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.
Balancing fisheries restoration and water-supply reliability is central to a water struggle playing out in Mendocino, Lake, Sonoma and Humboldt counties after Pacific Gas and Electric Co. withdrew its application to relicense the Potter Valley Project, leaving the now “orphaned” project in the hands of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Attorneys general from 14 states and the District of Columbia on Tuesday vehemently opposed the Trump administration’s proposal to roll back a regulation known as Waters of the United States, a move they said would end federal oversight of 15 percent of streams and more than half of the nation’s wetlands.
The California Farm Bureau delegation met last week with more than 20 members of the California congressional delegation, with a particular emphasis on members newly elected in 2018. They met with U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, two days before the Senate confirmed his appointment as the Cabinet’s newest member. For the first time in several years, they conducted a briefing for congressional staff members, to describe key issues facing California farmers and ranchers.
A new study released by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation predicts a release of up to 9 million acre-feet of water from Lake Powell to Lake Mead this year, which means a possible shortage declaration looming in 2020 might be averted. The snowpack in the Colorado River Basin is about 130 percent of average, with flows into Lake Powell predicted to be 128 percent of average during the runoff season.
EPA won’t regulate any pollution to surface waters that passes through groundwater. … If pollution travels through groundwater, EPA says, it “breaks the causal chain” between a source of pollution and surface waters. That could affect regulation of pollution from a variety of sources, including seepage from coal ash and manure management ponds, sewage collection systems, septic system discharges, and accidental spills and releases.
The US hydro fleet, despite experiencing flat growth in total capacity since the 1970s, is experiencing a renaissance. It isn’t only in California, but across the country – with some of the nearly 2200 facilities commanding substantial earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, owing in part to their renewable characteristics but also to their very long asset lives.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled on Friday that the EPA’s 2015 power plant wastewater pollution rule was not stringent enough, siding with environmentalists. Circuit Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan ruled in favor of various environmental groups that portions of the wastewater rule regulating legacy wastewater and liquid from impoundments were “unlawful.”
Wade Crowfoot, California’s new Natural Resources Secretary, recently delivered a keynote address at Los Angeles Business Council’s annual Sustainability Summit. He focused on the economic, social and environmental challenges the state and localities are addressing in response to a new climate normal; on prioritizing new wildfire and water supply & stormwater policies; and, commended the city of Los Angeles for its ambitious climate actions.
Tri-Valley residents can expect better tasting and smelling water from the tap when the expansion and upgrades at the Zone 7 Water Agency Patterson Pass Water Treatment Plant are completed. The decade-plus plan to increase capacity and improve water conditions at the plant in eastern Livermore finally broke ground at a ceremony last week…
Federal and state water managers have coordinated operations of the CVP and the parallel State Water Project for many decades. … But this intergovernmental water policy Era of Good Feeling (relatively speaking) has come to a sudden and dramatic end with the ascension of the Trump Administration.
President Donald Trump signed a bill Tuesday authorizing a plan for Western states to take less water from the overburdened Colorado River. The president’s signing capped a years-long process of sometimes difficult negotiations among the seven states that rely on the river. … Next, representatives from Arizona and the other Colorado River basin states who had a hand in crafting the deal are expected to meet for a formal signing ceremony.
Residents are concerned a proposed project aimed at tackling the pollution problem in the Tijuana River Valley will ultimately negatively affect them. … Some residents voiced they are not happy to hear about a proposal to build what they have dubbed a “sewage pond” near their homes.
Cannabis is the most highly regulated crop in California, and the state just added another layer of regulation. This article breaks down the State Water Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB) recently updated Cannabis Cultivation Policy – Principles and Guidelines for Cannabis Cultivation (“Policy”) into six key takeaways.
Wildfires alter the chemistry of streams for years, causing significantly lower concentrations of dissolved organic matter, which provides a vital energy source to organisms living in streams and rivers… University of New Hampshire researchers and their collaborators with the University of California-Merced and Ohio State University examined the effects of wildfire on stream chemistry and water quality in Yosemite National Park, Calif.
The extent of the latest crisis unfolding in Paradise is yet unknown: The deadly fire may also have contaminated up to 173 miles of pipeline in the town’s water system with cancer-causing benzene and other volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. Preliminary results have shown contamination in about a third of the lines tested, though only about 2 percent of the entire system has been sampled.
If farmers cannot prove that they are replenishing the amount of groundwater as they are taking out, they are not going to be allowed to use the groundwater pumps. … Temperance Flat would provide additional storage opportunities—up to an additional 1.2 million acre-feet—and will allow farmers to have carryover water from year to year. This will carry the farmers through the dry years, and it will give the allowance to stabilize the groundwater condition.
The obvious question is “Why did Prop 3 fail?” Multiple commentators have suggested answers. But exploring “Where did Prop 3 fail?” provides additional insights. The results are sometimes counter-intuitive…and deepen our understanding of how voters think about water in California.
A bill moving through the state legislature looks to make repairs and enhancements to the Friant-Kern Canal. Senate Bill 559 was authored by Senator Melissa Hurtado, representing the 14th Senate District, and was co-authored by several other San Joaquin Valley lawmakers. The legislation recently advanced through the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water with a vote of 7 to 0.
Oakwood Lakes Water District that serves a gated community and a mobile home park just outside of the southwest Manteca city limits needs to expand and upgrade its wastewater treatment plant. Manteca needs to find a way to send storm water from a large swath of southwest Manteca to the San Joaquin River. The two needs have led to a proposed agreement between the water district and the city …
The main target of the order is Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, which grants states the power to certify that construction projects will not harm water quality. … The order directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to consult with states and tribes about whether Section 401 guidance should be modified. Some state organizations have expressed firm opposition to the administration’s attempt to supersede state permitting authority.
At least 11 Democratic senators asked the inspector general to investigate a range of claims against Bernhardt … The inspector general also received a request from Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, asking the office to examine whether Bernhardt played a role in the department’s handling of endangered species in the San Francisco Bay Delta…
Currently, the city has two significant environmental impact reports, which CEQA requires, making their way through the development process. One is for a plan to build a 7-mile pipeline to tap into Ventura’s long-held investment in state water. … The other project would capture effluent from Ventura’s wastewater treatment plant, treat it and turn it into drinking water.
Smith River Neighborhood Watch coordinator Joni Forsht began by telling local Easter lily bulb growers that though the goal wasn’t to put them out of business, she wanted them to change their methods “as far as what you’re putting on the lily bulbs and where it’s going.” But before Wednesday’s meeting was over, the growers said they felt attacked.
