The Trinidad City Council on Tuesday will consider whether to
participate in a feasibility study for a project that would
bring a steady flow of water to the city from the Mad River via
a new pipeline. The Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District
(HBMWD), which supplies water to Eureka, Arcata, McKinleyville,
Blue Lake and other area communities, is in the early stages of
researching the possibility of expanding its service area north
via a waterline extension at least as far north as the Trinidad
A federal agency has ruled that the state can continue to seek
higher flows on the Tuolumne River than planned by the Modesto
and Turlock irrigation districts. The Jan. 19 ruling drew
cheers from environmental and fishing groups that have long
sought larger releases from Don Pedro Reservoir into the lower
San Francisco rightly prides itself on being an environmental
leader. Given this deep commitment to protecting the
environment, the city’s water agency — the San Francisco Public
Utilities Commission — should be a leader in smart, sustainable
water policy. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. But
Mayor London Breed now has a once-in-a-decade chance to turn
the SFPUC in a new direction by appointing a progressive,
visionary new general manager who reflects the city’s values.
San Francisco’s Bay-Delta ecosystem and the Central Valley
rivers that feed it are in steep decline… -Written by John McManus, president of the Golden State
Salmon Association, and Kate Poole, the water lead for the
Natural Resources Defense Council.
In Oregon, the Klamath Basin wildlife refuges have fallen into
their winter silence now. The huge, clamorous flocks of geese
that fill the sky during migration have moved south. This
summer, a different silence gripped the basin. A dead silence.
The 90,000 acres of marshes and open water that make up the
Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges are a
small remnant of vast wetlands that once filled this region on
the Oregon-California border. -Written by Pepper Trail, a contributor to Writers on the
Range and a conservation biologist in Ashland, Ore.
The Bureau of Reclamation released a summary report providing
an assessment of climate change impacts to water uses in the
West, including adding a new set of West-wide information based
on paleohydrology. The Water Reliability in the West – 2021
SECURE Water Act Report discusses changes and innovative
actions across the eight basins identified in the SECURE Water
The State Water Resources Control Board adopted a general order
for how wastewater is processed and discharged at winery
locations in an ongoing effort to safeguard groundwater and
surface water from wastewater discharges. The order protects
groundwater and surface water quality while giving wineries the
flexibility to select compliance methods that best fit their
site-specific situation, including tiering the compliance
requirements to the winery size and associated threat to water
A Fort Collins man is pressing forward with a proposed
325-mile-long pipeline which would transfer water from
northeastern Utah into the northern part of Colorado’s Front
Range. It could cost Aaron Million a billion and a half
dollars to build. He claims to have sufficient support from
private investors to make his pipeline dream a reality.
Kevin Kelley, the elegant, whip-smart and fierce former general
manager of the Imperial Irrigation District, who fought to
preserve the Salton Sea and his rural county’s water
rights, died Tuesday at 61. He passed away at home, said his
brother, Ryan Kelley, an Imperial County Supervisor. The cause
of death is still being determined. As top executive from
2011 to January 2019 of the powerful but often
overlooked IID, Kelley regularly took on state, federal
and urban water officials to remind them of the valley’s
Recent fish surveys confirm what many biologists, ecologists,
and water experts have known for some time – Delta smelt remain
on the brink of extinction. Zero Delta smelt were found in the
California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s recent Fall
Midwater Trawl Survey. Even the Enhanced Delta Smelt Monitoring
Program, which is specifically designed to capture the tiny
fish, only successfully caught two Delta smelt from September 8
to December 11, 2020.
California is enveloped in balmy weather that’s more like
spring than mid-winter — and that’s not a good thing. We have
seen only scant rain and snow this winter, indicating that the
state may be experiencing one of its periodic droughts and
adding another layer of crisis to the COVID-19 pandemic and
economic recession. The all-important Sierra snowpack,
California’s primary source of water, is scarcely half of what
is deemed a normal depth. -Written by Dan Walters, CalMatters columnist.
While they remain hopeful the rest of winter will provide much
more rain and snow, water resources managers in the Sacramento
Valley are preparing for the potential for a dry year. While
the prospect of a dry year is always jarring and challenging,
we have confidence in the experience and knowledge that our
water resources managers gained in 2014-15, and the strategies
this region has implemented since that time to prepare for a
About a mile of bare, cracked earth now lies like a desertscape
between the boat ramp at the north end of Lake Mendocino and
the water’s edge of a diminished reservoir that helps provide
water for 600,000 Sonoma and Marin County residents. The
human-made lake near Ukiah is about 30 feet lower than it was
at this time last year, and Nick Malasavage, an Army Corps of
Engineers official who oversees operations at the reservoir,
said the scene is “pretty jarring.”
A plan to ensure there will be adequate water with which to
fight wildfires if four Klamath dams are removed was unveiled
Friday by the Klamath River Renewal Corporation. According to a
KRRC press release, California and Oregon fire protection
agencies have “signaled support” for the draft plan and the
organization plans to submit it to the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission late next month, along with “several
other management documents.” One of the main arguments for
keeping the dams is that firefighters use water from the dam’s
resultant reservoirs to fight fires.
Rancho California Water District’s Vail Dam Seismic and
Hydrologic Remediation Project was selected to apply for
funding as part of approximately $5.1 billion in Water
Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans
provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
WIFIA loans provide financing assistance to help pay for water
infrastructure projects in the United States.
California’s Central Valley produces much of the nation’s food,
including about 40% of the country’s fruits and nuts and has
the nation’s second most pumped aquifer system. Its drier
southern portion, the San Joaquin Valley, has decreasing
surface water supply reliability due to frequent and prolonged
droughts, stricter environmental regulations, and growing
competition among water users. Many farmers pump groundwater to
provide their unsupplied water demand. The resulting
groundwater overdraft has numerous impacts on the Valley’s
agriculture and residents.
More than 200 farm and water organizations from 15 states are
urging President-elect Joe Biden and congressional leaders to
address aging Western water infrastructure in any economic
recovery package. Groups including state Farm Bureaus, the
Family Farm Alliance and Western Growers issued letters to
Biden and lawmakers Wednesday saying existing canals and
reservoirs were built more than 50 years ago and are in
desperate need of rehabilitation.
