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.
In the century-long “us-versus-them” mentality of California
water, a plan released by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Department of
Water Resources last week achieved something perhaps never
accomplished before in the Golden State’s water industry. It
incited universal scorn.
Taking advantage of recently approved rules, the federal
government is quickly following through on President Donald
Trump’s promise to quiet environmentalists and “open up the
water” to California farmers. … The pumps in the south of the
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta aren’t just whizzing during
what will likely end up being classified a “critically dry”
hydrological year, they are churning — and killing — endangered
salmon during a critical migration period.
The water transfers could occur on an annual basis sending
water from willing sellers north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta to water users south of the Delta and in the San
Francisco Bay Area. Based on annual approvals, the transfers
could occur through 2024. In addition, the transfers could
occur by various methods, including groundwater substitution,
cropland idling, reservoir releases and conservation.
This report, “Scaling Corporate Water Stewardship to Address
Water Challenges in the Colorado River Basin,” examines a set
of key corporate water stewardship actions and activities, with
associated drivers and barriers, to identify how the private
sector could help tackle Colorado River water challenges.
According to the Washington Post’s fact checker, as of January,
2020, President Trump had made 16,241 false or misleading
claims during his first three years in office. Sadly, this lack
of regard for truth seems to be trickling down and infecting
the Trump Administration’s management of the federal Central
Valley Project in California, one of the largest water storage
and diversion projects in the country.
Against the terrible news of a national emergency, it’s perhaps
difficult to focus on our water situation. Recall that January
and February were bone-dry; March and April bore us a couple of
storms, but it was too little, too late. It was a very dry
winter, overall. … That puts us in the position of another
“do or die” year for precipitation next winter, an altogether
familiar proposition in California. We all know: It rains a
bunch all at once in some years, and then we go dry for a
number of years after that.
Cancer-linked per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, collectively
known as PFAS, have been confirmed at 328 sites, according to
Pentagon data analyzed by Environmental Working Group, and
are suspected on about 350 more Defense Department
installations and sites.
State oil and gas regulators have granted permits for hydraulic
fracturing, the controversial drilling technique known as
fracking, for the first time since last summer. The California
Geologic Energy Management Division, or CalGEM, last week
issued permits to Aera Energy, a joint venture of Shell and
ExxonMobil, for “well stimulation” work in two Kern County oil
Republican and Democratic congressional leaders were urged
Tuesday to include at least $12.5 billion in stimulus funds to
help people struggling to pay their water and sewer bills.
Congress is preparing another stimulus package that will
include billions of dollars to improve the nation’s aging water
and sewer infrastructure.
The State Water Board today issued key documents that move the
Klamath River Renewal Corporation significantly closer to
removing four dams and re-opening 360 miles of the Klamath
River and its tributaries to imperiled salmon.
Stormwater is the rain and other water that runs off of streets
and sidewalks into nearby gutters or waterways. Communities
throughout the western U.S. are expanding efforts to collect
this valuable water resource. These projects range from
capturing water from a single rooftop or driveway to developing
large infiltration basins that recharge billions of gallons of
water each year in groundwater basins.
In a time when many people in the world are inside their houses
to stop the spread of covid-19, it is easy to forget that good
news still exists. The Environmental Protection Agency’s
National Water Reuse Action Plan is a bit of good news. The
Plan, announced on February 27, 2020, by EPA Administration
Andrew Wheeler, prioritizes the use of recycled water.
In a recent announcement from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
(USBR), Friant Division contractors will be receiving an
increased water allocation. USBR has doubled the Class 1
allocation to 40 percent for Friant Division Central Valley
Project contracts for the 2020 contract year.
An analysis led by Stanford University found that temperatures
rose about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit statewide while precipitation
dropped 30% since 1980. That doubled the number of autumn
days—when fire risk is highest—with extreme conditions for the
ignition of wildfires.
In January, water users in 21 critically overdrafted basins
delivered groundwater sustainability plans to the state
Department of Water Resources. In this series, we examine
the 36 plans submitted for 11 critically overdrafted basins in
the San Joaquin Valley—California’s largest farming region. …
This post examines how the plans propose to end overdraft.
A slow-moving storm system will bring more rain and mountain
snow to parts of California through Thursday, and could trigger
flash flooding in the Mojave Desert, including some of
America’s typically driest places.
Dozens of residents participated in our inaugural Water
Infrastructure Bus Tour in February to experience our
facilities up close and understand the work we do to provide
safe, clean drinking water to Santa Clara County.
Governments at all levels are beginning to review water access
policies and inequalities that inhibit public and personal
efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus. Those policies
include restoring water service to homes where water had been
disconnected, suspending new water shutoffs, and installing
public handwashing stations to serve residents who are
Registered voters who live in Mendocino have the opportunity
and responsibility to decide the direction of groundwater
management in Mendocino at two upcoming Mendocino City
Community Services District Public Hearings scheduled for April
16 and 27.
Three years ago, Dimitri Deheyn noticed intensely blue stringy
shapes as he examined jellyfish samples through a microscope in
his marine biology lab at the Scripps Institution of
Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.
Around two-fifths of the country rely on water utilities which
have not suspended the policy of shutoffs for non-payment,
despite public health warnings that good hygiene – specifically
frequent hand washing – is crucial to preventing spread of the
highly contagious virus, according to data analysed by Food and
Water Watch and the Guardian…. So far, the moratoriums on
shutoffs include 12 statewide orders, which apply to private
and public water providers, issued by the governors of
California, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan,
Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio and
Today, responding to a global pandemic is every governor’s top
priority. When we emerge from this crisis, Gov. Gavin Newsom
will face a challenge to ensure California’s future economic
and environmental health. In this context, his water policies
will represent critical decisions.
An empty lot on a 70-foot-high bluff above the ocean seemed
like the perfect place to build a house when the owners bought
the parcel for $1.8 million. Now a state ruling means they’ll
have to put the house farther away from the water, where they
won’t see the shore. It’s a result of climate change and
California’s response to it.
