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 Desert Sun

Dozens of environmental bills on California 2021 legislative agenda

California’s legislative session came to a wild ending in 2020 when the clock ran out on major bills. Key pieces of environmental legislation were among those that died on the floor, and conservationists are hoping 2021 brings a different story….Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, [proposed a climate resiliency bond that] would include $240 million for Salton Sea restoration, $250 million for groundwater management and $300 million for grants for clean and reliable drinking water.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Deb Haaland is approved as Interior secretary by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

Rep. Deb Haaland’s bid to become the first Native American interior secretary was made more likely Thursday by an unlikely Republican supporter, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of oil-rich Alaska, who said she still had serious reservations about Haaland’s past opposition to drilling. Murkowski was the only Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to approve Haaland (D-N.M.) in the narrow 11-to-9 vote. Haaland’s nomination now moves to the full Senate, where the entire Democratic caucus and two Republicans, Murkowski and Susan Collins (Maine), are expected to back her, cementing her confirmation.

Aquafornia news Stanford News

New research: How much do humans influence Earth’s water levels?

Water levels in the world’s ponds, lakes and human-managed reservoirs rise and fall from season to season. But until now, it has been difficult to parse out exactly how much of that variation is caused by humans as opposed to natural cycles. Analysis of new satellite data published March 3 in Nature shows fully 57 percent of the seasonal variability in Earth’s surface water storage now occurs in dammed reservoirs and other water bodies managed by people. … The western United States, southern Africa and the Middle East rank among regions with the highest reservoir variability, averaging 6.5 feet to 12.4 feet. 

Aquafornia news Yale Climate Connections

New report: U.S. dams, levees get D grades, need $115 billion in upgrades

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave America’s infrastructure a C- grade in its quadrennial assessment issued March 3. ASCE gave the nation’s flood control infrastructure – dams and levees – a D grade. This is a highly concerning assessment, given that climate change is increasingly stressing dams and levees as increased evaporation from the oceans drives heavier precipitation events. … Climate scientists at Stanford University found that between 1988 and 2017, heavier precipitation accounted for more than one-third of the $200 billion in [flood] damage…

Aquafornia news Post Independent

Opinion: Colorado River Compact adjustments are needed

When [the Colorado River Compact was] signed in 1922, the Colorado River drainage was divided into two divisions; Upper: Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah; Lower: Arizona, California, Nevada. At that time, it was felt the total average annual flow was 16.4 million acre feet. As a result, each basin was assigned 50%, or 7.5 million acre feet, with the 1.4 million acre feet surplus allocated to Mexico. … As a result, the Upper Basin is obligated to provide 7.5M acre feet to the Lower Basin, regardless of the actual flow of water in any given year. Obviously, snowpack and the consequent flow is not a constant and years of drought and low flows create a problem for the Upper Basin.
-Written by Bryan Whiting, a columnist for the Glenwood Springs (Colo.) Post Independent. 

Aquafornia news Colorado Springs Gazette

Colorado in Drought — Scientists preparing for ‘chaotic weather’ future

The hot dry conditions that melted strong snowpack early in 2020 and led to severe drought, low river flows and record setting wildfires across the state could be a harbinger of what is to come in Colorado. Climate change is likely to drive “chaotic weather” and greater extremes with hotter droughts and bigger snowstorms that will be harder to predict, said Kenneth Williams, environmental remediation and water resources program lead at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, headquartered in California.

Aquafornia news City of Napa

News release: City switching to Lake Hennessey for water supply for three weeks

The City recognizes the changing aesthetics of the drinking water, which is common with surface water supplies. Starting on March 5th our State Water Project supply source (Delta water) will be unavailable for three weeks to perform maintenance which necessitates using our Lake Hennessey water.  The taste and odor is not unique to Napa’s water sources – seasonal algae blooms are common to many surface waters. As algae dies off they release odor causing compounds.  Most persons describe the aesthetics of this phenomenon as earthy and/or musty.

