Topic: Water Supply

Overview

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 Circle of Blue

U.S. water withdrawals continue marked decline

Even though the country is growing, U.S. water withdrawals dropped to the lowest level since before 1970 with steep declines for municipal and electric power sectors, according to a U.S. Geological Survey report. Total withdrawals fell 9 percent compared to 2010 as the country’s population increased 4 percent.

Aquafornia news ProPublica

Suppressed study: EPA underestimated dangers of widespread chemicals

A major environmental health study that had been suppressed by the Trump administration because of the “public relations nightmare” it might cause the Pentagon and other polluters has been quietly released online. … PFAS [perfluoroalkyl substances] compounds are proving to be pervasive in public water systems and around military bases across the country.

Domino Effect: As Arizona Searches For a Unifying Voice, a Drought Plan for the Lower Colorado River Is Stalled
EDITOR'S NOTE: Finding solutions to the Colorado River — or any disputed river —may be the most important role anyone can play

Nowhere is the domino effect in Western water policy played out more than on the Colorado River, and specifically when it involves the Lower Basin states of California, Nevada and Arizona. We are seeing that play out now as the three states strive to forge a Drought Contingency Plan. Yet that plan can’t be finalized until Arizona finds a unifying voice between its major water players, an effort you can read more about in the latest in-depth article of Western Water.

Even then, there are some issues to resolve just within California.

As Colorado River Levels Drop, Pressure Grows On Arizona To Complete A Plan For Water Shortages
IN-DEPTH: A dispute over who speaks for Arizona has stalled work with California, Nevada on Drought Contingency Plan

Hoover Dam and Lake Mead

It’s high-stakes time in Arizona. The state that depends on the Colorado River to help supply its cities and farms — and is first in line to absorb a shortage — is seeking a unified plan for water supply management to join its Lower Basin neighbors, California and Nevada, in a coordinated plan to preserve water levels in Lake Mead before they run too low.

If the lake’s elevation falls below 1,075 feet above sea level, the secretary of the Interior would declare a shortage and Arizona’s deliveries of Colorado River water would be reduced by 320,000 acre-feet. Arizona says that’s enough to serve about 1 million households in one year.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Three Californias: Which landmarks would end up in each?

I’ll trade you a piece of Yosemite Valley and all of the Napa wine country for Disneyland and the Santa Monica Pier. … And don’t even get us started with probable battles over how the state’s precious water reserves would be distributed since California is currently criss-crossed with an insanely complex grid of aqueducts, dams, levees and channels.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Radical plan to split California into three states earns spot on November ballot

California’s 168-year run as a single entity, hugging the continent’s edge for hundreds of miles and sprawling east across mountains and desert, could come to an end next year — as a controversial plan to split the Golden State into three new jurisdictions qualified Tuesday for the Nov. 6 ballot. … Critics have long wondered how citizens of a state where the majority of water supplies exist in one region would react if negotiations over new interstate compacts to share the resource turned contentious.

Aquafornia news WIRED

LA is doing water better than your city. Yes, that LA.

The frantic phone calls to the Community Water Center began in the summer of 2014. In the 7,000-strong unincorporated community of East Porterville, nestled against California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, homeowners’ wells were failing amid a historic drought.

Aquafornia news Vanity Fair

‘Trump and Pruitt are waging an all-out attack’: Inside the battle to save California’s water

The Tijuana River is a temporary river, which is to say that at times it runs dry. But when the rains come, it runs near bursting. After a healthy spring storm, tires and bottles litter the muddy banks. … “I wouldn’t necessarily touch anything here,” cautions Matt O’Malley, executive director of San Diego Coastkeeper.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

The Big One could leave 250,000-400,000 quake refugees in California. Where will they go?

When a catastrophic earthquake hits California, buildings will topple and potentially hundreds could be killed. But what gets less attention is the wrenching aftermath of such a huge temblor, which could leave whole neighborhoods torched by fires uninhabitable and hundreds of thousands of people without a home.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: The battle over Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in judges’ hands

The battle to drain the reservoir in Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Valley reignited Wednesday as critics of the historic dam told a panel of judges in Fresno that their legal case to raze it should proceed, despite an earlier decision to dismiss the suit.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Commentary: Time for California to deliver on the human right to water

When my [Leo Heller] predecessor, Catarina de Albuquerque, visited California, what she found shocked her. Drinking water conditions were akin to those typically seen in a developing country: families without an acceptable level of safe drinking water or sanitation; exposed pipes running through irrigation ditches; crumbling or nonexistent infrastructure.

Aquafornia news Herald and News, Klamath Falls

Water on the way to Klamath Project

Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Office announced late Wednesday afternoon that up to 3,500 acre feet is available for delivery to Klamath Project irrigators starting today and running through May 31 before deliveries start on June 1.

Aquafornia news The Bakersfield Californian

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: State Water Project allocation rises to 35 percent

The California Department of Water Resources announced Monday this year’s allocation has been raised to 35 percent of full distribution, or 1.48 million acre-feet of water statewide. (One acre foot is enough to cover one acre of land with a foot of water.) As of last month, the agency planned to distribute only 30 percent of normal.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Nestlé bottled water controversy becomes campaign issue in California race

The controversy over Nestlé’s bottled water operation in the San Bernardino National Forest has prompted a review of the company’s federal permit, a lawsuit and an investigation by California regulators. Now, Nestlé’s continued piping of water out of the San Bernardino Mountains has become an issue in a congressional campaign.

Tour

Bay-Delta Tour 2018
Field Trip (past) - May 16-18

Sacramento-San Joaquin DeltaWe traveled deep into California’s water hub and traverse the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a 720,000-acre network of islands and canals that supports the state’s water system and is California’s most crucial water and ecological resource. The tour made its way to San Francisco Bay, and included a ferry ride.

Western Water Gary Pitzer Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Gary Pitzer

Could the Arizona Desert Offer California and the West a Guide to Solving Groundwater Problems?
SPOTLIGHT: Environmental Defense Fund report highlights strategies from Phoenix and elsewhere for managing demands on groundwater

Skyline of Phoenix, ArizonaAs California embarks on its unprecedented mission to harness groundwater pumping, the Arizona desert may provide one guide that local managers can look to as they seek to arrest years of overdraft.

Groundwater is stressed by a demand that often outpaces natural and artificial recharge. In California, awareness of groundwater’s importance resulted in the landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in 2014 that aims to have the most severely depleted basins in a state of balance in about 20 years.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

NASA study finds major shifts in water supplies worldwide

Using measurements from Earth-observing satellites, NASA scientists have tracked changes in water supplies worldwide and they’ve found that in many places humans are dramatically altering the global water map. … Their findings in a new study reveal that of the 34 “hotspots” of water change in places from California to China, the trends in about two-thirds of those areas may be linked to climate change or human activities, such as excessive groundwater pumping in farming regions.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

‘We need action,’ federal official tells Colorado River states

In a pointed message Wednesday, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman said drought and low flows continue on the Colorado with no end in sight, so it’s up to those who rely on the river to stave off a coming crisis.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

‘The drought is not over’: Residents still getting water from temporary tanks fear cutoff

For Fresno County resident Anne Schmidtgall the California drought never ended. Two years ago, the well on her property east of Del Rey went dry when the casing caved in. … Two weeks ago, Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno, testified before an Assembly budget subcommittee requesting $23.5 million be added to the state budget for water needs.