Runoff from rain and snow across the mountains of central
Arizona this year has filled reservoirs nearly to capacity
along the Verde and Salt rivers. Salt River Project’s system of
six reservoirs is now 98% full, the highest level since 2010.
Unprecedented efforts by leaders at the state and national
level have led to the kind of cooperation that will provide
valuable benefits to water users and the environment. I know
because that’s what we’ve been doing in the Sacramento Valley
for many years. The kinds of success we’ve achieved can be
replicated in other parts of the state.
California regulators on Friday issued fracking permits for the
first time in nine months, saying federal scientists had given
clearance for 24 permits to Aera Energy for oil well
stimulation in Kern County. … Last July, Gov. Gavin
Newsom fired the state’s oil and gas supervisor a day
after The Desert Sun reported that the number of fracking
permits issued during his first six months in office had
doubled compared to the same period under his
What does a Central Valley almond farmer have in common with a
San Diego homeowner? The answer is simple: Water. More
specifically, the amount of water they need to sustain their
respective lifestyles — which is a lot.
A new set of water regulations aimed at protecting California’s
native fish came down from the state earlier this week to near
universal condemnation from both agricultural and environmental
water folks. The regulations are contained in a 143-page
“incidental take permit” issued by the state Department of Fish
and Wildlife …
We have a legacy of lead in our pipes, our paint, and our soil.
These are the most significant sources of human lead exposure
and, therefore, draw most of the attention and resources
because they are costly to fix. … For that reason, EDF has
sought, as part of our larger efforts, to reduce the amount of
lead that leaches from new plumbing devices such as faucets and
The Los Angeles River is special to Ed Reyes, who considers it
an integral part of his childhood. Reyes, 60, the executive
director of River LA and a former Los Angeles City councilman,
grew up about a half-mile from the river. He remembers playing
chicken with the rail cars and using his Stingray bike to dodge
the cars coming and going.
Arizona is sinking. The combination of groundwater pumping and
warmer temperatures is shrinking aquifers and lowering water
tables. … Today, where subsidence is worst, groundwater
pumping isn’t even monitored, and big agricultural and
anti-regulatory ideologues try to stymie any efforts to keep
tabs on how much water is being pumped.
The Wildlife Conservation Board has approved approximately
$24.3 million in grants to help enhance flows in streams
throughout California. … The approved projects will lead to a
direct and measurable enhancement of the amount, timing and/or
quality of water in streams for anadromous fish or special
status, threatened, endangered or at-risk species, or to
provide resilience to climate change.
At the 2019 Western Groundwater Congress, Gilbert Barth, PhD,
provided quantitative assessments of groundwater resources to
address questions associated with water planning, and
specializes in model development and calibration with a focus
on quantifying changes between surface water and groundwater
systems. He’s developed and applied models throughout the
Western US for regional, interstate, and international
Californians won’t have their water turned off due to unpaid
bills during the coronavirus crisis, and those who already had
it turned off will have their service restored, under action
taken Thursday by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The governor’s directive
comes in response to calls from environmental justice
organizations for assistance to low-income residents facing
mounting financial pressures.
In California, groundwater is a major source for drinking and
other uses. Identifying where groundwater quality is getting
better or worse is essential for managing groundwater
resources. A new study conducted by a team from the California
Water Science Center, led by Research Hydrologist Bryant
Jurgens, assessed areas of improving and degrading
groundwater-quality by using a new metric for scoring.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday that he’s
authorized the Department of Water and Power to shut off
service to nonessential businesses that continue to operate
despite the strict Safer at Home restrictions designed to slow
the spread of the coronavirus. It’s the latest move in an
effort to impose social distancing as coronavirus cases and
deaths surge across Los Angeles County and California.
The group leading the effort to build a new off-stream
reservoir in Northern California recently hired a new executive
director. The Sites Project Authority Board of Directors
selected Jerry Brown, who previously served as general manager
of Contra Costa Water District, overseeing the operations and
management of a large water system with more than 500,000
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has issued a new three-year
operating plan for the Klamath River, dedicating more water for
endangered salmon while avoiding a “worst case scenario” for
farmers and ranchers. In exchange, a local tribe and fishing
groups agreed to suspend a lawsuit filed against the agency in
Two 30-inch outlet pipes in the dam had been plugged with
debris since last spring, forcing the lake to rise and wash
over a spillway that state officials have deemed unsafe. But by
early February, water was again flowing out of the pipes,
allowing the lake to drop to a safe level, according to a
Shasta County Sheriff’s Office report.
So much for the March Miracle. Despite a few March storms, the
Sierra Nevada snowpack remains well below average, California
officials reported Wednesday, suggesting that water supplies
will be tight this summer and fall.
On March 19, 2020, California issued Executive Order N-25-20, a
statewide shelter in place order in response to the COVID-19
pandemic, significantly altering operations of both state
agencies and private businesses. … Importantly, the Division
of Water Rights continues to require all surface water users to
submit annual reports to meet the April 1, 2020 deadline for
reporting 2019 water use.
The basics of the relationship between water and energy are
well known, but California’s recent drought revealed something
surprising about this connection. When the state mandated a 25
percent drop in water use, the resulting energy savings turned
out to be even higher than expected. This prompted the
Department of Energy to find ways of making water more energy
Snow surveyors will head into the Sierra on Wednesday to take
the most important measurements of the season. … Statewide,
the snowpack and the water it holds is just 53% of average,
according to the daily report on the California Data Exchange.
As the climate changes, forests have figured out a way to adapt
to drought, a new study shows. … The results indicate that
tree communities, particularly in more arid regions, have
become more drought tolerant, primarily through the death of
less hardy trees.
The Hoopa Valley Tribe applauded Fresno County Superior Court’s
refusal to validate a proposed contract between Westlands Water
District and the Bureau of Reclamation. … The contract would
have allocated up to 1,150,000 acre-feet of water annually to
Westlands, most of which would be imported from the Trinity
River, which has sustained the Hupa people since time
The Yurok Tribe, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s
Associations, and the Institute for Fisheries Resources …
have successfully obtained a new three-year plan from the
Bureau of Reclamation for operating the Klamath Irrigation
Project to increase springtime flows in the Klamath River.
