Topic: Water Supply


Water Supply

California’s climate, characterized by warm, dry summers and mild winters, makes the state’s water supply unpredictable. For instance, runoff and precipitation in California can be quite variable. The northwestern part of the state can receive more than 140 inches per year while the inland deserts bordering Mexico can receive less than 4 inches.

By the Numbers:

  • Precipitation averages about 193 million acre-feet per year.
  • In a normal precipitation year, about half of the state’s available surface water – 35 million acre-feet – is collected in local, state and federal reservoirs.
  • California is home to more than 1,300 reservoirs.
  • About two-thirds of annual runoff evaporates, percolates into the ground or is absorbed by plants, leaving about 71 million acre-feet in average annual runoff.
Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin water supplier eyes three-year rollout of smart meters

The Marin Municipal Water District is set to release a plan next month to replace all of its analog water meters with smart meters by 2026. The district, which serves 191,000 residents in central and southern Marin, estimates replacing its nearly 58,000 analog meters would take three years at a cost ranging from $20 million to $25 million. The switch allows ratepayers to track their water use in real time. Staff and board members say the smart meters will improve conservation, reduce the need for staff to manually read meters and result in faster leak detection and fewer bills.

Aquafornia news Sonora Union Democrat

Ag concerns about water rate hikes aired at TUD board meeting

Concerns of raw water users, the Tuolumne County Farm Bureau, and its water committee came before the Tuolumne Utilities District Board of Directors at a meeting Tuesday. The concerns were raised near the end of a discussion of a draft water rate study that’s focused on increasing rates to generate revenue to operate and maintain TUD’s proposed acquisition of the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. water system in the South Fork Stanislaus watershed and at the Phoenix Lake reservoir. The draft water rate study includes five years of proposed water rate increases to be effective beginning Sept. 1.

Aquafornia news The Packer

Western senators moving to drought-proof future water supply

A group of senators has introduced the Support to Rehydrate the Environment, Agriculture and Municipalities, or STREAM, Act. The bill would increase water supply and modernize water infrastructure throughout the West. The three senators, all from states affected by the current drought, include Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). … Infrastructure improvements and additions work toward a long-term solution. And it’s important to think urgently, said the release.

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Aquafornia news CNN

Friday Top of the Scroll: Lake Mead water level running well below predictions, could drop another 12 feet by fall

Federal officials have a sobering forecast for the Colorado River Basin: Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir which serves millions of people in the Southwest, will likely drop another 12 feet by this fall. It’s far below what the outlooks were predicting as of last year. The latest forecast from the US Bureau of Reclamation shows the reservoir plummeting from its current elevation of around 1049 feet above sea level to around 1037 feet by this September. One year after that, in September 2023, it suggests Lake Mead will be 26 feet lower than its current level — just 19% of the lake’s full capacity and a level that would trigger the most severe water cuts for the Southwest.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

State funding to retire valley farmland could more than double under Gov. Newsom’s proposed budget

A state program aimed at retiring and repurposing farmland could get $60 million – more than doubling its current funding – under Gov. Newsom’s proposed budget. The Multibenefit Land Repurposing Program was created with $50 million from the 2021 state budget. The program helps pay for farmland to be taken out of production and repurposed to less water intensive uses. Farmers in the San Joaquin Valley have pumped groundwater for crops without limits for generations. But groundwater levels are plummeting …

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Aquafornia news Grist

How the “exchange contract” pits California farmers against each other

[On the southeast side of California’s Central Valley] farmers are pumping unreliable groundwater to make up the difference, hoping their already struggling wells don’t go dry … Others will rip up their trees and leave their fields fallow. … About 100 miles away, on the northwest side of the Central Valley, the situation could not be more different. Even during an unprecedented drought, the almond and pistachio farmers around the city of Los Banos will get around 75 percent of a normal year’s water … The startling contrast is the result of an obscure and contentious legal agreement known as the exchange contract …

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Aquafornia news KRCR - Redding

Shasta Lake levels will drop, but not as drastically as 2021

Each year, Lake Shasta brings in locals and tourists from all over, especially for Memorial Day weekend. Businesses on Lake Shasta are dealing with low lake levels and short staffing but despite the challenges, they still expect a good holiday turnout. … With a three-year drought, lake levels are front-of-mind for many frequent lake visitors, but there is good news. Lake levels are currently about 120 feet below full pool and expected to drop 155 feet later this summer, but that’s still 30 feet higher than we saw last year. Matt Doyle, general manager of Lake Shasta Caverns, said businesses around the lake are very hopeful for this year’s summer.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California just adopted new water restrictions: What you need to know

California water regulators strengthened the state’s drought rules this week, ordering local suppliers to take steps to reduce water usage to stretch limited supplies this summer. Gov. Gavin Newsom warned that more stringent statewide water restrictions could come if the state doesn’t make more progress on conservation soon. … As part of the new rules, the state also banned the use of drinking water for irrigating grass that is purely decorative at businesses and in common areas of subdivisions and homeowners associations. Here is a breakdown of what is going on:

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Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Assemblyman maneuvers to slow proposed river flow increases

Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, is maneuvering against a bill that seeks higher flows on local rivers. Assembly Bill 2639 would set a Dec. 31, 2023, deadline for the State Water Resources Control Board to complete its plan for tributaries to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. They include the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers. The decision would follow decades of wrangling over whether fish should get more water on the lower rivers at the expense of farms and cities.

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Aquafornia news High Country News

Unprecedented fire, wind and snowmelt in the Southwest

It is mid-May, and a couple of days ago, the Hermits Peak Fire in northern New Mexico reached 299,565 acres in size, surpassing the 2012 Whitewater-Baldy Fire as the state’s largest wildfire on record. … It is mid-May, and a dozen other fires have already charred tens of thousands of acres across the West … It is mid-May, and the spring winds have been relentless … It is mid-May, and the temperature in Phoenix has reached 105 degrees Fahrenheit two days in a row.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Heat and drought shape Southern California’s summer outlook

Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer, is Monday. What’s in store for the upcoming season of beach days and barbecues in Southern California? To start with, it will be dry. That’s not just because California’s Mediterranean climate means rain mostly falls during a few wet winter months, but because the state is in its third year of drought…. Major reservoirs statewide were at 76% of average levels this week, with the long, hot summer months still ahead….This month, 59.64% of the state is categorized as being in extreme drought, the second-worst category, with just 0.18% in exceptional drought — but then this is May, not July.

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Aquafornia news CNN

Lake Mead boats emerge as water level drops to 1,050 feet

The water level in Lake Mead — the nation’s largest reservoir — dropped below 1,050 feet elevation for the first time last week, a critical milestone that signals more stringent water cuts are around the corner for the Southwest…. As of Tuesday, Lake Mead’s level was around 1,049 feet above sea level…. If the lake’s water level is expected to stay below 1,050 feet by January 2023, the more significant Tier 2 shortage would be implemented. Additional cuts — each tier with rising impact on agriculture and municipal water use — are expected if Lake Mead continues to fall. 

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Agenda now posted for special June 9 workshop in Southern California on precipitation forecasting & drought management

California’s vast network of surface water reservoirs is designed to hold carryover storage from year to year to ensure water is available for urban, agricultural and environmental purposes during dry months and years. But climate change has begun to affect our reliance on historical weather patterns to predict California’s water supply, making it even more difficult for water managers to manage drought conditions and placing a greater emphasis on better precipitation forecasting at longer lead times. Learn about efforts being made to ‘get ahead of the storms’ through new science, models and technology at our special one-day workshop June 9 in IrvineMaking Progress on Drought Management: Improvements in Seasonal Precipitation Forecasting.

Aquafornia news California Water Research

Blog: California Senate proposes $2 billion program to balance water supply and water rights

The California Senate has proposed a $2 billion reconciliation framework to rebalance water supply and water rights, as part of proposed investments of $7.5 billion in state and federal funds spread over three years for climate resiliency. It is the most sweeping land retirement proposal since the landmark 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act.

Aquafornia news ABC 23 - Bakersfield

Water shortage impacting California cotton farmers

The California Department of Food and Agriculture says that more than 90% of the cotton harvested in California has been grown in the San Joaquin Valley but continuing dry weather is posing significant challenges for growers. Consumer demand is driving the market for cotton, including high-quality Pima cotton now reaching record levels of more than $3 a pound. But as California faces another dry year many farmers in Kern County are impacted not only by an increase in price but also by a decrease in production.

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Aquafornia news KYMA - Yuma, AZ

Southwest water shortage expected to get worse

A “Tier 1″ shortage was triggered by Lake Mead falling below 1,075 feet of water this past year.  This means less Colorado River water is flowing into Arizona. Historic drought conditions are impacting critical infrastructure that provides water and power to the region, like the Hoover Dam, and Lakes Mead and Powell…. For now, [Bureau of Reclamation official Dan] Bunk says Yuma and its agricultural industry remain unaffected by the tier one shortage. But the future is unknown.

Aquafornia news The San Francisco Examiner

As Bay Area faces prolonged drought, recycling and desalination are the only two real options

Despite being surrounded by water, Bay Area residents are routinely told during dry years to take shorter showers, let lawns brown and slow the rush of water from their taps. But as climate change prolongs drought and challenges local water supply, regional water managers are warning that none of those actions will be enough. Many say the time has come to invest in technically feasible, though politically and environmentally complicated alternatives like purifying wastewater and sucking salt out of seawater to bolster stores.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Explainer: How cities in the West have water amid drought

As drought and climate change tighten their grip on the American West, the sight of fountains, swimming pools, gardens and golf courses in cities like Phoenix, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Boise, and Albuquerque can be jarring at first glance. Western water experts, however, say they aren’t necessarily cause for concern. Over the past three decades, major Western cities — particularly in California and Nevada — have diversified their water sources, boosted local supplies through infrastructure investments and conservation, and use water more efficiently. 

Aquafornia news Mercury News

California drought: Water wasters could face fines of up to $10,000 in Santa Clara County under new rules

Residents in Santa Clara County could face fines of up to $500 — and in extreme cases, $10,000 — for wasting water, under new drought rules approved Tuesday afternoon that are among the toughest of any urban area in California. … The new rules take effect June 1, but depend largely on citizen complaints and very few “water cops” to investigate them. Under the rules, residents who see water being wasted can notify the district of the address and date of incident by calling 408-630-2000, or emailing, or reporting online…. 

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California bans watering of ‘non functional’ lawns around businesses as drought persists

Californians can expect to see more yellow grass around hospitals, hotels, office parks and industrial centers after water regulators voted Tuesday to ban watering of “nonfunctional” turf in commercial areas. The State Water Resources Control Board also moved to order all the state’s major urban water providers to step up their conservation efforts. The moves are the strongest regulatory actions state officials have taken in the third year of the latest drought.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

AQUAFORNIA BREAKING NEWS: California bans watering “non-functional” grass in some areas, strengthening drought rules

California’s top water regulators adopted emergency drought rules Tuesday that scale up conservation requirements for water suppliers throughout the state and prohibit watering grass that is purely decorative at businesses and in common areas of subdivisions and homeowners associations. The regulations outlaw the use of potable water for irrigating “non-functional” grass at commercial, industrial and institutional properties.

Aquafornia news Entrepreneur

Opinion: Farmers don’t have enough water. Can AI help?

For the fourth time in 10 years, farmers I know in California are facing a harsh reality — they won’t see a drop of water from federal government reserves to supplement the little bit they’ll get from Mother Nature. … Precision agriculture — the use of technology like networked sensors and artificial intelligence — is helping farmers get by without the water they once had. The efficiencies are real, and the impact is tangible. I’ve seen up close how precision agriculture is making a difference for farms facing extreme drought.
-Written by Michael Gilbert, CEO of Semios, helping farmers use data to optimize every acre.