On the northern tip of California … Calpine Corporation won a U.S. government contract in 1982 to explore geothermal energy on 2,560 acres of national forest in the Medicine Lake Highlands of Siskiyou County. Now some 37 years later, members of the Pit River Tribe claim the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has allowed Calpine to squat on their sacred land for decades, even as the company fails to meet lease renewal requirements by making “diligent efforts” to produce geothermal power.
What the state requires our community to do is challenging. Land development, population growth and climate change make planning for the future very complicated. The new state law requires us to face these challenges and work together as a community to create a plan.
Here’s something worth celebrating: In a rare bipartisan resolve to prevent a water crisis in the Southwest, Congress has authorized a plan to reduce consumption from the Colorado River – a major conservation milestone. It shows that when we work together as Americans, we can address some of the biggest challenges facing our nation today.
Daryl Vigil, water administrator at Jicarilla Apache Nation, who worked on the study, said it’s relatively new for local and federal lawmakers to include tribes in national water policy conversations. “That conversation and that opportunity wasn’t available before,” Vigil said. “But now with the conclusion of this DCP and the inclusion of tribes in that dialogue, I think that sets the stage for that to happen.”
A total of 300,000 salmon were released into the Sacramento River on Saturday. Half were dropped at their usual location at Coleman Fish Hatchery near Anderson in Shasta County, and the other half were released 75 miles downstream, at Scottys Landing on River Road near Chico. Surgeons fit the fish with tiny radio transmitters so they can more easily study their survival chances and homing instincts.
Spring has arrived, which means it’s a great time to visit dozens of Northern California waterfalls. … Waterfall photographer Leon Turnbull gave his top six picks of Northern California waterfalls to visit during late spring.
The Eastern Sierra snowpack that feeds the Los Angeles Aqueduct was measured this month at 171% of normal and is expected to meet 70 percent of the city’s annual water needs. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said Friday the aqueduct will flow at or near full capacity for much of the next 12 months, providing about 119 billion gallons (450.4 billion liters).
When state surveyors measured the Sierra snowpack on April 2, they found 106.5 inches of snow, with an equivalent of 51 inches of water — … Compared to average measurements for this time of year, those readings represent 200% of normal levels. That means the snows that drew skiers this winter will soon deliver thrills to another group of outdoor enthusiasts: whitewater rafters.
A new analysis from Trout Unlimited shows the U.S. Geological Survey underestimates the number of streams nationwide that flow only following rain. … The analysis comes as the Trump administration is soliciting comments on its Waters of the U.S., or WOTUS, rule that would eliminate Clean Water Act protections for ephemeral streams, which flow only following rainfall.
When heavy rain falls over the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia and the eastern Pacific Ocean, it is a good indicator that temperatures in central California will reach 100°F in four to 16 days, according to a collaborative research team from the University of California, Davis, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Climate Center in Busan, South Korea. The results were published in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences on April 12.
Massive fish-die offs. Dead birds. A toxic stench. Bryan Mendez and Olivia Rodriguez are dissatisfied that those sad facts are the only things most Californians ever hear about the Salton Sea, one of the largest inland seas in the world.
Congress passed an historic Colorado River drought deal on Monday, which is now on its way to President Trump’s desk for his signature. That leaves Arizona back to wrestling with water issues that it mostly set aside during the two years it fixated on the negotiations for the Colorado River deal.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer unveiled his proposed budget for fiscal year 2020 on Thursday, saying it includes the highest infrastructure investment in the city’s history. … The budget includes an infrastructure investment of $715.8 million, an increase of nearly 300% over the $179.4 million infrastructure allocation in the city’s fiscal year 2014 budget … More than half of that is earmarked for the city’s Pure Water program, which aims to recycle sewage into drinking water.
John O. McClurg, 93, passed away peacefully on March 22, 2019, in Carmichael, California. … In January 1952 John received a bachelor’s degree in engineering from USC and went to work for the California Department of Water Resources in its Ventura County field office.
Even as winter and early-spring storms have filled reservoirs to the brim and piled snow on Sierra Nevada mountaintops, state and federal officials say they’re limited in how much water they can send south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
A Superior Court judge recently ruled in favor of the city of San Juan Capistrano, as the plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit seeking millions in water rate refunds have been barred from moving the case forward. … The lawsuit stemmed from the city’s 2015 approval to issue refunds to customers who overpaid for water under San Juan’s previous tiered water rates, which the Fourth District Court of Appeals had affirmed as unconstitutional in April 2015.
The Chino Land and Water Company, was established with $1.5 million in stock issued in 15,000 shares at $100 par value each. Along with the 37,500 acres of ranch land and the town of Chino, the new company took over the water system, which cost $200,000 … and which brought in water from local sources and San Antonio Canyon above Claremont.
A team of Stanford University researchers believe they have identified the best way to replenish the shrinking aquifers beneath California’s Central Valley. … The study from Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences, published in the journal Water Resources Research, found that unless action is taken, the ground in that region will sink more than 13 feet over the next 20 years.
Bernhardt has a roster to fill, with gaping vacancies in key positions. He’s got, by his own account, a departmental ethics program to fix and an ambitious reorganization scheme that critics decry or simply dismiss. He’ll have to cope with a multibillion-dollar national parks maintenance backlog and thread the needle with an offshore drilling plan. And as he’s already discovered during his short stint as acting secretary, he faces opposition from Democratic lawmakers in control of the House.
All along the lazy Lake County shorelines of creeks, ponds and lakes you may be able to sneak up on Western pond turtles to observe their slow-motion antics. … Besides watery places of residence, however, they require a terrestrial habitat to thrive. For instance, if the turtles’ resident pond or marsh dries up seasonally or in a drought, they might end up living outside of their aquatic environment for two-thirds of a year.
The Yosemite toad is considered endangered, and its numbers are falling. Scientists say the amphibian chytrid fungus is one reason, but climate change also may contribute to some pools drying up before tadpoles mature.
Drought’s expanse over the Lower 48 states of the U.S. dropped to a 21st century record low in early April, according to one analysis. … You almost have to squint to see areas that are in drought, including a few patchy areas of the South from South Carolina to Alabama to Texas, a swath of New Mexico, and the north Cascades of Washington state.
Farmers, by trade, are experts in sustainability and by extension common sense. Growers along with 1.5 million Northern San Joaquin Valley residents could end up on the receiving end of an economic Armageddon perpetuated by the state Department of Water Resources on behalf of the threatened Chinook salmon.
