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.
The short answer is, the replenishment fee is a per-acre-foot
extraction fee proposed by the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater
Authority to pay for mitigation of registered shallow wells
damaged by continuing overdraft, as well as to begin importing
water necessary to balance the groundwater basin. A public
hearing regarding the fee is scheduled for 10 a.m. Aug. 21 at
If passed, the new program would promote water conservation and
make water bills more affordable and transparent for millions
of residents, benefitting both low-income customers and those
who use less water.
The new tool is a light fixture called an array mounted under a
working barge, which trolls the marina dousing the plants on
the bottom with UV-C light, a short-wave electromagnetic
radiation light that damages the DNA and cellular structure of
At the July meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council,
councilmembers heard briefings on the activities of the Delta
Protection Commission and the Delta Conservancy, and an update
on the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan.
A new report warns Kern County agriculture will face tough
challenges in the decades ahead as climate change makes
irrigation water scarcer and weather conditions more variable
and intense. The study concludes these hurdles “ultimately
challenge the ability to maximize production while ensuring
East Bay Municipal Utility District crews and first-responders
were at the scene of at least sixteen separate water main
breaks in two cities Wednesday night, affecting several hundred
customers, authorities said.
The Navigable Waters Protection Rule … has redefined “waters
of the U.S.” (WOTUS) to restrict federal protection of
vulnerable waters. … Responding to this unprecedented
distortion of science and rollback in water protections, which
went into effect nationwide on 22 June, will require
coordinated efforts among scientists, lawmakers, and resource
In what some have described as a cynical attempt by a U.S.
government agency to avoid a long-promised cleanup of toxic and
radioactive contaminants, NASA has nominated the Santa Susana
Field Laboratory for official listing as a traditional cultural
The Ironhouse Sanitary District has released a video of how
residents of the City of Oakley and Bethel Island can utilize
the Recycled Water Fill Station. The station is open on
Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Recycled
water can be used for the irrigation of lawns, plants, trees,
and vegetable gardens.
As the United States moves into the last weeks of
climatological summer, one- third of the country is
experiencing at least a moderate level of drought. Much of the
West is approaching severe drought, and New England has been
unusually dry and hot. An estimated 53 million people are
living in drought-affected areas.
County staff took a sample of the water on Monday and shared it
with the state, whose biologist determined that insufficient
oxygen in the water resulted in an overnight event that killed
masses of non-native fish, said Ken Paglia, a Fish and Wildlife
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is expected to release
projections Friday that suggest Lake Powell and Lake Mead will
dip slightly in 2021. … Despite the dip, Lake Mead’s levels
are expected to stay above the threshold that triggers
mandatory water cuts to Arizona and Nevada, giving officials
throughout the Southwest more time to prepare for a future when
the flow will slow.
Like other environmental regulations, WOTUS was necessarily
complex and grounded in science. But the reason for it was
simple: keep U.S. waters clean. So what could be so bad about a
law to stop water pollution that the Trump administration would
decide to repeal it?
Every day Hyperion Water Treatment Plant discharges enough
treated wastewater into the ocean to fill the Rose Bowl 2.5
times over. Now a court has instructed state water officials to
analyze whether it is “wasteful” and “unreasonable” to dump
billions of gallons of wastewater into the sea.
A new proposal from the Department of Energy would change the
definition of a showerhead, essentially allowing different
components within the device to count as individual fixtures,
sidestepping requirements that allow no more than 2.5 gallons
to flow through per minute.
On Tuesday, the Bureau of Reclamation submitted the B.F. Sisk
Dam Safety of Dams Modification Report to Congress. This is
Reclamation’s largest project under the 1978 Safety of Dams
Act, and when complete, will modernize the structure to reduce
risk to water supply and downstream communities in an
After years marked by a historic statewide drought and
devastating floods around downtown San Jose, Santa Clara
County’s largest water provider has decided to ask voters to
approve a parcel tax to pay for a wide variety of projects,
from flood control to creek restoration, along with some costs
of rebuilding the county’s largest dam at Anderson Reservoir.
If built, it would … pump groundwater into four new
reservoirs … Tribal members and environmentalists say the
project would flood several miles of canyons sacred to the
Navajo; risk damaging cultural sites for several tribes; draw
vast amounts of critical groundwater; potentially harm habitats
for plants and animals, including some endangered species; and
risk adverse effects for waterways leading into the Grand
A National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit has
been granted to the city by the San Diego Regional Water
Quality Control Board to add purified water to Miramar
Reservoir for Phase 1 of the program.
Water-efficient succulents and nitrogen-fixing tree legumes may
take five to 12 years to produce their first nutritional
harvests. Nevertheless, they can produce more edible biomass
over a decade with far less water than that used by
conventional annual crops, while sequestering carbon into the
soil to mitigate climate change…
The California Advisory Committee on Salmon and Steelhead Trout
was re-established by the Legislature in 1983 in response to
public concern about declining populations of salmon and
steelhead. … At the July meeting, committee members received
an update on the Klamath dams, Matilija Dam, and the Potter
Valley Project dam removal projects.
