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 The Guardian

‘This land is all we have left’: Tribes on edge over giant dam proposal near Grand Canyon

If built, it would … pump groundwater into four new reservoirs … Tribal members and environmentalists say the project would flood several miles of canyons sacred to the Navajo; risk damaging cultural sites for several tribes; draw vast amounts of critical groundwater; potentially harm habitats for plants and animals, including some endangered species; and risk adverse effects for waterways leading into the Grand Canyon.

Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

Court rules in favor of Klamath Irrigation District, state water rights

A win for state water rights came earlier this month after the Marion County Circuit Court ruled that the Bureau of Reclamation cannot release water from Upper Klamath Lake for flows down the Klamath River.

Aquafornia news Santa Maria Times

Sunburst Farm sues neighbor, cannabis company over access to water well

A Lompoc religious nonprofit is accusing a Wyoming-based organic farm and cannabis company of stealing water it uses to grow food and blocking access to a well on a neighboring parcel, despite a decades-old legal agreement allowing them to do so, according to a lawsuit filed in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.

Aquafornia news St. George Spectrum

Opinion: Facts show holes in Utah’s Lake Powell pipeline plan

We deserve complete, dependable information and accurate cost data including well-reasoned analysis that demonstrates the need and economic viability of the pipeline. Instead, studies by the Utah Division of Water Resources and the Washington County Water Conservancy District are biased, incomplete and do not fairly consider feasible, much less costly alternatives.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Unlikely source promises (a little) water for the Kern River

The City of Bakersfield is poised to ink a deal with Buena Vista Water Storage District that will provide at least some water in the riverbed through the main part of the city between April and June — even in drier years.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Imperial Irrigation District scores another win in court battle with farmer Michael Abatti

A California appellate court on Wednesday denied Imperial Valley farmer Michael Abatti’s request for a rehearing in his long-running legal fight with the Imperial Irrigation District over control of Colorado River water. The decision could likely spell the end to his legal challenges.

Aquafornia news JD Supra

Blog: Supreme Court’s 2020–2021 preview: Interstate water rights

In the 2020–2021 session, the Court likely will issue rulings that could alter the landscape of interstate water disputes and impact millions of people and thousands of businesses who rely on interstate water resources. A preview of the four cases slated for the 2020–2021 session and potential implications follows.

Aquafornia news Capital Press

Klamath Irrigation District scores victory in water rights case

Earlier this year, Reclamation released water from Upper Klamath Lake — impounded by the Link River Dam in Klamath Falls — to boost streamflows for coho salmon in the lower Klamath River. But the Klamath Irrigation District sued, claiming the bureau does not have an established right from the Oregon Water Resources Department to use the stored water.

Aquafornia news Sierra Club Angeles Chapter

Blog: Water, a public resource: How privatization happens

As it is our most vital resource, we each have a moral responsibility to see that everyone has access to it. But, what occurs when access to clean water is sold off and exploited? The result is lower quality and a threat to public health in the name of easy profit.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Water district asks state for Carmel River cutback relief

With a new water supply delayed by state regulatory agencies and political infighting, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District board has asked the state water board not to impose Carmel River water reductions due to an inevitable violation of an approaching river cutback order milestone…

Related article:

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Fixing the Colorado River is tough. Good thing Arizona started early

The newly passed Drought Contingency Plan spurred additional conservation and left more water in the lake. An unusually wet year also helped, because it allowed states to fall back on other supplies. But the fundamental problem remains: The river still isn’t producing the amount of water we use in a typical year. We’re still draining the mighty Colorado.

Aquafornia news Legal Planet

Blog: When does a groundwater recharge project NOT need a water right?

Groundwater recharge projects already play an important role in California. That role is about to expand rapidly, as local groundwater managers begin to take more concrete actions to meet their responsibilities under California’s landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Aquafornia news Arizona Department of Water Resources

News release: A user- friendly, one-stop shop for insight on AZ’s water resources

In many respects, the Arizona Water Blueprint – a data-rich, interactive map of Arizona’s water resources and infrastructure created by the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State University – could not have been rolled out at a better time. Research into Arizona’s varied sources of water is approaching an all-time high.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Blog: Valley farmers look to Kern River tributary to replenish groundwater

A Kern County water agency is facing a wall of opposition against its plan to harvest up to 12,000 acre feet of water from the South Fork of the Kern River above Lake Isabella and bring it to valley farms and homeowners in northwest Bakersfield.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Vehicles burned in Mexico to protest US water payment

Demonstrators in northern Mexico have burned several government vehicles, blocked railway tracks and set afire a government office and highway tollbooths to protest water payments to the United States.

