The Ironhouse Sanitary District has released a video of how
residents of the City of Oakley and Bethel Island can utilize
the Recycled Water Fill Station. The station is open on
Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Recycled
water can be used for the irrigation of lawns, plants, trees,
and vegetable gardens.
If passed, the new program would promote water conservation and
make water bills more affordable and transparent for millions
of residents, benefitting both low-income customers and those
who use less water.
The Department of Energy published a proposed rule this week
that would create a product class to allow for speedier washing
machines and dryers. Environmental and consumer groups charged
that the move would lead to washers and dryers that waste water
and energy and increase utility bills and carbon emissions.
As the United States moves into the last weeks of
climatological summer, one- third of the country is
experiencing at least a moderate level of drought. Much of the
West is approaching severe drought, and New England has been
unusually dry and hot. An estimated 53 million people are
living in drought-affected areas.
The short answer is, the replenishment fee is a per-acre-foot
extraction fee proposed by the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater
Authority to pay for mitigation of registered shallow wells
damaged by continuing overdraft, as well as to begin importing
water necessary to balance the groundwater basin. A public
hearing regarding the fee is scheduled for 10 a.m. Aug. 21 at
Water-efficient succulents and nitrogen-fixing tree legumes may
take five to 12 years to produce their first nutritional
harvests. Nevertheless, they can produce more edible biomass
over a decade with far less water than that used by
conventional annual crops, while sequestering carbon into the
soil to mitigate climate change…
The California Energy Commission is about to launch a
process to update the state’s building energy code, known as
Title 24. It will set the rules for energy efficiency levels
and whether heating and hot water are powered by fossil or
clean energy in new construction beginning in 2023…
A new proposal from the Department of Energy would change the
definition of a showerhead, essentially allowing different
components within the device to count as individual fixtures,
sidestepping requirements that allow no more than 2.5 gallons
to flow through per minute.
Moorpark and communities across the country are asking
residents to take part in the 9th annual Wyland National
Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation. The annual challenge
normally occurs in April but was postponed this year until
August due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Within as little as 50 years, many regions of the United States
could see their freshwater supply reduced by as much as a
third, warn scientists. … Shortages won’t affect only the
regions we’d expect to be dry: With as many as 96 out of 204
basins in trouble, water shortages would impact most of the
U.S., including the central and southern Great Plains, the
Southwest, central Rocky Mountain states, as well as parts of
Every day Hyperion Water Treatment Plant discharges enough
treated wastewater into the ocean to fill the Rose Bowl 2.5
times over. Now a court has instructed state water officials to
analyze whether it is “wasteful” and “unreasonable” to dump
billions of gallons of wastewater into the sea.
The Los Angeles Superior Court issued a historic ruling, in
favor of Los Angeles Waterkeeper, that compels the State Water
Resources Control Board to analyze whether it is “wasteful” and
“unreasonable” to dump billions of gallons of wastewater
uselessly into the sea, when it could instead be used
productively to ensure the sustainability of California’s water
After timber harvest or fuel reduction thinning operations,
sediment delivery to nearby streams and waterways can increase,
potentially affecting water quality, drinking water supplies,
habitat, and recreational opportunities. To effectively reduce
these adverse effects of harvest, foresters first need to know
the precise causes of sediment increases.
Completion of groundwater sustainability plans for California’s
most over-pumped basins was a major step toward bringing basins
into long-term balance, as mandated by the Sustainable
Groundwater Management Act. We talked to Trevor Joseph—the
first SGMA employee at the Department of Water Resources, and
now a member of a groundwater sustainability agency in the
Sacramento Valley—about next steps and possible pitfalls.
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
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.
People hoping to get a handle on future droughts in the
American West are in for a disappointment, as new University of
Southern California-led research shows El Niño cycles are an
unreliable predictor. Instead, they found that Earth’s dynamic
atmosphere is a wild card that plays a much bigger role than
sea surface temperatures, yet defies predictability, in the wet
and dry cycles that whipsaw the western states.
Hot and dry conditions pushed portions of Arizona, southern
Nevada and Southern California either into drought or further
into drought, data from the U.S. Drought monitor show. … The
North American Monsoon, which provides about half of the annual
rainfall in parts of the Southwest, has been a “nonsoon” this
year … The portion of California deemed abnormally
dry grew by almost 7%, mainly in eastern San Bernardino
Failure to account for the long-term trend of declining per
capita water demand has led to routine overestimation of future
water demand. This can lead to unnecessary and costly
investment in unneeded infrastructure and new sources of
supply, higher costs, and adverse environmental impacts.
The study, conducted by the University of California, Berkeley,
examined 306,718 acres of California Rangeland Trust’s
conservation easements across the state to explore both the
environmental and monetary value of preserving California’s
As early as Aug. 6, the California Public Utilities Commission
could vote to adopt a proposal that would eliminate a
best-practice regulatory tool – known as decoupling – that
currently removes the incentive of water suppliers to sell more
water. This significant change has the potential to hamper
water conservation efforts in California and raise rates for
millions of customers without providing them any corresponding
Now that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration has released a
final California Water Resilience Portfolio, farm organizations
say they will monitor progress on implementing the plan’s
proposals—and on resolution of ongoing state-federal conflicts
that complicate achieving some of its goals.