The Bureau of Reclamation announced Wednesday a 30-day public
comment period for a 35-year contract renewal of the transfer
of operation, maintenance and replacement activities related to
Friant-Kern Canal and other associated works to the Friant
The Los Angeles Superior Court issued a historic ruling, in
favor of Los Angeles Waterkeeper, that compels the State Water
Resources Control Board to analyze whether it is “wasteful” and
“unreasonable” to dump billions of gallons of wastewater
uselessly into the sea, when it could instead be used
productively to ensure the sustainability of California’s water
After timber harvest or fuel reduction thinning operations,
sediment delivery to nearby streams and waterways can increase,
potentially affecting water quality, drinking water supplies,
habitat, and recreational opportunities. To effectively reduce
these adverse effects of harvest, foresters first need to know
the precise causes of sediment increases.
By the 2070s, climate change will reduce snowpack and increase
extreme rainfall in the Sierra Nevada and California’s
reservoirs will likely be overwhelmed. That’s according to a
new study by UCLA climate scientists, who predict that run-off
during so-called atmospheric rivers will increase by nearly 50
percent, leading to widespread flooding across the state.
A win for state water rights came earlier this month after the
Marion County Circuit Court ruled that the Bureau of
Reclamation cannot release water from Upper Klamath Lake for
flows down the Klamath River.
Supporters of an initiative to reduce plastic waste today
submitted more than 870,000 voter signatures to qualify the
Plastics Free California initiative for the ballot –
significantly more than the 623,212 signatures required.
The loss in hydroelectric generation during the 2012-16 drought
cost PG&E and other California utilities about $5.5
billion, a new study says. As California’s climate becomes more
prone to severe droughts, the findings point to future costs
that utilities — and ultimately ratepayers — will likely be
forced to bear.
Completion of groundwater sustainability plans for California’s
most over-pumped basins was a major step toward bringing basins
into long-term balance, as mandated by the Sustainable
Groundwater Management Act. We talked to Trevor Joseph—the
first SGMA employee at the Department of Water Resources, and
now a member of a groundwater sustainability agency in the
Sacramento Valley—about next steps and possible pitfalls.
By the 2070s, global warming will increase extreme rainfall and
reduce snowfall in the Sierra Nevada, delivering a double
whammy that will likely overwhelm California’s reservoirs and
heighten the risk of flooding in much of the state, according
to a new study by UCLA climate scientists.
In his Aug. 2 Herald commentary, Grant Leonard claimed that Cal
Am’s proposed Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project would be
a win-win for both Castroville, a disadvantaged community, and
Carmel, which is on the other side of the economic spectrum.
Some things challenge that claim.
Regional San’s landmark recycled water program—previously known
as the South County Ag Program—has been rebranded. Now known as
Harvest Water, the program will be one of the largest water
recycling projects in California and will deliver up to
50,000-acre feet per year of tertiary-treated recycled water to
an estimated 16,000 acres of farm and habitat lands in southern
Recent conditions across California over the past 3-5 weeks
have been pretty typical by mid-summer standards. …
California’s boon, however, has been Arizona’s misfortune: a
near-total failure of the North American Monsoon…
At the San Juan Bautista City Council meeting on July 14, City
Manager Don Reynolds presented a report on possible solutions
for water and waste treatment plant issues. For the first time
in 12 years, San Juan is nearing a resolution, though long
delays in approaching the problem have driven up costs.
A Lompoc religious nonprofit is accusing a Wyoming-based
organic farm and cannabis company of stealing water it uses to
grow food and blocking access to a well on a neighboring
parcel, despite a decades-old legal agreement allowing them to
do so, according to a lawsuit filed in Santa Barbara County
Although only five of 41 groundwater sustainability plans
submitted to the Department of Water Resources for review in
January mention the human right to water, and only one of those
affirmed it as a consideration in their plan, these two
policies are closely related.
Due to local population growth and rising peak summer usage,
the West Valley Water District announced that it will expand
treatment capacity for the region by 16 million gallons per day
through the Oliver P. Roemer Water Filtration Facility
This cluster of counties on Colorado’s Western Slope — along
with three counties just across the border in eastern Utah —
has warmed more than 2 degrees Celsius, double the global
average. Spanning more than 30,000 square miles, it is the
largest 2C hot spot in the Lower 48, a Washington Post analysis
found. … The average flow of the Colorado River has declined
nearly 20 percent over the past century, half of which is
because of warming temperatures, scientists say.
The Regional Water Quality Control Board concluded three days
of hearings on the project’s next permit by telling Poseidon it
must return with a more robust, more detailed mitigation plan
to offset the environmental damage the project will cause.
Contaminated water has long plagued California’s Southern
Central Valley, a region home to many farmworkers. SB 974, a
bill by Senator Melissa Hurtado, seeks to provide safe drinking
water by exempting small disadvantaged communities from certain
FERC concluded that the nonprofit that was going to take
ownership of the dams didn’t have the experience or expertise
to oversee such a complicated project. PacifiCorp therefore
needed to stay on as co-licensee. But if PacifiCorp couldn’t
walk away clean, it lost a huge incentive for removing the dams
at all. It might just as well stick with the status quo.
We deserve complete, dependable information and accurate cost
data including well-reasoned analysis that demonstrates the
need and economic viability of the pipeline. Instead, studies
by the Utah Division of Water Resources and the Washington
County Water Conservancy District are biased, incomplete and do
not fairly consider feasible, much less costly alternatives.
A California appellate court on Wednesday denied Imperial
Valley farmer Michael Abatti’s request for a rehearing in his
long-running legal fight with the Imperial Irrigation District
over control of Colorado River water. The decision could likely
spell the end to his legal challenges.
The Santa Barbara City Council unanimously passed a motion
Tuesday to introduce and subsequently adopt an ordinance
authorizing a grant funding agreement with the State Department
of Water Resources in the amount of $10 million for
reactivation of the Charles E. Meyer Desalination Plant.