The rules take the form of a state Fish and Wildlife Department
permit that will govern State Water Project deliveries from the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta… But the permit does not
explicitly control the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Central
Valley Project, which exports Delta water to San Joaquin Valley
farms. That means the two big government pumping operations
will likely adhere to different standards — possibly allowing
the federal project to boost deliveries at the expense of the
The advice is simple and universal: Washing your hands with
soap and water is one of the most effective ways to stop the
spread of the coronavirus. But for millions of people across
the country, that’s not simple at all: They lack running water
in their houses due to service shutoffs prompted by overdue
We’ve all seen photos of clear-cut forests with swathes of
razed trees or deep scars in the ground from an open-pit mine.
The damage to the species that live in these habitats isn’t
hard to imagine. But the damage we’ve done to freshwater
ecosystems isn’t so visible. In rivers or lakes, trouble often
lurks out of view beneath the surface of the water …
The second-largest river in California has sustained Native
American tribes with plentiful salmon for millennia, provided
upstream farmers with irrigation water for generations and
served as a haven for retirees who built dream homes along its
banks. With so many competing demands, the Klamath River has
come to symbolize a larger struggle over the increasingly
precious water resources of the U.S. West…
Here on the largest Native American reservation, one that spans
portions of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, politicians and
health officials are mounting a frantic effort to curb the
spread of the coronavirus. The impact could be especially
devastating, officials fear, in an extremely rural area larger
than West Virginia, with roughly 175,000 residents and only
four inpatient hospitals.
California is moving closer to setting a drinking water limit
for the solvent 1,4-dioxane, which EPA has said is a likely
carcinogen. The Office of Environmental Health Hazard
Assessment announced Friday it was working to set a public
health goal for the emerging contaminant.
The past week brought much-needed showers to Tulare County —
but not enough to catch up to the amount of rain the area
should have by this time in the water year. … The past week
brought about .78 inches, a decent amount, considering the
average rainfall over the past 30 years for the entire
month of March is 1.9 inches. But the rainfall broke an
all-time record dry period for the season, as not a drop fell
Bottled water is disappearing from grocery shelves almost as
fast as toilet paper, but there’s no shortage of water in
California. There’s plenty flowing right out of your tap. And
it’s germ-free and perfectly safe to drink. You can’t get
COVID-19 from tap water.
On April 1, 2020, DWR will conduct the fourth Phillips Station
snow survey of the season. Due to the novel coronavirus
(COVID-19) pandemic and California Department of Public Health
guidance to limit gatherings, DWR will be conducting the April
Phillips Station snow survey without media present and will be
providing video of the survey and the results via Facebook
While many residents across the US may want a traditional patch
of green carpet, Jodie Cook, a landscape designer from San
Clemente, California, explained over email that West Coast
homeowners are growing increasingly aware of how innovative
models for lawns can benefit natural ecosystems, while
providing a new dimension to the family home.
Gathering signatures for two proposed Napa County ballot
measures – one on rural, commercial cannabis cultivation, the
other on watershed protections – is a daunting task amid
COVID-19 shutdown orders. Californians are to shelter-at-home
except when engaged in “essential” tasks such as buying food.
Yet each measure needs more than 7,000 signatures from
registered voters by May 8 to qualify for the Nov. 3 ballot.
Sierra Ryan is a water resources planner with the County of
Santa Cruz. In this presentation from the Groundwater Resources
Association‘s 2019 Western Groundwater Congress, Ms. Ryan tells
the story of how the Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Agency
balanced the various perspectives, authorities, and
interpretations of the DWR regulations in writing the portion
of their Groundwater Sustainability Plan that pertained to the
depletion of interconnected surface water.
Below freezing temperatures that swept through Sonoma County on
Wednesday had local grape growers turning on their fans and
sprinklers to protect the tiny buds that have emerged on
vineyards across the region.
States around the country say they won’t penalize water and
wastewater utilities for failing to meet Clean Water Act permit
requirements due to delays caused by the deadly coronavirus if
those delays are justified and documented. Delays, for example,
could be caused by utility staff who test and monitor water
quality—or lab workers who analyze it—being quarantined with
The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority signed off on an
ordinance and related resolution officially requiring all major
pumpers needing metering on all groundwater extraction
facilities and pumps during a board meeting on Thursday.
Thanks to people hoarding toilet paper during the coronavirus
pandemic, some Californians have completely run out of bathroom
tissue. So what do they do when nature calls? They improvise.
And that, communities are discovering, can cause problems. Big,
stinky, overflowing problems.
While snow cover has increased thanks to a series of March
storms, the Northern Sierra 8-Station Index stands at 56% of
normal for the season. As of March 24, another 29.25 inches
would be needed to reach the season normal of 54.52 inches. But
the area normally gets just 9.42 inches from March 24 through
June 30. So a daunting 310% of normal precipitation would be
required to make up the deficit, according to Jan Null of
Golden Gate Weather Services.
Two weeks ago, as the coronavirus was spreading across the
U.S., Shanna Yazzie loaded the bed of her gray Toyota Tacoma
pickup truck with as many empty, five-gallon containers as she
had in her house and drove 25 miles on unpaved desert roads
looking for a place to fill them with water. This is a routine
for Yazzie, 38, one of the 2 million Americans who live without
access to running water.
The Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of
Water Resources are conducting exploratory work, including
clearing, excavation and controlled blasting of rock material
in the Basalt Hill area near B.F. Sisk Dam, located between Los
Banos and Gilroy, between 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. during April and
May. The exploratory findings on Reclamation lands will help
identify size and quality of granular material for the planned
Safety of Dams Modification project.
The James Irrigation District in western Fresno County has sued
the Westlands Water District over its plan to let farmers pump
salty groundwater into the Mendota Pool in exchange for water
from the San Luis Reservoir.
During a week full of COVID-19-related uncertainty, a pair of
new lawsuits are a reminder of one constant: disputes over
Klamath Basin water. This past week, PacifiCorp and Klamath
Water Users Association each filed petitions for review of
Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for temperature in the Upper
Klamath and Lost River subbasins.
