My research group published a new paper last week in the
international Water journal that presents some very good news
for water-stressed areas: cities are succeeding in decoupling
their growth from their water needs. Our research – focused on
20 cities in the Western US – revealed some surprising
President Trump has added a false claim to his pitch to
“suburban women” — maintaining that his administration already
has delivered on his promises to speed up dishwashers and
improve sinks and showers. … But no new products are on the
market because of changes, and no proposals have fully made
their way through the regulatory process.
On Sept. 30, we sent a letter to state officials requesting
that restoration projects coming out of the Salton Sea
Management Program consider impacts on nearby communities. We
hope those officials will share in our vision of reforestation
and green spaces around the Salton Sea, see the benefits of
such projects in addressing the sea’s deteriorating
environmental conditions, and act with the same urgency.
Southern Californians will have more opportunities to save
water under two new programs approved by the Metropolitan Water
District Board of Directors. Both programs provide rebates for
the purchase of water-saving equipment – one for
flow-monitoring devices that provide real-time data on water
usage; the other for premium high-efficiency toilets to replace
older models in apartment buildings and multi-family complexes.
Right now, the Mendocino County Sustainable Groundwater Agency
is writing up a groundwater sustainability plan for the basin.
The plan will regulate groundwater in the Ukiah Valley basin
for the first time ever, and will define how water is managed
in and near Redwood Valley, Calpella, and Ukiah for perpetuity.
ACWA on Oct. 15 submitted “A Roadmap To Achieving the Voluntary
Agreements” to Gov. Gavin Newsom and top members of his
Administration that calls on the state to take the necessary
steps to re-engage on Voluntary Agreements regarding the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta and its tributaries.
California is facing an impending water shortage. With
widespread fires, a COVID-19 provoked economic recession
bringing widespread unemployment and a public health emergency,
it would be easy, but not prudent, to forget that we face a
water crisis around the next corner.
The Los Angeles Basin is often thought of as a dry, smoggy,
overdeveloped landscape. But a new study led by NOAA and the
University of Colorado, Boulder shows that the manicured lawns,
emerald golf courses and trees of America’s second-largest city
have a surprisingly large influence on the city’s carbon
emissions…The green spaces within megacities provide numerous
benefits, including improving air quality, capturing runoff,
moderating temperatures and offering outdoor recreation.
Oceanside finished second in a national water conservation
challenge among cities with populations between 100,000 and
299,999, behind only Lakeland, Florida, it was announced
Wednesday. … Oceanside residents pledged to save water and
protect the environment as part of the Wyland National Mayor’s
Challenge for Water Conservation.
After about six months of construction, Morro Bay’s new water
reclamation facility is well underway — and it remains
politically divisive this election season, with three
candidates talking about halting or undoing the project, which
is the largest-ever infrastructure project in city history.
At a shuttered water park in the desert landscape of Coachella
Valley in Southern California, Tom Lochtefeld has transformed a
pool into a surf spot. For decades, inventors like Lochtefeld
have struggled to mimic the ocean’s swells. In recent years,
commercial projects and proof-of-concept pools have made good
on the dream.
A new California Biodiversity Collaborative will help determine
how to carry out an executive order from Gov. Gavin Newsom
aimed at conserving 30% of California’s land and marine areas
by 2030—and agricultural organizations said they would
participate to assure the collaborative recognizes stewardship
efforts carried out on the state’s farms and ranches.
Last month, Microsoft announced it would replenish more water
than it consumes by 2030, focusing on 40 “highly stressed”
basins where it operates. … Microsoft has provided a grant to
the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, to work
on software to better predict levels and accessibility in the
drought-threatened Central Valley region of California.
Water utilities increasingly face a dilemma in these
recessionary times: the challenge is to take in enough money to
operate and maintain complex water systems while also providing
safe and affordable water to all their customers—even those who
have trouble paying. We talked to Kathryn Sorensen of Phoenix
Water Services about Phoenix’s equity innovations.
