Topic: Water Rights


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 SJV Water

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Water transfers helped farmers survive this year. Now, all eyes are on the coming water year

Water transfers, trades and sales doubled this year as drought left San Joaquin Valley farmers scrambling for supplies. … [Sam Boland-Brien, program manager at the State Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Water Rights] said he’s seen about twice the amount of transfers this year compared to an average water year. 

Aquafornia news Fort Bragg Advocate-News

Drought on Mendocino Coast: State Water Board amends curtailment orders to expedite water deliveries

To expedite the delivery of much-needed drinking water to coastal Mendocino County residents whose wells have gone dry, the California State Water Resources Control Board has amended its previous curtailment orders to allow the city of Ukiah to draw water from the Russian River for emergency supplies. 

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Fresno County CA towns unable to solve drinking water crisis

The longer it takes for two new wells to be dug in Cantua Creek and El Porvenir in western Fresno County, the deeper in debt the towns are mired. Now, with the drought, those well projects are in a race against dropping groundwater levels as farmers, cut off from surface water supplies, are leaning more heavily on the aquifer. The well projects started in 2018 and aren’t scheduled to be completed until sometime next year.

Aquafornia news NPR

Tensions over use of Klamath River basin’s water were magnified by drought

Many rely on the Klamath River Basin on the California border, especially with the historic drought in the West. Things got heated this summer between the area’s tribes and ranchers. … Over the past week, our colleagues over at The Indicator have been reporting on the historic drought in the West. They spent some time with ranchers on the front lines, including the Klamath River Basin. Sally Herships and Ashley Ahearn report.

Aquafornia news CA Water Boards

News release: State Water Board approves emergency curtailment regulation for Scott and Shasta Rivers

With climate change-induced drought causing critical low flows in the Scott and Shasta Rivers and threatening the survival of multiple fish species, the State Water Resources Control Board today approved an emergency curtailment regulation that includes measures to help maintain minimum flows to protect fish, ensure supplies for human health and livestock needs, and encourage voluntary efforts that may be used in lieu of curtailments.

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Aquafornia news Riverbank News

Irrigation districts join in State Water Board lawsuit

The Oakdale and South San Joaquin Irrigation Districts have joined in a lawsuit challenging the State Water Resources Control Board’s authority to prevent the two water agencies from diverting and storing Stanislaus River runoff in Donnells, Beardsley, New Melones and Tulloch Reservoirs. The state water board, in an emergency drought order issued Aug. 20, declared that OID, SSJID and 4,500 other water rights holders in California must immediately stop diverting water due to unprecedented drought conditions.

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Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

After a dry year, water flows to Lower Klamath Wildlife Refuge

For over a century, the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge has been crucial habitat for birds on their grueling annual migrations between destinations as distant as Alaska and Mexico. … For years, the refuge has been last in line for scarce water, after farmers and endangered fish. As the drought deepened and wetlands dried out, the lack of water led to massive outbreaks of avian botulism, killing tens of thousands of ducks, geese swans and other migratory water birds. … Last week, that water started flowing into the refuge.

Aquafornia news El Paso Matters

Western rivers and the binational climate challenge

Both the Rio Grande and Colorado rivers shrunk in 2021, another bad water year in a two-decade megadrought brought on by a warming Western United States.  Demands on the rivers — from growing cities, agriculture, wildlife and international treaties — are hitting the reality of a reduced supply of water in both rivers. In August, federal officials declared the first-ever shortage on the Colorado River lower basin, triggering a plan to reduce water usage in several states and Mexico.

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Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

State’s curtailment orders draw lawsuits from Modesto-area water users and San Francisco

The state’s curtailment of river diversions has drawn lawsuits from eight irrigation districts in and near Stanislaus County, along with San Francisco.  The three filings claim that the State Water Resources Control Board exceeded its authority with the Aug. 20 orders. The plaintiffs also said they did not get enough chance beforehand to make their cases for continued diversions.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Growers hope groundwater markets provide flexibility

Some San Joaquin Valley farmers could someday have a new “crop” to sell —  their groundwater. In the face of looming groundwater pumping restrictions, some groundwater agencies are looking at internal markets to give growers a way to save water and still earn a profit.

Aquafornia news The Mendocino Voice

Ukiah plans to resume drawing water from Russian River to help coast

The city of Ukiah has been relying primarily on groundwater, recycled water and conservation to get through the drought and hasn’t been exercising its right to water from the Russian River, which is experiencing historic low flows. That’s about to change now that the city has agreed to help the coast through the drought.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Judge blocks California county water truck ban to Asian pot farmers

A federal judge has blocked a Northern California county’s ban on trucks delivering water to Hmong cannabis farmers, saying it raises “serious questions” about racial discrimination and leaves the growers without a source of water for basic sanitation, vegetable gardens and livestock. On Friday, Chief U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller issued a temporary injunction against Siskiyou County’s prohibition on trucked-in water deliveries to Hmong farmers growing marijuana in the Mount Shasta Vista subdivision in the Big Springs area north of Weed.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Judge blocks Siskiyou County from cutting off water to South Asian immigrants in rural California

A federal judge on Friday temporarily blocked a Northern California county from enforcing water permit laws aimed at cracking down on illegal marijuana farms, finding the restrictions might be intended to drive a minority Asian community out of their homes. … Siskiyou County passed two ordinances in May 2021 requiring permits to extract and move groundwater off site and to transport water by truck.

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Aquafornia news Herald and News

Water arrives to Lower Klamath Refuge

The Bureau of Reclamation began releasing water from the Klamath River to Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge on Friday afternoon. Advocates hope it will improve wetland habitat on the refuge for migrating birds this fall.  Last week, California Waterfowl Association officially purchased approximately 3,750 acre-feet of water from Agency Ranch in the Wood River Valley, above Upper Klamath Lake, having announced the purchase and fundraising effort this spring. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: How drought, climate change impact California almond agriculture

First came the asparagus field. Then came the melons. And now Joe Del Bosque is considering the unthinkable: tearing out a sprawling almond orchard bursting with healthy, nut-producing trees. … Two decades of almost unrelenting growth vaulted almonds into the upper ranks of California agriculture. Now, though, the state’s $6 billion-a-year industry is being humbled by a devastating drought. Farmers have slowed the pace of new orchard plantings and, in a few cases, have plowed up trees still capable of bearing almonds.

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Aquafornia news jfleck at inkstain

Blog: Tradeoffs (in Colorado River management)

This morning’s operations missive from the federal-state-local Middle Rio Grande operations group (by “Middle” here we mean central New Mexico) notes a release of ~100 cubic feet per second of imported San Juan-Chama Project water for environmental flows, an effort to help the struggling Rio Grande silvery minnow. SJC water is removed from the Colorado River Basin in the San Juan mountains of southern Colorado, through a series of tunnels beneath the continental divide, for use in the Rio Grande Basin. 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Opinion: A test for California’s groundwater regulations in the megadrought

Record dry conditions once again in the West have led the federal and state governments to declare water supply shortages. California’s governor has declared that 50 counties, in which approximately 41% of the state’s population exists, are now under a drought state of emergency. This prompted the adoption of emergency regulations ordering water rights holders to curtail their water diversions on numerous northern California rivers.

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Aquafornia news Tahoe Weekly

Reclamation Act transforms water rights for Lake Tahoe, Truckee River

In January 1900, Nevada Congressman Francis Newlands sponsored a measure for the federal government to provide water for irrigation in arid regions throughout the western United States. The bill ran into resistance from politicians concerned about giving up state control of water to the federal government, but ultimately the most contentious issues were resolved and the law passed. 

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

‘Wonderful’: Tooleville relieved in state’s force for water consolidation

Last week, the State Water Board finally intervened in the unincorporated area of Tooleville’s 20-year struggle to obtain the basic human right to clean drinking water with a letter to the city of Exeter and the Tooleville Mutual Nonprofit Water Association, giving the two parties six months to hash out terms for a voluntary consolidation of Tooleville to Exeter’s water system or face a mandatory order with much less cooperation.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California water suppliers cast 1st challenge to strict drought rules

Freshly cut off from their chief water supply, a group of California water agencies in one of the state’s most fertile farming areas sued on Wednesday to freeze the latest round of emergency drought rules. In a lawsuit filed in Sacramento County Superior Court, the suppliers argue they were denied due process when state regulators ordered thousands of landowners last month to cease diversions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta due to drought conditions.

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Aquafornia news Colorado Mesa University

New research: New report on interstate water compact lessons for Colorado

As a headwaters state, Colorado has many interstate compacts that set rules for how the state must share the rivers that originate within its borders with downstream states. On several of these rivers, water users have had to modify their water use to meet compact requirements. That day may be coming for the Colorado River.  A new report explores what Colorado River water users can learn from experiences with compact administration on other rivers.

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Aquafornia news The Ukiah Daily Journal

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: City of Ukiah preparing to send water to the Mendocino coast

After the Ukiah City Council held a special meeting Monday, City of Ukiah officials announced Tuesday that they are preparing to deliver water to coastal communities such as the village of Mendocino. In a press release, Deputy City Manger said that the city staff are “working out planning, contracts and logistics to begin delivering water supplies by truck to coastal areas of Mendocino County.”

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Fact sheet: California’s water market

In California’s water market, buyers and sellers trade water through short- and long-term leases as well as permanent sales of their water rights. Trading enhances flexibility in water management.

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Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

San Luis Valley water: Drought, climate change and diversion plans

They all remember when the San Luis Valley brimmed with water. South of San Luis, Ronda Lobato raced the rising floodwaters in San Francisco Creek every spring to fill sandbags that protected her grandparents’ farm.  North of Center, potato farmer Sheldon Rockey faced so much spring mud that he had to learn to extract his stuck tractor.  Outside Monte Vista, Tyler Mitchell needed only a hand shovel on the family farm near Monte Vista to reach shallow underground flows in the Valley’s once-abundant water table.

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Aquafornia news Colorado Politics

Opinion: Feds encroach on state water rights

The little-known federal Bureau of Reclamation just made history by ordering some state governments to cut back their usage of water on the Colorado River due to a historic drought affecting the river basin. As a proud Coloradan, I was alarmed to see this unprecedented announcement since it signals the start of a new era of increased heavy-handedness in the federal government’s management of state matters.
-Written by Laura Williamson, political writer and a contributor for Young Voices.  

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Lower Klamath Refuge closer to receiving late summer water

As Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge’s last remaining wetland reduces to a mud puddle, California Waterfowl Association’s efforts to secure a meager supply of water for the refuge have cleared a regulatory hurdle. On Thursday, the Oregon Water Resources Department accepted CWA’s application to transfer several thousand acre-feet of water from a willing Wood River Valley rancher to the refuge’s Unit 2. 

