by mountains that increase the rainfall and help store water as melted snow underground. They also experienced drought and, in response, they thoughtfully set aside thousands of acres of land needed to capture and replenish the primary source of the water they needed, underground.
People living in flood-prone areas throughout Shasta County seemed to be breathing easier Friday after a long winter dealing with high water threats. For months, many have been watching the rivers and creeks around their homes, in case the waters started to rise. However, despite wet weather and increased water releases from Keswick Dam this week, the residents we spoke with Friday say their waterways are staying at manageable levels.
Mexican and American officials met in Mexico City this week to talk about fixing a costly set of problems that have sprung up along the border: failing sewer systems that send raw sewage spilling into rivers. … Roberto Salmón, Mexico’s commissioner of the International Boundary and Water Commission, said border cities from Tijuana to Matamoros need a total of about 10 billion pesos, or $520 million, “just to bring the sanitary systems up to speed, to correct the problems.”
Crystal Geyser initially announced its intention to open the facility to bottle fruit juices with much fanfare in 2013. However, legal challenges have so far foiled its plans. The Winnemem Wintu Tribe and WATER (We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review) have filed two lawsuits to prevent the project, both of which are moving through the court system.
A fierce battle by Berkeley firefighters to prevent a gas-tank explosion succeeded in averting a potential disaster this week — but an apparently deadly aftereffect is that hundreds of fish were killed when water and retardant foam from the firefight flowed into a nearby stream.
Hot weather is on its way, and with it, potentially toxic bacteria could bloom rapidly in California’s largest lake, the Salton Sea, and other waters on the receiving end of runoff from farms and golf courses or sewage spills. With temperatures across the desert expected to climb high into the 90s by Monday, experts say telltale signs will quickly appear.
Almost everyone who flies into San Francisco or San Jose airport has seen it — a vibrant patchwork quilt of colorful water. … As part of a huge effort called the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, the Cargill salt company has freed almost 16,000 acres of their salt ponds.
Now EPA and the Corps want to hear directly from members of the public — including farmers, ranchers, landowners and others who may be subject to regulation — to make sure the new Clean Water Rule provides clear and easily understood guidelines. But with the comment period on the proposed new rule closing on April 15, there’s no time to lose.
Political leaders from the valley are urging the Environmental Protection Agency to closely scrutinize new water quality standards proposed for the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta. … “The State Water Resources Control Board’s proposal to the EPA misses the mark,” said Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, who joined almost a dozen congressmen, including conservatives Kevin McCarthy and Tom McClintock, in sending a letter to the EPA.
A Geyserville property owner who launched a medical cannabis farm has agreed to pay $245,000 in fines and penalties for what Sonoma County prosecutors said was improper water diversion, unpermitted grading and site work that harmed streams in the Russian River watershed.
So just what would a one-tunnel project look like? A workshop for Metropolitan Water District board members compared a single tunnel project at both 3000 cfs and 6000 cfs to the California WaterFix project, looking at water delivery capability, the ability to divert stormwater flows, water quality benefits, reverse flows, seismic events, and project costs.
Mention of climate change may still provoke skepticism in other sectors, but in California’s agriculture industry, the discussion is less about whether disruption is coming than it is about how farmers will adapt. A consensus appears to have emerged that extreme weather conditions — drought and flooding, hotter summers and milder winters — will increase competition for irrigation water such that some crops now produced in the Central Valley may no longer be economically feasible in the region.
On the first morning of a water conference in downtown Phoenix on Friday, an academic expert spoke of aridification in the Colorado River basin due to the ill effects of humans burning fossil fuels. After dinner, a writer of vivid predictive fiction spoke about his book “The Water Knife,” which describes Phoenix in a dusty and water-starved river basin, in the not-so-distant future.
The Amended Plan … has touched off a series of lawsuits due to its controversial unimpaired flow requirements for the Lower San Joaquin River and its tributaries … The Federal Government’s lawsuits challenge the Amended Plan by asserting that it fails to comply with CEQA and congressional mandates that control the operation of the New Melones Dam, which is part of the federally run Central Valley Project (CVP).