In many areas of the world, there may be no more precious
commodity than water — and that’s especially true in Los
Angeles. So, it’s probably not surprising that L.A. has become
a font of activity for companies looking to tap the water
market in myriad ways. … From established companies to
ambitious startups, water-focused businesses dot the landscape
in a city that funnels in much of its water from outside
The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) recently
launched an environmental justice community survey to gather
input to inform Delta Conveyance Project planning. The survey,
entitled, “Your Delta, Your Voice,” seeks direct input from
communities that may be disproportionately affected by the
California just recorded its hottest September on record,
according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, and the state looks to be stuck in a nearly
endless loop of hot, dry weather. With a strong La Niña
developing, the dry pattern is looking ever harder to break,
and could be settling in to stay for a while.
If certain hay species retain more nutrients than others when
on low-water diets, then ranchers know their cattle will
continue to eat well as they evaluate whether they can operate
their ranches on less H20…. Any water saved could be left in
the Colorado River, allowing it to become more sustainable,
even as the West’s population grows and drought becomes more
It’s still dry as dirt, but promises to be a central component
of future water supplies for the 165,000 people served by the
Santa Margarita Water District. While the district currently
imports 100% of its drinking water from the Colorado River and
northern California, the new Trampas Canyon Reservoir is part
of a plan to generate 30% of potable water supplies locally and
to recycle more wastewater.
Unbeknownst to many, some voters will pick five new members of
the Board of Directors of the Westlands Water District. GV Wire
had a chance to speak with two of those… Both offered
insights into how Westlands can change its reputation, how
farmers can change their approach, and what their biggest
adversaries are in the fight for water.
Residents of Bolinas and Inverness must take further steps to
reduce their water consumption to stave off rationing. Both the
Inverness and Bolinas utility Districts lack significant water
storage in their systems; recently, they put increased pressure
on their customers to cut water use and warned of mandatory
restrictions should they fail to comply.
To inform landowners about their water budgets, Rosedale-Rio
Bravo Water Storage District in Kern County partnered with EDF,
Sitka Technology Group, WestWater Research and local landowners
to co-develop a new online, open-source water accounting and
trading platform. We asked general manager Eric Averett to
answer a few questions about how the platform…
A University of Arizona researcher is leading a National
Science Foundation project that is integrating artificial
intelligence to simulate the nation’s groundwater supply for
the purpose of forecasting droughts and floods. [One aim,
the researcher said, is to] “come up with better forecasts
for floods and droughts in the upper Colorado River Basin…”
Despite that reduction in flow, total storage behind Glen
Canyon and Hoover dams has dropped only 2.6 million acre feet.
That is far less than you’d expect from 12 years of 1.2 maf per
year flow reductions alone. That kind of a flow reduction
should have been enough to nearly empty the reservoirs. Why
hasn’t that happened? Because we also have been using less
In a new paper, researchers from UC Santa Barbara reveal how a
large-scale field experiment in messaging based on
psychological science significantly reduced water consumption
on the Central Coast of California.
In the western United States, crops and natural landscapes
consume the greatest portion of water supplies. However,
tracking that consumption is surprisingly complex and
expensive… A recently announced web application called OpenET
aims to fill this gap for farmers and water managers to build
more resilient water supplies…
While use of large seawater desalination plants will continue
to be limited to coastal communities, small-scale, localized
systems for distributed desalination will be essential to
cost-effectively tapping and reusing many of these
nontraditional water sources across the country.
Newsom, who made the announcement in a walnut orchard 25 miles
outside of Sacramento, said innovative farming practices,
restoring wetlands, better managing forests, planting more
trees and increasing the number of parks are all potential
tools. The goal is to conserve 30% of the state’s lands and
coastal waters in the next decade as part of a larger global
Despite little precipitation and a small snowpack in the 2020
water year, which ended Sept. 30, California weathered the year
on water stored in reservoirs during previous years’ storms.