Researchers say the end of California’s drought could offer a surprising benefit: reduced transmission of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus. Drought is the most important weather-related factor that affects the rate of West Nile infection, scientists say.
2019 marks the sixth straight winter that scientists from NASA/JPL have been flying over portions of the Sierra range, using light-detection and ranging lasers called lidar to map and decode the snowpack. The Airborne Snow Observatory program, or ASO, is based on technology that NASA has been using for years to look at Mars and other planets.
Expected to temporarily hold excess sewer flows during storms, a project to build an underground flow equalization system underneath the San Mateo County Event Center parking lot is one of several components of San Mateo’s Clean Water Program. … But for many residents … pile driving and the installation of dewatering wells included in the project’s construction plans drew concerns about noise, the structural integrity of nearby homes and the project’s impact on neighbors’ quality of life.
Environmental groups have dropped their opposition to a bill they had originally blasted as a way for the state to green-light a controversial plan to pipe water from eastern Nevada to Las Vegas after the bill was amended last week. … But AB30 was altered significantly enough on Wednesday to allow those groups to feel comfortable enough to now say they are neutral on the bill.
Agriculture appears to be slowly receding in California. Though it still leads the nation in production, the Golden State lost more than 1 million acres of farmland and some 7,000 farms from 2012-2017, according to the USDA’s latest Census of Agriculture.
While California recovers from the worst drought in state history, a myriad of impacts resulting from climate change threaten Southern California’s imported water supply. As a shadow of drought hangs over the region, this documentary explores the dire consequences of inaction that lie ahead.
Statewide leaders in agriculture recently launched an initiative to clean oilfield wastewater for use in arid Western states, hoping to reduce the region’s carbon footprint and improve the lives of ranchers and farmers.
The severe drought that struck California from 2011 to 2015 had an obvious impact on rivers, forests, and wildlife. Now, a new study shows it also had some surprising effects on the state’s notorious air pollution, adding new wrinkles to the state’s efforts to clear the skies.
While this season has stood out in many people’s minds as noteworthy and painstakingly rainy, “it’s just a normal year,” said Jan Null, a consulting meteorologist with Golden Gate Weather Services. The city measured similar rainfall totals as recently as 2016-17.
At its core, the ill-advised attempt to “restore” the Salton Sea is nothing short of environmental malpractice. It will inevitably fail at a very high cost to both wildlife and taxpayers, succeeding only in perpetuating a hazardous condition.
Residents in north Chico say they have never seen flooding like the deluge that came their way this year, and they want to know how to stop it. Storm water from Rock Creek and Keefer Slough surged into their backyards, front yards, and in some cases into their homes. It crept into orchards and overtook Highway 99, north of Chico and continued westward.
Facing a wave of opposition over proposed fees for using well water, the directors of a little-known public agency backed away from a decision Thursday and agreed to consider an alternative plan that would exempt rural residents and cost other groundwater users far less overall.
David Bernhardt, President Trump’s pick to the lead the Interior Department, was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday amid persistent ethical concerns and doubts about his independence from the energy and water industry groups he long represented as a lobbyist.
On 177 acres situated between San Clemente’s Talega community and Ortega Highway, mountainous earthworks are taking shape. Santa Margarita Water District … is building a 1.6-billion-gallon reservoir. When completed in 2020, Trampas Canyon Reservoir, less than a half-mile north of Talega, will be able to store recycled wastewater collected from as many as five South Orange County treatment plants.
Should the governor want to do away with fracking, he could issue an emergency order placing a moratorium on it. But the public hasn’t heard from Newsom on the issue as he has laid out his initial priorities, and his staff did not answer questions from CALmatters about his current leanings.
An invasive bamboo-like species called arundo is encumbering the natural ecology of the Salinas River and increasing flood risk to nearby farmland. But the conservation agency charged with protecting the area recently secured nearly $3 million from state coffers for the purpose of fighting the invasion.
The end of California’s drought, announced last month amid one of the rainiest winters in memory, could offer a surprising benefit: reduced transmission of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus. Longer term, however, more severe droughts associated with climate change could contribute to an increase in the number of infections in the state and nationally.
Eldorado Irrigation District staff said the proposed improvements and replacements are needed because the existing equipment does not allow selective temperature withdrawal at multiple elevations for the benefit of downstream fisheries. In addition the existing pumps and boosters have reached the end of their useful life, having undergone multiple repairs over the years.
Depending on the luck of the draw or even where you live in Vacaville, a city of 100,000 located 55 miles northeast of San Francisco, the water coming out of your tap contains what some scientists claim are high levels of the carcinogen that inspired the film “Erin Brockovich.”
Zig-zagging around us, among the trees, is a sprawling network of irrigation ditches. It’s almost laid out like a farm. Instead of the food crops grown all around this site, Schlatter’s team grows trees and willows, prime habitat for birds, coyotes, frogs and other wildlife. The whole site only receives water a couple times a year.
Bruce Babbitt, the former Arizona governor and secretary of the Interior, has been a thoughtful, provocative and sometimes forceful voice in some of the most high-profile water conflicts over the last 40 years, including groundwater management in Arizona and the reduction of California’s take of the Colorado River. In 2016, former California Gov. Jerry Brown named Babbitt as a special adviser to work on matters relating to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the Delta tunnels plan.
Let’s face it, the 2018-2019 water year has been awesome! … Even with this great news, the California Department of Water Resources says, “the days of taking water for granted is over.” Niki Woodard is the Deputy Assistant Director for California Department of Water Resources and she believes the small steps we take at home add up and can make a huge difference for our state.
Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) ripped the State Water Resources Control Board on Tuesday for arguing that the harm caused by the Bay-Delta Plan to the drinking water of disadvantaged communities is not “significant”. Gray’s comments came as his legislation, Assembly Bill 637, cleared the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee with bipartisan support.
While the city struggles with the final phase of a state ordered rezone for affordable housing, it’s tackling the first phase of a possibly more complicated state ordered project based on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. … Part of the increased cost would be for the purchase of water from Consolidated Irrigation District and part would go toward servicing a debt incurred for building the infrastructure and other capital costs associated with getting the project ready to go.
The State Water Board was given the power to force a larger, better run utility to absorb a smaller neighbor that consistently fails to deliver clean water. They would like South Kern to connect to Bakersfield’s system, which serves high-quality water to 144,000 people. … The three sides have been in negotiations for two and a half years, a struggle between one of the largest cities in California’s Central Valley, state officials, and two tiny water suppliers that is the first significant test of the four-year-old statute.
