Topic: Water Rights

Overview

Water Rights

California hosts a substantial, complicated water rights system that allocates water across the state. In addition to a dual system — riparian and appropriate rights — today state courts are recognizing expanded public trust values in determining how the state’s water resources should be best used.

Water rights are governed mostly by state law. Water quality issues, which may affect allocation, are regulated separately by both federal and state laws. Water rights can be quite contentious.

Aquafornia news Fairfield Daily Republic

Putah Creek Accord, now 20, remains key to habitat restoration, water flows

It was during the drought in the late-1980s that Robin Kulakow and her fellow birdwatchers began noticing that Putah Creek was running dry. The same observation was being made at places such as Camp Davis, a popular site near the university where youth paddled their canoes and participated in other activities.

Aquafornia news City of Riverside

Video: Documentary features life of noted Riverside water law attorney Arthur L. Littleworth

Arthur L. Littleworth, a Riverside community leader and preeminent water attorney with Best Best & Krieger LLP, is profiled in a new documentary released by Riverside TV, the city’s in-house production studio. 

Aquafornia news Action News Now

North-south water transfer lawsuit filed

A local non-profit is suing the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and a Southern California water district, over a long term water transfer program. AquAlliance works to protect the Sacramento River watershed. It is the main plaintiff in a lawsuit that charges the proposed transfer would send too much water out of Northern California and would cause severe impacts on area communities, farms, and the environment.

Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Southern Nevada Water Authority: Las Vegas water pipeline plan shelved

Citing conservation gains and a third straw to the bottom of Lake Mead, the Southern Nevada Water Authority on Thursday voted to shelve a proposal for a multi-billion pipeline that would have moved water from Northern and Eastern Nevada to Las Vegas. The vote means the pipeline staunchly opposed by rural communities, American Indian tribes and conservationists is dead – or at least going into a long, deep coma.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: California court of appeal holds noncontiguous landowner has a riparian right to Middle River based on extrinsic evidence

On May 7, 2020, the Third District Court of Appeal issued a much-anticipated ruling in Modesto Irrigation District (MID) v. Tanaka, (Super. Ct. No. 34-2011-00112886-CU-JR-GDS) holding that the question of whether a landowner of noncontiguous real property has a riparian right depends upon the intent of the parties at the time of conveyance of the land, and such intent may be inferred from extrinsic evidence.

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Aquafornia news Mountain Democrat

Georgetown Divide PUD approves water sale to Westlands Water District

Taking the opportunity to bring in some extra revenue, the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District Board of Directors approved the sale of up to 2,000 acre-feet of water to Westlands Water District at a price of $350 an acre-foot.

Aquafornia news Plumas News

Agency petitions state water board for temporary change

South Feather Water & Power Agency proposes to transfer the water from July through November 2020 to participating agencies of the State Water Contractors and the Central Valley Project (CVP). The transfer would involve up to 5,000 AF of water previously stored in Little Grass Valley Reservoir under Permit 1267, and up to 5,001 AF of water previously stored in Sly Creek Reservoir under Permit 2492.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Drought, water shortages return to much of state

The return of drought to California has been widespread—58% of the state now experiences some level of dryness, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor—with extreme drought concentrated in 4% of the state, primarily in the northwestern region of Siskiyou, Trinity and Humboldt counties.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Protesters ‘SLAPPback’ as water fight boils over

Four years ago, nine activists in the small town of Weed, Calif., were railing against an Oregon timber company threatening the city’s water supply. … Now, the Weed 9 are going one step further. Two weeks ago, they filed a “SLAPPback” lawsuit against the attorneys who represented the timber company. They are seeking damages.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion – Bruce Babbitt: Here’s how less than 10% of farmland could solve the Colorado River’s water deficit

There is a better, more equitable pathway for reducing the deficit without forcing arbitrary cuts. It involves 3 million acres of irrigated agriculture, mostly alfalfa and forage crops, which consume more than 80% of total water use in the basin. By retiring less than 10% of this irrigated acreage from production, we could eliminate the existing million acre-foot overdraft on the Colorado River..

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Blog: Undercurrents of the Kern River’s flow are thick with intrigue, outrage

Water is flowing through the heart of Bakersfield in the Kern River and local water managers are shaking their heads in disbelief and frustration. Except, that is, for Art Chianello. Chianello is Bakersfield’s Water Resources Department director and the man behind the healthy flow currently being enjoyed by numerous residents as springtime temperatures heat up.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Term 91 curtailments expected; other water rights curtailments unlikely

During the May 5, 2020 State Water Resources Control Board Meeting, Staff and Board members provided an update on prospective water rights curtailments for 2020.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Tribes need a seat at the Colorado River negotiating table

There are 29 federally recognized tribes across the Colorado River Basin. Together, these tribes have water rights to roughly 20% of the water that flows through the river annually. In Arizona, the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT) and the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) were critical partners in making the Drought Contingency Plan possible.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Restore the Delta webinar on voluntary agreements

In mid-April of 2020, Restore the Delta hosted a webinar where they discussed the history of water planning and the voluntary agreements, including their numerous concerns. … Before addressing the main topic of the webinar, Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parilla noted that there are many in the Delta who aren’t on the webinar due to lack of reliable internet service in rural communities, affordability issues, and/or lack of access to devices.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

Opinion: Las Vegas pipeline outcome offers new opportunity

Rural and urban Nevada can both rest a little easier now that the massive pipeline project is not at the forefront of the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s plans. But there is still plenty of work to do to protect and expand the water supply in Las Vegas while doing the same in rural parts of the state.

Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

Monday Top of the Scroll: Oregon Water Resources Dept. takes charge of Upper Klamath Lake

Oregon Water Resources Director Thomas Byler sent a letter to Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Office manager Jeff Nettleton on Thursday, confirming it has taken exclusive charge of Upper Klamath Lake… The order said it prohibits U.S. Bureau of Reclamation from diverting stored water in Upper Klamath Lake through Link River for purposes of a 50,000 acre-feet flushing flow without a water right.

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Aquafornia news The Salt Lake Tribune

Utah county does an about-face, pulls out of Lake Powell pipeline project

For the past decade, Kane County leaders have argued their southern Utah community will need water piped from the Colorado River to meet future needs, but the local water district abruptly announced Thursday it was pulling out of the costly Lake Powell pipeline project, leaving Washington County as the only remaining recipient of the water.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Sacramento Water Forum

News release: Water Forum marks 20 years of collaboration and progress on the Lower American River

When the Water Forum Agreement was officially signed 20 years ago, the occasion marked an unprecedented show of regional cooperation. For years, interests representing business, the environment, water suppliers and others had sparred over the water needs of people vs. the environment of the lower American River.

Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

Parties support request for Supreme Court review in water takings case

The case was filed in late 2001, the year there was an announcement that no water would be available for Klamath Project irrigation from Upper Klamath Lake. The plaintiffs claim that if the water is taken under the Endangered Species Act, the fifth amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires payment of compensation for the water right, a form of property, that has been taken.

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

The coming battles over Monterey Peninsula water will be fought on Zoom

From the safety of their coronavirus shelters, the water warriors of the Monterey Peninsula carry on the fight, and so can you. … The environmental merits of removing the local water system from private ownership and placing it under the control of a government agency will be discussed in a virtual public scoping meeting on April 21 at 5pm, via Zoom video conference. 

Aquafornia news Western Water

Monday Top of the Scroll: Framework for agreements to aid health of Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is a starting point with an uncertain end

Voluntary agreements in California have been touted as an innovative and flexible way to improve environmental conditions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the rivers that feed it. … Yet, no one said it would be easy getting interest groups with sometimes sharply different views – and some, such as farmers, with livelihoods heavily dependent on water — to reach consensus on how to address the water quality and habitat needs of the Delta watershed.