The COVID-19 virus outbreak is affecting us all, whether we
live in a big city or rural Siskiyou County. The economy is
grinding to a halt and governments are planning a massive
response to keep money flowing to small businesses and
employees – the lifeblood of the entire economy. It is through
this lens that I encourage Klamath Basin residents to
view Klamath River Renewal Corp.’s dam removal and river
restoration project as an economic bright spot.
In March 2020 the most substantial review article to date
focusing on atmospheric rivers (AR) was published in the first
volume of the new journal Nature Reviews: Earth and
Environment. The article, led by Ashley Payne (Univ. of
Michigan) focuses on climate change dimensions, and was
prepared by an international group of scientists…
Winter-flooded rice fields already provide essential habitat
for migratory birds, but could they also provide benefits to
help the state’s salmon populations? Scientists at the
University of California, Davis, are finalizing their fieldwork
on an experiment to find out what management practices farmers
might adopt in their fields to maximize fish survival.
Evapotranspiration data has historically been limited in scope
and expensive to access. A new project seeks to change that.
Researchers from NASA, the Desert Research Institute and the
Environmental Defense Fund, with support from Google Earth
Engine technology, are working to create an online platform
with free, accessible, satellite-based water data open to
The report by David Sunding and David Roland-Holst, professors
at University of California, Berkeley, estimates that one-fifth
of cultivated farmland in the San Joaquin Valley will be
permanently lost as groundwater plans take hold and water
supplies are severely restricted.
Just three years after the 2011–2017 drought, one of the
severest in recorded history for the state, the driest February
in 150 years has spurred discussion of whether we’re in another
drought — or if the last one even ended. That’s bad news for
Los Angeles’ only newt, California newt, Taricha torosa, and
other newts in the Taricha genus, particularly in the southern
half of the state south of Big Sur.
March rain has left Salt River Project reservoirs as full as
they’ve been in a decade. The utility is discharging water to
make room for the runoff, providing a boost to the underlying
aquifers. The utility says the Salt and Verde river systems are
at a combined 94% of capacity, almost 20 points higher than
The nation’s largest treated water supply district is isolating
workers, reducing the number of on-site employees, and giving
its executive director broad powers, in the wake of
stay-at-home orders and health concerns over the coronavirus
pandemic. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern
California is also recasting technology upgrades to focus more
on laptop than desktop computers so that staff can work at home
during this outbreak and future emergencies.
The Infrastructure Retrofit Project would mitigate earthquake
hazards currently threatening the Redwood Valley County Water
District and protect infrastructure against significant damage
in the future. The 2017 Redwood Complex fire also destroyed
parts of the water infrastructure in the valley and increased
the need for the reconstruction project.
Two lawsuits challenging the Trump administration’s
authorization of plans to increase water pumping from the
Sacramento and San Joaquin watersheds will be moved from the
Northern District of California to the Eastern District of
California, a federal judge ruled.
President Trump has become the first U.S. president to declare
a health epidemic a “major disaster” in his recent decisions to
approve requests for that designation from the governors of
California, New York and Washington in their battles against
COVID-19. … Trump’s determinations could open the door for
FEMA to step into a wide range of future events including
droughts, extreme cold weather and the contamination of
The water agencies that serve the Fallbrook and Rainbow areas
of North County have officially filed applications to detach
from the San Diego County Water Authority, an unprecedented
move with potential financial implications for almost all water
customers in the county.
Under a plea agreement with the Butte County district
attorney’s office, PG&E will pay the maximum fine of
approximately $4 million. It has agreed to fund efforts to
restore access to water for the next five years for residents
impacted by the loss of the Miocene Canal, which was destroyed
by the fire.
As of Friday, 10 workers are quarantined inside the Claude
“Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plan for the next three
weeks, monitoring and adjusting gauges and switches, watching
for leaks, and doing whatever is needed to safeguard San Diego
County’s only significant local source of drinking water. …
The “mission critical” employees will work 12-hour shifts,
sleep in rented recreational vehicles in the parking lot, and
be resupplied with fresh food left for them at the plant’s
In an effort to reduce the amount of pollution entering surface
waters, the state of California requires industries with an
identified potential of discharging pollutants in storm water
runoff to obtain and implement an industrial storm water
permit. A new state law, effective Jan. 1, requires applicable
businesses to provide proof of coverage under the industrial
storm water permit in order to obtain or renew their business
license with a city or county.
CAL FIRE last week awarded $43.5 million to local organizations
to reduce the risk of wildfires to homes and communities across
California. Fifty-five local fire prevention projects are
receiving funding for hazardous fuel reductions, wildfire
preparedness planning and fire prevention education.
The changes in groundwater levels in this report illustrate how
groundwater changes over time based on hydrologic conditions. A
one-year comparison of groundwater levels provides information
about the short-term effects of a single wet or dry year, while
a multi-year comparison of groundwater levels provides
information about trends in groundwater storage. Groundwater is
an important component of water budgets throughout the state
A pair of low-pressure systems will bring rain and mountain
snow to the West, including communities in worsening drought,
in the early part of the week ahead. The first of the
low-pressure systems arrived on the California coast Sunday.
The second system, the larger of the two storms geographically,
will swing southward from the Gulf of Alaska through midweek.
Arsenic is one of the most toxic elements in the Earth’s crust.
It is widely distributed, and under certain geochemical
conditions, it dissolves into groundwater, which then gets
pumped out for human use. Arsenic presents the highest cancer
risk of any regulated carcinogens among drinking water
contaminants when the risk from each is ranked at its maximum
David Orth is the principal of New Current Water and Land,
which offers strategic planning, program implementation, and
water resource development services. At the California
Irrigation Institute’s 2020 Annual Conference, he gave his
observations having watched Groundwater Sustainability Agencies
(GSAs) form and develop their Groundwater Sustainability Plans
(GSPs) since the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater
Management Act (SGMA) in 2014.
The return of rainbow trout to Calaveras Creek marks a
milestone in an ongoing, multi-agency restora-tion of Alameda
Creek, which drains more than 600 square miles of the East Bay.