Major cities across Turkey face running out of water in the
next few months, with warnings Istanbul has less than 45 days
of water left. Poor rainfall has led to the country’s most
severe drought in a decade and left the megacity of 17 million
people with critically low levels of water … and farmers in
wheat-producing areas such as the Konya plain and Edirne
province on the border with Greece and Bulgaria are warning of
Leaders of the largest water district in Silicon Valley decided
Tuesday to move forward with a plan to build a $2.5 billion dam
near Pacheco Pass in Southern Santa Clara County — in what
would be the largest new reservoir in the Bay Area in 20 years
— despite learning that the cost has doubled due to unstable
geology on the site. Although several board members of the
Santa Clara Valley Water District expressed concerns during
their meeting about the growing price tag, others said the
proposed project’s water storage is needed for the future…
A plan to bring water from the South Fork of the Kern River
through Isabella Lake and down 60 miles to farm fields west of
Bakersfield was unanimously approved by the Rosedale-Rio Bravo
Water Storage District board of directors on Tuesday. If the
environmental documents supporting that plan survive what is
sure to be a barrage of lawsuits brought by other Kern River
rights holders, Rosedale-Rio Bravo farmers could see South Fork
water in their furrows as early as this spring …
The world watched with a sense of dread in 2018 as Cape Town,
South Africa, counted down the days until the city would run
out of water. The region’s surface reservoirs were going dry
amid its worst drought on record, and the public countdown was
a plea for help. … California also faced severe water
restrictions during its recent multiyear drought. And Mexico
City is now facing water restrictions after a year with little
rain. There are growing concerns that many regions of the world
will face water crises like these in the coming decades as
rising temperatures exacerbate drought conditions.
Did you know Ventura is one of the largest cities in Southern
California to rely solely on local water supplies? Rainfall
feeds the Ventura River, Lake Casitas, and local groundwater
basins to meet all the water needs of our community. Water
is at the core of our identity and the future of its security
is in jeopardy. Although our community’s conservation efforts
have reduced water use by 20%, Ventura’s rain-dependent water
supplies remain vulnerable to future droughts.
In a major and potentially fatal setback for plans to build the
largest dam in the Bay Area in more than 20 years, the price
tag to construct a new reservoir in southern Santa Clara County
near Pacheco Pass has nearly doubled, from $1.3 billion to $2.5
The Bureau of Reclamation sent Congress the final feasibility
report for the B.F. Sisk Dam Raise and Reservoir Expansion
Project. This marks an important step forward in returning
water supply reliability to south-of-Delta farmers, local
communities, and wildlife refuges.
The Sites Reservoir was awarded $13.7 million in the 2021
federal spending bill. The 2021 federal spending bill …
included $1.4 trillion to fund government agencies and a $900
billion pandemic relief package. Sites Reservoir is proposed
for construction in remote ranch lands in Colusa County, about
70 miles north of Sacramento. It was originally given a $5.1
billion price tag, but the Sites Project Authority reduced it
to $3 billion in May.
The ability of science to improve water management decisions
and keep up with the accelerating pace of climate change. The
impact to precious water resources from persistent drought
in the Colorado River Basin. Building resilience and
sustainability across California. And finding hope at the
Salton Sea. These were among the issues Western Water explored
in 2020. In case you missed them, they are still worth taking a
The Bureau of Reclamation and San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water
Authority finalized the B.F. Sisk Dam Raise and Reservoir
Expansion Project’s Supplemental Environmental Impact
Statement/Environmental Impact Report. This joint proposed
project would create an additional 130,000 acre-feet of storage
space in San Luis Reservoir, producing additional water supply
for 2 million people, over 1 million acres of farmland and
200,000 acres of Pacific Flyway wetlands.
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is seeking
public feedback on its draft legislation to establish a set of
regulations to protect surface water statewide. The changes
implemented by the Trump administration earlier this year
dramatically curtailed the list of waters that fall under the
Clean Water Act, excluding a vast number of streams, washes and
creeks from federal pollution protection. Importantly for arid
Arizona, ephemeral waters – those that only flow after rain or
snow – are no longer protected.
While Republican members of Congress praised the most recent
step toward approving raising the height of Shasta Dam, fishing
and environmental groups criticized it as the illegal actions
of a “lame duck federal agency.”
Climate change and overuse are causing one of the Colorado
River’s biggest reservoirs, Lake Powell, to drop. While water
managers worry about scarcity issues, two Utah river rafters
are documenting the changes that come as the massive reservoir
hits historic low points.
The proposed Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir [in western Stanislaus
County] would store 82,000 acre-feet of water for downstream
agricultural users. The coalition said the dam would flood an
“important cultural and recreation site for the surrounding
community and destroying valuable wildlife habitat.”
The consolidated Oroville Spillway cases are currently
scheduled to go to trial in April of 2021. A large judgement
for monetary damages could potentially bankrupt the State Water
Project, according to filings by the Department of Water
Marin County flood planners are turning to Santa Venetia voters
to help pay for an estimated $6 million project to upgrade the
timber-reinforced berm that protects hundreds of homes from
Things got a little wild at the San Diego County Water
Authority meeting last week when its 36 directors argued over
whether they should spend more money studying a controversial
$5 billion pipeline to the Colorado River. Outrage after
leaders apparently skipped over female directors waiting to add
comments during a discussion period sparked some to change
their vote on the matter.
While many people look towards the mountains for accessing
beautiful nature, the San Joaquin Valley Floor is home to many
amazing sights of nature and in particular, birds. Not only is
Tulare County home to over 100 types of birds, it is part of
the Pacific Flyway – one of the most important bird migration
paths in the world.
By burning and brushing, nurturing important plants and
keeping lands around their homes clear of dead brush and
debris, Native peoples carefully stewarded the lands to sustain
the biodiverse ecologies California is known for. Their
work resulted in a richly productive landscape that provided
food and habitat for not only humans but many land, air and
water animals. That included the salmon, a staple of tribes in
the West for millennia. All that changed when California became
a U.S. state in 1850.
Joining a growing list, Turlock and Modesto Irrigation
Districts filed a Petition with the Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission asking that the commission find that the State of
California has waived certification under the Clean Water Act.
… The Districts are seeking a new FERC license for two
hydropower projects on the Tuolumne River, the Don Pedro
Project and the La Grange Project.
A recent exchange of letters between a public utility and a
state water authority highlights the continued stalemate in the
effort by the Monterey Peninsula to develop a new water supply
and end the overdrafting of the Carmel River.
The Department of Water Resources recently published a summary
report of a comprehensive needs assessment of safety at
Oroville Dam. It comes after the reconstruction of the
spillways that were damaged and failed in 2017.
A proposed dam in California’s Central Valley is billed as a
vital agricultural resource. But conservationists say it would
also flood important cultural and recreational sites for
surrounding communities and destroy wildlife habitat.
Karuk Tribe natural resources spokesperson Craig Tucker joined
John Howard to talk about the historic agreement, its impact on
the region’s Salmon fisheries, and the potential for
replication in other places where dams are contested.