It started with a question: How big can Las Vegas grow before the water runs out? The answer from the Las Vegas Review-Journal is The Water Question, a 10-part series online and in print that brought together different parts of the newsroom. Together, staff took The Water Question from a planned Sunday package to both a series and online resource that asks and answers critical questions for Las Vegas.
The heavier than normal rains Napa Valley endured this winter will have beneficial after-effects for plants and animals like birds, fish and the endangered Calistoga popcorn flower. “Coming off several years of drought, there’s really nothing but a positive from all this rain…,” said Peter Tira of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The California State Water Resources Control Board adopted a complex policy essentially treating cannabis as a crop inferior to other traditional agricultural crops from a water rights perspective. Other states have not made such a strong policy choice yet, but will certainly be faced with how to address this influx of permit applications, and will feel pressure from farmers of traditional crops, who do not always welcome cannabis growers with open arms.
PG&E’s announcement it would no longer seek a new license to operate the complex set FERC’s “orphan project” process in motion… Prospective licensees have until July 1 to file applications with FERC. … A new licensee must be able to pay for the continued maintenance and operation of all project facilities and be capable of monitoring and complying with regulatory requirements arising from the project’s impacts.
Unfortunately, the thing that almost always lingers on after an adverse event such as a prolonged drought is government’s heavy hand in regulations and mandates that are hastily put together in an attempt to mitigate the drought and get us through it.
When the State Water Resources Control Board voted in December to adopt the Bay-Delta Plan, its members ignored the direction of former Governor Brown and current Governor Newsom to pursue voluntary agreements with our irrigation districts. Many saw this as an act of defiance by former Chair Felicia Marcus, the executive director, and many of the activist staff.
After closing for renovations three years ago, the Kern River Fish Hatchery opened to visitors March 25 with expanded abilities to take in, raise and grow trout. … Hatchery Manager Tony Holland said a team of state employees and volunteers plan to hike in August to a remote creek somewhere in the southern Sierra Nevada in search of genetically pure Kern River rainbow trout.
One video follows Matthew Sligar on a “typical 14-hour workday” during the planting season. Another offers a step-by-step explanation of how rice is planted in Butte County. In others, he takes viewers on virtual tractor rides and demonstrates important tools, like his autonomous agriculture drone. Sligar doesn’t shy away from controversial topics, either, such as weed and pest control management and water usage.
The water tax will require a two-thirds vote in each house. Democrats have that and a little to spare. Still, the governor will need to use all his power of cajolery and coercion to win passage of any tax increase.
A previously unreleased invoice indicates that David Bernhardt, President Trump’s choice to lead the Interior Department, continued to lobby for a major client several months after he filed official papers saying that he had ended his lobbying activities. The bill for Mr. Bernhardt’s services, dated March 2017 and labeled “Federal Lobbying,” shows, along with other documents, Mr. Bernhardt working closely with the Westlands Water District as late as April 2017, the month Mr. Trump nominated him to his current job, deputy interior secretary.
Rialto Mayor Deborah Robertson issued a city-wide challenge to residents to pledge to be water wise during the month of April, as part of a non-profit national service campaign to see which leaders can best inspire their residents to make a series of informative and easy-to-do online pledges to use water more efficiently. Two years ago the City of Rialto came in fifth place on its first try.
After 10 hours, 12 minutes and more than five dozen public speakers, supervisors … increased requirements for preserving trees and replacing cut-down ones for vineyards and other development in watershed areas, but decided against a complete ban on projects on ground steeper than 30 percent.
California regulators voted Tuesday to strengthen state safeguards for thousands of wetlands and streams that are about to lose federal protections in a Trump administration rollback of the Clean Water Act. … The new state rules will insulate California from Washington’s efforts to drop regulations that prevent the destruction of isolated wetlands and seasonal streams.
Felicia Marcus, who stepped down as Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board early this year, joins us to discuss California’s water challenges, what the state learned from the recent drought and the future of its water wars.