Much of the watershed is heavily developed and modified,
especially the northern reaches in and around Pleasanton and
Vallee and his team are here to maintain an array of
hydrophones used to track migrating native fish. The work is
part of a multi-agency effort to provide more timely and
detailed information about the movements of salmon, steelhead,
and sturgeon in the Central Valley. Deploying hundreds of
listening stations across the watershed, the program lets
scientists follow thousands of tagged fish as they navigate
from hatcheries and headwater streams toward the Pacific Ocean.
A lull in storms is forecast late this week to this weekend,
but a new series of storms is destined to impact much of the
West next week with more rain and mountain snow from Monday to
Wednesday. “It looks like a general 1 to 3 inches of rain
during the first half of the week for California alone,”
AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson said.
The Environmental Protection Agency has allowed hundreds of new
PFAS chemicals to enter commerce under the Toxic Substances
Control Act since 2006, continuing to do so in recent years
even as new research about the dangers of PFAS emerges.
For decades, the discussion over flood mitigation in Petaluma
has almost exclusively centered around storm surges and heavy
rainfall events. Now, months after the city made its landmark
climate emergency proclamation, attention is shifting to focus
more on sea level rise and scientific projections that offer a
glimpse into what could be a sodden future.
Recent storms delivering rain to the Valley floor and snow to
the Sierra mountains have prompted Fresno Irrigation District
to begin water deliveries to growers on May 1. … In a news
release Thursday, FID officials said they anticipate a
three-month water delivery season ending in July.
The most recent U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday shows
that although recent rains have provided some relief for
Southern California, Northern California remains locked in
moderate drought or abnormally dry conditions.
The nature of Butte County’s concerns over Gov. Gavin Newsom’s
scaled back Delta tunnel project was made clear last Tuesday,
when Supervisor Debra Lucero questioned a staffer from the
state Department of Water Resources.
Historically, we’ve always been able to predict these extremes
by looking at how often they occurred in the past. But a new
study published Wednesday in Science Advances reveals just how
many of those forecasts actually fall short. In just a decade,
the findings suggest, the climate has shifted so drastically
that the frequency of past extreme events is no longer a
I remember being surprised when attending a local Groundwater
Sustainability Agency meeting and I first saw a schematic that
visually depicted the various levels of groundwater underneath
one of the Central Valley’s numerous subbasins.
The Water and Wastewater Pathway at Indian Springs High School
is strategically located near East Valley Water District’s new
state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility. The Sterling
Natural Resource Center (SNRC) will provide a sustainable new
water supply to boost the region’s water independence.
Researchers with the University of Nevada, Reno, have been
working to evaluate and commercialize crops that use less
water. Professor John Cushman and his team think they’ve found
an alternative. It’s called teff.
Cindy Messer considers one of her greatest professional
accomplishments also the toughest experience in her 23-year
career. Messer was sworn in as chief deputy director of the
California Department of Water Resources the day after the
Oroville Dam crisis began in February 2017… But within
months, her boss retired, and she became acting interim
director for the recovery phase.
As the state grapples with the ripple effects of the
coronavirus outbreak, California’s Water Board says residents
should not flush disinfecting wipes or paper towels, or risk
dealing with backed-up plumbing and sewers.
At the 2020 Kern County Water Summit, California Water
Commission Chair Armando Quintero spoke about the role of the
commission, gave an update on the Water Storage Investment
Program and the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, and
spoke of their new role defined in the water resiliency
California mountains are blanketed in snow and much of the
state has had plenty of rain in a remarkable March turnabout
from the extremely dry first two months of the year. The most
recent statewide storm started during the weekend and, despite
diminishing, snowfall and showers were still occurring here and
Likely just in time for the real thing, a “Mock Frost” event
was held this week to test the capacity of the city of Ukiah’s
recycled Water System, also called the Purple Pipe. … “It
went well,” Ukiah grape grower David Koball said of the test.
“There was lots of water pressure and we had no issues.”
Summer streamflow in industrial tree plantations harvested on
40- to 50-year rotations was 50% lower than in century-old
forests, data from the long-term Alsea Watershed Study in the
Oregon Coast Range showed.
This spring the Forest Service, aided by U.S. Marine Corps
members, will blast apart 13 more dams in the Trabuco ranger
district in Southern California’s Cleveland National Forest.
It’s the last phase of a groundbreaking project that began more
than five years ago to remove a total of 81 dams from four
streams in the mountains of Orange County.
When county Board of Supervisor member Peggy Judd asked former
Gov. Bruce Babbitt to share his thoughts on rural counties
taking on responsibilities relating to groundwater management,
he responded, “I couldn’t say no.”
California’s bone-dry February didn’t leave a lot of forage for
Todd Swickard’s cattle—though mid-March rains should provide
some help. … Swickard noted conditions on the hills were what
one would expect in mid-April or later, with land gradually
fading to brown and poppies everywhere.
Central Valley farmers may soon have another crop to sell along
with almonds, tomatoes and peppers — the groundwater beneath
their land. Proposed groundwater markets have popped up in just
about every groundwater sustainability plan filed with the
state Jan. 31.
The Environmental Protection Agency recently released its
National Water Reuse Action Plan to promote more water reuse in
the U.S. William M. Alley, director of science and technology
for the National Ground Water Association, says the plan
focuses on low-hanging fruit and states and associations will
likely remain the leaders and innovators in water reuse.
Wipes and paper towels do not break down like toilet paper does
in water. They are stronger, and many wipes include plastics
and materials like nylon. That means bad news for sewer
systems, some of which already are experiencing problems during
the coronavirus crisis.
While disruptive, the storm has helped replenish a depleted
snowpack after an exceptionally dry winter. The water stored in
the snowpack is critical for the region’s water supply and for
moistening vegetation before fire season.
Now, Big Ag and the water agencies that do its water will want
to also divert streamflow during the winter wet season. For
folks who believe that any water “diverted” to the ocean is
wasted water, winter storm and snow-melt high flows have become
Bottled water has been disappearing from store shelves as fast
as toilet paper. And, like toilet paper, there’s no practical
reason to stockpile bottled water. “People need to stop
hoarding water,” said Damon Micalizzi of the Municipal Water
District of Orange County. “Your tap water is regulated more
strictly than any bottled water you buy.”