When you turn on a faucet on the Monterey Peninsula, you’re consuming water that’s been illegally pumped from Carmel River. Now, after more than two decades of this, scores of public officials, utility executives and citizen advocates are working – and sometimes fighting – to replace the region’s water supply before state-mandated sanctions kick in. California American Water is forging ahead with its plan: a desalination plant near Marina.
An international team of researchers has carried out the first systematic global review of water reallocation from rural to urban regions—the practice of transferring water from rural areas to cities to meet demand from growing urban populations. … The study, published in Environmental Research Letters, found North America and Asia are hotspots for rural-to-urban water reallocation,
Lawmakers on Wednesday moved an amended version of the bill following pressure from conservationists, American Indian tribes and rural communities who oppose siphoning water from remote Nevada valleys to the state’s largest city. Although the bill still requires approval from both the Assembly and Senate to become law, opponents say the watered-down version assuages their concerns about the pipeline.
In Medieval Europe, all roads led to Rome. In Arizona, all rivers lead to the Colorado. In fact, it’s no exaggeration to say the state of Arizona lies almost entirely within the Colorado River drainage basin, which also sprawls across southwestern Wyoming and down through parts of Utah, Colorado, Nevada, California and New Mexico.
From the Oregon border to the hills of San Diego County, California is a state that is destined to burn. Every summer brings new evidence of that in places like Paradise, Malibu and Santa Rosa. … Californians will continue to live in areas where the threat of wildfire is the highest. These stories explore the perils of living in those regions, and the steps that must be taken as we try to avoid another catastrophe.
More than a decade in the making, a new state definition of wetlands will likely take effect early next year—as will procedures intended to protect them from dredge-and-fill activities. The State Water Resources Control Board adopted final amendments to the state wetland policy last week, after including changes that moved it closer to its original intent of limiting its application to agriculture.
“Flood-MAR” is a resource management strategy that uses flood water for managed aquifer recharge (MAR) on agricultural lands, working landscapes, and managed natural landscapes. At the March meeting of the California Water Commission, a panel discussed Flood MAR with a focus on using agricultural lands for groundwater recharge.
The campus of Sonoma State University has been cleared to lift a preventative water safety measure, a Boil Notice, that was implemented on Monday. … Ultimately, the water was deemed safe, though officials note that the water may be slightly cloudier in appearance, as the pressure drop may have kicked up sentiment.
When Babbitt speaks, people take notice, and he didn’t disappoint before a packed house at the annual Anne J. Schneider Lecture April 3 in Sacramento, offering thoughts on some of California’s thorniest water issues and proposing a Bay-Delta Compact, a kind of grand bargain to end persistent conflict surrounding the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Assemblyman Jim Frazier spoke out in frustration Wednesday when his bill to increase local representation on the Delta Stewardship Council died Tuesday in a committee hearing. Unable to get his bill past the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, Frazier blamed Southern California water special interests
While flooding is clearly a problem, the extra vegetation that thrives can lead to another problem. A hotter-than-average summer – such as one fueled by climate change – can cause vegetation to dry out faster. With all this natural kindling in place, it doesn’t take much to start a fire.
Nevada County residents tend to think of the Yuba River or Scotts Flat Reservoir when they want to go play in the water. But Rollins Reservoir, while arguably getting less local love, generates a lot of income for the community from out-of-town visitors.
The legislation, which received bipartisan support, will invest $400 million from the State’s General Fund towards the Friant-Kern Canal, one of the Central Valley’s most critical water delivery facilities.
Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Office will deliver at least 322,000 acre feet of water — or a 92% allocation — rather than a full 350,000 from Upper Klamath Lake to the Klamath Project this summer and fall.
Will hatchery-raised salmon have a better chance of surviving their journey to the Pacific Ocean and back if they get a 75-mile head start? That’s the question a three-year study hopes to answer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and four partner organizations. The plan Saturday is to release 180,000 salmon fry into the Sacramento River 75 miles downriver from the Coleman National Fish Hatchery.
This bill calls for $150M in funding over the next ten years from the state’s General Fund to conduct laser surveys via ten airplane trips over the Trinity Alps and the Sierra Nevada each year. They would also fly over hydrologic areas that drain to, or supply water to, certain major reservoirs and lakes.
For the millions of Californians who live and work far from the Delta, it can be easy to overlook the splendor of the largest estuary in western North America. Whether you are one mile or hundreds of miles from the Delta, however, all Californians have a stake in the survival and preservation of this fragile, dynamic ecosystem that is also the keystone of the state’s water supply system.
Now that spring is here and the sun is finally out, Bay Area residents are already reminiscing over what a rainy winter it was, one of the wettest in recent memory, with many more downpours than normal. Or was it? Not according to weather experts.
“Postcards from Mecca,” the current La Quinta Museum exhibit, is a display of photos from the eastern end of the Coachella Valley, taken between 1916 and 1936 by Susie Keef Smith and Lula Mae Graves, two adventurous women who called the desert home. … Included are photos of a tunnel and workers building the 242-mile Colorado River Aqueduct … delivering Colorado River water to Southern California.
The Anderson Cottonwood Irrigation District, or ACID, Canal was covered in tree debris after the snow and rain storms. The workload was enough that Congressman Doug Lamalfa called in the California Conservation Corps.
Senate Bill 307 prohibits water transfers unless two agencies agree that the transfers do not harm state and federal desert lands. But it’s really about one thing: stopping the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project. … The Cadiz project has been thoroughly vetted and meets an important need. It’s time legislators let it proceed.
The water system at the Rohnert Park campus lost pressure over the weekend, increasing the possibility that sediment contaminated the water. No one has been sickened, but for two days, the school community has been advised to use anti-bacterial sanitizer after bathing or washing their hands with tap water.
That’s the last thing they should do, experts say, and it explains why munipical drought restrictions — three-day weekly lawn-watering, recycled water for ornamental fountains, water served in restaurants only upon request — have not and will not be lifted.
It’s not clear how much water this year’s snowpack will produce, but the record snowpack in 2017 produced about one million acre feet of water. That’s too much for a funnel only about one-third that size. That means that water managers have to figure out where to put the excess water as it melts off the mountains. And the problem becomes potentially worse if a warm streak hits and melts the snow fast
The city says the above-average rainfall this winter improved water supplies. Based on current water supply forecasts, the city believes it has enough supply to meet demands through 2021. On Tuesday, the City Council ended its Stage Three Drought Emergency, lifting drought water use regulations. The City Council first enacted the Stage Three Drought Emergency in 2015, requiring 25 percent water conservation initially.