Western Water Gary Pitzer Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Gary Pitzer

Novel Effort to Aid Groundwater on California’s Central Coast Could Help Other Depleted Basins
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Michael Kiparsky, director of UC Berkeley's Wheeler Water Institute, explains Pajaro Valley groundwater recharge pilot project

Michael KiparskySpurred by drought and a major policy shift, groundwater management has assumed an unprecedented mantle of importance in California. Local agencies in the hardest-hit areas of groundwater depletion are drawing plans to halt overdraft and bring stressed aquifers to the road of recovery.

Along the way, an army of experts has been enlisted to help characterize the extent of the problem and how the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 is implemented in a manner that reflects its original intent.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

California Water makes hostile bid to buy San Jose Water

The owner of California Water Service has made an unsolicited bid to buy the owner of San Jose Water, a takeover attempt revealed Thursday that pits the South Bay’s two principal water companies against each other. San Jose-based California Water Service Group has made an unsolicited $1.9 billion offer to buy San Jose-based SJW Group.

Aquafornia news Western Water

Latest Western Water examines how California strives to protect water amid a ‘green rush’ of legal cannabis

Western Water writer Gary Pitzer explored how California water regulators are trying to address the impacts on water quality and supply from this newly regulated industry, how federal officials are approaching it and what other states that have legalized marijuana have done. And he addressed the question that remains on many minds: Will growers that have operated in the shadows for years accept the new regulations or shrug them off as too burdensome.

Aquafornia news Appeal-Democrat

State Water Project allocations keep climbing

The nearly 30 contractors that are part of the State Water Project are expected to receive 30 percent of the water they have requested for 2018 – up from January’s estimate of 20 percent – according to the Department of Water Resources. DWR Director Karla Nemeth stated in a news release that late precipitation and snow in March contributed to the rise in projected allocations.

Amid ‘Green Rush’ of Legal Cannabis, California Strives to Control Adverse Effects on Water
IN-DEPTH: State crafts water right and new rules unique to marijuana farms, but will growers accustomed to the shadows comply?

A marijuana plant from a growing operationFor decades, cannabis has been grown in California – hidden away in forested groves or surreptitiously harvested under the glare of high-intensity indoor lamps in suburban tract homes.

In the past 20 years, however, cannabis — known more widely as marijuana – has been moving from being a criminal activity to gaining legitimacy as one of the hundreds of cash crops in the state’s $46 billion-dollar agriculture industry, first legalized for medicinal purposes and this year for recreational use.

Western Water Jennifer Bowles Jennifer Bowles

EDITOR’S NOTE: Assessing California’s Response to Marijuana’s Impacts on Water

Jennifer BowlesAs we continue forging ahead in 2018 with our online version of Western Water after 40 years as a print magazine, we turned our attention to a topic that also got its start this year: recreational marijuana as a legal use.

State regulators, in the last few years, already had been beefing up their workforce to tackle the glut in marijuana crops and combat their impacts to water quality and supply for people, fish and farming downstream. Thus, even if these impacts were perhaps unbeknownst to the majority of Californians who approved Proposition 64 in 2016, we thought it important to see if anything new had evolved from a water perspective now that marijuana was legal.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

The food that goes bad in your fridge amounts to trillions of gallons of wasted water

According to a new report in the journal PLOS One, we Americans wasted just over 25% of our food between 2007 and 2014. … Each year, just short of 4.2 trillion gallons of water were used to produce all this uneaten food. That includes nearly 1.3 trillion gallons of water to grow uneaten fruits and 1 trillion gallons of water to grow uneaten vegetables.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Feud erupts between utility, US states over Colorado River

Tension over the drought-stressed Colorado River escalated into a public feud when four U.S. states accused Arizona’s largest water provider of manipulating supply and demand, potentially threatening millions of people in the United States and Mexico who rely on the river.

Tour

Lower Colorado River Tour 2018
Field Trip (past) April 11-13

Lower Colorado River Tour participants at Hoover Dam.

We explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is 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 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.

Hampton Inn Tropicana
4975 Dean Martin Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89118
Aquafornia news KUNC, Community Radio for Northern Colorado

Zinke goes West, Then what?

Too many decisions about the West get made in Washington, D.C. At least, that’s what the Secretary of the Interior thinks. Ryan Zinke plans to move thousands of the department’s employees out west to manage water, public lands and energy from there.

Announcement

Learn What New Tree-Ring Studies Reveal about Drought Patterns in Southern California
Also hear about efforts to improve weather forecasting, drought preparedness at April 19th workshop in San Pedro

University of Arizona research professor removes tree core sample from bigcone Douglas fir tree.Learn what new tree-ring studies in Southern California watersheds reveal about drought, hear about efforts to improve subseasonal to seasonal weather forecasting and get the latest on climate change impacts that will alter drought vulnerability in the future.

At our Paleo Drought Workshop on April 19th in San Pedro, you will hear from experts at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, University of Arizona and California Department of Water Resources.

One Year In, A New State Policymaker Assesses the Salton Sea, Federal Relations and California’s Thorny Water Issues
WESTERN WATER Q&A: State Water Board member Joaquin Esquivel

State Water Resources Control Board member E. Joaquin EsquivelJoaquin Esquivel learned that life is what happens when you make plans. Esquivel, who holds the public member slot at the State Water Resources Control Board in Sacramento, had just closed purchase on a house in Washington D.C. with his partner when he was tapped by Gov. Jerry Brown a year ago to fill the Board vacancy.

Esquivel, 35, had spent a decade in Washington, first in several capacities with then Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and then as assistant secretary for federal water policy at the California Natural Resources Agency. As a member of the State Water Board, he shares with four other members the difficult task of ensuring balance to all the uses of California’s water. 

Tour

Central Valley Tour 2018
Field Trip (past) - March 14-16

Central Valley Tour participants at a dam.

We 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.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Big new Sierra snowstorm, but no ‘March Miracle’ yet

Every storm helps improve the state’s summer water picture, scientists and state water planners said Thursday. But even taking into account this storm and a big one two weeks ago, the Sierra Nevada snow pack — the source of nearly one-third of California’s water supply — still is only about half of normal for this winter season, with this month’s totals measuring just half of the 1991 miracle month’s final tally.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Trump plan ends research on uranium mining near Grand Canyon

U.S. scientists studying the effects of uranium mining around the Grand Canyon say they are lacking information on whether the radioactive element is hurting plants, animals and a water source for more than 30 million people. And they would not get to fully gather it if President Donald Trump’s 2019 budget proposal is approved.

Aquafornia news East Bay Times

‘Largest storm of the year’ to bring up to 7 feet of snow to Sierra Nevada

A major storm system is forecast to slam into California from Alaska and Canada starting Wednesday night, bringing soaking rain to the Bay Area on Thursday and dumping up to seven feet of new snow to the historically dry Sierra Nevada by Saturday. But as welcome as the snow is during a very dry winter so far, it won’t be enough to return the Sierra Nevada — the source of 30 percent of California’s water supply — back to its average for the year, experts said Tuesday.

Paleo Drought Workshop
Using the Past to Improve Drought Preparedness Now

This April 19th workshop in San Pedro was focused on helping Southern California water agencies and others to gain information for improving drought preparedness and updating Urban Water Management Plans. The workshop was sponsored by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the Water Education Foundation.