Twenty years ago, the Colorado River’s hydrology began tumbling
into a historically bad stretch. … So key players across
seven states, including California, came together in 2005 to
attack the problem. The result was a set of Interim Guidelines
adopted in 2007… Stressing flexibility instead of rigidity,
the guidelines stabilized water deliveries in a
drought-stressed system and prevented a dreaded shortage
declaration by the federal government that would have forced
water supply cuts.
Lake Miramar, a longtime recreational oasis celebrating its
60th anniversary this year, is about to become a key part of
San Diego’s new $5 billion Pure Water system that will boost
the city’s water independence by recycling treated sewage.
The Kings River Conservation District, along with co-applicant
Tulare Lake RCD, received this grant to help remove invasive
species and debris from levees and riverbank along the Kings
River, improve water flow, strengthen flood protection,
increase carbon capture, and improve delivery of clean water to
Ryan Dorsey, Rivera’s former boyfriend, filed the lawsuit
Tuesday on behalf of her son, who was four at the time. In it,
Dorsey claims the United Water Conservation District, which
operates Lake Piro, as well as Ventura County and the boat
rental company failed to properly warn against the dangers of
swimming in the lake and to provide adequate safety equipment
on the rented pontoon boat.
The California Natural Resources Agency recently announced the
investment of almost $50 million in Proposition 68 funding for
projects to promote salmon recovery. More than $220 million in
Proposition 1 and Proposition 68 funds have also been dedicated
for multi-benefit flood protection projects in the past two
years that will benefit salmon.
The Trump Administration Thursday released the Shasta Lake
Water Resources Investigation Final Supplemental Environmental
Impact Statement to increase water storage capacity in the
Shasta Lake reservoir by 634,000 acre-feet,
On Nov. 17, California, Oregon, PacifiCorp, and the Yurok and
Karuk Tribes announced a new agreement with the Klamath River
Renewal Corporation to reaffirm KRRC’s status as dam removal
entity and provide additional funding for the removal of four
hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River. The agreement is the
latest development in a decade-long effort…
Current estimates of young salmon lost to the south Delta pumps
are based on a smattering of studies from the 1970s and should
be updated, according to a new analysis. “They don’t represent
current operations,” says Ukiah-based consultant Andrew Jahn,
lead author of the analysis reported in the September 2020
issue of San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science.
Work crews have been busy this week along Twin Cities Road near
Courtland. They are conducting core sampling, the first step in
drafting an environmental impact report for a tunnel plan known
as the Delta Conveyance Project.
Early season storms typically sweep a slurry of debris from
streets and sidewalks into rivers, creeks and bays. This year,
the fall flush not only contains the usual gunk, waste experts
say, but a whole lot of discarded PPE — or personal protective
equipment, the detritus of the pandemic.
Millions of people across our nation, and countless millions
throughout the world depend on California’s farms and ranches
for the food they eat every single day. California leads the
nation as the country’s largest agricultural producer and
exporter and serves as a vital link in the world’s food supply
HR 8775, the Salton Sea Public Health and Environmental
Protection Act, would create an interagency working group
called the Salton Sea Management Council to coordinate projects
around the lake’s receding shoreline.
An annual search for a tiny endangered and contentious fish in
the sprawling California Delta has once again come up empty.
The state’s annual Fall Midwater Trawl found no Delta smelt in
September’s sampling of the critical waterway. … Hoping to
reverse the trend, Westlands Water District and the California
Department of Water Resources announced completion of a Delta
habitat restoration project on Wednesday.
Rangeland ecologists at the University of California, Davis,
found that when ranchers invest even one week a year in
practices that keep cows away from creeks — like herding,
fencing and providing supplemental nutrition and water — they
can improve riparian health by as much as 53 percent.
Two key projects that the bond measure was passed to help fund,
Sites Reservoir and Temperance Flat Reservoir, have stalled.
Without the public breathing down their neck in a severe
drought, the state has managed to treat the reservoirs as back
America’s largest dam removal project has been brought back to
life with a new agreement among California, Oregon, tribes and
a utility owned by billionaire Warren Buffett. The decadeslong
effort to remove four dams on the Klamath River in Northern
California that have had a devastating impact on salmon runs
had appeared in danger following an unexpected July regulatory
The Kern County Water Agency board of directors voted
unanimously to approve an agreement with the Department of
Water Resources to pay $14 million over 2021 and 2020 as its
initial share of the early planning and design phase for what’s
now being called the Delta Conveyance Facility.
How did two of the most important waterfowl refuges in the
United States reach such a sad state? The decline of the Tule
Lake and Lower Klamath refuges was a hundred years in the
making. There are no villains here; rather it is simply a tale
of too little water to go around on an arid landscape.
For a city built in an arid desert basin in Nevada, the USA’s
driest state with around 10 inches of rainfall a year, this
doesn’t sound too surprising. But the climate emergency and
recent droughts have changed the complexion and urgency of the
The lower Colorado River Basin, which is primarily in Arizona,
is projected to have as much as sixteen percent less
groundwater infiltration by midcentury compared to the
historical record. That’s because warming temperatures will
increase evaporation while rain- and snowfall are expected to
remain the same or decrease slightly.
For decades it’s been an environmental jewel wedged between the
urban sprawl of Marina Del Rey and Playa Del Rey. But now the
Ballona Wetlands State Ecological Reserve, home to diverse
plant and animal wildlife, has become a battleground for
conservationists and other activists.
Gov. Gavin Newsom and his Oregon counterpart signed a landmark
deal Tuesday to take control of four aging dams targeted for
removal on the Lower Klamath River, an agreement designed to
push the controversial $450 million plan over the finish line.
… The agreement “ensures that we have sufficient backing” to
get the four dams demolished, said Chuck Bonham, director of
the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The U.S. Geological Survey is in the beginning stages of
learning more about this river via an expanded and more
sophisticated monitoring system that aims to study details
about the snowpack that feeds the river basin, droughts and
flooding, and how streamflow supports groundwater, or vice
A research team from California State University, Chico will
continue its exceptional work to re-establish juvenile salmon
and salmonid habitats along the Sacramento River, after
learning it would continue to be funded by the United States
Bureau of Reclamation.
Opposition is building against San Diego’s dream of erecting a
$5 billion pipeline to the Colorado River in the name of
resource independence. The pipe, which wouldn’t produce savings
for ratepayers until at least 2063, faces its next trial on
Thursday, when water managers meet to vote on spending another
$1.7 million to do the next planning step.