California residents who are not able to pay their water,
sewer, energy or communications bills during the state’s novel
coronavirus state of emergency will not be at risk of having
their services shut off, the California Public Utilities
Commission said Tuesday.
There is now plenty of evidence that as the atmosphere warms,
the planet is experiencing more wildfires. … Understandably,
much of the media surrounding these incidents focuses on the
immediate damage to forests, homes, people and wildlife, but
one potentially dangerous long-term impact has received less
attention – the effect of fires on water.
While the first draft of the governor’s draft Water Resilience
Portfolio wasn’t the transformational vision many had hoped it
would be, there is still time to deliver on a plan that will
help us rise to the challenges ahead.
The falling cost of renewable energy and continued decline of
manufacturing renders many of these structures unnecessary.
Others require expensive maintenance. Seven in 10 are more than
50 years old and many are falling into disrepair, according to
the American Society of Civil Engineers…
An employee at Silicon Valley’s largest water district has
tested positive for coronavirus, and at least eight other
employees, including CEO Norma Camacho, were in self-quarantine
as a result. … The employee is not involved with the
treatment or delivery of drinking water, and that service
continues uninterrupted, officials at the district, also known
as Valley Water, said Monday.
The military now has at least 651 sites that have been
contaminated with cancer-linked “forever chemicals,” a more
than 50 percent jump from its last tally. The information was
released Friday in a report from the Department of Defense
(DOD), part of a task force designed to help the military
remove a class of chemicals known as PFAS from the water supply
near numerous military bases.
Innocent consumer substitutions due to shortages caused by
fears about the spread of coronovirus could create serious
consequences which are critical to society and life, according
to leading supply chain academic Prof Richard Wilding. The
warning comes amid panic buying sweeping UK supermarkets…
Many of Arizona’s Native tribes have long-standing claims to
water rights that haven’t yet been settled, and a discussion of
efforts to negotiate possible agreements took center stage at a
meeting of Gov. Doug Ducey’s water council. The meeting grew
tense after Arizona’s top water official gave a presentation on
the status of tribes’ unresolved water claims, and then didn’t
allow leaders of four tribes to speak.
“It’s a huge problem, especially in the cities,” said Daniel
Tartakovsky, a professor of energy resources engineering at
Stanford University in California. Tartakovsky and his former
student Abdulrahman Alawadhi from the University of California,
San Diego have proposed a way to improve a traditional method
of detecting these leaks.
Recharge basins are becoming increasingly popular in
overdrafted regions in California, where water managers are
seeking solutions to balance groundwater supply and demand to
comply with the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act
Besides reviewing and making final determinations on submitted
plans that show how local agencies will manage their
groundwater basins for long-term sustainability, DWR staff
provide essential resources to local water agencies to help
them better understand and manage their local basins. … Below
are some examples of DWR staff contributions to groundwater
On Monday, Lilac Solutions and the Australian company
Controlled Thermal Resources announced they’re partnering to
develop a lithium-extraction facility at the Salton Sea. The
Australian firm is trying to build the area’s first new
geothermal power plant in a decade, a project that would be far
more lucrative if the super-heated underground fluid could
produce lithium in addition to electricity.
The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency (SCV Water) has announced
that they are set to voluntarily shut down 13 additional wells
in compliance with new state PFAS regulations, officials said
Friday. The levels of PFAS found are above the state-mandated
response level, according to Kathie Martin, public information
officer for Santa Clarita Valley Water.
As a new Fallbrook resident, I attended the recent Fallbrook
Community Forum. I was impressed with the openness,
friendliness, dedication and commitment of the participants.
The experience led me to join the Fallbrook Chamber of
Commerce. I wish my enthusiasm extended to the proposal for our
community to detach from the San Diego County Water Authority.
Already a well-regarded landscape and portrait photographer,
Bay set out to bring more attention to the issue. The avid
surfer admits that he initially wasn’t sure how best to convey
what he saw as an environmental emergency. Then, one day, he
says he was visiting the Tijuana River mouth and stumbled upon
The public release of this product, and the underlying research
supporting it, is part of a joint partnership between CW3E and
NASA JPL, sponsored by the California Department of Water
Resources, to improve the two-week to two-month lead time of
forecasts, known as subseasonal-to-seasonal (S2S) forecasts.
The aim of these improved forecasts of atmospheric rivers and
precipitation is to benefit western U.S. water resource
After a prolonged period of mostly dry conditions, the Tahoe
Basin finally reported impressive 24-hour snowfall totals
Sunday morning: As of 8:30 a.m., Squaw Valley had recorded 18
inches at its base and up to 30 inches at its highest peaks.
Tahoe City measured 23 inches, Homewood 33 and Incline Village
22. … Between Sunday and Monday, the Cascades and northern
Sierra could see another one to three feet of snow.
The case, titled Baley v. United States, was filed 19 years ago
when the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation re-allocated Klamath River
irrigation water to threatened and endangered species. A
favorable outcome would mean upwards of $30 million
collectively in compensation for irrigators named in the case.
Those who live in the city of Los Angeles don’t need to
stockpile bottled water in the midst of growing fears about the
spread of COVID-19, city officials urged Thursday. The L.A.
Department of Water and Power reminded residents that their tap
water is safe to drink, even as the coronavirus spreads.
Former Gov. Bruce Babbitt is speaking out about widespread
problems of excessive groundwater pumping in rural areas of
Arizona, saying the state Legislature should give counties and
communities the power to protect their rapidly declining
aquifers. Babbitt appealed for action during a visit this week
to the Willcox area, where heavy pumping for farms has led to
falling water tables and left a growing number of families with
Much-needed snow will blanket California’s Sierra Nevada high
country this weekend into next week, bringing hope of a
“Miracle March” that could replenish vital, water-providing
snowpack after a record-dry February.