Now through Aug. 30, Agoura Hills Mayor Illece Buckley-Weber is
challenging residents to do their part to conserve water,
energy, and all other natural resources on behalf of the city
by taking a quick, free online pledge.
The Program on Water in the West at Stanford University is
pleased to announce that Felicia Marcus, a preeminent water
policy expert and the previous chair of the California State
Water Resources Control Board, is joining the program as this
year’s William C. Landreth Visiting Fellow.
The private sector has a critical role to play in addressing
many environmental, social, and economic challenges faced
today. To this end, a multi-organizational project is looking
to understand the opportunities for businesses to invest in
nature-based solutions to address societal challenges.
New research suggests these living crusts — an amalgamation of
mosses, lichens, cyanobacteria and other kinds of microscopic
organisms, including bacteria and fungi — have a significant
influence on the ability of drylands to hold water.
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.
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 district’s spring groundwater monitoring program, using 55
public and private wells, found that the levels rose 3-to-18
feet in each storage area of the basin since last year. That’s
progress, but still far below historic wet weather levels,
groundwater specialist Nick Kunstek said.
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.
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
In many respects, the Arizona Water Blueprint – a data-rich,
interactive map of Arizona’s water resources and infrastructure
created by the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State
University – could not have been rolled out at a better time.
Research into Arizona’s varied sources of water is approaching
an all-time high.
The Bishop Paiute Tribe is experiencing low water pressure
reservation wide due to high water usage and minimal storage
and pumping capacity. … With temperatures rising, and more
community members staying home due to the COVID-19 pandemic,
water usage has gone up significantly.
The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s notice of an
upcoming public hearing on a basin replenishment fee has
attracted a lot of attention from water users in the valley,
but not everyone understands what the IWVGA is.
Water is a big deal in California, and climate change is
threatening the precious resource. That’s why Gov. Gavin Newsom
finalized a broad plan this week to help prevent future water
challenges … The Water Resilience Portfolio outlines 142
actions the state could take to build resilience as the effects
of warming temperatures grow.
The city of Beaumont and the owner of two previously approved
industrial buildings with a combined 2.89 million square feet
of space … have agreed to cap sewer capacity so as to not
overwhelm the city’s sewer capacity. … Tuesday’s amendment to
the development agreement establishes a maximum daily sewer
flow of 139,679 gallons . For perspective, a residential home
typically produces 330 gallons a day.
District Superintendent Ryan Rhoades reported that conditions
have not changed and that the district remains in a Stage 4
drought. He commended the community for their cooperation by
reducing their water use. Customers should strive for 50
gallons per person per day and cut overall use by at least 40
percent, he said.
Visalia’s groundwater has sunk by 7 feet since April, just one
month into the summer season, and it’s not because people are
home washing their hands more frequently and doing their dishes
more often. … At its July 20 meeting, the City Council
approved moving the city from Stage 1, its least stringent
level of its water conservation ordinance, to Stage 3, just one
level short of declaring a water emergency.
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.
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.
There must be something seriously wrong with the plumbing in
the White House or at Mar-a-Lago. For the past few months,
Donald Trump has complained about having to flush “toilets 10
times, 15 times, as opposed to once” and showers, faucets, and
dishwashers that didn’t work, to the amusement of his audiences
and the evening talk shows.
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.
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.
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
According to a release issued by the Nature Conservancy, the
program provides an opportunity for growers to receive
financial compensation for recharging groundwater during the
course of normal farming operations on a variety of crops while
also providing critical wetland habitat for waterbirds
migrating along the Pacific Flyway.
The grim report by the Water Foundation, a charitable
organization based in California that is focused on clean,
reliable water for people and nature, predicts the groundwater
sustainability plans written by the various districts in the
San Joaquin Valley will not achieve what SGMA purports to do –
that is, sustainably manage groundwater resources.
Editors Note: The Water Foundation is not affiliated
with the Water Education Foundation.
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.
Public support for proposed desalination plants in Huntington
Beach and Dana Point appears strong in two recent polls,
although opponents call the surveys biased and say neither poll
addresses key obstacles facing these very different projects.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Board
of Directors recently approved the East County Advanced Water
Purification Program for its Local Resources Program, providing
approximately $86 million in funding for this important water
“We believe olives are California’s crop of the future,” said
Dan Flynn, executive director of the UC Davis Olive Center.
“Because as the water supply tightens up, either through state
policy or extended drought periods, we’re seeing a longer,
warmer season — olives are really well-suited to manage that
more than other crops…”
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
The 49-year-old Callender grew up in San Jose and graduated
from Santa Teresa High School. He has been with the district
for 24 years and is the first African-American to head the
agency in its 90-year history. Rick Callender is well known for
his political connections and his role as the long time former
head of the local NAACP.
“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.
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
Media coverage portrayed stakeholders as limited to major
economic interests, such as agriculture, the study found. And
while SGMA legislation requires disadvantaged communities to be
a stakeholder in all planning documents, such communities were
largely absent from newspaper reports.
The closing of 30 coal-fired generating units across the West –
including 10 in Colorado – could free-up more than 76 billion
gallons of river and groundwater a year in the increasingly
parched region, although utilities appear cautious about giving
up their water rights.