DoubleTree by Hilton (Madeo Ballroom)
2800 Via Cabrillo-Marina
San Pedro, CA 90731
Foundation Event University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law

Water 101 Workshop: The Basics and Beyond
Event included optional Delta Tour

One of our most popular events, Water 101 details the history, geography, legal and political facets of water in California as well as hot topics currently facing the state.

Taught by some of the leading policy and legal experts in the state, the one-day workshop gives attendees a deeper understanding of the state’s most precious natural resource.

McGeorge School of Law
3285 5th Ave, Classroom C
Sacramento, CA 95817
Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Not much snow, but a full water supply for Stockton

The Sierra snowpack may be next to nothing, but the Stockton area is set to receive another full supply of water from New Melones Lake, and there’s no reason to expect a shortage here this year, officials said. … While the Stockton area is getting its full share from New Melones, other federal water contractors are not as fortunate.

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

Does California’s environment deserve its own water right?
IN-DEPTH: Fisheries and wildlife face growing challenges, but so do water systems competing for limited supply. Is there room for an environmental water right?

Sunset in Sacramento-San Joaquin DeltaDoes California need to revamp the way in which water is dedicated to the environment to better protect fish and the ecosystem at large? In the hypersensitive world of California water, where differences over who gets what can result in epic legislative and legal battles, the idea sparks a combination of fear, uncertainty and promise.

Saying that the way California manages water for the environment “isn’t working for anyone,” the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) shook things up late last year by proposing a redesigned regulatory system featuring what they described as water ecosystem plans and water budgets with allocations set aside for the environment.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: California water agency gets scolded: Speed up spending billions on new reservoirs

Assembly Republican Leader Brian Dahle, pulling a child’s red wagon, arrived at a meeting of the California Water Commission with a stack of petitions with 4,000 signatures supporting the two largest reservoir projects seeking bond money: Sites Reservoir north of Sacramento and Temperance Flat in the San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Water allocation for westside growers is going to be a meager one for 2018

With the threat of another drought looming, west San Joaquin Valley farmers received some dismal news Tuesday about this year’s water allocation. The initial allocation from the Central Valley Project is 20 percent, the U.S Bureau of Reclamation announced on Tuesday.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

State: Delta tunnels a good investment

More than six years after critics began calling for a full economic study of the Delta tunnels plan, the Brown administration released one on Tuesday, finding that the benefits outweigh the costs — albeit by a slim margin for some water users.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Study commissioned by Brown administration says his Delta tunnels plan would pay off for farmers, cities

Even a single water tunnel burrowed under the California’s Delta would be worth it for urban ratepayers and farmers who would to pay to build and maintain the project, according to an analysis released Tuesday by Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration.

‘Ridiculously Resilient Ridge’, Climate Change and the Future of California’s Water
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Climate scientist Daniel Swain

Daniel SwainEvery day, people flock to Daniel Swain’s social media platforms to find out the latest news and insight about California’s notoriously unpredictable weather. Swain, a climate scientist at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA, famously coined the term “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge” in December 2013 to describe the large, formidable high-pressure mass that was parked over the West Coast during winter and diverted storms away from California, intensifying the drought.

Swain’s research focuses on atmospheric processes that cause droughts and floods, along with the changing character of extreme weather events in a warming world. A lifelong Californian and alumnus of University of California, Davis, and Stanford University, Swain is best known for the widely read Weather West blog, which provides unique perspectives on weather and climate in California and the western United States. In a recent interview with Western Water, he talked about the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge, its potential long-term impact on California weather, and what may lie ahead for the state’s water supply. 

Aquafornia news San Gabriel Valley Tribune

After resistance from local water districts to governor’s two-tunnel Delta project, plan could be pared down to just one

The state water board held its first hearing Thursday since Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to move more water efficiently from Northern California to the south was pared down. … “This is something we expected,” Jeff Kightlinger, general manager of MWD, a provider of water to 19 million Southern Californians and the biggest supporter of WaterFix, said during an interview Thursday. “But I still think for the greater good, a two-tunnel project would be better.”

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Many questions as expert committee begins study of Legionella in plumbing

Researchers, government officials, and technical experts met February 8 in Washington, D.C. for the first meeting of a National Academy of Sciences investigation on minimizing the spread of Legionella bacteria in building plumbing and municipal water systems. Legionnaires’ disease sickened at least 6,141 people in 2016 in the United States and killed several hundred, a death toll that is higher than any other water-related illness in the country.

Aquafornia news KUNC, Community Radio for Northern Colorado

Low snowpack aggravates water supply forecasts for Colorado River Basin

Be prepared for some of the West’s biggest and most important rivers and streams to see record low flows this spring and summer. That’s the message of the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center’s latest water supply forecast released Monday.

Aquafornia news The Wall Street Journal

Water, water everywhere can’t quell a Western drought

Many Western reservoirs are full, and downpours have triggered floods and deadly mudslides in parts of California. But all that water isn’t enough to save the West from another drought. Most of the region has slipped back into the drought conditions that have plagued it on and off for the past two decades—alarming water managers across several states.

Aquafornia news The California Sunday Magazine

A kingdom from dust

I’m [Mark Arax] going to Kern County, just shy of the mountains, to figure out how the biggest farmers in America, led by the biggest of them all, are not only keeping alive their orchards and vineyards during drought but adding more almonds (79,000 acres), more pistachios (73,000 acres), more grapes (35,000 acres), and more mandarins (13,000 acres). Even as the supplies of federal and state water have dropped to near zero, agriculture in Kern keeps chugging along, growing more intensive.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

California drought returning?

Hampered by hot weather and a stubborn high-pressure ridge that has blocked winter storms, California’s Sierra Nevada snowpack — a key source of the state’s water supply — on Tuesday was a paltry 30 percent of normal. The last time there was so little Sierra snow at the end of January was in 2015, when it was 25 percent of its historic average.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Dry winter means less water for many California districts

The Department of Water Resources said Monday it currently expects to provide customers of the State Water Project with just 20 percent of their requested amounts.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Specter of drought looms as California’s weather turns dry again

The storms have passed and California’s dry winter has returned, raising the specter that the state could be entering another drought less than a year after the last one officially ended.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

State scores Temperance Flat dam project at a big fat zero

An application for $1 billion of state bond money to build Temperance Flat dam east of Fresno scored a dismal zero from the California Water Commission on the cost-benefit ratio, potentially jeopardizing its construction. Supporters of the dam expressed shock and dismay and are blaming the commission staff for the low score. They’ve got company.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: How Trump’s pumping plan is dividing California over water – again

Nothing sharpens the political divide in California like a fight over water. Just before New Year’s, the U.S. Bureau of Administration announced it would try to “maximize water deliveries” to the agricultural districts that belong to the federal government’s Central Valley Project.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Could a major California city run dry like drought-stricken Cape Town?

A dystopian drama is unfolding in Cape Town, a popular tourist destination of nearly 4 million on the coast of South Africa that in April is expected to become the modern world’s first major city to run out of water after three years of drought. For Californians, who panted through five years of record drought before last winter and have seen a fairly dry winter so far this year, it raises the worrisome question: Could it happen here?