The decades-long battle over an effort to raise the height of
Shasta Dam took another turn Thursday when the Trump
Administration released a new environmental report on the plan,
just five years after completing a similar study.
Most Americans give little thought to water bills, paying them
on time and in full. But for a subset of homeowners and
renters, water debt is constant and menacing. The burden is an
extension of two notable national trends: the rising cost of
water service and the general precarity of those at the bottom
of the economic pecking order. A missed bill or faulty plumbing
can spell financial doom… Sophia Skoda, the chief
financial officer for East Bay Municipal Utility District, in
California, said that Congress needs “to step up to its
responsibility” to ensure that water and sewer service is
affordable for all people.
The City of Bakersfield is poised to ink a deal with Buena
Vista Water Storage District that will provide at least some
water in the riverbed through the main part of the city between
April and June — even in drier years.
The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association sued the EPA and the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers in May for bringing non-navigable,
small streams and wetlands under Clean Water Act protection in
the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. Judge Michael W. Mosman,
ruling from the bench on a preliminary injunction sought
against the water rule, dismissed the claims without prejudice.
Thousands of families who rent or own homes with private wells
are at risk of losing their drinking water in Madera, Fresno,
Tulare and Kings counties — and some already have. The Fresno
Bee is investigating the risks to private wells and proposed
solutions, and we need to hear your stories and your questions
to guide our reporting.
The COVID-109 pandemic isn’t slowing work aimed at moving
arguably the most cantankerous water project ever proposed in
California since voters overwhelmingly rejected the Peripheral
Canal in 1982 — the Delta Tunnel Project. … The State
Department of Water Resources is currently preparing an
environmental impact report on the project. At the same time
they are also seeking all required state and federal approvals.
Some have found fishing the L.A. River to be a peaceful respite
from COVID-19, political and social turmoil and malaise of all
flavors. Even those who have been fishing the river for years
say it’s a new experience amid the new normal.
The Emergency Assistance for Rural Water Systems Act allows
USDA Rural Development to provide affordable and sustainable
financial options for rural utilities impacted by COVID-19.
Assistance includes grants, zero percent loans, one percent
loans, principal and interest reduction, loan modifications and
direct operational assistance…
As early as Aug. 6, the California Public Utilities Commission
could vote to adopt a proposal that would eliminate a
best-practice regulatory tool – known as decoupling – that
currently removes the incentive of water suppliers to sell more
water. This significant change has the potential to hamper
water conservation efforts in California and raise rates for
millions of customers without providing them any corresponding
As Poseidon Water pursues the final government approvals needed
to build one of the country’s biggest seawater desalination
plants, the company still cannot definitively say who will buy
the 50 million gallons a day of drinking water it wants to
produce on the Orange County coast. That’s one of several
questions that continue to dog the $1-billion Huntington Beach
Failure to account for the long-term trend of declining per
capita water demand has led to routine overestimation of future
water demand. This can lead to unnecessary and costly
investment in unneeded infrastructure and new sources of
supply, higher costs, and adverse environmental impacts.
The study, conducted by the University of California, Berkeley,
examined 306,718 acres of California Rangeland Trust’s
conservation easements across the state to explore both the
environmental and monetary value of preserving California’s
Funding for much needed repairs at least in the short-term for
the Friant-Kern Canal continues to move closer to becoming
reality. The House of Representatives last week passed H.R.
7617… Included in that minibus is $71 million for repairs to
the Friant-Kern Canal during the next fiscal year.
Last week at the Lindsay City Council’s July 28 meeting, city
services and planning director Michael Camarena presented a
feasibility study. He noted that the city’s water system has
been out of compliance with the Stage 2 disinfection byproduct
rule for total trihalomethanes and five haloacetic acid maximum
Crops require water to grow. By importing water-intensive
crops, countries essentially bring in a natural resource in the
form of virtual water. Agricultural virtual water is the amount
of water needed to grow a particular crop in a given region.
Now research led by scientists at PNNL has projected that the
volume of virtual water traded globally could triple by the end
of the century.
Earlier this year, Reclamation released water from Upper
Klamath Lake — impounded by the Link River Dam in Klamath Falls
— to boost streamflows for coho salmon in the lower Klamath
River. But the Klamath Irrigation District sued, claiming the
bureau does not have an established right from the Oregon Water
Resources Department to use the stored water.
A rash of Folsom residents have reported tiny, pinhole-size
leaks appearing in their copper pipes in recent weeks, causing
in some cases thousands of dollars worth of water damage. City
officials and Sacramento-area plumbers are aware of the surge
in complaints, but are still trying to uncover the cause…
Deep beneath the surface of the Salton Sea, a shallow lake in
California’s Imperial County, sits an immense reserve of
critical metals that, if unlocked, could power the state’s
green economy for years to come. These naturally occurring
metals are dissolved in geothermal brine, a byproduct of
geothermal energy production.
Nearly 200,000 people were evacuated when the spillways failed
at Oroville Dam in 2017, an infrastructure disaster that cost
around a billion dollars to repair. Three years later
scientists say events that partially led to the incident could
become more frequent. It comes down to how and when snow and
The city of Bellflower wants to sell its aging water system to
a big for-profit water company that is better able to manage
it. But the deal could fall through. That’s because state
regulators say the price is so high, it could hurt water
customers across Southern California.