Going into 2021, farmers note that weather officials predict a
La Niña climate pattern in the Pacific Ocean, which has brought
drought conditions in the past.
in a bid to celebrate the importance of water in our lives, the
collaborative design office NUDES has conceived a rainwater
harvesting tower for San Jose in California. The soaring ‘rain
water catcher’ is a design proposal that aims to address the
global impact of climate change by advocating the need for
A relatively new water budgeting platform appears to be working
well for producers in Kern County. The Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water
Storage District has worked with multiple stakeholder partners
to develop the Water Accounting Platform to help growers more
accurately track water use.
New technologies intend to help farmers translate a mountain of
detailed soil moisture and weather data into informed
irrigation decisions to use water most efficiently, while
maintaining detailed information to satisfy regulators.
Every year, the Groundwater Resources Association of California
selects two speakers for the David Keith Todd Lectureship…
One of the speakers for the 2020 lecture series was Theresa
“Tess” Dunham, an attorney with Kahn, Soares & Conway LLP, who
spoke about groundwater quality and how the Porter-Cologne
Water Quality Control Act, the Sustainable Groundwater
Management Act, and the state’s recycled water policy can work
Landowners with access to underground water have been able to
pull as much water, at any rate, any time, and for any reason
without worrying about protocols or following government rules.
That is about to change. Last Tuesday, local officials and
environmental engineers introduced an outline for how to
sustainably manage and regulate groundwater in the region.
In the area that the Moapa Valley Water District serves, water
users are facing an uncomfortable future: People are going to
have to use less water than they were once promised. Over the
last century, state regulators handed out more groundwater
rights than there was water available. Today state officials
say that only a fraction of those rights can be used, which
could mean cuts.
For years, the Orange County Water District has expressed
interest in buying the desalted water, provided Poseidon
receives the necessary regulatory permits. But the water
district’s appetite for the controversial project could be in
jeopardy after Nov. 3, if two board members who support the
project are upset in their reelection bids and replaced by
The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority faces two
lawsuits, from a major local farm operation and Searles Valley
Minerals, over water rights filed this week in the aftermath of
the passing of a controversial groundwater replenishment fee
and a fallowing program.
Unfortunately, some Wall Street water companies are trying to
take advantage of California’s drought fears by pushing through
overpriced and unnecessary water projects. Poseidon Water Co.
is one of those companies. Poseidon has been working for years
to build a seawater desalination plant in Orange County,
seeking a deal that would lock the local utility into buying
their water for decades, regardless of need.
Two lawsuits accusing the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater
Authority of ramming through a plan that ignores water rights
and, according to one plaintiff, is intended to “destroy
agriculture” were filed this week. At issue is a controversial
$2,000-per-acre-foot fee that would be charged to certain
groundwater users over a five-year period. That money is
intended to raise $50 million to buy Central Valley water and,
somehow, bring it over the Sierra Nevada to replenish the
overdrafted desert aquifer.
One of the biggest challenges to implementing California’s
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act hovers around this
two-part question: Who gets to pump groundwater and how much do
they get to pump? Or, put another way, who must cut their
groundwater use and by how much? [Please note Oct. 20 webinar.]
The recent downgrade in the forecast for the flow of water in
the Colorado River should be a death punch to the proposal to
build a new pipeline out of Lake Powell. The pipeline was
already a major threat to Las Vegas and much of the rest of the
Southwest; now the threat risk is heading off the charts.
Participants will pay $1,295 per acre-foot for treated water,
while municipal and industrial users will pay $1,769 per
acre-foot. Farmers who participate will receive a lower level
of water service during shortages or emergencies. That allows
the water authority to reallocate those supplies to commercial
and industrial customers who pay for full reliability benefits.
In exchange, participating farmers are exempt from fixed water
storage and supply reliability charges.
Last week on these pages, you heard the President of California
American Water explain their rationale for withdrawing their
application for a desalination plant from the California
Coastal Commission the day before their Sept. 17 hearing. What
he didn’t tell you is that there is a feasible alternative
project that has less environmental impact, is more socially
just, and would be less costly to ratepayers
Some of the largest users of the Ventura River recently
released their proposal to settle litigation and potentially
stave off a water-rights adjudication. The plan includes
multiple habitat restoration projects intended to help
endangered steelhead trout, but largely avoids any changes to
water use. Before it goes to a judge, however, other parties
likely will weigh in, including the state.