Aquafornia news Western Water

Water-starved Colorado River delta gets another shot of life from the river’s flows

Water is flowing once again to the Colorado River’s delta in Mexico, a vast region that was once a natural splendor before the iconic Western river was dammed and diverted at the turn of the last century, essentially turning the delta into a desert. In 2012, the idea emerged that water could be intentionally sent down the river to inundate the delta floodplain and regenerate native cottonwood and willow trees, even in an overallocated river system. Ultimately, dedicated flows of river water were brokered under cooperative efforts by the U.S. and Mexican governments.

Aquafornia news City News Group, Inc.

‘Valley District’ lowers property tax rate for constituents

After twenty years at or above the current level, the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District Board of Directors voted to lower its property tax rate. Valley District, a wholesale water provider and State Water Contractor, is required to set a property tax rate each fiscal year for the debt service fund on its State Water Contract.

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Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: Understanding people in the face of rapid environmental change

We cannot solve our most pressing environmental and natural resource management challenges with a better understanding of the biophysical environment of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta alone – we need social science. To address our natural resource management challenges, we must build cooperation and collaboration among stakeholders, find a compromise between conflicting interests and values, and face tradeoffs that require hard decisions about whose needs we prioritize.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn | Attorneys at Law

Blog: Delta curtailments update – California State Water Resources Control Board’s emergency regulations are adopted; curtailment orders issued to 4,500 delta water users

As discussed in our July 28, 2021, Policy Alert, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) recently adopted the Draft Emergency Reporting and Curtailment Regulation (Regulation), to authorize curtailments of water diversions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta).  The Regulation was approved by the Office of Administrative Law and became effective on August 19, 2021.

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Aquafornia news AgAlert

Board balances farmers, fish in watershed action

A state drought curtailment regulation, adopted last week for the Klamath River watershed, calls for minimum instream flows but also incorporates potential voluntary actions to achieve water savings to help fish and keep farmers farming. Montague rancher Ryan Walker, president of the Siskiyou County Farm Bureau, said the State Water Resources Control Board took a balanced approach in making its decision.

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Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Proposed north Butte County water district stirring controversy

A proposal for a new Butte County water district is wending its way through the approval process, and not everyone is happy about that. The Tuscan Water District would cover most of the northwestern county, excluding Chico. The area is dependent on well water. Under a recently approved state law, the amount of groundwater currently being pumped in the area will have to be reduced. Each well owner is currently on their own. No entity speaks for them as a group. 

Aquafornia news Congressional Research Service

Report: Management of the Colorado River: water allocations, drought, and the federal role

The Colorado River Basin covers more than 246,000 square miles in seven U.S. states (Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California) and Mexico. Pursuant to federal law, the Bureau of Reclamation (part of the Department of the Interior) manages much of the basin’s water supplies. Colorado River water is used primarily for agricultural irrigation and municipal and industrial (M&I) uses; it is also important for hydropower production, fish and wildlife, and recreational uses. 

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Video - Advancing ecosystem restoration with smarter permitting

California’s ecosystems play an essential role in protecting the state’s water supply, minimizing unwanted flooding, and sequestering carbon—among many other benefits. But the unintended consequences of more than a century of water and land development—compounded by the impacts of a changing climate—are pushing many of these ecosystems to the breaking point. 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Megadrought to pit fish lives against human needs in U.S. West

Water cuts aimed at farmers amid the West’s megadrought have set the stage for bitter legal and political fights over one of the most overlooked water uses—the right of water to remain in streams to sustain fish and endangered species, lawyers say. The drought is poised to call that right into question, pitting drinking water providers and food growers against conservationists who want to keep streams wet so that fish can survive. … The Interior Department’s Bureau of Reclamation this week announced a first-ever water shortage in the Colorado River Basin …

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Monday Top of the Scroll: State orders 4,500 cities, farms to stop drawing river water, including San Francisco

California regulators began cracking down on water use in the sprawling Sacramento River and San Joaquin River watersheds on Friday, ordering 4,500 farmers, water districts and other landowners, including the city of San Francisco, to stop drawing water in the basins — or face penalties of up to $10,000 a day. The move comes as the state slides deeper into an extraordinary two-year drought. Lakes, streams and rivers no longer have enough water for everyone who is taking it, and dwindling supplies must be rationed, state regulators say.

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: Fresno writer remembers watery joys of the past, even as the drought wears her down

As if I’m a thirsty person craving my next drink, I keep thinking about water. I hear the stories. A 20-acre family farm sits fallow. Down the road, another piece of land has the same barren look. Is the problem reasonable crop values or access to water? Likely, a bucket of both.  Fresno averages 11.5 inches of rain per year. Total precipitation from Oct. 1, 2020 to date is 6.59 inches, or 60% of normal — a larger percentage than most parts of the state.  In the canal I floated down as a kid, not a drop of water has flowed all season.
-Written by Danielle R. Shapazian, a nurse and writer who lives in Fresno.  

Aquafornia news Stockholm Environment Institute

New research: A new SEI tool sheds light on one of the world’s most complicated water systems

California policymakers are now able to model reported water use easily and quickly in any basin in the state thanks to a new SEI tool. The tool, developed for the California State Water Resources Control Board, captures data from the Electronic Water Rights Information Management System (eWRIMS). It then analyses the data to provide users with a monthly water use estimate for every water right in any given watershed. The tool, known as the eWRIMS Analyzer, also flags missing and erroneous data.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

AQUAFORNIA BREAKING NEWS – California farmers ordered to slash water use or face big fines

Water regulators on Friday formally ordered thousands of farmers across California to cut back their water use this summer or face fines of up to $10,000 a day. The State Water Resources Control Board began sending formal “curtailment notices” to the holders of 4,500 water rights permits that allow them to pull water from the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and their tributaries.

Aquafornia news Crosscut

Fish struggle to survive as water issues worsen in Klamath Basin

Another dry year is the last thing the suckers need. Two species of the bottom-feeding sucker fish that inhabit the Upper Klamath Lake and nearby rivers are struggling to survive after a century of water management in the Klamath Basin has all but drained the wetlands ecosystem where these fish once thrived. … Now, the suckers are on the brink of extinction. During the past century, wetlands surrounding Upper Klamath Lake were converted to farmland, while waters from the basin were allocated to irrigators.

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Aquafornia news Tahoe Weekly

Opinion: Who owns the water from Lake Tahoe & Truckee River? Part I

Millions of people visit the Tahoe Sierra each year to enjoy and recreate on Lake Tahoe, Donner and Independence lakes, as well as the satellite reservoir system of Boca, Prosser and Stampede. All these storage basins are in California, but since the Truckee River system is part of Great Basin hydrology, none of the streamflow reaches the Pacific Ocean. I frequently get queries, especially during a drought, regarding our regional water management. It seems that few people realize that these reservoirs, including Lake Tahoe, are regulated primarily for Nevada interests.
-Written by Mark McLaughlin, freelance contributor.

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: State Water Board focuses on Valley towns without clean water

It’s very important to lead with your values. That’s exactly what is happening at the California Water Quality Control Board regarding racial equity and environmental justice. … Water is life, and here in the Central Valley, water access is as big an issue here as almost anywhere else on Earth. In California we have a “human right to water” approach that was built into our system when the Legislature passed the Human Right to Water Act.
-Written by Lourin Hubbard, operations manager for the Central Valley Water Quality Control Board.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Public is in the ring in fight over Kern River

It was clear during the first hearing on the Kern River Tuesday that the public has a seat at the table as never before. Tuesday’s hearing was mostly procedural — setting out which issues would be sorted first and how. Permeating the discussion at nearly every turn, however, was the public trust doctrine, which gives the public a right to natural resources, such as a river with actual water in it. 

Aquafornia news Politico

Drought forces first water cuts on the Colorado River. They’re just the beginning

A two-decade-long megadrought along the Colorado River is pushing seven Western states and parts of Mexico into a formal shortage declaration, forcing water delivery cuts to the Southwest that are just the beginning of the pain climate change promises to bring to the region. Climate scientists and water managers have long seen this declaration coming, but what’s alarming them is the speed with which the hot and dry conditions over the past four years have shrunk the river’s two main reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, to levels not seen since they were first filled.

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Aquafornia news Downey Brand LLP

Blog: State Water Board issues emergency regulations for curtailments in Delta watershed

The State Water Resources Control Board (“State Water Board”) issued emergency regulations on August 3, 2021, authorizing Board staff to curtail diversions and require informational reporting from water users in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed (“Delta Emergency Regulations”). The regulations, which are expected to be finalized by the Office of Administrative Law in the coming days, set parameters for information gathering and determination of supply and demand in the watershed as well as the issuance of curtailment orders upon determination of water unavailability. 

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Colorado River shortage will bring water cuts for Arizona farmers

The federal government on Monday declared a first-ever water shortage on the Colorado River, announcing mandatory cutbacks next year that will bring major challenges for Arizona farmers and reduce the water allotments of Nevada and Mexico. The declaration of a shortage by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has been anticipated for months and was triggered by the spiraling decline of Lake Mead, which stores water used by Arizona, Nevada, California and Mexico.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

How California, Oregon have avoided another water rebellion

Anti-government activists seemed primed for a violent clash with federal authorities this summer in the Klamath Basin along the California-Oregon border. The federal Bureau of Reclamation had shut off water for most of the region’s 1,400 farms, denying access to the same irrigation canal in Klamath Falls, Ore., where during a drought two decades earlier, activists tried to pry open its headgates and clashed with U.S. marshals. 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Green

Climate change hits sushi supply chain amid California water war

If you’ve eaten sushi anywhere in the U.S., chances are the rice came from California’s Sacramento Valley. Fritz Durst, a sixth-generation farmer, has grown the grain and other crops there for more than four decades. But this year, amid a historic drought, Durst is planting only half as many acres of rice as usual. … Farmers like Durst would be having an even worse year if it weren’t for water siphoned from the Sacramento River to irrigate fields. Those diversions, though, have dire consequences for another part of the sushi supply chain: The salmon industry. 

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Aquafornia news AgAlert

Delta water cutbacks weigh on farmers

Organic farmer Al Courchesne of Frog Hollow Farm in Brentwood walks through rows of his aromatic stone fruit orchard, showing off sweet nectarines that thrive in the microclimate and rich soils in his corner of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Weighing on his mind is the drought  … Courchesne is among several thousand water rights holders in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta watershed who could have supplies shut off in response to drought emergency curtailment regulations adopted last week by the State Water Resources Control Board.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Salmon need greater share of river water to survive

Amid extreme drought, Gov. Gavin Newsom is asking for statewide conservation of 15%, farmers are facing cutbacks in water deliveries, and a mass die-off of salmon is expected. Drought affects us all, so our response must improve the natural systems that make our water, air and food — our existence — possible. The State Water Resources Control Board has taken the rare drastic step of adopting emergency regulations to curtail diversions of water rights holders when water is not available. 
-Written by Sandi Matsumoto, director of The Nature Conservancy’s California Water Program, and Julie Zimmerman, the lead freshwater scientist at The Nature Conservancy in California.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Local group files papers in fight over Kern River

A new player has entered the legal fray over the Kern River — the public. Actually, it’s a consortium of Bakersfield and other nonprofit, public interest groups that hope to sway the state Water Resources Control Board to, ultimately, re-water the mostly dry Kern River through town. The Flowing Kern Coalition made its debut Tuesday when it filed a notice of intent to appear at an upcoming proceeding on the Kern River.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Blog: West faces catastrophic water and power shortages

Buried in an hours-long State Water Resources Control Board hearing recently was the admission that California experts overestimated the spring inflow by 800,000-acre feet. Put another way, the state banked on water that never came. That admission, coupled with public policy that favors environmental uses of water over human needs, led to California’s recent curtailment of the most senior of water rights – a private property right that once had value in California and threatens to ripple far and wide.