Through three governors, California has set a path to tear down
four aging dams on the Klamath River astride the Oregon border.
It would be the biggest such removal project in the nation,
done in the name of fish preservation, clean water flows and
political consensus. But the undertaking is hitting a snag, one
that Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to undo.
Toxic algal blooms have resulted in a “danger” advisory not to
go in the water at Prado Regional Park Lake and not to eat fish
from the lake. A similar advisory at part of Big Bear Lake has
been posted since last month.
The Santa Barbara City Council voted 7-0 on Tuesday to accept a
$10 million grant — with the understanding that it will run the
plant at full capacity for at least 36 out of the next 40
years. Some environmentalists objected to the council’s
decision, citing environmental concerns.
As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb, guidance
around how to control the virus’s spread has become a steady
drumbeat: Wash your hands, wipe down surfaces, and stay home.
Implicit in these recommendations is the assumption that
households have safe and clean running water and indoor
The state is peppered with failing small water systems, many
serving low-income communities without the resources to repair
them. … That’s where the new Safe and Affordable Funding for
Equity and Resilience (SAFER) program comes in.
The grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of
Reclamation will be used for the desalter plant that will treat
brackish groundwater from the nearby Pleasant Valley
Groundwater Basin. The filtered water will account for 40% of
the city’s overall water supply once the facility is finished.
Regional water board member Kris Murray is on track later this
week to vote on a controversial desalination plant sponsored by
a company and interest groups she took money from during past
Among the projects, the bureau promises to update a 20-year-old
assessment of streamflows in the lower Klamath River for Coho
salmon and re-evaluate how water levels in Upper Klamath Lake
are affecting the survival of endangered sucker fish. Farmers
in the Klamath Project have long argued that flawed or outdated
science is chipping away at the amount of water they receive
each year to irrigate crops.
A nonprofit that developed low-cost handwashing stations for
the homeless population in California is teaming up with
community nonprofit Red Feather to bring this potentially
life-saving infrastructure to Native American communities.
In September 2018, Estela Escoto sat down with a team of
lawyers and community organizers and weighed her options.
Escoto’s town—Arvin, California—had just granted an oil
drilling and well-servicing company, Petro-Lud, a permit to
drill four new wells near a neighborhood densely packed with
young families and a park where children played soccer.
Environmental engineers at the University of California, Irvine
have developed a new framework for characterizing snow droughts
around the world. Using this tool to analyze conditions from
1980 to 2018, the researchers found a 28-percent increase in
the length of intensified snow-water deficits in the Western
United States during the second half of the study period.
The average annual flow of the Colorado River has decreased 19
percent compared to its 20th century average. Models predict
that by 2100, the river flow could fall as much as 55 percent.
The Colorado River, and the people it sustains, are in serious
Much needed work at Schafer Dam at Success Lake is finally set
to begin. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District
will begin construction to realign Avenue 146 and widen the
existing Tule River Spillway at Success Lake in Porterville on
As part of Valley Water’s mission to provide flood protection
for our communities, we are continuously preparing for the
possibility of flooding. We must regularly keep our streams and
creeks well maintained to handle the rainy season and protect
the many species of wildlife that live there.
The newly passed Drought Contingency Plan spurred additional
conservation and left more water in the lake. An unusually wet
year also helped, because it allowed states to fall back on
other supplies. But the fundamental problem remains: The river
still isn’t producing the amount of water we use in a typical
year. We’re still draining the mighty Colorado.
Groundwater recharge projects already play an important role in
California. That role is about to expand rapidly, as local
groundwater managers begin to take more concrete actions to
meet their responsibilities under California’s landmark
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
You may have noticed them on trips down the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta, small buildings, just 10 feet by 12 feet,
sticking up out of the water. Resembling sheds that you
typically see in a backyard; these buildings provide protection
for something slightly more important than the family gardening
tools and lawnmower.
After hearings this week for one of two remaining major permits
needed for the project, several members of the Regional Water
Quality Control Board indicated they were dissatisfied with the
proposed mitigation for the larvae and other small marine life
that would die as a result of the plant’s ocean intake pipes.
Summer energy demands driven higher as the COVID-19 pandemic
keeps more people at home could lead to more water flowing from
Glen Canyon Dam into the Colorado River. That could mean
rapidly changing conditions for rafters, anglers, hikers or
others on the river in Glen Canyon or the Grand Canyon,
The district’s spring groundwater monitoring program, using 55
public and private wells, found that the levels rose 3-to-18
feet in each storage area of the basin since last year. That’s
progress, but still far below historic wet weather levels,
groundwater specialist Nick Kunstek said.
With a new water supply delayed by state regulatory agencies
and political infighting, the Monterey Peninsula Water
Management District board has asked the state water board not
to impose Carmel River water reductions due to an inevitable
violation of an approaching river cutback order milestone…
The water level at Folsom Lake is dropping by nearly half a
foot each day, and soon boaters who rent a slip at Folsom Lake
Marina will have pull their boats out. Marina managers told the
tenants they should plan on removing their boats from the water
by around Aug. 16…
For us, dam removal is absolutely necessary to restore our
struggling fisheries, maintain cultural practices, and provide
tribal members who struggle to make ends meet access to
traditional subsistence foods.
Four years after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers upgraded the
flood risk for the Whittier Narrows Dam from high urgency to
very high urgency, the U,S. House of Representatives on Friday
approved a budget package that included nearly $385 million to
fix the dam.