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

When the water is shut off

All utilities, to varying degrees, shut off water service to households who do not pay bills. Shutoffs, utilities argue, are an essential tool for maintaining financial health. They are the leverage that ensures payment. The universe of U.S. water utilities is vast and varied. There are more than 50,000 systems that serve 15 or more people year-round.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Dry start to winter prompts ugly forecast for Colorado River

The first forecast for the Colorado River is in, and the outlook for the coming year is bleak. The National Weather Service’s Colorado Basin River Forecast Center predicts the river will flow at about 54 percent of its average volume during the key runoff period from April to July.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

The year in water 2017 — a story of trial and response

The story of water in 2017 was one of trial and response. America’s water utilities, for instance, are caught between two forces: a need to reinvest in aging systems and income stagnation among the bottom 20 percent that is calling into question the affordability of water service for the poor. Overseas, the risks to life and health are more immediate.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

UN expert connects U.S. water and sanitation struggles to poverty

As Congress debated a tax cut that would transfer an enormous amount of wealth from America’s poor and middle classes to its rich, a United Nations expert was visiting people already pushed over the edge by poverty.  … [Philip] Alston’s findings also reflect how the widening gap between rich and poor in the United States worsens the country’s challenges for drinking water access, sanitation, and health.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

How craft brewers are embracing new water technologies

With the country and the world facing increasing strain on water resources, beer companies, including craft brewers, are learning how to do more with less water. … Craft brewers have recently struggled with water shortages in the American West. During the California drought, the city of Chico asked Sierra Nevada Brewing to reduce its water usage by more than 30 percent.

Announcement

2017 Water Leaders Class Releases Policy Recommendations for California’s Water Storage Future

The 2017 Water Leaders class organized by the Water Education Foundation completed its year with a report outlining policy recommendations for the future of water storage in California.

The class of 20 from various stakeholder groups and backgrounds that hailed from cities and towns across the state had full editorial control to chose recommendations. While they did not endorse a specific storage proposal, they recommended that California:

Announcement

Deepen Your Knowledge of California Water and Visit the Delta
Popular Water 101 Workshop includes optional one-day Delta Tour

Deepen your knowledge of California water issues at our popular Water 101 Workshop and jump aboard the bus the next day to visit the  Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a 720,000-acre network of islands and canals that supports the state’s water system and is California’s most crucial water and ecological resource.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Some fire hydrants didn’t work because of power outages, firefighters say

As firefighters battled a destructive wildfire that swept through neighborhoods in Ventura, they were stymied by some fire hydrants that didn’t work. Officials said power outages caused by the fire and heavy winds left some water pumping stations inoperable, meaning water couldn’t reach the fire hydrants.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Q&A: Portable treatment systems to create first ‘virtual water district’

It can be very expensive, for instance, to build a new water treatment plant or connect with one in the next closest town. … Now a team of engineers and students at the University of California, Los Angeles, has developed a water treatment system that fits in a 40ft shipping container.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

How climate change is impacting the American West right now

Scientists have calculated future scenarios for the coming decades that include sea-level rise, more severe rainfall and an increase in the frequency of heatwaves. Some areas will get drier, others wetter. No matter what the future brings, one thing is clear: Impacts from a warming climate are already being felt across the American West, with changes to ecosystems and water supply.

Aquapedia background

Atmospheric Rivers

Atmospheric rivers are relatively narrow bands of moisture that ferry precipitation across the Pacific Ocean to the West Coast.

They are commonly referred to as the “Pineapple Express” because of their origins in tropical regions. While atmospheric rivers are necessary to keep California’s water reservoirs full, some of them are dangerous because the extreme rainfall and wind can cause catastrophic flooding and damage. Their presence has been likened to the West Coast version of the hurricane hazard posed to the Southeastern United States.

Aquafornia news Redding Record Searchlight

State sets initial water allocation of 15 percent

The state Department of Water Resources on Thursday, Nov. 30, announced an initial water allocation of 15 percent for most of its State Water Project contractors for 2018. The low percentage is a conservative figure, which is typical of the department’s early season forecast.

Aquafornia news NBC 4, Southern California

With winter on the way, most of California’s water reservoirs are looking good

California’s wettest months of the year are still to come, but the state’s largest water reservoirs already appear to be in decent shape. As of Nov. 27, most of California’s major reservoirs were above their historical averages for this time of year, according to the Department of Water Resources.

Aquafornia news Stanford | Water in the West

How close is too close for hydraulic fracturing?

Although the majority of Americans get their drinking water from a municipal, public supply, 1 in 7 rely on private water wells. Though wells for drinking water and wells for oil and gas production are known to exist in the same geographic regions, their proximity to one another across the United States was uncertain. … “Forty-five million Americans rely on private groundwater wells for their drinking water,” says Scott Jasechko, assistant professor at Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, University of California at Santa Barbara.

Western Water Gary Pitzer Layperson's Guide to Climate Change and Water Resources Gary Pitzer

The Drought May Be Over, But California Still Wants Residents to Act Like It’s On Forever
State considers adopting permanent wise water use rules starting in April

For decades, no matter the weather, the message has been preached to Californians: use water wisely, especially outdoors, which accounts for most urban water use.

Enforcement of that message filters to the local level, where water agencies routinely target the notorious “gutter flooder” with gentle reminders and, if necessary, financial penalties.

Headwaters Tour 2018
Field Trip - June 28 & 29 (Sold out! Join Waitlist)

Sixty percent of California’s developed water supply originates high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Our water supply is largely dependent on the health of our Sierra forests, which are suffering from ecosystem degradation, drought, wildfires and widespread tree mortality.

Headwaters tour participants on a hike in the Sierra Nevada.

Join us as we head into the foothills and the mountains to examine water issues that happen upstream but have dramatic impacts downstream and throughout the state. 

GEI (Tour Starting Point)
2868 Prospect Park Dr.
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670.
Tour

Lower Colorado River Tour 2018
Field Trip - April 11-13 (Sold out, please sign up for the waitlist in case tickets are available)

Lower Colorado River Tour participants at Hoover Dam.

Explore the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is 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 and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs is the focus of this tour.

Hampton Inn Tropicana
4975 Dean Martin Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89118
Tour

Northern California Tour 2018
Field Trip - October 10 - 12

Explore the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape as we 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. This year, special attention will be paid to the flood event at Oroville Dam and the efforts to repair the dam spillway before the next rainy season. 

This 3-day, 2-night tour travels across the Sacramento Valley and follows the river north from Sacramento through Chico to Redding and Lake Shasta, where participants take a houseboat ride.

Tour

San Joaquin River Restoration Tour 2018
Field Trip - November 7-8

Participants of this tour snake along the San Joaquin River to learn firsthand about one of the nation’s largest and most expensive river restoration plans.

Fishery worker capturing a fish in the San Joaquin River.

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 Authority and a coalition of environmental groups.

Aquafornia news San Gabriel Valley Tribune

One of the first projects in Los Angeles County to capture storm water being built in Long Beach

The thousands of miles of concrete channels diverting street water from the San Gabriel and Los Angeles rivers represent the last major water project in Los Angeles County, built almost 100 years ago. On Thursday, Dave Sorem, owner and vice president of Mike Bubalo Construction Co., showed off the first of a second wave of street-water projects that elevate what is essentially water pollution into a drinkable water source.

Western Water Gary Pitzer Layperson's Guide to the State Water Project Land Subsidence Gary Pitzer

State Taking Steps to Manage Subsidence-Related Impacts to California Aqueduct
Department of Water Resources to spend $5 million for quick fixes, as it assesses longer-term repairs

For as long as agriculture has existed in the Central Valley, farmers have pumped water from the ground to sustain their livelihood and grow food consumed by much of the nation. This has caused the ground in certain places to sink, sometimes dramatically, eliminating valuable aquifer storage space that can never be restored.

