Topic: Water Supply


Water Supply

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

By the Numbers:

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

Should we worry about 8 billion people?

Last month, the United Nations announced that the Earth’s population had reached 8 billion. … Most folks would agree that the real worry here is not the sheer numbers, but their collective impact on the environment. We — the planet’s human inhabitants — are clearing land, leveling forests and mountains, mining and drilling minerals and burning fossil fuels in order to sustain ourselves and our lifestyles. That, in turn, is diminishing biodiversity, driving species to extinction and stretching the planet’s carrying capacity to a snapping point, thereby imperiling our own species’ survival. The problems are exacerbated as planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions soar, further diminishing freshwater stores and hurting food production. 

Aquafornia news Sonoma Valley Sun

Rainwater harvesting at Flowery School

Sonoma Ecology Center is working with the community to adapt to historic drought conditions. Its latest project is rainwater harvesting system at Flowery Elementary School that serves as a demonstration project to explore the feasibility of replicating this system at other schools. Steven Lee, Senior Scientist who, together with his team, monitors the Sonoma Creek Watershed, had implemented a 70,000 rainwater harvesting system on his property. This year, he brought his experience and expertise to carry out a rainwater catchment system at Flowery Elementary School.

Aquafornia news Colorado Newsline

Senators ask USDA for equal consideration of Western drought needs

U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, and Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican, led a bipartisan group of senators in asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to give parity to Western drought needs with existing programs and funding. In a letter addressed to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack the senators from across the Western states asked for continued resources to support projects for ranchers and farmers to conserve water, improve their infrastructure and efficiency, and provide technical support. The senators want to see funds for agriculture conservation equally allocated “to reflect the contribution of every region, including the West.”

Aquafornia news 12 News - Phoenix

‘It’s imperative that we take action’: Lake Powell power plant could stop running by July

New predictions by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation show that Lake Powell’s water levels may fall below the level needed to produce power as soon as July 2023.  The Bureau of Reclamation issues two-year predictions for the water levels in Lake Powell and Lake Mead and revises those predictions every few months. It uses multiple projections to come up with expected, worst, and best probable outcomes. One of those projections shows that water levels at Lake Powell could fall below what’s called minimum power pool, the lowest level that would still allow the power plant in the dam to produce power in only seven months…. While Lake Mead’s water levels should remain safely above the minimum power pool level, Lake Powell’s dropping levels add an extra layer of concern for both reservoirs. 

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Aquafornia news ABC - Sacramento

New tunnel plan angers Delta residents

Approximately 100 concerned Delta residents gathered at a public forum in the community of Hood Tuesday to express concern with the Delta Tunnel proposal. … The proposal reduces the original two tunnel plan, proposed by former Governor Jerry Brown, to a single tunnel by the Newsom Administration and the Department of Water Resources. … The new plan calls for a 40-foot wide concrete tunnel to draw water from the Hood and Courtland areas approximately 45 miles south to Bethany Reservoir. The current estimates are that it would cost $16 billion dollars and take 13 years to complete. The tunnel would draw 3,000 cubic feet of water per second and would account for approximately 13% to 15% of the overall water supply.

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Aquafornia news News 13 - Tucson

Historic water cuts set to hit Arizona on Jan. 1

Arizona is preparing to enter for the first time into a Tier 2A shortage for the lower Colorado River basin, with cuts beginning at the start of the new year. For the state, this means a reduction of 21% of Arizona’s Colorado river supply and about 9% of the state’s total water use, according to the Central Arizona Project. Cities that use the Colorado river will see a 3% reduction while tribal supplies will be reduced by 7%. And for the users of CAP water, there will no longer be excess water and agriculture pools from the Colorado River. According to the Agriculture & Water Council of Arizona, it will have a big impact on farmers as they work out ways to operate with less water.

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Aquafornia news 9 News - Colorado

The impacts of urban sprawl on Colorado’s water supply

The state of Colorado is projected to gain 1.8 million more residents by the year 2050.  While that can be a sign of economic prosperity, a study by NumbersUSA indicates most residents think that growth will have too many negative impacts. … The study includes a scientific survey of 1,024 Colorado residents conducted by the Rasmussen research group. It focuses on several environmental issues, including water. Citing increased traffic, the loss of open space, and a strain on the water supply, 75% of Coloradans surveyed said urban sprawl, which is the encroachment of cities into natural space and agricultural space, is making Colorado a worse place to live. 

Aquafornia news The Jewish News of Northern California

Israel’s S.F. consul: Israel has water expertise aplenty to offer California

Citing Israel’s extraordinary success in meeting its agricultural and household water needs, Marco Sermoneta told a recent gathering of water industry professionals that his country has much to offer other regions facing the dire problem of water scarcity. … Sermoneta, who has been on the job since August, was speaking at the Association of California Water Agencies fall conference and exhibition, held Nov. 29-Dec. 1 in Indian Wells, near Palm Desert. The event featured more than 40 programs, workshops and roundtable conversations examining topics such as water management, affordable drinking water and water supply. ACWA is a statewide coalition of public water agencies.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

California snowpack off to promising start, but drought concern remains

Winter is off to a running start in California, after a pair of December storms dropped several feet of mountain snow and soaking low-elevation rains across much of the state. Parts of the Sierra Nevada have recorded more than double the expected snowpack for the time of year, and another significant storm could be on the way this weekend. However, officials are urging caution and conservation given the depth of the state’s water supply challenges. Longer range outlooks still point to a fourth consecutive drought year for the state. Statewide snow water equivalent — or the amount of water contained in snowpack — is currently 175 percent of normal for the date. The Central Sierra Snow Lab, located at Donner Pass northwest of Lake Tahoe, is now sitting at 253 percent of its average.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

After years of turmoil in water district, California farmers want a friendlier face

When Sen. Dianne Feinstein weighed complex water policy decisions that stood to impact the livelihood of farmers and fish, she often dialed Tom Birmingham. On visits to Washington, the longtime head of the state’s most influential farmland water agency would meet in her office over glasses of chilled California chardonnay. Cultivating relationships with power is a hallmark of Birmingham’s 36-year career at the Westlands Water District, the nation’s largest farm water utility that serves a few hundred Central Valley families and corporations growing nearly $2 billion in nuts, fruit, and vegetables a year. Birmingham spearheaded the agency’s quest to keep water flowing as its longest serving general manager, largely through attempts to loosen environmental regulations. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Don’t miss this sweet holiday deal on a beautiful water book

Here’s a sweet deal for the holidays that won’t last long: Get our paperback “Water & the Shaping of California,” a treasure trove of gorgeous color photos, historic maps, water literature and famous sayings about water for just $17.50 – a 50% discount. “Water & the Shaping of California” is a beautifully designed book that discusses the engineering feats, political decisions and popular opinions that reshaped nature and society, leading to the water projects that created the California we know today. Use the discount code HOLIDAY2022 at checkout to get your 50% discount.

Aquafornia news KALW - San Francisco

One Planet: The future of the Colorado River

On this edition of Your Call’s One Planet Series, we’re discussing the future of the Colorado River, one of the country’s most important sources of fresh water. Forty million people in seven states, 29 federally recognized tribes, and northern Mexico depend on the Colorado River, but it’s drying up fast. It could lose 50 percent of its flow by 2050 if temperatures continue to rise. The River also irrigates 5.5 million agricultural acres of land, including 15% of American agriculture and about 90% of the nation’s winter vegetables, according to Utah Water Resources. How is climate change affecting the flow of the Colorado River?

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Calistoga begins repairing pipe that has leaked more than 130,000 gallons of water since August

A one-inch-diameter pipe carrying drinking water has been leaking under Highway 128 at 2960 Foothill Blvd. in Calistoga for more than three months. The leak has caused water to puddle on the highway. … After several complaints from residents brought the issue to the city’s attention, [councilmember Gary] Kraus pulled the issue from the consent calendar at the Nov. 15 City Council meeting, prompting a response from Public Works director Derek Raynor. … When the customary bidding process began back in August, Raynor estimated the broken pipe was losing 30 gallons of water a day and continued to leak at that rate though mid-October. Since then the leak has gotten worse. Since mid-October, he estimates, the pipe has been leaking at a rate of two gallons a minute.

Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

Opinion: IID’s Four-way deal bad for Imperial Valley

Seems like most people are falling all over themselves celebrating the “historic” deal between the Imperial Irrigation District, Coachella Valley Water District, the U.S. Department of Interior (Bureau of Reclamation), and the California Natural Resources Agency that will supposedly bring up to a quarter-billion dollars to the Salton Sea for restoration projects. I certainly understand the need to conserve water and help bolster the elevation at Lake Mead to try to restore some kind of balance to the Colorado River, but at what cost to the people of the Imperial Valley? The Imperial Valley is giving up 1 million acre-feet of water over four years for maybe $250 million and that just doesn’t seem like an even trade off; it feels like a bad deal – like my friends over at Comite Civico del Valle so aptly put it – “half-baked.”
-Written by John Hernandez, a Brawley resident and executive director of Our Roots Multicultural Center.

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Aquafornia news Water Wrights

Blog: Tom Birmingham; Reflections on Westlands

Fortunes are made and lost on the weather. In 1588 Spain went to attack England and a storm wiped out its armada. The loss was so devastating even with its New World holdings Spain never again arose to its former place of prominence as the greatest European power. From 1930 to 1936 a drought centered in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles caused 2.5 million people to leave the center of the country for other parts. And while bad weather can lead to major problems, what about the good weather? California is blessed with a Mediterranean climate. Hot summers, cool but not frozen winters, plenty of sunshine and good soil. And due to the foresight of others since gone, California’s fickle water supply has been harnessed for the beneficial use of us all. 

Aquafornia news Pleasanton Weekly

Zone 7 to present updates on PFAS treatment, water supply, rates to Pleasanton council

Zone 7 Water Agency staff are set to update the Pleasanton City Council on Tuesday about its regional groundwater modeling and PFAS contamination, which will serve as foundational information in future council decision-making on water supply issues. City staff will also seek approval from council to keep the city’s wells 5 and 6 offline and to purchase replacement water from Zone 7 until a water supply alternatives study is completed and the council can decide what to do about the city’s long-term water supply. According to the staff report, “Zone 7 has indicated that it can provide the additional water, initially through a short-term arrangement. This cost would be funded by the Zone 7 pass-through to utility ratepayers.”

Aquafornia news Fox Business

California’s drought disaster is turning into an economic disaster: ‘It’s unprecedented’

In the early hours of a cold fall morning, thousands of birds would sit in the puddles of water in the empty rice fields just outside the Sacramento Valley. At many of those fields this year, there isn’t a single bird that can be seen. It’s because there’s no water. There are no plants. The fields are empty and bone dry. They’ve become fallowed. The streams of water that once flowed to allow the beavers and deer feed and drink are gone. The ground looks like slabs of cracked concrete. Economists and farmers warn that there could be severe environmental and economic consequences that stretch beyond these dry fields that farmers are challenged with. California is now experiencing the driest three-year period since late 1800s.

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Aquafornia news CNN

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Parts of the West have double the normal snowpack. Experts say it’s too early to get excited

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas across the West, and for the parched mega-drought region, the December snow is a welcome gift. With back-to-back-to-back winter storms across the West, the snowpack is thriving. Parts of the Sierra and the Pacific Northwest are seeing above-average snowpack for this time of year. In Central California, the Sierra stands at 200% of normal for snowpack average to date…. The Colorado River Basin is another area gaining a lot of attention for water shortages. They are counting on a good snowpack. Right now, most of the Colorado River Basin is running low… 

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

State kicks off water year with anticipated 5% allocation

The state Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced Dec. 1 that it would provide 5% of contracted amounts across the board for agricultural and municipal customers in 2023. That may sound bad, but the initial allocation announced for 2022 was 0% for ag and only enough water for municipal contractors to protect health and safety. At this early stage of the water year, it’s hard to get too excited one way or another about the initial allocation, said Ted Page, Chair of the Kern County Water Agency Board of Directors. … With a La Niña winter predicted this year, the state is preparing for a fourth dry year, according to the DWR announcement reprinted below.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Opinion: San Diego is not protected from California’s severe water supply crisis

California’s water supply crisis has hit a tipping point, with impacts spreading far and wide, reaching local communities and critical industries, putting us once again in jeopardy. This is a pivotal moment in the state’s future – one in which bold political leadership will emerge, or future generations will suffer. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recent announcement on his new water supply plan, is encouraging that leadership is materializing, but the proof is in the pudding. The new plan, California’s Water Supply Strategy: Adapting to a Hotter, Drier Future, underscores the significant challenges we face as a result of a changing climate, the need to transform the current water system, and the importance of significantly investing in California water systems to secure the future of California’s water supply and reliability.
-Written by Gary Arant, General Manager at Valley Center Municipal Water District; and Kimberly Thorner, the General Manager at Olivenhain Municipal Water District.​

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Regulator authorizes Cal Am to purchase future water supply

A key state regulator on Thursday OK’d an agreement to have California American Water Co. buy future water from the planned Pure Water Monterey Expansion project. The agreement signals a major new water supply for the Monterey Peninsula. Mike McCullough, the director of external affairs for Monterey One Water (M1W), said the authorization defines the terms and conditions for the sale of water from the expansion project. Monterey One Water is the public wastewater agency operating the Pure Water Monterey recycled water project and which will operate the Pure Water Monterey Expansion … The three involved parties – Cal Am, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District and Monterey One Water reached an agreement on the language of what’s called a Water Purchase Agreement more than a year ago.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Monday Top of the Scroll: Feds announce plan for massive cuts in Colorado River deliveries

The Bureau of Reclamation is for the first time legally signaling its intent to make major cutbacks in water deliveries from Lake Powell to Lake Mead and the Lower River Basin to protect the reservoirs that are on the edge of collapse. In online presentations last week, the bureau said it’s working through a formal process that could lead to cutting deliveries from Powell by 2 million to 3 million acre-feet annually and possibly more. That could happen if states in the Lower River Basin — Arizona, California and Nevada — can’t reach agreement by Jan. 31 on how to slice their take from the river, the agency said. The bureau didn’t specify when cuts would begin or how they would be divided among states, saying those questions will be answered later. But “it means that we’re looking at unprecedented reductions in supplies.” 