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

The coming battles over Monterey Peninsula water will be fought on Zoom

From the safety of their coronavirus shelters, the water warriors of the Monterey Peninsula carry on the fight, and so can you. … The environmental merits of removing the local water system from private ownership and placing it under the control of a government agency will be discussed in a virtual public scoping meeting on April 21 at 5pm, via Zoom video conference. 

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Water authority shelves controversial Las Vegas pipeline project

The Southern Nevada Water Authority is ending a decades-long effort to build a controversial 300-mile pipeline to pump rural groundwater from eastern Nevada to Las Vegas. On Thursday afternoon, the water authority confirmed in a statement that it would not appeal a recent court ruling that denied the agency a portion of its water rights.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

The evolution of environmental flows in California

Ted Grantham is a Cooperative Extension Specialist at UC Berkeley and the CalTrout Ecosystem Fellow with the Public Policy Institute of California. … In this presentation, Dr. Grantham discussed environmental flows and the policy context in California in which environmental flows are managed and how that has evolved over time.

Aquafornia news Corning Observer

Battle Creek in Tehama County site of grant funding

Lower Battle Creek in Tehama County is one of the 19 waterways to be part of the Wildlife Conservation Board $24.3 million grant program set to help enhance flows in streams throughout California. … The project will dedicate water rights to instream flow in the lower 7.3 miles of Battle Creek to restore dwindling Chinook salmon and steelhead

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Environmental review for public water takeover bid gets under way

A full environmental review of a proposed public buyout of California American Water’s local water system is underway despite the coronavirus pandemic that a top Monterey Peninsula Water Management District official says has slowed work on the takeover bid.

Aquafornia news East County Today

Antioch to receive $27 million settlement from California’s Department of Water Resources

The agreement pays Antioch $27 million, which guarantees that they will be able to utilize its 150-year old water rights and remain in the Delta for the long-term. The $27 million, in addition to $43 million in State grants and loans, completes the financing for the $70m Brackish Water Desalination Plant.

Aquafornia news JD Supra

Blog: State water agencies expect water use reporting to continue as normal as California shelters in place

On March 19, 2020, California issued Executive Order N-25-20, a statewide shelter in place order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, significantly altering operations of both state agencies and private businesses. … Importantly, the Division of Water Rights continues to require all surface water users to submit annual reports to meet the April 1, 2020 deadline for reporting 2019 water use.

Aquafornia news KRCR TV

Hoopa Tribe strikes at Interior’s coveted Westlands Water District corporate deal

The Hoopa Valley Tribe applauded Fresno County Superior Court’s refusal to validate a proposed contract between Westlands Water District and the Bureau of Reclamation. … The contract would have allocated up to 1,150,000 acre-feet of water annually to Westlands, most of which would be imported from the Trinity River, which has sustained the Hupa people since time immemorial.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Family’s 18-year fight with county over water rights tossed

Sealing a baffling fight over a ditch that involved dead cows, helicopters and a criminal trial, a federal judge ruled Tuesday that a California county didn’t trample a rural cattle rancher’s rights in its curious attempt to sabotage his water rights permit.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Local water district pulls out of mediation talks with city of Ventura

An Ojai Valley water district has pulled out of mediation talks with the city of Ventura and others after months of negotiation over water rights.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Opinion: Will the rush to develop our newest water source destroy more streams?

Now, Big Ag and the water agencies that do its water will want to also divert streamflow during the winter wet season. For folks who believe that any water “diverted” to the ocean is wasted water, winter storm and snow-melt high flows have become the target.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Discussion of tribes’ water claims sparks tensions in Arizona

Many of Arizona’s Native tribes have long-standing claims to water rights that haven’t yet been settled, and a discussion of efforts to negotiate possible agreements took center stage at a meeting of Gov. Doug Ducey’s water council. The meeting grew tense after Arizona’s top water official gave a presentation on the status of tribes’ unresolved water claims, and then didn’t allow leaders of four tribes to speak.

Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

2001 water “takings” case filed with U.S. Supreme Court

The case, titled Baley v. United States, was filed 19 years ago when the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation re-allocated Klamath River irrigation water to threatened and endangered species. A favorable outcome would mean upwards of $30 million collectively in compensation for irrigators named in the case.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Arizona Legislature should act on rural groundwater, former Gov. Bruce Babbitt says

Former Gov. Bruce Babbitt is speaking out about widespread problems of excessive groundwater pumping in rural areas of Arizona, saying the state Legislature should give counties and communities the power to protect their rapidly declining aquifers. Babbitt appealed for action during a visit this week to the Willcox area, where heavy pumping for farms has led to falling water tables and left a growing number of families with dry wells.

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Aquafornia news The Union Democrat

Tuolumne Utility District announces negotiations with PG&E to acquire water system, pre-1914 water rights

Tuolumne Utilities District announced on Tuesday that it has entered into exclusive negotiations with Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to acquire the Phoenix Hydroelectric Project, which would include pre-1914 water rights on the South Fork of the Stanislaus River…

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Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

District Court judge reaffirms decision to deny water for Las Vegas pipeline

A District Court judge has once again scuttled the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s plans to obtain and pump rural groundwater about 300 miles from eastern Nevada, prompting one Clark County commissioner to call on the water authority “to look in a different direction.”

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Nevada Supreme Court hears arguments about the state’s role in protecting water for the ‘public trust’

The Nevada Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a case weighing how state regulators should consider “public trust” values — the environment or recreation — when the sustainability of lakes or rivers could be harmed by how the state has allocated water rights.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Congress calls on Nestle to answer for its water-bottling practices in California and beyond

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are demanding international food giant Nestlé answer for its water-bottling practices, including in California where it pumps from the San Bernardino National Forest for its Arrowhead brand.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Opinion: Newsom must do more than sue Trump to protect San Francisco Bay

The Governor is urging everyone to come together around his “new” concept. But his framework does not even attempt to meet state legal standards, nor will it result in the recovery of endangered fish species, important fisheries, or the food web that sustains them.

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Aquafornia news Deseret News

Utah House reaffirms intent to develop Colorado River water

Utah’s booming population growth and rapid economic development means the need for more water, a higher level of conservation and wise development of water supplies, which are not infinite. With that in the backdrop, the Utah House of Representatives on Tuesday passed HCR22, which makes clear to neighboring states and policymakers that Utah will someday develop its unused portion of the Colorado River.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Nevada Supreme Court hears arguments about the state’s role in protecting water for the ‘public trust’

The Nevada Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a case weighing how state regulators should consider “public trust” values — the environment or recreation — when the sustainability of lakes or rivers could be harmed by how the state has allocated water rights.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Court grants six-month extension in Ventura River lawsuit

A judge on Thursday granted a six-month extension for roughly 14,000 Ojai Valley and Ventura property owners facing a potential water adjudication. In January, the city of Ventura sent thousands of legal notices and summonses to people with property near the Ventura River or one of the area’s groundwater basins.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Court grants six-month extension in Ventura River lawsuit

A judge on Thursday granted a six-month extension for roughly 14,000 Ojai Valley and Ventura property owners facing a potential water adjudication. In January, the city of Ventura sent thousands of legal notices and summonses to people with property near the Ventura River or one of the area’s groundwater basins.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Blog: Price of water going up as the snowpack shrinks

Another block of water has been offered for sale in Kern County at $950 per acre foot. With a dry January and extremely dry February, California’s water outlook has worsened. And that has bumped the price of water for those who have it to sell.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Water is life. It’s also a battle. So what does the future hold for California?