Aquafornia news KPCC Southern California Public Radio

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Californians slashed water use, but still use more than US average

Californians slashed their water use during the drought. But a new study finds we still used more than the national average. Between 2015 and 2010, Californians slashed their water use by seventeen percent, according to the US Geological Survey report.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California homeowners could get tax break to capture rainwater in backyards

It was raining and Judy Adler had a broken gutter. What could have been a simple repair turned into an effort to capture rain and use it for her backyard pond. Since late 2009, Adler has collected up to 11,000 gallons of rain annually at her Walnut Creek home.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Desert farmers reap millions selling water to California cities

Over the past 12 years, the country’s biggest urban water agency has paid farmers about $190 million not to grow crops on thousands of acres near the Colorado River in the Palo Verde Valley.  The water has gone to Los Angeles and other cities across Southern California, and in return, the farmers who’ve left some of their lands unplanted have been able to count on additional income.

Aquafornia news The Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Governor signs bill creating new water agency

The way water is acquired and distributed throughout the Santa Clarita Valley changed forever Sunday when Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill creating one new all-encompassing water district for the SCV.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California firefighters say they finally ‘turned a corner’

Sonoma County officials said they will not let people return home until it is safe and utilities are restored. Crews have been working around the clock to connect water and power, in some cases putting up new poles next to smoldering trees, the sheriff said.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: California’s reservoirs are full, but will this winter be wet?

Like every autumn, October is bringing cooler weather, changing leaves and pumpkins to fields across California. But unlike the past five years, when a historic drought gripped the state, there’s something new across the landscape: full reservoirs.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

With rats and frogs in Camp Pendleton water supply, base agrees to federal decree

Camp Pendleton officials swear that the water consumed by 55,000 Marines and their families is safe, despite a pair of scathing state and federal investigations indicating chronic problems in the treatment systems at the sprawling military base.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Plan to pump more water from the Delta gets approved

Federal fisheries regulators have approved a controversial plan opposed by environmental groups that would allow for more pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta this fall. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wet winter, but fighting over Delta smelt continues

Environmentalists are opposed to a proposal championed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Southern California water interests to ramp up pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta starting next week.

Aquafornia news East Bay Times

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Bay Area water board backs Delta tunnels project

One day after the largest water district in America pulled out of a $17 billion state project to build twin tunnels under the Delta, a water supplier for 220,000 Alameda County residents supported the plan and said it wants to join in.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

West’s wildfires taking toll on reservoirs

Around California, the country and the world, reservoirs are silently filling with sediment, and only a few people are thinking about it. … According to new research from the U.S. Geological Survey, in many regions erosion rates are now accelerating thanks to wildfires and climate change. The western U.S., which relies on reservoirs for vital water storage and flood control, will be particularly impacted.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Nestlé faces questions about Arrowhead bottled water as officials investigate

Nestled in thick brush high in the San Bernardino Mountains, bunker-like structures protrude from the rocky slopes. Built with stone and concrete and secured with metal doors and padlocks, these vaults are connected to a series of stainless steel pipelines that run down the mountainside like veins.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

With billions on the line, California begins vetting water projects

A dozen water storage projects in California are now officially in the running for a share of $2.7 billion in state bond funds. But experts are cautioning that taxpayers shouldn’t get their hopes up that these projects will solve chronic water shortages in the state. The money comes from Proposition 1, a bond measure approved by state voters in 2014.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Judge sends Vegas water pipeline plan back to feds for a fix

A federal judge tapped the brakes Thursday but didn’t stop a proposal for a massive and expensive water pipeline to draw underground water from rural valleys along Nevada’s eastern edge to supply the growing Las Vegas metropolitan area.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: New dams for California? A dozen projects seek $2.7 billion

During the drought, Californians often asked why the state wasn’t building more reservoirs. On Tuesday, the state finally began taking a major step toward that goal, unveiling a list of 12 huge new water projects — from massive new dams in the north to expanded groundwater banks in the south — that will compete for $2.7 billion in state bond funding for new water storage projects.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

US: ‘Zero’ chance of Colorado River water shortage in 2018

Heavy winter snows in the Rocky Mountains have rescued the thirsty Western U.S. for another year. U.S. water managers said Tuesday there will be no water cutbacks in 2018 for millions of residents and farmers served by the Lake Mead reservoir on the Colorado River that lies behind the Hoover Dam.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Q&A: Agreements in place to fund largest California reservoir proposal

California voters in 2014 approved a ballot measure that allocates $2.7 billion for water storage projects. It’s likely there will be hot competition for the money when the California Water Commission gets around to awarding it next year.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Sites Reservoir supporters want $1.6 billion from water bond (with audio)

This week is the application deadline for projects requesting funding from the $7.5 billion Proposition 1 water bond that California voters approved in 2014.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

East Bay reservoir expansion plan wins support of environmental groups

A $914 million plan to expand the Los Vaqueros Reservoir as drought insurance for millions of Bay Area residents picked up endorsements Monday from six conservation groups in a rare display of environmental support for new water development.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

9 takeaways from the National Climate Report

3. Bad news for California. Warming will probably bring further reductions in winter and spring snowpack, which the state depends on for much of its water supply.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: Legislature, don’t mess with California’s water umpire

As California water becomes an increasingly precious and contentious resource, the state needs an umpire with the power to enforce laws against illegal diversions and protect the rights of the public and others with enforceable claims to state water.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

California’s biggest drought success story came with a high cost

East Porterville took by far the hardest hit in the [San Joaquin] valley during the drought, state officials say. … The State Water Resources Control Board has responded with $35 million to connect East Porterville’s 300-plus dry homes to Porterville’s system. Another 400 homeowners who didn’t lose their wells have opted into the Porterville hookup to prevent future water problems.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Sonoma County supervisor to testify before US Senate panel about local water initiatives

Shirlee Zane, the chairwoman of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, is set to appear before a Congressional panel in Washington, D.C., this week to discuss the county’s efforts to better manage its water supply and respond to major storms. … Zane intends to tell senators about two initiatives led by the Sonoma County Water Agency, of which she is also a board member. 