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

More rain to hit the Bay Area while fresh powder falls over the Sierra Nevada

A line of storms that ushered in a chilly, soggy start to December should continue to move across Northern California early this week, offering more chances for rain in the Bay Area and a fresh coat of powder over the Sierra Nevada. One-third to a half-inch of rain could still fall over lower-lying portions of the Bay Area from Sunday through Tuesday morning — further boosting already healthy rainfall totals over the past several days. Three-quarters of an inch of rain could fall in that same time span over the coastal mountains, particularly in Sonoma County, said Brayden Murdock, a National Weather Service meteorologist. To the east, another 1 to 2 feet of snow was expected to fall Sunday and Monday over parts of the Sierra Nevada …

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Apply for California’s Preeminent Water Leadership Program by Dec. 7

There is less than a week left to apply for our 2023 Water Leaders class and be considered for the new cohort of California’s preeminent water leadership program. Launched in 1997, the Water Leaders program is aimed at providing a deeper understanding of California water issues, building leadership skills and preparing class members to take an active, cooperative approach to decision-making about water resources by studying a water-related topic in-depth and crafting policy recommendations.

And, if you work for a member of the Association of California Water Agencies, you can apply to have tuition and some travel expenses covered under the John P. Fraser Water Leaders Fellowship.

Aquafornia news National Integrated Drought Information System

Blog: Western snow season 2022-23 preview: a look at water supplies and the winter outlook in 10 maps

It’s hard to overstate how crucial this snow season is for the western United States. Regions such as the West that receive a great deal of their precipitation in the form of snow face a number of challenges when snow droughts occur, including shrinking water supplies. And western water supplies are truly shrinking as some states are facing their second or third drought year in a row and a large part of the region is stuck in a 20+ year megadrought. Hanging over all of this is climate change–influenced aridification in the Southwest that is increasing evaporative demand, causing water supplies to dwindle from rising temperatures even when there is adequate precipitation.

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Farm delegation advocates for ag in nation’s capital

As the nation learned that the midterm election led to a change in the balance of power in the next U.S. Congress, a delegation of California Farm Bureau leaders met with representatives during an advocacy trip to Washington, D.C., to discuss pressing issues affecting agriculture. … Farm Bureau executives, the organization’s Leadership Farm Bureau class and county leaders were joined by the organization’s federal policy team and met face to face with lawmakers Nov. 14-17 in the nation’s capital. Discussions focused on issues including California’s ongoing drought, water, labor and trade, as well as the next federal farm bill.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Opinion: The Colorado River won’t obey our rules

The Colorado River Compact is 100 years old. A University of Arizona conference and the upcoming Colorado River Water Users Association will mark the anniversary. But there’s no reason to celebrate. Twenty-two years into a drought and with reservoirs at all-time lows, the federal government may soon intervene in the states’ management of the river. The Compact has failed. Don’t blame the river. We need a new system that manages with the river and provides all users with fair shares. In 1922, the seven Colorado Basin states used an optimistic estimate of the river’s annual flow to allocate the waters. The states chose the biggest estimate because that made it easy to agree. Everyone could pretend the river could satisfy all anticipated demands. That was the first mistake.
-Written by Karl Flessa, an Arizona resident since 1977 and an emeritus professor of geosciences at the University of Arizona.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Friday Top of the Scroll: Drought-hit California cities to get little water from state

California water agencies that serve 27 million people will get just 5% of what they requested from the state to start 2023, water officials announced Thursday. The news of limited water comes as California concludes its driest three-year stretch on record and as water managers brace for a fourth year with below-average precipitation. But if the winter is wetter than expected, the state could boost how much supply it plans to give out — as it did last year when allocations started at 0% and ended the winter at 5%. Absent an end to the drought, water-saving measures are poised to continue, including calls for people to rip up decorative grass, limit outdoor watering, take shorter showers and run dishwashers only when full. 

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Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

PPIC commends agriculture’s resilience—but fresh hurdles lay ahead

Policy researchers are hopeful the agricultural industry in California will continue to thrive with continued adaptation. But conditions are shaping up for another dry year and the Colorado River shortage is creating challenges that will require more changes for growers and landowners.

Aquafornia news Half Moon Bay Review

Water potential not lost in coastal fog

In a warming and drying California, water agencies across the state are looking for new water sources and trying to better utilize the ones they have. Pacifica has a potential source of water not available to many communities: the drippy gray moisture that blows ashore in the form of fog. Fog is composed of tiny water droplets; together, a cubic mile of fog can carry some 56,000 gallons of water. The North Coast County Water District … installed experimental fog-catchers over the summer at three district sites … The fog-catching devices are simple: a 1-meter square of polyethylene mesh stretched over a frame and installed facing into the prevailing wind. When the fog blows in, the mesh collects droplets of water like a giant spider web. The drops fall into a collecting trough below and flow through a gauge that measures the amount of water.  

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Bakersfield sued over “dewatering” of Kern River

Several public interest groups sued the City of Bakersfield Nov. 30 alleging the city has been derelict in its operation of the Kern River by diverting most of its flows to agriculture and other uses leaving a dry riverbed through the heart of town. … Even though the city operates the river per a century of agreements and judicial decrees, the lawsuit states, the city still has an obligation to study the harm those diversions may cause to the environment, fisheries and even the recreational value of a flowing river. The case hinges on a concept known as the “public trust,” under which the state holds all natural resources, including water, in trust for the most “beneficial use” for the public. That includes water covered by 100-year-old rights, which includes most of the rights to waters on the Kern.

Aquafornia news CNN

More than 70 water agencies in California could face water shortages in the coming months, state report shows

Nearly 20% of California’s urban water agencies reported they could see significant water shortages in the coming months as the state braces for a potential fourth consecutive year of drought. After surveying urban water agencies representing roughly 90% of the state’s population, the California Department of Water Resources early this week released its first annual water supply and demand report that assesses how the state is faring with water supply amid unrelenting drought conditions. The assessment, which includes annual data through July 1, found that while a vast majority – 82% – of urban water suppliers who submitted reports say they have enough water to meet projected demand in the coming year, around 18% – 73 out of the 414 water suppliers – reported they will soon face potential shortages.

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Aquafornia news Mendocino Voice

Fort Bragg City Council unanimously approves plan for 3 reservoirs on 582-acre parcel

Fort Bragg City Council unanimously approved a plan Monday night to purchase a 582-acre parcel of land from Mendocino Coast Recreation and Park District for $2,420,579, to build three reservoirs on around 30 acres. The city hopes to establish a community forest on the remaining 550 acres of land, preserving the habitat there through a deed restriction or conservation easement. This vision would ensure the property is “utilized to every inch of its capacity,” councilmember Marcia Rafanan said ahead of the approval. Fort Bragg hopes to install three reservoirs to store a potential total of 44 million gallons of water, in a location that connects conveniently to treatment plant infrastructure and high-power PG&E transmission lines. 

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Drought threatens Colorado River with ‘complete doomsday scenario’, officials say

The first sign of serious trouble for the drought-stricken American Southwest could be a whirlpool. It could happen if the surface of Lake Powell, a man-made reservoir along the Colorado River that’s already a quarter of its former size, drops another 38 feet down the concrete face of the 710-foot Glen Canyon Dam here. … The normally placid Lake Powell, the nation’s second-largest reservoir, could suddenly transform into something resembling a funnel, with water circling the openings, the dam’s operators say. If that happens, the massive turbines that generate electricity for 4.5 million people would have to shut down — after nearly 60 years of use — or risk destruction from air bubbles. … Such an outcome — known as a “minimum power pool” — was once unfathomable here. Now, the federal government projects that day could come as soon as July.

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Aquafornia news KALW - San Francisco

Listen: Is desalination the right solution to California’s drought problems?

On this edition of Your Call, we’ll discuss the California Coastal Commission’s recent approval of a controversial desalination plant in Monterey County. The plan was approved 9 years after it was first proposed, following 13 hours of debate at a public hearing. Proponents of the plan view desalination as a critical source of drinking water in a drought-starved region. Environmental justice advocates argue the plant could raise costs for low income residents and harm marine life and other wildlife habitats. What is the future for desalination in the west, during an era of climate-induced mega-droughts?

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Tucson offers to leave more CAP water in the Colorado River

Tucson Water is offering to leave “significant volumes” of its annual Central Arizona Project water supply in the Colorado River for the next three years in return for financial compensation from the federal government.But its letter to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation making that offer didn’t propose a specific cut to the city’s annual CAP allocation. Supplying 144,191 acre-feet a year to Tucson Water, CAP provides virtually all of the drinking water served to more than 730,000 utility customers. Tucson has enough left over from that supply after serving those customers to recharge nearly one-third of the water into the ground to store for future use.

Aquafornia news KRON - San Francisco

State grants aim to keep small drinking water systems afloat in Bay Area

Four small Bay Area drinking water systems will receive millions of dollars as part of California’s effort to protect water deliveries as the drought drags into its fourth year. On Tuesday, the California Department of Water Resources announced $44 million in statewide Small Community Drought Relief Program grants about $6.5 million of which is earmarked for four water systems in Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma counties. The program is aimed at small systems with fewer than 3,000 service connections that are most likely to suffer from aging infrastructure and often rely on a single source of water. “Small communities are the most vulnerable to the impacts of our new hotter, drier climate and lack the resources to immediately deal with these challenges,” DWR Director Karla Nemeth said in a news release.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Storm to bring widespread rain to Bay Area on Thursday, up to 3 feet of snow in Sierra Nevada

Boosting what has been a mediocre start so far to the winter season, a storm from the Pacific Northwest is expected to bring widespread rain to the Bay Area early Thursday and blanket the Sierra Nevada with up to 3 feet of new snow. …  The storm system would be the first significant rain or snow in Northern California in more than three weeks, and comes as the state is entering its fourth year of drought. A hoped-for storm fizzled last weekend, but this one is on track, forecasters say….California desperately needs a sustained pattern of rain and snow this winter. The last three years have been the driest three-year period statewide since records began in the 1800s.

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Aquafornia news Grist

Why are water thieves so hard to catch?

It’s not easy enforcing water regulations in the West. Just ask the officials in California who have been trying for almost a decade to penalize a man who took water from the river system that feeds San Francisco and bottled it for sale to stores like Starbucks.  It sounds like a tall tale, but it’s illustrative of just how hard it is to stop scofflaws from using water the rest of the state needs during a water crisis. In 2015, at the height of a severe drought, California’s state water agency received a series of complaints about water theft on a small tributary of the Tuolumne River, the source of the Hetch Hetchy reservoir that supplies most of San Francisco’s water. G. Scott Fahey, the owner of a water bottling company called Sugar Pine Spring Water, was siphoning water from the spring and loading it on trucks, the complainants said. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Fifth of California water agencies expect drought shortages

Most of California’s urban water agencies believe they have enough supplies to last through another seven months of drought, but nearly 20% of them — including many in Southern California — say they could be facing significant shortages, according to a new state report. The California Department of Water Resource’s first annual water supply and demand assessment surveyed the state’s urban water agencies to see how they are managing tight supplies through conservation efforts and improved drought planning. … [Metropolitan Water District of Southern California] spokeswoman Rebecca Kimitch added that deteriorating conditions on the Colorado River mean the rest of Southern California could also see calls for increased conservation in the coming months.

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Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

Water as part of the climate solution

The intersection of freshwater and climate is a frequently ignored but critical element of the climate problem, according to a new study from Sweden that explores the link and offers solutions that will help lower emissions.  Two years in the making, the study, “The Essential Drop to Reach Net-Zero: Unpacking Freshwater’s Role in Climate Change Mitigation,” published by the Stockholm Resilience Centre, identifies forests and freshwater wetlands as a crucial depository of carbon. More than 30 percent of estimated global carbon emissions are sequestered in wetlands. So the need to protect and restore them is urgent. 

Aquafornia news CNN

Arizona communities at epicenter of water crisis

America’s west is experiencing the worst drought in 1,200 years. The Colorado River is at record lows, threatening the livelihoods of 40 million people who rely on the river everyday. And though the government could impose additional water supply cuts, some Arizona communities are already feeling the effects. Arizona resident Karen Nabity has appreciated living in Rio Verde Foothills, about an hour northeast of Phoenix. That is, until her surroundings began to run dry. According to reports, Maricopa County, which includes the Rio Verde Foothills, is the fastest-growing in the nation.

Aquafornia news KCRW - Los Angeles

To desal or not? Ocean water may be last resort for drought-stricken CA

The California Coastal Commission recently approved the construction of two more desalination plants, one near Monterey, and one by Dana Point. This adds to the four already providing drinking water in the state. But in 2020, this same commission advised not to build the Monterey plant. What changed?  The state has faced its driest three years on record, and it needs more potable water for its almost 40 million residents, especially the ones living on the coast. …  Many countries in the Middle East, and even parts of the United States, rely almost exclusively on desalinated water, which is ocean water with the salt and other impurities removed. Nevertheless, there are significant costs in terms of energy needed for the desalination process and environmental damage. In the case of the plant near Monterey, local residents complained about other factors too.

Aquafornia news Smithsonian Magazine

A century ago, this water agreement changed the West. Now, the region is in crisis

The Colorado River has long been regarded as the “lifeline of the Southwest.” It supplies water to 40 million people in seven states, 29 Native American tribes and parts of Mexico. Farmers use it to irrigate nearly 5.5 million acres of agricultural land.  One hundred years ago this month, the signing of the Colorado River Compact laid the foundation for how water from the river is used today. But the signers of the 1922 agreement had no way of knowing what the future would bring. Decades of overuse because of faulty science and population growth—along with climate change—have all reduced the river’s flow and the water levels in the nation’s largest reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell. Now, the basin is facing a crisis.

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Aquafornia news KCRW - Los Angeles

CA solar canals could help fix 2 climate problems at once

California’s newest infrastructure project will hit two proverbial climate birds with one stone. And Los Angeles city officials just decided last week to try one of its own. The plan is to cover some of California’s exposed water canals with solar panels. It will prevent evaporation amidst the state’s historic drought. It will also create renewable energy as the state attempts to meet lofty decarbonization goals. The idea gained traction in California after researchers at UC Merced studied the possibility on the state’s canals last year.  “If we put solar panels over all 4000 miles of California’s open canals, we estimated we could save 65 billion gallons of water annually,” says Brandi McKuin, who led the study. “That’s enough for the residential water needs of 2 million people – enough to irrigate 50,000 acres of farmland.”

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Giving Tuesday is your chance to support water education in California and the West

Today on Giving Tuesday, a global day of philanthropy, you can support impartial education and informed decision-making on water resources in California and the West by making a tax-deductible donation to the Water Education Foundation. Your support ensures that our 45-year legacy of producing in-depth news, educational workshops and accessible information on water reaches new heights in 2023.

Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

New report: Continued water conservation is key to enabling suppliers to meet demand

As directed by 2018 legislation, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) today submitted a first report to the State Water Resources Control Board summarizing how urban water districts assess the adequacy of their supplies over the next seven months.  Broadly, the assessments show the importance of conservation by individual Californians to help suppliers meet demands through June 30, 2023. In this year’s assessments, urban water suppliers indicate that they will rely on either continued conservation or more aggressive actions to meet demand through June 30, 2023, if dry conditions persist. They report that they can ensure adequate water supplies through water-saving strategies, such as requiring customers to limit outdoor water and providing leak detection and repair services.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Video: Surplus and shortage—California’s water balancing act

After three years of virtual events, the PPIC Water Policy Center’s annual fall conference made a welcome return to an in-person format in Sacramento on Friday, November 18. The half-day event began with a welcome from PPIC Water Policy Center assistant director Caity Peterson and a presentation by senior fellow Jeffrey Mount. “The elephant in the room is that conditions have changed,” said Mount. “We’re no longer talking about some future existential threat….we have now moved into the era of the hot drought.” Hotter droughts, he said, coupled with a thirstier atmosphere, are testing California’s water system as never before. 

Aquafornia news The Revelator

Opinion: ‘Free water’ was never free, writes a historian of the American West

The West uses too much water. For such a simple problem, the obvious solution — use less — lies frustratingly out of reach. That inability to change may seem hard to understand, but the root of the problem becomes clearer if we consider the role of the West in the historical development of the United States: The purpose of our system of “free water” — heavily subsidized water for irrigation — was to provide opportunities to settlers. … With the New Deal, the Bureau of Reclamation came into its own: Hoover Dam, completed in 1935 as the world’s largest dam, served as a symbol for the country’s ability to conquer nature. Progressives championed desert reclamation at the turn of the century, but the federal government’s willingness to build infrastructure and give water away on extravagantly lenient terms was just as appealing for conservatives after World War II.
-Written by Revelator contributor Nate Housley.

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Aquafornia news CNBC

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: U.S. warns California cities possible water cuts in fourth dry year

Federal water managers on Monday warned California cities and industrial users receiving water from the Central Valley Project to prepare for a fourth year of drought and possibly “extremely limited water supply” during 2023. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, an agency of the Interior Department that oversees water resource management, said drought conditions in California have persisted despite early storms this month, and warned of looming water conservation actions. … The agency said water storage is near historic lows in the reservoirs it oversees in the state, which irrigate more than 3 million acres of land in central California and supply major urban centers in the Greater Sacramento and San Francisco Bay areas. The project’s water provides supplies for approximately 2.5 million people per year.

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Aquafornia news East County Magazine

Opinion: Sweetwater drains Loveland Reservoir to dead pool level to save its ratepayers money– at the expense of rural residents, wildlife, and fire protection

Without any regard to impacts on wildlife, fire danger, rural residents or recreational users at Loveland Reservoir near Alpine in San Diego’s East County, the Sweetwater Water Authority (SWA) on November 16 began draining down the lake with an intent to reduce it to “dead pool” level – less than one-half of one percent of the reservoir’s capacity, once draining is completed over the next couple of weeks or so. The water is being piped to Sweetwater Reservoir in Otay Mesa. From there, it will be used to provide drinking water and other water needs to residents in the South Bay communities of Chula Vista, National City and Bonita.
-Written by Miriam Raftery.

Aquafornia news Forbes

Opinion: Can the Mississippi learn from the Colorado’s failure?

The entire Mississippi River basin is experiencing drought conditions that are being compared to the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s. The scenes — from exposed shipwrecks to sand dunes cropping up where the river used to flow — are surreal, and people from New Orleans to the Upper Midwest are getting nervous. I’m increasingly being asked: Is this the future of the Mississippi? And what would that mean for the world’s food supply — 92% of all U.S. agricultural exports are produced in the Mississippi River basin? Underpinning these questions is the same fear: Will the Mississippi turn into a new Colorado River—which is so oversubscribed it never reaches its historic delta anymore? 
-Written by John Sabo, director of ByWater Institute at Tulane University, avid fly fisherman. 

Aquafornia news New York Times

Millions in Houston are told to boil water

Millions of Houston residents were told Sunday night to boil their water before drinking it after a power outage at a water purification plant caused water pressure to dip and triggered a mandatory boil-water notice, officials said. The order prompted officials in Texas’s largest city to close public schools for at least one day. Officials said the orders were issued out of an abundance of caution and that they had not received any reports of customers getting sick from drinking contaminated water. … Erin Jones, a spokeswoman for Houston Public Works, said that the agency, which serves about 2.3 million customers, is following state protocols and testing water samples. The boil order is likely to remain in effect until at least Tuesday morning, she said.

Aquafornia news KTLA - Los Angeles

California drought: Google Earth images show state’s reservoir levels through the years

A lot has changed for California’s reservoirs over the last five years. In April 2017, then-Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order that declared California’s drought state of emergency over in most counties (Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Tuolumne counties were initially excluded). The emergency order had been in place since 2014 following several years of historic drought conditions. … Shasta is currently at 31% capacity, down from its historical capacity of 57% this time of year. Storage level graphs from the California Department of Water Resources show today’s water level hovering above 2014’s historically low levels.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Study: California drought causes economic losses

As California prepares for a fourth consecutive year of drought and farmland across the Golden State increasingly goes idle, growers continue to face mounting economic challenges. In a new report about the financial toll of the state’s extreme drought conditions, researchers estimated that the state’s irrigated farmland dropped by 752,000 acres, or nearly 10%, from 2019 to 2022. Fields meant to harvest rice, almonds and other crops are instead going unplanted, causing the level of fallowed land across California to surpass the prior peak seen during the state’s last drought that ran from 2012 to 2016. As a result, the researchers found, California crop revenues fell by $1.7 billion, or 4.6%, during that time …

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Adapting to California’s “weather whiplash” with Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations

California already has one of the most variable climates in the United States, and it’s getting more extreme. Our “weather whiplash,” as it’s becoming known, is increasingly marked by long periods of warm, dry conditions punctuated by stronger and wetter atmospheric river storms. … Recognizing the influence of atmospheric rivers on California’s changing climate, Yuba Water is working with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes at UC San Diego, the California Department of Water Resources, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others to implement Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations in the Yuba and Feather river watersheds. FIRO is a flexible water management strategy that uses improved weather and water forecasts …

Aquafornia news Fresno Bee

Westlands boss Thomas Birmingham retiring after ‘change coalition’ elected to board

Thomas Birmingham, general manager of the massive Westlands Water District since 2000, Wednesday announced plans to step down at the end of 2022. His announcement follows the election of four new members to the Westlands Board of Directors on Nov. 8 who would give a so-called “change coalition” a solid majority of six seats on the nine-member board. The top priority for the coalition is “a change in leadership,” according to Sarah Woolf, who along with Jon Reiter helped coordinate a group of increasingly frustrated Westlands farmers to run the slate of change candidates, SJV Water reported. 

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Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Monday Top of the Scroll: Colorado River users, facing historic uncertainty, are set to meet in Las Vegas next month

As Colorado River water users prepare to meet in Las Vegas next month, the reality they face is one of growing uncertainty with few simple options left on the negotiating table. The math is well understood: There are more demands for the river than there is water coming into its reservoirs.  But cutting back at the scale necessary — and on a voluntary basis — has proven painstakingly difficult this year as top officials from across the Colorado River watershed have failed to reach a settlement. If the cuts are inevitable based on physical realities, questions remain about what form they will take. Will they be voluntary? Mandatory? Both? And how would they be enforced?

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Aquafornia news CNBC

On the job: What it takes to earn $70K as a water operator in California

The promise of job security and work-life balance drew Fernando Gonzalez to become a water operator. Now that he’s worked as one for a few years, he sees his job as much more than fining people for using too much water. On a given day, he’s patrolling neighborhoods spanning from farmland to Malibu mansions, looking for evidence that residents are wasting water. He hands out notices of leaky sprinklers or when residents run sprinklers right after a rainstorm, sure, but the most rewarding part of his job is interacting with customers about how they can save water, and why it’s so important. … Here’s how Gonzalez earns $70,000 a year, or nearly $100,000 with overtime, as a water operator in Calabasas, Calif.

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Aquafornia news Audubon

Blog: The Colorado River Compact at 100

On November 24, 1922, representatives of the seven Colorado River basin states—Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming—gathered in Santa Fe, N.M., to sign the Colorado River Compact, cementing into law a regime for dividing the river’s water. Without exception, these men were newcomers to a region inhabited since time immemorial by Native American Tribes. Two of them represented states just a decade old, none represented states more than 75-years-old, and their purpose was to enable colonial settlers to establish a foothold through irrigation-driven economic development.

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Aquafornia news Christian Science Monitor

Utah manages population growth in an era of Western drought

Ever since European settlers crossed the Rockies, access to water has defined the development of the American West. Water irrigates farms, hydrates households, powers machinery. But a prolonged drought that began in 2000 has become the Southwest’s driest 22-year period in 12 centuries, according to analyses of tree-ring records. This cycle of dryness comes amid a population boom in drought-prone states like Utah. Its residents grew by 18% to 3.25 million from 2010 to 2020, faster than any other state, even before the work-from-home trend took hold. That migration has pushed up the price of real estate and, as elsewhere, sparked debate in Utah over housing availability and affordability for average families. But the debate is increasingly laced with other concerns: Will there be enough water for everyone? And who gets priority?

Aquafornia news ScienceDaily

New research: Limiting global warming now can preserve valuable freshwater resource

A research team has found that the Andean region of Chile could face noticeable snow loss and roughly 10% less mountain water runoff with a global warming of approximately 2.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels over the next three decades. The study also shows that what happens in the Andes could be a harbinger of what is to come for the California Sierra Nevada mountain range, and highlights the importance of carbon-mitigation strategies to prevent this from occurring. … Last year, a study co-led by Alan Rhoades and Erica Siirila-Woodburn, research scientists in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Area of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), found that if global warming continues along the high-emissions scenario, low-to-no-snow winters will become a regular occurrence in the mountain ranges of the western U.S. in 35 to 60 years.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: ‘It’s a disaster.’ Drought dramatically shrinking California farmland, costing $1.7 billion

In the fall, rice fields in the Sacramento Valley usually shine golden brown as they await harvesting. This year, however, many fields were left covered with bare dirt. “It’s a disaster,” said rice farmer Don Bransford. “This has never happened. Never. And I’ve been farming since 1980.” … California has just gone through the state’s driest three-year period on record, and this year the drought has pushed the fallowing of farmland to a new high. In a new report on the drought’s economic effects, researchers estimated that California’s irrigated farmland shrank by 752,000 acres, or nearly 10%, in 2022 compared with 2019 — the year prior to the drought. That was up from an estimated 563,000 acres of fallowed farmland last year.

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Aquafornia news Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District

In Memoriam: EVMWD mourns the loss of Board Director Phil Williams

Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District board of directors and staff were saddened by the death of Board Director Phil Williams. Director Phil Williams served on EVMWD’s board of director since 2001, representing EVMWD’s Division 4, which includes areas of Corona and western Lake Elsinore, as well as the unincorporated communities of Horsethief Canyon and Alberhill. “We have lost an admired and respected member of the EVMWD family” said Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District General Manager Greg Thomas. … Williams, a local real estate broker and licensed general contractor, was a lifelong resident of Lake Elsinore. As a board member for EVMWD, Williams served as board president seven times over his 21 year tenure on the board.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Drought prompts water transfer between Loveland and Sweetwater reservoirs

Sweetwater Authority has begun transferring water between its two reservoirs in response to drought conditions, the agency announced. The move has paused access to fishing at Loveland Reservoir and local anglers fear that continued draining will result in a permanent end to one of the few, free options to fish in the region. Tuesday marked the beginning of a water transfer from Loveland, which is near Alpine, to the Sweetwater Reservoir south of Spring Valley, where it will be treated by the agency and then supplied to its 200,000 customers in Bonita, Chula Vista and National City.

Aquafornia news Tehachapi News

Golden Hills water rights issue tabled until December water district meeting

The final regular meeting for two members of the Board of Directors of Tehachapi-Cummings County Water District was a quick one, with little business conducted. Director James Pack served eight years on the board and Director Kathy Cassil served four years. Both opted not to run for reelection. At the Nov. 16 meeting, board President Robert Schultz and the district’s General Manager Tom Neisler both thanked the two for their service on the board. Neisler said he hopes they will attend the December meeting at which the district will transition to a new board.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Western states ponder regional grid as renewables grow

In other areas of the country, electricity grids are organized under operators that coordinate and control the market across state lines. But in the Western Interconnection, which serves most of the western U.S. and parts of Canada, there are 38 different authorities responsible for balancing their own grids. … That could be especially valuable as the West deals with a decades-long drought that threatens hydropower, and as states and utilities close large coal plants. A regional market, experts say, would allow ample wind generation in more central states to flow west, while solar production from states like California and Arizona could be sent elsewhere.

Aquafornia news Payson Roundup

Opinion: Native American tribes fight for water rights

The fierce struggle for water in a drought-stricken West continues to roil politics — and embroil a host of tribal water claims. The decades-long drought has dried up reservoirs and forced federal water cutbacks for the 40 million people in seven states who rely on the Colorado River for water. But it has also dramatically increased the stakes for the region in decades-old water claims by a host of tribes — including the Navajo and the White Mountain Apache. The Tonto Apache Tribe also has a decades-old claim to water from the Colorado River. Efforts to settle that claim with water from the C.C. Cragin Reservoir with a payment from the federal government to buy into Payson’s pipeline have been stalled for years — and missed out on a gush of federal pandemic and infrastructure aid to tribes.
-Written by contributor Peter Aleshire. 

Aquafornia news The Daily Independent

News release: ASU tapped to lead statewide water initiative

Arizona State University and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced Nov. 16 that the university will lead a multi-year Arizona Water Innovation Initiative to provide immediate, actionable and evidence-based solutions to ensure that Arizona will continue to thrive with a secure future water supply, according to a news release.  Ducey has committed resources and has asked ASU to work with industrial, municipal, agricultural, tribal and international partners to rapidly accelerate and deploy new approaches and technology for water conversation, augmentation, desalination, efficiency, infrastructure, and reuse.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Question of water rights looms over controversial proposed new dam

A controversial proposed dam seems to have a new pathway forward. But how far will it get through California’s byzantine world of water rights? Nobody seems to agree on an answer.  The Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir is a joint project between the Del Puerto Water District and the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractor Authority on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. A Stanislaus County Superior Court judge on Oct. 31 dismissed a host of environmental challenges against the project as well as all concerns brought by another group of irrigators, the Friant Water Supply Protection Association.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: The flow of California water policy – a chart

California water policy is often discussed and depicted as being impossibly complex.  In its essentials, it can be seen much more simply, as in the flow chart below.  Without extreme events (such as floods and droughts), the policy process would be simpler, but ironically less effective, and less well funded. … California’s remarkable water history shows that frequent extreme events have activated enough innovation and preparations over 170 years such that floods, droughts, and earthquakes are now much less threatening to California’s population and economy.  However, frequent failures have not yet motivated adequate preparation and management for ecosystems and rural water supplies.