Scientists say climate change will bring more unpredictable weather, warmer winters and less snowpack in the mountains. These challenges and some ideas for remedies are outlined in a new plan, called the California Water Resilience Portfolio, released by Gov. Gavin Newsom in January to a mix of praise and disappointment. Below, an explanation of the state’s water development — as well as the challenges, today and tomorrow, of providing water for California’s people, places and things.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Opinion: California governor’s water negotiations leave no one behind, senator says

Recently, Governor Newsom announced his framework and support for Voluntary Settlement Agreements (VSAs) — a monumental effort that could bring to an end the conflict and litigation over water that flows through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. With great hope and guarded optimism, I applaud the governor’s efforts…

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Editorial: Trump wading into California’s water policy with phony answer

President Trump believes he “got it done” in fixing California’s troubled and contentious water system. What he actually produced is another wrecking-ball delay and a lawsuit to try to halt his lopsided solution.

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Aquafornia news KUNC

As Western coal plants close, what happens to their water?

Coal-fired power plants are closing, or being given firm deadlines for closure, across the country. In the Western states that make up the overallocated and drought-plagued Colorado River, these facilities use a significant amount of the region’s scarce water supplies. With closure dates looming, communities are starting the contentious debate about how this newly freed up water should be put to use.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Huffman vows at town hall to protect North Coast water rights

Protecting the North Coast’s waters and the communities that depend on them is a top priority, Congressman Jared Huffman told a town hall at the Eureka High School auditorium Friday night. Making sure fishermen get timely compensation when they’re barred from fishing and ensuring there is enough water in the area to protect fisheries are two key issues, the San Rafael Democrat said.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Public comment opens for groundwater sustainability plans

Groundwater sustainability plans that have been submitted to the state are now online at the DWR SGMA Portal. Plans are open to public comment for 75 days after they were posted online. Below is a table of the submitted plans, the counties they cover and details about the public comment period for that plan.

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Aquafornia news Valley Economy

Blog: Delta voluntary agreement costs soar from $1.1 billion to $5.3 billion

In the latest update, the cost of implementing the voluntary agreements has soared by over $4 billion to a whopping $5.3 billion. Governor Newsom failed to mention the enormous and growing costs in his oped praising the voluntary agreement framework.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Imperial Irrigation District beats Abatti contempt of court complaint

The Imperial Irrigation District has been found not guilty of a contempt of court complaint brought against it by farmer Michael Abatti as part of his contentious fight over water rights in the Imperial Valley.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Opinion: Hard to swallow Newsom’s “voluntary agreements” under the threat of doom

First things first: you’d be wise to forget everything you’ve read or heard recently about “voluntary agreements,” which according to the usual suspects, will bring a just and peaceful end the seemingly never-ending battle over California water. Not true. Not even close.

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Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: Has Newsom settled the water wars?

Last week, Newsom unveiled a compromise framework that would enhance flows through the Delta by up to 900,000 acre-feet a year and restore 60,000 acres of habitat for wildlife, particularly salmon, facing decline or even extinction due to the diversions.

Aquafornia news KEYT

Ventura vs Ojai Water War

While the Ventura River may be beautiful, a legal case over its water is turning ugly. Thousands of people like Jessica Colborn, born and raised in Upper Ojai, are being served legal papers. This is because of their wells that use water from the river.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Thousands served, noticed in Ventura’s water lawsuit may get reprieve

The Ventura City Council announced Monday that it may request a six-month extension from the court for the thousands who were sent legal notices or served with a court summons in the case. … The litigation dates back to 2014 when Santa Barbara Channelkeeper filed a lawsuit alleging the city of Ventura was taking too much water from the Ventura River, hurting habitat for steelhead trout and other wildlife.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Opinion: Ecologists see little difference between unimpaired and (truly) functional approaches to flow

From an ecologist’s perspective, river habitat and species population sizes and life histories were shaped by unimpaired flow patterns (including volume and natural variability) across seasons and years. Science from across the world, other regions in the US, and right here in California suggests that we can take some of that flow for other uses, but must preserve adequate volume and natural patterns of variation if we want native species to survive.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

City of Ventura faces calls to drop legal action, water adjudication

People crowded into an Ojai junior high school auditorium recently after thousands received legal notices or a court summons from the city of Ventura. The city notified 14,000-plus property owners in the Ventura River watershed of a potential adjudication of water rights. That move came years after the city faced legal action over its own water use.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Opinion: The final demise of unimpaired flows

The concept of unimpaired flows has endured (much longer than reasonable in my opinion). While it was argued that unimpaired flows would allow resource assessments to be founded on the “natural” hydrology of the stream network, this had fundamental drawbacks.

Aquafornia news L.A. Daily News

Opinion: Water plan should focus on the future, not the past

Time and time again seemingly well-intentioned initiatives and repeated attempts to develop a comprehensive water management solution have failed, despite cautionary tales. However, 2019 witnessed the horizon of a new initiative called the Voluntary Agreements that could do what few, if any, past plans, efforts, or reports could do – unite water management and develop collaboration.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Bill would block transfers of Colorado River water to Arizona cities

A company’s proposal to take water from farmland along the Colorado River and sell it to a growing Phoenix suburb has provoked a heated debate, and some Arizona legislators are trying to block the deal with a bill that would prohibit the transfer.

Aquafornia news Lake County News

LAFCo approves annexing Middletown Rancheria land into Callayomi County Water District

The Lake Local Area Formation Commission has approved a proposal to annex Middletown Rancheria land into the Callayomi County Water District in order to ensure a safe, reliable source of water for the tribe’s homes and casino.

Aquafornia news Chino Champion

Chino sells 1.14 billion gallons of water to Fontana Water Company

The Chino City Council on Tuesday night approved selling 3,500-acre-feet of surplus groundwater to the Fontana Water Company for more than $2 million. … As of June 2019, the city of Chino’s stored groundwater reserves totaled approximately 120,000-acre-feet, which is equivalent to 31.1 billion gallons of water. 

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Opinion: Watershed adjudication is the nuclear option

Watershed adjudications take a long time and their outcomes are impossible to predict. Thus the interest expressed by some major water purveyors (like the City of Ventura, Casitas Municipal Water District, Ventura River Water District and Meiners Oaks Water District) in pursuing a court-sanctioned settlement agreement. Negotiations on a settlement have begun and could avert the need for a lengthy basin-wide adjudication.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Trump admin fast-tracks Colorado River pipeline

Utah first proposed building a 140-mile pipeline from Lake Powell on the Utah-Arizona border more than a decade ago. The plan, however, was waylaid by environmental and other reviews during the Obama administration. … Reclamation signaled to the state that it wants to move swiftly on the plan, in recognition of how it was stalled at FERC…

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Aquafornia news KJZZ

Bill would ban river water transfers to central Arizona

Under a new bill in the Arizona state Legislature, some water tied to land that borders the Colorado River could not be transferred into central Arizona. It comes after recent proposals to do just that.

