Recent conditions across California over the past 3-5 weeks
have been pretty typical by mid-summer standards. …
California’s boon, however, has been Arizona’s misfortune: a
near-total failure of the North American Monsoon…
The loss in hydroelectric generation during the 2012-16 drought
cost PG&E and other California utilities about $5.5
billion, a new study says. As California’s climate becomes more
prone to severe droughts, the findings point to future costs
that utilities — and ultimately ratepayers — will likely be
forced to bear.
A group dedicated to protecting the Ballona Wetlands is among
the plaintiffs in a lawsuit alleging millions of dollars in
public funds have been misused for what they claim is a
“deceptive” plan to bulldoze the ecological reserve under the
guise of being a restoration effort.
Regional San’s landmark recycled water program—previously known
as the South County Ag Program—has been rebranded. Now known as
Harvest Water, the program will be one of the largest water
recycling projects in California and will deliver up to
50,000-acre feet per year of tertiary-treated recycled water to
an estimated 16,000 acres of farm and habitat lands in southern
This cluster of counties on Colorado’s Western Slope — along
with three counties just across the border in eastern Utah —
has warmed more than 2 degrees Celsius, double the global
average. Spanning more than 30,000 square miles, it is the
largest 2C hot spot in the Lower 48, a Washington Post analysis
found. … The average flow of the Colorado River has declined
nearly 20 percent over the past century, half of which is
because of warming temperatures, scientists say.
FERC concluded that the nonprofit that was going to take
ownership of the dams didn’t have the experience or expertise
to oversee such a complicated project. PacifiCorp therefore
needed to stay on as co-licensee. But if PacifiCorp couldn’t
walk away clean, it lost a huge incentive for removing the dams
at all. It might just as well stick with the status quo.
We deserve complete, dependable information and accurate cost
data including well-reasoned analysis that demonstrates the
need and economic viability of the pipeline. Instead, studies
by the Utah Division of Water Resources and the Washington
County Water Conservancy District are biased, incomplete and do
not fairly consider feasible, much less costly alternatives.
Contaminated water has long plagued California’s Southern
Central Valley, a region home to many farmworkers. SB 974, a
bill by Senator Melissa Hurtado, seeks to provide safe drinking
water by exempting small disadvantaged communities from certain
The City of Bakersfield is poised to ink a deal with Buena
Vista Water Storage District that will provide at least some
water in the riverbed through the main part of the city between
April and June — even in drier years.
The decades-long battle over an effort to raise the height of
Shasta Dam took another turn Thursday when the Trump
Administration released a new environmental report on the plan,
just five years after completing a similar study.
A California appellate court on Wednesday denied Imperial
Valley farmer Michael Abatti’s request for a rehearing in his
long-running legal fight with the Imperial Irrigation District
over control of Colorado River water. The decision could likely
spell the end to his legal challenges.
The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association sued the EPA and the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers in May for bringing non-navigable,
small streams and wetlands under Clean Water Act protection in
the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. Judge Michael W. Mosman,
ruling from the bench on a preliminary injunction sought
against the water rule, dismissed the claims without prejudice.
The COVID-109 pandemic isn’t slowing work aimed at moving
arguably the most cantankerous water project ever proposed in
California since voters overwhelmingly rejected the Peripheral
Canal in 1982 — the Delta Tunnel Project. … The State
Department of Water Resources is currently preparing an
environmental impact report on the project. At the same time
they are also seeking all required state and federal approvals.
On a recent weekday morning at El Cerrito Swim Center, a
popular East Bay pool complex in Northern California that
normally has more than 550 visitors a day, the air was so still
that one could hear birds chirping and the shuffling of
flip-flops as a small group of masked patrons tentatively filed
onto the pool deck for their allotted 45-minute lap swim.
Funding for much needed repairs at least in the short-term for
the Friant-Kern Canal continues to move closer to becoming
reality. The House of Representatives last week passed H.R.
7617… Included in that minibus is $71 million for repairs to
the Friant-Kern Canal during the next fiscal year.
Some have found fishing the L.A. River to be a peaceful respite
from COVID-19, political and social turmoil and malaise of all
flavors. Even those who have been fishing the river for years
say it’s a new experience amid the new normal.
Through three governors, California has set a path to tear down
four aging dams on the Klamath River astride the Oregon border.
It would be the biggest such removal project in the nation,
done in the name of fish preservation, clean water flows and
political consensus. But the undertaking is hitting a snag, one
that Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to undo.
Nearly 200,000 people were evacuated when the spillways failed
at Oroville Dam in 2017, an infrastructure disaster that cost
around a billion dollars to repair. Three years later
scientists say events that partially led to the incident could
become more frequent. It comes down to how and when snow and
Earlier this year, Reclamation released water from Upper
Klamath Lake — impounded by the Link River Dam in Klamath Falls
— to boost streamflows for coho salmon in the lower Klamath
River. But the Klamath Irrigation District sued, claiming the
bureau does not have an established right from the Oregon Water
Resources Department to use the stored water.
Toxic algal blooms have resulted in a “danger” advisory not to
go in the water at Prado Regional Park Lake and not to eat fish
from the lake. A similar advisory at part of Big Bear Lake has
been posted since last month.
Environmental engineers at the University of California, Irvine
have developed a new framework for characterizing snow droughts
around the world. Using this tool to analyze conditions from
1980 to 2018, the researchers found a 28-percent increase in
the length of intensified snow-water deficits in the Western
United States during the second half of the study period.
When Brenda Goeden first started working on mud, silt, and sand
in the San Francisco Bay two decades ago, dredgers and
contractors couldn’t get rid of all the sediment they excavated
fast enough. … But today sediment is a hot commodity, as
restorationists and developers scramble to elevate salt marshes
and building sites before rising tides claim them. Now, a new
plan is in the works to optimize allocation of this critical
Among the projects, the bureau promises to update a 20-year-old
assessment of streamflows in the lower Klamath River for Coho
salmon and re-evaluate how water levels in Upper Klamath Lake
are affecting the survival of endangered sucker fish. Farmers
in the Klamath Project have long argued that flawed or outdated
science is chipping away at the amount of water they receive
each year to irrigate crops.