Aquafornia news Long Beach Press Telegram

Southern California water agencies join providers in 6 states to reduce use

States that use water from the Colorado River have been unable to reach a realistic agreement on how to reduce consumption enough to keep the river a viable source — especially since the last drought has dropped reservoirs to record lows. So agencies that provide water directly in six of those states have joined together in a Memorandum of Understanding, saying they will take the initiative to further reduce water use and find other ways to stop taking so much from the Colorado River, according to a recent press release. The Metropolitan Water District, which supplies imported water to most of Southern California, has signed the agreement, as has Long Beach Water and San Diego County. 

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Peyron testifies in front of Congress about Tule River Tribe’s water crisis

The Tule River Tribe Chairman presented his case in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, continuing the decades long effort to enact federal legislation to provide water rights for the Tule River Reservation that would address a dire need. Tule River Tribe Chairman Neil Peyron testified in front of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs concerning the proposed Tule River Tribe Reserved Water Rights Settlement Act of 2022. On September 15, California’s two Democratic U.S. Senators, Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein introduced the Tule River Tribe Reserved Rights Settlement Act. The legislation is a product of an effort that has lasted more than 50 years made by the Tule River Tribe to obtain recognition of their federal reserved Indian water rights.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: California drought – San Joaquin Valley cities not saving water

Remember a couple weeks ago when it rained half an inch in Fresno and snowed in the Sierra? Sure was nice while it lasted. But with nothing but sunny skies in the short-term forecast and La Niña ocean conditions expected once again this winter, all signs point to a fourth consecutive year of California drought. … Because the San Joaquin Valley is experiencing California’s worst drought conditions as well as our economic dependence on agriculture, those of us living here should be extra diligent about conserving water. Especially when instructed to do so by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who in July 2021 called for a 15% voluntary reduction in water use rather than impose mandatory restrictions similar to those implemented in 2015 by former Gov. Jerry Brown.
-Written by Fresno Bee columnist Marek Warszawski.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Monday Top of the Scroll: Drought has pushed 100-year-old Colorado River Compact to the brink

100 years ago, Wyoming signed onto a deal to divide the water that flows through the Colorado River basin among seven states. It’s based on a formula — one likely based on mistaken beliefs about the river itself — that did not award extra credit for living in the mountains where the snow piles up. Instead, the states signed a compact allocating the water where it would readily be put to work. It meant the more populated states of California, Colorado and Arizona would get the biggest shares. … But more than two decades into a punishing drought that climate scientists say will likely intensify with more warming, the system can no longer supply everything that some 40 million people in a warming and drying region desire from it, or that grocers nationwide sell from its verdant fields. 

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin Municipal Water District looks to refine conservation strategy

As the Marin Municipal Water District nears the end of a nearly yearlong study of potential new water supplies, some district leaders say more information is needed on the costs and benefits of bolstering water conservation investments. … The district has been studying new water supplies since March after facing the prospect of depleting local reservoir storage following two years of severe drought. Rains in late 2021 helped to nearly refill the district’s seven reservoirs, giving it time to review new sources of water. The district hired the Jacobs Engineering firm to conduct the water supply study. The study seeks to compare estimated costs and water yields for several options, including desalination, recycled water, enlarging reservoirs and new connections to outside water agencies. 

Aquafornia news The Claremont Courier

Opinion: Water market is playing unsustainable game of chicken

A Claremont friend of ours recently confessed, she is depressed if she sees a brown lawn, and she is depressed if she sees a green lawn. We think of our friend as reasonably well-adjusted, so lawns do seem to be the culprits here. Indeed, out for one of our walks on a Thursday evening — not a permissible sprinkler day — my wife and I see homes in our neighborhood with the sprinklers going full blast, with a steady flow of water running into the street. The L.A. Times recently interviewed Max Gomberg, who resigned as a senior manager with the California State Water Board out of his frustration over inaction in Sacramento on water. He described participants in the water market as playing a game of chicken, waiting to see who would blink first, taking us down an unsustainable path.
-Written by Stephen Marks, the Elden Smith Professor of Economics at Pomona College.

Aquafornia news JDSupra

Blog: Sustainability, water and recapture—understanding technology, environmental, and water rights concerns of aquifer storage and recovery

According to the National Center for Environmental Information, about 51 percent of the continental United States has been experiencing drought conditions in the summer of 2022. More than 70 percent of the western U.S. faces severe drought. The Colorado River basin supply is rapidly declining, and Lake Mead and Lake Powell are at critically low levels. Because of this, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has declared a Tier 2 water shortage on the Colorado River impacting seven western states that depend on water from the river. … In the U.S., more than 40 percent of the population relies on groundwater for its drinking water. Groundwater is also used for irrigation, domestic use, public use, and industrial and mining activities.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Controversial Monterey Bay desalination plant approved

The California Coastal Commission [Thursday night] approved another desalination plant, despite citing its high costs, risks to Monterey Bay’s environment and “the most significant environmental justice issues” the commission has faced in recent years.  The commission’s divided, 8-to-2 vote came after 13 hours of debate at a Salinas public hearing packed with several hundred people, plus more crammed into overflow space. Many of the 375 who signed up to speak opposed the project — some in tears. Much of the debate focused on the fairness of locating a for-profit company’s facility in the Monterey County city of Marina — which does not need the water and is home to designated disadvantaged neighborhoods. The expensive supply will flow to other communities, including the whiter, wealthy enclaves of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach. 

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Climate-challenged California must learn to thrive with less water

California has long been a hub of innovation. But managing the increasing variability of our weather in an era of climate change will challenge even the best and brightest water and land managers. Conditions are changing fast—and they will keep changing. And the warmer, drier conditions are revealing some profound weaknesses in our water supply systems. As we argue in our new report, Priorities for California’s Water: Thriving with Less, even if we do everything right, water supplies are likely to decline. The grand challenge for 21st-century water management in California is learning to thrive with less.

Aquafornia news Fronteras

Arizona’s water supply is shrinking, but its population is growing. Is it sustainable?

Maricopa County’s population has more than doubled over the past 30 years, making it one of the fastest growing regions in the country. But meanwhile, Arizona’s water supply has become more and more depleted. So as growth continues, can the state sustain even more residents? In most areas of central Arizona, a developer can’t build a new home without first proving that there’s enough water to last that property 100 years. But there are loopholes for larger lots in rural areas, like many homes in Rio Verde Foothills. And as water becomes scarcer, some worry even properties with those 100-year plans might not all be sustainable.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Gary Kremen concedes Santa Clara Valley water district race; Eisenberg vows to oppose Pacheco Dam

In an outcome that could change whether Silicon Valley’s largest water district moves forward with a $2.5 billion plan to build a new dam at Pacheco Pass, voters have shaken up the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board. Gary Kremen, a tech investor who co-founded and once owned domain names like, and, has been defeated in his effort to seek re-election to a third term by Rebecca Eisenberg, a Palo Alto attorney. Kremen conceded Wednesday after county elections officials updated the count and reported he was trailing 54.8% to 45.2% — or by 7,765 votes with roughly 8,000 ballots left to count. 

Aquafornia news The Desert Review

Farm groups highlight the importance of alfalfa in the face of ongoing Western drought

With drought conditions continuing to blanket the Western U.S., and farmers struggling to find adequate water supplies, competing interests are pressuring the federal government to cut the water supply farmers are using to grow our food, including alfalfa, which is a foundational food chain crop. In response, the Family Farm Alliance and California Farm Water Coalition have produced a White Paper titled, “Our Food Supply at Risk; The Importance of Alfalfa Production in the American West,” detailing the valuable role alfalfa plays as a principal feed source for the nation’s livestock and diary industries, its environmental benefits, and contribution to effective drought management.

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Aquafornia news KSL - Salt Lake City

What role can history play in saving the Great Salt Lake, solving Utah’s water woes?

John Wesley Powell offered a poignant message for Western U.S. communities when he was the featured speaker in a room full of developers and government leaders at a major irrigation conference held in Los Angeles in October 1893. Powell, then director of the U.S. Geological Survey, started off strong, receiving applause from those listening to him, noted Greg Smoak, a professor of history and director of the American West Center at the University of Utah. … “There is not enough water to irrigate all the lands … There is but a small portion of the irrigable land which can be irrigated when all the water, every drop of water, is utilized,” Powell warned the crowd, adding that he foresaw a future filled with battles over water rights.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Help make an impact on water education in California and the West through workplace giving

As drought extends its grip on California and the West, the important work of educating about water becomes even more important. Since 1977, the Water Education Foundation has been a trusted source of water news and programming, putting water resource issues in California and the West into context. You can support the important work of our nonprofit by making a tax-deductible gift via a one-time payroll deduction or a set amount per pay period through your employer, whether you work for a federal or state agency or a private employer. 

Aquafornia news KTLA - Los Angeles

These are the driest reservoirs in California

Despite recent rain storms across the state, California’s historic drought shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. With the lack of meaningful regular precipitation, capacity at California’s reservoirs continue to decline, putting stress on the state’s water supply. Across the board, nearly all of California’s major water supply reservoirs managed by the California Department of Water Resources are well below historic averages. … Shasta, the largest state reservoir with a capacity of 4,552,000 acre-feet of water, is currently at 31% capacity. Historically, capacity at Shasta Lake is usually around 57% this time of year. Lake Oroville, which has a capacity of about 3,537,000 acre-feet of water, is in even more dire straits. As of Nov. 14, Oroville is at 29% capacity, almost half of the historic average of 58%.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Opinion: Bill would impose water tax on exported crops

Alfalfa is often the target of critics of irrigated agriculture who frequently rely upon simplistic explanations to heap scorn upon growing a forage crop in the West during times of drought. Two Democratic congressmen from Arizona — Ruben Gallego and Raúl Grijalva — last month introduced the “Domestic Water Protection Act of 2022” (H.R. 9194), which would impose an excise tax on the sale of a “water-intensive” crop. The tax is 300% of the price for which the crop is sold and is paid by the manufacturer, producer, or importer of the crop. The bill defines water-intensive crop as a crop grown in an area experiencing prolonged drought at the time such crop is grown, and by a manufacturer, producer, or importer that is a foreign corporation or foreign government.
-Written by Dan Keppen, executive director of Family Farm Alliance.

Aquafornia news jfleck at inkstain

Blog: A century ago in Colorado River Compact negotiations: How much water to send past Lee’s Ferry?

Colorado River Commission Chairman Herbert Hoover gathered the seven states’ representatives at opened at 11:00 a.m. Nov. 15, 1922, for the 17th meeting in their efforts to forge an agreement to share the Colorado River. They had been holed up at Bishop’s Lodge outside Santa Fe for five days, wrestling with how to divide the river. By that point in the negotiations they had settled on a general framework, dividing the river into an “upper” and “lower” basin, but were stuck on the question of how much water the upper states would be required to send each year to the lower states. Hoover intentionally set a later starting time that day to give the upper river states plenty of time to caucus among themselves to consider his proposal from the previous day that the Upper Basin deliver 82 million acre-feet every ten years plus a 4 and ½ million acre foot minimum annual flow.

Aquafornia news NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Blog: 5 things to know about how SWOT will look at the world’s water

On Dec. 12, NASA will launch the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite into Earth orbit from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California atop a Falcon 9 rocket. The mission is a collaborative effort between NASA and the French space agency Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) – with contributions from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the UK Space Agency – that will survey water on more than 90% of the planet’s surface. The satellite will measure the height of water in Earth’s freshwater bodies and the ocean, providing insights into how the ocean influences climate change; how a warming world affects lakes, rivers, and reservoirs; and how communities can better prepare for disasters, like floods.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Districts agree to collaborate on Tuolumne River

Modesto Irrigation District, Turlock Irrigation District and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission have signed a memorandum of understanding with the state to advance a voluntary agreement for the Tuolumne River. MID and TID, which jointly operate the Don Pedro Reservoir on the Tuolumne River, joined dozens of other California water agencies in committing to collaborate with the state to finalize agreements that will provide water supply reliability to communities, while enhancing river ecosystems. Contra Costa Water District signed onto the agreement in September. … The action by the districts signals momentum towards an alternative to regulations adopted by the State Water Resources Control Board in 2018, as part of the first phase of the state’s Bay-Delta water quality control plan.

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Aquafornia news Nossaman

California sues alleged PFAS manufacturers for hundreds of millions of dollars

On November 10, 2022, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that he had filed a lawsuit against 3M, DuPont, and sixteen other companies for their roles in manufacturing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The lawsuit seeks money damages, which could reach hundreds of millions of dollars, for damages, penalties, and restitution, as well as injunctive relief and abatement. Some consider the lawsuit the broadest of its kind brought by any state. PFAS is an umbrella term that covers dozens of types of man-made chemicals. PFAS were used for a variety of purposes, including in nonstick cookware and firefighting foam, although their usage has been phased out voluntarily by companies in the United States over the past 20-25 years.

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Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Westlands shake-up: Reformers sweep election, oust water board’s president. Is its GM next?

A slate of candidates aiming to reform the powerful Westlands Water District swept into victory on Monday night, cementing a new board majority and likely spelling the end of the line for the district’s general manager. The four candidates – Justin Diener, Ernie Costamagna, Jeremy Hughes, and Ross Franson – captured the four available seats in preliminary results. In the process, they are primed to boot the lone incumbent running for re-election from his seat – current Westlands board president Ryan Ferguson.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Priorities for California’s water

In the last decade, California—along with the rest of the world—has entered a new phase of climate change. The changes that scientists predicted have started to arrive. California’s already variable climate is growing increasingly volatile and unpredictable: The dry periods are hotter and drier, and the wet periods—lately too few and far between—are warmer and often more intense. … The snowpack—that once-reliable annual source of water—is diminishing as temperatures rise. Water withdrawals during multiyear droughts are depleting the state’s reservoirs and groundwater basins. … This report considers the state of water in California: What changes are we seeing now, and what should we expect in the near future? 