Droughts are common in California. The drought of 2012-2016 had
no less precipitation and was no longer than previous
historical droughts, but came with record high temperatures and
low snowpack, which worsened many drought impacts.
Poseidon Resources wants to build a $1.4 billion desalination
plant near a power plant that is about to be shut down. They
say it could produce 50 million gallons of water per day,
enough for about 100,000 Orange County homes. Friday marked the
second day of hearings before the Santa Ana Regional Water
Quality Control Board. Its approval is needed for the plant to
discharge salty brine left over from the treated water.
Some Bakersfield residents’ water bills will be fundamentally
restructured, with big cost implications, if the California
Public Utilities Commission votes Thursday to end an experiment
that 12 years ago erased a financial incentive to sell people
Both the Tubbs and Camp fires destroyed fire hydrants, water
pipes and meter boxes. Water leaks and ruptured hydrants were
common. … After the fires passed, testing ultimately revealed
widespread hazardous drinking water contamination. Evidence
suggests that the toxic chemicals originated from a combination
of burning vegetation, structures and plastic materials.
In the midst of a hot July after late rains this season, the
outlook for reforesting on the ridge will depend on the efforts
of private landowners, local forest scientists say. With this
help, residents of the ridge could see a new type of forest
replace what was lost in the Camp Fire.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a final rule
to reduce lead in plumbing materials used in public water
systems, homes, schools and other facilities. This action marks
a significant milestone in implementing the Trump
Administration’s Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead
Exposures and Associated Health Impacts.
A Marin County Superior Court judge rejected a petition filed
by a group of San Geronimo residents and golfers to halt creek
restoration work in the former San Geronimo Golf Course. The
ten residents and golfers, known as the San Geronimo Heritage
Alliance, filed the lawsuit in July alleging the creek
restoration work is illegal.
The Environmental Justice for All Act would amend the Civil
Rights Act to … require federal agencies to consider health
effects that might compound over time when making permitting
decisions under the federal Clean Air and Clean Water acts.
The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s notice of an
upcoming public hearing on a basin replenishment fee has
attracted a lot of attention from water users in the valley,
but not everyone understands what the IWVGA is.
In a place like California’s San Joaquin Valley (SJV), Latinos
account for 70 percent of COVID-19 cases, even though they
represent 42 percent of the population. Improving access to
clean and affordable water even as the pandemic grows more
urgent, is critical to reducing the types of burdens worsened
by the COVID-19 crisis.
Long Beach’s financial future has been thrust into uncertainty
by the COVID-19 pandemic, but existing litigation over its
practice of charging city-run utilities to access rights of
ways could blow a nearly $20 million hole in future budgets if
the city loses a court appeal.
A legal battle with far-reaching consequences for industry and
ecosystems kicked off Wednesday with the filing of a federal
lawsuit over the Trump administration’s revamp of a
longstanding law that requires extensive environmental reviews
for road, industry and building projects.
All the static and dynamic forces from the land and rock above
start adding up and eventually that now-dry soil starts
compacting down and down. While this may not seem like a big
deal on a small scale, what we’ve seen in California (and other
parts of the world too) is the dropping of the surface
elevation over a period of years, often by hundreds of feet or
Studies by reliable independent organizations prove the
pipeline is unnecessary, risky and cost prohibitive. To counter
these fact-based findings, pipeline proponents rely on
misleading arguments, skewed data and fear in an attempt to
“sell” the pipeline to taxpayers and water users who are
unaware of the facts and place undue trust in government
A 1997 guidance document from the White House Council on
Environmental Quality lays out best practices for FERC and
other agencies to address environmental justice as part of
reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act. The agency
isn’t legally required to act on its findings.
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today introduced the Border
Water Quality Restoration and Protection Act, a bill to reduce
pollution along the U.S.-Mexico border and improve the water
quality of the Tijuana and New rivers.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has appealed directly to investor Warren
Buffett to support demolishing four hydroelectric dams on a
river along the Oregon-California border to save salmon
populations that have dwindled to almost nothing.
The 20-year battle between seawater desalters and Orange County
environmentalists and community activists neared a turning
point Thursday, the first in a series of final public hearings
around a Huntington Beach desalination plant proposal before
local regulators. Hearings and public comments at the state
regional water board started Thursday, are continuing today…
The Bishop Paiute Tribe is experiencing low water pressure
reservation wide due to high water usage and minimal storage
and pumping capacity. … With temperatures rising, and more
community members staying home due to the COVID-19 pandemic,
water usage has gone up significantly.
Demonstrators in northern Mexico have burned several government
vehicles, blocked railway tracks and set afire a government
office and highway tollbooths to protest water payments to the
Forest-management actions such as mechanical thinning and
prescribed burns don’t just reduce the risk of severe wildfire
and promote forest health — these practices can also contribute
to significant increases in downstream water availability. New
research from UC Merced’s Sierra Nevada Research Institute
provides the tools to help estimate and verify those changes.
A Kern County water agency is facing a wall of opposition
against its plan to harvest up to 12,000 acre feet of water
from the South Fork of the Kern River above Lake Isabella and
bring it to valley farms and homeowners in northwest
The California Fish Passage Forum brings together public and
private groups and agencies working to remove barriers to fish
passage. We get a quick lesson in the projects and progress of
the Forum in an interview with Chair Bob Pagliuco and
Coordinator Alicia Marrs.