Aquafornia news Fox 10 - Phoenix

Lake Powell, producing energy to millions, majorly threatened by drought conditions

The water crisis in Arizona affects all of us. From our tap water to our crops, even our electricity. The supply is running short, so FOX 10’s Steve Nielsen headed to Lake Powell to investigate our ongoing water crisis and uncover what’s being done to safeguard our most important resource in the desert. … Lake Powell historical data in 2011 shows the water level was at 3,622 feet. It ebbs and flows a little bit every year, but there’s been a steep drop off the last two years. As of May 2022, the water level is sitting at 3,522.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Opinion: New Melones modeling & megadroughts: Setting stage for state’s water Armageddon

New Melones Reservoir is the proverbial canary in the mine when it comes to where state water policy wedded with the return of megadroughts is taking California. Using historical hydrology data on the Stanislaus River basin between 1922 and 2019: *Based on current regulatory rules New Melones Reservoir would fall below 250,000 acre feet of storage in 3 out of the 98 years. 
-Written by Dennis Wyatt, editor of The Manteca Bulletin.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Heat wave this week will intensify fire danger for Bay Area, Northern California

A pre-Memorial Day heat wave will prime the Bay Area for another dry fire season, roasting the region’s landscape with some of the hottest weather so far in 2022 and pushing temperatures in some cities close to 100 degrees. A month ahead of the official start of summer, high temperatures could climb 5 to 20 degrees above normal on Tuesday and Wednesday for much of the Bay Area — a pre-Memorial Day blast of hot weather that prompted a heat advisory for the entire Central Valley and a red flag warning for a broad swath of Northern California stretching from Vallejo to Redding…. Already, California’s drought has depleted reservoirs and contributed to some of the state’s largest fires on record in recent years.

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Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Fishermen threaten to sue Bureau of Reclamation over Trinity River diversions

A Trump era decision has further imperiled endangered fish species in the Trinity River, and commercial fishermen and local tribes are demanding the federal government take action. This week, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and its sister organization Institute for Fisheries Research sent the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation a 60-day notice of their intention to sue the federal agency for violating the Endangered Species Act. The amount of water the bureau is diverting from the Trinity River to the Central Valley Project has decimated the river’s salmon populations … 

Aquafornia news ABC7 Los Angeles

California water officials urge conservation amid dim outlook for improvement in drought conditions

Outdoor watering restrictions area set to take effect in Los Angeles at the end of the month, and the prospect of an improvement in drought conditions appears dim. Just how bad is the drought? According to state figures, the first three months of the year were the driest in the state’s recorded history. California is currently in the third year of a drought. Wade Crowfoot is the state secretary for natural resources. The one resource he oversees that we all use is water. According to his agency, the drought is getting worse, not better.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

The West, reliant on hydro, may miss it during heat waves

When California suffers a heat wave, it leans heavily on hydropower from the Pacific Northwest to keep the lights on. But that hydropower may not always be available when it’s most needed, as climate change is shifting the ground on which the West’s dams sit. Higher temperatures means snowmelt occurs earlier in the year and leaves less water available for power generation during the depths of summer. 

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Aquafornia news GV Wire

Hurtado wants feds to probe hedge funds’ acquisition of water rights

State Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D-Bakersfield) and state Sen. Dave Cortese (D-San Jose) are calling for U. S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate possible drought profiteering and water rights abuses in the western states. … A county supervisor in Arizona joined the California state senators in calling for the investigation. … In addition to raising anti-trust questions, Hurtado and Cortese expressed concern about the potential for hedge funds to divert water intended for food production to cannabis growing operations.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Sacramento Valley struggles to survive record water cuts

Three years ago, when he sank everything he had into 66 acres of irrigated pasture in Shasta County, [farmer Josh] Davy thought he’d drought-proofed his cattle operation. He’d been banking on the Sacramento Valley’s water supply… But this spring, for the first time ever, no water is flowing through his pipes and canals or those of his neighbors: The district won’t be delivering any water to Davy or any of its roughly 800 other customers.

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Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

State, county may take water from City of Porterville

City of Porterville Manager John Lollis … announced at Tuesday’s Porterville City Council meeting the County and State may exercise its right to take 3 million gallons of water a month at no charge from a city well as part of the arrangement the city, county and state reached to supply East Porterville with water after the 2015 drought. … Lollis noted the state still hasn’t fulfilled its portion of the agreement which called for the development of three wells for the City of Porterville as part of the East Porterville project.

Aquafornia news Ukiah Daily Journal

Mendocino County mulling sales tax to fund water projects, fire services

Despite two board members expressing doubts that a new spending measure would be approved by voters, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to move forward with a possible sales tax ordinance to fund projects protecting local water supply and boosting local fire services.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Ex-Interior secretary urges revamping of Colorado River pact

One hundred years after a landmark agreement divided the waters of the Colorado River among Western states, the pact is now showing its age as a hotter and drier climate has shrunk the river….Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, who oversaw management of the river under President Clinton, said it’s become clear that the 1922 Colorado River Compact should be revamped to adapt to the reduced amount of water that is available as global warming compounds the 22-year megadrought in the watershed.

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Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Friday Top of the Scroll: Newsom pushes Water Commission to accelerate Sites Reservoir

As the drought deepens and an election nears, Gov. Gavin Newsom is taking extra steps to increase pressure—and responsibility—on the Water Commission for the Sites Reservoir Project proposal. During a Senate budget subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot said the governor has tasked him with ensuring the commission “isn’t slowing down the progress of getting those [Proposition 1] projects online.” Newsom also charged Crowfoot with finding ways to remove regulatory barriers and accelerate the approval process for those projects.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Blog: Drought, groundwater restrictions and – oh yeah, drought – pervade talk at annual Kern water summit

Local and state water leaders were practically upbeat two years ago at the last in-person Water Summit put on by the Water Association of Kern County. At least as upbeat as California water folks typically get. They advocated for new ideas, radical partnerships and solutions that could benefit both ag and environmental interests. That was then. Facing a third year of punishing drought and the bleak realities of new groundwater restrictions, the vibe at this year’s summit was more “in the bunker” than “in it together.”

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Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Interior watchdog finds David Bernhardt did not violate lobbying laws

The Interior Department’s internal watchdog on Thursday said it found no evidence that former secretary David Bernhardt violated lobbying laws regarding a former client, a California water district that is the nation’s largest agricultural water supplier, although he continued to advise them on legislative matters on occasion after he stopped being their lobbyist.

Aquafornia news ABC7 San Francisco

California drought: How CA coastal communities are working to conserve, combat saltwater intrusion

For Executive Pastor Mark Spurlock, expanding classroom space at the Twin Lakes Christian School in Aptos has been addition by subtraction. At least when it comes to saving water. Following development offset rules outlined by the Soquel Creek Water District, the school engineered water-saving solutions to offset the new space they were building including replacing lawn areas with a drought-friendly plaza that catches and diverts water routed from nearby rooftops. … To better understand seawater intrusion, Duncan says the layman can think of the Santa Cruz area’s aquifer as a giant bathtub with mountain watershed on one side, and ocean on the other.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Petitions submitted for new groundwater management district

A proposal apparently headed to the November ballot would have voters in rural southeastern Arizona decide whether to create a new regulatory district to manage large-scale groundwater use for agriculture in an area where aquifer levels have dropped in recent years. A grassroots group collected sufficient voter signatures on petitions required under state law for a ballot measure on creation of an active management area in the Willcox basin in Cochise and Graham counties, reported. The management area would be Arizona’s first created through a petition drive. 

Aquafornia news NBC Bay Area

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California’s snowpack, groundwater keep dropping

New numbers continue to show California Sierra snowpack is dropping along with the state’s groundwater but why is that important? Check out this image below and you’ll see all of the ways we use snowpack. That Spring snowmelt not only fills our streams, reservoirs and lakes, we also use it for agriculture, household, ecology and hydropower. In total providing one-third of the state’s water supply. The problem lately, we just can’t get enough storms to keep the snowpack at normal levels. This year only finished at 42% of normal.

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Aquafornia news NBC Los Angeles

It’s about water, not just illegal drugs, officials say of rampant pot grows

Illegal pot grows were already a problem in the High Desert, but during the pandemic, the number increased, and now officials say with scarce water resources in Southern California, it’s a drought problem too. The NBC4 I-Team has been following the efforts to eradicate illegal marijuana operations in the high desert region of Southern California. On May 17, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced a new operation targeting those operations. The problem exploded during the pandemic with illegal marijuana grow operations quickly multiplying in High Desert communities. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Accusations continue to fly between two valley ag titans in water feud

The ongoing water feud between two of Kings County’s biggest farming entities recently spilled into Kern County and up to Sacramento with allegations on both sides of misuse of water and other public resources. In a May 12 letter, the Southwest Kings Groundwater Sustainability Agency complains that the J.G. Boswell Company has been pumping and storing massive amounts of groundwater for irrigation in a shallow basin, subjecting it to extreme evaporation and contributing to the area’s already significant subsidence problems.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Hurtado calls for a crackdown on water profiteering

On Wednesday, State Senator Melissa Hurtado, D-Sanger joined her colleague, Democratic State Senator Dave Cortese in sending a letter to United States Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting an investigation into possible drought profiteering and water rights abuses in the Western states.  The Senators said they’re concerned about the increasing amount of water rights being purchased by hedge funds, their potential anti-competitive practices and the devastating impact that could have on water security.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: The Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta

The Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta lies at the confluence of two of the state’s largest rivers. Forty percent of California’s runoff flows into the Delta, which—together with the San Francisco Bay—forms one of the West Coast’s largest estuaries. The Delta watershed supplies water to roughly 30 million residents and more than 6 million acres of farmland. Water exported from the Delta goes to the Bay Area, the southern San Joaquin Valley, the Central Coast, and Southern California (first figure). 

Aquafornia news Fox 13 - Salt Lake City

More reservoirs may run dry and the Great Salt Lake will continue to decline, state officials warn

More reservoirs across Utah may run dry and the Great Salt Lake will continue to decline, state officials warned lawmakers on Wednesday. During a briefing before the Utah State Legislature’s Natural Resources Interim Committee, lawmakers were told that 99% of Utah remains in severe or extreme drought…. A legislative commission [is] requesting a study on the idea of a pipeline to take water from the Pacific Ocean across California and Nevada into the Great Salt Lake.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Improvements in forecasting to better manage drought is focus of June 9 workshop in Southern California

How can California water managers get ahead of the storms to improve drought management? A special one-day workshop June 9 in Irvine will highlight some of the latest research on seasonal precipitation forecasting that could help water managers across the state plan better for what winter might bring. The workshop, Making Progress on Drought Management: Improvements in Seasonal Precipitation Forecasting, is sponsored by the California Department of Water Resources in partnership with the Water Education Foundation.

Aquafornia news EurekAlert!

New research: Climate change will force big shift in timing, amount of snowmelt across Colorado River Basin

New research predicts that changes in mountain snowmelt will shift peak streamflows to much earlier in the year for the vast Colorado River Basin, altering reservoir management and irrigation across the entire region. … The basin stretches from sea level at the Gulf of California to higher than 14,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and provides critical water to cities and farmers within the basin and beyond. Significant water is diverted to large population centers, including Albuquerque, Denver, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, San Diego and Santa Fe.

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Aquafornia news Public News Service

Water wars court case to decide fate of Long Valley in rural Mono County

Conservation groups are speaking out in support of water rights in rural Mono County, saying thirsty Los Angeles is endangering wildlife, ranching and tourism. All parties are awaiting the judge’s decision after a recent hearing, where the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) argued it has the right to cut off water ranchers use to irrigate Long Valley and Little Round Valley for cattle grazing near the Crowley Lake Reservoir. Wendy Schneider, executive director of the nonprofit Friends of the Inyo, said the DWP bought up water rights 100 years ago, but the Eastern Sierra is getting the short end of the stick.