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Aquafornia news jfleck at inkstain

Blog: Sources of controversy in the Law of the River – Larry MacDonnell

As we lumber toward a renegotiation of the operating rules on the Colorado River, one of the challenges folks in basin management face is the differing understandings of the Law of the River. There’s stuff we all know, or think we know, or stuff Lower Basin folks think they know that Upper Basin people may disagree with, and stuff Upper Basin folks think they know that Lower Basin people may disagree with.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation and state of California announces negotiation with Central Valley Project Cross Valley contractors

The Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources announced a public negotiation session with seven Cross Valley contractors on a long-term conveyance contract for delivery of federal Central Valley Project water through state-owned facilities. Reclamation, DWR, and the contractors have previously entered into successive, short-term interim renewal contracts pursuant to the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, which included both federal water service and state conveyance terms and conditions. 

Aquafornia news East Bay Times

California curtails Russian River water rights as Lake Mendocino level drops

In the hopes of having at least 20,000 acre-feet of water remaining in Lake Mendocino by Oct. 1, the California State Water Resources Board this week ordered about 1,500 water rights holders to stop diverting water from the Russian River. However, if the current rate of outflow from the reservoir continues, the lake could reach 20,000 acre-feet by Aug. 23, said Elizabeth Salomone, general manager of the Russian River Flood Control & Water Conservation Improvement District.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Big battle looms over California water rights

California doesn’t have enough water to meet all demands even in wet years, and when drought strikes the competition becomes, to put it mildly, intense. State and federal officials who must ration the restricted supply are beset with pleas from farmers, municipal water systems and advocates for the environment. However, water managers must also contend with a bewildering array of water rights, some of which date to the 19th century, as well as long-standing contractual obligations and laws, both statutes and judicial decrees, on maintaining flows for spawning salmon and other wildlife.
-Written by Dan Walters, CalMatters columnist.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

Young farmers lose hope as drought closes in: ‘It’s like a sad country song’
America’s water crisis

They are land rich and resource poor. Most have hundreds of acres of fertile soil, some thousands, but little money in the bank and – most importantly – no water. Now the young farmers of the Klamath Basin, an agricultural community on the border of Oregon and California, fear they might be the last generation of their kind. … The area has struggled with water scarcity for years – but this year has been unlike any other. Amid a historic drought, in May the federal government cut off all irrigation to farmers for the first time in more than a century…

Aquafornia news Palo Alto Online

Three wealthy water districts consume the lion’s share of local water

The biggest sip of the straw from the Bay Area’s water supply comes from people living in just three water districts: They consume nearly three to four times the amount of water as residents in 23 other municipalities and districts, according to data from the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency, whose member agencies receive most of their potable water from the Hetch Hetchy system.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Thieves are stealing California’s water – watch how it happens

Known for its starry skies, Joshua Trees and 100-plus-degree heat, California’s vast desert has recently become a hotbed of something else: thieves stealing California’s water. So who’s on the receiving end of all this theft? Local investigators say it’s often illegal pot farms. And with the parched state in a withering drought, water managers are doubling as amateur detectives.

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Point Reyes elk: Judge denies request for emergency food, water

A federal judge has denied a request by environmental groups to require the Biden administration to immediately provide food and water for the largest herd of tule elk in the Point Reyes National Seashore. The groups, represented by Harvard Law School’s Animal Law and Policy Clinic, allege the National Park Service failed to provide adequate resources at the Tomales Point Tule Elk Preserve, which lost 152 elk between the winters of 2019-2020 and 2020-21. The herd is now below 300 animals.

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Aquafornia news Record Searchlight

Redding council approves selling some of its water to Shasta Lake

The Redding City Council approved the 2021 Water Transfer Agreement with the city of Shasta Lake. The approval, given at the council’s meeting on Tuesday night, paves the way for the sale of up to 120 acre-feet of Redding’s water to Shasta Lake at a cost of $328 per acre-foot.

Aquafornia news National Law Review

Blog: Water law – Tension within the doctrine of beneficial use

In the western United States, water law developed around two main principles: (l) the goal of full beneficial use of water, and (2) the need to afford vested water right holders certainty as to their rights. At the time western water codes developed, these goals were seemingly in harmony—rewarding those who needed the water and invested in infrastructure for water use with rights that were enforceable against subsequent appropriators.

Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

California salmon: ‘Witnessing the Collapse’

A deeply troubled group of high-ranking state officials, tribal leaders, environmentalists and fishermen met July 27 to discuss the triple whammy that is threatening some species of Pacific salmon with extinction — a combination of record-breaking heat, drought and disastrous federal water policies — particularly those of the Trump administration, which drained mountain reservoirs of cold water, sending it to the Central Valley.

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Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

President Joe Biden’s agriculture secretary touched down in Fresno. Here’s what he saw

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack stressed innovation and collaboration Thursday as he visited a Fresno County farm dealing with California’s drought. … Vilsack’s visit comes the same week the State Water Resources Control Board imposed an “emergency curtailment” order covering the rivers of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed — essentially the entire Central Valley.

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Aquafornia news Northern California Public Media

No more water to support water rights along the Russian River

Unprecedented drought conditions have forced state water regulators to take the drastic step of officially suspending water rights along the Russian River.   Sam Boland-Brien with the state water board said conditions have continued to worsen in the Russian River watershed and the orders formally direct those who have longtime permission to divert water from the Russian River to stop, because there is no longer enough water to support their water right.   

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

State taking unprecedented action to conserve water in upper Russian River

State regulators are suspending the ability of about 1,500 water right holders to draw from the upper Russian River watershed, in an unprecedented bid to try to preserve as much storage in Lake Mendocino as possible in the event of a third successive dry winter. The order handed down Monday will affect hundreds of grape growers, ranchers, small water districts, towns and rural property owners. It takes effect Tuesday under emergency regulations adopted in June by the State Water Resources Control Board.

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Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

Is Utah using all the Colorado River water it’s entitled to? New state agency wants to find out

The future of Utah’s relationship with the Colorado River began to take shape in downtown Salt Lake City on Friday, as the newly created Colorado River Authority of Utah held its first meeting. The organization, created by the Utah Legislature during the 2021 session, was formed “to protect, conserve, and develop Utah’s Colorado River system interests,” according to the agency’s website. The agency, which is officially under Gov. Spencer Cox’s office, consists of six appointed members representing water interests from around the state.

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Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn | Attorneys at Law

Blog: California State Water Resources Control Board’s draft emergency regulations likely to lead to curtailment for Delta watershed water users

California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) is currently experiencing one of the driest years in recorded history.  The US Drought Monitor recently classified large portions of the Delta Watershed as being in a state of “Exceptional Drought,” while the remaining portions are in a state of “Extreme Drought.”  The California Nevada River Forecast Center also provides information that the to-date flows in nearly all streams in the watershed are between 20 and 40 percent of the annual average.  As a result, the water supplies for many users in the region are in jeopardy.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Will Delta users sue again to stop California’s drought rules?

Drought-plagued California is poised to bar thousands of farmers, landowners and others from pumping water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed, a move that irrigation districts said exceeds the water board’s authority. The emergency rules would be the first time state regulators have taken such wide-reaching action during a drought to prevent diversions from the massive Delta watershed stretching from Fresno to the Oregon border.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Extreme drought water crisis slams Oregon-California line

Ben DuVal knelt in a barren field near the California-Oregon state line and scooped up a handful of parched soil as dust devils whirled around him and birds flitted between empty irrigation pipes. DuVal’s family has farmed the land for three generations, and this summer, for the first time ever, he and hundreds of others who rely on irrigation from a depleted, federally managed lake aren’t getting any water from it at all. … [T]his summer there is simply not enough, and the farmers, tribes and wildlife refuges that have long competed for every drop now face a bleak and uncertain future together.

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Aquafornia news Ag Net West

Audio: Harsh reality of California drought shown in no water=no crops campaign

The drought in California isn’t quite fathomable to all. In efforts to showcase the harsh reality producers are experiencing, Western Growers has a new campaign called “No water= No Crops.” In a series of videos, the campaign focuses on a few California producers who are struggling with the water shortages. Joe Del Bosque of Del Bosque Farms is one of the farmers in the campaign. He started out his planting year thinking he’d have enough water but that quickly changed as the dry water year encroached.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

Marijuana farmers blamed for water theft as drought grips American West

Extreme and prolonged drought in the American west is prompting water thieves to tap into other people’s scarce supplies. More than 12bn gallons of water have been stolen in California in the past eight years, according to state officials, but the issue has been further exacerbated by the ongoing drought and recent searing early summer heatwaves. A significant amount of recent water theft has been blamed by the authorities on illegal cannabis cultivation in some parts of the state.

Aquafornia news KRCR - Redding

Hmong community protests outside Yreka courthouse over water restrictions

Members of Siskiyou County’s Hmong community rallied outside the county courthouse in Yreka on Tuesday over what they say is racist treatment by police and racist enforcement of water usage rights by the county. An ordinance passed in May aimed at curtailing illegal marijuana grows prohibits water trucks and other vehicles from carrying over 100 gallons of water on certain county roads. Rally organizers say the roads selected, primarily in the rural, unincorporated communities of Butte Valley and Big Springs, unfairly target the Hmong community who reside there.

Aquafornia news KTVL

Klamath Water Rights: Could there be a solution?

The Klamath water rights issue dates back decades and is as complex and nuanced as it is lengthy but when boiled down it seems to come back to one primal animal instinct that all living beings share: to ensure the survival of our spawn. For the Lost River and Shortnose Suckerfish in the Klamath basin, that continuum was disturbed somewhere along the line. The adult fish are healthy but aging while their spawn has been failing to thrive. Pending on their survival are the identity, traditions, culture, and livelihood of the Klamath tribes.

Aquafornia news KRCR - Redding

Happy Valley resident says their small farm is struggling with the water crisis

In the town of Happy Valley, residents are dealing with a crisis. California is experiencing an extreme drought, and Happy Valley says there is a meager amount of water left in the community. Coleen Wogoman, a resident of Happy Valley said their small farm, Wogoman’s Farm, is struggling to stay afloat as the lack of water striking hard for her family and their livestock. A mix of emotions is expressed from Wogoman as she looks upon her farmland and home for over 15 years.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: Thousands of Central Valley farmers may lose access to surface water amid worsening drought

Forced to reckon with a worsening drought, California’s water regulators are preparing to forbid thousands of farmers from tapping into the state’s major rivers and streams. It’s an extraordinary step — and one that regulators didn’t take during the last drought, which was considered one of the worst on record. The State Water Resources Control Board on Friday released an “emergency curtailment” order that would cut thousands off from rivers and streams in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river watersheds.