Desperate to complete a historic but complicated dam removal on
the California-Oregon border, Gov. Gavin Newsom has appealed to
one of the world’s wealthiest men to keep the project on track:
financier Warren Buffett. Newsom dispatched a letter to Buffett
and two of his executives Wednesday urging them to support
removal of four hydroelectric dams on the lower Klamath
The Delta Plan Interagency Implementation Committee is
comprised of high-ranking members of 18 state, federal, and
regional agencies… At the July 2020 committee meeting,
members heard presentations on the Central Valley Project
Improvement Act and the state’s new Incidental Take Permit and
how those programs utilize principles of ecosystem-based
Following the Imperial Irrigation District’s recent win on a
monumental water case in California’s appellate court against
Michael Abatti, the water district is back in court filing the
opening brief against the other large water district is
Southern California, the Metropolitan Water District.
In response to Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt and
Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman’s recent visit with
Klamath Basin ranchers, farmers, tribes and community
officials, Reclamation is launching a new science initiative to
inform Klamath Project operations.
The coronavirus economic crash is tightening the financial vise
on utilities that supply water and sanitation across the
country, potentially putting water companies on the verge of
financial insolvency while millions of Americans struggle to
pay their utility bills.
Gov. Gavin Newsom released strategies Tuesday to improve
drinking water quality, revive a stalled multibillion-dollar
tunnel and build new dams. Newsom says the sweeping water
portfolio will help the Golden State prepare for global warming
by reinforcing outdated water infrastructure and reducing the
state’s reliance on groundwater during future droughts.
The U.S. National Science Foundation-funded study … found
that agrochemicals can increase transmission of the schistosome
worm in myriad ways: by directly affecting survival of the
waterborne parasite itself; by decimating aquatic predators
that feed on snails that carry the parasite; and by altering
the composition of algae in the water, which provides a major
food source for snails.
Nearly 230 wildlife species depend on Sacramento Valley rice
fields for food and a resting place, including the giant
gartersnake, a threatened species. Although it has “giant” in
its name, this creature is, at most, five-feet long. These
snakes are heavily dependent on rice fields for their survival;
having lost most of their earlier habitat – traditional
Each of the bills would provide funding for research and
development on PFAS remediation methods… But environmental
and public health advocates say the bills do not go far enough
to address PFAS contamination. They describe the measures as
lost opportunities to address PFAS pollution in a significant
Poseidon Water’s seawater desalination plant in Huntington
Beach, first proposed in 1998, could be getting closer to
beginning construction after more than two decades. The Santa
Ana Regional Water Board will hold online hearings this week
and decide whether to issue Poseidon a permit.
The community already beset by an environmental disaster is now
facing a pandemic of the worst proportions. Residents and
activists, who have long fought for more funding and pollution
mitigation, say the area was already at a steep disadvantage
for health care. Now the largely agrarian community has found
itself in the middle of a perfect storm of environmental
neglect, poverty, and the coronavirus.
While the city has suspended shutting off water accounts for
non-payment and has been working with its customers to set up
payment plans, more relief was needed. To help offset some of
the burdens of COVID-19, the Millbrae City Council voted
unanimously this month to defer the July 1, 2020, water rate
increase until January 1, 2021.
Recharge is playing a growing role in maintaining groundwater
as an effective drought reserve and in slowing or reversing the
effects of years of unsustainable groundwater pumping. But
implementing recharge projects is not easy. Water managers face
a range of hurdles.
A compilation of studies conducted between 1946 and 2018 show
that areas with high concentrations of lithium in public
drinking water had “correspondingly lower suicide rates,”
according to a news release. … The study was published Monday
in The British Journal of Psychiatry.
As schools prepare to reopen for in-person learning around the
country, the Water Quality Association offers general guidance
on bringing water treatment systems back online in buildings
that have been vacant or have seen little or no water use. The
guidelines are available on WQA’s website and were discussed in
detail during a May webinar.
NEWS RELEASE: Governor Gavin Newsom today released a final
version of the Water Resilience Portfolio, the
Administration’s blueprint for equipping California to cope
with more extreme droughts and floods, rising
temperatures, declining fish populations, over-reliance on
groundwater and other challenges.
President Trump made two nominations to the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission Monday, bowing to pressure from
Democratic lawmakers who have pushed to maintain the bipartisan
split in the commission.
NOAA has issued a La Nina Watch, which means a dry winter and
longer fire season are possible this year for Southern
California. This stems from colder water along the equator in
the Pacific which has a domino effect on other parts of the
After more than 20 years of developing plans for a Huntington
Beach desalination plant and winding its way through a
seemingly endless bureaucratic approval process, Poseidon Water
comes to a key juncture as the Regional Water Quality Control
Board votes on whether to grant a permit after hearings this
When it was measured last year, the clarity of the lake was
about 80 feet. … But, consider this, about 20 years ago, the
clarity of lake was 100 feet. That’s the trend scientists are
trying to reverse.
Species such as salmon, trout and giant catfish are vital not
just to the rivers and lakes in which they breed or feed but to
entire ecosystems. By swimming upstream, they transport
nutrients from the oceans and provide food for many land
animals, including bears, wolves and birds of prey.
Some outside lawyers lauded the move for protecting against
excessive enforcement, while others warned that the policy
could let some polluters off easy. It’s the latest example of
the Trump administration setting new rules for federal
San Diego’s water utility is preparing to absorb a five percent
spike in rates this year despite cries from elected officials
to freeze costs during a global pandemic. Why? The blame often
gets passed up the proverbial pipeline.