Aquafornia news ABC7 - Los Angeles

Gov. Newsom pushes need for conservation during visit to SoCal water recycling facility

Gov. Gavin Newsom is urging Californians to find ways to reduce their water use in an effort to combat the historic drought and said upcoming conservation mandates are a priority. The governor visited a water recycling facility Tuesday afternoon in Carson. It was originally built as a demonstration project to recycle household wastewater and replenish groundwater supplies…. Statewide, water consumption is up just 3.7% since July compared to 2020, woefully short of Newsom’s 15% goal. Newsom pledged to spend $100 million on a statewide advertising campaign to encourage water conservation.

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Aquafornia news Record Searchlight

Planned Colusa County reservoir draws concerns of ‘harmful’ water quality

Most people have never heard of Sites, California. It’s just a tiny dot on maps, little more than an intersection in the road on the remote west side of rural Colusa County in Northern California. But the surrounding Antelope Valley, where wildflowers bloom and cattle graze on spring grasses, is one of the next battlegrounds in California’s water wars. Under plans endorsed by state, federal and local officials, the valley would be flooded by the Sites Reservoir, a 14,000-acre lake that would take in water pumped from the Sacramento River and store it for agricultural and municipal use during dry periods.

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Farmers across state face new water cuts

With 60% of the state now in extreme drought conditions, state officials are warning water-right holders that they should expect more curtailments during peak irrigation season in June and July. … Drought emergency curtailment regulations were issued last fall by the California State Water Resources Control Board for certain watersheds in response to persistent dry conditions and spurred by a drought emergency declaration by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Curtailment orders adopted last year are effective for up to one year unless readopted.

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Aquafornia news Sen. Dianne Feinstein's Office

News release: Feinstein, Kelly, Sinema introduce bill to increase, modernize water supply

Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) yesterday introduced S.4231, the Support to Rehydrate the Environment, Agriculture and Municipalities Act or STREAM Act, a bill that would increase water supply and modernize water infrastructure in California and throughout the West.

Aquafornia news The Pew Charitable Trusts

Blog: Water shortages threaten development in more western cities

As the Western United States endures an ongoing megadrought that has spanned more than two decades, an increasing number of cities, towns and water districts are being forced to say no to new growth. There’s just not enough water to go around. Last month, the California Coastal Commission urged San Luis Obispo County to stop all new development requiring water use in the communities of Los Osos and Cambria. 

Aquafornia news Fox 13 - Salt Lake City

Utah lawmakers consider pipeline from Pacific Ocean to Great Salt Lake

A legislative commission is floating the idea of a pipeline to bring water from the Pacific Ocean into the Great Salt Lake. “There’s a lot of water in the ocean and we have very little in the Great Salt Lake,” said Sen. David Hinkins, R-Orangeville, who co-chairs the Legislative Water Development Commission. … The study would look at the cost to actually create a pipeline from the Pacific Ocean, across California and the Sierra-Nevada mountains, across the deserts of Nevada and ultimately into the Great Salt Lake in Utah.

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Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Interior authorizes $240 million for water infrastructure repair

The Interior Department is doling out more than $240 million for repairs to aging water infrastructure in the drought-ridden West, one of the first investments with ramifications for agriculture in the $1.5 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law enacted last year.

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Aquafornia news

Blog: California still in a drought: 3 years and counting

Climate change and water shortages are in large part responsible for causing the drought within California in the US, as well as other western states. This has been an ongoing trend for three years now, and in 2022 alone, California has experienced 1,402 wildfires that have consumed at least 6,507 acres of land. However, there is also a weather phenomenon known as La Niña, … This produces little precipitation, thereby leading to less snowmelt and runoff during the spring thaw, which then leads into optimal drought conditions. Naturally, La Niña and exacerbating climate factors would strain already dwindling water sources.

Aquafornia news Reuters

ESG Watch: New study sounds alarm about risk of stranded assets due to water scarcity

For something that is so crucial to all aspects of life, including the most fundamental business operations, water risk is a blind spot for many investors and businesses. There is little understanding of how overuse, pollution and increasingly frequent extreme weather events, such as the years-long drought in California, the recent heatwave in India and Pakistan, and last year’s floods in Europe, are affecting water availability, says Cate Lamb, global director of water security at disclosure not-for-profit CDP. A third of listed financial institutions do not assess exposure to water risk in their financial activities, although 69% of listed equities told CDP in 2021 that they are exposed to water-related risks.

Aquafornia news Law360

Blog: Court declines to lift blockade on water laws targeting pot

A California federal judge has declined to lift an injunction on two Northern California county ordinances that require strict permits for the transport of water, saying that while the local laws were enacted to quash illegal cannabis farms, they’ve caused harm to a group of Hmong farmers. In a decision handed down Friday, Chief U. S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller found that although Siskiyou County had modified the ordinances, they were still likely to cut off water to a community of Hmong farmers within the county’s borders.

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Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Newsom pitches $75M in drought relief for agriculture

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s revised budget proposal would set aside $75 million to aid small agricultural businesses as the drought deepens. The one-time assistance would provide grants ranging from $30,000 to $50,000, depending on the amount of lost revenue. The program would prioritize businesses in the hardest hit regions, such as the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys…. Newsom’s budget plan would allocate $100 million for repairing conveyance canals, which was part of a 2021 budget deal. But it would not add anything further.

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Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Blog: The Colorado River faces a climate change-driven crisis

The Colorado River plays a pivotal role in the American West, supplying water to more than 40 million people, irrigating 5 million acres of farmland, and providing critical habitat for rare fish, birds and plants. But demand for the Colorado’s water far exceeds supply in the fast-growing Southwest, as a climate change-fueled megadrought and rising temperatures place an unprecedented strain on the iconic river, The Washington Post’s Karin Brulliard, Matt McClain and Erin Patrick O’Connor report.

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Aquafornia news Comstock's magazine

The lasting agreement: California’s long legacy of trying to solve its water problem

If there’s one thing people in the West know how to fight over, it’s water. California was built on scarcity, whether it be gold or silver, land or water. In the mid-1800s, when European Americans arrived to the land where Indigenous people had lived for at least 10,000 years, they wasted no time staking their claims. A big head-scratcher for those early colonizers was how to get water to sustain burgeoning towns. 

Aquafornia news KUNC - Greeley, Colo.

New bill aims to boost tribal access to clean water

Two recent moves aim to benefit water access for tribal communities in the Colorado River basin. One, a bill in the U.S. Congress, could increase access to clean water. Another, the release of a “shared vision” statement, outlines the goals of tribes and conservation nonprofits. Tribes in the basin hold rights to about a quarter of the river’s flow, but have often been excluded from negotiations about how the river’s water is used.

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Aquafornia news Sonora Union-Democrat

Tuolumne County elected officials support acquiring PG&E water rights and infrastructure, but questions remain

The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors and Sonora City Council generally liked what they heard Tuesday from Tuolumne Utilities District staff in a special, non-action joint meeting Tuesday about TUD’s plan to acquire Pacific Gas and Electric Co.-owned water rights and infrastructure. A county supervisor emphasized there may be urgent incentive for TUD to close the deal because other water agencies from the Central Valley expressed keen interest in PG&E’s assets in Tuolumne County back in June 2019.

Aquafornia news National Review

California environmentalists battle reservoir project amid drought

Jamie Traynham has spent nearly half a century in and around the lush Northern California valley, about 70 miles north of Sacramento, that is home to her family’s ranch. As a girl, she and her sister rode their horses through Sites Valley, and helped build the barn stalls where they raised livestock to show in local 4-H competitions. As an adult, Traynham and her husband rent the ranch from her mother and use the land — typically a sea of green in the rainy season — as a key winter-feeding location for their cattle.

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Opinion: Coral Mountain La Quinta wave basin irresponsible in a desert

John Gamlin’s recent defense of his Coral Mountain wave basin resort in The Desert Sun (guest column, May 8) fails to address the main issue. Planning development according to historic water levels is extremely naive in the desert, and we have seen this story pan out before. In 1959, the North Shore Beach and Yacht Club opened on the shore of the Salton Sea — a massive lake created in the early 1900s when engineers accidentally flooded the ancient basin with diverted Colorado River water intended to irrigate the dry, fertile Imperial Valley.
-Written by Sydney Hayes, a student majoring in environmental studies and economics at Bowdoin College. 

Aquafornia news Foothills Sun-Gazette

Tooleville water connection project expected to take eight years to complete

The process of connecting Tooleville’s water system to Exeter’s, which would relieve the small community of longtime water supply and contamination issues, is expected to take eight years.  Information from the feasibility study needed to start planning the project has been unfolding bit by bit, mainly through biweekly meetings held between Exeter city officials, representatives from Tooleville, staff from Self Help Enterprises and Provost and Pritchard, the consultants in charge of the study.  

Aquafornia news ACWA News

Monday Top of the Scroll: Governor Newsom’s proposed budget includes funding for drought

Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled his revised state budget for the 2022-’23 Fiscal Year. The $300.7 billion budget includes several priorities of interest to ACWA members, including funding for drought, climate change, forest management and more. Building upon last year’s three-year, $5.2 billion allocation to support drought response and long-term water sustainability, the governor’s revised budget includes an additional $2 billion for drought response and water resilience. This is part of the governor’s larger $47.1 billion climate package.

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Aquafornia news The Washington Post

The Colorado River is in crisis. And it’s getting worse every day

It is a powerhouse: a 1,450-mile waterway that stretches from the Rocky Mountains to the Sea of Cortez, serving 40 million people in seven U.S. states, 30 federally recognized tribes and Mexico. It hydrates 5 million acres of agricultural land and provides critical habitat for rare fish, birds and plants. But the Colorado’s water was overpromised when it was first allocated a century ago. Demand in the fast-growing Southwest exceeds supply, and it is growing even as supply drops amid a climate change-driven megadrought and rising temperatures. States and cities are now scrambling to forestall the gravest impacts to growth, farming, drinking water and electricity, while also aiming to protect their own interests.

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Aquafornia news Pasadena Star News

Opinion: We are the problem in California’s housing shortage

Everything everyone — by which I mean the wrong ones, the NIMBYs — says about housing in Southern California is always wrong. … Fact: Take your average Southland single-family homestead, raze it and replace it with an eight-unit apartment building, and you’d be … saving water. That’s because, even in our xeriscaped age, unless you have Astroturfed your entire yard, your landscaping uses a lot more water than your sinks, shower and dishwasher do.
-Written by Larry Wilson, a member of the Southern California News Group editorial board.

Aquafornia news

Study: US forests provide 83 million people with half their water

Forested lands across the U.S. provide 83 million people with at least half of their water, according to a broad new study of surface water sources for more than 5,000 public water systems. 125 million people, or about 38% of the country’s population, receive at least 10% of their water from forests. In the arid western U.S., 39.5 million people get more than half of their surface drinking water from forests that are increasingly under threat of wildfires.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Proposed law makes new well permitting process permanent

New legislation introduced in the State Assembly aims to make the Governor’s March 28 order on new water well permits permanent. Assemblymember Steve Bennett (D-Ventura) and representatives from Visalia-based Community Water Center (CWC) introduced Assembly Bill 2201 on March 31 requiring local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) to evaluate new well drilling permits to ensure those wells will not negatively affect domestic wells nearby before the permits can be approved by county government. The law would codify Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order, which is temporary.

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Aquafornia news CBS 13 - Sacramento

Drought severely affecting California rice crops

Severe drought is taking a severe toll on California rice crops as this year, hundreds of thousands of acres won’t be planted. Some call the impact on farmers and the surrounding communities catastrophic…. The Northern California Water Association expects the rice industry to lose more than $250 million statewide, including more than $70 million in lost wages.

Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

‘It matters … when your water goes away’: Reexamining the end of Utah’s ‘lost oasis’

The entire West Desert is now about the exact opposite of what the area once was. The planet warmed as it left the Pleistocene era and Lake Bonneville receded to what is now the Great Salt Lake. And as the Great Salt Lake now dries to the lowest level in its recorded history, there is plenty more moonscape to go around.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: California Coastal Commission rejects plan for Poseidon desalination plant

After hearing hours of heated debate, the California Coastal Commission voted against a controversial plan by the company Poseidon Water to build a huge desalination plant in Huntington Beach. Despite worsening drought and repeated calls from Gov. Gavin Newsom to tap the Pacific Ocean as a source of drinking water, commissioners voted unanimously against the plan Thursday night. The decision, which was recommended by commission staff, may end the company’s plans for the $1.4-billion plant.

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Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

Monterey has four affordable housing projects in the works, but not enough water to give

On May 17, the Monterey City Council will discuss four city-owned properties it hopes to turn into affordable housing, and will be asked to wrestle with some challenging questions about how to move forward with making them a reality. At the top of that list is water, or the lack thereof: The city has 5.2 acre-feet of water annually it can allocate to the projects. But dedicating all the water to one or more of the projects, City Manager Hans Uslar says, would hinder the city’s ability to give water to public works projects….

Aquafornia news Red Bluff Daily News

Opinion: Can today’s ag techies track our precious water?

I will attempt to convince you the drought is simply an excuse to take our water and that farmers are the unfortunate victims, too. Just ask members of the Anderson-Cottonwood Irrigation District (ACID), who thought they were safe from having their water taken because ACID holds a Sacramento River Settlement Contract with the United States Bureau of Reclamation. The contract states the irrigation district… will have their full supply of 100 percent cut to 25 percent (although some users say it’s 18 percent) even though their contract states 75 percent during critical years.
-Written by Shanna Long, a fourth generation journalist and former editor of the Corning Daily Observer.

Aquafornia news KUNC - Greeley, Colo.

For this summer’s water forecast, climate experts are looking back to winter

In the middle of a parched summer in the arid West, any amount of rain can feel like a gift. But in reality, those precious summer showers barely move the needle when it comes to water…. As a drought-stricken region looks ahead to the summer, climate scientists are keeping an eye on high-mountain snowpack and its path to streams and rivers. Snow at high altitudes makes up the majority of the water in the Colorado River – where this past winter has left low totals. On top of that, warm temperatures and dry soil mean that snow is likely to melt early and soak into the ground before it can get to the Colorado River.

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Aquafornia news CBS News

Lake Powell is vanishing with devastating consequences. But it’s bringing a former canyon back to life

Climate change is making the West hotter and drier, threatening the Colorado River system, including the man-made reservoirs of Lake Powell in Utah and Lake Mead in Nevada that provide water for 40 million people in seven states. The National Park Service has been forced to shut down 11 boat ramps at the Lake Powell recreation area, which draws millions of visitors. The critically low lake levels could soon cause the Glen Canyon Dam to stop producing hydropower for more than five million people in six states, forcing them to find alternative sources. 

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Aquafornia news Bond Buyer

Pressure grows on California water agencies as drought worsens

As drought conditions worsen in California and other western states, rating analysts are weighing the potential impacts. California state water officials announced during a media call Tuesday that the governor plans to increase his budget request for state conservation efforts after the state’s residents failed to heed his request in March to reduce consumption, instead increasing usage by 19% compared to the same month in 2020. Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to add an additional $180 million for a total of $300 million when he releases his revised proposed budget on Friday, said Lisa Lien-Mager, a spokeswoman with the California Department of Water Resources.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Latest science in seasonal precipitation forecasting focus of June 9 workshop in Southern California

With the recent news that California has officially begun 2022 with its lowest January through April precipitation level since 1895, how reliable are the historical patterns traditionally used to forecast California’s water supply? Tomorrow’s weather forecast may be spot on, but can we ever get accurate precipitation forecasts weeks to months in advance? To get the answers, register today for Making Progress on Drought Management: Improvements in Seasonal Precipitation Forecasting, a one-day workshop June 9 in Irvine sponsored by the California Department of Water Resources in partnership with the Water Education Foundation.

Aquafornia news 12 News - Apache Junction, AZ

Arizona’s newest city already has a major water problem

There’s a city twice the size of Tucson out in the desert south of Apache Junction. It houses 900,000 people in thousands upon thousands of homes. But it just hasn’t been built yet.  The area is 276 square miles of empty desert called Superstition Vistas. It stretches from the southern border of Apache Junction, down the edge of San Tan Valley, all the way down to Florence, then across to the US 60 and beyond. … And for all that area, with all those people estimated to live there upon completion, there’s not enough water.

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Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn | Attorneys at Law

Blog: Court of Appeal sides with parties seeking attorneys’ fees for challenge to California WaterFix project

Siding with public agencies and environmental groups who filed numerous legal challenges to the “twin tunnel” Delta conveyance project known as California WaterFix, the Third District Court of Appeal today unanimously held that the trial court improperly denied the appellants’ attorneys’ fees motions when it ruled that their legal challenges were not a “catalyst” for the State’s 2019 decision to rescind the WaterFix project approvals and decertify the project environmental impact report (EIR). 

Aquafornia news Calexico Chronicle

IID preparing water apportionment plan

The Imperial Irrigation District is preparing a water apportionment plan for Imperial Valley growers to rein in a projected water overrun after the federal government declared a water shortage, reducing the amount of water that Arizona, Nevada and Mexico can claim from the Colorado River. The IID holds the largest and most secure federal entitlement on the Colorado River, but current Bureau of Reclamation projections show the district exceeding its allocation by more than 92,000 acre-feet of water this year…. IID’s Ag Water Advisory Committee was scheduled to review the EDP proposal on Thursday, May 12.

Aquafornia news Press Telegram

Long Beach injection well designed to increase groundwater supply

Construction recently began on a well designed to inject water back into the groundwater basin beneath Long Beach. The groundbreaking last week took place at the Water Replenishment District’s advanced water treatment facility, on the southeastern border of Long Beach, next to the San Gabriel River. The plant further treats sewer effluent from the Los Angeles County Sanitation District to create purified recycled water. Recycled water already is used for irrigation and in other wells to form a barrier against salt water so it won’t get into the ground water basin.

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Aquafornia news USA Today

A body in a barrel, ghost towns, a crashed B-29: What other secrets are buried in Lake Mead?

A body in a barrel. Human bones along the shoreline. Ghost towns. A crashed B-29 Superfortress used to track cosmic rays. Prehistoric salt mines. What will the rapidly receding waters of Lake Mead reveal next? “This is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Travis Heggie, a former National Park Service official who has studied deaths at Lake Mead Recreation Area. “I’m expecting all sorts of criminal things to show up, and I mean a lot.”

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Far from Lake Powell, drought punishes another Western dam

The electricity generated [at Flaming Gorge Dam], in northern Utah near the Wyoming state line, helps keep the lights on across 10 states. It’s made possible by a dam that interrupts the Green River, which meanders into the Colorado River at Lake Powell hundreds of miles downstream before flowing southwest to Lake Mead — meaning as an Angeleno, I’ve been drinking this water my whole life. … The Biden administration said this month it would release an extra 500,000 acre-feet of water from Flaming Gorge Reservoir over the next year, as part of a desperate effort to stop Powell from falling so low that Glen Canyon Dam can no longer generate power.

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Aquafornia news Woodland Daily Democrat

Woodland City Council implements 20% water use reduction

The Woodland City Council received an update on the city’s planned water supply for 2022 and adopted a resolution implementing stage two of Woodland’s water shortage contingency plan. “The state of California is in the third year of a drought and issued a governor’s executive order in March 2022 requiring urban water suppliers to implement at least stage two of their water shortage contingency plans,” the city staff report stated. “Stage two of the WSCP implements a goal of reducing water use by 20%.”

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Aquafornia news SF Gate

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California got snow in April and May. What does it mean for the snowpack?

After California saw extended periods of dry weather in the middle of winter, a series of late-season storms swept the Golden State in April and May, dusting the Sierra Nevada with fresh snow. Did those spring snow showers help bolster the dwindling snowpack that historically provides about a third of the state’s water supply? The short answer is that every little bit helps, but the snow did not come close to making up for almost no precipitation in January through March …

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Local solutions central to water forum

Facing a third year of drought, leadership from county Farm Bureaus, spanning all regions of California, gathered in Sacramento last week to engage with state water officials about all things water. A changing climate, shrinking snowpack, water rights, aging infrastructure, groundwater regulations and solutions to the state’s water crisis were among the topics discussed at the California Farm Bureau Water Forum. The event brought together state water officials and county Farm Bureau leaders from the Mountain, North Coast, Central Valley, Central Coast and Southern California regions.

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Aquafornia news The New Yorker

The biggest potential water disaster in the United States

The Delta is crucial because, if it ever failed as a hub, the resulting water crisis in California would increase existing tensions with the Colorado’s other parched dependents. … The Delta’s problems are as dire, but they receive far less public attention. The main threat to the Delta is saltwater intrusion. If an earthquake caused a major levee failure, the sunken islands would flood, drawing salt water from the Pacific into waterways that are now kept fresh by the pressure of inflows from the Sacramento.

Aquafornia news California Globe

Opinion: The abundance choice, part one

In October, and then again in December 2021, as the third severe drought this century was entering its third year, not one but two atmospheric rivers struck California. Dumping torrents of rain with historic intensity, from just these two storm systems over 100 million acre feet of water poured out of the skies, into the rivers, and out to sea. Almost none of it was captured by reservoirs or diverted into aquifers. Since December, not one big storm has hit the state. After a completely dry winter, a few minor storms in April and May were too little too late.
-Written by Edward Ring, a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center.

Aquafornia news ABC30 Fresno

California Senate Bill 559 pushes for canal repairs to save water amid drought

Central California lawmakers, growers and advocates are calling on the state to invest in canal repairs that they say will help improve water security. The call for funding comes as the state experiences the third year of drought. SB 559, known as the State Water Resiliency Act, aims to fix canals that deliver water across Central California fully. Currently, $200 million has been allocated in the 2021 and 2022 budgets. But the bill’s author, State Senator Melissa Hurtado of Sanger, said that funding would only cover limited repairs.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

CA weather: What recent rain, heat means for drought, wildfires

The pendulum of Northern California weather is getting ready to swing once again, from rain, hail, thunderstorms and snow showers at the start of this week to sunny and much warmer than average temperatures by the weekend. … The latest turnaround brings the same pair of questions Californians have grown used to asking: What do the latest weather trends mean for the drought, and for wildfire risk? … The anomalies are impacting reservoir levels as well. Eleven of the state’s 17 reservoirs are below 80% of average, according Department of Water Resources data updated Tuesday.

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Aquafornia news Scientific Reports

New research: The effect of reducing per capita water and energy uses on renewable water resources in the water, food and energy nexus

A significant percentage of the world’s population does not have adequate access to water, food, and energy resources (WFE). Although efforts to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals and later the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have increased access to scarce resources, still, 25.9% of the population is affected by moderate or severe food insecurity in 2019, 2.2 billion people lacked access to potable water in 2017, and 789 million people lacked electricity service in 2018. The pressure on WFE resources will increase as the world’s population grows from 7.4 billion in 2016 to 9.7 billion in 2050.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Ventura agrees to lease its State Water Project supply. Here’s why

Ventura has struck a 20-year deal with a Riverside County water wholesaler that would save the city millions of dollars in costs to maintain its rights to imported state water. Under the agreement approved last month, the city would lease its share of imported water to the San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency in Beaumont, an arrangement that would reap $1.1 million this year and cover nearly half of the $2.27 million it will owe to keep its state water entitlement. San Gorgonio would increase its share of the costs starting next year. 

Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

The Colorado River needs a big moisture boost. Runoff forecasts suggest it won’t come from spring snowmelt

Spring snowmelt likely won’t deliver the big water supply bump the drought-stricken Colorado River and its reservoirs need, data from the latest federal river forecast shows. The May to July season is a crucial time for the river, which is replenished by snowmelt running off the mountains on the Western Slope, and the system is in need of a major moisture boost amid a 20-year drought fueled by climate change. 

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: California crises abound, but they won’t be debated

Throughout the state, water agencies are telling Californians that they must seriously curtail lawn watering and other water uses. We can probably scrape through another dry year, but were drought to persist, its impacts would likely be widespread and permanent. … It didn’t have to be this way. We could have built more storage to capture water during wet years, we could have encouraged more conservation, we could have more efficiently captured and treated wastewater for re-use and we could have embraced desalination.
-Written by Dan Walters, CalMatters columnist.  

Aquafornia news Mercury News

“Water cops” likely this summer as Santa Clara County misses drought goal by large margin

If you waste water in Santa Clara County, water cops could soon be on the way. Since last summer, Santa Clara County residents have been asked to cut water use by 15% from 2019 levels to conserve as the state’s drought worsens. But they continue to miss that target — and by a growing amount. In March, the county’s 2 million residents not only failed to conserve any water, but they increased use by 30% compared to March 2019, according to newly released data…. Santa Clara Valley Water District … is proposing to hire water enforcement officials to issue fines of up to $500 for residents … wasting water ….

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Cash for farmworkers? California lawmaker says new $20 million idea will help amid drought

A Democrat lawmaker from the central San Joaquin Valley wants to put cash in the hands of eligible farmworkers to help them deal with the devastation of California’s drought. Proposed by State Sen. Melissa Hurtado, a Democrat from Sanger, Senate Bill 1066 would allocate $20 million to create the California Farmworkers Drought Resilience Pilot Project, a state-funded project that would provide unconditional monthly cash payments of $1,000 for three years to eligible farmworkers, with the goal of lifting them out of poverty.

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Aquafornia news The Weather Channel

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: 2022 is California’s driest year on record so far – an ominous sign for summer and fall

California had its driest start to a year since the late 19th century, raising drought and wildfire concerns heading into the summer. In data released Monday, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information found January through April precipitation in the state was the lowest on record dating to 1895. The statewide precipitation of 3.25 inches was only 25% of average, topping the previous record-dry January through April from 2013, according to NOAA statistics.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Colorado River’s water deficit keeps growing, with no end in sight

While the seven Colorado River Basin states including Arizona hunt for 500,000 acre-feet a year in water savings in both the Upper and Lower basins, the biggest problem facing the river lurks in the shadows: a supply-demand gap that keeps growing. Over the past five years, the river’s annual water flow, greatly diminished since 2000 compared to 20th century averages, has tumbled even faster. Water demands have also fallen, but not nearly as fast.

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Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Will massive Western wildfires leave more or less water in rivers?

In a state where every drop of water matters, Sears and another grad student, Mikaela Richardson, are out collecting data that will help answer an important question that’s gaining more attention from the scientific community: If massive wildfires continue to spread across the West, particularly at higher altitudes where snowpack is more plentiful and critical, what effect will that have on the region’s water supply?

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Lake Mead and Lake Powell need drastic action to be saved

For weeks, we’ve been seeing media reports regarding conditions in the Colorado River Basin – specifically with regard to our country’s largest reservoirs, Lake Powell and Lake Mead, which have dropped to record low elevations. The media have been reporting it accurately. 
-Written by Tom Buschatzke, director of Arizona Department of Water Resources; and Ted Cooke, general manager of Central Arizona Project.

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Aquafornia news The Washington Post

California drought could wither many Los Angeles lawns

Amid the historic drought now entering its third painful summer … the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, has demanded [millions of homes] cut irrigation by 35 percent as of June 1. If things don’t improve by September, authorities say, outdoor water use could be banned entirely. … Since the restriction warnings began, customers have bombarded the Las Virgenes water office — one of 26 public water agencies which operate under the Metropolitan Water District — with angry phone calls.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: California’s two largest reservoirs are at ‘critically low’ levels

At a point in the year when California’s water storage should be at its highest, the state’s two largest reservoirs have already dropped to critically low levels — a sobering outlook for the hotter and drier months ahead. Shasta Lake, which rises more than 1,000 feet above sea level when filled to the brim, is at less than half of where it usually should be in early May — the driest it has been at this time of year since record-keeping first began in 1976. Lake Oroville, the largest reservoir in the State Water Project, a roughly 700-mile lifeline that pumps and ferries water all the way to Southern California, is currently at 55% of total capacity.

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Aquafornia news Stanford Magazine

Dams help us. Dams harm us. Now, longtime adversaries are coming together to bridge that uncomfortable divide

From its headwaters in the Sierra Nevada, the Feather River flows some 3,600 feet downhill, where, in Oroville, it meets the tallest dam in the nation. Its path shows exactly why California geology is ideal for the production of hydropower. It’s physics. The higher the mountains, the faster the water falls. Hydropower dams capture this power and divert it through spinning turbines in nearby powerhouses that activate generators to produce electricity. But all this hydropower comes at a cost.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Friday Top of the Scroll: AP analysis finds growing number of poor, high-hazard dams

Constructed four generations ago, the massive rock and clay dam at El Capitan Reservoir is capable of storing over 36 billion gallons of water, enough to supply every resident in San Diego for most of a year. Today, it’s three-quarters empty, intentionally kept low because of concerns it could fail under the strain of too much water. … Seismic instability and a spillway in need of “significant repair” led El Capitan to be added to a growing list of dams rated in poor condition or worse that would likely cause deaths downstream if they failed.

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Aquafornia news Associated Press

To refine water forecasts, Western cities map snow by plane

At a tiny airport surrounded by mountains, a three-person crew takes off for the inaugural flight above the headwaters of the Colorado River to measure the region’s snow by air. Under the plane is a device that uses lasers, cameras and sensors to map snow and help drought-prone communities improve forecasts of how much water will later fill reservoirs. The method, developed nearly a decade ago at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, “is the gold standard of snow measurement,” said Emily Carbone of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, one of Colorado’s largest water providers and the primary funder for the flight.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Warming is making the West thirstier, researchers say. And it’s stressing water supplies

Over the past four decades, the Western U.S. has demanded more water. And the landscapes — the valleys and mountains and lakes — that make up the region’s arid ecosystems have borne the impacts of increasing water needs in more ways than one. It’s not only fast-growing cities, searching for faraway supplies, that have affected these landscapes. The atmosphere itself has become thirstier, using up, and potentially evaporating, more water from the land beneath it. Researchers describe this as increased evaporative demand …

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Aquafornia news Eos

Assessing water infrastructure investments in California

With water scarcity increasing around the globe, arid regions are striving to develop more flexible and diversified water supplies. For example, California’s 2020 Water Resilience Portfolio Initiative recommends improving and expanding the state’s conveyance and storage infrastructure as well as developing groundwater banking and other means of more flexibly sharing water. The success of such initiatives depends in large part upon the ability of water providers to collaboratively finance and build new infrastructure.

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Aquafornia news Capital Press

California dairy farmers concerned over water scarcity

In the midst of a years-long drought, California is implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, creating even more concerns for the state’s dairy farmers. … The biggest impact for dairies may be not so much on the dairy facility but on the feed side. Without adequate water or certainty of water, the question is where the feed will come from. The implementation of SGMA is going to impact local forages, hay, silages and wheat …

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: GOP denial will add to climate change body count

[Despite] the 99.9% consensus in the science community that the burning of fossil fuel is driving the rise in global temperatures, a 2021 analysis from the Center for American Progress identified “109 representatives and 30 senators who refuse to acknowledge the scientific evidence of human-caused climate change.” These are the people we are depending on to steer the Southwest through its driest period since Vikings roamed the seas. Anyone concerned? Particularly among the 25 million people across three states and Mexico who rely on Lake Mead for water.
-Written by LZ Granderson, LA Times culture and politics columnist.

Aquafornia news E&E News

As Colorado River shrinks, pain of drought to spread

Rolf Schmidt-Petersen knows what can happen when a water shortage hits: Reservoirs shrink and tempers flare. “We had people literally throwing rocks, tomatoes when Elephant Butte went down,” recalled Schmidt-Petersen, director of the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission. He was talking about a 2003 deal to release water from a reservoir in southern New Mexico and drop the lake by about 33 feet to assist farmers in the state and neighboring Texas. … Decades later, the 2.2-million-acre-foot reservoir, part of the Rio Grande Basin, contains only about 260,000 acre-feet of water, according to the Bureau of Reclamation. 

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin water supplier makes some drought rules permanent

Some water use restrictions that were imposed on most Marin County residents during the drought last year are now set to become permanent. The Marin Municipal Water District Board of Directors voted unanimously on Tuesday to continue limiting sprinkler use to two days per week, which is down from three days it allowed before it adopted its drought restrictions in 2021. Drip irrigation will be allowed three days a week. All pool owners in the district must also have a pool cover. These rules will be part of the district’s list of permanent conservation rules …

Aquafornia news The Conversation

Western river compacts were innovative in the 1920s but couldn’t foresee today’s water challenges

In the early 1900s, there was plenty of water to go around. But there weren’t enough dams, canals or pipelines to store, move or make use of it. Devastating floods in California and Arizona spurred plans for building dams to hold back high river flows. … Today the West faces conditions that [water law expert Delph] Carpenter and his peers did not anticipate. In 1922, Hoover imagined that the basin’s population, which totaled about 457,000 in 1915, might quadruple in the future. Today, the Colorado River supplies some 40 million people – more than 20 times Hoover’s projection.

Aquafornia news Mother Jones

Opinion: California feeds us, but it’s in severe drought again. Time for a new idea

Chances are, you’ll eat something grown in California today. Its farms churn out a third of US-grown vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts, and more milk than any other state. But as I’ve documented in many articles and in my 2020 book Perilous Bounty—released in paperback today, May 2—its water resources are dwindling, parched by climate change and a relentless expansion of thirsty nut groves. ..Where will we get our fruits and vegetables as California’s farms inevitably adapt to a hotter, drier new normal?
-Written by reporter Tom Philpott.

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Aquafornia news NBC Bay Area

Watch: State water agencies executive discusses latest on California drought

State water leaders begin the second day of a three-day conference to address the drought and lack of water in California. NBC Bay Area’s Laura Garcia spoke with the executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies about the issue.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Repair costs for San Francisco’s Stern Grove balloon to $20 million, 5 times initial estimates

The cost to repair flood-damaged Stern Grove in San Francisco ballooned to $20 million, according to a recent report from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission — five times more than the $4 million city officials initially estimated. The concert venue’s hillside was washed out after an air release valve failed during maintenance of a 54-inch diameter water line last August.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Construction of sewage recycling pipeline expected to disrupt neighborhoods this summer, fall

Neighborhoods across northern San Diego will be disrupted by tunneling and pipeline construction this summer when work kicks into high gear on Pure Water, the largest infrastructure project in city history. With contracts totaling more than $1 billion recently awarded for eight of the 10 major projects that make up Pure Water’s first phase, city officials say nearly the entire project will be under construction starting in late summer or early fall. Meanwhile, city officials are preparing to make key decisions soon on the second phase of Pure Water, which is slated for construction in the 2030s.

Aquafornia news KUNC

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Federal government rolls out ‘extraordinary actions’ to prop up Lake Powell

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced two measures [Tuesday] to boost water levels in Lake Powell, keeping them high enough to continue generating hydropower at the Glen Canyon Dam. Both moves are being framed as painful but necessary band-aids, cutting into reserves elsewhere in the region to stave off the worst effects of a decades-long drought that has sapped the nation’s second-largest reservoir. One measure will send water from upstream to help refill Lake Powell. About 500,000 acre-feet of water will be released from Flaming Gorge Reservoir, which straddles the border between Wyoming and Utah.

