Topic: Water Rights

Overview

Water Rights

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

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

Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

Releases on the Trinity River to significantly increase flow this week

Restoration flows will begin tomorrow, April 16, on the Trinity River to help improve conditions after another critically dry water year. A flow schedule based on the expected amount of water available to support salmon restoration efforts on the Trinity River is brought forward by the Trinity Management Council each year. This week’s two-day schedule is slated to increase daily average flows from 300 cubic feet per second to 1,300 cubic feet per second.

Aquafornia news The Brentwood Press

State and local groundwater sustainability efforts make progress

While high-profile surface-water initiatives like WaterFix and the Delta Conveyance Project grab most of the headlines pertaining to water management in the state, efforts to make significant changes to the way groundwater is utilized have been underway since 2014. Now, the state and the local water agencies are seeking public comment on documents related to the management of groundwater. In 2014, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed a three-bill legislative package collectively known as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) to better manage groundwater supplies over the long term.  

Aquafornia news University of California

Blog: A path toward clean drinking water for all Californians

California was the first U.S. state to legally recognize access to safe, clean and affordable water as a human right. But substantial parts of the state lack access to drinking water that meets those criteria. A new study published by the California State Water Board and supported by UCLA research identifies a risk for failure among a significant portion of the state’s small and medium-sized public water systems. 

Aquafornia news Fox40

Recreational waterways can still be dangerous despite drought conditions, officials warn

The Yuba Water Agency manages water storage and deliveries to downstream customers while having a hand in preserving fish habitats and recreational areas. Currently, the agency has already begun doubling its reservoir releases at a time when visitors to the river are also expected to go up. Due to the time of year, those releases from upstream reservoirs are dictated by irrigation needs of downstream growers. 

Aquafornia news Capital Press

Klamath Project to receive historically low water allocation

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation delivered a gut-punch to Klamath Project irrigators Wednesday, announcing a historically low water allocation as the basin struggles with extreme drought. Farms and ranches in the Project will receive an initial allocation of just 33,000 acre-feet — the lowest total since the shutdown of 2001 and barely 8% of historical demand. That is dramatically lower than the bureau’s original estimate of 130,000 acre-feet based on hydrological conditions at the beginning of March.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Raising Shasta Dam threatens McCloud River, sacred tribal lands and salmon

Shasta Dam, which rises over 600 feet, flooded much of our tribe’s homeland and inundated dozens of our sacred sites. It stopped our salmon from reaching their spawning grounds. And by holding back water when it is needed by the river, Shasta Dam has driven our salmon to the brink of extinction. That threat continues in the proposal to raise Shasta Dam. That project would flood more of our sacred sites and further harm salmon. The Trump administration made that project their top priority water infrastructure project in the nation. 
-Written by Caleen Sisk, the spiritual leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe.

Aquafornia news Havasu News

Southern California leans on more Colorado River water to combat record dry season

Southern California, like most of the West, is in the middle of a record dry season. To combat it and keep the metropolitan area well-watered, they’re relying more heavily on the Colorado River, with water pumped directly from the south end of Lake Havasu. Last Wednesday, the Metropolitan Water District began pumping from Lake Havasu at full capacity for the first time in years, drawing water from the Whitsett Intake Pumping Plant located just north of the Parker Dam. The eight-pump flow is equivalent to about 3,000 acre feet of water being pumped per day, according to MWD Manager of Colorado River Resources Bill Hasencamp.

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Epic drought means water crisis on Oregon-California border

Hundreds of farmers who rely on a massive irrigation project that spans the Oregon-California border learned Wednesday they will get a tiny fraction of the water they need amid the worst drought in decades, as federal regulators attempt to balance the needs of agriculture against federally threatened and endangered fish species that are central to the heritage of several tribes. Oregon’s governor said the prolonged drought in the region has the “full attention of our offices,” and she is working with congressional delegates, the White House and federal agencies to find relief for those affected.

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Aquafornia news Jacksonville Journal-Courier

Opinion: Why Wall Street investors’ trading California water futures is nothing to fear – and unlikely to work anyway

Water is one of the world’s most vital resources. So is there reason to freak out now that profit-hungry hedge funds and other investors can trade it like a barrel of oil or shares of Apple? That’s exactly what CME Group recently did in California when it launched the world’s first futures market for water in December 2020. Put simply, a futures market lets people place bets on the future price of water. 
-Written by Ellen Bruno, of University of California, Berkeley and Heidi Schweizer, of North Carolina State University.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: The pillars for sustainable water management in the Sacramento River basin

On Wednesday, March 3rd, the Northern California Water Association (NCWA) Board of Directors officially adopted our 2021 Priorities. The water leaders in this region look forward to working with our many partners in 2021 to cultivate a shared vision for a vibrant way of life in the Sacramento River Basin. We will continue to re-imagine our water system in the Sacramento River Basin as we also work to harmonize our water priorities with state, federal, and other regions’ priorities to advance our collective goal of ensuring greater water and climate resilience throughout California for our communities, the economy, and the environment. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Last chance to register for next week’s Water 101 workshop

There’s just one week left to register for our Water 101 Workshop, which offers a primer on the things you need to know to understand California water. One of our most popular events, this once-a-year workshop will be held as an engaging online event on the afternoons of Thursday, April 22 and Friday, April 23.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Creating a place for nature in the San Joaquin Valley

The San Joaquin Valley’s quest for groundwater sustainability will result in large amounts of irrigated agricultural lands being retired. A new book explores how some of these lands could be restored to natural areas that bring multiple benefits. We talked to Scott Butterfield, a senior scientist at The Nature Conservancy and one of the book’s editors, about this vision.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Controversial project is becoming a pipeline in the sand for local water agencies

The San Diego County Water Authority is no stranger to conflict – virtually all of its dealings over the past decade have been shaped by its feud with the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Now that feud is fueling fights within the agency itself.

Aquafornia news Imperial Valley Press

IID decides to stand pat on Abatti’s Supreme Court petition

Imperial Irrigation District apparently has decided not to sweat Michael Abatti’s decision to appeal his case against the district to the nation’s highest court. IID announced Monday it will not file a response to Abatti’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court over his ongoing legal dispute with the district over water rights. The exception would be if the court requests a response. IID General Counsel Frank Oswalt said in a press release that a response is unnecessary.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Opinion: Failure to prepare deepens the pain from dry years

It’s that time of year, when we find out it’s that kind of year. We appear at the doorstep of a “critically dry year,” and most reservoir levels are significantly below average. Those conditions bring painfully to mind the awful drought years of 2014 and 2015, and threaten water supplies for California farms and cities, and for the protected fish species that must also get by in these lean years.
-Written by Danny Merkley, director of water resources, and Chris Scheuring, senior counsel for the California Farm Bureau.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Southern California water agency looking to buy water during drought

With California in the throes of a second year of drought conditions, the mega-water agency of Southern California served notice Tuesday that it’s prepared to spend up to $44 million to buy water from Northern California to shore up its supplies. The board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves 19 million urban residents, authorized its staff to begin negotiating deals with water agencies north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, where supplies are generally more plentiful.

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Aquafornia news KOLD News 13

Extreme conditions now sparking drought contingency plan for first time

Extreme drought conditions throughout the West are lowering levels in the crucial water reservoir, Lake Mead. Scars of long years of low precipitation are hard to go unnoticed at Lake Mead, and the hot, dry summers have been felt for the last several years in Arizona. 2020 was especially dry, with little monsoon. Now, the West is in uncharted territory. Lake Mead is projected to drop by several feet this year, from elevation 1,083 to about 1,068, according to officials with the Central Arizona Project. The lake is hovering around 39 percent of its full capacity.

Aquafornia news New Mexico In Depth

A century of federal indifference left generations of Navajo homes without running water

[T]he 800 to 900 people in Tohatchi, and another 600 to 800 in Mexican Springs, eight miles to the west, all depend on a single well and single pump. If the pump running it fails, or if the water level in it drops — both issues that have troubled nearby Gallup this year — water will cut out for the homes, the head-start center, the schools, the clinic, the senior center, five churches, and the convenience store and gas station. … [T]he Navajo Nation has waited more than a century for pipes and water treatment plants that would bring drinking water to all of its people while watching nearby off-reservation cities and farms grow, swallowing up water from the Colorado River Basin that the tribe has a claim to.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Tensions rise in water battle along Oregon-California line

One of the worst droughts in memory in a massive agricultural region straddling the California-Oregon border could mean steep cuts to irrigation water for hundreds of farmers this summer to sustain endangered fish species critical to local tribes. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees water allocations in the federally owned Klamath Project, is expected to announce this week how the season’s water will be divvied up after delaying the decision a month.

Aquafornia news Outdoor Life

California waterfowl threatened by dry refuges, botulism

With a salmonella outbreak in eight states already under investigation by the Centers for Disease Control, officials are watching in California for another disease that impacts waterfowl. Botulism killed thousands of waterfowl and other birds last year on two national wildlife refuges near the border of California and Oregon. Some estimates were as high as 60,000 dead birds. The Lower Klamath Basin and Tule Lake national wildlife refuges were among the first created more than 100 years ago. Millions of waterfowl and shore birds, along with songbirds, migrated along the Pacific Flyway into the two refuges and beyond. Today, between severe restrictions on water flowing into and out of the refuges and a crippling drought that shows no sign of letting up, the refuge marshes are going dry. 

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Aquafornia news Valley News

Rancho Water receives $3.5M grant for Vail Dam rehabilitation 

The Rancho California Water District received a nearly $3.5 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency which will fund up to 75% of Phase 1 of the Vail Dam Hazard Mitigation Project. Phase 1 has already begun and includes pre-construction activities such as design, environmental compliance and permitting to upgrade the dam at Vail Lake, located east of Temecula. Vail Lake, a reservoir with water storage capacity of approximately 45,000 acre-feet or 14.7 billion gallons of water, was acquired by Rancho Water in 1978 and is an component of Rancho’s diversified water supply portfolio for providing water supplies to over 150,000 urban and agricultural water users in the cities of Temecula and Murrieta, and the surrounding areas. 

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

California appoints analyst to study Salton Sea water importation

California remains far behind its targets for addressing exposed playa around the Salton Sea, according to data released in the 2021 Salton Sea Management Program annual report. But state officials expressed optimism in a public workshop that they are finally beginning to catch up to those goals. The state was supposed to implement dust suppression projects or build wetlands habitat across 3,500 acres of exposed playa by the end of 2020 to tamp down dust that’s imbued with a century’s worth of salts, pesticides and other agricultural runoff. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Updated Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project hot off the press

Our Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project has just been updated to reflect the latest developments affecting California’s largest surface water delivery system. The 24-page guide explores the history of the Central Valley Project, from its roots as a state water project that stalled amid the Great Depression to its development as a federal project that stretches from Shasta Dam in far Northern California to Bakersfield in the southern San Joaquin Valley. 