Providing a reliable source of drinking water is a challenge
for many small water systems in the San Joaquin Valley, where
dropping groundwater levels, aging systems, and water quality
problems are acute. … We talked to Laura Ramos and Sarge
Green of Fresno State’s California Water Institute about this
On July 13, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gave the San
Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District a 30-year permit
to manage plans for the Upper Santa Ana River Wash, the final
step in the process. The plans cover an area of Redlands and
Highland generally west and south of Greenspot Road, east of
Alabama Street and north of the waterway’s bluffs.
WaterWorks Park in Redding opened on June 5 in violation of
California’s coronavirus rules and “repeated direction” not to
do so, according to the Shasta County Health and Human Services
Agency. It has continued to operate since then — sparking a
nearly two-months long battle with health officials.
There are just 12 parking spots near Yankee Jim’s, a sliver of
crystal clear water on the North Fork American River, about 35
miles west of Lake Tahoe, but last weekend California State
Parks and Placer County authorities counted more than 300
vehicles parked near the rugged roads surrounding a one-way
bridge overhead. … Authorities said the scenic area has
exploded in popularity thanks to social media postings.
A report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
may result in the listing of PFOA under California’s
Proposition 65 as a carcinogen. Here’s what that could mean for
the explosion of litigation related to the chemical substance
throughout the country.
Zone 7 Water Agency directors authorized General Manager
Valerie Pryor to negotiate an agreement with Napa County’s
water division to buy some of its surplus water this year — a
move that could open doors for similar deals in the future. A
need to meet local water demand for the next few years prompted
Zone 7 to act at its regular meeting July 16.
The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission stated
its support once again for the fishery releases proposed by the
Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts. The action reaffirmed
FERC findings in February 2019 that dismissed pleas from
environmental and sport-fishing groups for much higher flows.
S. Craig Tucker, consultant to the Karuk Tribe, and Mike
Belchik, senior water policy analyst with the Yurok Tribe,
joins Scott Greacen (Friends of the Eel) and Tom Wheeler (EPIC)
for a spirited discussion on the new news about the state of
Yuba Water Agency’s Board of Directors Thursday authorized
staff to move forward with a new design of an estimated $225
million secondary spillway at New Bullards Bar Dam, marking an
important step forward for the agency’s largest project to
reduce flood risk since the dam was built.
The Third Appellate District has ruled that the State Water
Resources Control Board has the authority to issue temporary
emergency regulations and curtailment orders which establish
minimum flow requirements, regulate unreasonable use of water,
and protect threatened fish species during drought conditions.
What was extraordinary was the unusually deep snow recorded in
the northern Sierra Nevada mountains before the storm event.
Subsequently, several records were set for how much snowmelt
occurred during the atmospheric river. The melt took place
because of unusually warm and wet conditions, and it increased
water available for runoff by 37 percent over rain alone,
straining the capacity of California’s second-largest
At a meeting this month where the State Water Resources Control
Board adopted its first spending plan for what was supposed to
be a $130 million-a-year investment for the next decade,
Chairman Joaquin Esquivel acknowledged that the economic
downturn could set California back.
New state grants totaling about $8 million will enhance fish
habitat on the Tuolumne River, and better connect west Modesto
residents to the waterway. The grants will continue efforts to
restore spawning areas and floodplains for salmon, trout and
other fish between La Grange and Modesto.
Feinstein’s Restoration of Essential Conveyance Act would
authorize $800 million in federal funding to repair critical
canals in the San Joaquin Valley damaged by land sinking from
overpumping of groundwater, known as subsidence, and for
Black and Latino Americans are twice as likely as White
Americans to live without running water. Take East Orosi, a
mostly Latino community surrounded by the fertile orchards of
California’s Central Valley. To look around you’d think that
water is pretty plentiful … and it is, for big agriculture. But
in a neighborhood where most of those who work those fields
live, there’s no central water main.
Saturday and Sunday, PG&E will raise the water level on the
North Fork of the Feather River, which goes from Quincy to
Oroville. … But this year, it seems the whitewater levels —
thanks to the coronavirus — aren’t raising excitement.
In 1961, Placer County voters overwhelmingly approved the sale
of bonds to finance construction of the Middle Fork American
River Hydroelectric Project (MFP). Nearly 60 years later, with
the bonds fully paid and financial reserves fully funded, the
first-ever distribution of net revenue from the MFP has been
The state of California, long derided for its failure to act in
the past, says it is now moving full-bore to address the Salton
Sea’s problems, with ambitious plans for wildlife habitat
expansion and dust suppression.
An algal bloom at Pyramid Lake in Los Angeles County has the
Department of Water Resources (DWR) warning the public not to
swim or participate in any other water-contact recreation or
sporting activities due to potential adverse health effects.
However, DWR said boating at the lake is still allowed.
The grim report by the Water Foundation, a charitable
organization based in California that is focused on clean,
reliable water for people and nature, predicts the groundwater
sustainability plans written by the various districts in the
San Joaquin Valley will not achieve what SGMA purports to do –
that is, sustainably manage groundwater resources.
Editors Note: The Water Foundation is not affiliated
with the Water Education Foundation.
A century ago, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta was a massive
wetland habitat. The construction of levees over the past 100
years has dried out these wetlands and converted them into
farmland, eliminating 95 percent of this important aquatic
habitat for fish. But scientists are finding out that given the
right conditions, nature can reclaim itself.