The last three administrations have been active in Klamath
Basin issues regardless of political party. Negotiations for a
basin-wide agreement began under the Bush Administration and
continued under the Obama Administration until faltering in the
House of Representatives — though each president’s approach has
varied. Dan Keppen, executive director of the Family Farm
Alliance, said Biden’s experience in the Obama Administration
could prove an asset, if he brings a similar approach.
The Yuba Water Agency is in the process of applying for a new
license to continue its hydroelectric operations along the Yuba
River, but agency leaders say some requirements issued by the
State Water Resources Control Board threaten the effort by
making it too costly. The agency filed lawsuits in state and
federal court Friday to essentially vacate the state board’s
requirements to obtain what is called a water quality
The creation of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency 50 years ago
challenged us to bring people together to pull this majestic
lake back from the brink. Today, TRPA is the backbone for 80
organizations and thousands of property owners working toward
the common goals of clean water, a healthy watershed and
A 19-month study of the safety of the Oroville Dam project has
found no “unacceptable risks.” The Department of Water
Resources released its Comprehensive Needs Assessment on Oct.
30, and notes its findings generally agree with those of an
Independent Review Board and a regular five-year review by the
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission…
On the Oregon border lies Lower Klamath National Wildlife
Refuge. For over a century, visitors have flocked to Klamath’s
wild tule marshes and open waters to canoe, fish, bird watch
and hunt. … But this year, something sinister lies beneath
the Klamath Basin’s immense beauty.
To protect smelt and salmon, there need to be reasonable water
temperature standards in the Delta. The existing water
temperature standard in the lower Sacramento River above the
Delta is 68oF, but managers of the state and federal water
projects pay it almost no heed.
Three California Conservation Corps crews are working seven
days a week to help Napa County protect Lake Berryessa from
potential run-off from homes and other structures burned in the
LNU Lightning Complex Hennessey Fire.
For over a century, one of the most important salmon runs in
the United States has had to contend with historic dams – and
now four of them are set to be taken down….The dams built on
the Klamath River have been identified as one cause of the
drop in salmon numbers.
Getting water through a tunnel under the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta would be pricey. So pricey, some Kern County water
districts were looking for an “off-ramp” by potentially selling
their main state water supply out of the county. The request
was shot down on Nov. 6 by the Kern County Water Agency, which
holds the contract for state water on behalf of 13 area water
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has signed a record of decision,
finalizing an environmental impact statement that gives
clearance for the Friant-Kern Canal project to proceed. The
canal needs repairs as a result of land subsidence.
Proposals to divert water in New Mexico, Nevada and Utah have
run up against significant legal, financial and political
roadblocks this year. But while environmental groups have
cheered the setbacks, it’s still unclear whether these projects
have truly hit dead ends or are simply waiting in the wings.
A team of experts released their findings Monday, concluding
that no urgent repairs are needed right now on the Oroville
Dam. The report goes on to say that the largest earthen dam in
America is safe to operate. However, the Oroville Dam is not
completely in the clear.
Communities across the United States and the globe rely on
clean water flowing from forested watersheds. But these water
source areas are impacted by the effects of wildfire. To help
water providers and land managers prepare for impacts from
wildfire on water supplies, the U.S. Geological Survey is
working to measure and predict post-fire water quality and
Burning rice straw after harvest was a traditional and
economical practice that was phased out in 2000. … The side
effect is it has created millions of acres of seasonal wetlands
in the rice-growing region of the state – and with a variety of
conservation contracts, provided additional income for growers
whose costs rose when straw burning was prohibited.
How wildfires can affect water quality are well documented. But
increasing—and increasingly intense—Western conflagrations are
leading to fears they also could constrict the water quantity
available in some of the nation’s most water-stressed
areas….“It’s absolutely a threat to our water supply—the
quantity and quality of the water that’s able to flow across
the landscape,” said Dave Eggerton, executive director of the
Association of California Water Agencies…
There’s a concept called “demand management” in the news in
Colorado, and here’s a simple definition: Landowners get paid
to temporarily stop irrigating, and that water gets sent
downstream to hang out in Lake Powell. It’s an idea long talked
about because of increasing drought and the very real danger of
both Lake Mead and Lake Powell dropping into “dead pool” where
no hydropower can be generated.
California’s war with Washington over the environment will soon
come to an end. … President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to
act quickly to restore and strengthen dozens of protections on
public lands, water and wildlife. In addition, California’s
efforts to fight climate change will no longer face hurdles put
up by the White House, which has downplayed the global threat.
Clarity on which wetlands and waterways count as “waters of the
U.S.” or WOTUS, subject to federal oversight, has been elusive
for years. … Trump officials’ narrow definition … is facing
lawsuits in a half-dozen federal courts. New litigation is
guaranteed if Biden officials attempt to revert to the
Obama-era rule or craft their own program.
Why are our food producers, including many century-old family
farms with 100-year-old water rights, facing a shortage of
water? Because we drain Oregon’s largest lake to artificially
increase water supply in California.
A 2007 deal creating guidelines governing how Lake Powell and
Lake Mead are operated in coordination isn’t scheduled to
expire until 2026. But water officials in Colorado River Basin
states are already beginning to talk about the renegotiations
that will be undertaken to decide what succeeds the 2007
In autumn swarms of flying insects cloud the skies on the lower
Colorado River near Bullhead City, Ariz. Caddisflies are a
nuisance to recreationists who want to boat, swim or fish on
the river. So city officials have started an unprecedented
experiment to get rid of them.
Managing water resources in the Colorado River Basin is not for
the timid or those unaccustomed to big challenges. … For more
than 30 years, Terry Fulp, director of the Bureau of
Reclamation’s Lower Colorado Basin Region, has been in the
thick of it, applying his knowledge, expertise and calm
demeanor to inform and broker key decisions that have helped
stabilize the Southwest’s major water artery.
The recent removal of the sediment-filled York Dam in Napa
County has reconnected two miles of steelhead trout habitat
that has been blocked for over a century. … Thousands of
barriers to stream flow and fish passage similar in size and
impact to York Dam are scattered throughout California,
contributing to population declines in native fishes and other
Recently the Santa Clarita Planning Commission approved a
project that would qualify as “backward planning”: planning
that pays no attention to modern issues, instead using methods
long abandoned by others. To me, as a member of the local
Groundwater Sustainability Advisory Committee, the worst of
these is the plan to concrete a portion of Bouquet Creek along
with the groundwater recharge areas on the property.
The California Coastal Commission has been issuing policy
guidelines for sea level rise for the last six years. … The
commission is now taking the first steps toward rethinking some
of its current policies and looking at the state as a whole,
realizing that one size does not fit all when it comes to ways
of adapting to sea level rise.