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Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

California’s Delta an oasis amid arid farmland

As California has imposed severe water cutbacks throughout the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta’s vast watershed, most growers in the Delta region itself are still getting enough water to bring their crops to harvest. With a majority of landowners in the region holding pre-1914 riparian water rights, the state has not curtailed their ability to pump water from the Delta’s labyrinth of canals and waterways – at least yet. In fact, growers whose land is on islands below sea level have been pumping water off, San Joaquin County Agricultural Commissioner Tim Pelican said.

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Tour Nick Gray

Central Valley Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - November 4

Join us as we guide you on a virtual journey 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.

Tour Nick Gray Jennifer Bowles

Northern California Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - October 14

Join us as we guide you on a virtual exploration of the Sacramento River and its tributaries and 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.

Aquafornia news North Bay Bohemian

Salmon suffer in a state of drought

Environmentalists say the San Joaquin watershed needs more water. So do state officials, who in 2018 ordered water users to give a large share of water back to the San Joaquin and its tributaries, notably the Tuolumne. But the fight to restore this ailing ecosystem has turned political, and environmentalists leading the effort are facing an unlikely foe the water service provider for one of the most liberal cities in the country.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Kern River water rights case gets hearing date

Whether the Kern River truly has spare water and, if so, how much, has been left up in the air for more than a decade. Now, 11 years after the State Water Resources Control Board ruled the Kern River was not fully appropriated, it will finally start the process of getting at those two key questions: Is water available? How much? A status conference hearing has been scheduled by the board’s Administrative Hearing Office for Aug. 17 at 9 a.m., the board announced on Monday.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Feeling the California drought on my family farm

I can see my future: It’s dry, thirsty and bleak. On our farm, we live with drought daily, working with limited groundwater and learning to adjust and adapt, or to fail and abandon our fields. Water will determine a farmer’s survival. I farm organically outside Fresno, part of one of the world’s richest and most productive agricultural oases, providing, of course, that we have water. … A severe two-year drought is drying out the West and Southwest from Washington to California, Montana to Texas. Agriculture feels the impact with crops withering and production limited.
-Written by David Mas Masumoto, a farmer in Del Rey, California. 

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Aquafornia news Santa Barbara News-Press

Water districts vs. Santa Barbara County

Local water districts are suing Santa Barbara County, claiming that they should not be subject to restrictions over certain water sales and purchases. The districts claim that the county doesn’t deliver or pay for any water and therefore shouldn’t be able to dictate terms to them. The districts argue that the county’s imposition of restrictions ultimately hurts consumers. In response, the county claims that the oversight is needed to maximize the entire water supply for all consumers. 

Aquafornia news The Colorado Sun

How water rights work in Colorado — and how it’s different during drought

Whether you’re a kayaker or an angler or a hard-core gardener in Colorado, we get that this water thing is confusing. … The drought and the overarching impacts of climate change have already generated multiple stories in 2021 and will be a big part of news coverage from here on out. We get reader questions along the way about the severity of the drought and what it means for Colorado residents — here are a few of those questions, and some answers from some key experts. 

Aquafornia news Berkeley Law

Blog: Piloting a water rights information system for California

California’s complex water management challenges are growing and intensifying. Systemic stressors like the more frequent and severe droughts and floods driven by climate change are only making it harder to respond. Accordingly, California needs to dramatically improve the ability of local, regional, and State entities to make agile and effective water management decisions. We believe doing so will require enhanced understanding of our water resources and how they align with the needs of a range of agencies and stakeholders. 

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News:

The government cut off water to farmers in the Klamath basin. It reignited a decades-old war over water and fish

Joey Gentry hesitates before she drives through the fields of alfalfa and wheat that line the roads in the Klamath Basin. ”It’s not safe for Natives to be out in farmland during a drought year,” [Gentry said.] Like much of the American West, this dry, hilly, high-elevation landscape straddling the California-Oregon border is experiencing a summer of extreme drought. But when the federal government announced in May that, for the first time ever, it would cut irrigation water to about 180,000 acres of agriculture in the basin, tensions ignited between farmers and the Klamath tribes.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Valley rivers going dry

Southern San Joaquin Valley Rivers are running at near historic lows — again. In fact, the Bakersfield City Council passed a resolution Wednesday officially declaring the Kern River as running at only 17% of normal, it’s second driest year since record keeping began in 1893. The driest year on record was 2015, the worst year of the 2012-2016 drought. The resolution notes the river is so low this year, the city won’t have any “excess” water to sell to local agricultural irrigation districts. This is the first time the City Water Resources Department has made such a resolution.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: In California, who owns water rights is a mystery

As we careen deeper into drought, California will face increasing impacts to urban and agricultural economies, rivers and forests, and wildlife. In response, government agencies will need to determine how to allocate water among competing needs. Water users will scramble to buy and sell water — if they can — or reduce their use. But the current lack of information hobbles the ability to make difficult decisions about water management. For California to cope with persistent shortages, water rights data need to be accessible to decision-makers and the public.
-Written by Michael Kiparsky, director of the Wheeler Water Institute in the Center for Law, Energy and the Environment at UC Berkeley School of Law.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Santa Cruz to hold public meetings on possible water rights update

City of Santa Cruz water rights — that were established more than 50 years ago — are up for revision and will be discussed at two forthcoming public meetings. The rights, allocated by the California State Water Resources Control Board, dictate where and how water suppliers can use and move water. … The revision to the rights, could open up doors for the city to store winter water in aquifers such as the Mid County Groundwater Basin, by which Soquel Creek and Central Water Districts both pull water from. 

Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

Northern California farmers bracing for drastic water restrictions

Farmers are facing a water shortage right as we head into peak growing season…. Solano County farmer Spencer Bei shows us one of the wells his family uses to farm 15,000 acres. He says he is losing pressure now as he is pumping because he is pulling more from the aquifer due to a lack of surface water and no rain in sight. He is one of many farmers feeling the heat after the State Water Resources Board sent out letters to 4,300 water-right holders saying there was no longer enough water for them and that the remaining 2,300 with pre-1914 riparian rights could see even more restrictions soon.

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Aquafornia news Red Bluff Daily News

Tehama County Supervisors to discuss groundwater

Groundwater, a subject of growing concern, will be discussed Tuesday during the Tehama County Board of Supervisors meeting. Clay Parker, the groundwater commissioner and Red Bluff councilman, will be delivering a report to the board with an update on the Groundwater Sustainability Plan and the Domestic and Agricultural Well Ad Hoc Committee. … The committee is still in early development, although the agenda report said an ordinance is expected to be brought before the board by the end of the year.

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Aquafornia news KCET

Honoring a water warrior: How Harry Williams fought for Paiute water rights in Owens Valley

Late at night beneath a star-studded sky, surrounded by the Sierra Nevada and the White Mountains, circles of mourners sang and stamped their feet in the dust. The cry dance honored Harry Williams, Nüümü (Bishop Paiute) elder and internationally recognized expert in the ancestral water systems of Payahuunadü — Owens Valley. In his lifetime, Williams was responsible for recovering knowledge of his tribe’s traditional irrigation networks and water practices, strengthening the Paiute’s claims for water rights in Owens Valley. 

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Lawsuit alleges lax groundwater oversight in Sonoma County threatens Russian River

An environmental group dedicated to promoting healthy waterways around California is taking Sonoma County to court over permitting policies it says too liberally allow people to drill groundwater wells, potentially endangering Russian River stream flows. California Coastkeeper, an affiliate of the locally based Russian Riverkeeper and a dozen or so other organizations around the state, filed the first-of-its-kind lawsuit late last month amid the intensifying drought and a surge in well drilling around the region.

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Aquafornia news Lost Coast Outpost

News release: Karuk Tribe seeks to stop Scott River water use to protect coho salmon

Today the Karuk Tribe filed a formal petition with the California State Water Resources Control Board demanding that it use its emergency powers to curtail water use in the Scott River to prevent the extinction of the Southern Oregon- Northern California Coho Salmon (Coho). … The Scott River is home to most of the native Coho salmon left in the Klamath Basin. Coho were added to the endangered species list in 1997. While federal agencies have forced water users on the federal Klamath Irrigation Project along the California/Oregon border to allow downstream flows to protect the fish, other water users’ impacts have been ignored.

Aquafornia news Fox News

Western farmers fight for fairness, businesses amid drought ‘like Hurricane Katrina’

As the western United States continues to face a months-long bout with extreme drought, American farmers are feeling catastrophic effects to their livelihoods. … John Moore, a fourth-generation crop farmer from Kern County, California, highlighted the misunderstanding lawmakers have toward the agricultural community. In his mind, heeding to some Trump-era water policies would’ve changed the entire landscape of how farmers face droughts like these.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

Running out of water: how climate change fuels a crisis in the US west

Except for a brief stint in the military, Paul Crawford has spent his entire life farming in southern Oregon. First, as a boy, chasing his dad through hayfields and now, growing alfalfa on his own farm with his wife and two kids, who want to grow up to be farmers. … The American west is drying out as the region faces an unprecedented drought. Few places are as devastated as the Klamath Basin, where Crawford’s farm sits. Straddling the border between California and Oregon, the watershed spans 12,000sq miles – from agricultural lands fed by Upper Klamath Lake to tribal communities surrounding the Klamath River.

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Aquafornia news The Conversation

Blog: ‘Megadrought’ along border strains US-Mexico water relations

The United States and Mexico are tussling over their dwindling shared water supplies after years of unprecedented heat and insufficient rainfall. Sustained drought on the middle-lower Rio Grande since the mid-1990s means less Mexican water flows to the U.S. The Colorado River Basin, which supplies seven U.S. states and two Mexican states, is also at record low levels. A 1944 treaty between the U.S. and Mexico governs water relations between the two neighbors. 

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Tribe becomes key water player with drought aid to Arizona

For thousands of years, an Arizona tribe relied on the Colorado River’s natural flooding patterns to farm….Now, gravity sends the river water from the north end of the Colorado River Indian Tribes reservation through 19th century canals to sustain alfalfa, cotton, wheat, onions and potatoes, mainly by flooding the fields. Some of those fields haven’t been producing lately as the tribe contributes water to prop up Lake Mead to help weather a historic drought in the American West…. As Arizona faces mandatory cuts next year in its Colorado River supply, the tribes see themselves as major players in the future of water.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Arizona lawmakers flubbed a major opportunity to shore up our water

You’d think that spending $200 million to help shore up our shrinking water supply would be a monumentally good thing. And it could have been, if there weren’t so many stipulations on how that cash must be spent. Lawmakers plopped $160 million into a newly created drought mitigation fund – a hefty chunk of change that some have called “unprecedented.” They set up the fund, according to the budget bill, because “many regions in this state lack access to sustainable water supplies to meet their long-term water demands and need financial assistance to develop water supply and conservation projects.”
-Written by Arizona Republic columnist Joanna Allhands. 