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Markets, water availability prove key in land values

Despite market unknowns created by the pandemic and lower commodity prices, California agricultural land values remained largely stable, an indication buyers have confidence in the long-term land market in the state: This was a key takeaway from a virtual business conference held by the California Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. The conference also discussed impacts of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act on California land values. Even though record supplies of the state’s highest-value crops led to lower prices for farmers last year, appraisers said the softer prices also helped move those products. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: California needs comprehensive groundwater management

While California’s landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act promised comprehensive protection of the state’s groundwater, significant gaps remain in its coverage.  The Department of Water Resources now has an opportunity to reduce or eliminate those gaps and should seize the moment. We know all Californians will experience another year of water shortages and warmer, drier conditions that will require conservation and which are likely to fuel destructive wildfires in our forests and around our communities. We are all in this together. Groundwater is critical for California, particularly in dry years when it provides up to 60% of the water supply for farms and people. 
-Written by Jeanette Howard, director of The Nature Conservancy’s freshwater science team; Melissa M. Rohde, a groundwater scientist at The Nature Conservancy; and Barton H. Thompson, senior fellow of the Woods Institute for the Environment, and faculty director of Water in the West at Stanford University.

Aquafornia news BBC News

The water fight over the shrinking Colorado River

Scientists have been predicting for years that the Colorado River would continue to deplete due to global warming and increased water demands, but according to new studies it’s looking worse than they thought. That worries rancher Marsha Daughenbaugh, 68, of Steamboat Springs, who relies on the water from the Colorado River to grow feed for her cattle. … Recent reports show that the river’s water flows were down 20% in 2000 and by 2050 that number is estimated to more than double.

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Aquafornia news Cal Coast News

SLO County supervisors open the door to water banking

A barely-noticed action early in March by the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors likely has placed greater control of the region’s water supply in the hands of a few individuals and private water agencies. On a split 3-2, north-south vote, supervisors on March 3 approved an amendment to the county’s contract with the state of California for deliveries from the State Water Project (SWP). An approval that creates the opportunity, some say, for a controversial practice called “water banking.”

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Q/A with Delta Conveyance Project Executive Director Tony Meyers

In the first episode in the Delta Conveyance Team Spotlight video series, [DWR] spoke with the project’s Executive Director Tony Meyers about his long and eventful career in engineering, including work on some of DWR’s most ambitious and significant infrastructure projects. In this excerpt, he reflects on the appeal of large-scale engineering projects and speaks about the importance of the Delta Conveyance Project in protecting the security of California’s water supply.

Aquafornia news US Department of the Interior

News release: Robert Anderson nominated as solicitor of the Department of the Interior

Robert (Bob) Anderson’s nomination as Solicitor of the Department of the Interior was formally transmitted by the White House to the United States Senate today. Bob has served as Interior’s Principal Deputy Solicitor since January 20, 2021. … For 20 years, Bob was a law professor at the University of Washington and directed its Native American Law Center. He has been the Oneida Indian Nation Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School for the past twelve years. He is a co-author and editor of the leading federal Indian Law treatise, Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law, and is a co-author of a leading textbook on American Indian Law. He has extensive expertise and has published many articles in the fields of natural resources law, water law, and American Indian law.   

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Explore California’s water basics & the lifeblood of the Southwest during upcoming virtual events

Our two-day Water 101 Workshop begins on Earth Day, when you can gain a deeper understanding of California’s most precious natural resource. One of our most popular events, the once-a-year workshop will be held as an engaging online event on the afternoons of Thursday, April 22 and Friday, April 23. California’s water basics will be covered by some of the state’s leading policy and legal experts, including the history, geography, legal and political facets of water in the state, as well a look at hot topics and current issues of concern.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Opinion – Are water wars about to boil?

Not counting long and ugly court battles, the two most likely solutions to California water wars are voluntary agreements or involuntary edicts. Our Modesto Bee Editorial Board long has favored voluntary agreements, or compromises negotiated mainly between local irrigation districts (representing our farmers) and state and federal officials. The other side, chiefly represented by environmental and fishing interests, would prefer that the California State Water Board simply take huge amounts of water from our Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers, mostly to benefit fish — what could be called involuntary edicts. 
-Written by Garth Stapley, The Modesto Bee’s opinion editor.

Aquafornia news California Fisheries Blog

Blog: Drastic measure to meet Delta outflow

For seven days in mid-March 2021, the Bureau of Reclamation substantially increased Folsom Lake storage releases. Roughly, the releases tripled in volume (Figure 1). The release of over 20,000 acre-feet of water is significant for a year in which Folsom storage is not much better than it was in the worst year on record – 1977 (Figure 2).1 With the release in mid-March, the lake level dropped 3 feet. Yes, there was rain in the forecast and a decent snowpack, but certainly no flood concerns. So why? The reason was to meet state water quality requirements for Delta outflow. Delta outflow increased from 7,000 cfs to 12,000 cfs for a few days (Figure 3).

Aquafornia news Havasu News

Colorado River Indian Tribes will get $209K to stop water loss from irrigation canals

The Colorado River Indian Tribes will receive $209,000 for irrigation canal projects, Congressman Paul Gosar announced Tuesday. The federal funds were awarded by the U.S. Department of the Interior to help CRIT pay for canal lining. The project is intended to help stop water seepage from the canal. CRIT relies on the Colorado River as its primary source of water, and water conserved with help the Tribes meet existing demand during times of drought, Gosar said. The project will line nearly 4,000 feet of the earthen canal with a membrane covered in sprayed concrete. The stretch of canal has been identified as having the most significant seepage rate of all 232 miles of canals in the Colorado River Irrigation Project, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Nevada farmers and conservationists balk at “water banking,” an idea also being weighed in Colorado

Rural water users are panicking over a proposal to create a market for the sale and purchase of water rights in Nevada, unconvinced by arguments that the concept would encourage conservation. Lawmakers on Monday weighed whether so-called “water banking” would be preferable to prevailing water law doctrines that govern surface and groundwater rights disputes in the driest state in the U.S. A legislative hearing about two proposals to allow water rights holders to sell their entitlements pitted state water bureaucrats against a coalition of farmers, conservationists and rural officials. 

Aquafornia news The New York Times

A battle over water comes to a sweet end

Nearly five years ago we brought you the story of a little town an hour south of the Oregon border that was doing battle with a big timber company over who owned the rights to a pristine spring that gurgles in the shadows of Mount Shasta, the majestic snow-capped dormant volcano. After $1.5 million in legal fees and countless hours of argument and activism, the City Council of that town, Weed, Calif., recently approved a deal securing use of the water in perpetuity. It was a David-over-Goliath victory for Weed, population 2,700. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

State will hear Kern River water rights case

Is there water available on the Kern River and, if so, how much? Parties to the long-running river dispute will finally get a hearing by the State Water Resources Control Board on those questions, at least. The big question — who should get the water? — will have to wait. Still, this is the first significant public movement on the Kern River in the past 11 years.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Agencies: Arizona farmers should expect less water in 2022

State officials are putting farmers in south-central Arizona on notice that the continuing drought means a “substantial cut” in deliveries of Colorado River water is expected next year. A joint statement issued Friday by the state Department of Water Resources and the Central Arizona Project said an expected shortage declaration “will result in a substantial cut to Arizona’s share of the river, with reductions falling largely to central Arizona agricultural users.” The Central Arizona Project is an aqueduct system that delivers Colorado River water to users in central Arizona and southern Arizona, including farmers, cities and tribes.

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Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Deal to help fish threatened by federal agencies

Water releases designed to benefit the critical outmigration of juvenile salmon on the Stanislaus River as well as assist farms and communities along the west side of the San Joaquin Valley already starting to suffer the effects of two consecutive dry years is languishing in the federal bureaucracy. Up to 100,000 acre feet is proposed to be released that belongs to the South San Joaquin and Oakdale irrigation districts that would provide a critical impulse flow from April 15 to May 15. That water based on measurements at Vernalis south of Manteca where the Stanislaus River joins the San Joaquin River would significantly improve the survivability of the threatened salmon.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Michael Abatti asks U.S. Supreme Court to hear his case against IID

The fight between Imperial Valley farmer Michael Abatti and the Imperial Irrigation District over control of the district’s massive allotment of Colorado River water could be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court if Abatti gets his way. He and his lawyers have announced that they have petitioned the nation’s highest court to take up the litigation that has dragged on since 2013….Abatti is seeking to have the country’s apex court hand control of IID’s water over to landowners, a move that would leave most of the valley’s water with a few larger agricultural operations.

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Aquafornia news Galt Herald

Groundwater status, plan discussed at meeting

Seven agencies that have been working together to sustain the groundwater in the Cosumnes Subbasin, which includes the communities of Galt, Herald, Wilton and Rancho Murieta South, held a workshop March 24. The presentation was intended to help residents understand how groundwater will be used in the next two decades in the Cosumnes Subbasin. The group has until Jan. 31, 2022 to submit its plan to the state on how it intends to meet its target of replacing 20,000-acre feet per year (AFY) in underground basins called aquifers to sustain the groundwater. One of the takeaways from meeting is the plan will cost $2.25 million in the early years. 

Aquafornia news University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources

Report: The first SGMA groundwater market is trading – The importance of good design and the risks of getting it wrong

A groundwater market, which caps total pumping within one or more basins, allocates portions of the total to individual users and allows users to buy and sell groundwater under the total cap, is a promising tool for basins implementing California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). … [G]roundwater markets can be a useful tool for achieving basin sustainability, but they are not a good fit for every basin or groundwater sustainability agency (GSA). … The Fox Canyon groundwater market benefitted from the four enabling conditions (water scarcity, fixed allocations, agricultural stakeholder support, and capacity and funding) described below.

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Aquafornia news Mammoth Times

County scores win to keep Long Valley green – for now

The huge, lush green meadows that stretch between the S.R. 203 junction with U.S. 395 and Crowley Lake may seem like they have been there forever but in reality, their existence has been under threat for several years after the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power threatened to withdraw much of the water from the meadowlands a few years ago, stating it needed the water for its own uses. If implemented, the proposed ‘de-watering’ of much of the massive meadows would have turned them into sage and dust, destroying wildlife habitat, historic cattle grazing leases, the fishing habitat along Hot Creek and the Upper Owens River and much more. 

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Ag land values rely heavily on water availability

California agricultural land values that are rising and falling the most are doing so under the perception of water availability – no surprise there. This is putting farmland in the Fresno Irrigation District (FID) in a positive light as that agency has done a good job over the years managing conjunctive use of irrigation water.

Aquafornia news Latham & Watkins

Blog: California water law – Legal challenges of water supply assessments

Mark Twain is often credited with saying, “Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over.” This remains true in California, where drought conditions, climate change, and population growth throughout the state’s history have made water an increasingly valuable and regulated resource. The legal landscape involves complex questions related to water quality, water sustainability, and competing claims to water rights. One notable area of controversy involves the adequacy of water supply for new development projects.