Regional water conservation groups and a Clark County
commissioner welcomed a request by Utah officials Thursday to
extend the federal environmental review of a controversial plan
to divert billions of gallons of water from the Colorado River
to southwest Utah.
When governor Jerry Brown signed the Sustainable Groundwater
Management Act (SGMA) into law in September 2014, he said that
“groundwater management in California is best accomplished
locally.” With the first round of plans made available for
public comment this year, it appears that, while the state
certainly ceded control to local management agencies, those
same agencies have prioritized the interests of big agriculture
and industry over small farmers and disadvantaged communities.
Potentially the most important question popped up roughly
halfway through the Indian Wells Valley Water District Board
candidate forum Wednesday night. Hidden within a longer
question was the key point: how do the candidates think the
local water basin should be balanced and how do they plan to
protect water district ratepayers while doing so?
From the time when the pioneers first arrived, water, or the
lack of it, was a major problem for the valley. The first water
system was started by Reuben Hart, who came to the United
States from Derbyshire, England, first settling in New Jersey
with his brother, Thomas.
The combination of drought conditions and heat waves, which can
make wildfires more likely, is becoming increasingly common in
the American West, according to a new study. The results may be
At the September meeting of Metropolitan’s Water Planning and
Stewardship Committee, Laura Lamdin, an associate engineer in
water resource management, gave a presentation on how the
United States and Mexico built a collaborative relationship,
the many accomplishments that have come as a result, and a look
at the work currently in progress.
Practically every drop of water that flows through the meadows,
canyons and plains of the Colorado River Basin has reams of
science attached to it. Our latest article in Western
Water news examines a new report that synthesizes and
provides context for that science and could aid water managers
as they prepare to rewrite the operating rules for a river
system so vital to the Southwestern United States and Mexico.
California’s Delta Watermaster Michael George is responsible
for administering water rights within the Sacramento-San
Joaquin River Delta, which supplies drinking water to more than
25 million Californians and helps irrigate 3 million acres of
farmland. For him, the development of OpenET signals an
exciting opportunity for the future of water in the West.
Earlier this summer, American Rivers released a new report,
Rivers as Economic Engines, detailing how the right investments
in water infrastructure, natural infrastructure and river
restoration can create jobs, strengthen communities and address
longstanding injustices. … We are calling on Congress to
invest $500 billion over 10 years to create the
transformational change we need when it comes to ensuring clean
water and healthy rivers for everyone.
A crisis could be approaching. The two giant reservoirs on the
Colorado River are both below 50 percent of capacity. If
drought causes even more drastic drops, the Bureau of
Reclamation could step in to prioritize the making of
electricity by the hydro plants at lakes Mead and Powell. No
one knows what BuRec would do, but it would call the shots and
end current arrangements.
By 2030 we will be water positive, meaning we will replenish
more water than we use. We’ll do this by putting back more
water in stressed basins than our global water consumption
across all basins. … We will focus our replenishment efforts
on roughly 40 highly stressed basins where we have
operations….Our new Silicon Valley campus, opening later this
year in California, features an on-site rainwater collection
system and waste treatment plant to ensure 100% of the site’s
non-potable water comes from onsite recycled sources.
The Central Contra Costa Sanitary District Board of Directors
is one of the special districts set to appear on San Ramon
Valley voters’ ballots during the Nov. 3 election, with six
candidates vying for three at-large seats on the sewer board.
Farmers whose only access to water is pumping from their own
well will get their first glimpse at what the state’s new
groundwater management law will cost them next month. On Oct.
1, the East Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency will hold a
public hearing to discuss a groundwater extraction fee…
Through research funded by the Almond Board of California we
are exploring ways to recharge groundwater aquifers, be good
stewards of the water that we all collectively share as a
state, and even helping the salmon industry understand how
agricultural land, like rice fields, could play a role in
supporting salmon health.