The drivers of Washington County’s thirst for more water are
the fact that its average water use is the highest in the
country, clocking in at 302 gallons per capita per day… By
contrast, Las Vegas, whose climate is very similar and a mere
two-hour drive away, uses only 124 gallons… If St. George and
the rest of Washington County lowered their water use to that
of Las Vegas, they would have plenty of water to cover the
needs of twice as many residents and then some.
An underground water-line leak that affected service to 23,000
Redlands residents has been stopped, with service restoration
possible for Thursday after repairs and tests are done.
Meanwhile, water pressure was at “acceptable” levels on
Wednesday, July 15, a city spokesman said.
As more people enjoy local trails this summer, they may notice
many of Valley Water’s percolation ponds in Santa Clara County
are empty and dry. There’s no reason to be alarmed. In fact,
the absence of water in many of the 100 percolation ponds owned
by Valley Water is a sign that our underground water basins are
mostly full and healthy.
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.
Thousands of Redlands residents are being urged to cut their
water consumption and fill tubs and other containers for
emergency use as crews work to repair a major leak in the
city’s system, officials said Tuesday. The leak, which was
reported Monday and occurred in a 16-inch transmission line at
a pumping station near Ford Park, could spill as much as 5
million gallons of water a day…
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 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.
On a hot June evening, UC Merced Professor Josh Viers joined
farm advocate and small farmer Tom Willey on his front porch
near Fresno to talk about California’s water, disadvantaged
communities, agricultural production and the future as part of
the new “Down on the Farm” podcast that’s now available for all
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.
Sustainability plans developed by groundwater sustainability
agencies outline how water users can restore depleted water
sources. But fights have arisen and disputes about the
reliability of those water sources have come to light.
In five decades of public service Phil Isenberg has served as
mayor of Sacramento, a member of the Assembly, a lobbyist,
chairs of the Marine Life Protection Blue Ribbon Task Force,
the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force, and, until 2016, the
Delta Stewardship Council. … In a two-part oral history with
Chris Austin, editor of Maven’s Notebook, Isenberg details the
myths and complexities of California water politics.
With support from EDF, four UC Santa Barbara graduate students
have developed a new mapping tool for California’s Central
Valley to identify the best locations for groundwater recharge
to secure these bonus benefits. The tool, called Recharge for
Resilience, is available online and also can be downloaded by
users with more technical expertise.
The California Department of Water Resources has awarded more
than $15 million in grant funds to advance several regional
water projects in San Diego County, ranging from water
recycling and reuse to water conservation.
Tapan Pathak, University of California Cooperative Extension
specialist based at UC Merced, is doing applied research that
farmers and ranchers can use to adapt to new conditions created
by a variable and changing climate. “You don’t have to shift
your practice tomorrow, but if you are thinking of making a
30-year investment, it’s important to know what risks there are
for planting different crops,” said Pathak…
Don’t drink the water in the Del Monte area of Monterey, the
Monterey County Health Department and California American Water
announced this morning, Wednesday, July 8. A water main break
on Aguajito Road on Tuesday evening is the culprit, according
to notifications from Monterey County and California American
California has just adopted an energy code specification for
grid-friendly and super-efficient water heaters that will help
decarbonize buildings and the electric grid while saving
Californians money on their utility bills.
At the Groundwater Resources Association Third Annual
Groundwater Sustainability Agency Summit held online in June, a
panel of managers from four of the critically overdrafted
basins reflected on the hard work of developing and adopting a
groundwater sustainability plan.
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
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.
Stream gages are critical for managing California’s water
resources. The devices help with early flood warning and
generate important data used by the Department of Water
Resources (DWR), and other state and federal agencies.
The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed massive health and economic
burdens on communities around the world, and no sector of
society is going untouched, including the vitally important
water sector. The full extent of impacts of the coronavirus
pandemic on the water sector are still emerging, but one area
that has come to the fore is the effect on municipal water
The Eel River Recovery Project, also known as the ERRP, has
released the public draft of the Tenmile Creek Watershed
Conservation and Restoration Action Plan, which is the
culminating product of a two-year pilot project.
Adapting to climate change, coupled with the need to address
aging infrastructure, population growth, and degraded
ecosystems, requires significant investment in natural and
built water systems. These investments present a significant
opportunity to support not only water, but to provide economic,
social, and environmental benefits.
After several years of experimentation, scientists have
engineered thale cress, or Arabidopsis thaliana, to
behave like a succulent, improving water-use efficiency,
salinity tolerance and reducing the effects of drought. The
tissue succulence engineering method devised for this small
flowering plant can be used in other plants to improve drought
and salinity tolerance with the goal of moving this approach
into food and bioenergy crops.
On June 18, 2020, the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed
the State Water Resources Control Board’s (“State Water Board”
or “Board”) authority to regulate what it deems to be an
unreasonable use of water, in this case through adoption of
emergency regulations establishing minimum instream flow
requirements to protect migration of threatened fish species
during drought conditions.
Water and the question of what constitutes its sustainable use
is becoming an increasingly important subject everywhere with
each passing year, but in few places is it more crucial than in
the Carrizo Planning Area of California Valley
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.
The St. Helena City Council declared a Phase I water emergency
on Tuesday after a critically dry rainfall season. Phase I
prohibits customers from adding landscaping and appliances that
will increase water use, limits the watering of ornamental
landscapes or turf to two days a week, prohibits the use of
potable water to irrigate landscaping between 8 a.m. and 8
p.m., and imposes other conservation measures.