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Making Progress on Drought Management: Improvements in Seasonal Precipitation Forecasting
June 9th event to be held in Irvine

Over the past decade, climate whiplash in California has been evident in the big swings from very dry years to very wet years and back again. That dynamic has been seen in microcosm within the 2021-2022 water year as we went from a relatively wet beginning from Oct.-Dec. to the driest Jan.-March period in the state’s history, rendering this spring’s precipitation “too little, too late.”

How has this new reality affected our reliance on historical patterns to forecast California’s water supply? What efforts are being made to improve precipitation forecasting at varying time scales through new science, models and technology? Find out at our one-day event June 9 in Irvine, Making Progress on Drought Management: Improvements in Seasonal Precipitation Forecasting.

Click here to register.

Beckman Center
Huntington Room
100 Academy Way
Irvine, California 92617
Aquafornia news East County Magazine

Estimate for cost of advanced water purification skyrockets

A new estimated cost for the Advanced Water Purification project, a system of recapturing sewage and transforming it to drinkable water for about 500,000 East County residents, escalated to about $850 million, an increase of more than $300 million above the estimate three years ago. Allen Carlisle, general manager of the Padre Dam Municipal Water District, revealed the number at a public forum held April 24 in Santee, saying the project should begin construction this summer.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

To save water amid a megadrought, Las Vegas outlaws grass

Under a state law passed last year that is the first of its kind in the nation, patches of grass like this, found along streets and at housing developments and commercial sites in and around Las Vegas, must be removed in favor of more desert-friendly landscaping. The offense? They are “nonfunctional,” serving only an aesthetic purpose. Seldom, if ever, walked on and kept alive by sprinklers, they are wasting a resource, water, that has become increasingly precious.

Aquafornia news Pleasanton Weekly

Zone 7 directors vote 5-2 to continue in Delta Conveyance Project planning

A divided Zone 7 Water Agency Board of Directors voted to continue participating in the planning phase for the ambitious and long-discussed Delta Conveyance Project, following discussions about intricacies and concerns related to the matter last month. The directors’ 5-2 vote on April 20 comes with an a commitment of an additional $4.75 million in funding by Zone 7 for environmental planning for the proposed project.

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Why farmers often pay higher water rates and fees during drought

California walnut grower Tim McCord is at the dry end of the spigot, facing a zero-water allocation from the Central Valley Project, which is supposed to deliver to his local San Benito County Water District. … The farmer is not just concerned about his orchard; he’s also frustrated that he owes substantial water-related taxes to the district, and, if water is eventually delivered, he’ll be charged $309.75 per acre-foot — more than in non-drought years. McCord is not alone. During drought, it’s common for farmers across the West to pay higher water-related rates, assessments, fees and taxes than during wet years.

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Aquafornia news KTLA

California’s grim drought situation is visible from the International Space Station

Despite the late-season snow that blanketed Northern California last month, almost all of the state remains under significant drought conditions. California’s snowpack, which helps fill up much of the state’s reservoirs, is below average and far from where it needs to be. The dwindling snowpack was captured in a video taken Friday from the International Space Station.

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Seat for sale? Kings Co. Supervisor emerges as pricey proxy fight over water

Has a seat on the sleepy Kings County Board of Supervisors become a proxy fight for control of water flows in the southern San Joaquin Valley? It sure looks that way as political youngster Martín Chavez, a member of the Stratford Public Utilities District, has received unprecedented financial backing from Bay Area native and controversial water giant John Vidovich and affiliates. Vidovich … is currently locked in a fight with the Tulare Lake Canal Company over a water pipeline that he is trying to construct in Kings County to connect to a larger interconnected conveyance system. 

Aquafornia news New York Times

Colorado River reservoirs are so low, government is delaying releases

With long-term severe drought continuing to take a toll on the Colorado River, the federal government is expected to announce that it will retain some water in one of the river’s major reservoirs to temporarily stave off what it called increased uncertainty in water and electricity supplies. … Powell, behind Glen Canyon Dam, currently holds less than one-fourth of the amount it held when it filled after the dam was built in the 1960s.

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin water districts study options for new supply

Marin County’s two largest water utilities are working to narrow down what new sources of supply would provide the most benefit in droughts. The North Marin Water District presented findings of a study looking at how to bolster supplies for the more than 60,000 residents it serves in its greater Novato service area. The top scorers were projects to enhance the storage at the district’s Stafford Lake reservoir. Other options such as desalination, creating new reservoirs, dredging the lake and a major recycled water expansion were deemed too expensive or infeasible given the district’s size.

Aquafornia news NBC Bay Area

Bay Area fire danger: Did April rain make a difference?

After the driest start to the year across much of Northern California, April saw the return to near average rainfall for areas north of San Francisco – this after many areas missed out on nearly 7 to 15 inches inches of rain from January through March. While the April rain totals weren’t much, it appears the rain and the cooler temperatures have made a short term positive change when it comes to Bay Area fire danger and drought conditions. 

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Stop by our open house May 5 and help us continue educating about water in California and the West with a donation

We’re holding an open house and reception Thursday in conjunction with Big Day of Giving, a 24-hour online event aimed at raising funds for nonprofits and highlighting the good work they do in their communities. As a nonprofit, we are “mission-driven, but revenue-dependent.” Please show your support and make a tax-deductible donation today by clicking here.

Aquafornia news Hutchins Water Center at Colorado Mesa University

Report: Insights gained on agricultural water conservation for water security in the Upper Colorado River Basin

A series of hot, dry years in the Upper Colorado River Basin has led to increasing concern about the security of water supplies at region-wide and local scales…. Without a strategic, collaborative approach to addressing these issues, there is a risk that individual entities will act independently to secure their water supplies against climate and legal uncertainties. This could lead to more permanent transfers from agriculture, with detrimental impacts on rural communities and unpredictable impacts on river ecosystems.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Arizona has too many homes without water. How to stop this trend

It’s far better to stop a water problem before it starts than to try to fix it after it appears. We’re seeing that all over the state, from the rapidly developing Rio Verde Foothills near Scottsdale to the farming community of Willcox. Those who thought they could build without water – or who had a well and surrounding uses sucked it dry – are now in a world of hurt. Some are hoping that if they create a water improvement district, it can save the day. This is not a dig on those efforts, but rather a cautionary tale about what happens when our development decisions fail to reflect our water realities.
-Written by Arizona Republic columnist Joanna Allhands. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Can you get by on just 80 gallons of water a day?

When the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California this week unveiled its strictest-ever water restrictions for about 6 million residents, it did so with an urgent goal in mind: a 35% reduction in water consumption, equating to an allocation of about 80 gallons per person per day. …But what does 80 gallons per person look like, and what would it mean for the daily life of average Californians? For starters, more brown lawns are a given.

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Aquafornia news San Luis Obispo Tribune

Los Osos and Cambria must stop new development, CA says

The California Coastal Commission wants San Luis Obispo County to immediately halt all new water-using development, including housing, in Los Osos and Cambria. … The Coastal Commission also sent a letter on the same day to the Cambria Community Services District (CCSD) notifying that it had violated the California Coastal Act over more than three decades due to its water extractions from wells in the San Simeon and Santa Rosa creek aquifers … 

Aquafornia news NBC News

Watch: Consequences of severe drought and climate change ripple across California

Water officials believe the past three years could end up as the driest in California’s history. State reservoir levels are alarmingly low, and measurements of the Sierra Nevada snowpack are “grim,” the state’s natural resources secretary tells Lester Holt. The drought is impacting the water supply for residents and farms, which supply critical crops for the nation.

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Aquafornia news Western Water

As drought shrinks the Colorado River, a SoCal giant seeks help from river partners to fortify its local supply

Momentum is building for a unique interstate deal that aims to transform wastewater from Southern California homes and business into relief for the stressed Colorado River. The collaborative effort to add resiliency to a river suffering from overuse, drought and climate change is being shaped across state lines by some of the West’s largest water agencies. Southern California’s giant wholesaler, Metropolitan Water District, claims a multi-billion-dollar water recycling proposal will not only create a new local source for its 19 million customers, but allow it to share part of its Colorado River supply …

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Aquafornia news CNN

Lake Powell officials face an impossible choice in the West’s megadrought: water or electricity

Lake Powell, the country’s second-largest reservoir, is drying up. The situation is critical: If water levels at the lake were to drop another 32 feet, all hydroelectricity production would be halted at the reservoir’s Glen Canyon Dam. The West’s climate change-induced water crisis is now triggering a potential energy crisis for millions of people in the Southwest who rely on the dam as a power source. Over the past several years, the Glen Canyon Dam has lost about 16% of its capacity to generate power. The water levels at Lake Powell have dropped around 100 feet in the last three years.

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Aquafornia news Water News Network

Repair work on Hodges Dam to begin

As part of continuing efforts to maintain and invest in City of San Diego infrastructure, repair work starts within the next two weeks on Hodges Dam, at the Hodges Reservoir north of Rancho Bernardo. … During a recent inspection, staff identified areas in the dam wall that require repair and need to be sealed. To access these areas, the water level of the reservoir needs to be lowered by approximately 18 feet from its current level to an elevation of 275 feet.

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As Drought Shrinks the Colorado River, A SoCal Giant Seeks Help from River Partners to Fortify its Local Supply
Metropolitan Water District's wastewater recycling project draws support from Arizona and Nevada, which hope to gain a share of Metropolitan's river supply

Metropolitan Water District's advanced water treatment demonstration plant in Carson. Momentum is building for a unique interstate deal that aims to transform wastewater from Southern California homes and business into relief for the stressed Colorado River. The collaborative effort to add resiliency to a river suffering from overuse, drought and climate change is being shaped across state lines by some of the West’s largest water agencies.  

Aquafornia news The Revelator

Opinion: Developing the hills won’t solve the West’s housing crisis

California’s housing crisis, with its soaring real estate prices and 160,000 unhoused people, threatens these hills. It also threatens the remaining marshes and wetlands, coastal bluffs and mountain meadows. Any open space not yet protected by park or preserve is at risk. … Building farther out from population centers also strains other public resources. As demand expands for energy, emergency services and water, so must the infrastructure to provide them.
-Written by Nicholas Crane Moore, a writer and public-interest environmental attorney in Anchorage, Alaska, and a former California land-use attorney. 

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

New release: DWR awards $22 million to address drought impacts and support small communities statewide

Following the driest three-month stretch in the state’s recorded history and with warmer months ahead, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced its seventh round of grant awards for local assistance through the Small Community Drought Relief program. In coordination with the State Water Resources Control Board, DWR has selected 17 projects … 14 will directly support disadvantaged communities, including three Tribes, and will replace aging infrastructure, increase water storage, and improve drinking water quality and supply.

Aquafornia news Nevada Independent

Despite third dry year, water managers say Reno-Sparks supply is prepared for drought

Three back-to-back dry years have crunched water supplies for many cities and farms across Nevada and throughout the West. The past two decades, according to a report released earlier this year, represent the most extreme drought in the last 1,200 years. … But officials at the Truckee Meadows Water Authority, the regional water purveyor for the Reno-Sparks area, struck a different message during a water update last week: We have analyzed the numbers, and we are prepared for prolonged drought.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Desperate for water, Wine Country grape growers build expensive pipelines to cities’ recycled sewage

Justin Seidenfeld’s vineyard ran out of water last year. The area of Petaluma where his Parliament Hills Vineyard is located received just 4.5 inches of rain throughout 2021, not nearly enough sustenance for his vines of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. … This year, however, Seidenfeld’s grapevines are healthy and happy, with plenty of water to drink. It’s not because of rainfall, but rather because of a newly constructed pipeline bringing recycled water from Petaluma’s water treatment plant to vineyards along Lakeville Highway.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: Why some SoCal neighborhoods face dire water cuts while others escape restrictions

Major water restrictions are about to take effect in areas ranging from Rancho Cucamonga to Thousand Oaks, and Baldwin Park to North Hollywood. But many nearby areas will escape the mandatory one-day-a-week watering limits — among them Santa Monica, Long Beach, Torrance and Beverly Hills. Why? The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has targeted these first-ever water restrictions for areas that rely heavily or entirely on the State Water Project — a Northern California water supply that officials say faces a real risk of running dry. 