Much needed work at Schafer Dam at Success Lake is finally set
to begin. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District
will begin construction to realign Avenue 146 and widen the
existing Tule River Spillway at Success Lake in Porterville on
Droughts are common in California. The drought of 2012-2016 had
no less precipitation and was no longer than previous
historical droughts, but came with record high temperatures and
low snowpack, which worsened many drought impacts.
For us, dam removal is absolutely necessary to restore our
struggling fisheries, maintain cultural practices, and provide
tribal members who struggle to make ends meet access to
traditional subsistence foods.
The water level at Folsom Lake is dropping by nearly half a
foot each day, and soon boaters who rent a slip at Folsom Lake
Marina will have pull their boats out. Marina managers told the
tenants they should plan on removing their boats from the water
by around Aug. 16…
In the midst of a hot July after late rains this season, the
outlook for reforesting on the ridge will depend on the efforts
of private landowners, local forest scientists say. With this
help, residents of the ridge could see a new type of forest
replace what was lost in the Camp Fire.
Summer energy demands driven higher as the COVID-19 pandemic
keeps more people at home could lead to more water flowing from
Glen Canyon Dam into the Colorado River. That could mean
rapidly changing conditions for rafters, anglers, hikers or
others on the river in Glen Canyon or the Grand Canyon,
With a new water supply delayed by state regulatory agencies
and political infighting, the Monterey Peninsula Water
Management District board has asked the state water board not
to impose Carmel River water reductions due to an inevitable
violation of an approaching river cutback order milestone…
You may have noticed them on trips down the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta, small buildings, just 10 feet by 12 feet,
sticking up out of the water. Resembling sheds that you
typically see in a backyard; these buildings provide protection
for something slightly more important than the family gardening
tools and lawnmower.
Four years after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers upgraded the
flood risk for the Whittier Narrows Dam from high urgency to
very high urgency, the U,S. House of Representatives on Friday
approved a budget package that included nearly $385 million to
fix the dam.
The average annual flow of the Colorado River has decreased 19
percent compared to its 20th century average. Models predict
that by 2100, the river flow could fall as much as 55 percent.
The Colorado River, and the people it sustains, are in serious
The newly passed Drought Contingency Plan spurred additional
conservation and left more water in the lake. An unusually wet
year also helped, because it allowed states to fall back on
other supplies. But the fundamental problem remains: The river
still isn’t producing the amount of water we use in a typical
year. We’re still draining the mighty Colorado.
As part of Valley Water’s mission to provide flood protection
for our communities, we are continuously preparing for the
possibility of flooding. We must regularly keep our streams and
creeks well maintained to handle the rainy season and protect
the many species of wildlife that live there.
A Marin County Superior Court judge rejected a petition filed
by a group of San Geronimo residents and golfers to halt creek
restoration work in the former San Geronimo Golf Course. The
ten residents and golfers, known as the San Geronimo Heritage
Alliance, filed the lawsuit in July alleging the creek
restoration work is illegal.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has appealed directly to investor Warren
Buffett to support demolishing four hydroelectric dams on a
river along the Oregon-California border to save salmon
populations that have dwindled to almost nothing.
A 1997 guidance document from the White House Council on
Environmental Quality lays out best practices for FERC and
other agencies to address environmental justice as part of
reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act. The agency
isn’t legally required to act on its findings.
Studies by reliable independent organizations prove the
pipeline is unnecessary, risky and cost prohibitive. To counter
these fact-based findings, pipeline proponents rely on
misleading arguments, skewed data and fear in an attempt to
“sell” the pipeline to taxpayers and water users who are
unaware of the facts and place undue trust in government
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today introduced the Border
Water Quality Restoration and Protection Act, a bill to reduce
pollution along the U.S.-Mexico border and improve the water
quality of the Tijuana and New rivers.
A Kern County water agency is facing a wall of opposition
against its plan to harvest up to 12,000 acre feet of water
from the South Fork of the Kern River above Lake Isabella and
bring it to valley farms and homeowners in northwest
In response to Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt and
Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman’s recent visit with
Klamath Basin ranchers, farmers, tribes and community
officials, Reclamation is launching a new science initiative to
inform Klamath Project operations.
Demonstrators in northern Mexico have burned several government
vehicles, blocked railway tracks and set afire a government
office and highway tollbooths to protest water payments to the
Forest-management actions such as mechanical thinning and
prescribed burns don’t just reduce the risk of severe wildfire
and promote forest health — these practices can also contribute
to significant increases in downstream water availability. New
research from UC Merced’s Sierra Nevada Research Institute
provides the tools to help estimate and verify those changes.
Following the Imperial Irrigation District’s recent win on a
monumental water case in California’s appellate court against
Michael Abatti, the water district is back in court filing the
opening brief against the other large water district is
Southern California, the Metropolitan Water District.
The California Fish Passage Forum brings together public and
private groups and agencies working to remove barriers to fish
passage. We get a quick lesson in the projects and progress of
the Forum in an interview with Chair Bob Pagliuco and
Coordinator Alicia Marrs.
Desperate to complete a historic but complicated dam removal on
the California-Oregon border, Gov. Gavin Newsom has appealed to
one of the world’s wealthiest men to keep the project on track:
financier Warren Buffett. Newsom dispatched a letter to Buffett
and two of his executives Wednesday urging them to support
removal of four hydroelectric dams on the lower Klamath
The U.S. National Science Foundation-funded study … found
that agrochemicals can increase transmission of the schistosome
worm in myriad ways: by directly affecting survival of the
waterborne parasite itself; by decimating aquatic predators
that feed on snails that carry the parasite; and by altering
the composition of algae in the water, which provides a major
food source for snails.