Aquafornia news Restore the Delta

Blog: Drought – Coalition opposes temporary urgency changes for CVP and SWP

A coalition of Delta-based groups has sent a formal Petition for Reconsideration to the State Water Board opposing the Board’s June 1 order to relax water quality standards for Delta operations of the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project. The Temporary Urgency Change Order (TUCO) was issued by the Water Board on June 1, 2021 … The coalition’s petition shows that 4.5 million acre-feet of water will be delivered to state and federal water contractors (including about 10 percent for Central Valley wildlife refuges), based on Water Board information. 

Aquafornia news NPR

Drought has pitted farmers against native tribes protecting endangered fish

In the drought-stricken Klamath Basin along the California-Oregon border, water is precious. This year, Native American tribes and farmers are competing for this shrinking resource. It’s an indicator of future water wars in the West. Jefferson Public Radio’s Erik Neumann explains.

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Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Supreme Court won’t hear Michael Abatti case against IID on water rights

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday unanimously declined a petition by Imperial Valley farmer Michael Abatti claiming he and a handful of other agricultural landowners, not the Imperial Irrigation District, held senior rights to Colorado River water that nearly 40 million people across the West depend on. The decision likely is the last stop for a torturous legal battle that dates back to 2013. As the law stands, farmers have a guaranteed right to water delivery but not a special claim above other users like homes and geothermal plants.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Water and housing needs collide in California’s severe drought

Housing advocates and developers are warily watching California’s intensifying drought and what it may mean in a state that needs millions of new homes to house its residents. Eighty-five percent of the state is in extreme drought. And in coastal Marin County, north of San Francisco, rainfall is at its lowest levels since records began 140 years ago. It’s here where the state’s twin issues of housing stock and water availability are colliding. But it could be a harbinger of things to come for the rest of the state. Additional housing puts more stress on water supplies. 

Aquafornia news City of Scottsdale

News release: Water – Colorado River shortage

For the first time ever, an official Colorado River Tier 1 Shortage is expected to be declared starting January 1, 2022. The announcement comes from the Bureau of Reclamation in August based on projections for Lake Mead water levels for the following January. The shortage declaration means reduced water for some stakeholders who receive water from the Central Arizona Project (CAP); those stakeholders who receive a portion of their water from CAP include municipalities, agriculture, tribes, and others.

Aquafornia news The Santa Barbara Independent

Water war breaks out as drought descends

As Santa Barbara County and the rest of the state enter another major drought crisis, a consortium of eight county water districts just sued the County of Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors, alleging the board is illegally interfering with the water agencies’ ability to use the State Water pipeline system to buy and sell water on the open market.  

Aquafornia news High Plains Public Radio

Another dry year on the Colorado River could force states, feds back to negotiating table

Colorado River water managers could be pulled back to the negotiating table as soon as next year to keep its biggest reservoirs from declining further. The 2019 Drought Contingency Plan was meant to give the U.S. and Mexican states that depend on the river a roadmap to manage water shortages. That plan requires the river’s biggest reservoir, Lake Mead, to drop to unprecedented levels before conservation among all the lower basin states — Arizona, Nevada and California — becomes mandatory. California isn’t required to conserve water in the reservoir until it drops to an elevation of 1,045 feet above sea level.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Opinion: Can California start taking droughts seriously, please?

Drought may be the sneakiest of natural disasters. Although human history teems with people engulfed by abrupt aridity — the Akkadians of four millenniums ago, the Maya in the ninth and 10th centuries A.D., the Great Plains farmers of the 1930s — even today drought is a poorly appreciated phenomenon. … The American West is once again facing drought, one of the worst on record. Across a vast region encompassing nine states and home to nearly 60 million people, the earth is being wrung dry. 
-Written by Farhad Manjoo, NY Times opinion columnist.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Farmers face water rights curtailments

The California priority water rights system is being put to the test, as state regulators impose emergency regulations and send notices of water unavailability to farmers who are trying to negotiate their crops through another drought year. Reacting to worsening dry conditions, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted emergency regulations last week to curtail water diversions in the Russian River watershed in Mendocino and Sonoma counties.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Racial tension builds in Klamath Tribes water, drought crisis

For decades, an agonizing war over [water] has divided indigenous people and the descendants of settlers of [the Klamath basin], which like much of the American West, is now plagued by drought. Family farmers often describe the conflict as one that pits them against federal bureaucrats who protect the suckerfish, imperiled as the lake grows more inhospitable. That portrayal, say members of the tribes, dismisses a tougher truth … about race, equity and generational trauma to a people whose history includes slaughter, forced removal of children, federal termination of their tribal status and loss of land …

Aquafornia news The Santa Barbara Independent

News release: Central Coast Water Authority files legal action against Santa Barbara County regarding management of the State Water Project

The Central Coast Water Authority (CCWA) and its eight member cities and water districts has filed a significant and unprecedented lawsuit in Santa Barbara Superior Court against the County of Santa Barbara regarding management of the State Water Project. CCWA manages, operates and finances the portion of the State Water Project in Santa Barbara County.  

Aquafornia news Aspen Times

Conservation groups want recreation water right tied to Colorado’s natural river features

Three conservation groups aiming to keep more water in rivers for recreation are working on a revision to a state law. American Whitewater, Conservation Colorado and Western Resource Advocates are proposing an amendment to legislation that would allow natural river features such as waves and rapids to get a water right. Under the state’s current statute, in order to get what is known as a recreational in-channel diversion water right, it must be tied to a man-made structure in the river, such as a design feature that creates the waves in many kayak parks. 

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

California Water: In Russian River’s fabled vineyards, the harvest of a drought

Rich with promise and potential, the grapes that create the Russian River Valley’s famed wines are ripening in the intense midday heat. But soon they’ll face the fight of their lives, deprived of water as the state diverts scarce supplies from agriculture to the region’s thirsty cities and subdivisions. … [Last] week, in a contentious step, the State Water Resources Control Board unanimously approved an emergency regulation to halt agricultural diversions for up to 2,400 of the region’s water rights holders. Citing state law, the regulation prioritizes “health and safety,” saying agricultural use is “an unreasonable use of water and is prohibited.”

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Two Central Coast water organizations fight over new restrictions

The Central Coast Water Authority, along with a number of its customers — namely eight nearby California cities and water districts — filed a lawsuit Friday claiming the Santa Barbara County Flood Control and Water Conservation District overstepped its authority by passing a new resolution that imposes an undue burden on their water rights. The lawsuit, filed in Santa Barbara County Superior Court, accuses the district of meddling in its affairs by improperly imposing restrictions on its right to transfer and exchange water with other entities.

Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

If Lake Powell’s water levels keep falling, a multi-state reservoir release may be needed

Lake Powell’s water level is the lowest it’s been in decades, and the latest 24-month projections from the Arizona and Utah reservoir show that it’s likely to drop even further — below a critical threshold of 3,525 feet by next year. A 20-year megadrought and a hotter climate has contributed to shrinking water supplies in the Colorado River. If Lake Powell’s levels continue to dwindle, it could set off litigation between the seven states and the 40 million people that all rely on the Colorado River.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Madera ranchers circle the wagons over county groundwater plan

Central Valley cattle ranchers are gearing up for a fight against what they see as groundwater rustling. Their fear is that newly formed groundwater agencies in some areas could devalue their land by not giving them a fair share of their own groundwater. Ranchers believe those fears were realized on June 8 when the Madera County Board of Supervisors approved a groundwater allocation that will partially exclude rangeland. Ranchers who own rangeland that has never been irrigated won’t receive a share of the county’s “transitional water” allotment.

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Aquafornia news Governor Gavin Newsom's Office

News release: Engineer Nichole S. Morgan appointed to State Water Board

Nichole S. Morgan has been appointed to the State Water Resources Control Board, where she has been Assistant Deputy Director of Financial Assistance since 2019 and served in several positions from 2009 to 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office announced.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Drought exposes need to upgrade water facilities

Severe drought highlights the need for greater investment to improve aging California water facilities, and increases calls for allocation of federal and state resources to tackle the problem. A national coalition that includes the California Farm Bureau urged U.S. Senate leaders last week to take action to address the shortcomings of aging water infrastructure, and to include “a broad range of water uses” in any federal infrastructure legislation. 

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California tells Central Valley farmers to brace for water shortages

The seriousness of California’s drought is being driven home to thousands of farmers in the Central Valley. State regulators warned 6,600 farmers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed on Tuesday that they’re about to lose the right to pull water from the estuary’s rivers at some point this summer. The watershed covers a major swath of the Central Valley. 

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Aquafornia news WhoWhatWhy

Wall Street is thirsting for your water

While water in the West becomes scarcer and droughts more frequent and more severe — thanks in part to changing weather patterns and rising temperatures triggered by carbon emissions — Wall Street views water as an “asset class,” a commodity like stocks, bonds, and real-estate that can generate enormous returns for shareholders, even in severe droughts. Or maybe, especially in water shortages. Institutional investors like One Rock are snapping up water rights just like others are snapping up rental properties to lease back to Americans at a profit…

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: California drought sparks perpetual fight about water

California never has enough water to meet all demands and even when supplies are relatively robust there’s a triangular competition over their allocation. Farmers, municipal users and environmental advocates vie for shares of water that has been captured by California’s extensive network of dams and reservoirs. … When California experiences one of its periodic droughts and reservoirs shrink from scant rain and snowfall, its perpetual conflict becomes even sharper.
-Written by Dan Walters, a CalMatters columnist

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Aquafornia news CNN

A water war is brewing in Oregon after Klamath Basin shutdown

Tricia Hill tears up when she talks about the emotional toll the water shut-off in southern Oregon has had on her family. Amid historic, climate change-driven drought, the federal government in May shut down the water supply from the Upper Klamath Basin on the California-Oregon border to protect native fish species on the verge of extinction. As a result, Hill and other farmers like her in the region have been cut off from water they have used for decades.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Seeking a balanced plan – Sacramento River operations for 2021

With the harshest dry year in recent memory, the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors (Settlement Contractors) are working closely with federal and state agencies, as well as our conservation partners, to continually improve our operations and serve water for multiple benefits, including water for cities and rural communities, farms, birds, fish, and recreation.

Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

Abatti responds to IID’s Supreme Court filing

Imperial Valley grower, landowner and former elected official Michael Abatti has responded to the Imperial Irrigation District’s official filing in his U.S. Supreme Court petition. The official response was filed sometime Monday, June 7. In March, Abatti filed for a “writ of certiorari” with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking review of the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District’s decision in Abatti v. Imperial Irrigation District, to which the district was ordered by the High Court to provide a formal response last month.