Casey Hashimoto, general manager of the Turlock Irrigation District since 2010, announced Tuesday that he will retire at the end of 2019. The leader of one of Stanislaus County’s largest water and power providers disclosed his plans at the morning board meeting. Hashimoto, an electrical engineer, joined TID in 1985 and was an assistant GM for 10 years.
All this reliance on an overallocated river has left its final hundred miles as the ultimate collateral damage. Since the early 1960s, when Glen Canyon Dam impounded the river near Page, Arizona, it has rarely reached the Pacific Ocean. The thread is frayed beyond recognition, leaving no water for the river itself.
Responding to congressional approval of a Southwestern drought pact, officials from the Imperial Irrigation District said Tuesday the Salton Sea is the untested plan’s “first casualty.” … IID had refused to sign the plan because it wanted a “firm commitment” of more than $400 million in state and federal funds to resolve environmental issues at the Salton Sea.
Most states don’t tax milk, bread, fruit or vegetables because they are essential to human life. Food tax exemptions have been in place since the Great Depression, part of a social covenant formed to help the neediest afford life’s essentials. But Democratic Sen. William Monning of Carmel is leading an effort to tax something even more essential than groceries. Tax bills now under consideration seek to tax the water we use in our homes.
In California, the amount of water exiting aquifers under the state’s most productive farming region far surpasses the amount of water trickling back in. That rampant overdraft has caused land across much of the region to sink like a squeezed out sponge, permanently depleting groundwater storage capacity and damaging infrastructure. … New research from Stanford University suggests a way to map precisely where and how to use groundwater recharge to refill the aquifers and stop the sinking.
A bill that would authorize the federal government to enact a drought plan for Colorado River basin states in times of shortage has passed Congress and is on its way to the White House for the president’s signature. … Its aim is to protect water users from deep losses and keep the reservoirs and river healthy.
Cadiz says that the aquifer refills at the rate of 32,000 acre feet per year (not 50,000); but, renowned scientists working with the United States Geological Survey and the National Park Service say the refill rate is more like 2,000 to 10,000 acre feet per year — at least 40,000 acre feet per year less than the Cadiz plan. The math just doesn’t add up.
An increasing number of solutions to California and Arizona’s long-term water problems now involve Mexico. Some of the ideas are seemingly far-fetched, like a pipeline to bring water from the Gulf of California to the Salton Sea in Imperial County. Some are already happening, like Mexico agreeing to reduce its water use in the event of a Colorado River shortage. … That stands in contrast not only to recent threats by President Donald Trump to shut down the border, but some existing water projects.
How can state and federal agencies help California’s largest agricultural region address its difficult water management problems? This was the theme of an event last week that brought together PPIC experts with top officials working on issues related to water, agriculture, and natural resources.
Our rules, cobbled over time from various state water right decisions or federal biological opinions, are too rigid. Pumping rules in the Delta on Nov. 30, for example, are very different than those 24 hours later, regardless of the weather. … Simply put, we are stuck in yesterday’s way of regulating things.
San Jose Water, the local water company, recently sent out a public notice saying it wants to impose a year-long surcharge beginning this summer. The reason? To recover what it described as an “under-collection” of more than $9 million in fixed costs. … In other words, thank you for following the rules and limiting your water usage, but that’s hurt our bottom line, so we’ll be sending you a bill.
The wetland is fed by a concrete canal that removes drainage water from American farms across the border in Arizona. … But there’s a problem. As the Colorado River basin heats up and dries out like climate projections predict, Juan Butrón-Méndez is concerned people will stop thinking of the water that flows to the wetland as waste, find a way to use it and, in turn, harm the Ciénega.
Fires like the one that razed Paradise in November burn thousands of pounds of wiring, plastic pipes and building materials, leaving dangerous chemicals in the air, soil and water. Lead paint, burned asbestos and even melted refrigerators from tens of thousands of households only add to the danger, public health experts say.
California has until recently lagged behind other states when it comes to tackling the myriad problems posed by one group of chemicals found with increasing frequency in drinking water systems nationwide. A sweeping new bill requiring testing for the whole group of chemicals, rather than a few, would help change that.
At its core, the Borrego Valley Stewardship Council exists to ensure that the town of Borrego Springs survives and benefits from the groundwater sustainability plan process. To that end, BVSC members are taking a more creative look at the town as the hospitality hub for the state park, relying on a geotourism program from National Geographic, and aggressively trying to buy out 70% of water from farmers.
Two pieces of legislation recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives will help more communities modernize their water management strategies to include water recycling and we urge Congress to pass them.
Venture 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.
You can’t see them. You can’t swim in them. But groundwater aquifers are one of the most important sources of water in the North Coast. … People who live in rural areas rely almost exclusively on groundwater, and while cities in Sonoma County get most of their water from the Russian River, groundwater provides a critical back-up source that is used during droughts or in emergencies.
Tohono O’odham Chairman Edward D. Manuel testified Thursday that lack of water has been killing crops and livestock – and, essentially, the tribe’s economy – and things will only get worse if federal funding is allowed to lapse. That’s why Manuel joined officials from other tribes, utilities and advocacy groups to urge passage of a bill by Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson, that would make permanent a federal fund used to help the government meet its obligations under legal settlements over water-rights issues.
Klamath Irrigation District has filed a lawsuit against Reclamation in federal court in Medford. Klamath Water Users Association will follow suit in a separate legal filing, jointly with Klamath Drainage District, Shasta View Irrigation District, Tulelake Irrigation District and individual farmers Rob Unruh and DuVal. Limitation to water supply stem from protections in the biological opinion for endangered sucker in Upper Klamath Lake and Coho Salmon in the Klamath River.
Despite its designation as a desert, the Coachella Valley is blessed with water. The very names associated with the most prominent places and businesses in the desert, such as the Oasis Hotel, Mineral Springs Hotel, Deep Well, Indian Wells, Palm Springs, Snow Creek, and Tahquitz River Estates, all conjure up pretty images of water. But the early story of desert water is more utilitarian than picturesque: it quite literally can be seen as a history of ditches.
This week California’s State Water Resources Control Board adopted important new rules to protect the state’s remaining wetlands resources. Enacted after over a decade of Board hearings, workshops and deliberation, those rules are overdue, welcome and critically necessary. Their adoption is particularly timely now, given the Trump Administration’s wholesale assault on and erosion of federal programs designed to protect our nation’s wetlands under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA).