Gov. Gavin Newsom released strategies Tuesday to improve
drinking water quality, revive a stalled multibillion-dollar
tunnel and build new dams. Newsom says the sweeping water
portfolio will help the Golden State prepare for global warming
by reinforcing outdated water infrastructure and reducing the
state’s reliance on groundwater during future droughts.
A contagious, potentially fatal bacteria has infected trout in
the three state-run hatcheries that provide the fish to public
lakes in Southern California and the eastern Sierra. The
California Department of Fish and Wildlife expects to euthanize
all 3.2 million trout in those hatcheries this week.
The community already beset by an environmental disaster is now
facing a pandemic of the worst proportions. Residents and
activists, who have long fought for more funding and pollution
mitigation, say the area was already at a steep disadvantage
for health care. Now the largely agrarian community has found
itself in the middle of a perfect storm of environmental
neglect, poverty, and the coronavirus.
Nearly 230 wildlife species depend on Sacramento Valley rice
fields for food and a resting place, including the giant
gartersnake, a threatened species. Although it has “giant” in
its name, this creature is, at most, five-feet long. These
snakes are heavily dependent on rice fields for their survival;
having lost most of their earlier habitat – traditional
Plastic waste flowing into the oceans is expected to nearly
triple in volume in the next 20 years, while efforts to stem
the tide have so far made barely a dent in the tsunami of
waste, research shows.
Providing a reliable source of drinking water is a challenge
for many small water systems in the San Joaquin Valley, where
dropping groundwater levels, aging systems, and water quality
problems are acute. … We talked to Laura Ramos and Sarge
Green of Fresno State’s California Water Institute about this
When it was measured last year, the clarity of the lake was
about 80 feet. … But, consider this, about 20 years ago, the
clarity of lake was 100 feet. That’s the trend scientists are
trying to reverse.
Species such as salmon, trout and giant catfish are vital not
just to the rivers and lakes in which they breed or feed but to
entire ecosystems. By swimming upstream, they transport
nutrients from the oceans and provide food for many land
animals, including bears, wolves and birds of prey.
President Trump made two nominations to the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission Monday, bowing to pressure from
Democratic lawmakers who have pushed to maintain the bipartisan
split in the commission.
NOAA has issued a La Nina Watch, which means a dry winter and
longer fire season are possible this year for Southern
California. This stems from colder water along the equator in
the Pacific which has a domino effect on other parts of the
On July 13, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gave the San
Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District a 30-year permit
to manage plans for the Upper Santa Ana River Wash, the final
step in the process. The plans cover an area of Redlands and
Highland generally west and south of Greenspot Road, east of
Alabama Street and north of the waterway’s bluffs.
Over the next 3 weeks a group of League to Save Lake Tahoe
citizen scientists will outfit their clothes driers with
special filters to capture particles from dryer vent emissions.
Dr. Monica Arienzo of the Desert Research Institute explained
that unexpected results from a remote snow sample led to a
curiosity in dryer emissions.
S. Craig Tucker, consultant to the Karuk Tribe, and Mike
Belchik, senior water policy analyst with the Yurok Tribe,
joins Scott Greacen (Friends of the Eel) and Tom Wheeler (EPIC)
for a spirited discussion on the new news about the state of
There are just 12 parking spots near Yankee Jim’s, a sliver of
crystal clear water on the North Fork American River, about 35
miles west of Lake Tahoe, but last weekend California State
Parks and Placer County authorities counted more than 300
vehicles parked near the rugged roads surrounding a one-way
bridge overhead. … Authorities said the scenic area has
exploded in popularity thanks to social media postings.
Zone 7 Water Agency directors authorized General Manager
Valerie Pryor to negotiate an agreement with Napa County’s
water division to buy some of its surplus water this year — a
move that could open doors for similar deals in the future. A
need to meet local water demand for the next few years prompted
Zone 7 to act at its regular meeting July 16.
Feinstein’s Restoration of Essential Conveyance Act would
authorize $800 million in federal funding to repair critical
canals in the San Joaquin Valley damaged by land sinking from
overpumping of groundwater, known as subsidence, and for
Yuba Water Agency’s Board of Directors Thursday authorized
staff to move forward with a new design of an estimated $225
million secondary spillway at New Bullards Bar Dam, marking an
important step forward for the agency’s largest project to
reduce flood risk since the dam was built.
The Third Appellate District has ruled that the State Water
Resources Control Board has the authority to issue temporary
emergency regulations and curtailment orders which establish
minimum flow requirements, regulate unreasonable use of water,
and protect threatened fish species during drought conditions.
What was extraordinary was the unusually deep snow recorded in
the northern Sierra Nevada mountains before the storm event.
Subsequently, several records were set for how much snowmelt
occurred during the atmospheric river. The melt took place
because of unusually warm and wet conditions, and it increased
water available for runoff by 37 percent over rain alone,
straining the capacity of California’s second-largest
The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission stated
its support once again for the fishery releases proposed by the
Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts. The action reaffirmed
FERC findings in February 2019 that dismissed pleas from
environmental and sport-fishing groups for much higher flows.
New state grants totaling about $8 million will enhance fish
habitat on the Tuolumne River, and better connect west Modesto
residents to the waterway. The grants will continue efforts to
restore spawning areas and floodplains for salmon, trout and
other fish between La Grange and Modesto.
Saturday and Sunday, PG&E will raise the water level on the
North Fork of the Feather River, which goes from Quincy to
Oroville. … But this year, it seems the whitewater levels —
thanks to the coronavirus — aren’t raising excitement.
An algal bloom at Pyramid Lake in Los Angeles County has the
Department of Water Resources (DWR) warning the public not to
swim or participate in any other water-contact recreation or
sporting activities due to potential adverse health effects.
However, DWR said boating at the lake is still allowed.
If Assembly Bill AB 3030 becomes law, it would create a state
goal to keep at least 30% of California’s land and waterways
free from development and other human impacts, such as
overfishing and climate change, by the year 2030. It would also
help protect 30% of the nation’s oceans by that same year.