Aquafornia news South Tahoe Now

Whose water is it? Lake Tahoe water levels dropping quickly as demand increases

Those watching the level of Lake Tahoe know it is dropping quickly, and it’s not just because of a lack of snowfall this year and another year of drought. Understanding why the lake drops, and who causes it to drop (yes, there is a person – the watermaster), is key to knowing why the lake should be at its natural rim of 6,223 feet above sea level by the beginning of August. As of June 8 the lake is two feet above that rim. 

Aquafornia news OPB

Podcast: Klamath Basin water conflict could offer opportunity to revisit solutions

The Klamath Basin is suffering the worst drought in the state. Competing need for the water by local tribes seeking to sustain endangered fish populations, farmers and ranchers, and commercial and tribal fisheries has been a persistent issue, and has led to conflicts in the past. The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, which took 10 years to plan, was a turning point and a compromise for the parties needing access to the water. 

Aquafornia news Palo Alto Online

New water management plan ponders steep cutbacks

When the Palo Alto City Council publicly backed the Bay-Delta Plan in 2018, it was swimming against the political tide. The plan, formally known as the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary plan, sets limits on how much water agencies can siphon from the three tributaries of the San Joaquin River. While it aims to protect salmon, steelhead and other river species, it has also attracted intense opposition and litigation from water districts that claim that the new restrictions will undermine the reliability of their water supply.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Amid mega-drought, rightwing militia stokes water rebellion in US west

Fears of a confrontation between law enforcement and rightwing militia supporters over the control of water in the drought-stricken American west have been sparked by protests at Klamath Falls in Oregon. Protesters affiliated with rightwing anti-government activist Ammon Bundy’s People’s Rights Network are threatening to break a deadlock over water management in the area by unilaterally opening the headgates of a reservoir.

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Aquafornia news Eureka Times Standard

Environmental advocates call for Klamath Basin water allocations

Tribes and environmental advocates fear flows along the Klamath River could be reduced to a trickle if the State Water Resources Control Board doesn’t take action on water use upstream on the Scott and Shasta rivers. Andy Marx, board president of Friends of the Shasta River, said the river “virtually dried up” over Memorial Day weekend as a result of excessive irrigation diversions.

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Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Opinion: Stop fighting over water long enough to agree on just this

California’s water wars are legendary, complex and ongoing. To avoid getting too far in the weeds, media often boil it down to a dispute over who should have priority to a limited supply of water — people or fish. The real beauty of aerial snow surveys is that it’s one thing that farmers and environmentalists can agree on. 
-Written by Garth Stapley, The Modesto Bee’s Opinions Page editor.

Aquafornia news KMPH

Latest water war over Kings River involves claim by water district in Kern County

A water war is under way in Sacramento right now that could have far-reaching impacts on families in the Central Valley. … Hearings got under way Wednesday, as Semitropic Water Storage District in Kern County makes its administrative appeal to the State Water Resources Control Board for water rights to the Kings River. It filed its first petition in 2017, asking for access to 1.6 million acre feet of floodwater from the Kings River.

Aquafornia news Sierra Magazine

In the Klamath River basin, the drought punishes everyone

This May, while collecting live fish for their annual aquatic pathogen assessment on the Klamath River in Northern California, Yurok Tribe biologists made a shocking discovery: over 70 percent of the young, ocean-bound Chinook salmon captured in their traps were dead. Almost all of the fish tested upstream were infected with Ceratonova shasta, a parasite that relies on both fish and annelid worms as hosts. Barry McCovey, senior fisheries biologist for the Yurok Tribe, expects most of the infected fish to die.

Aquafornia news The Desert Review

IID Board takes action to protect water rights and address Coachella Valley concerns

The Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors adopted a resolution Tuesday, June 1, to better serve IID’s Coachella Valley energy customers and better protect Imperial Valley’s water rights, according to a press release. The Board’s resolution seeks to provide a local alternative to AB 1021 by Assemblyman Chad Mayes (I-Yucca Valley) that would create a number of adverse consequences for the region, if passed into law, including giving Coachella Valley energy ratepayers a say over IID’s water rights and policy in Imperial Valley.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Kern County Water Summit: Two perspectives on the State Water Board report, recommendations for an effective water rights response to climate change

Earlier this year, the State Water Resources Control Board released a report, Recommendations for an Effective Water Rights Response to Climate Change, that considered how the State Wate Board could include climate change when considering new water right applications.  Since the report’s release, it has been the subject of much discussion and has sparked concerns amongst existing water right holders.  At the Kern County Water Summit, hosted by the Water Association of Kern County, a panel addressed the topic.  

Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

Irrigators say they plan to force open Klamath headgates and release water

Rising tensions in the Klamath Basin could come to a boil soon, as two Klamath Project farmers plan to breach the fenced headgates of the federal irrigation project’s main canal and try to release water, likely triggering a standoff with the federal government. Farmers Grant Knoll and Dan Nielsen bought property next to the headgates in April for $30,000 and have set up camp on the site. They are staffing a large canvas tent with volunteers from the local branch of People’s Rights, a national organization formed in 2020 by militant activist Ammon Bundy, and they’re trying to rally support.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

Mega-dairies, disappearing wells, and Arizona’s deepening water crisis

Cynthia Beltran moved to Sunizona with her seven-year-old son last autumn even though the area lacks functional drinking water wells, because it was all she could afford. She cannot afford the $15,000 cost of deepening her well, which dried up last year, and had been paying for a local firm to deliver water in a tanker. But at $100 a week it became too expensive, so now she will be relying on a friend to help her fetch water from her mother’s well. … Nearly 20 wells in Sunizona alone were deepened between 2015 and 2019, after they dried up. 

Aquafornia news Zocalo

Opinion: California’s next water war is starting underground, in the Mojave Desert

Can California regions regulate groundwater without destroying their businesses and communities? That’s the question being posed as regions and localities implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), the historic 2014 state law that brought regulation to California’s diminishing groundwater supplies.
–Written by columnist Joe Matthews

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Amid historic drought, a new water war in the West

The brewing battle over the century-old Klamath Project is an early window into the water shortfalls that are likely to spread across the West as a widespread drought, associated with a warming climate, parches watersheds throughout the region. In Nevada, water levels have dropped so drastically in Lake Mead that officials are preparing for a serious shortage that could prompt major reductions in Colorado River water deliveries next year. In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom has placed 41 counties under a state of emergency.

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Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

IID files response to Abatti’s Supreme Court case

The Imperial Irrigation District has filed its initial response to Imperial Valley grower, landowner and former elected official Michael Abatti’s U.S. Supreme Court case. … Abatti is seeking to overturn a previous appellate court ruling that asserts Imperial Irrigation District is the “sole owner” of water rights in the Valley, and farmers do “not (have) an appurtenant water right” but rather are entitled merely to “water service” that is subject to modification by the district at its discretion.

Aquafornia news KCRW

Opinion: Joe Mathews on the fight over groundwater rights in the California desert

Can California regulate groundwater without destroying its own communities? That’s the question being posed as regions implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), the historic 2014 state law regulating California’s diminishing groundwater supplies. Groundwater is buried in aquifers, underground spaces between rocks, soils, and sand. Layers of aquifers are called groundwater basins. California has hundreds of them. Eight-five percent of Californians depend on groundwater …

-Written by Joe Mathews, who writes the Connecting California column for Zócalo Public Square. 

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Farmers buy land, make camp by shut Klamath irrigation canal

Two farmers with ties to anti-government activist Ammon Bundy have purchased land by a shut-off irrigation canal in Oregon that would normally deliver water to a massive federal irrigation project along the California-Oregon border and have set up a protest encampment there, Jefferson Public Radio reports. The move comes after federal regulators shut off all water deliveries from the project’s main “A Canal” due to extreme drought and the need to balance the water demands of farmers with threatened and endangered fish species …

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

‘Ammon Bundy coming.’ Water cutoffs ignite rebellion in CA

In the summer of 2001, local farmers and other activists armed with saws and blowtorches breached a chain-link fence and opened the headgates of a federal canal that supplies farmland in Oregon and far Northern California. Local farmer Grant Knoll was among the activists there that year. The protesters forced the gates open three times but were eventually blocked by U.S. marshals. Now, with a drought just as severe as two decades ago — and with farmers’ water again cut off — he’s prepared to fight again.

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Aquafornia news

As water flowed through the Kern River, court finds Bakersfield violated agreement

Who has the right to water in the Kern River? It has been the subject of fierce legal battles throughout Bakersfield’s history, and on Friday, the Ventura County Superior Court tried to answer a part of that question. In a court ruling, Judge Kevin DeNoce found the city of Bakersfield must supply the North Kern Water Storage District with 20,000 acre feet of water it owed the district in 2020 and pay the district $2.8 million to reimburse groundwater pumping costs the district incurred last year. It’s the latest court decision in a long-running dispute, and it threatens to limit the city’s ability to use water from the Kern River.

Aquafornia news Aspen Journalism

Basin roundtables push back on Colorado Water Conservation Board’s proposed code of conduct

The [Colorado] state water board is encouraging all nine basin roundtables to adopt a code of conduct requiring members to communicate in a professional, respectful, truthful and courteous way. But some Western Slope roundtables are pushing back. Over roughly the last month, Colorado Water Conservation Board Director Rebecca Mitchell has been visiting the remote roundtable meetings on Zoom, answering questions about the code of conduct and urging the roundtables to adopt it. The goal of the document is to make sure everyone feels comfortable speaking up in meetings. 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Managing for fish and wildlife during a dry year in the Sacramento Valley

With the driest year in memory, the water resources managers and landowners in the Sacramento Valley are working hard to serve multiple benefits throughout the region with limited water supplies. This has required all hands-on deck and creative management within the region as all surface water supplies have been significantly reduced, with hundreds of thousands of farmland acres idled throughout the region, urban suppliers working with their citizens to implement various conservation measures to reduce water use and there will undoubtedly be challenges for domestic groundwater wells.

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Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

After years of protests, Crystal Geyser abandons bottling facility plans in Siskiyou County

Crystal Geyser bought the nearly 145,000 square foot bottling plant in 2013. Since then, it’s been the target of protests by local activists and members of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. Opponents say if it ever started operating, it would draw down too much water, and cause air and noise pollution. … They are in the midst of suing the beverage company in an effort to get a new environmental impact report. 

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Field note – The importance of partnerships with Andrew Braugh

The Shasta-Klamath Region organizes work around protecting California source water and volcanic aquifers, working with family farms to improve water management, and protecting legacy fly-fishing waters like the McCloud River, Hat Creek, and Fall River. In 2021, we are heavily invested in conservation projects in the Shasta and Scott watersheds. These key Klamath tributaries will be critical for recovering salmon populations in the Mid-Klamath Basin after dam removal.

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Aquafornia news Capital Press

Zero water allocation pushes Klamath Project farms to the brink

What was already forecasted to be a historically bleak water year in the Klamath Project has quickly become a living nightmare for farms and ranches fighting for survival in the drought-stricken basin. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation shut down the Project’s A Canal for the entire irrigation season May 12 in response to worsening conditions — allotting zero surface water from Upper Klamath Lake for thirsty crops and livestock. It is the first time in more than a century the A Canal will deliver no water. Meanwhile, irrigators are left to wonder how they will pay the bills as fields turn to dust.