Aquafornia news The Desert Review

Imperial Irrigation District files opening brief in lawsuit against Met

Following the Imperial Irrigation District’s recent win on a monumental water case in California’s appellate court against Michael Abatti, the water district is back in court filing the opening brief against the other large water district is Southern California, the Metropolitan Water District.

Aquafornia news Legal Planet

Blog: Water right permitting options for groundwater recharge: Avoiding unintended consequences

Recharge is playing a growing role in maintaining groundwater as an effective drought reserve and in slowing or reversing the effects of years of unsustainable groundwater pumping. But implementing recharge projects is not easy. Water managers face a range of hurdles.

Aquafornia news JD Supra

Blog: State Water Board has authority to implement temporary water curtailments without evidentiary hearing

The Third Appellate District has ruled that the State Water Resources Control Board has the authority to issue temporary emergency regulations and curtailment orders which establish minimum flow requirements, regulate unreasonable use of water, and protect threatened fish species during drought conditions.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

MID and TID reach key milestone on Tuolumne River fish flows

The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission stated its support once again for the fishery releases proposed by the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts. The action reaffirmed FERC findings in February 2019 that dismissed pleas from environmental and sport-fishing groups for much higher flows.

Aquafornia news Roseville Today

Placer County, PCWA split $12 million revenue distribution

In 1961, Placer County voters overwhelmingly approved the sale of bonds to finance construction of the Middle Fork American River Hydroelectric Project (MFP). Nearly 60 years later, with the bonds fully paid and financial reserves fully funded, the first-ever distribution of net revenue from the MFP has been made…

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Thursday Top of the Scroll: River agreements stall amid focus on Delta litigation

With state and federal administrations fighting in court about delta water operations—and with a pandemic and election year both underway—work has slowed on voluntary agreements meant to avoid severe cuts to northern San Joaquin Valley water supplies. At issue is the first phase of a State Water Resources Control Board plan for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Court of Appeal holds that Imperial Irrigation District landowners only have a right to water service, not individual rights to district-held water

On appeal, the court held that the District’s water allocation methodology in the “equitable distribution plan” was reasonable and not an abuse of discretion, and that Abatti and the other farmers in IID only hold an interest in, or right to, water service.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California settles fight over hoarded dam water

As part of a settlement reached with fishing and environmental groups, the California State Water Resources Control Board says it will increase transparency and conduct heightened evaluations when deciding water quality standards and flow limits for the state’s critical waterways. … Environmentalists celebrated the deal as a “landmark settlement” that stands to boost protections for fish by improving water quality in the Sacramento River and the San Francisco Bay-Delta.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Opinion: Nevada should challenge Utah’s move for a Lake Powell pipeline

Legal scholars believe that the Lake Powell pipeline would likely violate the 1922 Colorado River Compact as a transfer of upper basin water (WY, UT, CO, NM) for lower basin use (CA, NV, AZ). The lower basin has priority, and the compact arguably prohibits transfers from the upper to lower basin absent explicit congressional authorization

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse

A more modest Sites Reservoir focuses on environment

The latest proposal would trim the budget by $2 billion and the storage capacity by about 300,000 acre-feet, according to Jerry Brown, the new executive director of the project. Sites would use existing canals for conveyance rather than build new pipelines. The plan also eliminates a pumped-storage system for generating and storing energy during high flow events. He said the business case for that element of the project “just didn’t pencil out.”