Voluntary agreements have been proposed as a collaborative,
modern and holistic alternative to the State Water Resources
Control Board’s staff proposed update to the Bay-Delta Water
Quality Control Plan. … Westlands and other public water
agencies are eager to reengage in the process to finalize the
voluntary agreements, as they offer the best path forward for
The U.S. Geological Survey announced the completion of a new
mobile tool that provides real-time information on water
levels, weather and flood forecasts all in one place on a
computer, smartphone or other mobile device. The new USGS
National Water Dashboard, or NWD, provides critical information
to decision-makers, emergency managers and the public…
A declaration suit filed in Superior Court in Sacramento by
attorneys for some of the leading environmental groups in
America accuses the California Department of Water Resources of
trying to prevent anyone in California from filing a court
action challenging … the financing of a single tunnel that
would be built under the Delta for 35 miles.
The federal government has approved plans to fix a sag in the
Friant-Kern Canal. The Bureau of Reclamation gave its approval
Tuesday – signing a Record of Decision giving environmental
clearance for the project – following action from the Trump
administration to invest about $5 million to study and begin
pre-construction work on the canal.
Local leaders, farmers and others in the Central Valley report
additional progress in addressing salinity in surface water,
and salt and nitrates in groundwater, in compliance with a
program adopted last fall by the State Water Resources Control
The Colorado State University Hydraulics Lab has been working
on the Los Vaqueros Reservoir expansion project for the last 11
months. … Designers of the dam project in California
contacted the university’s lab to produce a physical design
that will have the ability to raise an existing dam’s
The National Weather Service is forecasting a “major change” in
the weather across the Bay Area on Friday and through the
weekend, with temperatures dropping, winds kicking up and the
potential for rain.
Mexico is obligated under a 1944 treaty to deliver to the
United States a set amount of water from the Rio Grande and its
tributaries over a five-year period. … The last-minute
agreement signed Oct. 21 settles the conflict. Mexico will
transfer ownership of water stored in two border reservoirs to
the United States to make up the deficit.
As a rice farmer in Yolo County, Kim Gallagher should be used
to the sight of thousands of birds swarming her flooded fields
this time of year—but when she sees a flock take off,
scattering the sky with a confetti of fluttering wings, her
enjoyment is clear.
The Bureau of Reclamation has once again proposed raising
Shasta Dam, which is already the largest reservoir in
California, after several proposals in the past decade. Each
time, it has faced fierce public opposition from state
government, environmentalists, locals and Native Americans.
The Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes has
recently launched new tools focused on forecasting the
Atmospheric River scale. The new tools, offer a 7-day forecast
and review of the past 7 days for the Atmospheric River scale.
Storage projects partially funded by Proposition 1 should help
the state balance the swings in precipitation that characterize
the California climate… Yet, six years after the bond’s
passage, the water storage projects that will benefit from
Proposition 1 likely remain at least a decade away from
The San Joaquin Valley and urban Southern California are worlds
apart in many ways. Yet each face growing water challenges and
a shared interest in ensuring reliable, affordable water
supplies to safeguard their people and economies. Both regions’
water futures could be more secure if they take advantage of
shared water infrastructure to jointly develop and manage some
What’s in the Tijuana River? Ammonia, a byproduct of raw
sewage. Phosphorous, an ingredient in soaps and cleaners that’s
banned in the U.S. Metals used in the industrial plating
industry. Parasitic worms. And DEHP, a chemical added to
plastics. And of course, there’s poo.
The California State Water Resources Control Board and a group
of environmental organizations each have filed a petition for
review with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit of
FERC orders finding that the Water Board waived its authority
under section 401 of the Clean Water Act to issue a water
quality certification in the ongoing relicensing of Merced
Irrigation District’s Merced River and Merced Falls Projects.
Judith Marshall joined the corps’ Portland office in 2011 to
manage several projects, including the agency’s 13 dams in the
Willamette River Basin. She quickly learned the corps was out
of compliance with several major environmental laws for
virtually all of them. She got nowhere when she raised her
concerns to her supervisors. Then she was harassed and bullied.
Now Marshall is blowing the whistle.
DWP officials said the undertaking of a new spillway gate
structure to control flow from the lake through Rush Creek and
into Mono Lake will be one of the largest environmental
restoration projects in the Mono Basin.
Global climate experts are predicting a moderate to strong La
Niña weather event this year, meaning a stormy season for most
parts of the world but possibly drier-than-normal conditions in
When driving over the Yolo Bypass in the winter, one can’t help
but notice the flooded fields. … Historically, the area used
to be wetlands and floodplain habitat, but now, farmers grow
rice there. After harvest, the fields are flooded to not only
help decompose the leftover rice straw but also, as a surprise
to many, recreate a surrogate habitat for many area wildlife,
most notably birds.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has awarded a grant of $700,000
to Audubon California towards the stabilization, restoration
and enhancement of wetlands near the town of Bombay Beach, on
the Salton Sea.
Recognizing the central role that atmospheric rivers play in
both flood risk and water supply – two of Yuba Water’s core
mission areas – the agency is investing in new research and
tools to better understand, forecast and manage for these
The San Joaquin Valley and urban Southern California each face
growing water challenges and a shared interest in ensuring
reliable, affordable water supplies to safeguard their people
and economies. Both regions’ water futures could be more secure
if they take advantage of shared water infrastructure to
jointly develop and manage some water supplies.
Lobbing another hurdle at California’s $16 billion plan to
tunnel underneath the West Coast’s largest estuary,
environmentalists on Thursday sued to freeze public funding for
the megaproject championed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Led by Sierra
Club and the Center for Biological Diversity, a familiar
coalition of critics claim the cash-strapped state is pursuing
a “blank check” for a project that isn’t fully cooked.
Last year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which maintains a
database of all the nation’s dams and their risk levels, raised
the risk classification for the Mojave Dam in San Bernardino
County, California, to high. The 200-foot-high earthen dam was
built in 1971 and, if it fails, threatens communities as far
away as 140 miles.
The future of our existing dams, including 2,500 hydroelectric
facilities, is a complicated issue in the age of climate
change. Dams have altered river flows, changed aquatic habitat,
decimated fish populations, and curtailed cultural and treaty
resources for tribes. But does the low-carbon power dams
produce have a role in our energy transition?