New research finds that climate change is putting stress on wetlands in the West’s Great Basin and that is putting pressure on bird populations navigating the Pacific Flyway. Changing water conditions linked to climate change are impacting the wetland habitats that waterbirds rely on. The basin includes most of Nevada and parts of Utah, Arizona, Oregon and the eastern edge of California.
Chris Orrock of the California Department of Water Resources joins the podcast to chat with John Howard and Tim Foster about what this wealth of snow means for California’s water reserves and flood dangers, and the implications for wildfires later in the year.
Tehama and Butte counties teamed up Friday to host a Northern Sacramento Valley forum on sustainable groundwater held at Rolling Hills Casino. … The forum was a chance to look at neighboring agencies and see similarities and differences as well as how they are progressing in the planning, Fulton said. It was a place to connect with the agency in their area so they would know where to go if they had questions.
Our predecessors settled in a valley bordered by mountains that increase the rainfall and help store water as melted snow underground. They also experienced drought and, in response, they thoughtfully set aside thousands of acres of land needed to capture and replenish the primary source of the water they needed, underground.
Officials met in Imperial Beach Friday to discuss the sewage pollution that continues to plague South Bay shorelines — shuttering beaches more than 100 days every year. The event was billed as an “inaugural dialogue,” which in the future will include a host of other binational issues, including climate change and commerce.
City officials approved a plan for a new groundwater sustainability project, hoping it will be a solution to increase the supply of groundwater and find a place for excess effluent water coming to the Tehachapi Waste Water Treatment Plant. The benefits will not appear for decades, when the project is complete.
Among other ramifications, the new procedures largely duplicate (and in some respects are inconsistent with) federal procedures, but add a significant new layer to the already byzantine regulatory process for permitting projects that involve fill of federal and state waters and wetlands.
Our soggy spring has been a big boost to these so-called “vernal ponds,” ephemeral bodies of water which play a critical role in preservation of threatened and endangered creatures… The team found larvae of the threatened California tiger salamander in 28 of the 58 pools they monitor. The endangered vernal pool tadpole shrimp was found in 49 of these pools. That’s the third-highest tally in recent years.
On March 29, the State Water Resources Control Board announced that cannabis cultivators with water rights are not allowed to divert surface water for cannabis cultivation activities at any time from April 1 through October 31 of this year unless the water diverted is from storage. … It’s really just common sense because it prohibits using water from surface sources, such as streams, creeks, and rivers during California’s dry season.
People living in flood-prone areas throughout Shasta County seemed to be breathing easier Friday after a long winter dealing with high water threats. For months, many have been watching the rivers and creeks around their homes, in case the waters started to rise. However, despite wet weather and increased water releases from Keswick Dam this week, the residents we spoke with Friday say their waterways are staying at manageable levels.
Two of the four plants are scheduled to close by 2025. The fate of the third rests upon a longshot bid to keep it open beyond 2022. … Navajo Generating Station was built as part of a federal effort to bring water to Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz. Power from the plant was used to pump water up and out of the Colorado River and across the desert. The federal government still owns a stake in NGS through the Interior Department.
Under the Clean Water Act, states are allowed to enforce rules more stringent than federal standards. On Tuesday, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted rules that largely mirror the federal regulations the Trump administration plans to repeal. California’s new rules had been in the works since 2008, but the process took on added urgency when the Trump administration announced its intention to relax federal wetlands protections.
It might be tempting to sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labors, especially given all the rain and snow this winter. But our work is not done. In fact, the San Diego County Water Authority’s board leadership will ask the board of directors to consider options to leverage the investments we have made in decades past to meet the challenges and opportunities of decades to come.
Political leaders from the valley are urging the Environmental Protection Agency to closely scrutinize new water quality standards proposed for the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta. … “The State Water Resources Control Board’s proposal to the EPA misses the mark,” said Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, who joined almost a dozen congressmen, including conservatives Kevin McCarthy and Tom McClintock, in sending a letter to the EPA.
L.A.’s love affair with swimming pools has lasted for generations, and for good reason. Summers are sunny, winters are mild, and many luxury listings flaunt an indoor-outdoor lifestyle where backyards are as crucial as any living room or kitchen. A recent report from Redfin says they might not be a bad investment, either.
The heavier than normal rains Napa Valley endured this winter will have beneficial after-effects for plants and animals like birds, fish and the endangered Calistoga popcorn flower. “Coming off several years of drought, there’s really nothing but a positive from all this rain…,” said Peter Tira of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The Escondido City council has decided to move forward with building a recycled water treatment plant off Washington Avenue, in the western part of the city in an industrial area where, unlike two other locations, there aren’t any residents nearby to complain. The council on Wednesday unanimously approved spending $3 million for initial engineering, design and pre-construction costs.
It started with a question: How big can Las Vegas grow before the water runs out? The answer from the Las Vegas Review-Journal is The Water Question, a 10-part series online and in print that brought together different parts of the newsroom. Together, staff took The Water Question from a planned Sunday package to both a series and online resource that asks and answers critical questions for Las Vegas.
So just what would a one-tunnel project look like? A workshop for Metropolitan Water District board members compared a single tunnel project at both 3000 cfs and 6000 cfs to the California WaterFix project, looking at water delivery capability, the ability to divert stormwater flows, water quality benefits, reverse flows, seismic events, and project costs.
The Amended Plan … has touched off a series of lawsuits due to its controversial unimpaired flow requirements for the Lower San Joaquin River and its tributaries … The Federal Government’s lawsuits challenge the Amended Plan by asserting that it fails to comply with CEQA and congressional mandates that control the operation of the New Melones Dam, which is part of the federally run Central Valley Project (CVP).
On the first morning of a water conference in downtown Phoenix on Friday, an academic expert spoke of aridification in the Colorado River basin due to the ill effects of humans burning fossil fuels. After dinner, a writer of vivid predictive fiction spoke about his book “The Water Knife,” which describes Phoenix in a dusty and water-starved river basin, in the not-so-distant future.
Now EPA and the Corps want to hear directly from members of the public — including farmers, ranchers, landowners and others who may be subject to regulation — to make sure the new Clean Water Rule provides clear and easily understood guidelines. But with the comment period on the proposed new rule closing on April 15, there’s no time to lose.
Four months after the Camp fire destroyed the northern California towns of Paradise and Magalia, city council members in the neighboring town of Chico voted this week to declare a climate emergency that threatens their lives and well-being.
Crystal Geyser initially announced its intention to open the facility to bottle fruit juices with much fanfare in 2013. However, legal challenges have so far foiled its plans. The Winnemem Wintu Tribe and WATER (We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review) have filed two lawsuits to prevent the project, both of which are moving through the court system.