A largely ignored waterway in El Cajon is about to get some
much-needed TLC through $2 million in grant money. Broadway
Creek, a sliver in the 52-mile San Diego River watershed, runs
behind businesses along Broadway. Much of the creek and its
wetland habitat sit between homes and an apartment complex near
Magnolia Avenue, in the heart of the city.
In 1961, Placer County voters overwhelmingly approved the sale
of bonds to finance construction of the Middle Fork American
River Hydroelectric Project (MFP). Nearly 60 years later, with
the bonds fully paid and financial reserves fully funded, the
first-ever distribution of net revenue from the MFP has been
The state of California, long derided for its failure to act in
the past, says it is now moving full-bore to address the Salton
Sea’s problems, with ambitious plans for wildlife habitat
expansion and dust suppression.
The nearly $2-billion EchoWater project aims to meet a 2010
requirement issued by California and local authorities. They
have called for cleaner discharge into the Sacramento River by
2023 from the Sacramento Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant in
Elk Grove. With 21 projects, the EchoWater program’s largest
components are now under construction and, despite
complexities, remains on track to complete major work in 2022.
With state and federal administrations fighting in court about
delta water operations—and with a pandemic and election year
both underway—work has slowed on voluntary agreements meant to
avoid severe cuts to northern San Joaquin Valley water
supplies. At issue is the first phase of a State Water
Resources Control Board plan for the Sacramento-San Joaquin
A century ago, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta was a massive
wetland habitat. The construction of levees over the past 100
years has dried out these wetlands and converted them into
farmland, eliminating 95 percent of this important aquatic
habitat for fish. But scientists are finding out that given the
right conditions, nature can reclaim itself.
On appeal, the court held that the District’s water allocation
methodology in the “equitable distribution plan” was reasonable
and not an abuse of discretion, and that Abatti and the other
farmers in IID only hold an interest in, or right to, water
Ceres Imaging, an Oakland-based startup company, is one of
several high-tech aerial monitoring companies helping
California farmers, including those in Kern County, increase
their production, while decreasing their demand for water. It
is a logical marriage between agriculture and innovators in
California’s Silicon Valley.
For the past five years, Monty Currier, a California Department
of Fish and Wildlife environmental scientist, has been working
to rebuild the fishery at Mountain Meadows Reservoir after
the PG&E impoundment went dry in 2015 from the
combined effects of maintenance work and the drought. The
unfortunate fish kill presented Currier with something of a
Between Jan.8, 2017 and April 19, 2017, the company discharged
4,634,245 gallons of process wastewater and/or polluted
stormwater from two mushroom growing facilities located in
Royal Oaks into the tributary. The wastewater contained
ammonia, excessive nutrients, and suspended and floating
material, which can harm water quality and aquatic habitat.
As part of a settlement reached with fishing and environmental
groups, the California State Water Resources Control Board says
it will increase transparency and conduct heightened
evaluations when deciding water quality standards and flow
limits for the state’s critical waterways. …
Environmentalists celebrated the deal as a “landmark
settlement” that stands to boost protections for fish by
improving water quality in the Sacramento River and the San
Veronica Wunderlich is a Department of Water Resources senior
environmental scientist with a focus in herpetology – the study
of reptiles and amphibians. Below, Veronica discusses how she
got started in herpetology –she even had snakes as pets as a
kid, her current work, and how to translate a passion and
interest in wildlife into a career – “If you really love the
creatures you work with, you will never regret working with
Despite their brief existence … the pools, and the fairy
shrimp they harbor are an important feature of the new
preserve. The conservancy acquired Mountain Meadow Preserve, on
hilltops off of Interstate 15, about two years ago. At that
time, the 693-acre site was a deserted orchard, dotted with
dilapidated agricultural sheds and withered avocado groves.
Pumped storage hydropower (PSH) is a pretty simple technology.
… The effect is not to create energy. In fact, these
facilities are net consumers of energy. But by making renewable
energy available when it is most needed, PSH helps renewables
better match demand, reducing the need for gas on the grid.
A potential harmful algal bloom (HAB) has been identified at
New Melones Reservoir downstream of the log jam and Camp Nine
bridge in Calaveras County. … This is the first HAB
identified in Calaveras County this year, based on the state
HAB Incident Reports Map.
Legal scholars believe that the Lake Powell pipeline would
likely violate the 1922 Colorado River Compact as a
transfer of upper basin water (WY, UT, CO, NM) for lower basin
use (CA, NV, AZ). The lower basin has priority, and the compact
arguably prohibits transfers from the upper to lower basin
absent explicit congressional authorization
Imperial Beach Mayor Pro Tem Paloma Aguirre joined Good Morning
San Diego to discuss a new report claiming that an audit done
by Baja California governor accuses big US companies of water
theft and contributed to raw sewage and hazardous pollutants
ending up in the Tijuana River.
The City of Lathrop wants to secure a permit that will allow
for the discharge of treated wastewater into the San Joaquin
River. And last week they agreed to spend more than $400,000 to
take steps towards achieving that longstanding goal.
Nearly half a century after a Gold Rush-era quicksilver mining
operation shut down in Northern California, mercury continues
to flow into a nearby creek, and federal officials blame the
mine’s state landmark status for cleanup delays. … By the
time the mine closed in 1972, it had produced more than 38
million pounds of mercury. Today, the site is a remote ghost
town 135 miles southeast of San Francisco
The latest proposal would trim the budget by $2 billion and the
storage capacity by about 300,000 acre-feet, according to Jerry
Brown, the new executive director of the project. Sites would
use existing canals for conveyance rather than build new
pipelines. The plan also eliminates a pumped-storage system for
generating and storing energy during high flow events. He said
the business case for that element of the project “just didn’t
Heal the Bay today released the annual River Report Card, which
assigns water quality color-grades of Red, Yellow, or Green for
28 freshwater sites in Los Angeles County based on observed
bacteria levels in 2019.