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

More clashes in Mexico over repaying U.S. water debt

Farmers once again clashed with Mexican military forces Sunday to protest releases of water from a dam to repay a water debt owed to the United States. … Under a 1944 treaty, Mexico owes the United States about 415,000 acre-feet yearly that must be paid by Oct. 24. Mexico has fallen badly behind in payments from previous years and now has to quickly catch up on water transfers.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

New petition demands water be put back in Kern River in Bakersfield

“The people of Bakersfield need a flowing river — with water in a thriving river parkway, quality of life in Bakersfield will be significantly improved,” says the petition, posted recently by local resident Jonathan Yates on Change.org.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Monday Top of the Scroll: Imperial Irrigation District retains control over Colorado River water in legal tussle with farmer Michael Abatti

The Imperial Irrigation District and farmer Michael Abatti have been locked in a years-long legal battle with as many twists as the river over which it has been fought. The saga might finally come to an end, though, after a California appellate court handed down a ruling on Thursday that found IID is the rightful manager of the portion of the Colorado River guaranteed to the Imperial Valley.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

IID seeks Salton Sea consideration in Colorado River water lawsuit

The Imperial Irrigation District has filed its opening brief in a case against the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California that it launched last year in an attempt to halt the implementation of the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan for the Colorado River. IID wants to see it paused until the Salton Sea is also considered.

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Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

Forest Service: Water activities prohibited during Karuk Tribe’s world renewal ceremonies

The Karuk Tribe is set to hold its World Renewal Ceremonies in Six Rivers and Klamath national forests from July through late September. In honor of these long-standing tribal traditions, outsiders will be prohibited from entering the water or launching watercraft during the ceremonies, the U.S. Forest Service has announced in a press release.

Aquafornia news Merced Sun-Star

Opinion: State water board trying to drain away Merced County’s chief supply

Less than a week before Christmas in 2016, the State Water Resources Control Board held a single public hearing in our community. The topic? Draining our community’s water supply and sending it to the Bay Delta.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Napa County-wide agency proposed to deal with all water issues

Napa County’s water world is a blur of agencies serving busy cities and remote, rural subdivisions, prompting a new study to recommend a degree of unity… Among the big ideas is forming a countywide water district. There are smaller ideas too, with opportunities for collaboration in different ways.

Aquafornia news JD Supra

Court of Appeal upholds State Board’s broad power to regulate riparian and pre-1914 appropriative water rights to protect threatened fish

The Third Appellate District in Stanford Vina Ranch Irrigation Co. v. State found that the State Board could promulgate emergency drought regulations and issue curtailment orders necessary to protect threatened fish. While riparian and pre-1914 appropriative water right holders have the highest priority among water right claimants, the court held that those rights must yield to the State Board’s broad authority to regulate reasonable uses of water under article X, section 2 of the California Constitution.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Baja California governor accuses big US companies of water theft

An independent audit of Baja California’s water agency alleges that former employees of the utility colluded with international corporations to defraud the state out of at least $49.4 million, according to an auditor and the governor of the state.Local and international corporations — including such well-known U.S. names as Coca-Cola, FedEx and Walmart — for years took water for use in their Mexican factories, retail stores and distribution centers without fully paying for it, Baja California officials have alleged.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Without agreements on water, California needs to set new objectives and protections for the Delta

For more than a decade, California’s governors have pushed for “voluntary agreements” to establish rules for water diversions by major urban and agricultural water districts, and to redress their environmental impacts. Voluntary agreements crumbled recently, after the state’s largest water districts walked away from the table.

Aquafornia news Kronick

Blog: Court of Appeal reaffirms State Water Board’s authority to regulate unreasonable use through emergency regulations and curtailment orders

On June 18, 2020, the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed the State Water Resources Control Board’s (“State Water Board” or “Board”) authority to regulate what it deems to be an unreasonable use of water, in this case through adoption of emergency regulations establishing minimum instream flow requirements to protect migration of threatened fish species during drought conditions.

Aquafornia news Ceres Courier

Turlock won’t bail on Ceres & joint surface water plant

The Turlock City Council was entertaining thoughts of backing out of the project, which would have left only Ceres undertaking the project to deliver treated Tuolumne River water to homes. Last week the council voted unanimously to proceed with the project. The two cities form the Stanislaus Regional Water Authority which is expected to award a design-build contract to CH2M Hill Engineers, Inc. this month.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Appellate court upholds State Water Board’s drought emergency regulations and curtailment orders issued for Deer Creek

On June 18, 2020, the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed the lower court’s determination that the State Water Resources Control Board lawfully adopted emergency regulations and curtailment orders … in 2014 and 2015 during a period of severe and persistent drought conditions.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Arizona starts talks on addressing dwindling Colorado River

Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, California, Utah, Wyoming and Nevada have been operating under a set of guidelines approved in 2007. Those guidelines and an overlapping drought contingency plan will expire in 2026. Arizona water officials are gathering Thursday to start talking about what comes next, while other states have had more informal discussions.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Native News Online