Aquafornia news Your Central Valley.com

Explaining California’s complex water system with emotion and storytelling

California has one of the most complex and complicated water systems in the nation. There are hundreds of water districts, different reservoirs and rivers and canals controlled by different jurisdictions, and lots of politically charged legislation.   Understanding this system is a difficult undertaking, but those at the Modesto Irrigation District believe they’re up to the task.   Through emotional storytelling and strong characters, the MID set out to explain how the rivers in their district nourish communities by talking to the men and women who depend on them. The interviews and stories eventually turned into a feature-length documentary called Until the Last Drop.  

Aquafornia news Civil Eats

Indigenous food sovereignty movements are taking back ancestral land

In recent years, the Wiyot Tribe in Northern California secured ownership of its ancestral lands and is working to restore its marine habitats; the nearby Yurok Tribe fought for the removal of dams along the Klamath River and has plans to reconnect with salmon, its traditional food source; and the Quapaw Nation in Oklahoma has cleaned up contaminated land to make way for agriculture and cattle businesses.

Aquafornia news Arizona Public Media

No movement on groundwater protection bills

Arizona’s 1980 Groundwater Management Act established pumping regulations in the state’s most populous areas but set no such limits on rural parts of the state. In recent years, some rural areas have come under increased pressure from agricultural pumping that has dropped groundwater levels dramatically. … Lawmakers introduced several bills in the current legislative session to regulate or provide more options for managing the state’s groundwater. One would have banned most new wells in the Upper San Pedro and Verde Valley river basins. Another would have set spacing limits for new wells in areas that are overdrawn. Another, introduced by Rep. Regina Cobb of Kingman, would have given county supervisors the power to establish groundwater limits or regulations in their area. 

Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

Abatti files petition with U.S. Supreme Court

Imperial Valley grower, landowner, and former elected official Michael Abatti has filed a petition for “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, according to a press release from Abatti and his legal team. Michael Abatti, Imperial County farmer 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, the press release states.

Aquafornia news KUNC

Colorado River tribes aim to establish ‘one unified voice’ in policy talks

The Fort Yuma-Quechan Indian Tribe is situated at a nexus in the Colorado River Basin. That’s true in a geographic sense. The tribe’s reservation overlays the Arizona-California border near Yuma, Arizona. The two states are heavily reliant on water from the Colorado River. The reservation also abuts the U.S.-Mexico border where the river flows into Mexico for use in cities and on farms. One of the river’s largest irrigation projects, the All-American Canal, was dug through the tribe’s land, and flows from the reservation’s northeastern boundary to its far southwestern corner, on its way to irrigate crops in California’s Imperial Valley. The confluence of the Colorado River and one of its historically important tributaries, the Gila River, is nearby.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Report provides guidance on repurposing California farmland to benefit water, landowners, communities and wildlife

Over the coming decades, California’s San Joaquin Valley will transition to sustainable groundwater management under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), ensuring reliable groundwater supplies for generations to come. Sustainable groundwater management and a changing climate will inevitably affect how land is used on a sweeping scale. By some estimates, the amount of farmland that will have to be taken out of production to balance groundwater demand and supply is equivalent to the size of Yosemite National Park — a transition that could serve a huge blow to the agricultural economy, rural communities and the environment. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Monday Top of the Scroll: California weighs changes for new water rights permits in response to a warmer and drier climate

As California’s seasons become warmer and drier, state officials are pondering whether the water rights permitting system needs revising to better reflect the reality of climate change’s effect on the timing and volume of the state’s water supply. A report by the State Water Resources Control Board recommends that new water rights permits be tailored to California’s increasingly volatile hydrology and be adaptable enough to ensure water exists to meet an applicant’s demand.

Western Water Layperson's Guide to Water Rights Law By Gary Pitzer

California Weighs Changes for New Water Rights Permits in Response to a Warmer and Drier Climate
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: State Water Board report recommends aligning new water rights to an upended hydrology

The American River in Sacramento in 2014 shows the effects of the 2012-2016 drought. Climate change is expected to result in more frequent and intense droughts and floods. As California’s seasons become warmer and drier, state officials are pondering whether the water rights permitting system needs revising to better reflect the reality of climate change’s effect on the timing and volume of the state’s water supply.

A report by the State Water Resources Control Board recommends that new water rights permits be tailored to California’s increasingly volatile hydrology and be adaptable enough to ensure water exists to meet an applicant’s demand. And it warns that the increasingly whiplash nature of California’s changing climate could require existing rights holders to curtail diversions more often and in more watersheds — or open opportunities to grab more water in climate-induced floods.

Aquafornia news Grist

Farms, feathers, and fins share water in California

The rivalry between farms and wildlife for water and land was long seen as a zero-sum game, especially in California where water is such a precious commodity that the state’s water futures are traded on the stock exchange. That competition has been particularly sharp in the Central Valley: 95% of the region’s historic wetlands have transformed into farmland, and the region’s increasingly scarce water supply has been prioritized for farming. As a result, some of the migratory birds that rely on the Central Valley for habitat, food, and water sources have seen steep declines in the past century. 

Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger

Blog: Appellate decisions limiting groundwater pumping in an overdrafted basin

A California Court of Appeal recently issued two opinions affirming a physical solution limiting the right to pump groundwater by a landowner who has never pumped from the groundwater basin or who has not established the amount or reasonableness of pumping. A landowner filed the underlying lawsuit in 1999 to quiet title to its claimed superior groundwater rights in a groundwater basin that had been in a state of overdraft for decades. The lawsuit became a comprehensive groundwater adjudication involving approximately 70,000 landowners in the Antelope Valley area of California, including two separate classes and the United States.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: California’s complex water rights system explained at water 101 workshop

From the very first gold miners making claims to divert streams in the Sierra Nevada foothills to the later wrangling that enabled irrigation of Central Valley farmland and drinking water to be sent to growing cities in California, water rights are an indispensable cornerstone of the state’s water supply and delivery system.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Water law alert – Groundwater well permitting, Yampa River basin

As a result of increasing demand for water, exacerbated by the decades-long drought in the Colorado River system, the Colorado State Engineer is considering a proposal that would impose stricter limitations on the permitting of new groundwater wells in the Yampa River Basin upstream of where the Yampa River meets the Little Snake River.  The Yampa River flows west from its headwaters near Steamboat Springs, in northwest Colorado.  After it is joined by the Little Snake River, it flows to meet the Green River near the Colorado-Utah state line.  From there, the Green River flows south as a major tributary of the Colorado River.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Valuing water in the Sacramento Valley: Celebrating World Water Day

With World Water Day this week and the dry year emerging throughout the Sacramento Valley, we take this moment to reflect on the value of water as we cultivate a shared vision in the region for a vibrant way of life. We encourage you to watch and read the following vignettes that all showcase the value of water.

Aquafornia news Fox 13 Salt Lake City

Romney and the looming Colorado River clash

One of the most critical negotiations for Utah’s future is coming at a time when Utah’s delegations in Washington D.C. may be less influential than every other party at the table. The Colorado River Compact, hammered out in 1922 with few amendments over the years, expires in 2026. Every other state in the compact other than Utah has a majority Democratic or split delegation in Washington. Those states? Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California. 

Aquafornia news Pagosa Daily Post

Blog: Colorado establishes water equity task force

Colorado Governor Jared Polis and Dan Gibbs, executive director, Colorado Department of Natural Resources, announced recently the establishment of a Water Equity Task Force to better understand existing equity, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) challenges in Colorado water issues and inform the Colorado Water Plan. … The 2005 Water for the 21st Century Act (HB 05-1177) ushered in a new area of regionally inclusive and collaborative water planning. That spirit was further codified in the 2015 Colorado Water Plan, which ensured that all water uses in Colorado are interconnected and of equal value. 

Aquafornia news Capital Press

Further arguments loom in Klamath re-quantification ruling

An Oregon judge has agreed to hear further legal arguments over his ruling that tribal water rights in the Klamath basin must be re-quantified. Because the judge’s legal opinion from last month hasn’t yet been reduced to an order, that means the Klamath tribes can enforce their water rights to shut off irrigation in the meantime.

Aquafornia news Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard

Blog: California’s largest groundwater rights judgment affirmed

After 22 years of litigation, a California appellate court has affirmed a trial court judgment defining groundwater pumping rights for thousands of landowners plus cities, water districts and Edwards Air Force Base in the Antelope Valley desert north of Los Angeles. The March 16, 2021 opinion by the Fifth District Court of Appeal is one of three recent opinions rejecting challenges to a 2015 trial court judgment declaring groundwater rights and imposing a “physical solution” to reduce pumping and to ensure sustainability of the Antelope Valley’s largest single source of water supply.

Aquafornia news The Napa Valley Register

Opinion: New users are taxing St. Helena’s water system

California and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) ordered St. Helena to build 254 new housing units by 2031. Napa is ordered to build almost 2,000, plus taking some of the county’s allocation. New users continue to be connected to the water system. On Pope Street and McCorkle there are 16 new apartments. A month later the planning commission approved five new units on Pope Street. The Hunter project at the east end of Adams Street is still underway with a new EIR — adding 87 new units to the water system. … On March 4, our city offered tips on how to conserve water. … We have to give up taking a bath so folks who buy a home in the Hunter project can landscape their yards?  Written by Mariam Hansen.

Aquafornia news AgNet West

Understanding the California water futures market

California has recently established a water futures market that has brought with it some criticism as well as confusion. As the first of its kind in the country, it will function similarly to futures markets for other commodities. The market will allow water users to lock in a particular price they are willing to pay for water. This new futures market is entirely different from water markets that allow the purchasing of water allocations.

Aquafornia news Herald and News

This wildlife refuge is drying up. An anonymous rancher wants to save it.

A unique deal between ranchers and wildlife advocates may at long last bring a reliable water supply to Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge — and the wetlands and birds that depend on it. Since it was largely drained in the early 20th Century, the mosaic of wetlands formerly known as Lower Klamath Lake has relied on water from the Klamath Irrigation Project to grow food and provide suitable habitat for millions of migrating birds along the Pacific Flyway each year. Wetlands in the Klamath Basin support nearly 80% of the Pacific Flyway’s migratory waterfowl during the spring and fall.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

New curriculum approaches water conservation through Indigenous lens

Local tribes, schools and nonprofits have developed a new high school curriculum that seeks to encourage environmental advocacy through an Indigenous lens. The advocacy and water protection curriculum meets state standards in science, social studies, health, history and language arts and seeks to bolster “culturally informed education” in the classroom. The curriculum is based on the “Advocacy and Water Protection in Native California” speaker series that was developed by Save California Salmon …

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Blog: Colorado’s latest proposal to divert water from the Western Slope is a complex, disputed set of pipes

Sometime in the middle of next year, if Northern Water gets its way, the bulldozers will start piling earth and rock 25 stories high to plug this dry basin southwest of Loveland forever.  Four miles to the south, they’ll build another dam to keep their newly-made bathtub from leaking out the back toward Lyons. Drill crews will bore a massive pipeline through the hogback making up the east edge of the bathtub, in order to feed Carter Lake a few hundred yards to the east. They’ll move a power line. Help build a surrounding open space park. Upgrade a sewage plant in Fraser. Four years later, they’ll close dam gates reinforced to hold back 29 billion gallons of life-giving water.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Judge rules against LADWP in irrigation fight

A judge has ordered the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to continue providing historic quantities of irrigation water to lessees of its pasturelands east of Yosemite, despite the agency’s assertion that climate change is making water resources in the Sierra Nevada watershed increasingly unreliable.