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Enough water agencies have bought in to get Sites Reservoir built even without Prop. 1 funding

The deadline is Aug. 14 to apply for water storage funding from the Proposition 1 bond measure voters approved in 2014, and while the folks working to build Sites Reservoir will be applying, they don’t need the money. Enough water agencies have agreed to invest in the reservoir near Maxwell that it can be built without taxpayer funds, according to Sites Project Authority General Manager Jim Watson.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Unlikely allies push bill to solve California drinking water crisis

As the summer sun was warming up on a July morning, a crowd of nearly 100 people gathered on the north steps of the California Capitol, many having arrived stiff-legged after a four-hour bus ride. … Most were San Joaquin Valley residents, including children as young as 5, who woke up before dawn to travel to the state capital to voice their support for Senate Bill 623, the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Poll: Californians support climate change policies

Since the state’s drought officially ended earlier this year, there’s also been a precipitous drop in Californians worrying about having enough water. Last July, 62 percent said water supply was a big problem for the state.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: GOP push to shift state water policy away from conservation

With a friend in the White House and their party in control of both chambers of Congress, House Republicans have embarked on their most ambitious effort yet to change the way water flows in California. Legislation that the House sent to the Senate last week outlines a bold effort to build big new dams and shift water from fish, birds and other wildlife to farms in the San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Davenport, Santa Cruz County, may be running out of water

The coastal town of Davenport, gateway to the new Cotoni-Coast Dairies National Monument and home to 100 households, may be running out of water. The problem started in February when storms damaged the water intake at San Vicente Creek that provided the town with water.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Funding woes for stream gages put crucial water data at risk

When it comes to managing water in uncertain times, few things are more important than knowing how much is flowing in the river alongside your city, or filling the reservoir that irrigates local farms. … But this basic information is at risk across the West because the nation lacks a reliable funding source for the simple stream gages that measure river flows.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Measuring the snowpack goes high-tech with airborne lasers and radar

Every year for almost half a century, California snow surveyor Pat Armstrong has trekked the rugged Sierra Nevada with three simple tools: a snow core tube, a scale and a notebook. For as long as he can remember, state water officials have relied on the accuracy of those tools to deliver crucial data on the size of the Sierra snowpack and its ability to sustain a growing population.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: California hones drinking water affordability plan

Nearly five years ago, the California Legislature declared that the state’s residents have a right to “safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water.” Passage of the landmark law provoked a practical question that has always dogged the noble ideals of the right-to-water movement: how does a state government or municipal utility ensure clean and affordable water for all? … Staff members at the California Water Resources Control Board are now taking a full swing at the affordability component of the right-to-water legislation.

Western Water Excerpt Gary Pitzer Jennifer Bowles

Enhancing California’s Water Supply: The Drive for New Storage
Spring 2017

One of the wettest years in California history that ended a record five-year drought has rejuvenated the call for new storage to be built above and below ground.

In a state that depends on large surface water reservoirs to help store water before moving it hundreds of miles to where it is used, a wet year after a long drought has some people yearning for a place to sock away some of those flood flows for when they are needed.

Aquafornia news East Bay Times

East Bay reservoir to store Fresno farm water

The nation’s largest irrigation district will store water in the Los Vaqueros Reservoir in a test of how the lake can be used as drought insurance for millions of  Californians.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Snowmelt puts Merced River above flood stage in Yosemite National Park

High temperatures put the Merced River in Yosemite National Park over flood stage on Thursday as snow from higher elevations melted and flowed into the river’s basin. But most Central California reservoirs, preparing for the warmer weather and melting snowpack throughout the Sierra, have excess capacity to handle such runoff.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: May 1 Sierra Nevada snowpack is biggest since 1998

State officials on Monday reported a near-record May snowpack, but the bountiful winter that demolished California’s five-year drought is now increasing the risk of late spring flooding, as temperatures climb across the Sierra Nevada.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Despite Oroville problems, state water allocations rise

The Department of Water Resources announced that contractors north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will receive full allocations this year. Those south of the Delta, including the giant Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, will get 85 percent of what they’ve requested.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Big Los Angeles water agency antes up for a share of Sacramento Valley’s Sites Reservoir

The water agency that supplies drinking water to Los Angeles agreed Tuesday to contribute $1.5 million toward the planning of Sites Reservoir in the Sacramento Valley, giving the agency a toehold in a potentially valuable storage project.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Mighty Los Angeles water agency wants share of Sacramento Valley’s Sites Reservoir – and is willing to pay

Southern California’s most powerful water agency is prepared to invest in Sacramento Valley’s proposed Sites Reservoir, a move that could broaden support for the $4.4 billion project but also raise alarms about a south state “water grab.”

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Feinstein fumes as Trump team waives environmental review for Mojave water project

The Trump administration has handed a big boost to a private water venture in Southern California, angering California’s senior senator, Democrat Dianne Feinstein, who said the decision could “destroy pristine public land” in the Mojave Desert.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California’s robust mountain snowpack boosts flood concerns

As big snowflakes fell high in California’s Sierra Nevada on Thursday, surveyors on snowshoes measured the deepest springtime snowpack in years and said it boosted concerns about destructive floods when all that snow melts.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Drought? Sierra Nevada snowpack at 164 percent of normal

The biggest blizzards are over. But as state water officials head into the Sierra Nevada on Thursday for the annual April 1 snowpack reading — the most important of the year for planning summer water supplies — California still has a huge amount of snow covering its highest mountain peaks, an avalanche that has buried the state’s punishing drought.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Trump requests — and receives — this infrastructure list from builders union

Among the projects listed by the unions is the $1 billion Huntington Beach Desalination Plant in California. … Also in Southern California, the Cadiz water project aims to tap groundwater from the Mojave Desert to supply roughly 100,000 homes.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Record snow brings danger as weather warms and ice begins melting

As snow continued to fall on the eastern Sierra Nevada on Monday, platoons of earth movers, cranes and utility trucks fanned out across the Owens Valley, scrambling to empty reservoirs and clean out a lattice-work of ditches and pipelines in a frantic effort to protect the key source of Los Angeles’ water.

Aquafornia news East Bay Times

Erosion hits key reservoir near Byron

A state reservoir at the starting point to ship Delta water to 23 million Californians has been damaged by heavy water flows this winter — which may trigger a temporary shutdown of the state’s giant water pumps.

Aquafornia news KQED Public Media for Northern California

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Emergency repairs for facility used to ship water to Southern California

State officials say that it will take 30 to 45 days to repair damage detected this week at a key point in the state’s system for shipping water from the Delta to farms in the San Joaquin Valley and to cities from Silicon Valley to Los Angeles.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Can California repair damaged Delta reservoir within 45 days?

State officials said Wednesday that Californians reliant on water pumped out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta won’t face supply shortages, even as crews shut down a massive pumping station that serves much of Southern California for at least a month to make repairs to its intake reservoir.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Snowpack levels surge in the Sierra Nevada, helping to power California out of drought

Plunging the long, metal rod into the snow beneath his feet in the mountain town of Phillips, state snow survey chief Frank Gehrke measured the Sierra Nevada snowpack Wednesday not against California’s recent, historic drought but against its biggest rain years.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Sierra snowpack ‘pretty phenomenal’ but is it record breaking?

There’s “a pretty phenomenal snowpack” in the Sierra Nevada, but not enough to break the record for the same date set in the winter of 1969.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California snowpack could bring 5-year drought to its knees

The massive snowdrifts in the Sierra Nevada could finally bring the California drought to its knees and keep skiers on the slopes long enough to celebrate the Fourth of July.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Drought-easing California snow heaviest in 22 years

Clambering through a snowy meadow with drifts up to the tree branches, California’s water managers measured the state’s vital Sierra Nevada snowpack Thursday at a drought-busting and welcome 173 percent of average.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California snowpack reaches 173% of average, replenishing a third of state’s ’snow-deficit’

Snowfall from a series of blizzard-like storms that blanketed the Sierra Nevada last month deposited the equivalent of more than 5.7 trillion gallons of water along the rugged mountain range — enough water to fill California’s largest reservoir more than four times, according to recent analysis.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Folsom Lake less than half full after recent rains. Residents ask: Why so dry?