Farmers once again clashed with Mexican military forces Sunday
to protest releases of water from a dam to repay a water debt
owed to the United States. … Under a 1944 treaty, Mexico owes
the United States about 415,000 acre-feet yearly that must be
paid by Oct. 24. Mexico has fallen badly behind in payments
from previous years and now has to quickly catch up on water
Out of sight and out of mind to most people, the Salton Sea in
California’s far southeast corner has challenged policymakers
and local agencies alike to save the desert lake from becoming
a fetid, hyper-saline water body inhospitable to wildlife and
surrounded by clouds of choking dust.
State water regulators have issued a $285,000 penalty against
the Phillips 66 refinery for releasing millions of gallons of
industrial wastewater into San Pablo Bay early last year. The
penalty is the 11th issued in the last 17 years against the
Houston-based oil company. Its refinery sits on the bay shore
in Rodeo, just south of the Carquinez Strait and Vallejo.
The country’s largest dam removal project was thrown into
question last week when federal regulators refused to let the
current owner fully transfer the impoundments to a nonprofit to
carry out the demolition.
The Imperial Irrigation District and farmer Michael Abatti have
been locked in a years-long legal battle with as many twists as
the river over which it has been fought. The saga might finally
come to an end, though, after a California appellate court
handed down a ruling on Thursday that found IID is the rightful
manager of the portion of the Colorado River guaranteed to the
Looking at the water hyacinth’s lovely lavender flowers and
lush green leaves, it’s easy to see why it was brought here
from South America. But too much of a good thing can cause
trouble, and few things turn into “too much” as quickly as
water hyacinths (Eichhornia crassipes).
“The people of Bakersfield need a flowing river — with water in
a thriving river parkway, quality of life in Bakersfield will
be significantly improved,” says the petition, posted recently
by local resident Jonathan Yates on Change.org.
The muck, which resembles algae or another type of water
bacteria, has drawn the concern of a pond activist over the
potential effects a poisonous algal organism could have on the
animals that inhabit the pond in East Sacramento’s prized park.
Now the city of Sacramento and the California Water Board have
said they will examine the ominous algal globs.
After four years of review, FERC granted the transfer of the
license for the J.C. Boyle, Copco No. 1, Copco No. 2 and Iron
Gate dams (collectively known as the Lower Klamath Project) to
the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, a nonprofit that would
carry out the dam removal. But it requires PacifiCorp, the
utility that currently operates the dams, to remain on the
The Anderson Reservoir in Morgan Hill held back by a 240-foot
dam built in 1950 could be rebuilt following the State
Assembly’s passage of AB 3005 in June. … The project would
cost about $576 million but still needs to pass through the
While it’s fair to say that salmon and steelhead are dying the
death of a thousand cuts in the Eel River, Scott Dam is by far
the deepest and most damaging of these injuries. Dam removal
efforts from Maine to Washington State to here in California
have shown time and again that restoring access to historical
spawning grounds is key to rebounding fish populations.
On July 6, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency
that oversees the canal, finalized a feasibility report for
Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project.
Under section 4007 of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for
the Nation Act, the bureau’s report means up to 50% of the
total project costs can be requested from the U.S. Department
of the Interior and subsequently appropriated by Congress for
I look at Trinidad more like a watershed than simply a square
mile of streets, homes and businesses. We provide water to our
residents, to some customers in Westhaven, and need to be able
to consider new water requests holistically.
Earlier this year, the California Almond Board released a
report regarding the acreage of almond trees that have reached
bearing age and another with totals including young trees.
These reports paint a stark picture of an unsustainable
industry that threatens the Bay-Delta ecosystem and
California’s salmon fishing jobs.
California’s wild weather swings, from pounding rain to drought
and from fires to floods, are widely expected to worsen as the
climate warms. A new study shows just how severe things might
get, and it’s not pretty.
To live in Colorado is to know drought. Since 2000, there has
been only one month-plus-long period (from late May to mid July
of 2019) when no drought has been desiccating the earth here.
Other than that, at least one part of the state has been in a
perpetual state of crisp.
California’s state budget includes $47 million to help the
Salton Sea. The new budget was signed by Governor Newsom last
month. … News Channel 3’s Madison Weil spoke with Phil
Rosentrater, the executive director of the Salton Sea
Authority, to see how the new funds will be used.
The Imperial Irrigation District has filed its opening brief in
a case against the Metropolitan Water District of Southern
California that it launched last year in an attempt to halt the
implementation of the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan for
the Colorado River. IID wants to see it paused until the Salton
Sea is also considered.
The “Guardians of the Reservoir” challenge seeks ideas to
remove or transport the amount of sediment building up in the
reservoirs, replacing available space for water storage, that
provide critical water supplies for the country. There will be
up to a total of $550,000 in cash prizes available for the
three-phase the competition.
The most apparent observation I had after developing the
comments was the substantial amount of work that has been
undertaken in the Sacramento Valley to complete habitat
projects and advance science for Chinook salmon recovery in the
last 5 years.
The Consul General of Mexico in San Diego said there are things
happening in Tijuana that will help. In a written statement
responding to questions by KPBS, Carlos González Gutiérrez said
there are several projects underway.
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman says
she’d like to see more cooperation from California officials as
talks aim to resolve a legal dispute over competing biological
opinions governing the management of their respective water
The Karuk Tribe is set to hold its World Renewal Ceremonies in
Six Rivers and Klamath national forests from July through late
September. In honor of these long-standing tribal traditions,
outsiders will be prohibited from entering the water or
launching watercraft during the ceremonies, the U.S. Forest
Service has announced in a press release.
For the past two decades, dams have been falling across the
United States in a bid to reverse a legacy of destruction of
fish and their habitat. … But in southwestern Washington, a
local flood control district is going against the flow by
proposing a major new dam on the Chehalis River. … The
Chehalis is a critical salmon stream and the largest river
system fully contained within the state’s boundaries.