The Retrofit Project would mitigate earthquake hazards
currently threatening the Redwood Valley County Water
District… The county said the project would replace
approximately 10,577 feet of main water lines, include
installation of around 3,300 feet of new water main lines, and
replace 146 water services lateral connections. The project
will cost an estimated $6,200,000, including construction
support and contingency.
As discussed below, in the case of west coast salmon, the
scientific evidence is clear that the replacement assumption
has proven faulty as the total abundance of salmon declined at
the same time the propagation and release of hatchery salmon
Both water companies that serve Salinas will halt all water
shutoffs during the state of emergency brought on by the
COVID-19 pandemic. Salinas has a large population of
hospitality workers that commute to the Monterey Peninsula
daily; the hospitality industry has been one of the hardest-hit
by the coronavirus as health officials urge “social distancing”
and the closure of large gatherings. As such, many residents
may find themselves short on funds as the pandemic wears on.
Given the wide swings in the availability of State Water
Project water from year to year as well as the possibility of
even more severe and lasting droughts, the San Bernardino
Valley Municipal Water District hired The Rand Corporation to
independently analyze the long-term demand forecasts of local
Groundwater is the sole source of water supply for the valley;
there isn’t any surface water or imported water available.
After decades of excessive pumping, the Borrego Groundwater
Basin is considered critically overdrafted and dramatic
reductions in pumping – up to 70% by the latest estimate – will
be needed to reach sustainability.
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is soliciting public
comment on the scope of environmental review for a revised
Delta tunnel project despite prior findings of independent
technical experts that a key project proposal is “impractical,”
stating that it “does not recommend” further study.
If corporations can have the rights of people under the law,
why not rivers? The question made sense to Will Falk, and he
answered it yes. Falk is a lawyer, and he got to represent the
Colorado River in a lawsuit. So he spent time along the river,
in something of a conversation with it. Falk tells the story in
his book How Dams Fall.
Stanford researchers have developed a machine learning model
that detects unexpected water-use consumption patterns – data
water utilities can use to inform resource planning and water
A new National Water Reuse Action Plan focuses on water reuse
practices aimed at strengthening water security, sustainability
and resilience for both rural and urban communities. … The
EPA and its partners hope to increase water reuse to address
the rising demands for water across the United States.
Currently, water reuse amounts to less than 1 percent of the
Arizona does not currently have a comprehensive program to
protect its surface water quality. The state is now faced with
the task of creating one following a change to federal law. The
Trump administration unveiled its final rule in January
redefining which waterways are regulated under the Clean Water
Act, known as “Waters of the U.S.” Under this rule change, the
vast majority of Arizona’s creeks and streams will not be
We’re getting better when it comes to the L.A. River. Ten years
ago, most of us didn’t even know that L.A. even had a river.
… It’s hit a few bumps along the way (including the 1936
Flood Control Act that channelized it with concrete walls) —
but now, you not only can get to the re-wilded parts of the Los
Angeles River, but you can get onto them, too (for a part of
This year marks a new phase in California’s landmark
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). At the end of
January, water users in 21 critically overdrafted basins
delivered their first groundwater sustainability plans to the
state Department of Water Resources. In this series, we examine
the 36 plans submitted for 11 critically overdrafted basins in
the San Joaquin Valley—California’s largest farming region. …
This post addresses key questions about groundwater budgets.
Tuolumne Utilities District announced on Tuesday that it has
entered into exclusive negotiations with Pacific Gas and
Electric Co. to acquire the Phoenix Hydroelectric Project,
which would include pre-1914 water rights on the South Fork of
the Stanislaus River…
“’Listen to the land’ is my mantra,” said Susan Sorrells, a 4th
generation resident and owner of Shoshone, California. …
Integrating nature with community became a part of Sorrells’
and her husband Robby Haines’ vision for stewarding the land.
As a gateway to Death Valley National Park, ecotourism became
their economic engine.
People flanked by handmade signs spill out of a charter bus
that just arrived from UC Santa Barbara. They join a growing
rally outside the Veterans Memorial Center in Santa Maria,
chanting, “Health, not oil,” and, “No new oil, keep it in the
soil!” A microphone passed around gave different folks and
organizations a chance to lead the rally cries.
Drought conditions continue to spread across California, with
nearly half the state now affected, federal scientists reported
Thursday, as recent rains weren’t enough to significantly slow
a drying trend that has been growing more serious all winter.
Overall, 48% of California is classified as being in moderate
drought — up from 34% a week ago, according to the U.S. Drought
In a part of the country where freshwater supplies are often
scarce, the Olivenhain (California) Municipal Water District is
doing its part. The 4S Ranch Water Reclamation Facility
recycles some 1 million gallons of high-quality effluent each
day for irrigation and shares even more with neighboring
Forecasting snowfall and determining long-term trends of snow
climatology are inherently challenging, but the research team
at Climate Central has produced an analysis of snowfall trends
across the United States. While no single overall national
trend in snowfall can be discerned from the results, clear
regional and seasonal patterns do emerge. In almost all areas
of the country, snow is decreasing in the “shoulder”
seasons—fall and spring.
In less than a day, a storm Tuesday more than doubled the total
rainfall that some parts of Southern California had received
all year. More precipitation is on the horizon for at least the
rest of this week. But will the change be enough to turn this
month into a “Miracle March” that will make up for an extra-dry
January and February?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
recently released guidance for wastewater workers, reporting
that coronaviruses are vulnerable to the same disinfection
techniques used currently in the health care sector.
The latest research about the Colorado River is alarming but
also predictable: In a warming world, snowmelt has been
decreasing while evaporation of reservoirs is increasing. Yet
no politician has a plan to save the diminishing Colorado
The new rules allow the federal Central Valley Project to kill
100 percent of baby winter run Chinook salmon below Shasta Dam
for three years running. Chinook salmon live for three
years, so authorizing the Bureau of Reclamation to kill every
endangered winter run for three years amounts to an extinction
plan for this species.
A District Court judge has once again scuttled the Southern
Nevada Water Authority’s plans to obtain and pump rural
groundwater about 300 miles from eastern Nevada, prompting one
Clark County commissioner to call on the water authority “to
look in a different direction.”