The tumultuous, years-long legal fight between farmer Michael
Abatti and the Imperial Irrigation District — two of Southern
California’s powerbrokers — is now finished. On Wednesday, the
California Supreme Court declined Abatti’s petition for review,
leaving in place an appellate court’s decision that declared
IID the rightful owner of a massive allotment of Colorado River
At the Oct. 22 meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council, Delta
Watermaster Michael George gave a detailed presentation on
estimating water use in the Delta… He also discussed
implementation of the state’s policy of reducing reliance on
the Delta and provided updates on the preparations for the next
If all you’ve ever seen of the Fresno River is through Madera
as you drive over it on Highway 99, you’d be forgiven for
thinking it’s just a weed-infested, shopping cart collector
rather than a real river. But there’s a lot to this unobtrusive
waterway, which just made history as the first river in 40
years about to go through a rights settlement under the State
Water Resources Control Board.
Located right below Slab Creek Dam and Reservoir and priced at
$16.5 million … the project has two main functions. One
includes a recreational flow release on a nine-mile stretch
below the reservoir that will improve boating, rafting and
kayaking opportunities… The other release feeds water into
the powerhouse to drive the turbine.
In a review of Feather River fall-run Chinook salmon in
September 2019, I described their status through the 2018 run
and expressed optimism for the 2019 run. My assessment proved
overly optimistic, as the 2019 run numbers came in lower than
expected. The lower-than-expected returns appear to be the
consequence of the 2017 Oroville Dam spillway failures.
Researchers at the Plumas National Forest in Northern
California received a startling result: Sticks and logs they
gathered from the forest floor to assess wildfire risk had a
moisture level of just 2%. The reading was the lowest ever
recorded in 15 years of measurements at a site in the forest’s
southwest corner. It also was a warning: The area was
tinderbox-dry and primed to burn.
Reclamation, working with the Sacramento River Settlement
Contractors and federal and state fish and wildlife agencies,
are implementing fall water operations to benefit salmon
populations in the Sacramento River.
After the river was concretized, Indigenous People, activists,
and environmental organizations demanded the restoration of the
L.A. River and its tributaries back into a functioning natural
river ecosystem. Now with the climate crisis, we can no longer
afford to have a concretized river system that solely provides
As the state looks at investing in water infrastructure to ward
off the most detrimental of droughts effects on the State, it
must consider projects that support the environment, as well as
people and farms.
The proposed structure will span the width of the existing
channel and feature an operable weir crest gate that can be
raised for diversion to the intake structure and lowered to
bypass diversions. An engineered roughened channel will be
constructed in the section of the stream directly downstream of
the diversion structure for future fish passage. The new intake
will be equipped with a trash rack and fish screens.
At the October meeting of the California Water Commission,
Aaron Fakuda representing Temperance Flat Authority and Bill
Swanson, Principal Engineer with Stantec discussed the
project’s status with the Commission.
Adrian Harpold and his team are conducting a field study on the
impact of wildfire on the Illilouette Creek watershed in the
Yosemite wilderness area in California. They’re looking at how
much water makes it to streams for people and downstream
agriculture after a fire, and how much water stays in the
Hundreds of years ago, a giant lake — Lake Cahuilla — in
southern California and northern Mexico covered swathes of the
Mexicali, Imperial, and Coachella Valleys, through which the
southern San Andreas Fault cuts. … If the lake over the San
Andreas has dried up and the weight of its water was removed,
could that help explain why the San Andreas fault is in an
It won’t take much, and the Pass Area as we know it may look
dramatically different come wet weather this fall and winter.
That’s according to public safety officials from various
Riverside County agencies who are working to get the word out
about the danger of “flood after fire.”
The lake is particularly small and low right now for a few
reasons, said Matt Graul, the East Bay Regional Park District’s
chief of stewardship. Wildcat Creek runs dry in the rainless
months of summer and early fall, but has been hit harder than
ever since the Bay Area received less rainfall than typical
last winter. Once the rains start and fill the creek, there
should be water again in the lake, he said.
Completely dry riverbeds, record low flows, and diminished fish
populations — that’s what staff and volunteers from a local
environmental nonprofit found when they surveyed tributaries of
the Eel River earlier this month.
U.S. Rep. John Garamendi has filed an official objection to a
plan backed by Sonoma County and his House Democratic colleague
Jared Huffman to remove Scott Dam on the Eel River and drain
Lake Pillsbury, a popular recreation spot for nearly a century.
Members of local tribes, fishermen and conservationists are
calling on Warren Buffett to undam the Klamath. People across
the country joined members of the Karuk, Yurok, Klamath and
Hoopa Valley tribes on Friday for a day of action to get the
attention of Buffett, the owner of Pacific Power and the
Klamath River dams…
Kristine Diekman is a professor of art, media and design at Cal
State San Marcos, where she teaches media theory and
production, and sound studies. She’s also a media artist
working in documentary and experimental film, new media and
community-based media. Since 2014, Diekman has been working on
a digital media project, “Run Dry,” which tells the story of
the water crisis in California’s San Joaquin Valley.
Radically transformed from its ancient origin as a vast
tidal-influenced freshwater marsh, the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta ecosystem is in constant flux, influenced by factors
within the estuary itself and the massive watersheds that drain
though it into the Pacific Ocean. Lately, however, scientists
say the rate of change has kicked into overdrive…
At least 700 sub-adult and adult winter-run Chinook salmon
(winter Chinook) returned this year to Battle Creek. …
Establishing another self-sustaining population in a second
watershed (in addition to population in Sacramento River), such
as Battle Creek, is a high priority and a major component of
the Central Valley salmonid recovery plan.
In the absence of appropriate management, excessive livestock
damage can occur in sensitive habitats such as riparian areas
that provide drinking water, forage, and microclimates sought
by free-ranging livestock. … Fortunately,
conservation-grazing management strategies can reduce the
likelihood of livestock damage to riparian areas.
With California’s worst wildfire season on record still raging,
experts from across the state are calling for a $2 billion
investment in the next year on prevention tactics like
prescribed burns and more year-round forest management
The Friant Water Authority on Thursday approved the final
environmental review for a massive project to fix a 33-mile
segment of the Friant-Kern Canal despite continued questions
about funding and other concerns expressed by some Friant
Dam failure, though rare, can cause catastrophic destruction of
property and lives. Repairing hazardous dams can help, but
simply removing them can be a better, more cost-effective
option with accompanying environmental benefits … a mere
five states account for half of all removals: Pennsylvania
(343), California (173), Wisconsin (141), Michigan (94), and
Virtual rallies will be held Friday at the utility’s
headquarters in Portland and in Buffett’s hometown of Omaha,
Neb., according to a Save California Salmon news release. A
rally will also be held in Seattle, home of the Bill and
Melinda Gates Foundation, the top shareholder in Buffett’s
Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate. Berkshire Hathaway Energy is
PacifiCorp’s parent company.