Aquafornia news Fox 10 - Phoenix

Arizona’s megadrought: The latest and what can we do to help

The federal government is expected to restrict Arizona’s water supply even more in the coming months due to the megadrought, heading into the new year. However, no one knows exactly what that will mean, but we do know the three-decade drought is shrinking the Colorado River with no end in sight. … Buckeye’s population is currently at about 75,000 but sits on 600 square miles of open land with plans to develop about every last inch, but satisfying thirsty mouths is a drop in the bucket compared to watering thirsty crops. .. Buckeye does a leg up, thanks to an underground aquifer up to a thousand feet deep. Every drop is closely monitored and replenished by law.

Aquafornia news Lake Powell Chronicle

Blog: Stanislaus – It’s never too late to save a river

Consider California’s Stanislaus River. In the 1970s, people of all ages and abilities reveled in running its 13 miles of rapids bearing scary names like Widowmaker and Devil’s Staircase. Not far from Sacramento and San Francisco, the limestone canyon offered renewal and adventure to people nearly year-round. But back in 1944, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation authorized 625-foot-high New Melones Dam for the Stan, though filling it would drown the beloved canyon…. Now, with New Melones logging its fourth decade of broken promises in water delivery, flood control and energy production, hundreds of river advocates from the old campaign hope to reclaim the Stan. In their teens and 20s back then, and today in their 60s and 70s, they believe the timing has never been better. 

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

News release: Superior Court of California reaffirms the Council’s broad authority as Delta stewards

For the second time since the Delta Stewardship Council’s establishment in 2010, its regulatory authority has been upheld by California’s judicial branch, clearing the way for the Council to continue to apply its expertise and exercise its broad authority in determining how to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Delta Reform Act. On November 4, the Superior Court of California ruled in favor of the Council regarding lawsuits filed by 17 parties challenging two amendments to the Delta Plan and the Programmatic Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) prepared pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council

Blog: Colorado Basin tribes address a historic drought—and their water rights—head-on

To the Ute Mountain Ute, grappling with its water supply is an ongoing challenge. Despite having senior water rights dating back to 1868, when the Kit Carson Treaty created the reservation, the tribe received none of its rightful water for decades as non-Native settlers dammed rivers and diverted flows. And like many tribes across the Southwest, it still struggles to properly quantify and settle some of the water claims already validated by a long stream of court decisions. Even when tribes have been able to secure their water rights, they have often lacked the expensive infrastructure for getting it to their reservations, which means their water gets used, without payment, by non-native groups.

Aquafornia news jfleck at inkstain

Blog: A century ago in Colorado River Compact negotiations: Storage, yes. But in the compact?

When the Colorado River Compact Commission’s members returned to negotiations on the morning of Nov. 14 , 1922, they were presented with three important questions – one which survived as language in the final compact and two which did not, but all three of which remain important to the river’s management today. As they convened that morning at Bishop’s Lodge, outside Santa Fe, Commission Chairman Herbert Hoover laid out what he called “our three main propositions” – a division of the use of the water between an upper and lower basin the term of a multi-year upstream-to-downstrom flow commitment (flow at Lee’s Ferry)and a minimum delivery for any one year the question of whether the compact should be made contingent on construction of large storage reservoirs on the river.

Aquafornia news Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

New research: Global expansion of sustainable irrigation limited by water storage

Expansion of sustainable irrigation (i.e., using sustainable water resources to irrigate water-limited croplands) can increase food production, while neither depleting water stocks nor encroaching upon nature. Yet, there is a mismatch in timing of water availability and of irrigation needs in many geographies, necessitating temporary water storage. We quantify global volumes of water that requires temporary storage to be leveraged for an expansion of sustainable irrigation and discuss options to provide that storage. While dammed reservoirs are crucial for today’s irrigation, dams alone will not suffice to fully leverage sustainable water resources in the future and while creating major impacts on nature and people. This highlights the urgent need for alternative solutions to water storage and demand side approaches to food security.

Aquafornia news Public News Service

New film highlights water struggle between rural high desert and LA

A new film about the transfer of water from the high desert to Los Angeles – called “Without Water” – has just been released on the internet. The film highlights the struggle between the community around Long Valley, which is between Mammoth and Bishop California – and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The D-W-P has court permission to terminate longstanding water leases and limit irrigation water in Long and Little Round valleys. Matt McClain, campaign manager the Keep Long Valley Green Coalition, said that would endanger wildlife, fish, cattle grazing, tourism and Native American cultural sites. So advocates are asking for at least 2.8 acre feet of water per year going forward.

Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

Gov. Cox put new water rights on hold. Will it actually help the Great Salt Lake?

Gov. Spencer Cox announced this month that all new water rights in the Great Salt Lake Basin are on pause, given the lake’s crisis situation. The move sounds big, sweeping and dramatic — it applies to the lake’s main tributaries that drain nearly 10,000 square miles in Utah. Still, it’s hard to say how much of a difference it will make for the Great Salt Lake, which has continued to shrink after hitting another record low over the summer, almost entirely due to Utah’s water diversions. The governor’s current suspension only applies to new water right applications and does not interfere with existing ones. New water rights would be the most junior with the lowest priority anyway. And in periods of drought, junior water right holders sometimes don’t get to divert any water at all.

Aquafornia news Popular Science

Guayule farms are taking off in water-stricken Arizona

When the government declared an official “shortage” on the river last year, an unprecedented step, it triggered major water cuts in the central Arizona county. And those cuts have caused some farmers in Pinal County to look for more water-efficient crops, including Will Thelander, a third generation farmer in Arizona, who is testing a crop called guayule.  Guayule, a desert-adapted shrub pronounced “wy-oo-lee,” could be used for several products, most notably as a natural rubber for tires. And it requires only about half the water of cotton, alfalfa, and corn—the more water-intensive crops Thelander typically grows. … Native to the Chihuahuan Desert, it requires less water than many other crops, for one. And after it’s established, it doesn’t require any insecticides or tilling, limiting use of the chemicals and supporting carbon storage.

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Aquafornia news KJZZ - Tempe, Ariz.

Is drought in Arizona and the Southwest the new normal?

Two decades of the Southwest megadrought have marked Arizona’s driest period in 1,200 years. With climate change in full swing, greenhouse emissions well above pledged targets and the state facing cutbacks to its share of dwindling Colorado River water, many wonder: Is drought the new normal? In an ideal world, drought would be as simple as the settings on a hair dryer: more heat, more evaporation. But it’s not an ideal world, and less so every day, thanks to climate change, rising water demand — and changing land use.

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Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Are native fishes and reservoirs compatible?

The question addressed in this blog comes from a new PPIC report that calls for reforms in management of environmental water stored behind dams in California. The report shows it is possible to manage water in ways that are compatible with maintaining a natural ecosystem in streams below and above dams (Null et al. 2022). An appendix to this report focuses on fishes (Moyle et al. 2022). It provides information on how dams and reservoirs affect native fish populations and supports the need for improved water management to avoid future extinctions.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Monday Top of the Scroll: San Francisco cuts deal with California water regulators to avoid severe restrictions

Three of California’s biggest water suppliers, including the city of San Francisco, have reached a deal with the state that calls for reducing their immense consumption of river water but not as much as the state had initially demanded. The compromise, announced Thursday, is the latest breakthrough in a years-long effort by state regulators to protect flows in California’s once-grand but increasingly overdrawn rivers. The toll on the waterways, where as much as 90% of the water is pumped to cities and farms, has been exacerbated by drought, leaving fabled runs of salmon and other plants and animals at risk of perishing. … But whether Thursday’s deal, known as “voluntary agreements,” will meaningfully increase river flows — and protect fish and wildlife — remains uncertain.

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Aquafornia news Pasadena Now

Metropolitan Water District Vice Chair tells city committee to expect increasing reductions of water supplies

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Vice Chair Cynthia Kurtz told a City committee she predicted the implementation of more mandatory water reductions by next year as the region faces the challenges of climate change and extended drought. Kurtz knows Pasadena’s water situation well. She served as Pasadena City Manager twice, most recently stepping down as Interim City Manager in August. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the first three months of 2022 have seen record dry weather, and pushed nearly 94% of California into severe drought conditions.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Lake Mead’s water problem, summed up in a single chart

Lake Mead relies on inflow – mostly, water released from the upstream Lake Powell. Until recently, Lake Mead typically would get at least 8.23 million acre-feet of water annually from Lake Powell – enough to cover the state of Maryland in more than a foot of water. We began this year expecting to get a lower 7.48 million acre-feet release from Lake Powell. But the federal Bureau of Reclamation, for the first time, trimmed that mid-year to 7 million acre-feet because of how dangerously close Powell was to something called “minimum power pool.”
-Written by Arizona Republic columnist Joanna Allhands. 

Aquafornia news Water Sources IMPACT

The Klamath Basin is not a lost cause: compromise and controversy in one of America’s most contentious watersheds

As a society, what do we do when too little water has been promised to too many people? What should we be doing differently? In the United States, there is perhaps no better to place to turn for answers to these questions than the Klamath Basin. The Klamath Basin watershed is considered one of the most complicated areas for water governance in the United States owing to its transboundary location (the basin crosses the Oregon-California border), its history of complex litigation and persistent inter-institutional (and interpersonal) conflict, and more than 60 different groups of people who have an interest in the basin’s water allocation.

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Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Fallbrook, Rainbow could lower water bills by leaving San Diego wholesaler

Farmers and other ratepayers in Fallbrook and Rainbow could see an average savings on their water bills of more than $20 a month by joining the Eastern Municipal Water District in Riverside County, according to a new report. However, the move may increase the cost of water for other San Diegans by more than $2 a month on average, according to the findings from the Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO. The San Diego County Water Authority has been hostile to the idea of losing two of its 24 member agencies. The wholesaler has seen its water sales plummet by more than 40 percent since 2007, largely as a result of unanticipated drought conservation.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

“Drop out” from race for seat on a powerful Kern water board appears poised to win

If challenger Eric Averett maintains his lead over incumbent Phil Cerro for a seat on the powerful Kern County Water Agency board, it may prove just how effective a campaign statement can be. Averett said he tried to withdraw his name from the ballot after belatedly learning Cerro would run. But he missed the deadline to have his name removed, Averett told SJV Water in September. He vowed not to campaign – dropping out of the race in spirit – and said he would support Cerro. But when Averett filed his paperwork to run, he did one thing Cerro didn’t, he submitted a campaign statement.

Aquafornia news US Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Fortifying B.F. Sisk Dam and San Luis Reservoir against the power of an earthquake

Earthquakes are a fact of life in California, and at the B.F. Sisk Dam and San Luis Reservoir work is underway to ensure the continued viability and durability of the key resources, even when Mother Nature decides to shake things up. A major seismic upgrade, the largest project of that scale that has occurred at the site since its construction in 1967, received a $100 million investment earlier this year from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. It is Reclamation’s largest dam safety project under the 1978 Safety of Dams Act.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

‘New era’: Marin Municipal Water District could see post-election shakeup

After two years of drought crises at the Marin Municipal Water District, voters might have ousted two longtime board members and replaced them with advocates for expanding local supplies. Election night results on Tuesday showed 28-year incumbent Jack Gibson and eight-year incumbent Larry Bragman potentially losing their seats. Both were trailing their challengers by more than 1,000 votes each. Ranjiv Khush of San Anselmo had a strong lead over Bragman for the Division 3 seat after securing nearly 60% of the vote. Bragman had 31% of the vote while a second challenger, nonprofit director Jack Kenney, had 9%. In Division 1, firefighter Matthew Samson of San Rafael secured 61% of the vote over Gibson.

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

Permit to reopen Cambria’s Water Reclamation Facility remains continually delayed

It’s been more than two years since Cambria applied to turn its emergency water system into a more permanent fixture, but there’s been little progress since then. According to Cambria Community Services District (CCSD) board member Harry Farmer, the permit application was submitted to the county in July 2020. … Cambria’s water issues have been ongoing for more than a decade, but the problems with the now-proposed water reclamation facility started in 2014, after the district declared a water supply emergency. Due to a dire water shortage situation, SLO County proceeded to grant the CCSD an emergency permit to build a water supply project, bypassing the typical requirements needed to obtain an operating permit. 

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

The future of the Monterey Peninsula’s water supply comes before two state boards next week

Thursday, Nov. 17 is shaping up to be a momentous day for the future of the Monterey Peninsula’s water supply, as two major state boards – the California Coastal Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission – are set to weigh in on two separate projects that aim to add supply to the local portfolio. Arguably, the more weighty of the two hearings is the Coastal Commission’s, which is meeting for three days in the Board of Supervisors chambers in Salinas. In those chambers on Nov. 17, the commissioners will consider whether to grant a coastal development permit to California American Water for its proposed desalination project in Marina, which has been a lightning rod for controversy since first being proposed nearly a decade ago.

Aquafornia news WaterWorld

A shift in groundwater perspective

In California, the historically unmonitored and unregulated practice of groundwater pumping has led to declining groundwater levels in many basins across the state. These declining levels have also created pockets of displacement — some greater than 25 feet. … [I]nterferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR), a satellite-based data analysis technique that measures changes in the earth’s surface over time with millimeter precision, … has not only enabled the DWR to develop its first-ever statewide subsidence monitoring system but it’s also bringing undetected subsidence to the surface, giving water managers a consistent source of ground-movement intelligence to help them improve groundwater management and bring stability to unstable ground.

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Thursday Top of the Scroll: CVWD to slash aquifer replenishment to reduce Colorado River water use

The Coachella Valley Water District’s board of directors voted Tuesday to cut back on groundwater replenishment over the next few years to reduce the district’s Colorado River water use amid historic drought conditions. Groundwater replenishment adds water to the local aquifer, which provides nearly all of the drinking water and domestic water sources in the Coachella Valley.  Earlier this year, the Bureau of Reclamation called for the seven states that rely on the Colorado River —  Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — to use at least 15% less water next year from the drought-stricken river system, or between 2 million and 4 million acre-feet less. An acre-foot, about 326,000 gallons of water, is enough to supply about two households for a year.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Register for Dec. 8 Winter Outlook Workshop in SoCal; 2023 Water Leader apps due Dec. 7; support Water Education through paycheck deductions

Register to join us Thursday, Dec. 8, for our Winter Outlook Workshop in Irvine. The past three-year span, 2019 to 2022, has officially been the driest ever statewide going back to 1895 when modern records began in California. With La Niña conditions predicted to persist into this winter, what can reliably be said about the prospects for Water Year 2023? Does La Niña really mean anything for California or is it all washed up as a predictor in this new reality of climate whiplash, and has any of this affected our reliance on historical patterns to forecast California’s water supply? The event is ideal for anyone involved in managing water resources or simply interested in the topic  … Register here!