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Aquafornia news Palm Springs Desert Sun

La Quinta Coral Mountain surf resort OKd 4-3 by planning commission

A proposed La Quinta resort with a hotel, homes and a wave basin — which has brought loud opposition from people saying it is a poor use of water during a drought — narrowly won the planning commission’s endorsement Tuesday and will now move to the city council for final consideration. The vote for the Coral Mountain project came in two motions: The first was for certification of the environmental impact report, which passed 5-2 with Vice Chairperson Loretta Currie and Commissioner Michael Proctor voting no.

Aquafornia news Petaluma Argus-Courier

How Petaluma is tackling this drought – and the next one

Despite a glut of recent rain descending on Sonoma County in late spring and ratcheting rainfall totals to more than double last winter’s paltry numbers, the region remains locked in drought, and local water experts say residents should prepare for ongoing restrictions. Since last September, Petaluma has sought to curb the city’s overall water usage by 30% compared to 2020 numbers, implementing restrictions on water use to help the city meet mandatory cutback targets set by Sonoma Water, the region’s primary supplier.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: Droughts are ravaging the US — it’s time to get serious about water recycling

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced last month that nearly 60 percent of the U.S. is experiencing some level of drought, including severe conditions that threaten wildfires, heatwaves and low precipitation. States along the Colorado River Basin have entered into agreements to reduce their demands on the dwindling river, including recycling local water to make up the difference. This Water Week, we’re focused on a series of remaining actions that will help unleash the full potential of water recycling across the United States.
-Written by Craig Lichty, client director and vice president for Black & Veatch and president of the WateReuse Association; and Patricia Sinicropi, the executive director of the WateReuse Association.

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

The state says the Peninsula must build, but also holds back on water

Right on time, the Monterey Peninsula, along with the rest of the region, learned on April 21 how many new housing units the state not only expects, but will require, it to plan to build between 2023 and 2031. Historically, for the Peninsula, this has been as awkward as a relationship between local and state government can get. The local governments here agree they need to add housing, yet the region, served by water utility California American Water, remains under a cease and desist order from the state that has, for years, barred adding new water connections.

Aquafornia news Spectrum News 1

The heated debate over desalination in Huntington Beach

Growing up in Anaheim, the beach and the ocean served as a place of solace for Orange County Coastkeeper Founder and President Garry Brown, who created the nonprofit to help protect the place he loves most. … In their mission to protect water in Orange County, they’ve taken a stance on a divisive issue affecting their community — whether the region needs desalination, a costly, energy-intensive process that uses reverse osmosis technology to remove salt from seawater to make drinking water.

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Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Blog: Valley’s ‘water blueprint’ makes splash with statewide push for $6.5bil in water funds

A coalition of water stakeholder organizations from across California joined together to send a letter addressed to Gov. Gavin Newsom and six key legislators requesting action to address water issues. The nine page document dated April 19, 2022 was signed by 18 organizations and entities including the San Joaquin Valley Water Blueprint and 10 Southern California, four Bay Area and three trade groups. The letter laid out the need to include a $6.5 billion appropriation in the 2022-2023 General Fund budget to strengthen statewide drought and flood resilience.
-Written by Don Wright, a contributor to The San Joaquin Valley Sun. 

Aquafornia news KRCR Chico

Butte County working to understand the impacts of the drought

During Tuesday’s Butte County Board of Supervisors Meeting, the board heard from Luhdorff and Scalmanaini Consulting Engineers, who they hired in December 2021 to do a drought impact analyst study. The results found that for agriculture: Areas that utilize surface water in normal years pump more in drought years, as is expected. Total cost of water compared to total cost of production remains low but may increase in the future… 

Aquafornia news Deseret News

Drought in the West threatens future of Glen Canyon dam and Lake Powell

Under the pressures of overuse and climate change, the fate of the entire Colorado River system is being redetermined in real time, amid what scientists think is the worst drought in over 1,200 years.  Now that the reservoir is below 3,525 feet, it has officially crossed the “hydropower buffer” — which forces policymakers to start working on a solution. Every option seems to have immense challenges, with seven states invested in the matter and 40 million people who are directly affected by the Colorado River system’s water.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Parts of SoCal face full outdoor watering ban by September

The Metropolitan Water District said Wednesday that the unprecedented decision to reduce outdoor watering to one day a week for about 6 million Southern Californians could be followed by even stricter actions in September if conditions don’t improve, including a total ban in some areas. … The MWD’s board has never before taken such a step, but officials said it became an inevitability after California’s driest ever January, February and March left snowpacks shrunken and reservoirs drained.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Video: Farming in a state of extremes

California’s agricultural sector is the nation’s largest, generating more than $50 billion in annual revenue and employing more than 420,000 people. But water supply has always been an issue in the drought-prone state, and that’s growing more pressing with the warming, increasingly volatile climate. … Escriva-Bou presented new findings from joint research with a team from UC Merced about how the ongoing drought is affecting the state’s farming regions, which suffered $1.1 billion in direct economic costs in 2021.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Las Vegas turns on low-level Lake Mead pumps designed to avoid a ‘Day Zero’

The country’s largest man-made reservoir, Lake Mead, has dropped to such a historically low level that Las Vegas water officials have completed the process of turning on a pump station that will allow Southern Nevada to retrieve water, even under extreme conditions.  The move — to turn on the pump station full bore — is an indication of how low Lake Mead has fallen over the past decade and serves as a bulwark against the possibility of Las Vegas losing physical access to its water as regional issues on the Colorado River become increasingly dire.

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Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

Recent wet weather has led to rising Folsom Lake level, but will it last?

As California’s wildfire season nears amid another year of drought, Folsom Lake looks much different than it did a year ago when a low water level left an exposed lakebed. Now, splashing, swimming and boats have returned—but will it last? … According to the National Weather Service Sacramento, Folsom Lake’s water level has risen to 75% capacity. That’s 103% of the historical average for this time of year …

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Aquafornia news Yale E360

A quiet revolution: Southwest cities learn to thrive amid drought

In the rolling hills around San Diego and its suburbs, the rumble of bulldozers and the whine of power saws fill the air as a slew of new homes and apartments rise up. The region is booming, its population growing at a rate of about 1 percent a year. This, in spite of the fact that Southern California, along with much of the West, is in the midst of what experts call a megadrought that some believe may not be a temporary, one-off occurrence, but a recurring event or even a climate change-driven permanent “aridification” of the West.

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Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: Delta voluntary agreements are a “plan to fail” in droughts

Rather than planning for droughts and ensuring that minimum water quality objectives are achieved in critically dry years, the proposed voluntary agreement appears to be a “plan to fail” to protect the Delta in future droughts.  Droughts are a fact of life in California, even as climate change is making them worse.  The Governor’s Water Resilience Portfolio recognizes the need to improve drought preparedness, requiring that the State to be able to protect fish and wildlife during a six year drought …

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Surge of desert surf parks stirs questions in dry California

Hours from the California coast, surfers are hoping one of the next spots where they can catch a wave is in the desert. At least four large surf lagoons are proposed for the region around Palm Springs, which is more commonly known for art festivals, mountain hikes and golf, and has no natural waves in sight. But some environmentalists and residents say it isn’t water-wise to build large resorts in one of the driest spots in California during one of its driest periods in recent memory. 

Aquafornia news Redheaded Blackbelt

Blog: ‘Everyone knew it was coming’: Eel River waters continue to be diverted as PG&E granted annual license for the Potter Valley Project

No one was surprised by Thursday’s letter granting PG&E an annual license to run the Potter Valley Project until April of next year. And, while a last-minute mystery application did provide a few moments of titillating speculation, the enigmatic Antonio Manfredini failed to generate any real suspense. The 50-year license to operate the Potter Valley Project, which diverts water from the Eel River into the east branch of the Russian River to Lake Mendocino by way of a tunnel, a pair of dams and reservoirs, and a small hydropower plant, expired on April 14.

Aquafornia news KCRA Sacramento

Sea level rise is a threat to all Californians, whether they live near the coast or not

Sea level rise is one of the many threats we face as Earth’s climate changes. … The worry there is obvious for coastal communities in California. But the sea-level rise is something that could affect all Californians because of where that rising seawater would end up: the Central Delta. … The Delta’s complex network of waterways is home to a diverse ecosystem. It also serves 750,000 acres of farmland with fresh water. Drinking water is also sent through the Delta to the State Water Project system in Southern California.

Aquafornia news Long Beach Post

Long Beach commission may further limit watering yards amid drought

The Long Beach Water Commission may upgrade the city’s water shortage level next week, which would bring with it new restrictions on when residents can water landscaping. Updating the city’s water shortage stage comes as California heads toward its third straight year of drought. The proposal to go to Stage 2, which would limit landscape irrigation to two days per week year-round, would take the city back to water conservation rules not seen since June 2016.

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Aquafornia news Nature

New research: A hybrid machine learning approach for estimating the water-use efficiency and yield in agriculture

Water resources are declining in many regions of the world. Due to climate change, increased air temperatures, and reduced precipitation, we will face a decline in water resources in the future. … Lampinen et al investigated soil and plant data and evapotranspiration for irrigation management of walnut trees in California, USA. Fernandes-Silva, by examining the effect of different irrigation regimes (dryland irrigation with 30% and 100% water requirement) on yield and WUE of olive, reported that crop evapotranspiration (ETc) is the most influential parameter in changes in fruit yield. 

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Report: Delta Science Program: 2022 – 2026 Science Action Agenda

The Delta Science Program is excited to release the 2022-2026 Science Action Agenda (SAA). Developed by and for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta science community, the 2022-2026 SAA builds on the progress of the 2017-2021 iteration to prioritize and align science actions to meet management needs, foster collaboration and coordination, and guide science funding. It will serve as a roadmap for the allocation and integration of investments through research, time, and resources. 

Aquafornia news Audubon

Blog: Stumbling toward “day zero” on the Colorado River

The Colorado River Basin is inching ever closer to “Day Zero,” a term first used in Cape Town, South Africa when they anticipated the day in 2018 that taps would run dry. Lakes Powell and Mead, the Colorado River’s two enormous reservoirs, were full in 2000, storing more than four years of the river’s average annual flow. For more than two decades water users have been sipping at that supply, watching them decline. Long-term drought and climate change is making this issue potentially catastrophic.

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Aquafornia news Nevada Independent

Monday Top of the Scroll: Colorado River states agree to federal request to hold back water in Lake Powell

In a letter sent Friday, the seven states that use the Colorado River agreed with the U.S. Department of Interior and recommended that federal water managers take an emergency action aimed at stabilizing a dwindling Lake Powell, one of the main storage reservoirs on the river. Earlier this month, federal water managers warned the states, including Nevada, that they were considering an emergency action to hold water back in Lake Powell, an attempt to stabilize the reservoir at serious risk of losing the ability to generate hydropower and deliver water to Page, Arizona, a city with roughly 7,500 residents, and the LeChee Chapter of the Navajo Nation.

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Aquafornia news Thousand Oaks Acorn

City crews get first glimpse inside damaged reservoir

It will be months before Thousand Oaks has full access to its normal water supply, but the city is one step closer after raising the roof last week. A 50-year-old reservoir, which held 3.4 million gallons, or roughly 10% of the city’s water storage capacity, was examined last week for structural soundness. While members of the city’s public works department await a final analysis, public works Director Cliff Finley said things look promising.