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Aquafornia news Environmental Health News

Weed and water woes in the legendary Emerald Triangle

In the early days, these pot farms were small and scattered. But in recent years the industry has intensified. A wave of newcomers planted larger farms, using greenhouses and artificial lights to extend the growing season and yield up to three marijuana crops in a single year. The cannabis boom has polluted waters with fertilizers, fuels and pesticides, triggered erosion that buries the rocky habitats where salmon and trout spawn and grow, and drained streams of water in the dry season.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Arizona bills would strengthen rural groundwater rules

State legislators plan to tackle widespread problems of groundwater overpumping in rural Arizona this session, proposing bills that would make it easier to limit well-drilling in farming areas where residents have asked for help from the state to safeguard their dwindling water supplies.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Opinion: Collaborative path forward to protect our most precious water resource

Over the next few weeks, all owners of any real property that overlies the watershed’s four groundwater basins, as well as users who take or could take water from the Ventura River, will receive a notification or summons about the court proceedings as part of an ongoing legal process and as required by the court.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Balancing water supply for all is 2020 priority

California water policy leaders say balancing the supply of groundwater by implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, and addressing policies related to water supply and water quality, will continue to be priority issues in 2020.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Water district board to take next step on public water buyout effort

Monterey Peninsula Water Management District officials have agreed to move forward with detailed analysis and planning for a potential public acquisition and ownership of California American Water’s local water system. On Monday, the water district board unanimously approved spending up to $1.24 million on work by a team of consultants to prepare the district to make a formal offer for the Cal Am system…

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Aquafornia news The Mountain Democrat

Placerville developer pays for illegal diversions

A Placerville development company that illegally discharged sediment and stormwater from its construction site has agreed to pay $171,000 in a settlement with the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board,

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

More public water buyout spending to be considered

On Monday, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District board is set to consider approving $1.24 million on consultants to prepare for a potential vote by the summer on a resolution of necessity to acquire Cal Am’s local system.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Megafarms and deeper wells are draining the water beneath rural Arizona – quietly, irreversibly

Unfettered pumping has taken a toll on the state’s aquifers for many years, but just as experts are calling for Arizona to develop plans to save its ancient underground water, pumping is accelerating and the problems are getting much worse. Big farming companies owned by out-of-state investors and foreign agriculture giants have descended on rural Arizona and snapped up farmland in areas where there is no limit on pumping.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: California must change its approach to water, become more collaborative

We face an important opportunity to finally put the seemingly permanent conflicts that have defined water and environmental management in California behind us, but not if we let it drift away. This new era of opportunity springs from a common recognition that our ways of doing business have failed to meet the needs of all interests.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California should take over PG&E and possibly other utilities, former top regulator says

Following a string of utility-sparked wildfires that have killed scores of Californians and destroyed billions in property, the former top regulator of California’s electric grid says it’s time for sweeping change — a public takeover of Pacific Gas & Electric and possibly other private utilities, which would be transformed into a state power company.

Aquafornia news KCET

Paiute traditions inform water management practices in once-lush Owens Valley

By practicing careful and sustainable water management practices, the tribe has cultivated wild plants, including taboose, nahavita, as well as fruit trees and other vegetables. … However, starting in the mid-1800s with the arrival of European settlers making a claim to water rights in the Owens Valley, this once-lush area was transformed dramatically into a virtual desert in just decades.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

New LADWP commissioner works for a company that markets water and power

Nicole Neeman Brady serves as principal and chief operating officer at L.A.-based Renewable Resources Group, which … is in the business of developing energy and water projects, raising the potential for conflicts of interest if the company seeks to do business with LADWP while Neeman Brady serves on the board.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Tale of three regions: Study probes drought-forced change in water policies

Aside from advanced economies and Mediterranean climates that sustain long growing seasons, California, Spain and Australia share an intermittent feature that reshapes their overburdened water systems every time it rears its ugly head: drought.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: San Joaquin Valley’s water solution? Look north to the mighty Columbia River

Central Valley agriculture faces a looming existential water crisis from the interlocking problems of drought, climate change, and falling underground water tables. Yet the potential answer to this problem is incredibly simple and only a lack of political will may defeat it. The solution is to send south to California the abundant waters of the Columbia River.

Aquafornia news EurekAlert

News release: A study compares how water is managed in Spain, California and Australia

The study demonstrated the following: big legislative reforms in water management in these three areas have always come about as a consequence of important droughts. … One of the main differences lies in how water ownership is managed and how the market is regulated in this field.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Embattled water district an economic boon for Arizona, homebuilders’ study says

A district that recharges renewable water supplies to allow new housing development brings in about $13.4 billion a year in economic benefits, says a study written for a homebuilders’ group. …  The report goes against the grain of recommendations made over the years by academics, environmentalists and others to limit enrollment of new subdivisions in the district, saying that could cause a major economic setback for the state.

Aquafornia news Oroville Mercury-Register

Opinion: Delay of water feasibility study disappointing

You might ask why anyone would want to study whether water could be piped from Paradise to Chico. It’s actually pretty simple.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

‘They’re going to dry up’: Debate erupts over plan to move water from farmland to suburbs

A private company and the town of Queen Creek are proposing a water deal that would leave 485 acres of farmland permanently dry near the Colorado River and send the water used on that land to the fast-growing Phoenix suburb. The company GSC Farm LLC is seeking to sell its annual entitlement of 2,083 acre-feet of Colorado River water — about 678 million gallons — to Queen Creek for a one-time payment of $21 million.

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Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

Water coalition aims to coordinate conservation efforts

The water coalition has been meeting since 2018 and started under the facilitation of Alan Mikkelsen, senior adviser to Secretary of the Interior on water and western resources. … The coalition aims to address challenges to fisheries, water supply, and waterfowl and forest health.

Aquafornia news Redwood Times

Tribes’ water rights at Klamath River upheld by federal circuit court

Native American tribal water rights are guaranteed by the federal government to the extent that endangered species, like salmon in the Klamath River, aren’t placed in danger, according to a court decision on Thursday.

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Aquafornia news Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Opinion: Water in Santa Clarita Valley: Success in a New Era

The newest water agency in California, the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency, or SCV Water, has been one big success story. Formed on Jan. 1, 2018, it’s hard to believe this new agency is approaching its second anniversary. It was not easy!

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

Opinion: Now that a public buyout of Cal Am has been declared feasible, is it doable?

According to a 111-page analysis by a group of financial consultants and bankers released on Nov. 6, not only is a buyout of the behemoth Cal Am feasible, it would also cause the cost of water to drop significantly if the water utility was replaced by a public agency.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Consultant: Cal Am purchase can be paid for with rate savings

It will cost Monterey Peninsula ratepayers about $574.5 million, all in, to acquire California American Water’s local water system, but that cost can be covered in rate savings under public ownership with some leftover to lower local customers’ water bills.

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Aquafornia news Outside Magazine

The West’s water shortage is fueled by human error

Five of the seven water-stressed western states along the Colorado River—Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wyoming—don’t yet track how they use their limited water in any kind of systematic, accessible way, teeing up potential shortages as the region dries.

Aquafornia news KAZU

Public takeover of Cal Am appears feasible

A newly released study finds a public takeover of California American Water’s local system is feasible. Voters ordered this study with the approval of a local ballot measure, Measure J, one year ago. The Monterey Peninsula Water Management District released the study Wednesday.

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Aquafornia news MyMotherLode.com

Tuolumne Utility District to request New Melones water supplies

Plans to exercise federal county-of-origin rights to tap New Melones waters are in the works. According to documents for next Tuesday’s Tuolumne Utilities District board of directors meeting, staff will be recommending the board authorize General Manager Ed Pattison to submit a formal letter of request to the United States Bureau of Reclamation for a water supply contract.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Water officials work to assist recharge projects

Flood-managed aquifer recharge involves moving floodwater from surface streams onto land where it could percolate into a groundwater basin. Though the concept sounds simple, it brings complications that include managing the floodwater, finding appropriate land to accept it and establishing rights to the water involved.

Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Nevada tribes oppose removal of American Indian site history document

The Goshute, Ely and Duckwater Shoshone tribes all consider the site, known as the swamp cedars, sacred and believe the trees are threatened by a proposal to pipe groundwater to Las Vegas. … Tribal members are pushing for greater recognition of the site in order to strengthen their case against Southern Nevada Water Authority’s proposal to pipe groundwater from the area to Las Vegas. 