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Efforts to protect groundwater are tested by drought

Balancing the state’s groundwater supplies for a sustainable future may not be easy due to severe drought and ongoing economic challenges facing farmers. “We’ve got the lowest prices and highest production costs and the least-reliable water supply that we’ve had since I’ve been farming,” said Bill Diedrich of Firebaugh, who farms row crops and permanent crops on the west side in Madera and Fresno counties…. Diedrich, who relies on groundwater for irrigating farmland in Madera County and surface water for ground in Fresno County, said farming at this time “is very difficult.” He said the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which tasks local agencies to balance groundwater supplies in affected basins by 2040 and 2042, means farmland must come out of production.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Commentary: Our farmers are conserving to help Colorado River

With a harsh desert climate fed only by a river over 80 miles away, water conservation is always on the minds of our Imperial Valley farmers, who demonstrate on a daily basis how to maximize water-use efficiencies while increasing their yields. Since 2003, IID has implemented and managed large-scale conservation programs that have yielded over 7.2 million acre-feet of conserved water to fulfill the obligations of the nation’s largest agriculture-to-urban water conservation and transfer program…. IID believes that the key to accomplishing Reclamation’s call for 2 million to 4 million acre-feet of Colorado River reductions to protect critical reservoir elevations is to develop cooperative solutions that respect the Law of the River, existing agreements and the water-rights priority system. 
-Written by Tina Shields, water department manager for the Imperial Irrigation District, which supplies Imperial Valley agriculture. 

Aquafornia news Northern California Public Media

Santa Rosa looks to shore up strategy to keep Eel River water available for use

PG&E has begun relinquishing its control of the Potter Valley Project. Concerned that this will reduce water supplies, Santa Rosa is exploring options. Mendocino County’s century old Potter Valley Project consists of two Eel River dams, a tunnel diverting some of the Eel into the East Fork of the Russian River, and an inoperable powerhouse in need of expensive repairs. … PG&E, which operates the project, abruptly withdrew its re-licensing application three years ago. It’s looking to surrender it in 2025. In response to the 2019 notice, Representative Jared Huffman formed an ad-hoc group that spawned the “two basin partnership” – a collection of fisheries advocates, local governments, and tribal authorities seeking to wrestle control of the Potter Valley Project.

Aquafornia news California Water Impact Network

Blog: The difference between farmers and water privateers

Productive agriculture is essential to civilization, but water privateering – the seizure of public trust water for exorbitant private profit – is not. California’s water privateers often present themselves as farmers. But while they may use the water they’ve commandeered from state and federal water conveyance projects for industrial-scale agribusiness initiatives, they’re not farmers. They’re water brokers. If there’s money to be made in irrigating almonds or pistachios, they’ll do that. If there’s more money to be made by selling their allocated water to cities or other agribusiness operations, they’ll choose that option instead. It’s not about a devotion to agriculture – and certainly not about food security or land stewardship. 

Aquafornia news Newsweek

Lake Mead’s dire drought-stricken future foreshadowed at deadpool reservoir

Operations at one of Spain’s largest hydropower plants have been halted due to drought-like conditions, foreshadowing the future of the rapidly receding Lake Mead. Electric utility company Endesa SA has shut down its facility in Mequinenza, Zaragoza, Spain after its water levels receded below 23 percent capacity, Bloomberg reported. This is below the minimum required to produce electricity. The plant first opened in 1966, and until now, has never been shut down. Spain is suffering one of the most severe droughts seen in more than a decade, with around 32 percent of the country affected due to rising temperatures and lack of rainfall.

Aquafornia news News West Publishing

Things aren’t getting any better on the water front

City officials recently met with the Bureau of Reclamation about the current and forecasted conditions of the Colorado River Basin. Needles City Manager Rick Daniels, at the Nov. 1 Public Utilities Board meeting, said that as of Oct. 16 Lake Powell is 25% full and Lake Mead is at 28% — for a total system storage capacity of 33%. … BOR, he said, is forecasting that by the end of the year the Lower Colorado River Basin will be in a Level 1 shortage with a high possibility of being in a Level 2 shortage, which would mean “further cutbacks particularly in the more junior water rights states.”

Aquafornia news ABC7 - San Francisco

NASA prepares mission to measure all of Earth’s water as multi-year drought bears down on California

With a multi-year drought bearing down on California and the West, there’s an intense focus on nearly every drop of water. But in a few weeks, we may begin to get a history making look at where that water is and where it’s going. Not just here, but around the entire planet. … Using technology, including a sophisticated form of radar, the satellite will survey and measure nearly all the water on the Earth’s surface, including lakes, rivers, reservoirs and the ocean itself. … Experts believe understanding flood patterns could help us recover and store valuable water that’s currently being lost. Perhaps diverting it into underground aquifers or reservoirs. 

Aquafornia news Long Beach Post News

John Allen takes lead in bid for reelection to Water Replenishment District

Incumbent John Allen is leading two challengers in his quest for a third term representing Long Beach on the Water Replenishment District Board of Directors. With mail-in ballots counted, Allen had 52% of the vote, while challengers Mike Murchison has 23% and Gerrie Schipske has 25% in the race for the Area 3 board seat. The Area 3 seat represents 800,000 residents in seven cities: Long Beach, Signal Hill, San Pedro, Lakewood, Hawaiian Gardens, Artesia and Cerritos.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Draft report offers starkest view yet of U.S. climate threats

The effects of climate change are already “far-reaching and worsening” throughout all regions in the United States … The draft of the National Climate Assessment, the government’s premier contribution to climate knowledge, provides the most detailed look yet at the consequences of global warming for the United States… As greenhouse gas emissions rise and the planet heats up, the authors write, the United States could face major disruptions to farms and fisheries that drive up food prices, while millions of Americans could be displaced by disasters such as severe wildfires in California, sea-level rise in Florida or frequent flooding in Texas.

Aquafornia news Civil Eats

New Mexico farmers face a choice: pray for rain or get paid not to plant

As the summer of 2022 began, 90 percent of New Mexico was in a severe drought. The largest wildfire in New Mexico’s history raged in the northern part of the state. Snowpack melted weeks early, leaving reservoirs throughout the Southwest running low. In late May, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD), the authority that manages water for agriculture in the Albuquerque Basin, announced that it would not be able to guarantee farmers any water past June. The outlook for farmers was dire. The conservation district had, over the previous two years, piloted programs to pay some farmers and landowners to stop farming and fallow their fields.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Congress members seek to open up Hetch Hetchy to water recreation

A move is afoot in Congress to increase the annual “rent” the City of San Francisco pays for the privilege of flooding Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park from $30,000 to at least $2 million. The bill by Rep. Connie Conway, who represents much of the southern San Joaquin Valley, is designed to require the City of San Francisco to not only pay fair market for renting the only land ever flooded for a reservoir in a national park, but also to force the city to comply to terms they agreed to in the 1913 Raker Act.

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Aquafornia news Grist

Drought looms over midterm elections in the arid West

Mark Kelly, the incumbent Democratic senator from Arizona, is facing a strong reelection challenge from far-right Republican nominee Blake Masters, in a race that could be key for control of the Senate. Last month, during a televised debate between the two candidates, Masters went on the attack, criticizing Kelly’s positions on several issues.  Toward the end of the debate, after skewering Kelly on inflation and the border, Masters hit him on a more niche issue: federal water cuts on the Colorado River. … it is no surprise that drought has emerged as a key issue in the region ahead of this week’s midterm elections. Senators and representatives in close races have talked about drought in debates and campaign ads …

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Aquafornia news LAist

Water agencies: Who’s running in the November general election and why it matters

Water in California is complicated…and governing water use is arguably even more complicated. Local water agencies are as diverse as the communities and landscapes of California. There are thousands of agencies across the state, both public and private, that provide water. They range from a system serving a single mobile home park to huge agencies serving millions of people and businesses and thousands of acres of farmland. Some water agencies’ governing boards are appointed by a county board of supervisors or city council. The five-member board that oversees the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is appointed by the L.A. mayor and serve for five-year terms, for example. Others are directly elected by voters. Those are the ones you’ll see on your ballot.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Destined for great water – Kristin Sicke

There are many wonderful attributes in the Sacramento Valley with a central ingredient being the talented water resources managers who work in this region and are devoted to ridgetop to river mouth water management that serves water for multiple benefits. To get a better glimpse into the region and see the talented managers and the multi-disciplinary approach they pursue every day to continually improve water management, we encourage you to read this series, which starts below with Kristin Sicke’s personal story, or you can listen to the various personal stories on podcast at Stories You Haven’t Heard.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Proposed Central Valley dam likely to move forward after judge’s ruling

Both sides of a controversial proposed Central Valley dam hailed a Nov. 3 court ruling kicking back the project’s environmental documents as a success. A Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge ruled there was insufficient information about a road relocation that is part of the proposed Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir project, which would sit just above the town of Patterson in the Diablo Range on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.  More definitive information on the proposed realignment of Del Puerto Canyon Road will have to be provided in the Environmental Impact Report by project proponents, the Del Puerto Water District and the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractor Authority.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

They used to call California ocean desalination a disaster. But water crisis brings new look

For decades, environmentalists have decried ocean desalination as an ecological disaster, while cost-savvy water managers have thumbed their noses at desal’s lofty price tag. But as the American Southwest barrels into a new era of extreme heat, drought and aridification, officials and conservationists are giving new consideration to the process of converting saltwater into drinking water, and the role it may play in California’s future. Although desalination requires significant energy, California’s current extended drought has revived interest in the technology. Experts are already experimenting with new concepts such as mobile desalination units and floating buoys, and at least four major plants will soon be operational along the state’s coastline.

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Aquafornia news Grand Junction Sentinel

Editorial: California needs to cut back water usage

The general manager of the West Slope’s Colorado River District is calling out California for its meager water conservation plan, and he is right on. Andy Mueller made his comments in a memo to his district’s board of directors and during the board’s meeting earlier this month, according to reporting by The Daily Sentinel’s Dennis Webb. This was in response to an Oct. 5 letter by officials with California water entities using Colorado River water, which proposed conserving up to an additional 400,000 acre-feet of water in Lake Mead annually. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: Supreme Court will reconsider Navajos’ claim for more water from the Colorado River

With California and the Southwest facing a historic drought, the Supreme Court agreed Friday to review a 9th Circuit Court decision that held the Navajo Nation has a right to take more water from the Colorado River. The appeals court had pointed to the 1868 treaty in which the U.S. government agreed the Navajos would have a “permanent home” on their reservation, ruling the treaty “necessarily implied rights” to an adequate amount of water to live and farm. … The 3-0 ruling did not say how much extra water the Navajos were entitled to. The sprawling reservation previously used water from the San Juan River in Utah, a tributary of the Colorado, but the 9th Circuit panel said the Navajos were entitled to bring a claim for more water from the lower part of the main river.

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Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Court orders more study on Del Puerto Reservoir proposal

A court ruling on the proposed Del Puerto Reservoir is a minor setback, a leader on the project said. The ruling involved only the environmental effects of relocating Del Puerto Canyon Road from the reservoir site, said Anthea Hansen, general manager of the Del Puerto Water District. The plaintiffs also had cited concerns about wildlife, recreation and excessive pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta…. Del Puerto is partnering on the new reservoir with the four irrigation districts that make up the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors Authority. They farm about 250,000 acres in a stretch from Crows Landing to Mendota.

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Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

Friant Water Authority not concerned with low water levels

While the water year began with one of the lowest storage amounts ever, the Friant Water Authority believes low water allocations will leave them largely unaffected.  The Friant Water Authority contended with several factors when it came to water allocation last year. Chief among them was “water debt” owed to the State Water Project. This year, despite a deepening drought, the authority will no longer have that burden. … After the one month mark of the 2023 water year, numbers are where they are expected to be, as far as October is concerned according to [Friant Water Authority's Ian] Buck-Mcleod. As the forecast predicts rain in the upcoming weeks for the majority of the state, he said this is a positive look for the waterways. 

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Former Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman to head Central Arizona Project

Former U.S. Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman will take over as general manager of the Central Arizona Project in the new year, one that promises to include pivotal interstate negotiations over conserving the Colorado River water that supplies the CAP canal. Burman led the Bureau of Reclamation during the Trump administration, a period in which the agency managing Colorado River water and dams helped broker a Drought Contingency Plan. In that plan, Arizona agreed to take less water from the system to prevent catastrophic losses later. Continued poor weather and overuse have since set off new talks about conserving more in an attempt to halt Lake Mead’s slide toward the point that the river no longer flows past it.

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Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council

Blog: DWR’s risky prediction that CA’s future will be wetter

For years, scientists and State officials have warned of the need to prepare for a hotter, drier future as a result of climate change.  Earlier this year, Governor Newsom released his water supply strategy for the State needs to adapt to a hotter, drier future with climate change, explaining that “DWR estimates a 10% reduction in water supply by 2040 … consider[ing] increased temperatures and decreased runoff due to a thirstier atmosphere, plants, and soil.” Despite these public statements, the California Department of Water Resources’ publicly available modeling predicts that by 2040, climate change will increase runoff and make California wetter.  

Aquafornia news KMPH - Fresno

Study details how devastating the drought has been on California agriculture

The latest drought in California has been costly to agriculture. Twelve-thousand people have lost their jobs and economic losses total three billion dollars. Josue Medellin-Azuara is one of four educators from U.C. Merced who sized up California’s drought on agriculture for the past two years. … California agriculture generates 50-billion dollars in revenue and employs more than 420,000 people. The 2020-21 water years account for the second driest two year period since records began in 1895. Little or no water cost growers $1.3 billion in 2021 and $1.7 billion in 2022. 752-thousand acres of farmland was fallowed and 12,000 people lost their jobs.

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Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Friday Top of the Scroll: Calif. cities are breaking piggy banks to buy water. S.F. pays $30k. Here’s why.

As California trudges through its second year of intense drought, forcing local communities to raid contingency funds to pay sky-high retail prices for water supplies, Federal lawmakers are revisiting a deal with the City of San Francisco deemed to be “too-good-to-be-true.” A new bill, introduced by Rep. Connie Conway (R-Tulare), seeks to bring some equity back to one of California’s oldest and biggest water storage deals between the Federal government and the state’s historic big city. For a century, Hetch Hetchy, a dammed up valley deep in Yosemite National Park, has served as a singular lifeline for San Francisco’s water and energy supplies. … The law set San Francisco’s rent for the sprawling valley-turned-dam at $30,000 … Despite decades of inflation, the cost for renting the space has never inched beyond that $30,000 sum.