Mention of climate change may still provoke skepticism in other sectors, but in California’s agriculture industry, the discussion is less about whether disruption is coming than it is about how farmers will adapt. A consensus appears to have emerged that extreme weather conditions — drought and flooding, hotter summers and milder winters — will increase competition for irrigation water such that some crops now produced in the Central Valley may no longer be economically feasible in the region.
Construction starts this month on a $1.5 million test well to show whether desalinated groundwater could supplement the drinking water supply for 86,000 customers of the Olivenhain Municipal Water District. The district serves parts of Encinitas, Carlsbad, San Diego, San Marcos, Solana Beach and neighboring communities, and relies almost entirely on water imported from the Colorado River and Northern California.
The California State Water Resources Control Board adopted a complex policy essentially treating cannabis as a crop inferior to other traditional agricultural crops from a water rights perspective. Other states have not made such a strong policy choice yet, but will certainly be faced with how to address this influx of permit applications, and will feel pressure from farmers of traditional crops, who do not always welcome cannabis growers with open arms.
The water tax will require a two-thirds vote in each house. Democrats have that and a little to spare. Still, the governor will need to use all his power of cajolery and coercion to win passage of any tax increase.
This post provides an overview of our recommendations for actions the State Water Resources Control Board can take before, during, and after droughts to make water rights administration and oversight more timely, fair, and effective. … Here are five actions the Board can take to build on past gains and its institutional knowledge from past drought experiences:
Rialto Mayor Deborah Robertson issued a city-wide challenge to residents to pledge to be water wise during the month of April, as part of a non-profit national service campaign to see which leaders can best inspire their residents to make a series of informative and easy-to-do online pledges to use water more efficiently. Two years ago the City of Rialto came in fifth place on its first try.
For years, the desert town of Borrego Springs has been living on borrowed time, drawing more water from the ground than its rains replace. But a reckoning is near. In March, a nearly 1,000-page draft report was released outlining how the community must and will reduce its water use by a staggering 74.6 percent between now and 2040.
When the State Water Resources Control Board voted in December to adopt the Bay-Delta Plan, its members ignored the direction of former Governor Brown and current Governor Newsom to pursue voluntary agreements with our irrigation districts. Many saw this as an act of defiance by former Chair Felicia Marcus, the executive director, and many of the activist staff.
After closing for renovations three years ago, the Kern River Fish Hatchery opened to visitors March 25 with expanded abilities to take in, raise and grow trout. … Hatchery Manager Tony Holland said a team of state employees and volunteers plan to hike in August to a remote creek somewhere in the southern Sierra Nevada in search of genetically pure Kern River rainbow trout.
A previously unreleased invoice indicates that David Bernhardt, President Trump’s choice to lead the Interior Department, continued to lobby for a major client several months after he filed official papers saying that he had ended his lobbying activities. The bill for Mr. Bernhardt’s services, dated March 2017 and labeled “Federal Lobbying,” shows, along with other documents, Mr. Bernhardt working closely with the Westlands Water District as late as April 2017, the month Mr. Trump nominated him to his current job, deputy interior secretary.
One video follows Matthew Sligar on a “typical 14-hour workday” during the planting season. Another offers a step-by-step explanation of how rice is planted in Butte County. In others, he takes viewers on virtual tractor rides and demonstrates important tools, like his autonomous agriculture drone. Sligar doesn’t shy away from controversial topics, either, such as weed and pest control management and water usage.
Unfortunately, the thing that almost always lingers on after an adverse event such as a prolonged drought is government’s heavy hand in regulations and mandates that are hastily put together in an attempt to mitigate the drought and get us through it.
PG&E’s announcement it would no longer seek a new license to operate the complex set FERC’s “orphan project” process in motion… Prospective licensees have until July 1 to file applications with FERC. … A new licensee must be able to pay for the continued maintenance and operation of all project facilities and be capable of monitoring and complying with regulatory requirements arising from the project’s impacts.
As Secretary, Jared Blumenfeld oversees the state’s efforts to fight climate change, protect air and water quality, regulate pesticides and toxic substances, achieve the state’s recycling and waste reduction goals, and advance environmental justice. … Blumenfeld joined TPR for an exclusive interview to discuss the administration’s priorities…
In an era of high population growth and sprawling urban and wildland development, fire and flood disaster officials have to plan in advance for post-fire problems… One strategy California and Colorado are working on is to build political alliances that combine forestry, water and land issues so that lawmakers at the state and even the federal level are provided with a more powerful, holistic view of the problems.
After 10 hours, 12 minutes and more than five dozen public speakers, supervisors … increased requirements for preserving trees and replacing cut-down ones for vineyards and other development in watershed areas, but decided against a complete ban on projects on ground steeper than 30 percent.
Most winters, [firefighter Mike] Morello would be working on several of these forest treatment projects, especially prior to the bulk of the Sierra winter snowfall. But throughout late December and most of January, Morello was sitting at home. He got to spend more time with his kids, but because he was one of the thousands of Forest Service workers to be furloughed, he couldn’t spend time in the woods, trying to prevent the next Sierra town from becoming Paradise, California, where 85 people died in November of last year.
Under a veil of trying to protect the vast California desert, SB307 focuses squarely on the Cadiz Water Project aiming to trap it in another state-run permitting process promoted by special interests who have challenged the Cadiz Project for more than a decade.
To prepare for the dry years that will come again as well as an uncertain future, healthy mountain watersheds will be key to our water supply. While the importance of forests to these watersheds is well known, new research suggests that meadows are valuable too. Meadows are like sponges, soaking up snowmelt in the spring and releasing it through the dry season.
Excluded from a Southwestern drought pact, the Imperial Irrigation District won a small victory on Tuesday when federal legislators included protections for the Salton Sea that were left out of previous drafts of the agreement.
Two members of Arizona’s congressional delegation introduced legislation Tuesday on a plan to address a shrinking supply of water from a river that serves 40 million people in the U.S. West. Republican Sen. Martha McSally and Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva vowed to move identical bills quickly through the chambers. Bipartisan lawmakers from Colorado River basin states signed on as co-sponsors.
Now that the federal government has filed its own lawsuits against an unimpaired-flows plan for San Joaquin River tributaries, farmers and other parties to the lawsuits wait to learn where they will be heard–and prepare for a lengthy court battle. California Farm Bureau Federation … filed its own lawsuit against the unimpaired-flows plan in February…
Current water sharing proposals fail to achieve the balance needed to restore our salmon runs. Meanwhile, additional massive increases in Delta diversions are planned by the Trump administration under these agreements, which would make conditions for salmon even worse. This is a formula for extinctions and the end of salmon fishing in California. There is no support for this proposal among fishermen or conservationists.