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Paradise-Chico water pipe study killed

The study of whether it makes sense to build a pipe to carry water from Paradise to Chico has died, at least for now. … The idea was that Cal Water’s Chico Division would buy Paradise Irrigation District water, and reduce its total dependence on wells. … The pipe would also provide a buyer for PID water, something the district needs to survive. Most of its customers were burned out by the Camp Fire.

Aquafornia news The Mountain Democrat

El Dorado Irrigation District fights water taxes

The Oct. 28 meeting of the El Dorado Irrigation District Board of Directors included an update on the effect of power outages on the district and a legislative update with a focus on protecting the area’s water rights.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

The fight to stop Nestlé from taking America’s water to sell in plastic bottles

The network of clear streams comprising California’s Strawberry Creek run down the side of a steep, rocky mountain in a national forest two hours east of Los Angeles. Last year Nestlé siphoned 45m gallons of pristine spring water from the creek and bottled it under the Arrowhead Water label.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Taking on tough challenges at the State Water Board

The State Water Board is central to addressing many of California’s major water challenges, including protecting water quality for drinking and for the environment, addressing drought and water conservation, and managing the allocation of surface water. We talked to Sean Maguire, a civil engineer who was appointed to the board by former governor Brown in December 2018, about priority issues.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Colorado River Basin story map highlights importance of managing water below the ground

EDF created an online story map … to provide a more holistic view of groundwater supplies and challenges in the seven-state Colorado River Basin (Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming), drawing from recent research. Here are four key highlights from the story map that demonstrate the importance of groundwater and the challenges of groundwater management in the arid West:

Aquafornia news The Guardian

The lost river: Mexicans fight for mighty waterway taken by the U.S.

The Colorado River serves over 35 million Americans before reaching Mexico – but it is dammed at the border, leaving locals on the other side with a dry delta.

Aquafornia news Santa Maria Sun

State requirements face off with federal law in decision requiring more water from Lake Cachuma for steelhead

For more than 20 years, California pondered what to do about steelhead in the Santa Ynez River. On Sept. 17, the State Water Resources Control Board finally made a decision. It voted to pass an order that will increase water releases from Lake Cachuma.

Aquafornia news Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Santa Clarita Valley Water opens six new wells near Bakersfield, uncorking “banked” water

Under an agreement to “bank” water outside of the Santa Clarita Valley, local water officials … and their water banking partners, Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District and Irvine Ranch Water District, opened six new groundwater wells and a conveyance system to the Cross Valley Canal in Kern County.

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Aquafornia news Siskiyou Daily News

Court dismisses lawsuit against Crystal Geyser, county

The court denied the petitioner’s challenge, which questioned the validity of the county’s Environmental Impact Report, according to the Statement of Decision. Crystal Geyser purchased the former Coca Cola water bottling facility on Ski Village Drive in 2013 with hopes of bottle sparkling spring water and eventually producing Juice Squeeze drinks there.

Tour Nick Gray

Northern California Tour 2020
Field Trip - October 14-16

Explore the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape as we learn about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.

All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. Tour participants will get an on-site update of Oroville Dam spillway repairs.

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Blog: Groundwater governance Q&A with Anita Milman

An expert in water governance, Anita Milman’s research focuses on understanding the interplay of technical, institutional and social dimensions of water within governance processes. … Below, Milman discusses keys to successful groundwater governance, implications toward achieving water security and her research activities at Stanford. 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California water czar seeks resource collaboration, not combat

For E. Joaquin Esquivel, California has made great strides in fighting climate change and transitioning to a cleaner energy sector. Now, he said, it’s water’s turn. “Water, I think, is ready for that moment,” said Esquivel, the chairman of the California State Water Resources Control Board who took over from longtime chair Felicia Marcus in February.

Aquafornia news Woodland Daily Democrat

UC Cooperative Extension survey results on cannabis cultivation

A UC Cooperative Extension survey of California registered and unregistered marijuana growers will help researchers, policymakers and the public better understand growing practices since cannabis sales, possession and cultivation first became legal for recreational use.

Aquafornia news The New Republic

Give rivers legal rights

Giving legal rights to a river helps compensate for the fact that the rights of those living along it are frequently being violated. Even with all the executive orders and legislation on the books, companies exploiting the environment rarely pay for its destruction in the way local communities do.

Aquafornia news National Law Review

California water permit warnings for commercial cannabis farmers

Although the Water Board made clear that they are not, at this time, issuing notices of violation, the letters serve as a shot across the bow to an industry that is beginning to appreciate the importance of compliance with environmental regulations and portends more significant enforcement efforts in the near future.

Aquafornia news Capital Press

Appeals court dismisses Klamath groundwater dispute

The Oregon Court of Appeals won’t resolve a dispute over the impact of Klamath basin wells on surface waters due to newly imposed regulations in the area. The appellate court has dismissed the case because it’s moot and unworthy of review after the Oregon water regulators adopted different rules governing surface water interference from wells in the Upper Klamath basin earlier this year.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Conflict, questions surface around $3 million water deal in Ventura County

Back in May, the board of the Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency unanimously agreed to pay the United Water Conservation District for about 15,000 acre-feet of water. Officials said the relatively low-cost release would help recharge aquifers still struggling after years of drought. That much was clear. Other details were more murky.

Aquafornia news National Public Radio

Tribe gives personhood to Klamath River

A Native American tribe has granted personhood to a river in northern California making it the first known River in North America to have the same legal rights as a human, at least under tribal law. The Yurok Tribe based near the southern border of Oregon confirmed the new status on the Klamath River.

Aquafornia news Marijuana Business Daily

California water board sends warnings to cannabis growers

The California Water Boards sent at least 270 letters to farmers in the Emerald Triangle, warning them to come into compliance with regulations or face possible fines and even the loss of their cultivation licenses.

Aquafornia news High Country News

Tribe: The Klamath River now has the legal rights of a person

In essence, the Yurok resolution means that if the river is harmed, a case can be made in Yurok tribal court to remedy the problem. Currently, says Yurok Tribe General Counsel Amy Cordalis, laws like the Clean Water or Endangered Species acts can be used to protect rivers by addressing symptoms of problems like diseased fish or pollution. But the Yurok resolution seeks to address the river’s problems directly and holistically, including the impacts of climate change.

Aquafornia news Needles Desert Star

Free water available for areas of Needles with prior perfected rights

Free water is available to Needles residents who happen to live in one of the areas the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has determined to have earned prior perfected water rights (PPR): Well-drilling, pumping, piping and treating not included. Neighbors within an area must agree on an equitable plan for distribution of the water.

Aquafornia news Santa Barbara Independent

Steelhead win landmark victory

By any reckoning, the steelhead trout won a significant legal victory this week, along with CalTrout and the Environmental Defense Center, which have been arguing the case for two decades. But it remains uncertain exactly how much more water will have to be released downstream from Lake Cachuma to create a habitat wet enough along the main stem of the Santa Ynez River for the federally endangered fish to wage a meaningful comeback.

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council

Blog: Freshwater flows, reduced diversions help abate toxic algae

When water is diverted from rivers, the remaining water moves more slowly and warms more easily. Algae and bacteria thrive in warm, stagnant water and are more likely to grow in excess, increasing the chances of a HAB event.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Study: Inadequate groundwater for current and potential demands in basin targeted by Las Vegas

There is not enough water to support important wetlands and springs in a semi-arid desert ecosystem that straddles the Nevada-Utah border if all permitted and proposed groundwater rights are put to use, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study of the Snake Valley. There also may not be enough groundwater to satisfy the desires of the Las Vegas area, whose water agencies have eyed the valley for decades…

Aquafornia news Victorville Daily Press

Homeowners criticize Mojave Water Agency water rights purchase

The Mojave Water Agency’s purchase of $5.6 million in water rights for nearly 7,200 acre-feet of water has angered a group of property owners who say were outbid for the rights.