Aquafornia news Forbes

Opinion: California’s water strategy – a marvelous action plan for our climate future

Too much climate change resource planning is rooted in the present — which means it’s not adaptive to the threats and (dare I say it?) opportunities of a future under climate change’s increasing extremes. But now California actually has a water supply plan that prepares for that future. California Governor Gavin Newsom’s recently released California Water Supply Strategy reflects an adaptive approach that takes the state much closer to securing water in an age of climate extremes — not by managing for increasing water scarcity, but by exploiting the opportunities climate change gives us to create water abundance.
-Written by John Sabo, Director of ByWater Institute at Tulane University.

Aquafornia news KNAU - Arizona Public Radio

Tribe seeks to adapt as climate change alters ancestral home

Raymond Naranjo sings for rain, his voice rising and falling as he softly strikes his rawhide-covered drum. The 99-year-old invites the cloud spirits, rain children, mist, thunder and lightning to join him at Santa Clara Pueblo, where Tewa people have lived for thousands of years on land they call Kha’p’o Owingeh, the Valley of the Wild Roses. “Without water, you don’t live,” says Naranjo’s son Gilbert … With unsettling speed, climate change has taken a toll on the the pueblo’s 89 square miles (230 square kilometers) that climb from the gently rolling Rio Grande Valley to Santa Clara Canyon in the rugged Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico.

Aquafornia news Eos

Reaching new levels in groundwater monitoring

Climate change is contributing to severe droughts in the southwest United States and elsewhere, increasing the afflicted areas’ dependence on groundwater. In California, for instance, groundwater contributes up to 60% of the state’s total water supply in dry years. Monitoring subterranean aquifers is crucial to using their water efficiently—and ensuring the supply doesn’t run dry. But monitoring groundwater isn’t easy. Traditionally, an aquifer’s water levels are measured using wells: Hydrologists drill into the ground and measure the pore pressure at depth, a measurement from which they infer the amount of water trapped in sediments.

Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

Report: New report highlights key factors affecting State Water Project deliveries

As California enters a possible fourth dry year, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) has released its biennial report to help water managers better understand how key factors, like climate change and regulatory and operational considerations, affect the operation of the State Water Project (SWP) under historical and future scenarios. The State Water Project provides water to 27 million Californians and 750,000 acres of farmland throughout the state. In the State Water Project Final Delivery Capability Report 2021, there are estimates on the SWP’s water delivery capability for current and future conditions based on three major factors: The effects of population growth on … water supply and demand; State legislation intended to help maintain a reliable water supply; Impact of potential climate change-driven shifts in hydrologic conditions.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California’s water cops unprepared, overwhelmed in era of climate change, megadroughts

Jim Scala needed the water. So he took it. As the third devastating summer of drought dragged on, the Siskiyou County rancher knew his irrigation district could be fined up to $10,000 a day if he and his neighbors defied a state cutback order and pumped water from the Shasta River onto their lands east of Yreka. … While the Shasta River rebellion might have been the most brazen, a Sacramento Bee investigation reveals that farmers and other water users frequently ignore state drought regulations…. The Bee’s findings reveal a state regulatory system dramatically unprepared to address chronic water shortages and an ecosystem collapse.

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Aquafornia news ABC 10 - Sacramento

Why aren’t dams being built to store water in a drought?

Today’s Why Guy question comes from Tricia Towne: “Why hasn’t a dam been built in over 50 years?” This is a popular question to the Why Guy. The short answer is all the best sites to build dams already have dams on them. Most were built in the 40s, 50s and 60s to prevent catastrophic local flooding. The last regional dam built, the New Melones Reservoir north of Sonora was completed in 1980, about 42 years ago. Now, with extreme drought, we need dams to store water. Well, guess what? Looks like we’re getting a new dam at the Sites Reservoir just west of Maxwell in Colusa County. President Joe Biden just dedicated $30 million to the project, which is targeted for a 2024 groundbreaking.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

How unexpected California weather ‘decapitated’ fire season

Remnants of an atmospheric river brought Northern California its first solid storm of the year – rain splattered across the Bay Area and Central Coast, while some parts of Tahoe saw snowfall boosted to above average levels for this time of year. Despite a historic heat wave in September, weather unexpectedly turned colder and wetter. … Weather forecasts signal this is the beginning of a larger pattern of more rain and snow to come throughout November….If the pattern continues, the fast-moving, hot-burning, severe wildfires emblematic of California’s fire season, will go dormant.

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Aquafornia news BBC Future

How Tucson, Arizona is facing up to a megadrought

In front of Val Little’s one-story, adobe home near downtown Tucson, in southern Arizona, a small but proud sign stands in the lawn. It reads: “This house harvests the rain.” Every couple of months, 68-year-old Little climbs up a short ladder to clear the leaves from her home’s gutters. … The downspout funnels the rainwater that falls on her rooftop into a 1,300-gallon (4,900-litre) plastic cistern in her backyard. She has two of them, and in late September both were almost full, fed by the abundant summer monsoon rains. Little is not alone. Over the past 15 years or so thousands of residents across Tucson, a mostly parched desert city where barely 12 inches (30cm) of rain falls in an average year, have turned to rainwater harvesting to meet some of their household needs. 

Aquafornia news Defenders of Wildlife

Blog: Conservation groups prompt federal review of San Joaquin River Exchange Contract for first time in 54 years

Defenders of Wildlife applauded a decision by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to request a renegotiation of a decades-old use contract for the San Joaquin River that could spark stronger protection for wildlife and drought management. Defenders and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) urged the Bureau of Reclamation to reform its water supply contract with the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors Water Authority before the conclusion of the renegotiation period. On Oct. 14, the Bureau sent a letter to the Exchange Contractors, four days before the deadline, with its intent to renegotiate. Though the contract may be reviewed every five years, it has not been reviewed since 1968.  

Aquafornia news KESQ - Phoenix

Rep. Ruiz pushes to defend Salton Sea from federal cuts following calls to withhold funding

Congressman Raul Ruiz is calling on the U.S. Department of the Interior to uphold its commitments to the Salton Sea, including millions in federal funds from the Inflation Reduction Act. According to Ruiz’s office, the Inflation Reduction Act includes $4 billion in funding specifically for water management and conservation efforts in the Colorado River Basin and other areas experiencing similar levels of drought. The funding includes $12.5 million to mitigate the effect of drought on Tribes. Last week, U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly, an Arizona Democrat, wrote a letter calling for the federal government to withhold money for environmental cleanup at the Salton Sea until California agrees to use less of its share of the Colorado River.

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Aquafornia news KCRA - Sacramento

Northern California’s wildfire threat dwindles. Here’s why

For the first time since the water year began on Oct. 1, measurable rain and snow fell across Northern California on Tuesday. Of course, this isn’t the first time the region has seen rain this fall season. Between Sept. 18 and 21, downtown Sacramento picked up nearly half an inch of rain. Some spots in the Foothills saw over an inch of rainfall during that same stretch. … September’s rain was a very short break in an otherwise relentless period of unusually warm weather. The month was officially downtown Sacramento’s warmest September on record with data going back to 1877. October got off to a blazing fast start as well until a long-awaited cool-down last week. … But as November begins, it appears as though the overall atmospheric pattern will shift to favor cooler and damper conditions in much of the U.S. West.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Why California nut growers’ UC Davis gift is controversial

Stewart and Lynda Resnick donated $50 million to fund a new center for sustainable agriculture practices at UC Davis, but environmentalists reacted with suspicion to the school’s mid-October announcement of their gift. … $10 million of the Resnicks’ gift is earmarked for research grants that are focused on identifying value-added properties in pistachio, almond and pomegranate byproducts. These crops are all part of the billionaire couple’s portfolio. … As California faces a continuing record drought, the Resnicks’ companies are the state’s biggest single water users — an estimated 150 billion gallons a year for their crops, Forbes Magazine estimated in 2021. The annual amount of water they use to grow more than 120,000 thousand acres of their produce in the southern San Joaquin Valley …

Aquafornia news Denver Post

Colorado River conditions are worsening quicker than expected. Feds prepare to step in

Running out of time and options to save water along the drying Colorado River, federal officials said they’re considering whether to release less water from the country’s two largest reservoirs downstream to Arizona, California and Nevada. Without enough snow this winter, the water level at Lake Powell — the country’s second-largest reservoir — will drop below a critical level by next November, according to a new report from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Below that point, the Glen Canyon Dam will no longer be able to generate electricity and … no longer be able to send water downstream at all. Conditions on the Colorado River are worsening quicker than expected. … Colorado is heading into its third La Niña winter in a row, likely indicating below-average snowpack.

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Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Ripon cuts watering to once a week thru Feb. 28 due to drought

The City of Ripon’s new watering schedule went into effect on Tuesday. The winter schedule calls for a once-a-week schedule, from Nov. 1 to Feb. 28. Manteca, by contrast, still allows watering twice a week in the winter as California enters its fourth year of drought. Places within city limits with addresses ending in odd numbers may water on Sundays while those with even addresses may do so on Saturdays.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Panoche, California water theft went undetected for years

California’s water police struggle to track where water is flowing and whether someone is taking more than they’re supposed to. A criminal case unfolding in the San Joaquin Valley underscores how the federal government seems to have similar problems. Prosecutors say they uncovered a massive water theft that went on for 23 years without anyone noticing. … According to prosecutors, Falaschi engineered a brazen scheme to steal $25 million worth of water from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, operator of the Central Valley Project. More specifically, Falaschi stands accused of having his underlings siphon water from the Delta-Mendota Canal, the main conduit for delivering federal water to farms along the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and part of Silicon Valley. He then billed Panoche customers for this stolen water …

Aquafornia news Nature Geoscience

New research: Global water availability boosted by vegetation-driven changes in atmospheric moisture transport

Surface-water availability, defined as precipitation minus evapotranspiration, can be affected by changes in vegetation. These impacts can be local, due to the modification of evapotranspiration and precipitation, or non-local, due to changes in atmospheric moisture transport. However, the teleconnections of vegetation changes on water availability in downwind regions remain poorly constrained by observations. By linking measurements of local precipitation to a new hydrologically weighted leaf area index that accounts for both local and upwind vegetation contributions, we demonstrate that vegetation changes have increased global water availability at a rate of 0.26 mm yr−2 for the 2001–2018 period.

Aquafornia news Cronkite News

Arizona’s water future will be decided on the 2022 ballot

Voters in Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties on Nov. 8 will select new board members for the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, which oversees how Colorado River water is delivered through the Central Arizona Project. … The Southwest is experiencing its worst drought in 1,200 years. On top of that, Lake Mead sits at 1,046 feet above sea level, only 150 feet above the “dead zone” – the level where the Hoover Dam doesn’t have enough water to produce electricity. Central Arizona farmers already have endured steep cuts in water deliveries, and more pain is coming. The Central Arizona Water Conservation District election features 14 candidates competing for five seats on the CAWCD board.

Aquafornia news Daily Independent

A 100-year water supply? What does a guarantee certificate really mean in a time of so many cuts and changes?

Whether its groundwater or river water in danger of running dry first, the biggest potential impact from Arizona’s continuing water issues is it will stall growth. Developers in Arizona, whose land is not connected to a designated municipal water system, must furnish certificates to show a 100 years of assured water supply, sufficient for the number of homes or types of businesses planned. With federal restrictions recently imposed cutting the amount of Colorado River water that Arizona can use, that will likely turn up the pressure on groundwater supplies and the developments dependent on them.

Aquafornia news Idaho Capital Sun

Even as drought forces water cutbacks, climate gets short shrift in midterm election

The streaks of white on the rock ringing the nation’s largest reservoir show how far its water levels have dropped since it was last full. Lake Mead and nearby Lake Powell, which send water to 40 million people in the Southwest, are at their lowest levels since they were filled in the 1930s as part of the Hoover Dam’s construction on the Colorado River.  The lake actually overflowed in 1983 and nearly hit capacity in 1999. Now, it’s at only 26% of its capacity — and losing altitude monthly as a decades-long drought brought on by a changing climate keeps it from replenishing the supply. Yet in a crucial U.S. Senate campaign primarily being waged a short drive away that could sway control of the chamber, the candidates are barely mentioning the disappearing water levels and the drought that’s causing it.

Aquafornia news Spectrum News 1

Easing the drought: Answers are right in front of our eyes

With longer and more frequent droughts happening around the globe, technologies are advancing to help ease the effects of drought and bring fresh water to dry climates. Fog catching, desalination and atmospheric water harvesting are three techniques used to help mitigate water shortages around the globe. 

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Aquafornia news 8 News - Las Vegas

Government funds compete with small private ranches in southern Nevada

The Southern Nevada Water Authority wants other western water districts to conserve resources in the face of the region’s 20-year drought, saying it’s wasteful to grow certain water-intensive crops in parched desert landscapes. But records show the agency is not heeding its own advice. … The Imperial Irrigation District gets more Colorado River water than the entirety of Nevada and Arizona combined. This is why Nevada water officials have urged changes in how water from the troubled river is used. … The Great Basin Ranch, as it’s known, is owned and operated by a public agency — the Southern Nevada Water Authority. And the only crop that is grown on that land? Alfalfa. 8,600 tons of it last year alone.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: New push to shore up shrinking Colorado River could reduce water flow to California

With the nation’s two largest reservoirs continuing to decline, federal officials announced plans Friday to revise their current rules for dealing with Colorado River shortages and pursue a new agreement to achieve larger reductions in water use throughout the Southwest. The Biden administration announcement represents a renewed push to scale back water use along a river that has shrunk significantly in the face of a 23-year megadrought worsened by global warming. With water levels dropping at Lake Powell, the Interior Department said operators of Glen Canyon Dam may need to release less water, which would affect flows in the Grand Canyon and accelerate the decline of Lake Mead. 

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

AQUAFORNIA BREAKING NEWS: New US plan could lead to federal action on Colorado River

The Interior Department announced Friday that it will consider revising a set of guidelines for operating two major dams on the Colorado River in the first sign of what could lead to federal action to protect the once-massive but shrinking reservoirs behind them…. One of the options would allow the Interior Department’s U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to take unilateral action, as it threatened this summer when it asked states to come up with ways to significantly reduce their use beyond what they’ve already volunteered and were mandated to cut.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Change is coming to the Westlands Water District board. What will it mean for the future of the sprawling district and its controversial general manager?

The makeup of the Westlands Water District board will change this election – shifting power to a coalition of growers with a list of new actions, at the top of which appears to be ousting longtime General Manager Tom Birmingham. “There needs to be a change of leadership, that’s a foundational issue,” said Sarah Woolf, a member of a Westlands farming family, who helped organize the coalition. … Woolf applauded the district’s recharge efforts, but noted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which requires subbasins to bring aquifers into balance by 2040, was passed eight years ago and recharge efforts at Westlands have languished behind other districts. 