Del Puerto Water District directors approved a final
environment study Wednesday on a 82,000 acre-foot reservoir
near Patterson. … The reservoir is proposed to increase
reliability of water deliveries to thirsty farms and improve
management of groundwater. The project in a canyon just west of
Patterson has stirred debate. It would inundate part of scenic
Del Puerto Canyon and raises fears the dam near Interstate 5
could fail, flooding the city of 23,000.
Working over the last year, construction crews expect to
complete a new 2-mile levee near Novato in the coming weeks. It
will allow bay waters to eventually reclaim nearly 1,600 acres,
or about 2.5 square miles, of former tidal marshes that had
been diked and drained for agriculture and development during
the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
A slew of Bakersfield locals told board members how much an
actual, wet river means for residents. Speakers asked board
members to make the Kern a priority and finally allocate
unappropriated water on the river that has been in limbo at the
board for the past 10 years.
The Del Puerto Water District is set to vote Wednesday on
approving a final environmental impact study on a much-disputed
storage reservoir in western Stanislaus County. … According
to proponents, the reservoir storing up to 82,000 acre-feet
will provide more reliable water deliveries to farmers south of
the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta… Water pumped from the
nearby Delta-Mendota Canal would be stored behind the dam.
Experts say it’s likely not a matter of if, but when, intense
rainfall triggers mudslides that threaten the properties and
lives of thousands of people in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The
area has seen these disasters before: In January 1982, the Love
Creek mudslide killed 10 people near Ben Lomond. But the CZU
Lightning Complex, larger than any fire in the region’s
recorded history, created an unprecedented hazard.
As the Colorado River Basin’s managers wrestle with thorny
questions around the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline, a colleague
who works for a Lower Colorado River Basin water agency
recently asked a question that goes to the heart of the future
of river management: With land in the Lower Colorado River
Basin, why doesn’t Utah have a Lower Basin allocation?
In 2011, heavy snows in the Rocky Mountains filled the Colorado
River, lifting reservoirs—and spirits—in the drought-stricken
U.S. Southwest. The following year, however, water levels
dropped to nearly their lowest in a century… Now, scientists
say they may have come up with a potential early warning system
for the Colorado’s water levels—by watching temperature
patterns in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, thousands of
It all started with a 2002 state law demanding quake-resilient
water delivery. Nearly $5 billion later, San Francisco has
retrofit the system from Hetch Hetchy to the city, just now
crossing the finish line on the shore of Lake Merced.
Congressman John Garamendi, who represents the northern half of
Lake County, on Friday submitted a formal comment to the
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission opposing removal of Scott
Dam on the Eel River at Lake Pillsbury and demanding that Lake
County have an equal seat at the table for determining the
future of Potter Valley Project and the lake.
ACWA on Oct. 15 submitted “A Roadmap To Achieving the Voluntary
Agreements” to Gov. Gavin Newsom and top members of his
Administration that calls on the state to take the necessary
steps to re-engage on Voluntary Agreements regarding the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta and its tributaries.
Aquatic ecologist Steve Lee is concerned that abundant water
may not always be part of the Sonoma Valley story. … So Lee’s
rebuilt home was designed to capture the runoff, and store it
in a series of 5,000-gallon gravity-fed tanks. He’s got 11 of
them scattered across his property, harvesting water from the
house, barn and pool.
A team of scientists from the California Department of Water
Resources are working with federal and state partners to
embrace the challenge of overseeing the implementation of one
of the most complex endangered species permits in California
A new California Biodiversity Collaborative will help determine
how to carry out an executive order from Gov. Gavin Newsom
aimed at conserving 30% of California’s land and marine areas
by 2030—and agricultural organizations said they would
participate to assure the collaborative recognizes stewardship
efforts carried out on the state’s farms and ranches.
A critical piece of the Clean Water Act, known as Section 401,
allows states and tribes to work with the federal government to
ensure that rivers are protected and that projects meet the
needs of local communities. Unfortunately, the Environmental
Protection Agency recently created new rules for how states and
tribes can use their authority under Section 401.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday created what he called a
“subcabinet” for federal water issues, with a mandate that
includes water-use changes sought by corporate farm interests
and oil and gas. … The first priority set out by the
executive order is increasing dam storage and other water
storage, long a demand of farmers and farm interests in the
West in particular. That includes California’s Westlands Water
District, the nation’s largest agricultural water district.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a
$108 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act
(WIFIA) loan to the Stockton Public Financing Authority to help
modernize the city’s wastewater treatment facility and reduce
nitrogen discharges to the San Joaquin River.
The North Complex Fire has burned a large portion of Lake
Oroville’s watershed. This could lead to hazardous water
quality after winter rains run all of that sediment into the
lake and the effects could last decades. However, how water
quality could be affected by the fire is still largely unknown.
The South Fork Eel River is considered one of the highest
priority watersheds in the state for flow enhancement projects.
Forested tributaries like Redwood Creek provide refugia habitat
for threatened juvenile coho salmon but suffer from the
cumulative impacts of legacy logging and unregulated water
The industry that operates America’s hydroelectric dams and
several environmental groups announced an unusual agreement
Tuesday to work together to get more clean energy from
hydropower while reducing the environmental harm from dams, in
a sign that the threat of climate change is spurring both sides
to rethink their decades-long battle over a large but
contentious source of renewable power. The United States
generated about 7 percent of its electricity last year from
hydropower, mainly from large dams built decades ago, such as
the Hoover Dam, which uses flowing water from the Colorado
River to power turbines.
Unbeknownst to many, some voters will pick five new members of
the Board of Directors of the Westlands Water District. GV Wire
had a chance to speak with two of those… Both offered
insights into how Westlands can change its reputation, how
farmers can change their approach, and what their biggest
adversaries are in the fight for water.
A new experiment is looking into how drought conditions, like
we’re currently in, can affect water traveling downstream in
the Colorado River. The pilot project involved shepherding
water from a high mountain reservoir to the Colorado-Utah state
The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) recently
launched an environmental justice community survey to gather
input to inform Delta Conveyance Project planning. The survey,
entitled, “Your Delta, Your Voice,” seeks direct input from
communities that may be disproportionately affected by the
Protecting intact peatlands [such as those in California] and
restoring degraded ones are crucial steps if the world is to
counter climate change, European researchers said Friday. In a
study, they said peat bogs, wetlands that contain large amounts
of carbon in the form of decaying vegetation that has built up
over centuries, could help the world achieve climate goals like
the limit of 2 degrees Celsius of postindustrial warming that
is part of the 2015 Paris agreement.