Northern California tribes praise Supreme Court refusal to hear Klamath project case

American Indian tribes in California’s Klamath Basin praised Monday’s decision by the United States Supreme Court not to hear the Klamath Project irrigators’ Fifth Amendment water rights case, Baley v. United States. By not hearing the case, the Supreme Court upheld the Klamath Tribes’ treaty water rights as the most senior water rights in the Klamath Basin. These water rights are critical to protect the tribes’ fisheries and traditional way of life.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Opinion: A Trojan horse with a state water grab inside

With a global pandemic, a catastrophic economic recession and record-high unemployment, one would think the state has enough issues to tackle. But proponents of a state water grab that I have been fighting since the day I was sworn into office in 2012 disagree. Where others see turmoil and anguish, they see opportunity. Apparently, they believe in the adage, “Never let a crisis go to waste.”

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Justices won’t wade into fight over Klamath water rights

Farmers won’t get paid for river water they lost out on during a drought in southern Oregon, because Native American tribes have water rights that rank above those of irrigators, stretching back to “time immemorial” — a ruling the U.S. Supreme Court refused to disturb on Monday.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News release: Scott River notice of water unavailability

With dry conditions resulting in low flows and threatening the survival of coho salmon, the State Water Board today sent notices of water unavailability to110 junior water right holders in the Scott River basin in Siskiyou County, urging them to stop diverting.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Monterey Peninsula water district board opposes Cal Am desal project

For the first time, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District has formally expressed opposition to the California American Water desalination project, backing the proposed Pure Water Monterey recycled water project expansion instead… At the same time, the district took another step toward potential acquisition of Cal Am’s Monterey water system with the release of a draft environmental impact report on the proposed public buyout effort.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news The Mountain Democrat

Georgetown Divide Public Utility District moving ahead with water transfer

The water agency is close to finishing a water transfer agreement with Westlands Water District. The agreement will call for selling up to 2,000 acre-feet of water to Westlands, the largest agricultural water district in the United States, made up of more than 1,000 square miles of farmland in western Fresno and Kings counties.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Colorado River water battle comes to a boil in California

There’s a reckoning coming, unless cities and farm districts across the West band together to limit consumption. The coming dealmaking will almost certainly need to involve the river’s largest water user, the Imperial Irrigation District. But at the moment, it’s unclear to what extent the district actually controls the Imperial Valley’s Colorado River water. That was the issue debated in a San Diego courtroom last week

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Nevada water order kills real estate project

Nevada restricted groundwater pumping Tuesday in an area north of Las Vegas, potentially killing a real estate project that threatens an endangered fish clinging to existence in a handful of spring-fed desert pools…

Aquafornia news Politico

Video: America’s environmental future: The water solution

On Monday, June 15, POLITICO held a virtual deep-dive panel discussion on the policies and legislation needed at the state, regional and federal levels to meet the water needs of Western states and secure long-term solutions at a time when the attention and resources of local and state leaders are consumed by the pandemic crisis.

Aquafornia news CarsonNow.org

Nevada State Engineer issues order to ensure sustainable water development in Lower White River flow system

Nevada is in a new era of water management. As the driest state in the nation, responsible and sustainable management of Nevada’s limited water resources is the foremost priority of the Nevada Division of Water Resources. As part of this commitment, Monday the Nevada State Engineer issued Order No. 1309 for one of Nevada’s most important and unique hydrographic basins called the Lower White River Flow System.

Aquafornia news The Desert Review

Fourth Appellate hears Abatti v. Imperial Irrigation District water rights case

The Fourth Appellate Court of California heard the Abatti parties vs. Imperial Irrigation lawsuit, Friday, June 12. The appeal was generated after Imperial County Superior Court Judge Brooks Anderholt ruled in Abatti’s favor of repealing the Equitable Distribution Plan in August 2017, which could ration agricultural water users by historical and straight-line measurements to deal with the longest drought in modern California history.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Reclamation rescinds ‘Shasta-critical’ designation for CVP deliveries

Projected higher inflows to Shasta Lake caused the Bureau of Reclamation earlier this month to rescind its “Shasta Critical Year” designation after hydrologic conditions changed sufficiently. … For growers with senior water rights under the Exchange and Settlement contracts with the Central Valley Project, this means full allocation water deliveries will be forthcoming.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Monday Top of the Scroll: Imperial Irrigation District and farmer Michael Abatti square off in court

Water is power in California’s Imperial Valley, and a years-long fight over allocations from the Colorado River to the agriculture-heavy region landed back in court on Friday. Attorneys representing local farmers and the Imperial Irrigation District squared off in front of a three-judge panel at the state appellate court level over a water-rights lawsuit expected to be decided in 90 days.