In recent years, a wide range of water-related factors have
contributed to political instability, human dislocation and
migration, agricultural and food insecurity, and in more and
more cases, actual conflict and violence.
On Wednesday, at the virtual 35th Annual WateReuse Symposium,
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency facilitated a
“charrette” to identify challenges and map solutions to
continue advancing the National Water Reuse Action Plan…
“Water reuse must be a central theme in EPA’s efforts to meet
21st century demands for water,” said EPA Assistant
Administrator for Water David Ross.
A team of scientists, led by the University of Arizona, has
developed a new blueprint for arid-land agriculture using wild,
native crops and modern growing techniques. The 14 researchers
from the Southwest and Mexico believe their model can produce a
sustainable, local source of food that will improve the health
and well-being of consumers and farmworkers alike.
Former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt writes that
a “Grand Bargain” in California water is needed to end the
“political culture of deferral” and allow major water projects
to advance. On the contrary, what’s needed is an adult
regulator that will make hard choices that water users refuse
San Diego is not well endowed with many freshwater sources to
support its growing population, so some water experts are
perplexed the city’s ignoring a self-replenishing local
groundwater source that, though small in size, is safe from the
threat of natural disasters and reliably recharged by the San
Lake Powell isn’t in Southern Nevada. Rather, it’s about four
hours away by car in southern Utah. But some environmentalists
say the water consumption of St. George, Utah, and neighboring
communities could have a direct and deleterious impact on the
Las Vegas water supply.
The plan, approved by the board of directors, will help serve
more customers who use recycled water for irrigation,
construction grading, fire department usage. Additionally, the
board approved temporarily closing the Recycled Water Fill
Station No. 1 to move it, upgrade it and add better security
for the grounds.
Roughly a thousand acre-feet of water won’t make or break the
Colorado River. But for many who live in counties that border
the river, even losing a few drops of water to central Arizona
poses a major threat to their way of life.
The cuts are a plan to keep Lake Mead, a reservoir at the
Arizona-Nevada boundary, functional. Water levels have
precipitously dropped as a result of historic overallocation
and a drought that started in 2000. … ASU Now checked in with
Sarah Porter of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at the Morrison
Institute on how these new developments will impact the Copper
State and its residents.
In Protecting Our Water and Environmental Resources v. County
of Stanislaus, the Court held that the County may not
categorically classify all groundwater well permit issuances as
ministerial decisions. Such a classification exempts well
permit issuances from environmental review.
Between February and July 2020, the East Bay Municipal
Utility District completed work on more than 20 community
infrastructure projects totaling $49 million. The projects
include rehabilitated neighborhood water storage tanks, miles
of new water distribution pipelines designed to withstand
earthquakes, and a new photovoltaic system to generate energy
from the sun.
The Utility of the Future Today recognition program celebrates
the achievements of water utilities that transform from a
traditional wastewater treatment system to a resource recovery
center and leader in the overall sustainability and resilience
of the communities they serve.
The Guidebook is designed to assist urban water suppliers with
preparing UWMPs that are due to DWR on July 1. DWR also
released its draft 2020 Agricultural Water Management Plan
Guidebook related to long-term water supply and demand
strategies for agricultural water planning.
Nevada officials raised numerous concerns Tuesday about a
proposed project to pipe large quantities of Colorado River
water roughly 140 miles from Lake Powell to southern Utah…
Six of the seven states that use the Colorado River also sent a
letter to federal water managers Tuesday asking them to refrain
from completing project permitting…
The water wars are far from over, a point made clear in a
just-released feature-length documentary, “Until the Last
Drop.” If you can block from your mind the old Folgers “good to
the last drop” commercials, the film title will evoke a
combination of dripping water with a fight to the last drop of
I visited in late August with Matt Angell about California San
Joaquin Valley water issues. Angell is a chairman of San
Joaquin Resource Conservation District 9, is a managing partner
at Pacific Farming Co., and also is managing director of Madera
Pumps. The conversation included discussion of California’s
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and what that will
require of growers in the years ahead.