The issue is new to the Environmental Protection Agency’s
Office of Inspector General’s periodic list of top management
challenges facing the agency, underscoring its emergence as a
leading national concern. The OIG called on the agency to
strengthen its federal leadership role, continue to build an
environmental justice strategic plan, and consider the impact
of “all activities on environmental justice communities in
actions revoked and taken by the agency as a whole.”
With state and federal administrations fighting in court about
delta water operations—and with a pandemic and election year
both underway—work has slowed on voluntary agreements meant to
avoid severe cuts to northern San Joaquin Valley water
supplies. At issue is the first phase of a State Water
Resources Control Board plan for the Sacramento-San Joaquin
On Wednesday, the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control
Board issued a staff report recommending approval of a
tentative order making amendments to and renewing its operating
permit first issued in 2006 for the proposed Huntington Beach
At the Groundwater Resources Association’s 3rd annual GSA
Summit, a panel reviewed how the process went for the
groundwater sustainability plans that were submitted to the
Department of Water Resources earlier this year, focusing on
four of the six sustainable management criteria: water levels,
water quality, land subsidence, and interconnected surface
According to a release issued by the Nature Conservancy, the
program provides an opportunity for growers to receive
financial compensation for recharging groundwater during the
course of normal farming operations on a variety of crops while
also providing critical wetland habitat for waterbirds
migrating along the Pacific Flyway.
Veronica Wunderlich is a Department of Water Resources senior
environmental scientist with a focus in herpetology – the study
of reptiles and amphibians. Below, Veronica discusses how she
got started in herpetology –she even had snakes as pets as a
kid, her current work, and how to translate a passion and
interest in wildlife into a career – “If you really love the
creatures you work with, you will never regret working with
Despite their brief existence … the pools, and the fairy
shrimp they harbor are an important feature of the new
preserve. The conservancy acquired Mountain Meadow Preserve, on
hilltops off of Interstate 15, about two years ago. At that
time, the 693-acre site was a deserted orchard, dotted with
dilapidated agricultural sheds and withered avocado groves.
On appeal, the court held that the District’s water allocation
methodology in the “equitable distribution plan” was reasonable
and not an abuse of discretion, and that Abatti and the other
farmers in IID only hold an interest in, or right to, water
Attorneys general in 20 states [including California] and the
District of Columbia sued the Trump administration on Tuesday,
alleging that new federal rules undermine their ability to
protect rivers, lakes and streams within their borders. They
say that new final rules issued last week by the Environmental
Protection Agency alter a practice dating back more than 30
years giving state governments the authority to review, block
or put conditions on federally permitted water projects.
A Sebastopol-based environmental group’s lawsuit against the
city of Vacaville in connection with hexavalent chromium found
in groundwater has failed in federal court, city officials
announced Tuesday. On Monday, Chief United States District
Judge Kimberly Mueller issued an order rejecting California
River Watch’s lawsuit regarding the safety of Vacaville’s water
Ceres Imaging, an Oakland-based startup company, is one of
several high-tech aerial monitoring companies helping
California farmers, including those in Kern County, increase
their production, while decreasing their demand for water. It
is a logical marriage between agriculture and innovators in
California’s Silicon Valley.
For the past five years, Monty Currier, a California Department
of Fish and Wildlife environmental scientist, has been working
to rebuild the fishery at Mountain Meadows Reservoir after
the PG&E impoundment went dry in 2015 from the
combined effects of maintenance work and the drought. The
unfortunate fish kill presented Currier with something of a
As part of a settlement reached with fishing and environmental
groups, the California State Water Resources Control Board says
it will increase transparency and conduct heightened
evaluations when deciding water quality standards and flow
limits for the state’s critical waterways. …
Environmentalists celebrated the deal as a “landmark
settlement” that stands to boost protections for fish by
improving water quality in the Sacramento River and the San
The City of Oceanside was picked from among small agencies
throughout California as Recycled Water Agency of the Year for
its significant water recycling efforts. The city was
recognized with an Award of Excellence at WateReuse
California’s virtual conference earlier this summer.
Public support for proposed desalination plants in Huntington
Beach and Dana Point appears strong in two recent polls,
although opponents call the surveys biased and say neither poll
addresses key obstacles facing these very different projects.
Pumped storage hydropower (PSH) is a pretty simple technology.
… The effect is not to create energy. In fact, these
facilities are net consumers of energy. But by making renewable
energy available when it is most needed, PSH helps renewables
better match demand, reducing the need for gas on the grid.
Imperial Beach Mayor Pro Tem Paloma Aguirre joined Good Morning
San Diego to discuss a new report claiming that an audit done
by Baja California governor accuses big US companies of water
theft and contributed to raw sewage and hazardous pollutants
ending up in the Tijuana River.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Board
of Directors recently approved the East County Advanced Water
Purification Program for its Local Resources Program, providing
approximately $86 million in funding for this important water
A federal judge on Monday squashed environmentalists’ bid to
punish a Northern California city for delivering drinking water
tainted with the carcinogen that prompted the film “Erin
Brockovich.” The environmental group California River Watch
sued the city of Vacaville over its water supply in 2017,
claiming it was violating federal hazardous waste laws…
Legal scholars believe that the Lake Powell pipeline would
likely violate the 1922 Colorado River Compact as a
transfer of upper basin water (WY, UT, CO, NM) for lower basin
use (CA, NV, AZ). The lower basin has priority, and the compact
arguably prohibits transfers from the upper to lower basin
absent explicit congressional authorization