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.
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.
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…
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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
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
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 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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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…
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 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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…
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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