A new rule goes into effect today that will help protect California’s groundwater. … The new standards for oilfield injection are some of the strongest in the nation. They require stricter permitting standards, regular mechanical integrity testing and routine pressure monitoring – all necessary ingredients for safeguarding groundwater.
The use of public art to bring about social change created the interactive art event called the “Bombay Beach Biennale” on the shores of the Salton Sea. Organizers hope to bring attention to the long-ignored environmental issue facing the region, once one of the premier tourist destinations in Southern California.
Felicia Marcus, who stepped down as Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board early this year, joins us to discuss California’s water challenges, what the state learned from the recent drought and the future of its water wars.
On Tuesday, Napolitano, D-El Monte and U.S. Rep. Linda Sánchez, D-Norwalk asked a House Appropriations subcommittee to funnel $100.4 million into the Army Corps’ construction and dam safety correction budget for fiscal year 2020, citing the Whittier Narrows Dam in Pico Rivera as a leading contender for at least part of that funding.
California received some good news on Tuesday for the state’s water supply: The Sierra Nevada snowpack is well above normal, at 162 percent of average. This amount of snow is thanks to the more than 30 “atmospheric rivers” that brought storms this winter and spring. Chris Orrock, with the California Department of Water Resources, says … this is the fourth largest amount of snow in recorded history.
Modern interpretations of the public trust are said to have originated from a sixth-century Roman law that asserted, “[b]y the law of nature these things are common to mankind — the air, running water, the sea and consequently the shores of the sea.”
Alongside auto wrecking yards and shipping centers off state Route 905, a pop-up world has emerged with some of the strangest creatures to swim in six inches of water. Here aquatic plants grow next to cacti, and animals that have waited for decades in the dust come to life. In this Otay Mesa preserve are some of San Diego’s vernal pools, fleeting water bodies that appear and vanish over the course of a season.
Tom Steyer, the billionaire philanthropist and Democratic Party donor, took a break from trying to impeach President Donald Trump on Friday to visit the eastern Coachella Valley and learn about the water quality issues plaguing the region’s residents.
As a result of California’s outdated water infrastructure and persistent droughts, some elected leaders are shifting the focus to investing in seawater desalination to help address the state’s water crisis. While less than half a dozen desalination plants currently exist in the state, the idea is gaining momentum and greater support at the state level.
Several San Diego political and business leaders headed to Mexico City Sunday to advocate for free trade and increased infrastructure spending in Tijuana to stop sewage spills from polluting local beaches.
The March 26 opinion piece by Tom Buschatzke and 13 other Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan proponents to persuade the public that the DCP is good for the Salton Sea would have been better served – and made more believable – by a show of good faith rather than a show of force.
Behind every toilet flush and faucet turn that draws on a public water system, there’s an entire industry making sure the water meets certain standards. … But McKeon and others in the field worry about a looming shortage of water-treatment plant operators, as a wave of older operators hits retirement age. McKeon fears that in the next 10 years, there won’t be enough operators to monitor and control every public water system adequately.
Lawmakers are considering spending $150 million to fund new high-tech measurements of the snowpack using lasers. … The new hi-tech approach is meant to help water managers know exactly how much water they can expect in water runoff from the snowpack – and when that runoff will arrive in reservoirs, rivers, and streams.
An oversight at the Coleman National Fish Hatchery resulted in the death of some 390,000 fall Chinook salmon this week. Water was shut off to one of the hatchery’s raceways and wasn’t turned back on during fish-tagging operations Thursday night..
Officials predict they might need to open the gates to move water that accumulated during the wet winter season from the reservoir down into the Feather River. … Amy Rechenmacher, an associate professor of engineering practice at USC, said the spillway’s use is going to be a big test for the agency and engineers who worked on the project.
Decay festers all around at the Salton Sea, the vast inland lake in Southern California that once hosted beauty pageants and boat races in its tourist heyday. … But new life is moving into the breach. At Bombay Beach, artists drawn by the cheap prices and surreal setting have been snapping up lots and crumbling buildings as gallery spaces.
Parts of Sonoma Valley … have seen a persistent decline in groundwater levels over the last decade – and it may be expanding. These chronic declines, based on data from the USGS and the Sonoma County Water Agency, indicate that groundwater withdrawals are occurring at a rate exceeding the rate of replenishment within the deeper aquifer zones of southern Sonoma Valley.
It’s been a big year for snow in the Sierra Nevada range. This is the time of year—April 1—when the snowpack is typically at its peak and on Tuesday, when surveyors do their monthly manual survey, they’re likely to find a snowpack at about 160 percent of the average.
Hermosa Beach City Council has scrapped a large stormwater infiltration project slated for the southern end of city’s greenbelt, after more than a year of opposition from residents. City officials will look for a new home for the project, meant to ultimately reduce bacteria in the Santa Monica Bay, but could potentially forfeit nearly $3.1 million in grant funding from the State Water Resources Board.
If it seems that wildfires are burning nearly all the time these days, that there’s no longer a definable fire season in California, you’re right. Fourteen of the 20 most destructive fires in state history have occurred since 2007, and California has 78 more annual “fire days” now than it had 50 years ago.
A self-imposed deadline to choose what path the city will choose in securing its future water supply, even in times of prolonged drought, is approaching. The Santa Cruz Water Commission will take stock of its progress to enact an ambitious water supply plan, reuniting with the 14-member community panel that spent 18 tumultuous months crafting the city’s water supply source blueprint.
As farmers plant their 2019 crops, hopeful for an abundant harvest, they are unknowingly battling history. Past wildfires and other tree loss in California will likely interfere with U.S. food crops, based on emerging results of our own and colleagues’ research. … Deforestation could cause millions of dollars in lost agricultural production throughout the U.S. But policy and practice still fail to recognize the interdependence of our wild and cultivated lands.
The City Council approved a regional plan for managing the area’s groundwater resources, which brings a measure of local control and to qualify for state funds for water-related projects. … California City is one of three primary stakeholders in the document, with the Antelope Valley-East Kern Water Agency and the Mojave Public Utility District. These three entities are the major water providers in the region covered by the plan.
Eastern Municipal Water District officials celebrated groundbreaking today for EMWD’s third water treatment facility at its complex serving Menifee and Perris on Murrieta Road. The plant will significantly increase the amount of drinkable water for the area…by removing salt from brackish groundwater basin water and exporting the salt through a regional brine line.