Northern California is on track to break rainfall records. … But you wouldn’t know the region has experienced an exceptionally wet winter looking at the steep, dry shores ringing the Sacramento region’s largest reservoir, Folsom Lake.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

More Northern California water to flow to Southern California

Southern California can expect to see its reservoirs continue to rise this year after state water officials announced increased water deliveries from Northern California on Wednesday, Jan. 18.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

California lawmakers tour proposed Sites Reservoir

Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, is leading a troupe of lawmakers today on a tour of the Sites Reservoir, a $4.4 billion proposed water storage project four decades in the making.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Weeks of rain are rapidly reviving California’s drought-ravaged lakes

Leaning against a wooden rail, environmental activist Geoffrey McQuilkin took stock of a parched geological wonderland [Mono Lake] that had been altered by a weekend deluge. … Similar scenes were playing out at lakes and reservoirs across Northern California as weeks of heavy rain and snow brought them back to life.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: California storms add 350 billion gallons to parched reservoirs

The powerful storms that soaked Northern California over the past week did more than trigger power outages, mudslides and flash floods. … Officially, California’s drought won’t end until Gov. Jerry Brown rescinds or revises the emergency drought declaration he signed in January 2014.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Delta tunnels — Obama says full speed ahead on permits, reviews

Two weeks before President Barack Obama leaves office, his administration vowed to move full speed ahead on California’s controversial Delta tunnels project, calling it essential for the state’s water supply as well as its environment.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: California snowpack measures low, but big storms coming

The first manual survey this year of California’s snowpack revealed Tuesday that it holds about half as much water as normal, casting a shadow on the state that’s hoping to dodge a sixth straight year of drought, officials said.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Despite recent storms, California’s ‘snow drought’ continues

Around the start of each year, California water officials make a big show out of measuring the Sierra Nevada snowpack for reporters. Tuesday’s measurement before a throng of cameras was fairly bleak: Water content in the snowpack stood at just 53 percent of average, about a third as much water as the same time last year at that site.

Aquafornia news NPR

High demand, low supply: Colorado River water crisis hits across the West (with audio)

The Colorado River is like a giant bank account for seven different states. Now it’s running short. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Bay Area cities prepare for 60 days without Hetch Hetchy supply

In late December, the filtration tanks at a treatment plant in San Bruno were quietly filled with millions of gallons of raw water. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

After six years of drought, this is the winter weather we’re ’supposed to be getting,’ meteorologists say

The slow but steady improvement in California’s drought picture should accelerate in the new year with a series of storms that are expected to dump rain and snow in Northern California.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

More than 1,000 show up at hearing for Bay-Delta Plan (with audio)

On Tuesday in Modesto, it was standing-room only at a State Water Resources Control Board hearing for a plan that could cut irrigation water for farmers and drinking water for cities. Many people showed up at the meeting to protest the plan, while others came to show their support. 

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

State Water Project customers will get bigger allocation due to winter’s wet start

California officials, acknowledging the wet start to winter, on Wednesday more than doubled the expected allocation of water from the State Water Project.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: California boosts water-supply projections amid wet weather

With the rainy season off to a strong start, California officials on Wednesday more than doubled the amount of water they expect to provide next year from the State Water Project.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Modesto-area farmers, residents make impassioned plea to water board

More than 900 people packed a Modesto hearing on boosting river flows Tuesday, most of them determined to stop the state’s plan. … The round of hearings started Nov. 29 in Sacramento and will finish there Jan. 3.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Merced crowd criticizes river flow plan

More than 600 people gathered at the Merced Theatre for the third of five hearing sessions on the proposed reservoir releases along the Merced, Tuolumne and Stanislaus rivers.

Western Water Gary Pitzer Gary Pitzer

Rules Set for Prop. 1 Funding for New Water Storage Projects

A critical aspect of California’s drive to create new water storage is in place after the California Water Commission approved regulations governing how those potential storage projects could receive public funding under Prop. 1.

The Dec. 14 decision potentially paves the way for new surface water projects, such as Sites Reservoir, and expansion of Los Vaqueros reservoir in Contra Costa County.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Obama signs big California water and flood control bill

President Barack Obama on Friday quietly signed and bequeathed to President-elect Donald Trump a massive infrastructure bill designed to control floods, fund dams and deliver more water to farmers in California’s Central Valley.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: California’s drought divergence: Wetter in the north, still bone dry in the south

When California water officials assess the drought, the first place they look is the northern Sierra Nevada mountains. Rain and snowmelt from the area feed into a complex system of rivers, canals and reservoirs that send water across the state.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

With lakes and rivers rising, residents prepare for more storms in the Sacramento region

Increased flows from Folsom Lake and the anticipation of a gully washer of a storm Thursday mean that the American and Sacramento rivers will be rising.

Aquafornia news KCRA Sacramento

Folsom Lake level stands at 127 percent of normal (video)

Folsom Lake and other Northern California reservoirs are seeing a huge increase in levels due to rain that fell over the weekend.

Aquafornia news KCRA Sacramento

What you need to know about water releases from Folsom Lake (with video)

Outflow at Folsom Lake will more than double from 3,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 8,000 cfs by Wednesday, according to Justin Moore with Bureau of Reclamation Mid-Pacific Region.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Will wet start to rainy season put dent in California’s drought?

State water officials are expected to have a better sense of the drought outlook after they conduct the first snowpack measure of the season, later this month or early next.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: California’s water future will change as a result of this bill set for House approval

A California water bill set for House approval on Thursday that’s split the state’s two Democratic senators will make it easier for the incoming Trump administration to build new Western dams.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Fall snow, rains have ’satisfied the drought debt’ in Northern Sierra Nevada, climatologist says

Now, if past weather patterns are fulfilled this year, experts say, Northern California’s winter — and long-term relief from years of drought — could be just around the corner for the state’s most important watershed.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Wet fall helps, but real test begins now

One hundred and seventy percent of normal: It sounds so impressive. But Stockton’s wet fall — mirrored across much of Northern California — doesn’t necessarily portend a wet winter.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Who likes state’s plan to keep more water for fish in California rivers? Practically nobody.

California regulators say their sweeping proposal to devote more flows from the state’s major rivers to fish and wildlife is an attempt to balance competing interests for a scarce resource.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Rain season off to fast start, but drought worries linger

In a preliminary outlook, the state Department of Water Resources said it can count on allocating as little as 20 percent of requested water supplies to start, hinting drought fears are far from over in California.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

State initially estimates 20% of full water deliveries

California’s Department of Water Resources has made its initial projection of how much water public agencies can count on receiving from the canals and pipelines of the State Water Project next year: 20 percent of their full allotments.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California rainy season off to wet start, but drought not over

It’s only a beginning. But it’s a strong beginning, and it offers at least a rain gauge’s worth of hope to a state enduring its fifth year of drought.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Start-up is pitching a new type of bond to fix California’s wildfire and water woes

The founders of fledgling San Francisco firm Blue Forest Conservation want to use the proceeds of what they call a forest-resilience bond to pay crews to cut down small trees, clear out shrubs and burn off ground cover in overgrown forests. 

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Sides brace for hearing on river flow plan

Fishing and environmental groups will get the first say Tuesday about how much water should run down the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers. The session in Sacramento will be the first of five before the State Water Resources Control Board, which is considering a major boost in the flows.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Trump promised California farmers more water. Can he deliver?