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Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

SF sues state board over proposed Tuolumne River flows

San Francisco has sued a state agency over proposed Tuolumne River flows that it claims would be “devastating” to Bay Area water users. The Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts joined in the lawsuit as “real parties in interest,” due to similar concerns about their customers not getting enough water. The suit is one more twist in the decades-long battle over how much water to provide for salmon and other fish downstream from Don Pedro Reservoir.

Aquafornia news ABC 15

Arizona’s continuing population growth puts pressure on water supply

Millions of people are betting on Arizona. They’re buying homes, starting businesses, and families. The future of how we use our water resources may dictate the future of their success. … That question was addressed four decades earlier with the Groundwater Management Act of 1980. The idea was the law would ensure when water was taken out, just as much was put back in, creating what they called a safe yield goal by 2025. Unfortunately, a new study released by ASU researchers with the Kyl Center shows the law is not living up to its promise as deep, thousands of years old aquifers continue to be over-pumped.

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Aquafornia news Herald and News

Silent no more: Klamath Tribes gather to protect fish, homelands

A group of protesters gathered at Sugarman’s Corner in downtown Klamath Falls on Saturday, preparing to welcome a 25-car caravan of mostly Klamath Tribal members calling for solutions to the Klamath Basin’s water crisis. A man walked by the demonstrators, eyeing their signs with statements like “Peace and Healing in the Klamath Basin,” “Water Justice is Social Justice” and “Undam the Klamath.” 

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Aquafornia news Reno Gazette-Journal

Ross de Lipkau continues environmental work of his relative, John Muir

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” Sierra Club founding member John Muir penned those words more than a century ago as he launched a decades-long battle to advocate for preservation of the American West. … More than a century later, Muir’s legacy of environmental awareness lives on through his great-grandson, Reno attorney Ross de Lipkau, one of the state’s leading water rights experts.

Aquafornia news KJZZ

Arizona lawmakers float idea of piping water from the Mississippi

The drought has some members of the Arizona Legislature wondering if the state should look for a new source of water: the Mississippi River. Conservationists wonder if lawmakers should try a different approach. As Arizona braces for a drought contingency plan to kick in, the Legislature has floated the idea of damming the Mississippi and piping the water here. The idea received overwhelming support among lawmakers, though it is unclear if the project is viable. Sandy Bahr, with the Sierra Club, told KJZZ’s The Show last month the state needs to adjust its thinking about water, especially in times of drought.

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Aquafornia news Mount Shasta News

Crystal Geyser Water Company pulls out of Mount Shasta plant

After seven years of controversy, Crystal Geyser Water Company announced last week that it has given up on opening its Mount Shasta facility. A representative for the company said Crystal Geyser was “challenged every step of the way” since it purchased the nearly 145,000 square foot facility in 2013.

Aquafornia news Euronews

Could trading water on the stock market actually be good for the environment?

Last year, for the first time, it became possible to trade water on Wall Street through futures contracts. Normally reserved for commodities like oil or precious metals, water became the latest asset to join the financial market. But how could this practice impact the planet? The trading in the future prices of highly-prized commodities, where buyers agree to purchase an asset at a set date in the future for an agreed price, began in Japan in the seventeenth century with the trading in rice futures. The latest commodity to begin trading in futures is water supplied in American’s most populous state, California.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

State plans to order drought restrictions, but it doesn’t have good water data to do it

As California descends deeper into drought, state regulators are planning to do something they’ve done few times in modern history: order thousands of people, farms, and even cities and towns that hold historic water rights to stop drawing water from the rivers, lakes and ponds they rely on. The move is intended to make sure the dwindling flows in California’s waterways are reserved for those with the most senior water rights, as well as for fish and other wildlife. Many of those with lesser rights would have to turn to storage, groundwater or another source, if they have it.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco sues state over bid to restrict its Sierra water supplies

The city of San Francisco is reviving a long-simmering feud with the state over water, filing a lawsuit Friday that charges state regulators with trying to take away the city’s coveted Sierra Nevada water supplies. The suit claims the state water board is demanding the city forfeit too much water from the Tuolumne River as part of a licensing deal for two dams in the faraway basin. State regulators have said the water is needed to maintain proper river flows and support struggling salmon, but city officials contend the demands would leave Bay Area residents and businesses vulnerable to water shortages.

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Aquafornia news Mountain Democrat

No water service now for EID’s Folsom territory

El Dorado Irrigation District’s territory extends across the county line to a small piece of Folsom — a total of 190 acres. A developer is planning to turn that acreage into a subdivision. Currently the property is all range land and there is no request for water service. The earliest that water service could be requested may not be until 2023. El Dorado Irrigation District has been a multi-county agency since the early 1980s, according to Jesse Saich, EID communications manager. 

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Water crisis ‘couldn’t be worse’ on Oregon-California border

The water crisis along the California-Oregon border went from dire to catastrophic as federal regulators shut off irrigation water to farmers from a critical reservoir and said they would not send extra water to dying salmon downstream or to a half-dozen wildlife refuges that harbor millions of migrating birds each year. In what is shaping up to be the worst water crisis in generations, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said it will not release water this season into the main canal that feeds the bulk of the massive Klamath Reclamation Project, marking a first for the 114-year-old irrigation system. 

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Friday Top of the Scroll: Report: Drought to hit rural Latino communities hardest

Rural, low-income Latino communities across California were hardest hit by the last drought and could see drinking water shortages again this year as extreme drought spreads across the state, according to a report released Thursday by non-partisan advisors to California’s lawmakers. The report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office warns state officials to prepare by ramping up monitoring of wells in vulnerable communities and lining up emergency drinking water supplies to send there. 

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Arizona is depleting groundwater in many areas, researchers warn

In 1980, Arizona began regulating groundwater in the state’s largest cities and suburbs under a landmark law that called for most of these areas to achieve an overarching goal by 2025: a long-term balance between the amount of water pumped from the ground and the amount seeping back underground to replenish aquifers. Forty-one years later … [g]roundwater is still overpumped in most of the state’s “active-management areas,” or AMAs. And in many places, aquifer levels continue to decline.

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Aquafornia news Siskiyou Daily News

Farmers will get zero allocation from Klamath Project in 2021

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Wednesday that more than 1,000 farmers in the Klamath Basin will not receive any reserved water from Upper Klamath Lake — a devastating prospect for farmers who have already planted fields, hired crews and made plans for the growing season ahead. … Farmers in Klamath, Siskiyou and Modoc counties were already reeling over the prospect of receiving less than 10% of their allotment, or a total of 33,000 acre-feet of water. The latest announcement feels “like a punch to the gut,” farmers said …

Aquafornia news Cal Coast News

Lustful eyes cast on Paso Robles Water Basin

On its surface, the idea of banking water to bridge the certainty of future rain-deficient periods seems like an innovative and non-controversial planning procedure. In the end, however, it all depends on who holds the keys to the bank. The notion of water banking has grabbed local attention lately following a controversial and divided 3-2 vote March 3 by San Luis Obispo County supervisors, a vote which numerous North County entities view as opening the door to selling and exporting county water resources to the highest outside bidder.

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Aquafornia news Cronkite News - Arizona PBS

Researchers spelunk the Grand Canyon to document its beautiful, confounding springs

Ben Tobin has questions about the Grand Canyon’s caves. The University of Kentucky geologist started learning about caves as a young man, in part because his mother was a geologist, and a childhood fascination grew over time. … When he was in college, an internship in Arkansas doing cave tours got him hooked, and eventually his work brought him out West, to Grand Canyon National Park. Tobin specializes in what’s known as karst hydrology. These are underground systems made up of soluble rock such as limestone. To Tobin, caves are like another world, with blind animals, fossils and archeological finds. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Fail: Tule Basin drinking water plan kicked back for a redo

When Sandra Chavez’ mother discovered she had stage four cancer last year, one of Sandra’s first thoughts was about their water. Her family’s private well is contaminated with nitrates and Chavez wondered if years of drinking the water could have caused her mother’s sickness. Chavez and her family have relied on bottled water since they found out their well water was unsafe in 2015. But sometimes they don’t have enough and are forced to drink the contaminated water. So when Chavez found out about a new program providing free bottled water delivery for families with nitrate-contaminated wells, she was frustrated she hadn’t been contacted.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Last chance to register for next week’s Lower Colorado River Tour

Only one week remains to register for our May 20 virtual Lower Colorado River Tour where you can hear directly from experts offering a range of perspectives on the most contested and meticulously managed river in the United States. Practically every drop of water in the Colorado River is already allocated, but pressure on the hard-working river continues to grow from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat and climate change.

Aquafornia news High Country News

The Gila River Indian Community innovates for a drought-ridden future

A riverbed that has been parched since the end of the 19th century — a portion of the historic lifeblood of the Gila River Indian Community — is now coursing again with water, luring things like cattails and birds back to its shores. … The revival of this small segment of the 649-mile (1045-kilometer) Gila River, which has served the tribes that make up the Gila River Indian Community — the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and the Pee-Posh (Maricopa) — for roughly 2,000 years, was an added benefit of a grassroots infrastructure overhaul, known as “managed aquifer recharge,” or MAR, which aimed to restore the local groundwater basin. 

Aquafornia news Sonoma Water

News release: Defining groundwater conditions in three local basins

Well owners in Santa Rosa Plain, Petaluma Valley and Sonoma Valley are invited to join community meetings on groundwater conditions and sustainable management of this critical water source.  The Santa Rosa Plain, Petaluma Valley and Sonoma Valley groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) are nearing completion of major plans that identify issues with current and future groundwater resources and that describe how these challenges will be addressed. 

Aquafornia news The Mendocino Voice

Huffman hosts drought summit, water managers ask for aid, presidential emergency

Reps. Jared Huffman and Mike Thompson, along with prominent North Coast water managers and politicians gathered at a virtual summit yesterday morning to discuss the severe drought facing the North Coast and the entire state. At the summit (a recording of which is available on YouTube), State Senator Mike McGuire stated that the state legislature is moving forward on a several billion dollar drought relief package, which would include $1 billion in grants to help ratepayers and utilities pay off back bills and $500 million to help smaller low income communities develop enhanced drinking water supplies, among other things (read the full list below).

Aquafornia news

Drought forces California farmers to destroy crops

With the uncertainty of water, some Central Valley farmers are destroying their crops ahead of the summer season in order to survive. It’s impacting jobs and soon possibly the grocery shelves. Every crop at Del Bosque Farms is planted meticulously, and every drop of water is a precious commodity. Joe Del Bosque started the family farm in 1985. He grows melons, asparagus, cherries, almonds, and corn, but the drought brings a flood of concern.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Fears of a massive salmon die-off this summer in Sacramento River water conflict

An entire run of endangered winter-run chinook salmon, as well as the fall-run salmon that make up the core of the California fishery, are in danger of being wiped out this year if the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation keeps diverting water to farmers at its current rate. With state water resources constrained by the extreme drought, that’s the alarm that environmental, fishing and tribal groups are sounding after reports show the Sacramento River will reach dangerous temperatures during spawning season, based on federal scientific scenarios that analyze the bureau’s planned water releases. 