To those who opposed the dam, Glen Canyon Dam’s history reads
like an obituary about the loss of an incomparable sandstone
and water wonderland… Those on the other side of the issue
feel the dam has improved Glen Canyon – now providing greater
access to its breathtaking contrast of towering crimson
sandstone walls and vast expanses of crystal blue water.
The public last week had its first opportunity to pepper
officials with questions about the Lake Powell Pipeline’s
recently-released draft environmental impact statement, a
313-page document from the Bureau of Reclamation examining how
the controversial project could impact a myriad of resources in
Reps. Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA-32) and Linda T. Sánchez
(D-CA-38) announced that the FY2021 Energy and Water
Appropriations bill is providing $384,900,000 as part of the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Dam Safety and Seepage Program.
While farmers lauded Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and
Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman’s historic
joint visit to the Klamath Basin on Thursday, area tribes
expressed concern that their perspective on water issues had
not been adequately heard.
A total of 352 facilities, including fossil fuel companies,
water treatment plants and schools, made use of the EPA’s
relaxation of Clean Water Act requirements, according to a list
the agency shared with The Hill. … Environmentalists are
raising alarms over the number of facilities that aren’t
monitoring their pollution levels, saying the damage could last
well beyond the Aug. 31 expiration date of the temporary
Imperial Irrigation District made the first notable follow-up
to its petition to hit the brakes on the Lower Basin Drought
Contingency Plan for the Colorado River with an opening brief
Researchers in the Grand Canyon now spend weeks at a time,
several times a year, monitoring humpback chub, which has
become central to an ecosystem science program with
implications for millions of westerners who rely on Colorado
The Fremont Weir Adult Fish Passage Modification Project, which
began modified operations in January of 2019, successfully
allowed thousands of migrating fish to pass between the
Sacramento River and Yolo Bypass in its first year of
Fadji Maina and Erica Siirila-Woodburn from Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratory explored how a watershed could be impacted
by wildfires. Specifically, the scientists investigated the
Cosumnes River watershed in California.
U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Bureau of
Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman promised to seek a
resolution to the decades-long water conflicts in the basin
after meeting with growers, local water officials and other
Pasadena conservationist groups secured a major victory on
Tuesday when the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
approved a settlement agreement, ending a protracted legal
battle centered on the removal of 1.7 million cubic yards of
sediment from the Devil’s Gate Dam and its potential
The city of Imperial Beach, environmental advocacy group
Surfrider Foundation and the San Diego Regional Water Quality
Control Board agreed to put down their proverbial legal swords
for a period of 12 months while the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency puts a stack of cash to work on the
decades-long sewage issue plaguing the Tijuana River watershed.
The streams and creeks that supply West Marin are running low
after the extraordinarily dry winter, and local water system
managers are sounding the alarm. The Bolinas Community Public
Utility District and North Marin Water District have already
imposed water-use reductions, and the Inverness Public Utility
District may do so later this month.
U.S. District Court Judge Dale Drozd of the Eastern District of
California, who is based in Fresno, denied environmental
groups’ request for an injunction that would have required the
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the CVP, to reduce
water allocations as needed to manage water temperatures in the
Sacramento River below Shasta Dam. The groups sought more cold
water for spring- and winter-run chinook salmon.
South San Joaquin Valley farmers have a reason to celebrate
this week: Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives
appropriated $200 million to fix the Friant-Kern Canal. The
bill also includes funding to repair the Delta-Mendota Canal
and for two Northern California reservoirs.
A group of wildlife biologists in Northern California took
another step in the conservation effort of the threatened
Foothill yellow-legged frogs on June 30, releasing 115 of the
frogs into the Feather River in Plumas National Forest.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the release
marks the first release of captive-reared, Foothill
yellow-legged frogs into the wild.
Rollbacks of the Clean Water Act and the executive order to
suspend the National Environmental Policy Act are meant to save
costs and cut red tape. However, Jeremy Schewe, professional
wetland scientist, explains these efforts will ultimately lead
to far greater expense to business, society, and the planet,
especially when combined with the House proposed infrastructure
Get ready… here comes the true California water cycle: It
begins with headlines and quotes warning of pending disaster
based on what could, might, maybe, or possibly happen over the
state’s water infrastructure.
The design for a section of the border wall that will span
Southern Arizona’s San Pedro River is coming to light, more
than a year after a contract was awarded to build it. The plan
is to build 30-foot-tall steel bollards across the river and
install swing gates under the bollards to allow river water to
flow, Customs and Border Protection officials said in a June 12
call with local environmental advocates and congressional
Studies conducted in multiple countries in recent months have
detected the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, in treated and
untreated wastewater, but to this date there has been no
evidence of a person contracting the virus through wastewater
or swimming areas.
We are preparing now for the tougher negotiations that lie
ahead to develop new operating rules for the Colorado River.
Last week, Arizona’s water community began work preparing our
state’s vision of what Colorado River management should look
like after the current set of rules expire in a little more
than six years.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Maryland Attorney
General Brian Frosh, and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura
Healey today led a multistate coalition in expressing
opposition to President Trump’s recently signed executive order
instructing federal agencies to use emergency authority to
bypass critical environmental review and permitting processes
for infrastructure projects.
Degraded meadows and their streams can be rehabilitated using a
“pond and plug” technique to restore the floodplain function.
This strategy aims to elevate groundwater levels in the dry
season by spreading large flows across the floodplain. The pond
and plug treatment improves water quality, soil moisture, and
wetland vegetation – improvements that are extremely beneficial
to birds and other wildlife.
The summer’s high temperatures have contributed to an algal
bloom that’s impacting Clear Lake, with recent testing of 30
sites on the lake finding concerning levels of cyanotoxin. On
Thursday, Lake County Water Resources reported on the lake-wide
After almost 32 years with the Los Angeles Department of Water
and Power (LADWP) Clarence Martin will be stepping down as
Aqueduct Manager. Deputy Aqueduct Manager Adam Perez will be
taking over, come July 1.