Aquafornia news Gold Country Media

City of Folsom talks transfer sale of excess water

“In short, the city is looking to sell/transfer up to 5,000 acre-feet of water in 2020. This water is in excess to what the city would need to meet demands in 2020 and would not impact any existing customers north or south of Highway 50…” said Christine Brainerd, city of Folsom communications director. … The city retains the rights to the water.

Aquafornia news Turlock Journal

Opinion: Special meeting to decide Turlock’s water future

Since it was founded in 1871, the City of Turlock has relied on well or ground water to meet the water needs of its citizens, farmers and businesses. Today, with the growth of Turlock to nearly 75,000 residents, successful farming, a growing local business community, Turlock needs more water and must move to surface water usage.

Aquafornia news KJZZ

Arizona housing growth tees up opportunity for water investors

Central Arizona has been booming — more people, more houses, more need for water. There’s also a long-term drought, and less water to buy from the Central Arizona Project canal system . It’s leading Phoenix exurbs to cast about, looking for new buckets. Other regions of the state say: don’t come here.

Aquafornia news KJZZ

Public comment for Lake Powell Pipeline open, again, until September

Comments, questions and concerns are now being accepted, again, for the Lake Powell Pipeline. This comes after the Bureau of Reclamation issued the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the pipeline, which is designed to pump water to Washington County, Utah.

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse

Understaffed and ‘struggling,’ Central Valley Water Board trims programs

While the budget for next year has yet to be passed, the Central Valley Water Quality Control Board is already taking drastic steps to prepare for a significant reduction in staffing. Farmers could face a potential fallout further down the road. “All told, the board is looking at around a 30 to 35% reduction in productivity,” said Patrick Pulupa, executive officer for the regional board, during a meeting Thursday.

Aquafornia news Arizona Department of Water Resources

News release: Roberto Salmón, Mexican commissioner, steps down from position with International Boundary Waters Commission

In his time with the commission, which has the responsibility for applying the boundary and water treaties between the United States and Mexico, the two nations have taken huge steps forward in assuring that commitments to the primary binational water agreement in the Southwest – the 1944 Mexico-U.S. Water Treaty – were faithfully upheld.

Aquafornia news Sierra Wave

Inyo County loses court case on environmental laws in seeking to take L.A.’s land and water rights

In a ruling published last week, a California Superior Court made a sweeping ruling against Inyo County’s attempted eminent domain takeover of Los Angeles’ land and water rights. The years-long pursuit by Inyo has effectively been sent back to the drawing board and will require not only a complete restart, but also comprehensive environmental review, in order for Inyo to proceed.

Aquafornia news Pagosa Springs Sun

Opinion: Secretary Babbitt’s river plan doesn’t go far enough

When former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt suggested in a recent opinion piece that a portion of agricultural water rights on the Colorado River should be transferred to urban areas, it no doubt conjured up some strong emotions… But Babbitt’s proposal makes sense and he is right about the need to recognize the mismatch in population between the urbanized West and rural areas where most of the basin’s water is allocated.

Aquafornia news Nevada Public Radio

Is this the end of a 30-year fight over a proposed water pipeline?

On May 21, the Southern Nevada Water Authority board of directors voted to indefinitely defer its groundwater development project, which opponents had dubbed the “water grab.”  The unanimous vote brought an end to more than three decades of acrimonious battle with the Great Basin Water Network.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Water rights 101

California water law is complex, governed by both state and federal law, part property law and part environmental law. The system incorporates a traditional water rights riparian system with the appropriative system found elsewhere in the West with the result being confusion that often leads to more questions than certainty.

Aquafornia news Environmental Protection Online

Big corporations contribute to water shortages — how can they fix it?

