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 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.

Related article:

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.”

Related article: 

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. 

Related articles:

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.

Related article:

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 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.

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 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.

Related article:

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.

Related articles:

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.

Related articles:

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 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 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 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.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news MarketWatch

Blog: Why we need water futures

Investors will be able to make wagers on the price of water later this year with the launch of futures contracts, which are expected to better balance supply and demand for the commodity and hedge price risks. … The index, itself, sets a weekly spot rate price of water rights in California, the majority of which are owned and managed by water districts that deliver water to individual farms…

Related articles:

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Nevada Supreme Court ruled against reshuffling water rights to fix environmental issues. Walker Lake advocates still see a path forward

Last week, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that the state’s fundamental obligation to protect natural resources for future generations did not allow it to reallocate water rights issued under state law. The decision appeared to rule against litigants pushing to restore Walker Lake, where the use of upstream water rights has decreased the amount of water that reaches the lake.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Collaboration on the Colorado River between Mexico and the US brings benefits for both countries

At the September meeting of Metropolitan’s Water Planning and Stewardship Committee, Laura Lamdin, an associate engineer in water resource management, gave a presentation on how the United States and Mexico built a collaborative relationship, the many accomplishments that have come as a result, and a look at the work currently in progress.

Aquafornia news E&E News

How the loss of Ginsburg will affect the term ahead

The absence of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court this coming term is unlikely to change the outcome of two looming battles over water rights and Endangered Species Act records, but legal experts say her death will have a lasting impact on environmental jurisprudence at the nation’s highest bench.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Latest Western Water article examines major report that tries to make sense of science vital to Colorado River management

Practically every drop of water that flows through the meadows, canyons and plains of the Colorado River Basin has reams of science attached to it. Our latest article in Western Water news examines a new report that synthesizes and provides context for that science and could aid water managers as they prepare to rewrite the operating rules for a river system so vital to the Southwestern United States and Mexico.

Aquafornia news Voice of America

Drought-hit Mexicans demand that water sharing with US ends

Protesters gathered on Sunday in drought-hit northern Mexico in an attempt to retain control of a dam key to government efforts to diffuse tensions over a water-sharing pact with the United States. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has been working to maintain a good relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump, said on Friday that Mexico must comply with its obligations.

Aquafornia news High Country News

Killing the Vegas pipeline — Nevada’s attitude toward water is changing

Over the years, these groups united against a single cause: the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s “Groundwater Development Project,” a proposal to pump 58 billion gallons of water a year 300 miles to Las Vegas from the remote rural valleys of Nevada and Utah. … In May, their three decades of resistance to the pipeline ended in victory: The project was terminated.

Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

Blog: Ending conflicts over water

In recent years, a wide range of water-related factors have contributed to political instability, human dislocation and migration, agricultural and food insecurity, and in more and more cases, actual conflict and violence.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Water wars at the Supreme Court: ‘It’s only going to get worse’

The U.S. Supreme Court kicks off its new term next month with a unique “original jurisdiction” water dispute—the likes of which could become more common as the climate changes. The justices are set to hear Texas v. New Mexico, virtually, on their first day of oral arguments Oct. 5. Here’s how original jurisdiction water cases work, what’s at stake this term, and what’s on the horizon.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Nevada Supreme Court says state cannot change water rights for ‘public trust,’ a loss for environmentalists, county

The Nevada Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the state cannot reshuffle existing water rights to prevent environmental damage, despite recognizing a legal principle that requires the government to preserve natural resources for future generations… The Nevada court, in a 4-2 decision, separated itself from the California Supreme Court, which reached the opposite conclusion in a landmark 1980s case.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Groundwater externalities and the agricultural response to water pricing

Dr. Ellen Bruno is a Cooperative Extension Specialist in the Department of Ag and Resource Economics at UC Berkeley. At a recent Silver Solutions webinar, she shared some of the preliminary results on a paper she is working on… The study considers the impacts of agricultural water pricing and the effect on water use and land use change.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Imperial Irrigation District files opposition in state Supreme Court fight with Michael Abatti

The years-long fight between the Imperial Irrigation District and farmer Michael Abatti over control of Colorado River water could be nearing its grand finale in the California Supreme Court. After Abatti requested last month that the state’s highest judicial body take up his case, the water district filed its opposition on Monday.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Water board must establish a state water budget that California can afford

Former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt writes that a “Grand Bargain” in California water is needed to end the “political culture of deferral” and allow major water projects to advance. On the contrary, what’s needed is an adult regulator that will make hard choices that water users refuse to make.

Related article:

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Where groundwater gives way to warm springs, a fight continues over building a new desert town outside Las Vegas

The housing developer and the powerful water utility, locked into past contracts, are caught in a fight, playing out in hydrologic reports and hearing rooms, over what might seem a simple question: How much water is there? That answer is complicated by how much is at stake — a Colorado River tributary, the survival of an endangered Nevada fish and the future of development in a sweeping area outside Las Vegas.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Mexican water wars: Dam seized, troops deployed, at least one killed in protests about sharing with U.S.

Mexico’s water wars have turned deadly. A long-simmering dispute about shared water rights between Mexico and the United States has erupted into open clashes pitting Mexican National Guard troops against farmers, ranchers and others who seized a dam in northern Chihuahua state.