The use of public art to bring about social change created the interactive art event called the “Bombay Beach Biennale” on the shores of the Salton Sea. Organizers hope to bring attention to the long-ignored environmental issue facing the region, once one of the premier tourist destinations in Southern California.
California received some good news on Tuesday for the state’s water supply: The Sierra Nevada snowpack is well above normal, at 162 percent of average. This amount of snow is thanks to the more than 30 “atmospheric rivers” that brought storms this winter and spring. Chris Orrock, with the California Department of Water Resources, says … this is the fourth largest amount of snow in recorded history.
Excluded from a Southwestern drought pact, the Imperial Irrigation District won a small victory on Tuesday when federal legislators included protections for the Salton Sea that were left out of previous drafts of the agreement.
Now that the federal government has filed its own lawsuits against an unimpaired-flows plan for San Joaquin River tributaries, farmers and other parties to the lawsuits wait to learn where they will be heard–and prepare for a lengthy court battle. California Farm Bureau Federation … filed its own lawsuit against the unimpaired-flows plan in February…
Current water sharing proposals fail to achieve the balance needed to restore our salmon runs. Meanwhile, additional massive increases in Delta diversions are planned by the Trump administration under these agreements, which would make conditions for salmon even worse. This is a formula for extinctions and the end of salmon fishing in California. There is no support for this proposal among fishermen or conservationists.
Most winters, [firefighter Mike] Morello would be working on several of these forest treatment projects, especially prior to the bulk of the Sierra winter snowfall. But throughout late December and most of January, Morello was sitting at home. He got to spend more time with his kids, but because he was one of the thousands of Forest Service workers to be furloughed, he couldn’t spend time in the woods, trying to prevent the next Sierra town from becoming Paradise, California, where 85 people died in November of last year.
To prepare for the dry years that will come again as well as an uncertain future, healthy mountain watersheds will be key to our water supply. While the importance of forests to these watersheds is well known, new research suggests that meadows are valuable too. Meadows are like sponges, soaking up snowmelt in the spring and releasing it through the dry season.
Two members of Arizona’s congressional delegation introduced legislation Tuesday on a plan to address a shrinking supply of water from a river that serves 40 million people in the U.S. West. Republican Sen. Martha McSally and Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva vowed to move identical bills quickly through the chambers. Bipartisan lawmakers from Colorado River basin states signed on as co-sponsors.
On Tuesday, Napolitano, D-El Monte and U.S. Rep. Linda Sánchez, D-Norwalk asked a House Appropriations subcommittee to funnel $100.4 million into the Army Corps’ construction and dam safety correction budget for fiscal year 2020, citing the Whittier Narrows Dam in Pico Rivera as a leading contender for at least part of that funding.
It worked. Oroville Dam’s main flood-control spillway reopened for business Tuesday morning, releasing a gentle sheet of water into the Feather River for the first time since the 2017 crisis that sent 188,000 people fleeing for their lives. … It was a far cry from the scene two years ago, when the massive sinkhole in the spillway turned water releases into an angry, boiling mess…
Alongside auto wrecking yards and shipping centers off state Route 905, a pop-up world has emerged with some of the strangest creatures to swim in six inches of water. Here aquatic plants grow next to cacti, and animals that have waited for decades in the dust come to life. In this Otay Mesa preserve are some of San Diego’s vernal pools, fleeting water bodies that appear and vanish over the course of a season.
Several San Diego political and business leaders headed to Mexico City Sunday to advocate for free trade and increased infrastructure spending in Tijuana to stop sewage spills from polluting local beaches.
Fortunately, California has developed a forward-looking Central Valley Flood Protection Plan to meet this challenge. In his first state of the state address, Gov. Gavin Newsom highlighted the central tenet of the flood plan—investing in floodplain improvements that give rivers more room to safely bypass flood waters around cities and infrastructure.
Precious water is vanishing into thin air at the Colorado River’s two largest reservoirs, and scientists are only now learning the true scale of the problem. Building on ongoing research at Lake Mead, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Nevada’s Desert Research Institute have teamed up on a new study using remote sensors on floating platforms at Lake Powell to pinpoint how much water is lost to evaporation.