Aquafornia news Spectrum News 1

Farmer experiments with crops as mountain runoff dwindles

To see the trickle-down effect of the drought, you don’t have to look much further than farms. Agriculture accounts for about 80% of the water used in California. … Selling fruit got tougher during the COVID-19 pandemic, while maintaining the farm got more expensive. Despite painstaking rationing and letting go of several productive acres, water remains Bernard’s most painful monthly expense. His February bill was as expensive as last June’s — normally one of the hottest and driest times.

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Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Flaming Gorge to release 500K acre-feet water to protect Lake Powell

Flaming Gorge reservoir in Wyoming will release 500,000 acre-feet of water under a new Drought Operations Plan to help prop up dangerously low water levels at Lake Powell. The plan, approved Thursday by the Upper Colorado River Commission, does not call for any water to be released from Blue Mesa west of Gunnison, but also does not rule out the possibility of that being an option in the future.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Colorado

La Niña likely to continue, intensifying drought, wildfires; snowpack hits 91% of average

As warm spring winds whip the Eastern Plains, sapping soils of moisture, and the state’s reservoirs sit at below-average levels, water managers got more bad news Tuesday: this two-year drought cycle could continue through the summer and into the fall leading the state into its third year of below-average snowpack and streamflows and high wildfire danger. Looking ahead the weather pattern known as La Niña, which has created the intense drought of the past two years, is likely to continue, according to Peter Goble, a climate specialist with Colorado State University’s Colorado Climate Center.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Can we solve drought by piping water across the country?

The idea of taking water from one community and giving it to another has some basis in American history. In 1913, Los Angeles opened an aqueduct to carry water from Owens Valley, 230 miles north of the city, to sustain its growth. … [B]uilding a pipeline that spanned a significant stretch of the country would be astronomically more difficult. The distance between Albuquerque, for example, and the Mississippi River — perhaps the closest hypothetical starting point for such a pipeline — is about 1,000 miles, crossing at least three states along the way.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

California Senate OKs lower standard for indoor water use

Mired in an extreme drought, California lawmakers on Thursday took the first step toward lowering the standard for how much water people use in their homes — a move that won’t be enforced on individual customers but could lead to higher rates even as consumption declines. California’s current standard for residential indoor water use is 55 gallons per person per day…. The California Senate voted 28-9 on Thursday to lower the standard to 47 gallons per person per day starting in 2025; and 42 gallons per person per day beginning in 2030. The bill has not yet passed the Assembly, meaning it is still likely months away from becoming law. 

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

North Bay contractors, California trade groups lament swimming pools as latest drought casualty

Facing a giant hole in her year-old yard, Tania Weingart’s dream of summer fun in Novato runs deep. But one thing to fill it is in short supply these days — water. Her water company, North Marin Water, along with Marin Water, has imposed drought-related water restrictions that prohibit the filling of new pools and refilling existing ones. The mandate comes as the state is asking water agencies to impose restrictions for residents and businesses to cut water use by 10% among California residents and businesses as of March 28.

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Aquafornia news ABC 10 Sacramento

Why late spring storms make less of a dent in drought conditions

Record heat hit early in April, which started warming the ground and rapidly melting the meager snowpack. Thomas Painter, CEO of Airborne Snow Observatories and research scientist at the University of California Los Angeles, … says there are three things that work against spring storms helping for drought: periods of warm spring temperatures, historically warmer storms and evaporation rates. He says putting snow on warm ground is like throwing water into a hot pan, it will melt quickly once it hits the surface this time of year.

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Aquafornia news Point Reyes Light

In statewide campaign, water control board urges consolidation of districts

The ongoing drought and another year of unprecedented low rainfall have prompted the California State Water Resources Control Board to push for the consolidation of small public water systems across the state. In a letter sent on April 4, the water board asked North Marin Water District to consider partnerships or consolidations with small systems across West Marin and beyond.

Aquafornia news Cision PR

News release: Senator Paul Simon warned us about a coming shortage of fresh water

With historic droughts strangling the world, from California to Africa, Senator Paul Simon’s book Tapped Out: Water: The Coming Crisis and What We Can Do About it, is now available in paperback and as an eBook published by Inprint Books. … In Brazil, the current drought is one of the worst ever recorded. … In Madagascar, drought has left hundreds of thousands of people malnourished, pushing the country to the edge of famine. In the last two decades alone, the United Nations estimates drought has affected 1.5 billion people and led to economic losses of at least $124 billion.

Aquafornia news New York Magazine

The multistate battle over the Colorado River

In March, the water level of Lake Powell declined below a threshold at which the Glen Canyon Dam’s ability to generate power becomes threatened, and the Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency that oversees the West’s water infrastructure, is working with the states above Lake Powell to divert more water to keep its dam operational. Meanwhile, the states around Lake Mead have been hashing out the details of a plan to voluntarily curtail their use to prevent even more dramatic cuts to Arizona and Nevada from going into effect next year.

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Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Thursday Top of the Scroll: CA weather – Winter storm in Sierra mountains, rain in valley

A strong storm inbound for Northern California will peak Thursday, blanketing the mountains with feet of snow that will make travel extremely hazardous if not impossible, according to the latest weather forecasts…. Rain and snow may put a small dent in California’s drought conditions, but storms this week and last week won’t be enough to bust it. Statewide snowpack as of Wednesday morning stood at just 30% of normal for the date, according to the Department of Water Resources.

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Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

Blog: Big storms, dry spells, demonstrate the need for improved infrastructure and the Delta Conveyance Project

California is immersed in a third year of drought, with January, February and March of 2022 experiencing the lowest precipitation on record. Weather whiplash of big storms followed by dry spells makes every drop of rain, every flake of snow, and every water molecule vital this year for families, farms, the environment and the economy. But outdated infrastructure and the orientation of the pumping facilities in the south Delta limits our ability to capture available water from storm events. The Delta Conveyance Project would help resolve this limitation.

Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News release: State Water Board staff proposes readoption of emergency drought regulation in Bay-Delta

With three consecutive years of drought reducing water levels in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed to alarming lows, the State Water Resources Control Board [Tuesday] released the draft of an emergency regulation to continue curtailments adopted last year to preserve water storage in reservoirs, protect drinking water supplies, prevent salinity intrusion and minimize impacts to fisheries and the environment…. This year, water users should expect curtailments to be imposed much sooner and to affect more senior right holders and claimants since supplies may be the most limited during the peak irrigation period of June and July.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Central

Opinion: Water policy threatens our food supply as much as war in Ukraine

As the Ukraine war kindles fears of rising food prices, the recognition of a secure domestic food supply – driven in large part by irrigated agriculture in the Western U.S. – is something we need to talk about. … Government water policy decisions made in California and Oregon are currently withholding once-reliable water from farmers in order to meet perceived environmental priorities. In simple terms, our own government is actually voluntarily directing measures that restrict water to farmers. Sadly, this diminishes our food production capacity, and with it, our national security.
-Written by Paul Orme and Dan Keppen, both of the Family Farm Alliance.

Aquafornia news Newsy

Las Vegas enforces new water restrictions

In the Southwestern U.S., the massive Lake Mead Reservoir near Las Vegas is not as massive as it used to be. The water level has dropped to near-record-low levels. Drought has reduced the flow of water into the river, which has forced communities to cut back. … The water authority targeted the lush green grass that’s not native to the desert, encouraging people to remove it. … At first, residents and businesses were slow to pull up their lawns. 

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Spring storms deliver more snow, rain to Northern California

Snow fell in parts of the Sierra Nevada and rain fell elsewhere in Northern California on Tuesday as spring continued to deliver a taste of the kind of weather that was mostly absent during winter. Various chain requirements had to be put into effect for vehicles on mountain routes, including Interstate 80, and strong winds created additional concerns for Sierra travelers. The UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab in Donner Pass reported more than 5 inches of new snow by midmorning. A second, more impactful weather system is expected to move into California later this week.

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Aquafornia news Action News Now - Chico

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Gov. Newsom to ask legislature for $750M as state looks to conserve water

During Gov. Gavin Newsom’s visit to Butte County on Tuesday, Newsom said he will ask the legislature for $750 million to help with drought conditions. At the Hyatt Powerplant at Lake Oroville, which shut down last year due to record low lake levels, Newsom spoke about how the state needs a different approach to water conservation. Newsom already invested $5.2 billion in the past three years for water security for all Californians.

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Aquafornia news NBC 7 San Diego

The new 5-million-gallon water tank in Mission Trails you’ll never see again

A multimillion-dollar construction project is almost done on a massive water tank in Mission Trails Regional Park. Once construction is complete, it will likely be forgotten because no one will be able to see it. The San Diego County Water Authority is wrapping up construction on its newest flow regulatory structure on the western edge of the park. Work began in earnest at the beginning of 2021 on the five-million-gallon water tank and it’s expected to wrap up next month.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Feds’ plan for depleted Colorado River helps Powell but hurts Mead

If the federal government goes through with its proposal to cut Colorado River releases from Lake Powell, water users in Arizona, California and Nevada won’t feel it this year — but Lake Mead will. Due to what some observers call an accounting trick, the reduced releases from Lake Powell wouldn’t translate into immediate cuts or deeper water shortages for the three Lower Basin states. Instead, the Interior Department’s plan would lower the already depleted Lake Mead to prop up the even more depleted Lake Powell…

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Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: More heavy Sierra snow coming this week. What it means for California drought, fires

A pair of storms will reach Northern California this week, with lighter showers Tuesday intensifying to heavy April snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains later in the week….Spring snowfall has helped boost California a bit after an exceptionally dry January through March. But it’s still very unlikely to bust the drought, as the recent storms represent just a fraction of the snowpack lost to record-low precipitation earlier in the year, and the window for more heavy snow is quickly closing before summer heat arrives.

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Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Controversial water pipeline takes center-stage in Kings Co. election

The controversial Kings County water pipeline saga pitting two of the region’s largest water players has turned into a campaign issue for Kings County elections.  Water giant Sandridge Partners, led by John Vidovich, began installing a sprawling water pipeline system that would be part of a larger interconnected conveyance system that will run from north of Highway 198, west of Lemoore, to the Blakeley Canal, south of Stratford.  

Aquafornia news 12 News Phoenix

Northern Arizona may see drinking water cutoff as Lake Powell continues to dry up

Arizona’s top water official says he never thought this day would come so soon. Federal officials are warning that the West’s escalating water crisis could put some Arizona communities’ ”health and safety” at risk, by cutting off their supply of drinking water.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

What would Brian Dahle do as California governor?

As California sinks deeper into drought conditions, Dahle does not favor imposing mandatory water use reductions … He raised particular concerns, as a farmer, that harsh restrictions would further devastate California agriculture by forcing farms to fallow hundreds of thousands of acres of land. Dahle said the state should put a greater emphasis on increasing water storage by building the proposed Sites Reservoir. He also has a novel idea to improve water supply by thinning forests, a policy that would offer other benefits such as providing timber and reducing wildfire risks.

Central Valley Tour 2022
Field Trip - April 20-22

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

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Colorado River Basin Map By Douglas E. Beeman

As the Colorado River Shrinks, Can the Basin Find an Equitable Solution in Sharing the River’s Waters?
Drought and climate change are raising concerns that a century-old Compact that divided the river’s waters could force unwelcome cuts in use for the upper watershed

Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell, a key Colorado River reservoir that has seen its water level plummet after two decades of drought. Climate scientist Brad Udall calls himself the skunk in the room when it comes to the Colorado River. Armed with a deck of PowerPoint slides and charts that highlight the Colorado River’s worsening math, the Colorado State University scientist offers a grim assessment of the river’s future: Runoff from the river’s headwaters is declining, less water is flowing into Lake Powell – the key reservoir near the Arizona-Utah border – and at the same time, more water is being released from the reservoir than it can sustainably provide.