As big corporations consume mass amounts of water, the smaller, local communities near the plants, factories and corporate offices have fewer resources. Water shortages then become prevalent as the corporation continues to use up the nearby sources. … In order to make a meaningful change for smaller communities, big corporations will need to work on alternatives.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Business Journal

Cadiz finds new focus

The company’s long-term goal is still to complete a project to allow the transfer of up to 1.6 billion gallons of water a year from an aquifer under its land to six Southern California water agencies. But for the short-term, Cadiz is looking toward agricultural development on its 45,000 acres of land about 30 miles northeast of Joshua Tree National Park.

Aquafornia news The Salt Lake Tribune

New front opens in fight over the Lake Powell pipeline

The water rights behind the proposed Lake Powell pipeline are not actually coming from the project’s namesake lake, but rather from the major reservoir upstream on the Green River. Now, Utah water officials’ new request to overhaul those rights has handed opponents a fresh opportunity to thwart the proposed pipeline just as federal officials are about to release a long-awaited environmental review of the $1.2 billion project…

Aquafornia news Pagosa Daily Post

Opinion: Concerning the Colorado River

While Imperial Irrigation District has the largest right within California, it was not the Imperial Valley that was responsible for California’s overuse. That was the Metropolitan Water District. We are among the very oldest users on the Colorado River and have built a community, ecology, and way of life here in the desert dependent upon the waters of the Colorado that have sustained us since 1901.

Aquafornia news BNamericas

Mexico poised to breach 75-year water treaty with US

Under the 1944 treaty, the US is committed to sending 1.5mn acre-feet of water from the Colorado River basin to Mexico in 12-month periods, which represents 10% of the river’s average flow, according to the US Congressional Research Service. Meanwhile, Mexico must send 1.75mn acre-feet in five-year cycles from the Rio Grande’s six major tributaries that cross its territory.

Aquafornia news Audubon

News release: Arizona Department of Water Resources and Audubon agree to funding plan to conserve Colorado River water

The National Audubon Society has reached an agreement with the Arizona Department of Water Resources to help fund the Colorado River Indian Tribes’ on-going efforts to conserve 150,000 acre-feet of water in Lake Mead over the next three years.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Blog: Westlands Water District is again eyeing San Joaquin River water

Westlands Water District sent shockwaves through the Central Valley water world recently after it alerted several districts that it intends to apply for rights to flood flows on the San Joaquin River.

Aquafornia news Greenbiz.com

Here’s how California’s water laws were made

This is an excerpt from “Ruling the Waters: California’s Kern River, the Environment, and the Making of Western Water Law” by Douglas R. Littlefield, published in May 2020.

Aquafornia news Fairfield Daily Republic

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

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

Aquafornia news City of Riverside

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

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

Aquafornia news Action News Now

North-south water transfer lawsuit filed

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

Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Southern Nevada Water Authority: Las Vegas water pipeline plan shelved

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

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

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

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

Related article:

Aquafornia news Mountain Democrat

Georgetown Divide PUD approves water sale to Westlands Water District

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

Aquafornia news Plumas News

Agency petitions state water board for temporary change

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

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Drought, water shortages return to much of state

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

Aquafornia news SJV Water

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

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

Aquafornia news E&E News

Protesters ‘SLAPPback’ as water fight boils over

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

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

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

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

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

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

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

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

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

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

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Restore the Delta webinar on voluntary agreements

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

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

Opinion: Las Vegas pipeline outcome offers new opportunity

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

Aquafornia news The Salt Lake Tribune

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

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

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Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

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

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

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Aquafornia news Sacramento Water Forum

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

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

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

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

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

Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

Parties support request for Supreme Court review in water takings case

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

Aquafornia news Western Water

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

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

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

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

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

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Water authority shelves controversial Las Vegas pipeline project

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

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

The evolution of environmental flows in California

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

Aquafornia news Corning Observer

Battle Creek in Tehama County site of grant funding

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

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Environmental review for public water takeover bid gets under way

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

Aquafornia news East County Today

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

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

Aquafornia news JD Supra

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

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

Aquafornia news KRCR TV

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

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

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

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

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

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

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

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

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

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

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

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Discussion of tribes’ water claims sparks tensions in Arizona

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

Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

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

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

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

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

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

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Aquafornia news The Union Democrat

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

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

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Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

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

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

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

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

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

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

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

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

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

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

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

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Aquafornia news Deseret News

Utah House reaffirms intent to develop Colorado River water

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

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

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

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

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Court grants six-month extension in Ventura River lawsuit

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

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Court grants six-month extension in Ventura River lawsuit

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

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Blog: Price of water going up as the snowpack shrinks

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

Aquafornia news CALmatters

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

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

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

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

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

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

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Aquafornia news KUNC

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

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

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Huffman vows at town hall to protect North Coast water rights

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

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Public comment opens for groundwater sustainability plans

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

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Aquafornia news Valley Economy

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

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

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Imperial Irrigation District beats Abatti contempt of court complaint

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

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

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

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

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Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: Has Newsom settled the water wars?