As farmers plant their 2019 crops, hopeful for an abundant harvest, they are unknowingly battling history. Past wildfires and other tree loss in California will likely interfere with U.S. food crops, based on emerging results of our own and colleagues’ research. … Deforestation could cause millions of dollars in lost agricultural production throughout the U.S. But policy and practice still fail to recognize the interdependence of our wild and cultivated lands.
It’s been a big year for snow in the Sierra Nevada range. This is the time of year—April 1—when the snowpack is typically at its peak and on Tuesday, when surveyors do their monthly manual survey, they’re likely to find a snowpack at about 160 percent of the average.
An oversight at the Coleman National Fish Hatchery resulted in the death of some 390,000 fall Chinook salmon this week. Water was shut off to one of the hatchery’s raceways and wasn’t turned back on during fish-tagging operations Thursday night..
Lawmakers are considering spending $150 million to fund new high-tech measurements of the snowpack using lasers. … The new hi-tech approach is meant to help water managers know exactly how much water they can expect in water runoff from the snowpack – and when that runoff will arrive in reservoirs, rivers, and streams.
Tom Steyer, the billionaire philanthropist and Democratic Party donor, took a break from trying to impeach President Donald Trump on Friday to visit the eastern Coachella Valley and learn about the water quality issues plaguing the region’s residents.
Officials predict they might need to open the gates to move water that accumulated during the wet winter season from the reservoir down into the Feather River. … Amy Rechenmacher, an associate professor of engineering practice at USC, said the spillway’s use is going to be a big test for the agency and engineers who worked on the project.
The March 26 opinion piece by Tom Buschatzke and 13 other Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan proponents to persuade the public that the DCP is good for the Salton Sea would have been better served – and made more believable – by a show of good faith rather than a show of force.
Decay festers all around at the Salton Sea, the vast inland lake in Southern California that once hosted beauty pageants and boat races in its tourist heyday. … But new life is moving into the breach. At Bombay Beach, artists drawn by the cheap prices and surreal setting have been snapping up lots and crumbling buildings as gallery spaces.
On Saturday officials held a grand opening ceremony for the $44-million Albion Riverside Park — the city’s newest greenspace. The triangular six-acre site next to the L.A. River at Spring Street includes playing fields, walking trails, restrooms, playgrounds, parking and an outdoor fitness center. But the park will also do double-duty as a giant filter to clean storm drain water before it flows in the adjacent L.A. River.
Despite the abundant water year we’ve had, though, over the long term climate change is transforming our snowpack and will make no-snow snow surveys more common in the future. Not only is climate change making good snow years like this one less likely, it’s also changing what good snow years mean for our water resources. And that’s going to mean a very different April snow survey in the future.
Conservationists and weekend volunteers have toiled in the Bolsa Chica Wetlands for years, weeding out invasive plants and replanting native vegetation squeezed out by the invaders. … Now, these wildlife custodians are expanding their botanical battle across Pacific Coast Highway to the sand dunes of Bolsa Chica State Beach. After all, no matter how many enemy plants are removed from the wetlands, ocean winds will carry more seeds from non-native plants growing in the dunes.
Too often considered a problem confined to the Central Valley and agricultural communities, the fact is that lack of access to safe, clean drinking water in school water fountains and home faucets affects every region of our state. This is a situation Gov. Gavin Newsom has rightly called a “disgrace” and has made it a priority to fix the crisis. In this life-saving endeavor, he has the support of Silicon Valley’s most innovative companies.
Russian River environmental watchdog Brenda Adelman accepted a water stewardship award from California’s North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board last month in a ceremony at NCRWQCB headquarters in Santa Rosa.
Like a climate chameleon, California turned brown during the 2012–16 drought, as vegetation dried or died off. But the change wasn’t uniform. According to research from UCLA and Columbia University, large areas of the northern part of the state were not severely affected, while Southern California became much browner than usual.