The Palmdale Water District has rebates to help customers who
would like to save water by converting their thirsty lawns into
water-wise landscaping. The District may provide up to $2,000
in cash rebates for replacing lawns with xeriscaping as part of
the 2020 Water-Wise Landscape Conversion Program
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.
A new report from the Pacific Institute shows that water use in
California has only increased by 20 percent since 1967, despite
the state’s population doubling and the economy increasing by a
factor of five.
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 Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District is
constructing the $375 million South Sacramento County
Agriculture & Habitat Lands Recycled Water Program, or the
South County Ag Program. As part of the wastewater provider’s
$2 billion treatment plant upgrade, the district will construct
new distribution pipelines to deliver recycled water from its
to irrigation systems in southern Sacramento County.
Standard tillage practices have been used throughout the San
Joaquin Valley for nearly 90 years. Using similar inputs and
amounts and pest management, UC Cooperative Extension cropping
systems specialist Jeff Mitchell’s team showed that a garbanzo
and sorghum rotation in no-till yielded at least as well as in
standard tillage. Sorghum yields were similar in no-till and
standard tillage systems while garbanzo yields matched or
For the first time, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management
District has formally expressed opposition to the California
American Water desalination project, backing the proposed Pure
Water Monterey recycled water project expansion instead… At
the same time, the district took another step toward potential
acquisition of Cal Am’s Monterey water system with the release
of a draft environmental impact report on the proposed public
As Utah pushes forward with its proposed Lake Powell Pipeline –
an attempt move over 80,000 acre feet per year of its Upper
Colorado River Basin allocation to communities in the Lower
Basin – it is worth revisiting one of the critical legal
milestones in the evolution of what we have come to call “the
Law of the River.”
In a rare display of bipartisanship, the U.S. Senate has passed
a sweeping public lands package that both addresses the
ballooning maintenance backlog at national parks and provides
full, permanent funding for the popular Land and Water
Conservation Fund, a program established in 1964 to protect
natural areas and water resources.
States have grappled in the last two decades with declining
water levels in the basin’s main reservoirs — Mead and Powell —
while reckoning with clear scientific evidence that climate
change is already constricting the iconic river… For water
managers, the steady drop in water consumption in recent years
is a signal that conservation efforts are working and that they
are not helpless in the face of daunting environmental changes.
Aaron Thomas arrived back in Paradise Valley just in time to
christen the Ambiente Course, which proved a sort of launching
pad for all manner constructive, on-course experimentation. …
Thomas confirms the new design saves between 45 million and 55
million gallons of water annually, compared to pre-2013 levels.
That is the platform from which Thomas has worked these past
CalTrout and our partners have been working extensively with
landowners to figure out ways to leave some of their water
instream for the benefit of salmon. Often this means helping
the landowner improve their on-ranch irrigation efficiency to
decrease the amount of water needed maintain their agricultural
Colorado is home to the headwaters of the Colorado River and
the water policy decisions made in the Centennial State
reverberate throughout the river’s sprawling basin that
stretches south to Mexico. The stakes are huge in a basin that
serves 40 million people, and responding to the water needs of
the economy, productive agriculture, a robust recreational
industry and environmental protection takes expertise,
leadership and a steady hand. Colorado has that in Becky
Mitchell, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board
Water agencies in California typically include water recycling
in their water supply portfolios, but the ones that serve
smaller populations may not be able to implement full-blown
reuse programs all at once. The City of Paso Robles, home to
approximately 30,000 residents, shows it’s possible to build
water resilience without building an advanced purification
The passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act
(SGMA) in 2014, granted the state official oversight authority
of groundwater. … A new paper published in Society and
Natural Resources, examines how the state’s ongoing involvement
helped shape current policies by looking at the 120-year
history of California’s role in groundwater management…
In these extraordinary times, managing groundwater for
long-term sustainability may not seem like a top priority. But
in the San Joaquin Valley — where groundwater supplies have
been declining for decades — excess pumping is a critical
problem, with major implications for public health, jobs, the
environment and local economies.
“In short, the city is looking to sell/transfer up to 5,000
acre-feet of water in 2020. This water is in excess to what the
city would need to meet demands in 2020 and would not impact
any existing customers north or south of Highway 50…” said
Christine Brainerd, city of Folsom communications director. …
The city retains the rights to the water.
The Sonoma County Water Agency filed a Temporary Urgency Change
Petition with the State Water Resources Control Board to reduce
Russian River minimum in-stream flows this summer. With the
Ukiah region facing its third driest water year on record, Lake
Mendocino’s water supply is projected to reach critically low
levels due to dry conditions and reduced water transfers from
the Potter Valley Project.
At the State Water Board’s meeting on June 2nd, Natalie Stork,
unit chief for the Groundwater Management Program at the State
Water Board, and Craig Altare, chief of the Groundwater
Sustainability Plan Review section at the Department of Water
Resources, updated the board members on how implementation is
going so far.
The complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief in this
litigation provides a road map for the legal and regulatory
challenges ahead for the regulated community and agencies
implementing Clean Water Act programs that rely on the
definition for “Waters of the United States” aka WOTUS. The
following provides insights as to how to support a strong Clean
Water Act with the new WOTUS definition.
Three months after federal dam safety regulators ordered
Anderson Reservoir, the largest reservoir in Santa Clara
County, to be drained due to earthquake concerns, new details
are emerging on what will happen to all that water, the fish
that depend on it, and the water supply for Silicon Valley.