More than a year ago, Fresno County farmer Wayne Western Jr. penned a letter to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, pleading for help.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Why water district is paying growers to replace avocado trees

Thirsty avocado trees in the hills of De Luz are on a literal chopping block. The Rancho California Water District on Monday, Nov. 14, started accepting applications from district growers who want to remove high water use crops, such as avocado trees, for lower use varieties such as wine grapes or citrus trees.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Trump election impact in California will be huge

Farmers from California’s Central Valley invested big time in Donald Trump, and soon the president-elect could repay the debt.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

A giant reservoir that supplies a California county’s drinking water is nearly empty

Lake Cachuma, a giant reservoir built to hold Santa Barbara County’s drinking water, has all but vanished in California’s historic drought. It reached an all-time low this summer — 7 percent capacity, which left a thick beige watermark that circles the hills framing the lake like an enormous bathtub ring.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Reservoir expansion could store water for millions in Bay Area

Millions of Bay Area residents could get extra drought insurance against water shortages and quality problems from a proposed $800 million expansion of the Los Vaqueros Reservoir that may have up to 10 water suppliers as partners.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Northern California is seeing two or three times more rain than normal. So why is Southern California so dry?

As the state enters its sixth year of drought, Northern California is seeing some significant relief thanks to a series of powerful storms, while Southern California remains mired in record dry conditions.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

A study says that more research is needed into how marijuana farming affects environment

As nine states prepare to vote on marijuana legalization on Nov. 8, a study concludes that more research is needed into how pot farming could hurt the environment.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Sites Reservoir has a new website, logo and more than enough investors

Last week, folks who are in the inner circle of the plans for Sites Reservoir held a get-together in Maxwell to show off the group’s new office and new logo. Also new is a website, that talks about all things Sites Reservoir — a construction schedule, facts sheets and a list of interested participants (see sidebar).

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

South San Joaquin farmers say ‘no’ to flow plan

Manteca-area farmers voted this week to oppose a state proposal to permanently allow more water to remain in the Stanislaus River to protect fish. … The State Water Resources Control Board says river flows would increase from roughly 20 percent to perhaps 40 percent on the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers combined.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Strange bedfellows form coalition to increase water supply (with audio)

California’s drought has brought about a strange partnership that includes corporations like Coca-Cola and environmental groups like the Nature Conservancy. They’re partnering on projects aimed at helping increase water supply in California. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Don’t expect much snow from soaking storm approaching California

California has been trying to fill its reservoirs for 5 years, and it will get a little help from a storm expected to hit later this week. Right now, Lake Shasta is only at 60% capacity and Lake Oroville is at 44%, with other reservoirs across the state even lower. 

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

River flow proposal stirs debate in Turlock and Sacramento

Four of the five board members at the Turlock Irrigation District voted Tuesday against the state’s proposed boost in river flows. Meanwhile, the fifth board member was in Sacramento to press the same case.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Another dry year on California’s books as ‘drought continues’

October is the time for optimism about water in California. … Hydrologically speaking, Oct. 1 also marked the official start of the state water year.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

River flow proposal will be discussed in Turlock and Sacramento

The board of the Turlock Irrigation District will get its turn Tuesday to denounce the river flow increases proposed by the state. Later in the morning in Sacramento, supporters and opponents of higher flows will speak to the California State Board of Food and Agriculture.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Timber Company tells California town, go find your own water

The water that gurgles from a spring on the edge of this Northern California logging town is so pristine that for more than a century it has been piped directly to the wooden homes spread across hills and gullies.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Why California may ban new small water agencies

California’s goal of ensuring universal access to safe drinking water, as mandated in the 2012 Human Right to Water Bill, will come a step closer to being met if Gov. Jerry Brown signs a new measure into law that halts the creation of new small, unsustainable ­– and in many cases dangerous – water districts in the state.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

State announces river flow standards

State officials said Thursday that they are still seeking major increases in flows on the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers, to the dismay of farming advocates.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

A plan to keep rivers flowing for fish triggers another water fight

State regulators want to leave more water for fish and wildlife in the heavily tapped tributaries of the San Joaquin River, setting the stage for another bruising California water fight.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

New state water plan may force tighter conservation restrictions

San Francisco faces potentially drastic cutbacks in its water supply, as state regulators proposed leaving more water in three Northern California rivers Thursday to protect wildlife in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta estuary, the linchpin of California’s water supply.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Lugging buckets and coping during California’s hottest summer on record

In small communities scattered across California, more wells have been failing as the drought persists for a fifth year.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Feds’ Colorado River water use forecast was too good to be true

It sounded too good to be true — an official forecast that 2016 [Colorado River] water use in Arizona, California and Nevada will be the lowest since 1992. That forecast from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation was too good to be true — by the bureau’s own admission.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

East Porterville residents, tired of drought, say end is in sight

Five years of drought have left East Porterville residents exhausted. As of Monday, 628 homes countywide have dry wells and no county-supplied water tanks. … Residents say they see the end in sight.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Report: Delta tunnels fail financially

The costs of Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed Delta tunnels vastly outweigh the benefits of building them, according to an analysis released Wednesday by University of the Pacific economist Jeff Michael.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Delta tunnels don’t pencil out, UOP economist says

A prominent Sacramento-area economist says Gov. Jerry Brown’s $15.5 billion plan to overhaul the troubled Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta doesn’t make financial sense, with costs far outweighing the benefits.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Bill targeting water secrecy scrapped in California Senate

Strong opposition in the Legislature has scuttled a bill that would have required agencies in California to release information about water use by businesses such as farms and golf courses.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

After years without water, taps are turned on in East Porterville

Tania Ramirez stepped into her family’s front yard Friday morning, leaned down toward a pipe protruding from the garden, and twisted a spigot. For the first time in three years, water came pouring out.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Northern California towns are running out of water

Paskenta, population 112, is an out-of-the-way place where rustic ranches grace grass-covered hills rolling west toward Mendocino Pass. … A water crisis has triggered a rude awakening.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Colorado River’s tale of two basins

Recently, Gov. John Hickenlooper cast renewed attention on water supply and growth in the West with a decision in a long-running process to expand a Colorado River diversion. … The Gross reservoir expansion reflects a fundamental tension for the seven states and two countries that share the Colorado River: how many more diversions can the stressed basin tolerate?

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Lake Oroville dropping much faster than Shasta Lake this summer

State and federal reservoir levels have been dropping at dramatically different rates for the last couple of months, for reasons that figure into last week’s discussions about the twin tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news Redding Record Searchlight

Sites Reservoir likely years down the road

Plans to build the Sites Reservoir have been in the works since 1957, and if it is eventually approved, work on the project probably would not be complete for another 10 to 12 years, according to Jim Watson, the Sites Reservoir Project general manager.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Sprouts subject of nationwide Nestle protest

Activists arguing that Nestle’s bottling of water from the San Bernardino National Forest is illegal due to a long-expired permit gathered Saturday at Sprouts Farmers Market locations across the U.S., including one in La Quinta, in order to protest the chain’s sale of Nestle Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles County proposal to let landowners use hauled-in water worries environmentalists

Los Angeles County is considering a controversial plan to spur housing development in rural unincorporated areas by allowing property owners to haul in drinking water if no other source is available.

Aquafornia news USA Today

Lawmakers debate benefits of holding water back to benefit endangered fish

Whether the temperature management of the runoff of Northern California water reservoirs, including Shasta Dam, results in improved survivability of endangered fish or uncertainty for human water users was debated at a House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing Tuesday.

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