Bay Area anglers say they are pleased California State Parks is drastically reducing the number of sites treated with pesticides on the grass and weed-choked Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. … The move to reduce spraying and pelleting on parts of the Delta this year comes in the wake of last year’s increased use of pesticides that anglers’s claim wiped out the weeds, but also killed dozens of beavers, fish, turtles and other wildlife.
Spearheaded by the San Mateo Resource Conservation District, with additional support from California State Parks and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the project aims to re-establish more than a mile of the historic creek channel, remove 45,000 cubic yards of sediment and restore more than 10 miles of habitat for threatened steelhead trout and endangered coho salmon.
Turning the tables on California, the Trump administration sued Thursday to block the state’s ambitious plan to reallocate billions of gallons of river water to salmon and other struggling fish species. … The State Water Resources Control Board voted in December to reallocate the flows of the San Joaquin River and its tributaries. The move is designed to help steelhead and salmon by taking water from San Joaquin Valley farmers and a handful of cities.
Nearly 2 million acres designated as critical habitat for three imperiled frog species survived a court challenge Wednesday by California farmers. The Fish and Wildlife Service had designated the land in 2016 under the Endangered Species Act to protect two high-altitude species — the mountain yellow-legged frog and the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog — as well as Yosemite toads.
Chula Vista residents looking to conserve water now have another reason to keep an eye out for a leaky faucet, with the city announcing its participation in the 2019 National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation at a City Council meeting on March 26. The challenge, which is put on by the Wyland Foundation, is entering its eighth year of existence, and this will be the first year Chula Vista partakes.
A plan to divvy up cutbacks to Colorado River water in times of shortage has passed its first two tests in Congress. On Thursday, a House subcommittee endorsed the Drought Contingency Plan after questioning the state and federal officials who crafted it. Thursday’s approval came a day after a Senate subcommittee endorsed the plan. Next, lawmakers in both chambers will have to negotiate and vote on bills that would allow the federal government to carry out the plan.
For the second time in two months, officials had to stop diverting river water into Lake Casitas this week when several feet of sandy muck got in the way. … Officials blamed the Thomas Fire, which burned much of the area upstream in December 2017. When rain slammed into scorched hillsides, debris and sediment came down the river.
Democrats and their allies are moving to push back against a former lobbyist and frequent foe of California environmentalists who is on his way to becoming the next secretary of the Interior Department. They don’t have the power to block Trump nominee David Bernhardt, but they do have far more ability to oppose his agenda than they had for the last two years, when he served as the powerful deputy secretary of the department.
Parts of the bay are experiencing high levels of shoaling — sediment buildup that shallows the water, putting boats at the mercy of large waves. … The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District called for a state of emergency in February due to increased shoaling halfway across the channel in the North Bay, a portion known as “Rock and Roll Alley.”
The California Department of Conservation (DOC) announced late last week that eight organizations have received a total of $1.85 million in grants to hire watershed coordinators to help in building local capacity to improve forest health. … Areas identified by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection as being most at risk of catastrophic wildfires were given priority for the grants.
Growers in the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement will soon be sanitizing “open-source” water used on their crops, which has been the focus of at least two recent E. coli outbreaks traced to leafy greens. Scott Horsfall, the group’s CEO, said the new water treatment rules could be implemented as early as late April, or as late as mid-July.
Rate increases are being proposed in part to help pay for improvements to the Regional Wastewater Control Facility, which is set to go through the first phase of a modification project aimed at extending the life of existing amenities at the plant. The modification project will also improve working conditions for employees, and bring the site into compliance with national pollutant discharge standards.
This is a very worthy cause. But needed improvements can easily be paid for with the state’s multibillion-dollar budget surplus or with the billions in approved state water bonds. Imposing a first-ever tax on something as basic as water is a horrible idea.
Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he will introduce a tax of up to $10 a month to water customers in order to fund safe drinking water in disadvantaged communities. Valley Public Radio has reported in the past about how many of those communities are right here in the San Joaquin Valley. To learn about Newsom’s plan, we spoke to Jonathan Nelson, policy director at the Community Water Center.