Santa Rosa miscalculated its stored water forecast near the
beginning of the irrigation season, leading to sudden limits on
water use that farmers say will cost them dearly in an already
dry year. In mid-June, the agricultural users were put on
notice: There would not be enough irrigation water for all to
last through the growing season, according to the city.
Starting in mid-July, the flows in the Noyo River began
dropping faster than in any other summer on record. The river
flow is below 2015 low flows, when the entire state was in a
drought emergency. John Smith, director of Fort Bragg Public
Works, said staff had never before seen water levels in the
Noyo drop so precipitously.
With an ever-increasing human population, water shortages
already occurring in many areas are only expected to get worse.
Now, researchers reporting in Environmental Science &
Technology have estimated the freshwater supply and demand of
about 11,000 water basins across the globe, determining that
one-fourth of freshwater consumption exceeds regional
Nevada and California joined forces last week at the 24th
annual Lake Tahoe Summit to advance the states’ shared
priorities to protect and restore Lake Tahoe. … There is a
long history of collaboration between Nevada and California to
restore and protect the spectacular natural treasure of Lake
Tahoe and its surrounding environment. This spirit of
collaboration was a pillar of the 24th annual Lake Tahoe Summit
The city of Rohnert Park is encouraging community members to
continue water conservation efforts although Sonoma Water has
lifted its emergency water conservation request. Sonoma Water
issued the emergency request as a precaution because its water
production facilities are situated along the Russian River
within the fire evacuation zone.
Studies estimate that 1.5 – 2.5 million Californians rely on
domestic wells to meet their household water needs. But because
domestic wells are often shallow, they are also often sensitive
to changes in groundwater levels. As such, sustainable
groundwater management has an important role to play in
safeguarding the health and safety of residents and the
achievement of California’s recognized Human Right to Water.
In 2018, the legislature passed AB 1668 and SB 606, which
establish guidelines and standards for urban and agricultural
water use efficiency and conservation… At the August meeting
of the Delta Stewardship Council, council members received an
update on the State Water Board’s ongoing efforts to implement
the legislation from Charlotte Ely, a Supervising Senior
Environmental Scientist at the Water Board…
The new suit, filed Tuesday on behalf of three different tribal
groups and the Sierra Club, argues states and tribes have a
right to place conditions on federal projects that could
degrade waters within their borders or to reject them
altogether. “These changes that cut into the tribe’s ability to
protect its waters and fish harm us all,” Anthony Sampson,
chairman of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe in Nevada, said in a
The study looked at how much water conservation can readily and
affordably be achieved in each region and industry of the
United States by looking at what conservation measures were
already working and considering how much water is being used in
every industry and throughout the country. Then the researchers
ran statistics on that information, looking for areas that
offer greater efficiency.
Over the next 20 years, San Joaquin Valley farmers may need to
temporarily fallow or permanently retire over half a million
acres of cropland as California pushes towards sustainable
groundwater use. … Below, the paper’s lead authors, Benjamin
Bryant and Rodd Kelsey, discuss their research examining how
conservation planning can guide the land use change being
driven by SGMA to achieve multiple benefits…
The Lake Dolores Waterpark in California’s Mojave Desert has
been abandoned three times since it first opened to the public
in 1962. A private firm recently secured the rights to revive
the derelict site.
The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority last week voted
unanimously to adopt a transient pool and fallowing program and
also approve findings that the programs are exempt from
California Environmental Quality Act review — meaning the
programs are not considered to have a significant impact on the
Waters of the Delta are in the midst of a tug-of-war. If
California is not careful, the largest inland delta on the
western coast of the North American continent will be damaged.
Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water
relationship that has a personally significant impact to your
It hasn’t always been easy, and there have been plenty of bumps
along the way, but we’ve learned a lot in those five years, and
we are happy to share some of what we learned. We are pleased
to present our top 10 SGMA lessons learned:
A group of residents in Laughlin, Nev., which sits along the
Colorado River, are organizing a campaign to oppose a pipeline
that would divert billions of gallons of river water to
southwest Utah, reflecting intensifying struggles over water in
the U.S. West.
The estimated fee would be $24 a month for the average
residential user presuming a five-year repayment period,
according to Gleason. The fee would reportedly collect some $50
million which would be used to purchase water rights for
imported water, presuming the same users continue using the
water at roughly the same rate.
The Twentynine Palms Water District will pay the consulting
firm of Kennedy Jenks $84,660 to create a new Urban Water
Management Plan for the district. … The plan, General Manager
Ray Kolisz told directors, helps with long term planning of
water resources and existing and future needs. This year’s
plan,he said, will need to address issues related to climate
As if a global pandemic was not enough, the tumultuous
legislative session comes to a close as much of the state is on
fire. Understandably, lawmakers had already significantly pared
down their legislative packages to focus on a response to
COVID-19. And, then last week many important bills on
environmental justice and natural resources stalled.
The study … says that some of the most water-stressed areas
in the West and Southwest have the greatest potential for water
savings. The paper attributes nearly half the potential to
simply improving how water is used in agriculture, specifically
in growing the commodity crops, corn, cotton and alfalfa.
Groundwater is California’s water savings bank account that can
be tapped during dry years when water in lakes and rivers are
low. Conserving water helps preserve groundwater, which is
important for plants, animals and people.
Despite opposing views among board members and objections from
the public, on a 3-2 vote the El Dorado Irrigation District
Board of Directors voted Monday to approve piping the Upper
Main Ditch, also known as the El Dorado Canal.
The written version of remarks delivered by Eric Kuhn at the
Aug. 25 Western Resource Advocates webinar on the Lake Powell
Pipeline, featuring Eric, WRA’s Bart Miller, and Alice Walker,
attorney for the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians.
This week, water suppliers and landowners along the Sacramento
River joined with federal and state agencies in a new science
collaborative designed to inform ongoing efforts to improve
conditions for salmon on the Sacramento River, while also
helping better manage water for cities and rural communities,
farms, refuges and wildlife management areas that depend upon
After more than two years, another big El Dorado Irrigation
District project is complete as renovations and improvements to
the El Dorado Forebay Dam and Reservoir are finished and the
The consolidation of multiple agencies into SCV Water makes
local coordination in emergencies much easier than in the past.
Partnerships with other agencies to the north and south of us
mean there are backup plans for dry years and places to store
excess water in wet years.
A ruling that promises to rein in surcharges appearing on the
water bills of 3 million ratepayers in Monterey County and
elsewhere is coming up for a vote at the California Public
Utilities Commission Thursday. The reform is proposed by CPUC
Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves with backing from the
agency’s Public Advocate’s Office. Aceves says the surcharge
system failed to incentivize conservation and just ended up
making water more expensive.
Earlier this month, CSU-Fresno hosted the event “Funding Water
Infrastructure in the San Joaquin Valley.” The majority of the
event was focused on the so-called “Water Blueprint for the San
Joaquin Valley,” a high profile new investment plan for
irrigation water. At the event, the Blueprint rolled out a
proposed funding plan – the centerpiece of which is a proposed
0.5% special sales tax in the 8 counties of the San Joaquin
Above-average temperatures in spring resulted in a paltry 57%
runoff, nowhere near enough water to refill the reservoirs that
remain half-empty. Based on these conditions, the U.S. Bureau
of Reclamation recently determined that 2021 will be a “tier
zero” year under the Lower Colorado River Basin Drought
Contingency Plan, with reduced water deliveries for Arizona,
Nevada, and Mexico.
A friend last week pointed out something remarkable. Arizona,
California, and Nevada are forecast this year to use just 6.8
million acre feet of their 7.5 million acre foot allocation of
water from the main stem of the Colorado River. And that’s not
just a one-off.