Aquafornia news The Union

Editorial: Do you live on top of the Idaho-Maryland Mine?

Many people in Grass Valley, Calif., live and work over the Idaho-Maryland Mine without realizing it. A lot of information about the location of the two surface sites and the project features has been circulated, but not much has been shared about the sheer size of the project underground and how that may affect us. … Wells are of even greater concern. Due to dewatering of the mine, there will be lowering of the ground water levels in the area. 

Aquafornia news Mt. Shasta News

‘A historic day’: Weed strikes deal for water source after years long battle

After years of uncertainty over its source of water, residents of Weed now have a guaranteed supply from the spring the city has been using for more than 100 years. … The Weed City Council approved a sale agreement with Crystal Geyser Roxanne Thursday night for water rights to two cubic feet-per-second from Beaughan Springs.

Aquafornia news Herald and News

OWRD will continue to enforce Klamath Tribes’ water calls

Despite a February court opinion that vacated the quantified water rights of the Klamath Tribes, the Oregon Water Resources Department announced Friday that they will continue to enforce the Tribes’ water calls until a judge orders otherwise. The Klamath Tribes maintain senior water rights in the Klamath Basin, which were affirmed by the Klamath County Circuit Court last month, but Judge Cameron Wogan wrote in his proposed order that those rights need to be re-quantified.

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Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: DWR seeks public comment on draft California’s groundwater – Update 2020: Publication provides communities with information about their groundwater

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) released the draft California’s Groundwater – Update 2020, containing information on the condition of the state’s groundwater, which is especially important as California faces a critically dry water year. DWR encourages community members and water managers to review the publication and provide input.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Delta Watermaster update: Preparing for a dry year in the Delta; addressing problems in the south Delta

At the February meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council, Delta Watermaster Michael George updated the councilmembers on the efforts underway at the State Water Board to prepare for the increasing possibility of 2021 being critically dry.  He also gave an update on the efforts to address the deteriorating conditions in the south Delta.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Groundwater session added to April 22-23 virtual Water 101 workshop

Learn from top water experts at our annual Water 101 Workshop about the history, hydrology and law behind California water as well as hot topics such as water equity, the Delta and flows, new federal administration and more. This year’s workshop, set for April 22-23, will be held virtually and feature a presentation devoted solely to groundwater.

Aquafornia news Pasadena Star News

Opinion: Racial justice requires equitable access to reliable drinking water

Vice President Kamala Harris was right on point last year when she said that clean water is a fundamental human right. President Biden has put those words into action by signing an executive order establishing a White House council on environmental justice. Every Californian has a right to clean, reliable affordable drinking water.
-Written by Jose Barrera, California’s state deputy director for the League of United Latin American Citizens. 

Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

Blog: Implications of California’s water futures market 

In California’s Water Futures Market: Explained, Cora Kammeyer describes how futures markets operate generally and the particulars of California’s version. This new water futures market has attracted considerable attention and hyperbole. Here we explore the potential implications of this novel financial tool through the lens of California water supply reliability.  The water futures market opened on December 7, 2020, intended to improve the transparency of water trade prices and to enable participants to hedge their financial risk. 

Aquafornia news CaliforniaSalmon.org

News release: Leaders aim to empower next generation of water protectors, cultural leaders, and scientists

Today, [Tribes, Schools, and NGOs] released the Advocacy and Water Protection in Native California High School Curriculum and Teacher’s Resource Guide. The curriculum … responds to California’s urgent water, climate and educational crises, along with the need for Native American culturally informed education and representation in schools. The curriculum features online, classroom, and nature-based learning and responds to reports that Humboldt, Del Norte, and other counties are failing Native students, and that Native youth are facing a mental health crisis due to COVID-19 and the state’s water and climate crises.

Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

Opinion: Reward Water’s Worth

When you think of shipping Humboldt’s Finest in Ziplocs to Southern California, you’re not thinking of bags of river water. But, putting Humboldt’s water in giant baggies on a boat to Southern California was a plan actually taken seriously in 2003 to encourage more water use. Humboldt historically has an outsized allocation of water from the state because the former pulp mills consumed an astronomical amount of water. Squandering water in order to preserve our state water allocation was the idea of some political leaders and business people. Written by J.A. Savage.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Western states chart diverging paths as water shortages loom

As persistent drought and climate change threaten the Colorado River, several states that rely on the water acknowledge they likely won’t get what they were promised a century ago. But not Utah. Republican lawmakers approved an entity that could push for more of Utah’s share of water as seven Western states prepare to negotiate how to sustain a river serving 40 million people. Critics say the legislation, which the governor still must sign, could strengthen Utah’s effort to complete a billion-dollar pipeline from a dwindling reservoir that’s a key indicator of the river’s health.

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Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Editorial: Newsom should kill plan to drain state reservoirs

On the tail end of the second dry winter in a row, with water almost certain to be in short supply this summer, California water officials are apparently planning to largely drain the equivalent of the state’s two largest reservoirs to satisfy the thirst of water-wasting farmers. Gov. Gavin Newsom must stop this irresponsible plan, which threatens the environmental health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the water supply for about one-third of the Bay Area residents. We should be saving water, not wasting it. 

Aquafornia news KNAU Arizona Public Radio

Report calls for “radical changes” to Colorado River management

A recent report from Colorado River experts says it’s time for radical new management strategies to safeguard the Southwest’s water supplies. It’s meant to inform discussions on how to renegotiate certain parts of the Law of the River that will expire in 2026. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke about the report with Jack Schmidt, director of the Center for Colorado River Studies at Utah State University.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Some California water well permits require environmental review

Proposed water wells in California don’t all require environmental review under state and local permit laws, but state standards governing well location will sometimes require local governments to make discretionary decisions, triggering such a look, a state appellate court said. The California Environmental Quality Act requires discretionary decisions—those that require an agency to exercise judgment in deciding whether to approve a project—to undergo an environmental review. 

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Research brief: New laws reduce barriers to water markets

Water access in the western United States is controlled by property rights to use water. In most of the region’s watersheds, all of the water supply is legally claimed or is projected to be by 2030. In such locations, new water demands can frequently only be met through reallocation of existing water rights. For decades, water markets have helped the western U.S. voluntarily adapt water rights to new demands and changing supplies, providing water for growing cities, freshwater ecosystems and new farms and industries. However, many have questioned whether western U.S. water law provides sufficient flexibility to adapt to unprecedented water demand and a changing climate.

Aquafornia news Lost Coast Outpost

Blog: Fight of the river people: The generational push that brought Berkshire Hathaway to the table and put dam removal back on track

It was a Friday in late August when four jet boats made their way up the Klamath River under a cloudless blue sky. The boats carried three tribal chairs. From the Karuk Tribe, there was Russell “Buster” Attebery, who’d found pride as a boy catching salmon from the river and bringing them home to his family, and later come to believe some tribal youth’s troubles — from suicides to substance use — could be traced back to their never having had that opportunity, growing up alongside a river now choked with algae and diminishing fish populations. 

Aquafornia news Post Independent

Opinion: Colorado River Compact adjustments are needed

When [the Colorado River Compact was] signed in 1922, the Colorado River drainage was divided into two divisions; Upper: Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah; Lower: Arizona, California, Nevada. At that time, it was felt the total average annual flow was 16.4 million acre feet. As a result, each basin was assigned 50%, or 7.5 million acre feet, with the 1.4 million acre feet surplus allocated to Mexico. … As a result, the Upper Basin is obligated to provide 7.5M acre feet to the Lower Basin, regardless of the actual flow of water in any given year. Obviously, snowpack and the consequent flow is not a constant and years of drought and low flows create a problem for the Upper Basin.
-Written by Bryan Whiting, a columnist for the Glenwood Springs (Colo.) Post Independent. 

Aquafornia news Well+Good

Unsafe drinking water is a wellness issue

When Malini Ranganathan, PhD, an associate professor at American University and interim faculty director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center, conducted research in Exeter, a flourishing agriculture town in California’s Central Valley, she didn’t expect to see similar conditions to what she’d witnessed in India’s low-income housing areas. Residents in one of the world’s richest states were depending on bore water and water tankers to drink because tap water was unsafe. 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Celebrating 30 Years of NCWA

Looking back over the past 30 years, the Northern California Water Association has grown into an organization that the early founders can be extremely proud of. The men and women who had the foresight and passion to start the organization should be given a large amount of gratitude. What now is a high-level organization that fosters water management for multiple beneficial uses, sprung from very humble beginnings.

Aquafornia news The (Vacaville) Reporter

Online public meeting planned to discuss groundwater sustainability

A part of the natural water cycle, groundwater is an important element of California’s water supply, especially in the Central Valley, where one in four people rely on it entirely. It is an especially important resource in the Solano Subbasin, a geographic area that includes Dixon, parts of Vacaville, Elmira, Rio Vista, unincorporated Winters, Davis, the Montezuma Hills, Isleton, Sherman Island and Walnut Grove. And every quarter, the Solano Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agency Collaborative, aka the Solano Collaborative, hosts a Community Advisory Committee meeting and will so again from 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday. 

Aquafornia news Arizona Public Media

In rapidly warming Colorado River Basin, the negotiating table is being set

Anyone who has hosted a good dinner party knows that the guest list, table setting and topic of conversation play a big role in determining whether the night is a hit or the guests leave angry and unsatisfied. That concept is about to get a true test on the Colorado River, where chairs are being pulled up to a negotiating table to start a new round of talks that could define how the river system adapts to a changing climate for the next generation. 

Aquafornia news Wild Rivers Outpost

Blog: Skeptical about Klamath River dam removal, harbor district, Del Norte County seek protection against potential damages

Though the nonprofit tasked with Klamath River dam removal is about to submit its definite plan to federal regulators, Del Norte County and the Crescent City Harbor District are still worried about potential negative impacts. Harbor commissioners on Thursday agreed to sign onto a memorandum of understanding that includes the county and the Klamath River Renewal Corporation. The MOU contains conditions that ensures the harbor and county can recover potential damages to the port and the fishing industry that occur as a result of dam removal and reservoir drawdown on the Klamath River.