Aquafornia news Well+Good

Unsafe drinking water is a wellness issue

When Malini Ranganathan, PhD, an associate professor at American University and interim faculty director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center, conducted research in Exeter, a flourishing agriculture town in California’s Central Valley, she didn’t expect to see similar conditions to what she’d witnessed in India’s low-income housing areas. Residents in one of the world’s richest states were depending on bore water and water tankers to drink because tap water was unsafe. 

Aquafornia news Yuba Water Agency

News Release: Cordua Irrigation District joins historic Lower Yuba River Accord

Yuba Water Agency’s board of directors today approved an agreement that adds the Cordua Irrigation District to the historic Lower Yuba River Accord, a model water management agreement that supports endangered salmon and steelhead, ensures water supplies for cities and farms and reduces conflict over water use.

Aquafornia news USA Today

Friday Top of the Scroll: Megadrought worsens in the Western U.S., California

Much of the western U.S. continues to endure a long-term drought, one that threatens the region’s water supplies and agriculture and could worsen wildfires this year. In fact, some scientists are calling the dryness in the West a “megadrought,”  defined as an intense drought that lasts for decades or longer.  Overall, about 90% of the West is now either abnormally dry or in a drought, which is among the highest percentages in the past 20 years, according to this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor.

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Aquafornia news Valley News

Rancho Water’s Temecula Parkway pipeline replacement project continues

Rancho California Water District crews are continuing work to replace more than a mile of aging pipeline under westbound Temecula Parkway in Temecula. The project, which will ultimately replace about 8,000 feet, or about a mile and a half, of aging recycled water pipeline between Bedford Court and Rancho Pueblo Road, began in November, and according to Rancho Water staff work is expected to continue through the middle of next year. According to RCWD, when district customers use recycled water it helps to free up drinking water for cooking, showering or cleaning.

Aquafornia news The Salt Lake Tribune

Utah Senate backs new agency to battle neighboring states over Colorado River

The [Utah] state Senate approved a bill Wednesday that would establish the so-called Colorado River Authority of Utah, along with a $9 million “legal defense fund,” intended to ensure that the state receives its allotted share of the Colorado’s dwindling flows….Utah has shared the Colorado River’s flow with six Western states under a century-old agreement, but the Beehive State has been slow to push its stake, according to backers of HB297. Accordingly, Utah uses 54% of its share, Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said… 

Aquafornia news The Santa Barbara Independent

Santa Barbara County extends state water contract to 2085

The Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 on Tuesday to approve an extension of the county’s state water contract for 50 years, saying it would ultimately save ratepayers money. … Eight water agencies in Santa Barbara County, from the Carpinteria Valley to the City of Santa Maria, presently import water through the California Aqueduct. By 2035, their ratepayers will have paid off the $575 million construction debt for the pipeline that county voters approved in 1991 on the heels of a six-year drought. It extends from the aqueduct in Kern County to Lake Cachuma.

Aquafornia news KHTS

Garcia introduces bill aimed at improving California’s access to water

Congressman Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, introduced a bill Wednesday that would extend “critical water supply provisions” in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act for the next seven years in an effort to improve California’s access to water. On Wednesday, Garcia introduced a bill that would enact a seven-year extension for “critical water supply provisions” in the WIIN Act, which became law at the end of 2016.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Blog: Want to save energy and fight climate change? Use less water

[A]s often as I write about the importance of building clean power infrastructure to fight climate change, the cheapest, easiest way to reduce emissions is to use less energy in the first place. And in Los Angeles, at least, one of the cheapest, easiest ways to use less energy is to use less water.

Aquafornia news ABC10 - Sacramento

California spring flood outlook 2021

Sacramento is typically ranked first or second in the country for the risk of flooding….This year, the California-Nevada River Forecast Center is forecasting a low potential for flooding due to spring snowmelt.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California’s snowpack signals another dry year, prompting calls to save water

California will face another critically dry year, and residents will need to adapt quickly to cope with water shortages and a warmer, drier climate that has helped fuel destructive wildfires. Officials with the state’s department of water resources announced on Tuesday they had found that the water content of the overall snowpack for 2 March amounted to 61% of the average. The state’s largest reservoirs were storing between 38% and 68% of their capacity, officials said, meaning that the state would have a lot less water to carry it through the rest of the year.