Aquafornia news Voice of America

2 die in gunfight with Mexican police in US water transfer dispute

The Mexican National Guard said Wednesday that two people had died in a gunfight with military police near a protest at a dam that diverts water away from an area hit by drought to the United States. … The protest comes amid plans to divert more to the United States due to a “water debt” Mexico has accrued under a 1944 water-sharing treaty between the countries.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Making the most of water for the environment

Restoring specific “functional flows” would better support fish migration and spawning, water quality, dry-season base flows, and physical conditions that support aquatic species. A panel of experts, moderated by PPIC senior fellow and study coauthor Jeff Mount, discussed how to put this approach into practice. We invite you to watch the event video.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

‘Until the Last Drop’ documentary explains California water wars

The water wars are far from over, a point made clear in a just-released feature-length documentary, “Until the Last Drop.” If you can block from your mind the old Folgers “good to the last drop” commercials, the film title will evoke a combination of dripping water with a fight to the last drop of blood.

Aquafornia news Siskiyou Daily News

Big Springs residents: Water trucking for illegal marijuana grows hasn’t stopped

At their regular meeting Tuesday, Sept. 1, the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors discussed issues that Big Springs area residents are still facing regarding alleged privatized water sale for illegal marijuana grows. Despite an urgency ordinance prohibiting the trucking of water and a rally near one of the alleged extraction sites on Aug. 22, residents say they’re still noticing trucking going on.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Arizona endorses GSC Farm LLC’s plan to sell Colorado River water to Queen Creek

Arizona’s top water regulator has endorsed a company’s proposal to take water from farmland near the Colorado River and sell it to the fast-growing Phoenix suburb of Queen Creek. The plan, which still would require federal approval, has generated a heated debate about whether transferring water away from the farming community of Cibola could harm the local economy, and whether the deal would open the gates for more companies to buy land near the river with the sole aim of selling off the water for profit.

Aquafornia news The Willits News

California Water Justice and Tribal Advocates announce week of action

The organizers of the Advocacy and Water Protection in Native California Speakers Series are hosting a new webinar series aimed at taking action against environmental racism and for water justice in California. Humboldt State University Native American Studies and Save California Salmon are organizing the “Mobilizing for Water Justice in California” Webinar Series on Sept. 14-18.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Coyote Springs developer sues state of Nevada for ‘unconstitutional taking’ of water rights

A developer is suing Nevada’s Division of Water Resources after the state again denied plans to construct new homes at Coyote Springs, the latest setback in a decades-long effort to build a sprawling master-planned community about 50 miles north of Las Vegas. Coyote Springs Investment alleges state officials made a series of decisions that amount to an “unconstitutional taking” of the water rights it owns and planned to use.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Tribes, green groups sue over Trump rollback of water rights

The new suit, filed Tuesday on behalf of three different tribal groups and the Sierra Club, argues states and tribes have a right to place conditions on federal projects that could degrade waters within their borders or to reject them altogether. “These changes that cut into the tribe’s ability to protect its waters and fish harm us all,” Anthony Sampson, chairman of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe in Nevada, said in a release.

Aquafornia news Inkstain.net

Blog: San Diego’s puzzling pursuit of a big new pipeline to the Colorado River

My puzzlement was goosed by a report that surfaced last week at a board meeting of one of its member agencies suggesting that the general managers of agencies representing the majority of the Water Authority’s actual water-using member agencies don’t seem to want it.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Nevada residents blast Utah’s Lake Powell pipeline plan

A group of residents in Laughlin, Nev., which sits along the Colorado River, are organizing a campaign to oppose a pipeline that would divert billions of gallons of river water to southwest Utah, reflecting intensifying struggles over water in the U.S. West.

Related article:

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Board provides update on water-rights report filings

About two-thirds of required water-rights reports had been filed as of this year’s deadline, according to the State Water Resources Control Board.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Farmer Michael Abatti is fighting to the end in legal tussle with Imperial Irrigation District

Attorneys for farmer Michael Abatti on Monday filed a petition requesting that the California Supreme Court take up a case against the Imperial Irrigation District, continuing the battle for control over California’s Colorado River water allotment. This latest court filing calls on the court to rule that Imperial Valley farmers have a right to water ownership, which currently resides with the district.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Water agency approves 7,000-percent cost increase

Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority voted 4-1 to pass the replenishment fee despite significant public opposition. … Although residential users will see an estimated $24 per month increase, Searles Valley Minerals will see a 7,000-percent increase in water costs.

Related article:

Aquafornia news ScienceAlert.com

Blog: Up to half the world’s water supply is being stolen, a troubling report reveals

There is some debate about what counts as water theft – or even if it exists at all, as water is a natural resource that we all have access to. But the team looked at three separate case studies involving improper water use: growing marijuana in California, strawberries in Spain, and cotton in Australia.

Aquafornia news The Mountain Democrat

Georgetown Utility District starts water transfer to Westlands

With all permits in place, on Aug. 20 the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District announced the State Water Resources Control Board Division of Water Rights approved the temporary transfer of up to 2,000 acre-feet of GDPUD’s water to the Westlands Water District. The transfer of the water began Aug. 19 and is expected to continue until Sept. 23.

Aquafornia news Valley News

Opinion: Water delivery agreement between Elsinore Valley and LEAPS project ended years of litigation and defined roles

As the Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage, or LEAPS, hydroelectric project proceeds with licensing approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, local roles have been defined with a water delivery agreement following years of litigation over project details.

Aquafornia news MyMotherLode.com

Opinion: Responsible and prudent water management

Tuolumne Utilities District doesn’t believe differing opinions about finite resources, like water, are “battles.” Differing opinions are simply the result when you ask any group how to prioritize the use of a finite resource when need outstrips supply.

Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

Hoopa Valley Tribe files lawsuit to block contract with Central Valley agribusiness

The Hoopa Valley Tribe has filed a federal lawsuit to block the U.S. Department of Interior from signing a water delivery contract with an agribusiness in the Central Valley, an agreement which would divert water out of the Trinity River basin 400 miles away.

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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.

Related article:

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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.

Related article:

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.

Related articles:

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.