The average US home used nearly 729 additional gallons of water
in April than it did in February, according to a new study from
water-monitoring company Phyn. This means usage was up 21%
daily, as most Americans followed orders to work and shelter
from home, in an effort to “flatten the curve” and curb the
spread of the coronavirus.
As big corporations consume mass amounts of water, the smaller,
local communities near the plants, factories and corporate
offices have fewer resources. Water shortages then become
prevalent as the corporation continues to use up the nearby
sources. … In order to make a meaningful change for smaller
communities, big corporations will need to work on
The water rights behind the proposed Lake Powell pipeline are
not actually coming from the project’s namesake lake, but
rather from the major reservoir upstream on the Green River.
Now, Utah water officials’ new request to overhaul those rights
has handed opponents a fresh opportunity to thwart the proposed
pipeline just as federal officials are about to release a
long-awaited environmental review of the $1.2 billion
A long-sought compromise has been approved that will open the
stagnant, reed-filled Buena Vista Lagoon to the sea and restore
its native coastal marine habitat, but years of work remain
before the transformation begins.
Under the 1944 treaty, the US is committed to sending 1.5mn
acre-feet of water from the Colorado River basin to Mexico in
12-month periods, which represents 10% of the river’s average
flow, according to the US Congressional Research Service.
Meanwhile, Mexico must send 1.75mn acre-feet in five-year
cycles from the Rio Grande’s six major tributaries that cross
Las Vegas water use decreased rapidly starting in mid-March,
around the same time that Gov. Steve Sisolak instituted a
stay-at-home order and closed most nonessential businesses. But
since late April, it has gradually been increasing to more
typical levels, Las Vegas Valley Water District data shows.
A study conducted by researchers at Duke University and RTI
International found that reusing oil field produced water that
has been mixed with surface water to irrigate crops in Kern
County’s Cawelo Water District does not pose any major health
The imbalance on the Colorado River needs to be addressed, and
agriculture, as the biggest water user in the basin, needs to
be part of a fair solution. But drying up vital food-producing
land is a blunt tool. It would damage our local food-supply
chains and bring decline to rural communities that have
developed around irrigated agriculture.
The National Audubon Society has reached an agreement with the
Arizona Department of Water Resources to help fund the Colorado
River Indian Tribes’ on-going efforts to conserve 150,000
acre-feet of water in Lake Mead over the next three years.
Paso Robles has an oversupply of wine grapes, according to
growers and winemakers. That’s an existing problem that’s been
exacerbated by COVID-19. … According to Jerry Lohr, owner of
J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, and some others in the wine
industry, there’s never been a better time to talk about
creating a fallowing program for the North County region, which
overlies the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin.
In a stark reminder that drought has once again taken hold on
the North Coast, Sonoma County is preparing to ask state water
regulators for permission to reduce water levels in the Russian
River this summer to conserve water stored in Lake Mendocino
and ensure minimal late-season flows for fish.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service is working with
American Farmland Trust to help enhance San Joaquin Valley
water efficiency. The San Joaquin Valley Land and Water
Conservation Collaboration is being made possible through the
Regional Conservation Partnership Program from NRCS, in
coordination with state and local partners.
This practice entails on-site grinding of whole, removed trees
and the incorporation of the wood chips back into the almond
fields before the next replanting. … In terms of soil health,
the [University of California] researchers found a 58% increase
in soil carbon as well as a 32% increase in water holding
capacity compared to conventional burning practices. Overall
productivity of the trees increased by 20% as well.
The gravity-fed Friant-Kern Canal that is key to survival for
15,000 east side San Joaquin Valley farms continues to be
impacted by subsidence. Land near Porterville appears to be
most worrisome where the land has sunk so much due to adjacent
water pumping that the canal has lost 60% of its capacity. As
of July 2018, it was estimated the canal is approximately 12
feet below the original constructed elevation.
The governor’s administration in January pitched ambitious
proposals to help fund implementation of the Sustainable
Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and cushion its impacts on
farmers and local communities. In the May Revision of the
budget, however, all but one funding allocation from an earlier
proposition have been withdrawn.
A Pure Water Monterey expansion proposal has narrowly survived
another attempt to shelve it indefinitely even as the main
recycled water project struggles with operational and cost
issues that have further postponed its water delivery date and
hampered its capacity.
Several regional water supply projects in San Diego County are
on track to receive more than $15 million from the California
Department of Water Resources, pending a final decision this
summer. Money for the projects has been recommended by DWR,
which will make the awards after a public comment period. In
San Diego County, the funds would support local agencies to
advance conservation, environmental enhancements, water
purification and other initiatives.
It was during the drought in the late-1980s that Robin Kulakow
and her fellow birdwatchers began noticing that Putah Creek was
running dry. The same observation was being made at places such
as Camp Davis, a popular site near the university where youth
paddled their canoes and participated in other activities.
Drive through new developments across the Capital Region like
East Sacramento’s McKinley Village or Folsom’s Folsom Ranch …
and one will see a distinctly different landscape than ones
installed just 10 years ago. Low- to medium-water-use plants
are surrounded by bark mulch with little or no grass, irrigated
primarily with a drip system.