Aquafornia news The Santa Barbara Independent

Water security vs. water marketing: Should state water supplies be sold outside the county?

It’s not long ago that Lake Cachuma, the main water source on the South Coast, was in danger of going dry in a seven-year drought. Water agencies from Carpinteria to Goleta spent millions of dollars scrambling to buy surplus state aqueduct water from around the state to avert a local shortage. They did so not only because their groundwater levels were plunging and Cachuma was failing, but because their yearly allocations from the aqueduct had dropped to zero. Yet on Tuesday, the water managers serving Santa Maria, Buellton, Guadalupe, Santa Barbara, Goleta, Montecito and the Santa Ynez and Carpinteria valleys will ask the County Board of Supervisors to grant them the right to sell their state water allocations outside the county — not permanently, but potentially for years at a stretch.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Monday Top of the Scroll: ‘It’s a toxic blend’: where the kids are warned not to swallow the bath water

An invisible line splits the rural road of Avenue 416 in California’s Tulare county, at the point where the nut trees stretch east toward the towering Sierra Nevada mountains in the distance. On one side of the line, residents have clean water. On the other side, they do not. On the other side lies East Orosi, an unincorporated community of about 700 where children grow up learning to never open their eyes or mouths while they shower. They know that what comes out of their faucets may harm them, and parents warn they must not swallow when they brush their teeth. They spend their lives sustaining themselves on bottled water while just one mile down Avenue 416, the same children they go to school with in the community of Orosi can drink from their taps freely and bathe without a second thought.

Aquafornia news Times of San Diego

Water Authority to split $44.4m among local agencies after win in legal battle with MWD

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors Thursday announced a plan to distribute a rebate of $44.4 million to its 24 member agencies across the region. They did so after receiving a check for that amount from the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to pay legal damages and interest after a long legal battle. The money resulted from the water authority’s decade-long litigation in Superior Court seeking to compel MWD to set legal rates and repay overcharges. 

Aquafornia news KUER

Colorado River Authority bill moves to full Senate, some still concerned about transparency

A Senate committee unanimously approved a bill Thursday to create Utah’s Colorado River Authority, which would be tasked with helping the state renegotiate its share of the river. Originally the bill allowed broad reasons to close meetings and protect records. It’s since been changed twice to come more into compliance with the state’s open meeting and record laws. Critics of the bill said it’s still not enough. Mike O’Brien, an attorney with the Utah Media Coalition, said having a narrower scope for open meetings and records exemptions makes the bill better than when it was first introduced. But he wishes it would follow laws already there.

Aquafornia news KCET

Michael Preston: Helping sacred water heal people, land, spirits and salmon

Michael Preston grew up in the old village site of the Winnemem Wintu tribe, along the McCloud River in Northern California where the Shasta Dam has flooded spiritual and cultural lands. Since the 1940s, the creation of the dam has also blocked the usual migration of winter-run salmon, effectively endangering the species. Now, there are proposals to raise the dam by an additional 18.5 feet, which will cause further destruction. “Our tribal goal is to bring the salmon back … ” he said, adding that it’s more than just the fish. With the lack of salmon, which is a keystone species, other animals, such as bears, eagles and mountain lions are being starved.

Aquafornia news Arizona Capitol Times

Opinion: Water rights for tribes is environmental justice

This month, the comment period for a potentially landmark piece of legislation ended. Since California v. Arizona in 2000, the Colorado River Indian Tribes have the sole rights to more than 600,000 acres-feet of water from the Colorado River, but they are barred from selling or leasing any of this water to outside communities. The proposed federal legislation, led by the tribes themselves, would allow them to lease some of this water as long as they reduce their own water consumption by an equivalent amount.
-Written by Isaac Humrich, a senior at Sunnyslope High School in Phoenix and a member of American Conservation Coalition.

Aquafornia news The San Francisco Examiner

Opinion: The SFPUC is tarnishing SF’s record as an environmental leader

San Francisco has long been an international leader on environmental issues. However, water policy has been a stain on that record. … Many California rivers are overtapped by excessive pumping, but few are in worse condition than the Tuolumne River. In drier years, more than 90% of the Tuolumne’s water is diverted. On average, 80 percent of the river’s flow never makes it to the Bay. It’s not a surprise that the river’s health has collapsed. …
-Written by Bill Martin, a member of the Sierra Club Bay Chapter Water Committee, and Hunter Cutting, a member of the Sierra Club Bay Chapter’s San Francisco Group Executive Committee

Aquafornia news Sierra Club Angeles Chapter

Blog: California’s new futures market for water

On December 7, 2020, financial futures based on California water prices began trading. This post is a short introduction to these water futures. First, what’s a future? A future is a type of contract. It obligates the seller, who receives money, to provide some good at some future date, to the buyer, who pays money now to lock in the right to buy that good at that price. Humans have been using futures for thousands of years, primarily for agricultural products. But in recent years the futures markets have been expanding. 

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Aquafornia news The New Republic

How does a state use 40 percent less water?

Arizona, California, and Nevada will need to cut their use of Colorado River water by nearly 40 percent by 2050. A study by researchers at Utah State University, which the Arizona Daily Star reported this past Sunday, noted that Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming—the Upper Basin states—will have to reduce their usage, as well, though not by as much as those pulling water from the Lower Basin.

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: A remembrance of George Basye

Many of my best days as a lawyer were spent driving through the Sacramento Valley and north Delta with George Basye (always in his Volvo).  As George neared his retirement, he wanted to ensure that I, as the successor to a number of his clients, understood the foundations of his client relationships.  George seemingly knew the history of every quarter section of land up and down the Valley.  He had a deep affection not only for the landscape but, most important to George, for the individuals and families who had settled and reclaimed the land and built the agricultural economy of the region.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn, Attorneys at Law

Blog: Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal remands Walker River decree public trust claims for determination of alternative remedies

On January 28, 2021, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal (Ninth Circuit) issued a decision addressing issues related to the extent to which the public trust doctrine may be used to safeguard water resources covered under the 1936 Walker River Decree (Decree). The litigation arose from contested water rights in the Walker River Basin, which originates in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California and ends at Walker Lake in Mineral County, Nevada. I

Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

Blog: California’s water futures market – Explained 

A recently launched water futures market in California drew global attention, from Wall Street to the United Nations. While news of the market has brought both skepticism and speculation, much of the coverage has failed to address some fundamental questions: what actually is a water futures market? How does it work, and who are the players? And most importantly, what are the potential benefits and risks?  In this short piece, we explain the California water futures market in simple terms. We will explore its potential implications in a second blog soon.

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Aquafornia news Santa Barbara News-Press

Group calls for state to investigate Gaviota Creek

A local environmental group is urging the State Water Board to investigate alleged water diversion from Gaviota Creek, an action they assert is being done illegally and threatening the population of endangered Southern Steelhead fish.  Coastal Ranches Conservancy, an environmental protection group that operates along the Gaviota Coast, sent a petition to the State Water Board back in June 2020, requesting that officials examine water removal from Gaviota Creek. The CRC alleges that the water diversion is happening illegally to provide water to Gaviota rest stops. 

Aquafornia news Interesting Engineering

“Water wars” – fights over a precious resource

Picture the desert landscape of a Mad Max movie populated with vigilantes devoted to acquiring not gasoline — but water. This scenario isn’t as far-fetched as you might think. “Water wars” describes conflicts between countries, states, or groups over the right to access water resources, usually freshwater. … As Los Angeles expanded during the late 19th century, it outgrew its water supply, and L.A.’s mayor, Fred Eaton, came up with the plan to divert water from the Owens Valley to L.A. via an aqueduct. 

Aquafornia news Cronkite News

Investments in California’s water may help lower costs during drought

Climate change and extreme weather events are forecast to further reduce water supplies in the American Southwest, and a new futures market could allow water users to recoup losses if the price of water spikes. The futures market is the first of its kind, allowing investors and farmers alike to bet on how much water in California will cost on a future date. Water users buy the futures contract to avoid risk and hedge against rising water prices affected by things such as droughts. 

Aquafornia news Union Democrat

TUD, other agencies discuss progress to acquire PG&E water rights, infrastructure

Tuolumne Utilities District provided an update on Thursday regarding negotiations to acquire Pacific Gas and Electric Co. assets in the South Fork Stanislaus River watershed and rights to water in New Melones Reservoir, though the possible costs remain unclear due to a confidentiality agreement. The TUD Board of Directors hosted a rare joint meeting via video with the county Board of Supervisors, Sonora City Council, local Me-Wuk Indian tribes, and other stakeholders, during which members spoke about the need for community-wide cooperation and collaboration due to the scope of the undertaking. 

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

News Release: MAGSA awarded $10 million grant to expand On-Farm Recharge Project

The McMullin Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency (MAGSA), a Groundwater Sustainability Agency in the Central Valley’s Kings Subbasin, has been awarded a $10 million grant by the State Water Resources Control Board through the Prop 1 Stormwater Grant Program to expand the existing McMullin On-Farm Recharge (OFR) Project located near Helm in Fresno County.  The Project is identified in MAGSA’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan and is a key element in a vision developed by MAGSA to achieve groundwater sustainability under California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) through innovative approaches in groundwater banking and crediting.

Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

Opinion: Utah’s designs on Colorado River water would ignore the facts and evade the law

Utah House Bill 297 is a dangerous spending bill that provides its benefactors with exemptions to conflict-of-interest laws that raises serious moral questions about what is happening at the Utah Legislature. The bill creates another heavily-funded and secretive government agency — the Colorado River Authority — that would receive an initial $9 million, plus $600,000 per year thereafter, in addition to collecting unknown sums of money from other agencies.
-Written by Claire Geddes, a consumer advocate and former director of Utah Legislative Watch.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Colorado River study means it’s time to cut water use now, outside experts say

Less water for the Central Arizona Project — but not zero water. Even more competition between farms and cities for dwindling Colorado River supplies than there is now. More urgency to cut water use rather than wait for seven river basin states to approve new guidelines in 2025 for operating the river’s reservoirs. That’s where Arizona and the Southwest are heading with water, say experts and environmental advocates following publication of a dire new academic study on the Colorado River’s future. The study warned that the river’s Upper and Lower basin states must sustain severe cuts in river water use to keep its reservoir system from collapsing due to lack of water. That’s due to continued warming weather and other symptoms of human-caused climate change, the study said.

Aquafornia news The Independent

Water market could spell higher costs for local agencies

A recent webinar on trading of guaranteed future water prices on the stock market showed the potential to drive up the price tag of water for public agencies. During a Feb. 2 California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) virtual meeting, water stock market advocates were clear that prices would rise. However, they stated that it would be a good thing, because water has been undervalued and therefore wasted. Their approach would encourage more efficient use of water, they told the CDFA board.