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Aquafornia news Water and the West

Blog: California water on the market: Q&A with Barton “Buzz” Thompson

California water has joined gold, energy and bitcoin as a commodity whose future value can be traded on a financial exchange and the first market trades on water futures took place three months ago. The market, based on values determined by NASDAQ’s Veles Water Market Index, was hailed by some as a useful tool so California farmers can reduce the risk of drought-driven escalation in water costs. It was sharply criticized by others, from a United Nations representative to racial justice groups as potentially limiting access to something essential to life.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Celebrating 30 Years of NCWA

Looking back over the past 30 years, the Northern California Water Association has grown into an organization that the early founders can be extremely proud of. The men and women who had the foresight and passion to start the organization should be given a large amount of gratitude. What now is a high-level organization that fosters water management for multiple beneficial uses, sprung from very humble beginnings.

Aquafornia news Gizmodo

Blog: Humans have completely transformed how water is stored on Earth

Human fingerprints are all over the world’s freshwater. A new study published Wednesday in the journal Nature shows that while human-controlled freshwater sources make up a minimal portion of the world’s ponds, lakes, and rivers, they are responsible for more than half of all changes to the Earth’s water system. … Climate change already looms large over the world’s freshwater supply. Major sources of drinking water, like the Colorado River, have less water and are flowing more slowly due to climate change—even as they face increasing demand from our water-hungry farms and cities. Rainfall itself is becoming more erratic in some locations, such as California…

Aquafornia news American Water Works Association

Blog: Water conservation during COVID‐19: View from the front lines

Early in 2020, when the severity of COVID‐19 became evident, US water utilities implementing conservation programs had to act quickly to determine how to mitigate changes in their conservation programs and staffing. Prioritization and collaboration helped utility staff settle into their new way of working, which included adapting to online connection with customers and each other. These adaptations might lead to permanent changes. Thanks in large part to the power of technology, many water conservation and customer education programs have continued, with interest and participation even increasing in some cases.

Aquafornia news Patch

St. Helena City Council to discuss penalties for water wasters

The city of St. Helena strongly encouraged all residents and businesses this week to join efforts to conserve its water supply, particularly water used for outdoor irrigation. …The city remains in Phase II Water Shortage Emergency because of limited rainfall this season and the low level of the city’s reservoir, Martin Beltran, a management analyst for the city’s Public Works Department, said Monday in a news release.

Aquafornia news The Aggie

Water conservation programs show potential to save water, energy and greenhouse gas emissions

In an innovative time where power and energy have evolved tremendously in the past few decades, efficiency and conservation have become new focal points, constantly being optimized in balance with costs. A study conducted by UC Davis’ Center for Water-Energy Efficiency illuminates the possibility of saving not only water but also energy and greenhouse gas emissions through water conservation programs. 

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

Valadao hopes to pump funding into water infrastructure

Despite taking two years off from Congress, David Valadao (R—Hanford) is getting back to work by introducing new legislation to help keep water flowing in the Central Valley. Early this month, Valadao introduced the Responsible, No-Cost Extension of Western Water Infrastructure Improvements, or RENEW WIIN, Act, a no-cost, clean extension of operations and storage provisions of the WIIN Act. The RENEW WIIN Act would extend the general and operations provisions of Subtitle J of the WIIN Act and extend the provision requiring consultation on coordinated operations of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project. 

Aquafornia news The (Vacaville) Reporter

Online public meeting planned to discuss groundwater sustainability

A part of the natural water cycle, groundwater is an important element of California’s water supply, especially in the Central Valley, where one in four people rely on it entirely. It is an especially important resource in the Solano Subbasin, a geographic area that includes Dixon, parts of Vacaville, Elmira, Rio Vista, unincorporated Winters, Davis, the Montezuma Hills, Isleton, Sherman Island and Walnut Grove. And every quarter, the Solano Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agency Collaborative, aka the Solano Collaborative, hosts a Community Advisory Committee meeting and will so again from 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday. 