The State Water Project now expects to deliver 20 percent of
requested supplies in 2020 thanks to above-average
precipitation in May, the California Department of Water
Resources announced. An initial allocation of 10 percent was
announced in December and increased to 15 percent in January.
Today’s announcement will likely be the final allocation update
The Klamath Project, a U.S. government-operated waterworks that
steers runoff from the towering Cascades to more than 200,000
acres of potatoes, alfalfa, wheat, onions and other produce on
both sides of the state line, is running low on supplies. The
local water agencies served by the project say they may not
have water to send to farms beyond next month.
In April, during the first full month of the lockdown, water
demand on the Monterey Peninsula dropped by 15 percent compared
to the same month a year ago, according to data provided to the
Weekly by local water regulators.
The City of Ripon is now part of the South San Joaquin
Groundwater Sustainable Agency. The Ripon City Council recently
approved the Joint Exercise of Powers Agreement, partnering
with the South San Joaquin Irrigation District and City of
The availability of water from Gibraltar Reservoir, upstream on
the Santa Ynez River, in the past few years as well as Santa
Barbara’s desalination plant operation and water conservation
have enabled the city to accumulate a significant amount of
stored water in Lake Cachuma… The water-supply planning
positioned Santa Barbara to continue resting its groundwater
basins through fall 2022.
As a professor of civil and environmental engineering at
Stanford, as well as director of a National Science Foundation
center to re-invent urban water supply (known as ReNUWIt),
Richard Luthy he has spent decades studying the state’s
metropolitan areas. In a new journal article, he argues that
California cities can no longer rely on their three traditional
water-coping strategies: over-drafting groundwater, depleting
streams and importing water from far away.
The interest is based on the versatility of hemp, which can be
made into different products — biodiesel, fiber, textiles,
clothing, food and nutritional supplements. It’s also because
cotton is no longer grown in the Imperial Valley, and hemp
could be a potential replacement crop that consumes a lot less
water than cotton.
Despite its reputation as a conservative owner, the
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is piloting
a bold new initiative to produce an additional regional water
source through its Regional Recycled Water Program, which aims
to take treated sanitation water and purify it to produce
high-quality drinking water. … The $3.4-billion plan could
produce up to 150 million gallons of purified water daily,
addressing the needs of more than 500,000 homes and industrial
A 17-state coalition on Monday asked the U.S. District Court
for the Northern District of California to block the Navigable
Waters Protection Rule while they spar with government lawyers
over its legality. The Environmental Protection Agency and Army
Corps of Engineers published the rule in April, and it
officially takes effect June 22, tightening the federal
definition for the types of wetlands and waterways the Clean
Water Act covers.
Sprawled across a desert expanse along the Utah-Arizona border,
Lake Powell’s nearly 100-foot high bathtub ring etched on its
sandstone walls belie the challenges of a major Colorado River
reservoir at less than half-full. How those challenges play out
as demand grows for the river’s water amid a changing climate
is fueling simmering questions about Powell’s future.
When the Los Angeles Better Buildings Challenge award was
presented April 29, city officials credited Scottsdale-based
Dynamic Water Technologies for saving more than 1.5 million
gallons, or 20%, of annual water usage and reducing sewer
discharge by 85% in the 530,000-square-foot city hall building.
A water budget is an accounting of the rates of the inflows,
outflows, and changes in water storage in a specific area;
however, as simple as that might sound, developing an accurate
water budget can be a difficult and challenging endeavor. To
address this problem, the Department of Water Resources has
developed a water budget handbook…
Unlike water production wells, monitoring wells do not remove
groundwater, but instead use one or more small diameter pipes
placed anywhere from 50 feet to 2,000 feet deep. The pipes
house electronic equipment that continuously measures
groundwater level information. Groundwater samples can also be
manually collected from these wells to check for water quality.
My colleagues and I worked with Assemblymember Rudy Salas
(D-Bakersfield), to craft AB 2642, which will create the
Multibenefit Land Conversion Incentive Program… This new
program will provide incentive payments to farmers and
landowners who voluntarily repurpose their agricultural land to
other less water-intensive uses for a minimum of 10 years.
The return of drought to California has been widespread—58% of
the state now experiences some level of dryness, according to
the U.S. Drought Monitor—with extreme drought concentrated in
4% of the state, primarily in the northwestern region of
Siskiyou, Trinity and Humboldt counties.
As a result of compliance with conservation measures through
lower indoor water use, the amount of wastewater effluent was
reduced. This reduction means less water for recycling and
reuse — a source of water often thought of as drought-proof —
and less water for stream augmentation, with a consequence of
potentially impacting streamflow and downstream water
There is a better, more equitable pathway for reducing the
deficit without forcing arbitrary cuts. It involves 3 million
acres of irrigated agriculture, mostly alfalfa and forage
crops, which consume more than 80% of total water use in the
basin. By retiring less than 10% of this irrigated acreage from
production, we could eliminate the existing million acre-foot
overdraft on the Colorado River..
Dr. Aliashgar ‘Ali’ Montazar, a University of California,
Riverside researcher, heads up irrigation and water management
in Imperial and Riverside counties for the University of
California Cooperative Extension system. … He’s kicking the
tires for growers so they can decide if drip is the way to go
even in crops that traditionally haven’t had drip. And he’s
finding it has benefits beyond conserving water.