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

Aquafornia news KEYT

Ventura vs Ojai Water War

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

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

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

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

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

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

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

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

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

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

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Opinion: The final demise of unimpaired flows

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

Aquafornia news L.A. Daily News

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

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

Aquafornia news Chino Champion

Chino sells 1.14 billion gallons of water to Fontana Water Company

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

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Bill would block transfers of Colorado River water to Arizona cities

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

Aquafornia news Lake County News

LAFCo approves annexing Middletown Rancheria land into Callayomi County Water District

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

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Opinion: Watershed adjudication is the nuclear option

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

Aquafornia news E&E News

Trump admin fast-tracks Colorado River pipeline

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

Related article

Aquafornia news KJZZ

Bill would ban river water transfers to central Arizona

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

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Aquafornia news Environmental Health News

Weed and water woes in the legendary Emerald Triangle

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

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Arizona bills would strengthen rural groundwater rules

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

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

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

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

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Balancing water supply for all is 2020 priority

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

Aquafornia news The Mountain Democrat

Placerville developer pays for illegal diversions

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

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

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

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

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Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

More public water buyout spending to be considered

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

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

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

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

Aquafornia news CALmatters

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

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news KCET

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

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

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

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

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

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

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

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

Aquafornia news EurekAlert

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

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

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

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

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

Aquafornia news Oroville Mercury-Register

Opinion: Delay of water feasibility study disappointing

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

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

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

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

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Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

Water coalition aims to coordinate conservation efforts

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

Aquafornia news Santa Clarita Valley Signal

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

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

Aquafornia news Redwood Times

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

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

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Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

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

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

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

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

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

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Aquafornia news Outside Magazine

The West’s water shortage is fueled by human error

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

Aquafornia news MyMotherLode.com

Tuolumne Utility District to request New Melones water supplies

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

Aquafornia news KAZU

Public takeover of Cal Am appears feasible

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

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Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Paradise-Chico water pipe study killed

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

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Water officials work to assist recharge projects

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

Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Nevada tribes oppose removal of American Indian site history document

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

Aquafornia news The Mountain Democrat

El Dorado Irrigation District fights water taxes

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

Aquafornia news The Guardian

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

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

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Taking on tough challenges at the State Water Board

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

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

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

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

Aquafornia news The Guardian

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

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

Aquafornia news Santa Clarita Valley Signal

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

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

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Aquafornia news Santa Maria Sun

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

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

Aquafornia news Siskiyou Daily News

Court dismisses lawsuit against Crystal Geyser, county

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

Tour Nick Gray

Northern California Tour 2020
A Virtual Journey - November 12

Join us as we guide you on a virtual exploration of the Sacramento River and its tributaries and learn about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.

All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project.

Registration coming soon!

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Blog: Groundwater governance Q&A with Anita Milman

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

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

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

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

Aquafornia news Woodland Daily Democrat

UC Cooperative Extension survey results on cannabis cultivation

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

Aquafornia news The New Republic

Give rivers legal rights

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

Aquafornia news Capital Press

Appeals court dismisses Klamath groundwater dispute

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

Aquafornia news National Law Review

California water permit warnings for commercial cannabis farmers

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

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

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

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

Aquafornia news National Public Radio

Tribe gives personhood to Klamath River

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

Aquafornia news Marijuana Business Daily

California water board sends warnings to cannabis growers

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

Aquafornia news High Country News

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

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

Aquafornia news Santa Barbara Independent

Steelhead win landmark victory

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

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council

Blog: Freshwater flows, reduced diversions help abate toxic algae

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

Aquafornia news Needles Desert Star

Free water available for areas of Needles with prior perfected rights

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

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

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

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

Aquafornia news Victorville Daily Press

Homeowners criticize Mojave Water Agency water rights purchase

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

Aquafornia news The New Republic

Opinion: The water wars are here

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

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