Aquafornia news The Desert Review

$44.4 million in MWD overcharges being returned to local water agencies

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors in February 2021 announced a plan to distribute a rebate of $44.4 million to its 24 member agencies across the region after receiving a check for that amount from the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to pay legal damages and interest, according to a SDCWA press release.

Aquafornia news Arizona Public Media

In rapidly warming Colorado River Basin, the negotiating table is being set

Anyone who has hosted a good dinner party knows that the guest list, table setting and topic of conversation play a big role in determining whether the night is a hit or the guests leave angry and unsatisfied. That concept is about to get a true test on the Colorado River, where chairs are being pulled up to a negotiating table to start a new round of talks that could define how the river system adapts to a changing climate for the next generation. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: This year will likely be critically dry for California

The winter storms that dumped heavy snow and rain across California early in 2021 are likely not enough to negate what will be a critically dry year, state water officials believe. California’s Department of Water Resources on Tuesday recorded a snow depth of 56 inches and water content of 21 inches at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada. The water content of the overall snowpack was 61% of the average for March 2 and 54% of the average for April 1, when it is historically at its maximum.

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Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

AQUAFORNIA BREAKING NEWS: California experiences fifth straight month of below average snow, precipitation

NEWS RELEASE: The Department of Water Resources today conducted the third manual snow survey of the season at Phillips Station. The manual survey recorded 56 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent (SWE) of 21 inches, which is 86 percent of average for this location. The SWE measures the amount of water contained in the snowpack and is a key component of DWR’s water supply forecast….statewide the snowpack’s SWE is 15 inches, or 61 percent of the March 2 average, and 54 percent of the April 1 average.

Aquafornia news La Mesa Courier

SD Water Authority mulls new aqueduct

Addressing the San Diego region’s limited local water supplies with innovative ideas is something the San Diego County Water Authority has become known for. Using expertise gained from decades of successful planning and projects, the Water Authority is developing strategies to reduce the future cost of water that sustains the economy and quality of life across the county.

Aquafornia news Spectrum News 1

Local grandmother owes $17,000 in water bills

A tsunami of love is what anyone walking into 67-year-old Deborah Bell-Holt’s Jefferson Park home can expect. … That’s why when the pandemic hit, she welcomed back with open arms eight of her children and grandchildren. All of a sudden, her household grew from four to 12. But those extra family members added another wrinkle to Holt’s already complicated situation with water affordability. At the beginning of the pandemic Holt owed $8,000 to LADWP, now her debt is over $17,000.

Aquafornia news Colorado Politics

Poll: Slim majority supports spending more to protect Colorado’s water

A majority of Colorado voters believe the state should spend more money on protecting and conserving its water resources, but they’re not willing to support new state taxes to fund the work, according to a series of bipartisan polls conducted over the past 18 months. … Though the polling also showed some support for such potential tools as a new statewide tourism tax or a bottle tax, that support eroded quickly when likely voters were asked about a new statewide tax, with 39% of likely voters saying they were skeptical the state could be trusted to spend the money wisely…

Aquafornia news Sierra Club Angeles Chapter

Blog: Sierra Club looks to build on successful efforts to make water agencies more diverse and progressive

Water may be life, but most residents of Southern California do not often reflect on the complex series of canals, pumps, and pipelines that connect where they live to water sources like the Colorado River, the Sierras, or the numerous water basins under LA County. Even less appreciated is the role water districts play in combining water sources, treating our water, and distributing it. Major water districts influence water quality and rates. They decide how to meet future water needs in an era of drought and climate change. These agencies determine if your water comes from sustainable local sources like conservation and recycling or from desert-damaging water mining projects like Cadiz. 