Aquafornia news Victorville Daily Press

Judge makes preliminary ruling against Apple Valley taking over water system

A San Bernardino Superior Court judge has made a ruling against the Town of Apple Valley in its attempt to take over its largest supplier of water. In a tentative decision issued Friday, Judge Donald Alvarez found that Liberty Utilities had “disproved” the town’s arguments that its acquisition of the company’s water system would be in the public’s interest and a necessity. … The town filed its eminent domain lawsuit in January 2016 when the system was owned by Ranchos Water Company in response to what they said was a public outcry over rising water rates.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Editorial: Gov. Newsom must resolve California and Stanislaus water wars

Don’t be fooled. Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision Monday to declare drought in most of California, including here, is no reason for most farmers in Stanislaus County to break out the party hats. They know full well that words on a declaration will not generate an extra drop of water for their orchards and row crops. They also know that a drought declaration could take some power over the water we do have from our locally elected irrigation leaders — who represent institutions guiding us through periodic droughts for more than 100 years — and hand it to nonelected Sacramento bureaucrats.

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Aquafornia news Food & Water Watch

Blog: Newsom expands California drought emergency, commits $5.1 billion to water infrastructure and debt relief

Governor Gavin Newsom announced an expansion of the drought emergency to 41 of the state’s 58 counties, dedicating $5.1 billion to boost water infrastructure and an additional $1 billion to paying off nearly the entirety of Californian household water debt. Yet, while the governor’s plan includes $150 million for groundwater cleanup and water recycling measures, it does nothing to speed up the process to bring overdrafted water basins into full and sustainable operation. The deadline is currently 2040 for critically overdrafted basins and 2042 for remaining high and medium priority basins.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Extremely dry conditions spill across the American West

Spring is generally a time of renewal for the watersheds of the western United States. Warmed by the lengthening days, the region’s towering mountain ranges shed their mantle of snow, releasing freshets of water into welcoming streams and reservoirs. This year, though, the cycle is in disarray. Outside of the Olympic and Cascade ranges of Washington state, winter snows were subpar. The spring melt has been a dud. From the Klamath to the Colorado and Rio Grande, watersheds are under stress once again, and water managers face difficult tradeoffs between farms, fisheries, and at-home uses. 

Aquafornia news Havasu News

Arizona looks to Mississippi River to soothe water shortage

Arizona legislators are looking eastward to ease the impact of a two-decade drought in the Colorado River Basin. According to Arizona Rep. Tim Dunn, who represents the area of Yuma, the Legislature is asking Congress to fund a technological and feasibility study for diverting floodwater from the Mississippi River to replenish the Colorado River. Whether that comes in the form of a diversion dam or pipeline, Dunn says the plan would benefit both the Midwestern and Southwestern United States.

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Aquafornia news KGW8

Klamath Basin water crisis: A microcosm for climate change in the West

A conflict over access to water in the Klamath Basin is signaling the way climate change could play out across the western United States. After a drier-than-normal spring, farmers and indigenous tribes in the Klamath Basin are at odds over water in Upper Klamath Lake. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the Klamath Basin is experiencing “extreme drought,” … Centuries ago, the area was wetlands; but in the early 20th century, the land was opened up to agriculture. Members of the Klamath Tribes say tree removal and drainage hastened drying as the climate warmed. 

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Mining industry, builders sought changes in Arizona water bill

Newly released emails reveal that lawyers and lobbyists for mining companies, developers and the agriculture industry had a hand behind the scenes in shaping Arizona’s newly adopted law on clean-water rules for rivers and streams. The emails show the involvement of these influential groups went beyond their public endorsements of the legislation. Their lawyers and lobbyists were given access to offer input while the final legislation was being drafted, and the emails show they suggested specific language, offered “wordsmithing” tweaks and requested significant changes that state officials incorporated into the bill. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation increases flow releases from New Melones Reservoir for Bay-Delta requirements

Today, the Bureau of Reclamation announced a plan to increase flow releases from New Melones Reservoir to assist with meeting Delta salinity and outflow requirements. Additional flow releases will begin on the lower Stanislaus River on May 10 and will reach a total flow of 1,000 cubic feet per second and again on May 11 to reach 1,500 cfs. This increased flow of 1,500 cfs will likely occur for an extended duration. During the increased releases, water levels will be higher and currents faster. Visitors should use caution when near or on the Stanislaus River during these increased flows.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute Of California

Blog: Is California ready for drought?

California is now in its second year of drought, hard on the heels of the last one in 2012-16. But drought is not an equal-opportunity crisis; it can be more or less disruptive depending on geography, storage, how water supplies are managed—and, of course, precipitation. And some sectors—notably rural water water systems and the environment—are more vulnerable.

Aquafornia news CBS 5 Investigates |

Arizona water users preparing for first-ever cuts to CAP

Arizona cities, towns, farmers and ranchers are preparing for the first-ever cuts to the state’s allotment of Colorado River water. The cuts are the result of a drought that’s lasted 26 years and will likely take effect in 2022. The so-called “Tier 1″ water shortage will affect some water users more severely than others. … Farmers and ranchers in Pinal County are already preparing, but it’s going to be a costly process.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

United Water Conservation District reaches $1M settlement with Ventura

A water district locked in a long-running legal battle over residential rates with the city of Ventura recently agreed to pay $1 million, but the fight does not appear to be over. City Attorney Gregory Diaz said Friday he expected the United Water Conservation District to exercise its option to appeal. Ventura has filed lawsuits every year against the water district since the agency implemented increased charges in 2011-12. This settlement is for fiscal year 2019-20. The district charged residential customers three times more than agricultural customers for groundwater, and the city challenged its methodology. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Our latest Western Water article examines efforts to help consumers afford water as bills pile up amid pandemic

As California slowly emerges from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, one remnant left behind by the statewide lockdown offers a sobering reminder of the economic challenges still ahead for millions of the state’s residents and the water agencies that serve them – a mountain of water debt. … Our latest article in Western Water explores the hurdles to helping consumers, how some water agencies have devised workarounds and how far more lasting solutions remain out of reach.Western Water is just one of the publications produced by our journalism team…

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

West Marin water well project challenged by environmentalists

The North Marin Water District failed to adequately study whether there will be enough water for endangered fish in Lagunitas Creek if it builds a new well in West Marin, an environmental group alleges. The well is intended to address worsening saltwater contamination in the water supply. Save Our Seashore, a nonprofit in Inverness, filed an appeal against the project with the Marin County Planning Commission. … The commission is expected to hold a hearing on the issue on May 24. 

Aquafornia news High Country News

How ‘sustainable’ is California’s groundwater sustainability act?

In scale and ambition, California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) has few parallels. And the work becomes increasingly urgent as the climate crisis makes water shortages increasingly severe. … This emphasis on local expertise points to SGMA’s possibilities — and its potential pitfalls — especially when it comes to deciding what “sustainable” water management means. Each management body has wide discretion to define “sustainability” — and the path to sustainability by 2040 — for its particular basin.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Don’t expect Miracle May this month on the Colorado River

The Colorado River Basin appears to be out of miracles this spring. Five years after a “Miracle May” of record rainfall staved off what had appeared to be the river’s first imminent shortage in water deliveries, the hope for another in 2021 “is fading quickly,” says the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center’s latest report, released Thursday. That’s one more piece of bad news for the Central Arizona Project. A first-time shortage is now likely to slash deliveries of river water to Central Arizona farmers starting in 2022 but won’t affect drinking water supplies for Tucson, Phoenix and other cities, or for tribes and industries that get CAP water.

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Aquafornia news Imperial Valley Press

Opinion: Abatti and friends knock on the U.S. Supreme Court door

The dispute between Imperial Valley farmer Mike Abatti and the Imperial Irrigation District over water rights entered a new chapter last month. Mr. Abatti filed a petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the court to review last year’s California appellate court’s ruling in the IID’s favor. Our local Imperial County Farm Bureau and the California Farm Bureau, along with some individual valley farmers, then filed amicus briefs at the U.S. Supreme Court supporting Mr. Abatti’s petition for review. Mr.

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Klamath, Modoc, Siskiyou county leaders throw support behind Basin ag

At a rare joint meeting between all three of their leadership boards, Klamath, Siskiyou and Modoc Counties discussed ways to support agricultural communities during the Klamath Basin’s historic drought this year. Farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Project will receive 33,000 acre-feet of water, less than 10% of their normal allocation, more than a month later than normal. Irrigators on tributaries to the Lower Klamath River, like the Scott River, are also expecting water deliveries to be curtailed during the summer.

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: River flows helps CA Delta estuary, fish — not wasted water

It’s that time of drought again. During one of the driest years on record, once again curtailing water deliveries to local farms, Fresno-area lawmakers wasted little time trotting out one of their favorite falsehoods. That every year, including the parched ones like 2021, California “wastes” millions of gallons of water by “flushing it to the ocean.” Central San Joaquin Valley residents have heard this declaration so often and for so long, from the mouths of politicians and parroted on talk radio, that many of us believe it’s true. 

-Written by Marek Warszawski

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Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency board finalizes water rate increases

Water customers with the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency can expect rate increases to kick in over the next five years, after board members voted in late April to approve the fees. The PVWMA serves coastal growers and farmers in south Santa Cruz and north Monterey counties through 21 miles of water pipelines running near Highway 1. The water, which is a blend of recycled water, groundwater and Harkins Slough Recovery well water, supplements farmer’s on-site agricultural wells. 

Aquafornia news Red Bluff Daily News

Tehama County Supervisors approve groundwater monitoring station in Corning

A new groundwater monitoring station is coming to Corning’s public works yard on Gallagher Avenue just across from a warehouse that stores various road signs and equipment. Public Works Flood Control Manager Ryan Teubert presented the project Tuesday to the Tehama County Board of Supervisors. It consists of construction at the yard, which will be funded and performed by the California Department of Water Resources. 

Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

Crisis on the Klamath

The federal government is strictly curtailing irrigation this year in an attempt to protect endangered fish important to Indigenous tribes. Farmers say this will make it all but impossible to farm, while tribal groups say the plan doesn’t go far enough to save their fisheries. In mid-April, a farming region in southern Oregon began to release water from the Klamath River into its irrigation canals. … [A]ccording to the federal government, it was an illegal maneuver that could further jeopardize the survival of multiple endangered species and food sources important to Indigenous tribes and fisheries in the region.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Reclamation halts water deliveries to Northern California farmers

More than a month after announcing it was suspending water deliveries to farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, the Bureau of Reclamation delivered equally bad news to farmers north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Their water supplies, tabbed at 5 percent of their contracted amount, were not available for delivery via the Central Valley Project due to limited supply. 

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