Aquafornia news The New Republic

Opinion: The water wars are here

Heather Hansman’s new book Downriver: Into the Future of Water in the West explores the water emergency with remarkable calm and even-handedness. She focuses on a single river, the Green River, where ranchers, frackers, rafters, fishermen, and urbanites all fight for their share of the water, while contending with Byzantine state policies.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Panel discussion: Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta legal framework: ‘All the acronyms you need to know’

At the Association of California Water Agencies‘ spring conference, a panel of lawyers covered the basics of the legal framework for the Delta. The panel was billed as ‘All the Acronyms You Need to Know”, but no 1.5 hour panel discussion could possibly cover all that. However, the panel did a good job of hitting the main ones and highlighting current issues.

Announcement

Save The Dates For Next Year’s Water 101 Workshop and Lower Colorado River Tour
Applications for 2020 Water Leaders class will be available by the first week of October

Dates are now set for two key Foundation events to kick off 2020 — our popular Water 101 Workshop, scheduled for Feb. 20 at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, and our Lower Colorado River Tour, which will run from March 11-13.

In addition, applications will be available by the first week of October for our 2020 class of Water Leaders, our competitive yearlong program for early to mid-career up-and-coming water professionals. To learn more about the program, check out our Water Leaders program page.

Aquafornia news Woodland Daily Democrat

Woodland banking surplus winter water for use during summer

Woodland is sitting atop what is essentially an underground reservoir containing millions of gallons of freshwater. And for much of the past three years, the city has been banking excess water during the winter months to use during the summer when it isn’t allowed to make withdrawals from the Sacramento River.

Aquafornia news ScienceDaily

A new way to measure how water moves

A new method to measure pore structure and water flow is described in a study published in the journal Water Resources Research. With it, scientists should be able to more accurately determine how fast water, contaminants, nutrients and other liquids move through the soil — and where they go.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

California Water Law Symposium: An overview of California water rights

At the 2019 California Water Law Symposium, Professor Dave Owen from UC Hastings gave the following overview presentation of California water rights, including types of water rights, governing agencies, and sources of regulatory authority, as well as a brief overview of the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Aquafornia news One Truckee River

Blog: The importance of Pyramid Lake water quality

There are a lot of reasons our watershed is unique. It’s a high elevation terminal watershed, what could be more special? Well, another contributing factor is that the terminus of the Truckee River watershed exists on the largest Native American Reservation in Nevada.

Aquafornia news Denver Post

Colorado River water rights debated as climate change depletes supply

Rocky Mountain water managers worried about climate-driven depletion across the Colorado River Basin are mulling a “grand bargain” that would overhaul obligations among seven southwestern states for sharing the river’s water. This reflects rising concerns that dry times could turn disastrous.

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Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Lessons Australia’s water reform offers in science, politics and sustainable watersheds

The successes and failures of Australia’s recent reform of the Murray-Darling Basin hold valuable lessons for policy makers in California and elsewhere who are likely to grapple with the environmental repercussions of extreme drought in the future.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Judge denies motion in Agua Caliente vs. Coachella Valley water agencies case

A U.S. District Court judge has denied a motion from the federal government to reconsider a ruling on the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians’ lawsuit against two Coachella Valley water agencies.

Aquafornia news The News-Review

Roseburg Forest Products settles water dispute with Weed, California

The Superior Court of California in the County of Siskiyou said the company owns the exclusive right to divert and use 4.07 cubic feet per second of Beaughan Springs water and the City of Weed acknowledged that it has no ownership interest in the water and agreed to end all claims to the water rights.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Business Journal

Cadiz enters hemp business

With its long-awaited water project encountering yet another delay, Los Angeles water developer Cadiz Inc. is turning to a new cash crop for its desert land holdings: hemp production.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Newsom signs bill requiring further environmental review for Cadiz project

A bill signed Wednesday evening by Gov. Gavin Newsom will require Cadiz Inc.’s Mojave Desert groundwater pumping project to undergo further review to show it will not harm the surrounding environment. … It requires the State Lands Commission to determine that projects involving the transfer of water from a groundwater basin won’t adversely impact the surrounding environment.

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Aquafornia news PasadenaNow.com

JPL researchers win Presidential Early Career Awards

John Reager is being honored for his work on the GRACE mission, studying Earth’s water cycle by measuring groundwater, floods and drought. This helps him and his colleagues study how extremes of water vary with time and climate change.

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Editorial: Getting it right on water rights

If credibility were measured like rainfall, the Trump administration would be in the midst of a prolonged drought — as evidenced most recently in its handling of plans to send more water to California’s Central Valley.

Aquafornia news KBAK

Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water District launching water market pilot program

The newly formed water market would create a place where farmers in the Rosedale district can buy and sell water based on their needs. So if one farmer has too much for his crops in a certain year, he’d be able to sell it on the market to another who might not have enough.

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

Blog: Trinity River restoration project a collaborative success

During a recent trip to the Trinity River, I learned about the many challenges facing its salmon and steelhead populations. … But there is hope and evidence of progress in realizing ecological benefits of the past. A holistic approach to habitat restoration doesn’t rely on a single silver bullet solution, but applies a comprehensive set of actions that rely on collaboration between local tribes, federal and state agencies, and local government agencies…

Aquafornia news St. George News

Army Corps of Engineers grants extension for Lake Powell Pipeline plans

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has granted Utah a 30-day extension to provide desired documentation and plans related to the Lake Powell Pipeline, according to state water officials.

Aquafornia news KCLU

Santa Barbara County reaches settlement with water company over creek water diversion

Santa Barbara County prosecutors say they’ve reached a settlement with a small private water district over claims it was diverting water from a creek without proper permits. The action involved the Montecito Creek Water Company. It has limited water rights for Hot Springs Creek. But, State Fish and Wildlife officials say the water company didn’t have a permit to divert water.

Aquafornia news Forbes

The importance of groundwater and of predicting human impacts on it

Water hidden beneath the earth’s surface comprises 98% of the planet’s fresh water. On average, this groundwater provides a third of all total water consumed… Before we even start to improve groundwater management, we must better understand and measure it, says international groundwater expert Craig Simmons, from Flinders University in Adelaide.

Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

National relevance of takings case reflected in Monday hearing in D.C.

A longtime court case involving the shutoff of water to multiple water users in the Klamath Basin in 2001 attracted wide-ranging attention from Pacific Northwest-based organizations and those within the legal community in Washington, D.C. Nearly 90 minutes of oral arguments were heard Monday at the U.S. Court of Appeals at the Federal Circuit.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Friday Top of the Scroll: California lawmakers seek to slow desert water project

A project to pump billions of gallons of water out from under the Mojave Desert and sell it to people in Southern California could be slowed by a bill approved for the first time on Thursday by the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

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Aquafornia news The Conversation

Blog: Western states buy time with a 7-year Colorado River drought plan, but face a hotter, drier future

The plan is historic: It acknowledges that southwestern states need to make deep water use reductions – including a large share from agriculture, which uses over 70% of the supply – to prevent Colorado River reservoirs from declining to critically low levels. But it also has serious shortcomings. It runs for less than a decade. And its name suggests a response to a temporary problem.

Aquafornia news San Diego County Water Authority

Blog: Study to assess regional pipeline for delivering Colorado River water

A new study will explore the viability of a regional pipeline to transfer water from the Colorado River to benefit multiple users in San Diego County and across the Southwest. The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors approved funds for the two-year study at its June 27 Board meeting.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Pure Water Monterey in default on agreement after missing Monday deadline

Pure Water Monterey, the highly touted recycled water project, is in default on a water purchase agreement with California American Water after failing to meet a Monday deadline for delivering potable water even as the project’s costs rise amid the delay.