In principle, evaluating the adequacy of these plans to achieve
sustainability should also be simple: Does the anticipated
reduction in pumping plus increase in recharge equal or exceed
the basin’s long-term rate of overdraft? In practice, however,
it’s not so simple.
A new article by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) calls
efforts to mitigate land subsidence in the Coachella Valley “an
emerging success story,” a finding that is echoed by analysis
completed by local water agencies.
New research shows that carbon capture and storage (CCS) could
stress water resources in about 43% of the world’s power plants
where water scarcity is already a problem. Further, the
technology deployed in these water-scarce regions matters, and
emerging CCS technologies could greatly mitigate the demand CCS
places on water consumption.
Following passage of SGMA, The Nature Conservancy received a
$1.8 million Conservation Innovation Grant from USDA’s Natural
Resources Conservation Service to develop the Fox Canyon Water
Market. TNC, supported by project partners Fox Canyon
Groundwater Management Agency and California Lutheran
University, sought to establish a market-driven approach to
reduce groundwater pumping.
The Bureau of Reclamation has released a funding opportunity
for communities to take a proactive approach to drought through
building projects that increase water supply reliability,
improve water management, or provide benefits for fish,
wildlife and the environment.
Work to restore a damaged 9-foot diameter water pipeline in
Moreno Valley continued Monday, May 4, and outdoor watering
restrictions will be lifted for Western Municipal Water
District customers starting Tuesday. … The reduced-use
directive had been in place since Thursday after a contractor
punctured the Santa Ana Valley Pipeline.
The reduced-use directive was put in place after a contractor
punctured the 9-foot-diameter Santa Ana Valley Pipeline on
Thursday. The water flow in the line has been stopped while
repairs take place, and the moves by the districts were to help
ensure reserves are not depleted.
There are 29 federally recognized tribes across the Colorado
River Basin. Together, these tribes have water rights to
roughly 20% of the water that flows through the river annually.
In Arizona, the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT) and the
Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) were critical partners in
making the Drought Contingency Plan possible.
Emergency repairs to a state-operated water pipeline prompted
officials Friday morning to ask 250,000-plus customers in
Moreno Valley and western Riverside County communities to
immediately stop outdoor water use. … Customers were asked to
not water plants or grass, wash cars or fill pools until
repairs on the Santa Ana Valley Pipeline, which brings water to
the region from Northern California, are completed, the MWD
The Mojave Water Agency is looking for residents to produce
creative home videos that will deliver an important message
about water conservation. A $200 Visa gift card will be awarded
for first place, with a $100 card going to second place and $50
for third place, agency officials said in a statement.
Fairness – or at least the perception of fairness – could play
a determining role in the future of California’s groundwater,
according to new research. The study, published in Society and
Natural Resources, evaluated 137 surveys of Yolo County farmers
to gauge their perceptions of fairness for groundwater
allocation strategies and dispute resolution options.
For the past decade, Kane County leaders have argued their
southern Utah community will need water piped from the Colorado
River to meet future needs, but the local water district
abruptly announced Thursday it was pulling out of the costly
Lake Powell pipeline project, leaving Washington County as the
only remaining recipient of the water.
As of March, the East Valley Water District’s Sterling Natural
Resource Center construction project reached the halfway point
to scheduled completion⎯about 18 months in and 18 months left
to work. The water recycling plant will be capable of treating
up to 10 million gallons per day, depositing the clean water
into percolation ponds in order to recharge the Bunker Hill
As Siskiyou County slips back into severe drought, members of
Siskiyou County’s Groundwater Advisory Committees met last week
to continue drafting groundwater management plans as
conservation groups, farmers and other special interest groups
brace for another dry summer.
To develop the rankings, the state took into account numerous
factors, including each water system’s vulnerability to climate
change and projected temperature changes, projected sea level
rise, recent water shortages, whether the system is in an
overdrafted groundwater basin or was located in an area with
underlying fractured rock.
When the Water Forum Agreement was officially signed 20 years
ago, the occasion marked an unprecedented show of regional
cooperation. For years, interests representing business, the
environment, water suppliers and others had sparred over the
water needs of people vs. the environment of the lower American
The Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency has been working
toward sustainable management of the Pajaro Valley’s water
resources. At the 2019 Western Groundwater Congress, General
Manager Brian Lockwood discussed the projects and programs the
Agency is implementing as they work towards achieving
The US Drought Monitor update released Thursday morning lists
far Northern California as the most impacted by a lackluster
rain and snow season. Some areas such as Eureka and Mount
Shasta are down more than 15″ of rain from their averages for
the season so far.
Samantha Ying and Michael Schaefer, both from the Department of
Environmental Sciences at University of California (UC)
Riverside, are part of a team set on untangling the mystery of
a practice upon which farmers have relied for centuries to
reduce water use—cover crops.
In January, water users in 21 critically overdrafted basins
delivered their groundwater sustainability plans to the state
Department of Water Resources. In this series, we examine the
36 plans submitted for 11 critically overdrafted basins in the
San Joaquin Valley—California’s largest farming region, where
excess pumping is a major challenge.
California’s 410 urban water suppliers will be required to
report monthly use and conservation data to state regulators,
under a resolution the State Water Resources Control Board
passed Tuesday. The vote makes permanent a voluntary program
that dates back to California’s devastating 2012-2016 drought.