Aquafornia news Forbes

Drought expands east to the Mississippi river, where it’s really messing things up

Footprints, human and animal, dot stretches of the Mississippi River that have been underwater for as long as people remember, and eight barges have run aground this year. Rain has been scarce, with little prospect for more. Drought’s deadly fingers have moved east, from the dried-up wells of California’s Central Valley and into the American Midwest, where much of America’s food is grown, and even farther, into the Southeast. Its tentacles have parched parts of America’s most important river and now threaten a majority of the country — 52.7% by the U.S. Drought Monitor’s count, and 146 million people, 12 million more than a mere week ago. It’s the deepest national drought since 2012, and if nothing changes it’ll outpace that benchmark soon.

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Aquafornia news Berkeleyside

Berkeley Hills homeowner fined for using too much water

A Berkeley Hills homeowner with a job related to environmental sustainability has been fined for using too much water during California’s current severe drought.  The East Bay Municipal Utility District voted in April to mandate a 10% water use reduction from 2020 and instate “excessive use” penalties for households using more than 1,646 gallons of water per day — the strictest policy around water conservation in the Bay Area. The Berkeley homeowner’s name was included in a list of hundreds of violators across the East Bay that was released by the district Tuesday in response to a public records request by Berkeleyside.

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Aquafornia news

What role can history play in saving the Great Salt Lake, solving Utah’s water woes?

John Wesley Powell offered a poignant message for Western U.S. communities when he was the featured speaker in a room full of developers and government leaders at a major irrigation conference held in Los Angeles in October 1893. … Powell began to caution his audience about the water limitations in the West … ”There is not enough water to irrigate all the lands. … There is but a small portion of the irrigable land which can be irrigated when all the water, every drop of water, is utilized,” Powell warned the crowd, adding that he foresaw a future filled with battles over water rights. … This context can be very important when coming up with solutions to any situation, such as helping the struggling Great Salt Lake, adds Jennifer Ortiz, executive director at the Utah Division of State History.

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Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

San Diego nears new deal with East County water project to avoid court fight over pump station

A San Diego committee has approved a series of agreements between the city and a planned water recycling project in East County, potentially heading off a court fight over a plant that could help hundreds of thousands of people. The documents pave the way for San Diego to hand over a pump station to the Advanced Water Purification Project, and for the construction of a pipeline so waste generated by East County can be diverted from the city. The agreements were accepted Thursday in a 4-0 vote by the San Diego City Council’s environment committee. 

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Foundation Event Nick Gray

Winter Outlook Workshop
Dec. 8th Workshop in Irvine Will Focus on Ability to Predict Winter Precipitation

The past three-year span, 2019 to 2022, has officially been the driest ever statewide going back to 1895 when modern records began in California. But this most recent period of overall drought has also seen big swings from very wet to very dry stretches such as the 2021-2022 water year that went from a relatively wet Oct.-Dec. beginning to the driest Jan.-March period in the state’s history.

With La Niña conditions predicted to persist into this winter, what can reliably be said about the prospects for Water Year 2023? Does La Niña really mean anything for California or is it all washed up as a predictor in this new reality of climate whiplash, and has any of this affected our reliance on historical patterns to forecast California’s water supply?

Find out what efforts are being made to improve sub-seasonal to seasonal (S2S) precipitation forecasting for California and the Colorado River Basin at our one-day Winter Outlook Workshop December 8 in Irvine, CA.

Click here to register!

Beckman Center
Huntington Room
100 Academy Way
Irvine, California 92617

A Colorado River Veteran Moves Upstream and Plunges into The Drought-Stressed River’s Mounting Woes
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Chuck Cullom, a longtime Arizona water manager, brings a dual-basin perspective as top staffer at the Upper Colorado River Commission

Chuck Cullom, executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission. With 25 years of experience working on the Colorado River, Chuck Cullom is used to responding to myriad challenges that arise on the vital lifeline that seven states, more than two dozen tribes and the country of Mexico depend on for water. But this summer problems on the drought-stressed river are piling up at a dizzying pace: Reservoirs plummeting to record low levels, whether Hoover Dam and Glen Canyon Dam can continue to release water and produce hydropower, unprecedented water cuts and predatory smallmouth bass threatening native fish species in the Grand Canyon. 

“Holy buckets, Batman!,” said Cullom, executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission. “I mean, it’s just on and on and on.”

Could Virtual Networks Solve Drinking Water Woes for California’s Isolated, Disadvantaged Communities?
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: UCLA pilot project uses high-tech gear in LA to remotely run clean-water systems for small communities in Central California's Salinas Valley

UCLA’s remote water treatment systems are providing safe tap water to three disadvantaged communities in the Salinas Valley. A pilot program in the Salinas Valley run remotely out of Los Angeles is offering a test case for how California could provide clean drinking water for isolated rural communities plagued by contaminated groundwater that lack the financial means or expertise to connect to a larger water system.

A Colorado River Tribal Leader Seeks A Voice In the River’s Future–And Freedom to Profit From Its Water
WESTERN WATER Q&A: CRIT Chair Amelia Flores Says Allowing Tribe to Lease Or Store Water Off Reservation Could Aid Broader Colorado River Drought Response and Fund Irrigation Repairs

Amelia Flores, chairwoman of the Colorado River Indian Tribes.As water interests in the Colorado River Basin prepare to negotiate a new set of operating guidelines for the drought-stressed river, Amelia Flores wants her Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT) to be involved in the discussion. And she wants CRIT seated at the negotiating table with something invaluable to offer on a river facing steep cuts in use: its surplus water.

CRIT, whose reservation lands in California and Arizona are bisected by the Colorado River, has some of the most senior water rights on the river. But a federal law enacted in the late 1700s, decades before any southwestern state was established, prevents most tribes from sending any of its water off its reservation. The restrictions mean CRIT, which holds the rights to nearly a quarter of the entire state of Arizona’s yearly allotment of river water, is missing out on financial gain and the chance to help its river partners.

As New Deadline Looms, Groundwater Managers Rework ‘Incomplete’ Plans to Meet California’s Sustainability Goals
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: More than half of the most critically overdrawn basins, mainly in the San Joaquin Valley, are racing against a July deadline to retool their plans and avoid state intervention

A field in Kern County is irrigated by sprinkler.Managers of California’s most overdrawn aquifers were given a monumental task under the state’s landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: Craft viable, detailed plans on a 20-year timeline to bring their beleaguered basins into balance. It was a task that required more than 250 newly formed local groundwater agencies – many of them in the drought-stressed San Joaquin Valley – to set up shop, gather data, hear from the public and collaborate with neighbors on multiple complex plans, often covering just portions of a groundwater basin.

Northern California Tour 2022
Field Trip - October 12-14

This tour explored the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape while learning about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.

All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project.

Water Education Foundation
2151 River Plaza Drive, Suite 205
Sacramento, CA 95833
Tour Nick Gray

San Joaquin River Restoration Tour 2022
Field Trip - November 2-3

This tour traveled along the San Joaquin River to learn firsthand about one of the nation’s largest and most expensive river restoration projects.

The San Joaquin River was the focus of one of the most contentious legal battles in California water history, ending in a 2006 settlement between the federal government, Friant Water Users Authority and a coalition of environmental groups.

Hampton Inn & Suites Fresno
327 E Fir Ave
Fresno, CA 93720

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

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

Central Valley Tour 2022
Field Trip - April 20-22

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

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

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

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

Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2022
Field Trip - March 16-18

The lower Colorado River has virtually every drop allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states, 30 tribal nations and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour.

Hyatt Place Las Vegas At Silverton Village
8380 Dean Martin Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89139

A Colorado River Veteran Takes on the Top Water & Science Post at Interior Department
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Tanya Trujillo brings two decades of experience on Colorado River issues as she takes on the challenges of a river basin stressed by climate change

Tanya Trujillo, Assistant Interior Secretary for Water and Science For more than 20 years, Tanya Trujillo has been immersed in the many challenges of the Colorado River, the drought-stressed lifeline for 40 million people from Denver to Los Angeles and the source of irrigation water for more than 5 million acres of winter lettuce, supermarket melons and other crops.

Trujillo has experience working in both the Upper and Lower Basins of the Colorado River, basins that split the river’s water evenly but are sometimes at odds with each other. She was a lawyer for the state of New Mexico, one of four states in the Upper Colorado River Basin, when key operating guidelines for sharing shortages on the river were negotiated in 2007. She later worked as executive director for the Colorado River Board of California, exposing her to the different perspectives and challenges facing California and the other states in the river’s Lower Basin.

Tour Nick Gray Jenn Bowles

Northern California Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - October 14

This tour guided participants on a virtual exploration of the Sacramento River and its tributaries and learn about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.

All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project.

Tour Nick Gray Jenn Bowles Layperson's Guide to the Delta

Bay-Delta Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - September 9

This tour guided participants on a virtual journey deep into California’s most crucial water and ecological resource – the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The 720,000-acre network of islands and canals support the state’s two major water systems – the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project. The Delta and the connecting San Francisco Bay form the largest freshwater tidal estuary of its kind on the West coast.

As Climate Change Turns Up The Heat in Las Vegas, Water Managers Try to Wring New Savings to Stretch Supply
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Rising temperatures are expected to drive up water demand as historic drought in the Colorado River Basin imperils Southern Nevada’s key water source

Las Vegas has reduced its water consumption even as its population has increased. Las Vegas, known for its searing summertime heat and glitzy casino fountains, is projected to get even hotter in the coming years as climate change intensifies. As temperatures rise, possibly as much as 10 degrees by end of the century, according to some models, water demand for the desert community is expected to spike. That is not good news in a fast-growing region that depends largely on a limited supply of water from an already drought-stressed Colorado River.

MWD’s Jeff Kightlinger Reflects On Building Big Things, Essential Partnerships and His Hopes For the Delta
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Veteran Water Boss, Retiring After 25 Years With SoCal Water Giant, Discusses ‘Permanent’ Drought, Conservation Gains & the Struggling Colorado River

Jeff Kightlinger, longtime general manager of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.When you oversee the largest supplier of treated water in the United States, you tend to think big.

Jeff Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California for the last 15 years, has focused on diversifying his agency’s water supply and building security through investment. That means looking beyond MWD’s borders to ensure the reliable delivery of water to two-thirds of California’s population.

Pandemic Lockdown Exposes the Vulnerability Some Californians Face Keeping Up With Water Bills
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Growing mountain of water bills spotlights affordability and hurdles to implementing a statewide assistance program

Single-family residential customers who are behind on their water bills in San Diego County's Helix Water District can get a one-time credit on their bill through a rate assistance program funded with money from surplus land sales.As California slowly emerges from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, one remnant left behind by the statewide lockdown offers a sobering reminder of the economic challenges still ahead for millions of the state’s residents and the water agencies that serve them – a mountain of water debt.

Water affordability concerns, long an issue in a state where millions of people struggle to make ends meet, jumped into overdrive last year as the pandemic wrenched the economy. Jobs were lost and household finances were upended. Even with federal stimulus aid and unemployment checks, bills fell by the wayside.

Western Water Layperson's Guide to Water Rights Law By Gary Pitzer

California Weighs Changes for New Water Rights Permits in Response to a Warmer and Drier Climate
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: State Water Board report recommends aligning new water rights to an upended hydrology

The American River in Sacramento in 2014 shows the effects of the 2012-2016 drought. Climate change is expected to result in more frequent and intense droughts and floods. As California’s seasons become warmer and drier, state officials are pondering whether the water rights permitting system needs revising to better reflect the reality of climate change’s effect on the timing and volume of the state’s water supply.

A report by the State Water Resources Control Board recommends that new water rights permits be tailored to California’s increasingly volatile hydrology and be adaptable enough to ensure water exists to meet an applicant’s demand. And it warns that the increasingly whiplash nature of California’s changing climate could require existing rights holders to curtail diversions more often and in more watersheds — or open opportunities to grab more water in climate-induced floods.

Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Map
Published March 2021

Delta Map for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

This beautifully illustrated 24×36-inch poster, suitable for framing and display in any office or classroom, highlights the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, its place as a center of farming, its importance as an ecological resource and its vital role in California’s water supply system. 

The text, photos and graphics explain issues related to land subsidence, levees and flooding, urbanization, farming, fish and wildlife protection. An inset map illustrates the tidal action that increases the salinity of the Delta’s waterways. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Red alert sounding on California drought, as farmers get less water

A government agency that controls much of California’s water supply released its initial allocation for 2021, and the numbers reinforced fears that the state is falling into another drought. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said Tuesday that most of the water agencies that rely on the Central Valley Project will get just 5% of their contract supply, a dismally low number. Although the figure could grow if California gets more rain and snow, the allocation comes amid fresh weather forecasts suggesting the dry winter is continuing. The National Weather Service says the Sacramento Valley will be warm and windy the next few days, with no rain in the forecast.

Related articles: 


2020 Class Report

Members of the 2020 Water Leaders class examined how to adapt water management to climate change. Read their policy recommendations in the class report, Adapting California Water Management to Climate Change: Charting a Path Forward, to learn more.

Western Water Colorado River Bundle By Gary Pitzer

Milestone Colorado River Management Plan Mostly Worked Amid Epic Drought, Review Finds
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: Draft assessment of 2007 Interim Guidelines expected to provide a guide as talks begin on new river operating rules for the iconic Southwestern river

At full pool, Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States by volume. but two decades of drought have dramatically dropped the water level behind Hoover Dam.Twenty years ago, the Colorado River Basin’s hydrology began tumbling into a historically bad stretch. The weather turned persistently dry. Water levels in the system’s anchor reservoirs of Lake Powell and Lake Mead plummeted. A river system relied upon by nearly 40 million people, farms and ecosystems across the West was in trouble. And there was no guide on how to respond.

Western Water Layperson's Guide to the Delta By Gary Pitzer

Is Ecosystem Change in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Outpacing the Ability of Science to Keep Up?
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Science panel argues for a new approach to make research nimbler and more forward-looking to improve management in the ailing Delta

Floating vegetation such as water hyacinth has expanded in the Delta in recent years, choking waterways like the one in the bottom of this photo.Radically transformed from its ancient origin as a vast tidal-influenced freshwater marsh, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem is in constant flux, influenced by factors within the estuary itself and the massive watersheds that drain though it into the Pacific Ocean.

Lately, however, scientists say the rate of change has kicked into overdrive, fueled in part by climate change, and is limiting the ability of science and Delta water managers to keep up. The rapid pace of upheaval demands a new way of conducting science and managing water in the troubled estuary.