Aquafornia news High Country News

Renegotiating the Columbia River Treaty, six decades later

The original treaty was implemented before the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act, the 1973 Endangered Species Act and a host of legal shifts that bolstered Indigenous rights… These hallmarks of change emphasize the need to include environmental protection and equity in an updated treaty.

Aquafornia news Denver Post

Reservoirs planned near Denver would divert South Platte water

Colorado officials are planning to build multiple large reservoirs on the prairie northeast of Denver to capture more of the South Platte River’s Nebraska-bound water, then pump it back westward to booming metro suburbs struggling to wean themselves off dwindling underground aquifers.

Aquafornia news Sierra Magazine

Blog: New maps show how groundwater affects lakes and rivers

Researchers have mapped the impact of groundwater pumping on surface water in individual watersheds before. But it’s only recently that computing power has improved enough to look at groundwater’s interaction with surface water, known as integrated modeling, on a scale as large as the United States.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Mexican waters eyed as source to save California’s Salton Sea

From sea to shining sea may take on a new meaning in California, as state officials are reviewing billion dollar plans to import water from Mexico’s Sea of Cortez to help raise water levels at the Salton Sea.

Aquafornia news Cronkite News-Arizona PBS

Navajo, Hualapai water-rights bills get warm reception in House hearing

Tribal leaders urged House lawmakers Wednesday to support a handful of bills that would guarantee water to their tribes in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico and fund the water treatment plants and pipelines to deliver it.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Editorial: Latest Nestle controversy another case of ‘hurry up and wait’

When it comes to Nestle Corp.’s harvesting of spring water for bottling from the nearby San Bernardino National Forest, it always seems that any final resolution of this long-running controversy is always somewhere in the future.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Seeking more water, Silicon Valley eyes Central Valley farmland

The largest water agency in Silicon Valley has been secretly negotiating to purchase a sprawling cattle ranch in Merced County that sits atop billions of gallons of groundwater, a move that could create a promising new water source — or spark a political battle between the Bay Area and Central Valley farmers.

Aquafornia news Legal Planet

Blog: Making key policy decisions in advance of droughts

It’s hard to respond effectively to a crisis when you don’t have clearly defined priorities. This is true for sudden-onset crises, like floods and wildfires, and also for slow-onset crises, like droughts.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Water-rights dispute between Fallbrook, Camp Pendleton ends after nearly 70 years

After 68 years of litigation and more than a half-century of settlement talks, a dispute between the water district that serves Fallbrook and Camp Pendleton has officially ended. The agreement settles a lawsuit filed in 1951 and lays out how the Fallbrook Public Utility District and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton will share water rights to the Santa Margarita River.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

As Nevada legislators weigh changes to water law, litigation and the pipeline loom

In the ceaseless conflict over how to use the state’s available water — and maybe then some — a varied group of water users and lawmakers sang a refrain older than Nevada: “Everyone is going to court in the end.” … The ghosts of litigation — past, present and future — loomed over the Thursday Senate Natural Resources Committee hearing that stretched until 8 p.m. and offered insight into why it’s so difficult to update Nevada water law.

Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

Regulation headed for Upper Klamath Lake tributaries, Wood River

Oregon Water Resources Department is in the process of validating a call on Upper Klamath Lake tributaries, including the Wood River, filed by senior water right holders — the Klamath Tribes — on April 18. … Water users that irrigate can call the watermaster’s office if they believe someone with a junior water right to theirs is irrigating with water that should be coming to them.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: Newsom administration is getting closer to water deals

With the administration’s leadership, representatives of farmers, cities and conservation groups are having productive negotiations on a complex package of actions that would increase river flows and improve fish habitats, collectively called a “voluntary agreement.” A possible final agreement is months away, but we are making progress.

Aquafornia news Legal Planet

Blog: Developing a decision-support framework for curtailment

What happens when there is not enough surface water to go around in a watershed? California water rights law says that certain water users must curtail their water diversions — in other words, reduce the amount of water they divert or stop diverting water altogether. … But following water right priorities is not always straightforward, and other aspects of state and federal law complicate the picture …

Aquafornia news The Ukiah Daily Journal

Coalition in Mendocino County forming to acquire Potter Valley Project

In Ukiah Thursday, at least two dozen people who depend on the Potter Valley Project for their farming operations gathered at the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds to hear an update on the facility’s future. “New information to come shortly, and a lot of work still to do,” said Janet Pauli, chairwoman of the Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission, a Joint Powers Authority that is exploring the possibility of acquiring the facility that Pacific Gas and Electric owns, but has essentially abandoned.

Aquafornia news The Harvard Crimson

Opinion: Harvard’s investment in land and natural resources

For rural communities in the central coast region of California, the name “Harvard” does not connote excellence. For these communities, where water is scarce and becoming scarcer, it evokes greed and exploitation. As California takes its first steps to regulate groundwater in the midst of a worsening water crisis, Harvard’s endowment fund is investing millions into vineyards that pump inordinate amounts of water from California’s critically overdrafted groundwater basins.

Aquafornia news KJZZ

Hualapai hopes water settlement finally happens this Congress

To get access to Colorado River water, the tribe is hoping its federal water settlement will finally become law. Earlier this month, Arizona’s congressional delegation sponsored another settlement bill after similar efforts in 2017 and 2016. If a water rights settlement became law, the Hualapai Tribe would get 4,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water each year.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: A little-known company is quietly making massive water deals

In the past several years, Los Angeles-based Renewable Resources Group has helped sell 33,000 acres of land to California’s most powerful water agency, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Documents obtained by Voice of San Diego raise fresh questions about those deals. Now, Renewable may be working on another deal that could rearrange the distribution of water in California forever.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Federal district judge rules in favor of water agencies on latest issues in Agua Caliente litigation

Earlier this month, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California issued a decision … finding that the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians lacked standing to seek adjudication of its claim to quantification of its reserved groundwater right and its claim regarding groundwater quality.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Calistoga prevails in $10M, decade-long water rights suit

A multi-million dollar lawsuit filed against Calistoga over water rights has been dismissed on appeal. The California Court of Appeal on April 29 rejected Debbie R. O’Gorman’s $10 million lawsuit against the city,

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Newsom says he has a fresh approach to California’s longtime water woes

At first blush, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest action on water seems fanciful and naive. But it has logic and conceivably could work. Newsom wants to reexamine practically everything the state has been working on — meaning what former Gov. Jerry Brown was doing — and piece together a grand plan for California’s future that can draw the support of longtime water warriors.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Few details in Newsom’s water policy directive

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday ordered key state agencies to develop a blueprint for meeting California’s 21st-century water needs in the face of climate change.The executive order includes few details and doesn’t appear to set a dramatic new water course for the state. Rather, it reaffirms Newsom’s intentions to downsize the controversial twin tunnels project in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, use voluntary agreements to meet new river flow requirements and provide clean drinking water to impoverished communities.

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Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Federal official blocks water for Walker Lake restoration, conservation group alleges

A federal official is attempting to “obstruct” the flow of water to restore habitat at Walker Lake, the conservancy responsible for administering federal restoration funds alleged in District Court last week. After years of litigation, lawyers for the Walker Basin Conservancy said that “at some point, the court must put a stop to the federal water master’s obstruction.” The receding desert lake outside of Hawthorne is fed by the Walker River, which rises in California and snakes through Western Nevada.