Aquafornia news myMotherLode.com

TUD moving closer to acquiring water rights and infrastructure

The Tuolumne Utilities District hosted a joint meeting to provide local stakeholders an update on efforts to acquire PG&E assets like Pinecrest Reservoir and Lyons Dam, and water rights from New Melones. The informational meeting included the Tuolumne County Supervisors, Sonora City Council and local tribal representatives. 

Aquafornia news Union Democrat

TUD board gridlocks on water supply, future availability

Tuolumne Utilities District will continue to process applications for new water hookups because its Board of Directors failed Thursday to reach a determination on future supply and availability. The TUD board held a special workshop Thursday to grapple with the oldest challenge in county history when it comes to water, but the big picture has not changed. The district relies on the South Fork Stanislaus River watershed that still provides a limited amount of runoff, an average of 104,000 acre-feet annually, and typically has access to less than one-quarter of that.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Opinion: California’s climate change future is being written – in its waterways

Much like COVID-19 is changing our election practices and day-to-day business operations, climate change could change your water rights, according to the State Water Resources Control Board. In the past, I have eluded to the shift from historical facts used for analysis and forecasting to a fear-based guessing game that allows an unelected bureaucracy backed by a one-party-rule elected body to usurp your property rights.
-Written by Wayne Western, Jr. the Sun’s Agriculture Pulse contributor, writing on the San Joaquin Valley’s agricultural community and water issues. 

Aquafornia news Sterling Journal-Advocate

Colorado work group eyes new tools to stop water profiteering

Imposing hefty taxes on speculative water sales, requiring that water rights purchased by investors be held for several years before they can be resold, and requiring special state approval of such sales are three ideas that might help Colorado protect its water resources from speculators. The ideas were discussed Wednesday at a meeting of a special work group looking at whether Colorado needs to strengthen laws preventing Wall Street investment firms and others from selling water for profit in ways that don’t benefit the state’s farms, cities and streams. 

Aquafornia news Sierra Club Angeles Chapter

Blog: Will barons of blue water be more equitable than those of black oil?

Many of today’s under-resourced communities have no more access to blue gold (scarce water) than the under-resourced white residents of the Owens Valley have had since the 1920s. In 1924 greedy public and private water interests transformed the lush Owen’s Lake into a noxious dust bowl. One of the guilty parties LADWP (Department of Water and Power), recently celebrated partial restoration of Owens Lake by constructing a ghostly monument of granite and sculpted earth in the long desiccated lake bed. … For many indigenous peoples denied their rights to water for a century, partial restoration of the lake without full restoration of their water rights is too little, too late. 

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Klamath dam update – Restoration contract signed

Last month in an announcement on Business Wire, the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC) and Resource Environmental Solutions (RES) announced they have signed a contract for RES to provide restoration services in connection with the removal of four dams on the Klamath River. The agreement between RES and KRRC finalizes habitat restoration, maintenance, and liability transfer responsibilities for a fixed price, opening the door to a successful restoration of native vegetation and anadromous fish habitat along the historical, pre-dam path of the Klamath River.  

Aquafornia news Deseret News

Why Utah lawmakers are worried about having enough water in the future

Utah lawmakers say drought and the dwindling Colorado River make it more important than ever for the state to act now to safeguard its interest in the river. 

Aquafornia news CapRadio.org

California now has a futures market for water. Some farmers are skeptical

Investors, farmers, and Reddit users can now all hedge bets on the price of water in California thanks to the launch of the first water futures market in the country late last year. It represents a new financial outlook on water in California — one driven by the market. Since its launch Dec. 7, the futures the market has seen 180 trades — equivalent to over 550 million gallons of actual water. But the water futures market has nothing to do with the movement of real water: it’s just about money.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

City of St. Helena reaches agreement with water watchdog group

The City of St. Helena has agreed to monitor local groundwater levels and stream flows, averting a potential lawsuit from an environmental advocacy group. Following months of negotiations, the city and Water Audit California released a joint statement Friday announcing the city will collect monthly water levels and annual extraction totals for local wells and provide a public, “scientifically useful” summary of the data. The city will conduct a comprehensive review of its water system, develop new protocols for using the city’s own Stonebridge wells, and work with Water Audit on the installation of new stream gauges along the Napa River, York Creek and Sulphur Creek. 

Aquafornia news AZ Central

Bills to safeguard groundwater in rural Arizona face opposition

On sunbaked farmlands where alfalfa and corn grow alongside pistachio orchards and grapevines, pumps hum as wells draw water from underground and send it flowing to fields. The agriculture business around Willcox depends entirely on groundwater. And groundwater here, like most other rural areas across Arizona, remains entirely unregulated.

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Aquafornia news Deseret News

Utah ‘behind the times,’ needs watchdog on Colorado River, leader says

Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson says the state needs to do everything it can to protect its share of water in the drought-challenged Colorado River, and the creation of a new entity would foster that protection. … He and Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, are sponsors of the Colorado River Amendments, HB297, which would set up the Colorado River Authority of Utah with $9 million in one-time money and $600,000 of ongoing money.

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Aquafornia news The Center Square

California water users petition to end proposed Klamath River dam demolition

A Northern California water users’ association has filed a motion against a $450 million plan to tear down four dams on the Klamath River they claim irrevocably hurts local homeowners. The motion was filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last Wednesday by the Murphy and Buchal Law firm on behalf of the Siskiyou County Water Users Association. It claims the interstate agreement reached by Oregon and California last year to remove the dams has incurred “irreparable damage” to lakefront home values in the COPCO Lake area as water levels are feared to decline.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Water wars heat up in California

Water makes the world go ‘round, and a major player in California’s breadbasket doesn’t want to part with more than they have already. The city of Bakersfield, and the Kern County Water Agency are suing nearby water districts over their plan to skim water from Kern County sources for transport to other parts of the state — water that county officials say they need for themselves. The Kern Fan Groundwater Storage Project is a $246 million dollar water storage project planned for California’s south San Joaquin Valley. 

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn, Attorneys at Law

Blog: Court of appeal holds that a city’s surcharge for utility services to cover voter approved general tax on revenues from customer fees and charges did not violate Proposition 218

The Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District recently ruled in Wyatt v. City of Sacramento that a City’s imposition of a surcharge in the form of a “general tax” on property-related utility services payable to the City’s general fund did not violate Proposition 218 (Prop. 218). The appellate court decision confirms that a surcharge imposed on a utility enterprise is a cost of providing utility services and is therefore properly part of the Prop. 218 analysis of determining whether revenues exceed funds required to provide the services. 

Aquafornia news Grist

What would a just transition look like for the Navajo Nation?

Two decades ago, Nicole Horseherder, a member of the Navajo Nation, coordinated a community meeting. Beneath the shade of Juniper trees at her late grandmother’s house, several dozen people gathered to find a way to protect their pristine water. The springs and wells along Black Mesa, a semi-arid, rocky mesa that overlies the Navajo Aquifer, were increasingly drying up, as tens of billions of gallons of potable water were used to extract, clean, and transport coal mined in the region. This meeting was the start of a long struggle to safeguard the community from coal projects, which threatened the drinking water supply of both the Navajo and Hopi people.

Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

Report: Recommendations for an effective water rights response to climate change

The [State Water Resources Control Board] Division of Water Rights released a report on climate change. The report outlines staff recommendations to make water availability analysis more robust, and actions to support an effective water rights response to climate change within the existing water rights framework in California. The report and related material are available on the Division’s climate change webpage. Staff will present a summary of the report at the State Water Resources Control Board Meeting on February 16, 2021. 

Aquafornia news The New Republic

The Colorado River crisis is a national crisis

The Colorado River supports over 40 million people spread across seven southwestern states, 29 tribal nations, and Mexico. It’s responsible for the irrigation of roughly 5.5 million acres of land marked for agricultural use. Local and regional headlines show the river is in crisis. The nation mostly isn’t listening.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

Interior: Tribes expect a voice on land and waters under Haaland

With Democratic New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland poised to become the first Native American Interior secretary, tribal governments historically marginalized by the agency expect not only a greater respect for their autonomy, but also a more significant role in the nation’s land and water management decisions.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Nevada could get some of California’s share of Lake Mead. Here’s how:

A proposed water recycling project in Southern California could result in Nevada getting some of the Golden State’s share of water from the Colorado River. The Southern Nevada Water Authority could invest up to $750 million into the water treatment project. In return for the investment, it could get a share of California’s water in Lake Mead. If built, the project would give the region another tool to protect itself against the ongoing strain of drought conditions on the Colorado River.

Aquafornia news The Salt Lake Tribune

Why hedge funds are eyeing Utah’s shrinking water supply

[T]he president of New York-based hedge fund Water Asset Management … has called water in the United States “a trillion-dollar market opportunity.” The hedge fund invested $300 million in farmland in Colorado, California, Arizona and Nevada as of 2020, including $16.6 million on 2,220 acres of farmland with senior water rights in Colorado’s Grand Valley just upstream from where the Colorado River crosses into Utah.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Reporter notebook: San Diego’s water war with L.A. is almost a century old

I’ve written in the past about the San Diego County Water Authority’s efforts to divest from its parent agency the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. That includes the bad blood between the two agencies stemming from MWD’s water cutbacks to San Diego in 1991, and how local leaders felt they were mistreated. What I didn’t realize was just how far back the tension goes between San Diego leaders and MWD. All the way back to the Great Depression…

Aquafornia news Colorado River Indian Tribes

News release: Local governments, environmental groups, water users, and Arizona coalitions rally in support of CRIT’s right to lease water

New federal legislation that will enable the Colorado River Indian Tribes to lease a portion of its federal water allocation is gaining broad support from Arizona stakeholders. Following the conclusion of a listening session held by the Arizona Department of Water Resources in December, 2020, interested parties were invited to submit public comment on the proposal. 

Aquafornia news Mountain Town News

A deep rethink of the Colorado River

Much has been said about a “new normal” in the Colorado River Basin. The phrase describes reduced flows in the 21st century as compared to those during much of the 20th century. Authors of a new study contemplate something beyond, what they call a “new abnormal.” The future, they say, might be far dryer than water managers have been planning for. … In the 133-page report, they identified a wide variety of alternative management ideas, not simple tweaks but “significant modifications or entirely new approaches.” 

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

‘Better days ahead’: Restoration deal signed to revive Klamath River after dam removal

The Klamath River Renewal Corporation last week signed an agreement with Resource Environmental Solutions, a Texas-based ecological restoration company, to provide restoration services following the removal of four dams on the Klamath River. The agreement with RES brings North Coast tribes one step closer to their decades-long goal of dam removal. 

Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

Proposed river authority would assert Utah’s claims to the Colorado’s dwindling water

Utah legislative leaders on Thursday unveiled plans for a new $9 million state agency to advance Utah’s claims to the Colorado River in hopes of wrangling more of the river’s diminishing flows, potentially at the expense of six neighboring states that also tap the river. Without any prior public involvement or notice, lawmakers assembled legislation to create a six-member entity called the Colorado River Authority of Utah, charged with implementing “a management plan to ensure that Utah can protect and develop the Colorado River system.”

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Aquafornia news Equal Times

Water futures: the latest battleground in the defence of the fundamental right to water

The volatility of stock market trading has made global headlines over the past couple of weeks thanks to the frenzy surrounding a US video games retailer. It’s a dizzying yarn of Reddit vigilantes taking coordinated action to bankrupt hedge funds that were short selling GameStop stocks, resulting in rollercoaster share prices, trading restrictions and US congressional hearings. It provides a stark illustration of the absurdity of the stock market, and yet, late last year, the US state of California decided to allow water to become a tradable commodity.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Rural Valley cities secure permanent water supply in deal with Feds

Three rural Valley cities finalized deals with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to cement permanent access to water from the Central Valley Project on Monday, the Federal bureau announced. The cities of Avenal, Coalinga, and Huron converted their water contracts with Federal water authorities along with Firebaugh-based Pacheco Water District and Panoche Water District, and Los Banos-based San Luis Water District.  

Aquafornia news My Mother Lode

TUD schedules special water rights meeting

The Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD) Board of Directors is hosting a virtual information meeting to update local board members and agencies about the proposed purchase of water infrastructure and water rights contracts. As reported here in March last year, TUD and PG&E announced they were in exclusive negotiations about the potential transfer of the Phoenix Hydroelectric Project. The proposed agreement includes the Phoenix Powerhouse, the Main Tuolumne Canal, the pre and post 1914 water rights, the Lyons Dam and Reservoir, Strawberry Dam and Pinecrest Reservoir. 

Aquafornia news Aspen Times

Colorado officials crack down on ponds in Arkansas River basin

State engineers in the Arkansas River basin are beginning to crack down on more than 10,000 ponds without legal water rights, which they say are harming senior rights holders. Last month, Colorado’s Division of Water Resources in Division 2 rolled out a new pond-management plan, which they say will help relieve pressure in the over-appropriated basin by restoring water to senior rights holders. The first step was mailing on Jan. 14 informational brochures to 317 pond owners. Even though the ponds targeted in this effort may have existed for many decades, they don’t have a legal right on the books to divert and store the water.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Tensions spark after plan to sell Colorado River water in Arizona

Mayors and county supervisors in towns along the Colorado River were already upset five months ago when the state water agency endorsed an investment company’s plan to take water from farmland near the river and sell it to a growing Phoenix suburb. Now, they’re incensed that the agency, which initially suggested holding back a large portion of the water, changed its stance and will let the company sell most of the water to the town of Queen Creek. Elected leaders in communities along the river say they intend to continue trying to stop the proposed deal, which would need to be approved by the federal Bureau of Reclamation. 

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Water markets in California can reduce the costs of drought

California’s increasingly volatile warming climate is making droughts more intense, and complicating water management. A just-launched commodity futures market for the state’s water provides a new tool for farmers, municipalities and other interested parties to ensure against water price shocks arising from drought-fueled shortages. Taking a Wall Street approach to an essential natural resource has prompted both fear and hype. Will California experience a new Gold Rush in water? Will speculation boost the cost of water? Perhaps both the fear and the hype are unwarranted.  
-Written by Ellen Hanak, economist and director of the Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles ends free water deal for Long Valley ranchers

Since the early 1920s, the Long Valley plains east of Yosemite have inspired comparison to a rustic Western paradise … Much of this great, green expansiveness, however, owes to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which aggressively purchased land and water rights here more than a century ago. The department’s routine annual deliveries of free surplus water to its tenants have helped sustain ranching operations and habitat for many decades. But that relationship is now at risk of ending, and could carry dire consequences for one of California’s most striking and violently formed landscapes.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation's Western Water

Monday Top of the Scroll: In the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, two groundwater sustainability agencies try to find their balance

Across a sprawling corner of southern Tulare County snug against the Sierra Nevada, a bounty of navel oranges, grapes, pistachios, hay and other crops sprout from the loam and clay of the San Joaquin Valley. Groundwater helps keep these orchards, vineyards and fields vibrant and supports a multibillion-dollar agricultural economy across the valley. But that bounty has come at a price. Overpumping of groundwater has depleted aquifers, dried up household wells and degraded ecosystems. The land is literally sinking…

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: How does DWR manage water allocations to the state’s public water agencies?

The business of water allocations – simply put, who receives water from the State Water Project (SWP) and who gets to decide how much – is the subject of two new episodes in the Delta Conveyance Deep Dive video series.  In Part One, State Water Operations Chief Molly White explains the operations and regulations that govern the process of allocating water to the state’s 29 Public Water Agencies and addresses the question of how the proposed Delta Conveyance Project would affect that process. 

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

The Monterey Peninsula’s water shortage could be solved with flow from the Salinas River. Why isn’t it?

In the driest years for Monterey County, the water available in the Salinas River is not enough to supply a single household. In the wettest year of the past three decades, 1995, there were 100,000 acre-feet of water available, more than the total urban usage in the county. Although the flow fluctuates wildly, the average amount is far more than what is needed, for example, for thirsty coastal cities desperate for housing. The water has been available for decades – the right to use it is protected, encouraged and even required by state law – but it’s been flowing into the ocean, a casualty of Monterey County’s political deadlock.

Aquafornia news Mountain Town News

Are there rivers beyond the Colorado?

Jeff Lukas calls the Colorado the “charismatic megafauna of Western rivers.” This riverine equivalent of grizzly bears, bald eagles, and humpback whales gets lots of attention, including national attention. Some of that attention is deserved. It has the nation’s two largest reservoirs, among the nation’s tallest dams, and many of the most jaw-dropping canyons and eye-riveting national parks in the country. It also has 40 million to 50 million people in Colorado and six other southwestern states, plus Mexico, who depend upon its water, and a history of tensions that have at times verged on the political equivalent of fist-fights.

Aquafornia news Greenbiz

Blog: The future of corporate water action

The water crisis is one of the greatest human, environmental, economic and financial challenges of our time. No person or business, no matter the industry, can survive without clean water — and that supply is dwindling and in danger. Scientists predict by 2030, global water demand will more than double supply. This growing crisis is playing out here and now. The largest companies, in particular, have a critical role to play. It is also in their own interest to act as it has major financial implications on their bottom line. 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: A Swiss cheese model for fish conservation in California

California water issues are notoriously complicated by a massive diversity of users, ecosystems, applications and futures. Indeed, water in the Delta has been described as a “wicked problem” indicating that these problems cannot be ignored and defy straightforward characterization and solutions. Below we highlight how a Swiss cheese model might be applied to vexing long-term declines in native fish populations in California.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Secret Kern River talks underway

It’s hard to say what spurred “confidential mediation” over the Kern River that began last week. Could it be the relentless “Bring Back the Kern!” campaign by a group of young, Bakersfield residents? Could it be a sentence in a recent letter from the State Water Resources Control Board that said, in part, it “will schedule a hearing in the near future to address water availability with respect to the Kern River…”? Could it be both? No one involved in the mediation would say.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Valley irrigation district OKs plan to harvest mountain stream

A plan to bring water from the South Fork of the Kern River through Isabella Lake and down 60 miles to farm fields west of Bakersfield was unanimously approved by the Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District board of directors on Tuesday. If the environmental documents supporting that plan survive what is sure to be a barrage of lawsuits brought by other Kern River rights holders, Rosedale-Rio Bravo farmers could see South Fork water in their furrows as early as this spring …

Aquafornia news American Rivers

Blog: Can Wall Street profit off the Colorado River?

The convergence of a multi-decadal, climate-fueled drought, a trillion-dollar river-dependent economy, and a region with growth aspirations that rival any place in the country has peaked speculative interest in owning and profiting from Colorado River water. 

Related article

Aquafornia news KJZZ

Communities concerned as private companies buy Colorado River water rights

The old axiom goes, “Whiskey’s for drinkin’ and water’s for fightin’” — it reflects the never-ending horse-trading that involves distribution of water in the arid Southwest and the tug of war between the region’s agricultural communities and the ever-growing urban centers, including Las Vegas, Phoenix and areas of Southern California. Traditionally, water rights have been brokered by state and local governments, as well as regional water districts. This is changing, though, as private equity firms have been purchasing water rights in localities along the Colorado River, from the Western Rockies through the valleys of Southern California.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Wall Street eyes billions in the Colorado River’s water

There is a myth about water in the Western United States, which is that there is not enough of it. But those who deal closely with water will tell you this is false. There is plenty. It is just in the wrong places…Transferring water from agricultural communities to cities, though often contentious, is not a new practice. Much of the West, including Los Angeles and Las Vegas, was made by moving water. What is new is for private investors — in this case an investment fund in Phoenix, with owners on the East Coast — to exert that power.

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Aquafornia news California Ag Today

Blog: Litigation changes IID water rights

Farmer Michael Abatti v. Imperial Irrigation District is a landmark decision by the California Court of Appeals concerning the millions of acre-feet of Colorado River water used annually to meet the needs of Southern California’s agricultural empire. The issue was the nature of landowners’ rights to use Colorado River water to irrigate their fields. 

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Colorado River water with senior rights could one day be up for grabs

For many years, leasing water has simply been a “what if” scenario for the Colorado River Indian Tribes, which unlike many other tribes in Arizona with water rights, do not have the ability to lease, exchange or store it underground. But that could soon change if their proposal makes its way through Congress. And it could have profound impacts on how water is bought, sold and moved in this state.
-Written by Joanna Allhands, digital opinions editor for the Arizona Republic.

Aquafornia news Water Wrights

Blog: Milk Producers Council water update

Without an accessible and relatively clean water supply, dairy farming is not possible. Much of California enjoys a Mediterranean-style climate, where precipitation is not a year around expectation. And yet California is home to the largest dairy industry in the United States. So how are we doing?

Aquafornia news City Watch LA

Opinion: What’s in a name?

The history of our city is one of oil, land and water scandals, of genocide and segregation. … Should we change the names of any buildings, streets or charities bearing the names Chandler, Huntington, Mulholland or Hellman?

Aquafornia news Bloomberg CityLab

Harvesting rainwater in a desert city

In September, Tucson declared a climate emergency, setting the ambitious goal of going carbon neutral by 2030. The desert city has gradually implemented policies over the past decade to further rainwater harvesting with the aim of bolstering conservation, lowering water bills and creating more green spaces.

Tour Nick Gray

Clone of Central Valley Tour 2020
A Virtual Journey - November 19

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.

This virtual experience focuses on the San Joaquin Valley, the southern part of the vast region, which is facing challenges after years of drought, dwindling water supplies, decreasing water quality and farmland conversion for urban growth. The tour gives participants an understanding of the region’s water use and issues as well as the agricultural practices, including new technologies and water-saving measures.