More than 100 people gathered in front of the Mayten Fire
Department in Montague Saturday morning to protest the trucking
of water from local wells, most likely to irrigate illegal
cannabis grows in the Big Springs and Mt. Shasta Vista areas.
A main water pipeline in the San Lorenzo Valley was destroyed
by a wildfire burning in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties. The
San Lorenzo Valley Water District lost 4.5 million gallons of
water after this 5-mile long pipe melted from intense heat. The
district shut off its water supply throughout the Valley except
to Boulder Creek.
The basin replenishment fee was passed by the Indian Wells
Valley Groundwater Authority with a vote of four to one Friday
afternoon. IWV Water District Director Ron Kicinski was the
sole no vote. The IWVGA voted after the basin replenishment fee
protest hearing Friday failed. The IWVGA did not announce the
number of protest votes received…
A statewide public effort to determine whether Coloradans
should engage in perhaps the biggest water conservation program
in state history — a Lake Powell drought contingency pool —
enters its second year of study this summer.
Nevada and Utah share more than borders. We share the coveted
and much-fought-over Colorado River. But it seems as if only
one state — Nevada — is doing the difficult work to protect our
most valuable resource
’The “Save Searles” campaign was launched Tuesday, three days
before the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority
public hearing on a controversial replenishment fee. The fee
would increase water costs for Searles Valley Minerals by
nearly $6 million a year, “pushing the company and the local
community towards extinction,” according to the campaign…
Because San Diego County gets so little natural rainfall, most
residents must artificially irrigate their landscaping.
Rainfall becomes a welcome sight when it occurs. But rainfall
turns into an unwelcome problem when it enters the storm drain
With the North Bay’s LNU Complex Fire topping 124,000 acres
Wednesday and new state evacuation orders emerging every few
hours, local and state officials urged Bay Area residents to
take a variety of precautions….The city of Santa Rosa has
prohibited all outdoor water use, including for irrigation. It
is temporarily illegal for residents to wash their cars, and
they are asked to conserve water indoors as much as possible.
We know there are ways to actively manage our Western forests
to improve water quality, provide for jobs, reduce the cost of
firefighting and increase forest resiliency. Now we have new
tools to assess how proper management of watershed vegetation
can increase water yield.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a statewide emergency in order
to help California respond to the fires burning across the
state amid an extreme heat wave that brought more warnings
about power outages on Tuesday. More than 30 wildfires are
burning across California, including nearly a dozen that
started in the last two days…
The latest forecast from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation,
released last week, predicts that by the end of 2020, Lake
Mead, which furnishes Central Arizona Project water, will be at
1,085 feet elevation. While that’s 5 feet lower than the lake
stood at the end of 2019, it’s still 10 feet higher than the
water level that would trigger the first major shortage,
slicing more than 520,000 acre feet of water, roughly one-third
of the state’s total supply.
The University of California Desert Research and Extension
Center (UC DREC) was established in 1912 and is the oldest
research and extension center in the UC system. For the past
108 years, UC DREC has conducted innovative and relevant
agricultural, natural resources, and environmental research and
extension in arid desert regions.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released projections Friday that
suggest Lake Powell and Lake Mead will dip 16 feet and 5 feet,
respectively, in January from levels recorded a year earlier.
Despite the dip, Lake Mead would stay above the threshold that
triggers severe water cuts to cities and farms, giving
officials throughout the Southwest more time to prepare for the
future when the flow will slow.
Arizona, Nevada and Mexico will again receive less water from
the Colorado River next year under a set of agreements intended
to help boost the level of Lake Mead… The federal Bureau of
Reclamation released projections Friday showing that Lake Mead,
the nation’s largest reservoir, will be at levels next year
that continue to trigger moderate cutbacks in the two U.S.
states and Mexico.
In 2018, two laws were passed to aid California in making water
conservation a way of life: SB 606 and AB 1668. These two laws
highlight water efficiency and conservation and are meant to
outline certain roles and actions to be carried out by the
California Department of Water Resources, the State Water
Resource Control Board and water suppliers.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.