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Helix Water District to help needy customers starting in April

The Helix Water District Board of Directors last week unanimously approved funding for the district’s first financial customer assistance program, which will help East County residents who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The “Helix Helps Customer Assistance Program” will roll out in April and will offer a one-time credit of up to $300 for eligible single-family residential customers who are behind on their bills.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California’s wet season nears an end with big concerns about drought

A disappointingly dry February is fanning fears of another severe drought in California, and cities and farms are bracing for problems. In many places, including parts of the Bay Area, water users are already being asked to cut back. The state’s monthly snow survey on Tuesday will show only about 60% of average snowpack for this point in the year, the latest indication that water supplies are tightening. With the end of the stormy season approaching, forecasters don’t expect much more buildup of snow, a key component of the statewide supply that provides up to a third of California’s water.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news UC San Diego News Center

New study identifies mountain snowpack most “at-risk” from climate change

As the planet warms, scientists expect that mountain snowpack should melt progressively earlier in the year. However, observations in the U.S. show that as temperatures have risen, snowpack melt is relatively unaffected in some regions while others can experience snowpack melt a month earlier in the year.

Aquafornia news Utah Public Radio

Utah’s 2020 drought likely to impact water supply this year

Last year, Utah experienced its worst drought in 20 years. Typically Utahns count on spring snowpack to remedy a dry year and while February snows have been a boon to ski areas the question remains: are they enough to generate an average water supply?

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Aquafornia news California Attorney General's Office

News release: Attorney General Becerra challenges weakening of crucial requirements that protect public from lead in drinking water

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Monday joined a lawsuit challenging a Trump-era rule revising nationwide standards for controlling and remediating lead in drinking water. While the final rule includes certain necessary updates to the existing standard, these changes are overshadowed by the unlawful weakening of critical requirements and the rule’s failure to protect the public from lead in drinking water to the maximum extent feasible, as required by law. 

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Creek Fire: Rain storm could hurt water quality near Fresno

That it hasn’t rained much this year isn’t all bad news, especially in the aftermath of the Creek Fire that burned nearly 40% of the San Joaquin River watershed. Most importantly, mountain communities devastated by the Creek Fire have not faced the secondary disaster that can be brought by weather, like in Santa Barbara County when heavy rain in the burn scar of the Thomas Fire led to deadly and destructive mudslides. Some areas near Big Creek and North Fork are at risk of hazardous, post-fire debris flows.

Aquafornia news Antelope Valley Press

Cal Water donates to local organizations

The California Water Service recently announced it made a monetary donation to two local community organizations for its philanthropic contributions in 2020. Cal Water’s Antelope Valley District made a donation totaling $3,000 to the Antelope Valley Boys and Girls Club, as well as, the Hughes-Elizabeth Lakes Woman’s Club.

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: Bad news – CVP and SWP plan to drain CA’s largest reservoirs

The Bureau of Reclamation and Department of Water Resources plan to allocate approximately 5 million acre feet of water this year – as long as California allows them to effectively drain the two largest reservoirs in the state, potentially killing most or nearly all the endangered winter-run Chinook salmon this year, threatening the state’s resilience to continued dry conditions, and maybe even violating water quality standards in the Delta.

Aquafornia news Valley Roadrunner

Opinion: Rebuilding Lake Wohlford Dam

Lake Wohlford Dam is an important water storage, flood control and recreational facility that has served Escondido for generations. Restoring storage capacity and making it earthquake-safe is critically important, which is why I introduced AB 692.  The dam was originally constructed in 1895 to store water transported via a wooden flume from the San Luis Rey River to Escondido. One of the first rock-fill dams in California, Lake Wohlford Dam was 76 feet high and had a storage capacity of about 3500 acre-feet.
-Written by Assembly Republican Leader Marie Waldron, R-Escondido.

Aquafornia news ABC7 San Francisco

More than half of California in ’severe’ drought mode, 31% in ‘extreme,’ including parts of North Bay

Ninety-nine percent of the state is dry, according to ABC Seven News Meteorologist Mike Nicco. More than half of the state is in severe drought mode and 31% is in the extreme drought conditions which includes part of the North Bay. The Bay Area is abnormally dry right now, but that should have changed in January and February as they are typically our wettest months.

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Aquafornia news Lake Powell Chronicle

Blog: Is Lake Powell doomed?