Under the drought contingency plan hammered out by Colorado
River Basin states last year, Arizona agreed to voluntarily
reduce its water use by 192,000 acre-feet, or about 7%, leaving
that water in Lake Mead to help reduce the likelihood of
greater cutbacks down the road. Tom Buschatzke, director of the
Arizona Department of Water Resources, says data from a new
Bureau of Reclamation report show that plan is working.
From the safety of their coronavirus shelters, the water
warriors of the Monterey Peninsula carry on the fight, and so
can you. … The environmental merits of removing the local
water system from private ownership and placing it under the
control of a government agency will be discussed in a virtual
public scoping meeting on April 21 at 5pm, via Zoom video
Voluntary agreements in California have been touted as an
innovative and flexible way to improve environmental conditions
in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the rivers that feed
it. … Yet, no one said it would be easy getting interest
groups with sometimes sharply different views – and some, such
as farmers, with livelihoods heavily dependent on water — to
reach consensus on how to address the water quality and habitat
needs of the Delta watershed.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released projections for the
Colorado River’s water supply for the next two years. … Lake
Mead is projected to fall into “Tier Zero” conditions for 2021
and 2022. That’s a new designation under the Drought
Contingency Plan which requires Arizona, Nevada and Mexico take
cuts in their water supply.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority is ending a decades-long
effort to build a controversial 300-mile pipeline to pump rural
groundwater from eastern Nevada to Las Vegas. On Thursday
afternoon, the water authority confirmed in a statement that it
would not appeal a recent court ruling that denied the agency a
portion of its water rights.
The Department of Water Resources has released a draft report
with recommendations and guidance to help small water suppliers
and rural communities plan for the next drought, wildfire, or
other natural disaster that may cause water shortages.
Local agencies in the most depleted groundwater basins in
California spent months putting together plans to show how they
will achieve balance in about 20 years. Now, after submitting
those plans to the state in January, groundwater sustainability
agencies (GSAs) must figure how to pay for them.
If you’re a Central Valley farmer and haven’t yet been hit up
by someone about reusing crummy water for irrigation — just
wait. Companies are springing up all over with the latest gizmo
they believe will take nasty, salty water, mostly from shallow
aquifers on the valley’s west side or oilfield produced water,
and make clean “new” irrigation water.
More than three dozen atmospheric rivers made landfall on the
West Coast from fall through early spring, but a lack of strong
events in California led to the development of drought
conditions in parts of the state.
Eric Averett is General Manager with the Rosedale-Rio Bravo
Water Storage District, which is one of several water districts
within Kern County. … In this presentation from the Western
Groundwater Congress, Mr. Averett discusses how his district
and Kern County have been grappling with how to establish
groundwater pumping allocations.
A lawsuit over the El Dorado Irrigation District’s plan to pipe
the Upper Main Ditch was denied by Superior Court Judge Dylan
Sullivan in a final ruling issued March 27. The lawsuit filed
by a Pollock Pines-based group called Save the Canal challenged
approval of the project and certification of the project’s
Environment Impact Report…
While the coronavirus is giving the planet’s environment a
respite from pollution, not all resources are getting a break.
Groundwater supplies, particularly in drier parts of the U.S.,
are being tapped more than ever by the enormous data centers
run by Microsoft, Google and other tech giants, which require
vast quantities of water for cooling and power generation.
Stormwater is the rain and other water that runs off of streets
and sidewalks into nearby gutters or waterways. Communities
throughout the western U.S. are expanding efforts to collect
this valuable water resource. These projects range from
capturing water from a single rooftop or driveway to developing
large infiltration basins that recharge billions of gallons of
water each year in groundwater basins.
In a time when many people in the world are inside their houses
to stop the spread of covid-19, it is easy to forget that good
news still exists. The Environmental Protection Agency’s
National Water Reuse Action Plan is a bit of good news. The
Plan, announced on February 27, 2020, by EPA Administration
Andrew Wheeler, prioritizes the use of recycled water.
In January, water users in 21 critically overdrafted basins
delivered groundwater sustainability plans to the state
Department of Water Resources. In this series, we examine
the 36 plans submitted for 11 critically overdrafted basins in
the San Joaquin Valley—California’s largest farming region. …
This post examines how the plans propose to end overdraft.
Registered voters who live in Mendocino have the opportunity
and responsibility to decide the direction of groundwater
management in Mendocino at two upcoming Mendocino City
Community Services District Public Hearings scheduled for April
16 and 27.
What does a Central Valley almond farmer have in common with a
San Diego homeowner? The answer is simple: Water. More
specifically, the amount of water they need to sustain their
respective lifestyles — which is a lot.
At the 2019 Western Groundwater Congress, Gilbert Barth, PhD,
provided quantitative assessments of groundwater resources to
address questions associated with water planning, and
specializes in model development and calibration with a focus
on quantifying changes between surface water and groundwater
systems. He’s developed and applied models throughout the
Western US for regional, interstate, and international
Snow surveyors will head into the Sierra on Wednesday to take
the most important measurements of the season. … Statewide,
the snowpack and the water it holds is just 53% of average,
according to the daily report on the California Data Exchange.
While many residents across the US may want a traditional patch
of green carpet, Jodie Cook, a landscape designer from San
Clemente, California, explained over email that West Coast
homeowners are growing increasingly aware of how innovative
models for lawns can benefit natural ecosystems, while
providing a new dimension to the family home.