If certain hay species retain more nutrients than others when
on low-water diets, then ranchers know their cattle will
continue to eat well as they evaluate whether they can operate
their ranches on less H20…. Any water saved could be left in
the Colorado River, allowing it to become more sustainable,
even as the West’s population grows and drought becomes more
Prescribed burning … targets brush, grasses, and other
accumulated vegetation, along with dead and downed trees, to
improve ecosystem health and reduce the fuels that power
wildfires. … “We’re trying to encourage a cultural shift in
our relationship with wildfire,” says Sasha Berleman, a fire
ecologist who runs a prescribed burn training program based in
the San Francisco Bay Area. “Fire isn’t going away, so let’s
change how we’re living with it.”
Join us as we guide you on a virtual journey deep into California’s most crucial water and ecological resource – the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The 720,000-acre network of islands and canals support the state’s two major water systems – the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project. The Delta and the connecting San Francisco Bay form the largest freshwater tidal estuary of its kind on the West coast.
The Forest Service’s use of herbicides and pesticides has
raised occasional alarm from environmental groups, which point
to the chemical’s potential to harm wildlife or water supplies,
or to have long-term effects on people who apply them. In some
regions, they say, scarcely a tree-planting project occurs
without the use of chemical herbicides.
A team of scientists at Utah State University has developed a
new tool to forecast drought and water flow in the Colorado
River several years in advance. Although the river’s headwaters
are in landlocked Wyoming and Colorado, water levels are linked
to sea surface temperatures in parts of the Pacific and
Atlantic oceans and the water’s long-term ocean memory.
In the new study, scientists at The University of Texas at
Austin in collaboration with the Union of Concerned Scientists
found that leading climate projections used by the state
strongly agree that climate change will shift the timing and
intensity of rainfall and the health of the state’s snowpack in
ways that will make water management more difficult during the
Newsom, who made the announcement in a walnut orchard 25 miles
outside of Sacramento, said innovative farming practices,
restoring wetlands, better managing forests, planting more
trees and increasing the number of parks are all potential
tools. The goal is to conserve 30% of the state’s lands and
coastal waters in the next decade as part of a larger global
Despite that reduction in flow, total storage behind Glen
Canyon and Hoover dams has dropped only 2.6 million acre feet.
That is far less than you’d expect from 12 years of 1.2 maf per
year flow reductions alone. That kind of a flow reduction
should have been enough to nearly empty the reservoirs. Why
hasn’t that happened? Because we also have been using less
Water providers in California face myriad challenges in
sustainably providing high quality drinking water to their
customers while protecting the natural environment. In this
blog post, I explore the stresses
that surface and
groundwater quality challenges pose for California’s
retail water agencies.
On the heels of a historic drought, at the beginning of the
implementation of historic groundwater legislation, and in
light of potential flooding, Porterville will have more water
in the future and a larger dam to prevent it from damaging the
A relatively new water budgeting platform appears to be working
well for producers in Kern County. The Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water
Storage District has worked with multiple stakeholder partners
to develop the Water Accounting Platform to help growers more
accurately track water use.
The bill, which was written by state Sen. Ben Hueso, also aims
to address some of the binational challenges in managing the
watershed. The plan that the California EPA is putting together
will create a framework for how California can work with the
Mexican and U.S. governments.
Reclamation has identified a significant seismic risk problem
at Shasta Dam that may preclude the enlargement of Shasta Dam
in a safe manner. … In addition … modeling disclosed by
Reclamation to NRDC (see last page of this link) indicates that
enlarging Shasta Dam would reduce the water supply for State
Water Project contractors by an average of 14,000 acre feet per
In California’s Placer County, an unusual partnership between a
county water utility, the U.S. Forest Service and
environmentalists is taking on the work to prevent catastrophic
fires on more than 11,000 hectares in the northern Sierra
Nevada Mountains. The partnership arose from the ashes of
2014’s King fire.
San Diego County Water Authority is looking into the
possibility of building a pipeline (aqueduct, more accurately)
to get its water directly from the Imperial Valley instead of
indirectly through the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) in Los
Angeles. SDCWA and MWD have a history of litigation about how
much MWD can charge for transporting water from Lake Havasu
through MWD’s Colorado River Aqueduct to reservoirs in northern
San Diego County.
Californians are understandably focused on the wildfires that
have charred more than 3 million acres and darkened our skies –
forcing us to find masks that protect us from both COVID-19 and
smoke. But Californians should also pay attention to the
multiple hurricanes that have devastated the Gulf Coast this
season. These disasters have much in common.
U.S. and tribal officials are celebrating completion of a $34
million fish bypass system at a Nevada dam that will allow a
threatened trout species to return to some of its native
spawning grounds for the first time in more than a century.
Construction of the side channel with fish-friendly screens is
a major step toward someday enabling Lahontan cutthroat trout
to make the same 100-mile journey — from a desert lake
northeast of Reno to Lake Tahoe atop the Sierra — that they did
before the dam was built in 1905.
The Georgetown Divide Public Utility District reported Sept. 23
that its release of 2,000 acre-feet of water from Stumpy
Meadows Reservoir to be transferred to the Westlands Water
District has been successfully completed.
Biologists and engineers are setting the stage for an
environmental recovery effort in downtown Los Angeles that
could rival the return of the gray wolf, bald eagle and
California condor. This time, the species teetering on the edge
of extinction is the Southern California steelhead trout and
the abused habitat is a 4.8-mile-long stretch of the L.A. River
flood-control channel that most people only glimpse from a
The day the gates closed on the Shasta Dam in 1943,
approximately 200 miles of California’s prime salmon and
steelhead spawning habitat disappeared. Although devastating
for all four distinct runs of Central Valley Chinook salmon,
the high dam hit the Sacramento winter-run Chinook the hardest.
Southern California Edison crews will be able to restart some
releases from lakes in the San Joaquin River watershed after
the Creek Fire overran much of the area through September. …
Those releases, which flow into Millerton Lake, mean farmers
from Fresno to Arvin will be able to continue irrigation.
The SSJID board has been pursuing a replacement tunnel after
sorting through options to substantially increase the
reliability of water flows as well as reducing costly annual
maintenance work that puts crews at risk. … The 13,000-foot
tunnel is now projected to cost more than $37 million. SSJID
would cover 72 percent of the cost and Oakdale Irrigation
District 28 percent…
If you look closely in the waters of Deer Creek, near Nevada
City, Calif., something strange may catch your eye; lying in
globules amongst the gravel is quicksilver, or liquid elemental
mercury. Carrie Monohan, head scientist for the Sierra Fund,
lives next to Deer Creek, and became concerned about mercury
contamination in the waterways when she pulled liquid mercury
from the water in a turkey baster.