Click to register!

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Outsiders wary of San Diego’s multibillion-dollar pipeline plan

Opposition is building against San Diego’s dream of erecting a $5 billion pipeline to the Colorado River in the name of resource independence. The pipe, which wouldn’t produce savings for ratepayers until at least 2063, faces its next trial on Thursday, when water managers meet to vote on spending another $1.7 million to do the next planning step.

Aquafornia news Marysville Appeal-Democrat

Yuba Water files lawsuit against State Water Resources Control Board

The Yuba Water Agency is in the process of applying for a new license to continue its hydroelectric operations along the Yuba River, but agency leaders say some requirements issued by the State Water Resources Control Board threaten the effort by making it too costly. The agency filed lawsuits in state and federal court Friday to essentially vacate the state board’s requirements to obtain what is called a water quality certification.

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Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

What a Biden Administration could mean for Klamath water

The last three administrations have been active in Klamath Basin issues regardless of political party. Negotiations for a basin-wide agreement began under the Bush Administration and continued under the Obama Administration until faltering in the House of Representatives — though each president’s approach has varied. Dan Keppen, executive director of the Family Farm Alliance, said Biden’s experience in the Obama Administration could prove an asset, if he brings a similar approach.

Aquafornia news EOS.org

Blog: Reimagining the Colorado River by exploring extreme events

Intersecting events such as major floods, decades-long megadroughts, and economic or governance upheavals could have catastrophic effects on the water supply for the 40 million people who live in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Pricey tunnel sparks talk of water sales

Getting water through a tunnel under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta would be pricey. So pricey, some Kern County water districts were looking for an “off-ramp” by potentially selling their main state water supply out of the county. The request was shot down on Nov. 6 by the Kern County Water Agency, which holds the contract for state water on behalf of 13 area water districts.

Aquafornia news Inkstain.net

Blog: The Colorado River Basin’s Tanya Trujillo named to Biden Interior transition team

Tanya’s a New Mexican, former chief counsel to the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, and current member of the commission. She served as a legislative aide to New Mexico Sen. Jeff Bingaman, in Interior in the Officer of Water and Science, and as executive director of the Colorado River Board of California.

Aquafornia news Inkstain.net

Blog: Tensions around a wastewater reclamation collaboration in Southern California

There’s some fascinating tension around a proposed wastewater reclamation collaboration in Southern California. The project, if it goes forward, would provide some 150 million gallons per day (~170,000 acre feet per year) of treated effluent. Water now being discharged into the ocean would instead be available for aquifer recharge within Southern California.

Aquafornia news Medford Mail Tribune

Opinion: The message is clear: We must manage our resources better

Why are our food producers, including many century-old family farms with 100-year-old water rights, facing a shortage of water? Because we drain Oregon’s largest lake to artificially increase water supply in California.

Aquafornia news Valley Voice

Opinion: The view from Westlands: Voluntary agreements

Voluntary agreements have been proposed as a collaborative, modern and holistic alternative to the State Water Resources Control Board’s staff proposed update to the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan. … Westlands and other public water agencies are eager to reengage in the process to finalize the voluntary agreements, as they offer the best path forward for California water.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

U.S., Mexico sign Rio Grande water agreement

Mexico is obligated under a 1944 treaty to deliver to the United States a set amount of water from the Rio Grande and its tributaries over a five-year period. … The last-minute agreement signed Oct. 21 settles the conflict. Mexico will transfer ownership of water stored in two border reservoirs to the United States to make up the deficit.

Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

Klamath Irrigation District court case continues

Recent legal testimonies assert that the Oregon Water Resources Department has not taken exclusive charge of stored water in Upper Klamath Lake, despite court orders requiring it do so.

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Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Michael Abatti looks to take fight with IID to U.S. Supreme Court

Having been turned away by the California Supreme Court last week, farmer Michael Abatti looked to have lost his years-long fight with the Imperial Irrigation District over who owns valuable water rights on the Colorado River. But Abatti apparently isn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Public water buyout EIR certified

In a critical step for the proposed public takeover of California American Water’s Monterey-area water system, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District’s board of directors on Thursday night certified the final environmental impact report for the effort.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California Supreme Court refuses to review Abatti’s case against IID

The tumultuous, years-long legal fight between farmer Michael Abatti and the Imperial Irrigation District — two of Southern California’s powerbrokers — is now finished. On Wednesday, the California Supreme Court declined Abatti’s petition for review, leaving in place an appellate court’s decision that declared IID the rightful owner of a massive allotment of Colorado River water.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Historic move: Fresno River rights to be decided

If all you’ve ever seen of the Fresno River is through Madera as you drive over it on Highway 99, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s just a weed-infested, shopping cart collector rather than a real river. But there’s a lot to this unobtrusive waterway, which just made history as the first river in 40 years about to go through a rights settlement under the State Water Resources Control Board.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Setting aside environmental water for the San Joaquin River

Protecting the health of California’s rivers, estuaries, and wetlands has been the grandest—and perhaps thorniest—of the many challenges facing the state’s water managers. The San Joaquin River watershed, the state’s third largest and an important water source for irrigating farmland in the San Joaquin Valley, epitomizes this challenge. Yet California is making progress here, bringing a glimmer of hope.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

How dynamic are property rights in water?

Professor Holly Doremus is a leading scholar and teacher in the areas of environmental law, natural resources law, and law and science in her work at Berkeley Law. In a webinar hosted by the University of California Ag and Natural Resources, Professor Doremus discusses water rights and how dynamic and adaptable they are to changing values and conditions.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Former DWR Director Ronald B. Robie awarded Lifetime Achievement Award

Justice Ronald B. Robie, who served as the Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) fifth director, was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the California Lawyers Association’s Environmental Law Section for his 60 years of contributions to the environmental law field. Robie is a longtime member of the Water Education Foundation’s Board of Directors.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Locals speak up for the Kern River at the State Water Board

A slew of Bakersfield locals told board members how much an actual, wet river means for residents. Speakers asked board members to make the Kern a priority and finally allocate unappropriated water on the river that has been in limbo at the board for the past 10 years.

Aquafornia news Inkstain.net

Blog: The Lake Powell pipeline and the problems posed by the lack of a Lower Colorado River Basin Compact

As the Colorado River Basin’s managers wrestle with thorny questions around the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline, a colleague who works for a Lower Colorado River Basin water agency recently asked a question that goes to the heart of the future of river management: With land in the Lower Colorado River Basin, why doesn’t Utah have a Lower Basin allocation?

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Final public water buyout EIR released

The report analyzes the environmental effects of Monterey Peninsula Water Management District’s proposed buyout and operation of the 40,000-customer Cal Am-owned system within the district boundaries, including the proposed 6.4-million-gallon-per-day desalination plant and infrastructure

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

Blog: ACWA delivers roadmap to achieving voluntary agreements to state officials

ACWA on Oct. 15 submitted “A Roadmap To Achieving the Voluntary Agreements” to Gov. Gavin Newsom and top members of his Administration that calls on the state to take the necessary steps to re-engage on Voluntary Agreements regarding the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta and its tributaries.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Nevada Supreme Court holds that state may not reallocate adjudicated water rights for public trust

On September 17, 2020, the Nevada Supreme Court issued a decision on whether Nevada’s public trust doctrine permits reallocation of water rights previously settled under Nevada’s prior appropriation doctrine. The majority found that the public trust doctrine does not permit such reallocation.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

In correcting misappropriation of water, Nevada must balance legal rights with existing use

In the area that the Moapa Valley Water District serves, water users are facing an uncomfortable future: People are going to have to use less water than they were once promised. Over the last century, state regulators handed out more groundwater rights than there was water available. Today state officials say that only a fraction of those rights can be used, which could mean cuts.

Aquafornia news The Mountain Democrat

Georgetown Divide water transfer completed

The Georgetown Divide Public Utility District reported Sept. 23 that its release of 2,000 acre-feet of water from Stumpy Meadows Reservoir to be transferred to the Westlands Water District has been successfully completed.

Aquafornia news The Sierra Nevada Ally

Walker Lake: Legal saga continues with endgame in question

According to river flow data, there is currently almost no water flowing into Walker Lake, a common condition. Today, where the riverbed meets the lake is an ooze of mud. The lake is all but biologically dead. But a decades-old public trust lawsuit made a move forward in its glacial process through federal courts last week, and advocates are hopeful Walker Lake, a cornerstone of the regional economy and ecology, can one day be revived.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Conflict over U.S.-Mexico water treaty escalates as farmers take La Boquilla Dam

Tensions between Mexico and the United States over water intensified this month as hundreds of Mexican farmers seized control of La Boquilla dam in protest over mandatory water releases. The protesters came from parched Chihuahua state, nearly 100 square miles of land pressed against the U.S. border, where farmers are opposing the delivery of over 100 billion gallons of water to the United States by October 24.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Happy 50th “Kern Riversary!” 1970 vote brought river into public hands

Fifty years ago this week, the Bakersfield City Council committed an audaciously historic act. On Monday evening Sept. 28, 1970, council members decided to sue Tenneco West for a slice of the Kern River.

Aquafornia news Food & Water Watch

Blog: Blue Communities: Learn what they are and get started

The Blue Communities project found its origins in Canada’s fights against bottled water extraction and water privatization. … The goal of the project is to have local governments commit to become a Blue Community by passing local resolutions to protect the human right to water.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: How will climate change affect the economic value of water in California?

Climate change is affecting natural resources in California, with water being one of the most important in the state. Water source is critical for municipalities, agriculture, industry, and habitat/environmental purposes. Will future supply meet future demand? How will the economic value of water change over this century?

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Locals gear up for fight to keep Kings River water

Just as they did more than two generations ago, Kern County farmers are looking to another Central Valley river to the north to refill their groundwater shortfall. But this time around, natives in the Kings River watershed are “sharpening their knives” to fight off what they say is a desperate water grab.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

What we know about a plan to settle the Ventura River litigation

Some of the largest users of the Ventura River recently released their proposal to settle litigation and potentially stave off a water-rights adjudication. The plan includes multiple habitat restoration projects intended to help endangered steelhead trout, but largely avoids any changes to water use. Before it goes to a judge, however, other parties likely will weigh in, including the state.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Walker Lake group to take water suit back to federal court

Lawyers representing Mineral County and the Walker Lake Working Group announced this week they intend to take a water rights case with broad implications back to federal appeals court to ask whether Nevada can adjust already allocated water rights to sustain rivers and lakes long-term.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Opponents of Colorado River pipeline project view delay as progress

Regional water conservation groups and a Clark County commissioner welcomed a request by Utah officials Thursday to extend the federal environmental review of a controversial plan to divert billions of gallons of water from the Colorado River to southwest Utah.

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