Over the past month, DWR has been holding scoping meetings in
the Delta and select locations throughout the state. At
meetings in Walnut Grove, Stockton, Clarksburg and Brentwood, a
diverse group of farmers, fishermen, elected officials,
climate/social justice activists, economists and engineers came
out in force to oppose what is often referred to as the
A $3 billion package of water projects recommended for approval
by the Southern Nevada Water Authority this month could raise
average residential bills by $10, while providing a boost to
the Apex Industrial Park in North Las Vegas.
State and federal leaders came together to tour the Salton Sea
and understand the impending health issues the public continues
to face. NBC Palm Springs joined officials to get a glimpse of
what is being done to help restore an area that was once a
relaxing summer destination.
Because the State and Federal water managers coordinate
operations of the State Water Project and Central Valley
Project, the State Water Contractors argue that dumping the
biological opinions governing those operations and restarting
the process would create “uncertainty in water supply
availability, potentially affecting the [State Water
Contractor] members’ water supplies from the SWP.”
As the waters of Lake Mead have risen and fallen over the
years, the remains of the village of St. Thomas have
reappeared, then disappeared again, only to re-emerge years
later. It’s a sort of Brigadoon for the southwestern United
The storm— fed by a plume of subtropical water vapor at the
lower and middle levels of the atmosphere — could bring 1 to 3
inches of rain to the area through at least Wednesday. … The
heaviest rain is expected throughout Tuesday, upping the
chances for both an ugly morning and evening commute.
A proposal to pump water out of Nevada’s fragile Walker Lake to
generate hydropower to sell in California won preliminary
approval from federal regulators. On Friday, the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission issued a preliminary permit and granting
priority to file for the proposed Walker Lake Pumped Storage
A multi-partner water recycling project is helping Monterey,
Calif., stabilize and replenish its dwindling groundwater
supply. The project could serve as a model for shrinking
aquifers in other regions of the country.
We expect most of Southern California, including the Los
Angeles Basin and San Diego metro area, as well as parts of
Arizona, to pick up at least an inch of rain through Thursday.
Some heavier amounts in higher terrain on southern- and
southwestern-facing slopes are possible. Flash flooding of
flood-prone, low-lying streets, freeways and normally dry
washes and arroyos is possible in some areas.
The 2020 ocean abundance projection for Sacramento River fall
Chinook, the driver of West Coast salmon fisheries, is
estimated at 473,200 adult salmon, higher than the 2019
forecast. However, the Klamath River fall Chinook abundance
forecast of 186,600 adult salmon is lower than the 2019
forecast and will likely result in reduced fishing opportunity
in the areas north of Pt. Arena…
In partnership with the Diablo Water District, the Ironhouse
Sanitary District is examining the potential to reintroduce
treated wastewater into the drinking water supply through a
process called indirect water reuse.
The scramble for water has intensified as global warming has
battered much of the West during the last 20 years with heat
waves, droughts and wildfires. With projections for declining
snowpack and river flows, cloud seeding is becoming a regional
climate adaptation measure costing several million dollars each
As sea levels rise, so do the waters in the bay, which connects
to the Pacific Ocean through the Golden Gate. That relationship
between rising ocean levels and rising bay levels is well
known. What is less obvious is that groundwater levels are
rising as well, adding another variable to the region’s
equation of increasing flood risk.
The Cuyama Valley is the driest agricultural region in the
county; the valley floor gets just a little more rain than the
Sahara. Yet for the past 75 years, this high desert region has
been a mecca for water-intensive farming on an industrial scale
— first alfalfa, and now carrots, a $69 million annual crop.
… Now, to the rescue — belatedly — comes the state
Groundwater Sustainability Act of 2014…
Drought conditions in California continued to expand, according
to the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor data released Thursday.
After what experts are calling California’s driest February on
record, slightly more than 34% of the state was deemed to be in
moderate drought. That’s an increase of about 11% over figures
released a week ago.
The organizers of camp residency programs Space Saloon and
Designers on Holiday have announced the launch of DeSaturated,
an eight-day design-build festival in California’s Cuyama
Valley, a two-hour drive north of Los Angeles. With the rugged
high desert landscape as its backdrop, the
“community-in-residence” program will draw attention to the
state’s water scarcity.
If you followed the news about the Colorado River for the last
year, you’d think that a political avalanche had swept down
from Colorado’s snow-capped peaks and covered the Southwest
with a blanket of “collaboration” and “river protection.” I
won’t call it fake news, but I will point out errors of
An important new study finds that irrigated crop production
accounts for 86 percent of all water consumed in the western US
— and of all the water used on western farms, by far the
largest portion goes to cattle-feed crops such as alfalfa and
grass hay. To alleviate the severe shortage of water in the
region, study authors suggest rotational fallowing farmland
could be a simple and affordable means of dramatically reducing
water use in the region.
In a Feb. 28 filing, the Klamath River Renewal Corporation,
formed to shepherd the removal of four hydroelectric dams from
the Klamath River in Northeern California and Southern Oregon,
submitted key budget information to the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission. … This filing is another concrete step
toward implementing the amended Klamath Hydroelectric
Settlement Agreement (KHSA), removing the dams and restoring a
free-flowing Klamath River, KRRC officials said.
It was a busy time for California water issues last month when
Trump visited the San Joaquin Valley, signed the Record of the
Decision on the biological opinions which govern the operations
of the state and federal water projects (along with another
Presidential memo), which was promptly followed by the state
filing of a lawsuit the next day. … So not surprisingly, the
voluntary agreement was top of the agenda the following week at
the February meeting of Metropolitan’s Bay Delta Committee.
One day after President Trump tweeted his support, Senate
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is expected to take
steps today to bring to the floor legislation that would
permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and
address the national parks maintenance backlog, senators said.
… Trump’s tweet was an election-year about-face from his
latest budget proposal, which recommended virtually eliminating
the popular, bipartisan program.
The Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District celebrated its 100-year
anniversary in February, according to a press release. The
district’s water rights were established in 1883, one of the
earliest and largest water rights on the Sacramento River, and
it was formally organized on Feb. 21, 1920.