Aquafornia news Valley News

Santa Ana River watermaster celebrates 50 years of cooperation and collaboration

In Riverside County, right along the Santa Ana River, local leaders and community members came together to commemorate 50 years of peace along the River. Nearly 100 people celebrated two 1969 court judgments for the water rights of the Santa Ana River that are still in place.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Bill passes to reduce Administrative Hearings Office’s reliance on the Water Rights Fund

Importantly for the water rights community, SB 454 will reduce the financial burden on the existing Water Rights Fund caused by the establishment of the Hearings Office. As the laws and budget are currently structured, the Water Rights Fund is the primary source of financial support for the Hearings Office. The Water Rights Fund is supported by fees paid by water rights holders, some of whom might never utilize the Hearings Office.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Court limits landmark tribal groundwater case

A California court has sided with a Southern California water district in a high-stakes case with a Native American tribe over access to groundwater.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

IID sues to halt Colorado River drought plan, says officials ignored Salton Sea

The petition, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges violations of the California Environmental Quality Act by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and names the Coachella Valley, Palo Verde and Needles water districts as well. It asks the court to suspend the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan until a thorough environmental analysis has been completed.

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Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Opinion: Fishy reasoning behind the state’s Stanislaus River water grab

Farmers, by trade, are experts in sustainability and by extension common sense. Growers along with 1.5 million Northern San Joaquin Valley residents could end up on the receiving end of an economic Armageddon perpetuated by the state Department of Water Resources on behalf of the threatened Chinook salmon.

Aquafornia news KUNC

In Colorado River’s final hundred miles, small signs of life return

Zig-zagging around us, among the trees, is a sprawling network of irrigation ditches. It’s almost laid out like a farm. Instead of the food crops grown all around this site, Schlatter’s team grows trees and willows, prime habitat for birds, coyotes, frogs and other wildlife. The whole site only receives water a couple times a year.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

California Water Commission: Using flood water for managed aquifer recharge

“Flood-MAR” is a resource management strategy that uses flood water for managed aquifer recharge (MAR) on agricultural lands, working landscapes, and managed natural landscapes. At the March meeting of the California Water Commission, a panel discussed Flood MAR with a focus on using agricultural lands for groundwater recharge.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Rapid urbanization increasing pressure on rural water supplies globally

An international team of researchers has carried out the first systematic global review of water reallocation from rural to urban regions—the practice of transferring water from rural areas to cities to meet demand from growing urban populations. … The study, published in Environmental Research Letters, found North America and Asia are hotspots for rural-to-urban water reallocation,

Aquafornia news Sierra Sun Times

Central Valley assemblymember calls out Water Board for claim that contaminating drinking water in disadvantaged communities is not “significant”

Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) ripped the State Water Resources Control Board on Tuesday for arguing that the harm caused by the Bay-Delta Plan to the drinking water of disadvantaged communities is not “significant”. Gray’s comments came as his legislation, Assembly Bill 637, cleared the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee with bipartisan support.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Opinion: It’s time to push the pause button on the Cadiz water project

Cadiz says that the aquifer refills at the rate of 32,000 acre feet per year (not 50,000); but, renowned scientists working with the United States Geological Survey and the National Park Service say the refill rate is more like 2,000 to 10,000 acre feet per year — at least 40,000 acre feet per year less than the Cadiz plan. The math just doesn’t add up.

Tour Nick Gray

Central Valley Tour 2020
Field Trip - September 30 - October 2

Venture through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country. 

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Assemblyman Todd Gloria holds “inaugural dialogue” with Mexican officials on Tijuana water pollution

Officials met in Imperial Beach Friday to discuss the sewage pollution that continues to plague South Bay shorelines — shuttering beaches more than 100 days every year. The event was billed as an “inaugural dialogue,” which in the future will include a host of other binational issues, including climate change and commerce.

Aquafornia news Highland Community News

Opinion: Rain, like a tax refund, should be banked for the future

Our predecessors settled in a valley bordered by mountains that increase the rainfall and help store water as melted snow underground. They also experienced drought and, in response, they thoughtfully set aside thousands of acres of land needed to capture and replenish the primary source of the water they needed, underground.

Aquafornia news Aspen Journalism

Fact fuses with fiction at Phoenix water meeting

On the first morning of a water conference in downtown Phoenix on Friday, an academic expert spoke of aridification in the Colorado River basin due to the ill effects of humans burning fossil fuels. After dinner, a writer of vivid predictive fiction spoke about his book “The Water Knife,” which describes Phoenix in a dusty and water-starved river basin, in the not-so-distant future.

Aquafornia news Siskiyou Daily News

Lawsuits seek to stymie Crystal Geyser

Crystal Geyser initially announced its intention to open the facility to bottle fruit juices with much fanfare in 2013. However, legal challenges have so far foiled its plans. The Winnemem Wintu Tribe and WATER (We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review) have filed two lawsuits to prevent the project, both of which are moving through the court system.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Friday Top of the Scroll: Harder asks EPA for close review of Delta Plan

Political leaders from the valley are urging the Environmental Protection Agency to closely scrutinize new water quality standards proposed for the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta. … “The State Water Resources Control Board’s proposal to the EPA misses the mark,” said Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, who joined almost a dozen congressmen, including conservatives Kevin McCarthy and Tom McClintock, in sending a letter to the EPA.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Legal Planet

Blog: Actions to improve California water rights administration and oversight for future droughts

This post provides an overview of our recommendations for actions the State Water Resources Control Board can take before, during, and after droughts to make water rights administration and oversight more timely, fair, and effective. … Here are five actions the Board can take to build on past gains and its institutional knowledge from past drought experiences:

Aquafornia news Lexology

Blog: Cannabis growers and investors: Be sure of your water rights

The California State Water Resources Control Board adopted a complex policy essentially treating cannabis as a crop inferior to other traditional agricultural crops from a water rights perspective. Other states have not made such a strong policy choice yet, but will certainly be faced with how to address this influx of permit applications, and will feel pressure from farmers of traditional crops, who do not always welcome cannabis growers with open arms.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Opinion: Water board staff tries end run around negotiations

When the State Water Resources Control Board voted in December to adopt the Bay-Delta Plan, its members ignored the direction of former Governor Brown and current Governor Newsom to pursue voluntary agreements with our irrigation districts. Many saw this as an act of defiance by former Chair Felicia Marcus, the executive director, and many of the activist staff.

Aquafornia news KQED Forum

Former water board chair Felicia Marcus on lessons learned from California drought, water wars

Felicia Marcus, who stepped down as Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board early this year, joins us to discuss California’s water challenges, what the state learned from the recent drought and the future of its water wars.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Farmers welcome federal agencies’ suits on flows plan

Now that the federal government has filed its own lawsuits against an unimpaired-flows plan for San Joaquin River tributaries, farmers and other parties to the lawsuits wait to learn where they will be heard–and prepare for a lengthy court battle. California Farm Bureau Federation … filed its own lawsuit against the unimpaired-flows plan in February…

Aquafornia news Western City Magazine

California’s public trust doctrine draws attention in the courts

Modern interpretations of the public trust are said to have originated from a sixth-century Roman law that asserted, “[b]y the law of nature these things are common to mankind — the air, running water, the sea and consequently the shores of the sea.”

Aquafornia news East Bay Times

Antioch approves $10 million grant for desalination plant

Antioch’s plan to build a long-awaited brackish desalination plant got a major boost this week when the City Council officially accepted a $10 million state grant that will pay toward design and construction. The city’s grant was one of three statewide to be awarded in March 2018 from the Department of Water Resources for desalination projects under Proposition 1…

Aquafornia news The Ukiah Daily Journal

Mendocino County water district gets $3 million USDA loan

The Millview County Water District will receive a $3 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development program to help secure access to its wells. According to the USDA, the money will be used to help the water district “purchase property to gain access to its water source. Currently, Millview does not own the water rights to the four well sites, making it difficult to service the wells if there are any issues with them, such as contamination.”

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