The historic lighthouse at Rubicon Point was born out of
organized advocacy work in the early 1900s. The Lake Tahoe
Protective Association formed in response to a proposal to cut
the rim of Lake Tahoe at the Truckee River. The proposal was
floated by the Truckee River General Electric Company in 1912
as a means to keep water flowing out of Tahoe even when the
lake level dipped too low.
The state of California, city of Imperial Beach, and the
Surfrider Foundation have agreed to a 12-month stay in
litigation over cross-border sewage flowing in from Mexico
while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency focuses work on
the Tijuana River Valley.
On June 24, 2020, the United States District Court for the
Eastern District of California denied the preliminary
injunctive relief requested by a coalition of fishery and
environmental groups regarding the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s
operations of Shasta Dam and Reservoir, and related temperature
management actions on the upper Sacramento River.
The Turlock City Council was entertaining thoughts of backing
out of the project, which would have left only Ceres
undertaking the project to deliver treated Tuolumne River water
to homes. Last week the council voted unanimously to proceed
with the project. The two cities form the Stanislaus Regional
Water Authority which is expected to award a design-build
contract to CH2M Hill Engineers, Inc. this month.
On June 18, 2020, the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed
the lower court’s determination that the State Water Resources
Control Board lawfully adopted emergency regulations and
curtailment orders … in 2014 and 2015 during a period of
severe and persistent drought conditions.
All but one of these photographs of California by Jesse White
come from California Exposures, a book that he and I, his
father, did together. … They are part of a conversation, and
they are as apt to ask questions as give answers. The
photographs of California Exposures tell a history of
California, but not in the conventional sense.
After an absence of many decades, Chinook salmon swim up the
Guadalupe River in San José most winters. The fish look for
places to lay eggs and often find them. If there’s enough water
left in the dry season, their offspring swim back down the
river in the spring to head out to sea. Surprisingly, given the
generally heated politics regarding fish in California, little
else is known about these salmon.
The Environmental Protection Agency has again been sued over
its rollback of Obama-era waterway protections. On Thursday,
the Environmental Integrity Project, on behalf of four other
environmental groups, sued the agency, claiming that the new
rule conflicts with the Clean Water Act and “disregards”
science “without any rational, let alone ‘reasonable,’
The project — managed jointly by California Division of Fish
and Wildlife, the Department of Water Resources and the
Department of Parks and Recreation — seeks to make changes in
Franks Tract with the goal of improving water quality,
providing enhanced recreational opportunities and improving the
ecology for the benefit of native and desirable wildlife.
The proposed expansion of Pacheco Reservoir in southern Santa
Clara County is not solely a project aimed at improving our
region’s ability to store water for droughts and emergencies. A
collaboration between Valley Water, the San Benito County Water
District and Pacheco Pass Water District, the proposed
expansion will improve the quality of fish habitat downstream
of the dam.
Valley Water has many critical projects in various stages of
development, including flood protection projects,
infrastructure improvements and work to protect our
environment. But our top priority remains an effort to retrofit
and strengthen Anderson Dam, home to Santa Clara County’s
largest reservoir, so it can safely withstand a strong
Local and state leaders are sounding the alarm to get the green
light to clear the Salinas Riverbed of dry brush and
vegetation. … This comes after a fire Monday in Paso Robles
which started in the riverbed and quickly moved into a
neighborhood destroying two homes and badly damaging nine
The water has made development possible and is used for farms,
homes and businesses. Meanwhile, recreation has risen to over 4
million annual visitors in Glen Canyon National Recreation
Area, with tourists bringing in over $420 million to local
communities. But climate scientists studying the Colorado River
find the lake’s water source is quickly declining.
San Francisco’s water department, known for sourcing some of
the best supplies in the West, is building its first nature
center to commemorate its watersheds. The $27 million facility,
which broke ground this spring, is taking shape on city-owned
land in Alameda County, near the town of Sunol. The center is
designed to extend the tribute paid by the Sunol Water Temple,
a 110-year-old monument honoring local creeks…
As the Salton Sea retreats, leaving the dry playa exposed, dust
particles become airborne and mobilize lung-damaging toxins
from agricultural runoff. Red Hill Bay, located near the
southeastern corner of the sea, would restore habitat by
flooding the area, but it’s one of several mitigation projects
that have taken flack for progressing so slowly.
The St. Helena City Council awarded a $3.2 million contact
Tuesday to an Arcata firm to remove the Upper York Creek Dam.
McCullough Construction will be charged with notching the dam,
restoring the creek’s aquatic habitat, and removing an illegal
barrier to fish passage that the city first agreed to remove in
There can be little argument that many of the more than 90,000
dams in this country are in need of immediate attention. The
catastrophic failure of two dams in Michigan last month
following an extraordinary amount of rain in a relatively short
period, highlights a number of issues:
Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), which naturally occur in
waterbodies, can grow very rapidly into an algal bloom due to
factors such as warm water temperature, calm conditions, and
certain nutrients in the water. While some algae are harmless,
certain types can produce toxins that can make people and
The Solano County Board of Supervisors this week, in
partnership with the Solano County Water Agency, agreed to
purchase about 74 acres along the Solano side of Putah Creek.
The property is located … between the Monticello Dam and the
diversion dam at Lake Solano, and will be kept as conservation
land and for habitat restoration. About a half a mile of the
property fronts the creek.
Two days after a Paso Robles vegetation fire escaped the
Salinas Riverbed and destroyed two homes, 35th District
Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham slammed regional water officials
in a letter alleging that regulators had “stymied” city efforts
to clear the river of flammable vegetation.
The Department of Interior has requested $71 million be spent
on improvements for the Friant-Kern Canal for the 2021 fiscal
year. The funding for the Friant-Kern Canal accounts for most
of the $108.7 of funding for water storage projects in
California the Department of Interior is requesting. Congress
will now consider approving the funding in the 2021 fiscal year
energy and water appropriations bill.
Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, California, Utah, Wyoming and
Nevada have been operating under a set of guidelines approved
in 2007. Those guidelines and an overlapping drought
contingency plan will expire in 2026. Arizona water officials
are gathering Thursday to start talking about what comes next,
while other states have had more informal discussions.
Last week, on the flanks of Mount Lassen, the partnership of
the Western Rivers Conservancy and the Lassen National Forest
completed a project that protects a crucial 1,150-acre
property, and a significant branch of South Fork Antelope
Creek, a rare stronghold for salmon and steelhead in the
Sacramento River system.
Water service has been restored to residents in the City of Dos
Palos but a boil water notice remained in effect Wednesday.
According to City Manager Darrell Fonseca, utilities engineers
worked to get the plant’s system up and running and at 7:43
p.m. Tuesday night. Sufficient pressure was achieved , allowing
the city to supply water at lower-than-average water pressure
With a global pandemic, a catastrophic economic recession and
record-high unemployment, one would think the state has enough
issues to tackle. But proponents of a state water grab that I
have been fighting since the day I was sworn into office in
2012 disagree. Where others see turmoil and anguish, they see
opportunity. Apparently, they believe in the adage, “Never let
a crisis go to waste.”
The feasibility study refers to removal of Scott Dam as a
foregone conclusion. The reason being salmon and steelhead are
not able to access spawning grounds above the dam. This area is
a small percentage of the overall spawning habitat of the Eel
River watershed. … A fish ladder around Scott Dam makes much
The issue of subsidence on the Friant-Kern Canal, the attention
it has garnered, and accompanying solutions are apparently void
of the usual partisanship experienced in California’s water
world as both state and Federal legislation has been introduced
to authorize significant funding for the project.
Residents of a town in central California won’t have water for
several days after the town’s water treatment plant became
clogged with algae, officials said. The water outage in Dos
Palos started Monday, when the city declared a water emergency
and urged the town’s 5,000 residents to use only boiled tap
water for drinking and cooking to avoid stomach or intestinal
A coalition of tribal governments, environmentalists and labor
advocates has sued to stop implementation of a new federal rule
that weakens protections for streams and wetlands. The
Environmental Protection Agency’s new Navigable Waters
Protection Rule, which which took effect on Monday, rolls back
clean-water regulation of intermittent waterways, arroyos and
American Indian tribes in California’s Klamath Basin praised
Monday’s decision by the United States Supreme Court not to
hear the Klamath Project irrigators’ Fifth Amendment water
rights case, Baley v. United States. By not hearing the case,
the Supreme Court upheld the Klamath Tribes’ treaty water
rights as the most senior water rights in the Klamath Basin.
These water rights are critical to protect the tribes’
fisheries and traditional way of life.
As California confronts increasing water challenges, the most
equitable statewide solution from a social justice perspective
is the single-tunnel project proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom,
known as the Delta Conveyance Project.
Each year millions of liters of fire-retardant chemicals are
applied to wildfires across the nation. The use of these
retardants could have significant effects on downstream
nutrients. The aim of this study will be to determine which
nutrients are likely to increase in concentration in areas
affected by wildfire in the western U.S., and whether the use
of fire retardants may exacerbate the situation.
The snowpack from the Sierra Nevada provides crucial water for
California and western Nevada each year as the snow melts.
Skiers and boarders get fired up about the quality and depth of
the snow. Hydrologists and anyone who relies on Sierra snowmelt
are more concerned with how much water is in the snowpack —
it’s called the SWE (snow water equivalent).
Farmers won’t get paid for river water they lost out on during
a drought in southern Oregon, because Native American tribes
have water rights that rank above those of irrigators,
stretching back to “time immemorial” — a ruling the U.S.
Supreme Court refused to disturb on Monday.
The suit, filed by Earthjustice on behalf of Sierra Club, other
environmental groups, and a number of tribes, argued the Trump
administration erred in removing protections for wetlands and
streams that result from rainfall.
On June 22, 1980, Lake Powell reached its capacity for the
first time, marking a grim milestone for environmentalists who
have never forgotten the loss of Glen Canyon. Before the waters
began pouring in, it was a maze of towering sandstone cliffs
and spires, with thousands of indigenous ruins now mostly lost.
The City of Dos Palos is shutting down water for its residents
for at least three days to treat after its water treatment
plant became clogged with algae. The city says water is
currently being used faster than it can be treated and sent
out, so residents should prepare for water to stop flowing.
While these remarkable giants have been only a distant memory
in most of their range, recently, fish carrying the ancestral
genes of Pyramid Lake Lahontan cutthroat trout migrated to the
waters of the Truckee River in 2014 to spawn for the first time
in 80 years. The return of these fish … represents the
culmination of years of conservation efforts by local, state,
and federal agencies, as well as the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe.
California officials have parried federal moves with actions of
their own — a state law enshrining protection for migratory
birds and a new state regulation setting definitions that
expand protection to smaller wetlands and seasonal waterways.
California’s responses are yet another maneuver in the feud
between Sacramento and Washington, D.C.
Agriculture is California’s predominant use of managed water.
Agriculture and water together are a foundation for
California’s rural economy. Although most agriculture is
economically-motivated and commercially-organized, the
sociology and anthropology of agriculture and agricultural
labor are basic for the well-being of millions of people, and
the success and failure of rural, agricultural, and water and
With dry conditions resulting in low flows and threatening the
survival of coho salmon, the State Water Board today sent
notices of water unavailability to110 junior water right
holders in the Scott River basin in Siskiyou County, urging
them to stop diverting.
A federal Judge in California on Friday rejected a request for
a nationwide injunction of the rule. Hours later, a federal
Judge in Colorado agreed to freeze the federal rule within that
state. The California court’s decision is a major blow to
environmentalists and states that had hoped to block the
Navigable Waters Protection Rule across the country before it
takes effect Monday.