On Feb. 22, 2021, Lake Powell was 127.24 feet below ‘Full Pool’ or, by content, about 38% full. Based on water level elevations, these measurements do not account for years of sediment (clay, silt, and sand) accumulation—the millions of metric tons on the bottom. Geologist James L. Powell said, “The Colorado delivers enough sediment to Lake Powell to fill 1,400 ship cargo containers each day.” In other words, Lake Powell is shrinking toward the middle from top and bottom. The lake is down over 30 feet from one year ago, and estimates suggest it could drop another 50 feet by 2026. The Bureau of Reclamation estimated the lifespan of Glen Canyon Dam at 500–700 years. Other estimates aren’t as optimistic, including some as low as 50 years. 

Aquafornia news KPBS

State water project takes aim at restoring Salton Sea, alleviating health risks

California is spending more than $200 million to keep an unfolding ecological crisis from getting worse. The state wants to stabilize habitat along the southern bank of the Salton Sea, the state’s largest lake. That is good news for nearby residents concerned about their health, but the restoration could also affect everyone who draws water from the Colorado River. At issue is the wide swaths of exposed lakebed that have been uncovered as the thirsty lake’s water evaporates in the desert air. The lake bottom is typically a deep layer of fine silt. When covered by water, it poses no risk. But once exposed to the air, and whipped up by the region’s strong winds, the dust becomes a major health risk.

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

Reconfigured Monterey One Water board moves forward with an expanded Pure Water Monterey project

Monterey One Water just celebrated the one-year anniversary of delivering recycled wastewater via the Pure Water Monterey project. The advanced filtration system is used on treated sewage water, which is then injected deep underground where the new supply will be mixed with the existing water supply.  Even before phase one of the Pure Water Monterey project was online, the board of M1W began debating an expansion of the project. But that expansion has been on ice for months, after the M1W board voted 11-10 (on a weighted vote) in April of 2020 not to proceed. It’s about to come back. 

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Monday Top of the Scroll: ‘It’s a toxic blend’: where the kids are warned not to swallow the bath water

An invisible line splits the rural road of Avenue 416 in California’s Tulare county, at the point where the nut trees stretch east toward the towering Sierra Nevada mountains in the distance. On one side of the line, residents have clean water. On the other side, they do not. On the other side lies East Orosi, an unincorporated community of about 700 where children grow up learning to never open their eyes or mouths while they shower. They know that what comes out of their faucets may harm them, and parents warn they must not swallow when they brush their teeth. They spend their lives sustaining themselves on bottled water while just one mile down Avenue 416, the same children they go to school with in the community of Orosi can drink from their taps freely and bathe without a second thought.

Aquafornia news Times of San Diego

Water Authority to split $44.4m among local agencies after win in legal battle with MWD

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors Thursday announced a plan to distribute a rebate of $44.4 million to its 24 member agencies across the region. They did so after receiving a check for that amount from the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to pay legal damages and interest after a long legal battle. The money resulted from the water authority’s decade-long litigation in Superior Court seeking to compel MWD to set legal rates and repay overcharges. 

Aquafornia news KUER

Colorado River Authority bill moves to full Senate, some still concerned about transparency

A Senate committee unanimously approved a bill Thursday to create Utah’s Colorado River Authority, which would be tasked with helping the state renegotiate its share of the river. Originally the bill allowed broad reasons to close meetings and protect records. It’s since been changed twice to come more into compliance with the state’s open meeting and record laws. Critics of the bill said it’s still not enough. Mike O’Brien, an attorney with the Utah Media Coalition, said having a narrower scope for open meetings and records exemptions makes the bill better than when it was first introduced. But he wishes it would follow laws already there.

Aquafornia news Business Wire

Sterling awarded $135 million dam project in California

Sterling Construction Company, Inc. today announced that its subsidiary, Road and Highway Builders, LLC, has been awarded a $135 million heavy civil contract by the City of Los Angeles for the construction of the North Haiwee Dam No. 2 in Inyo County, CA. …The project will also involve the rerouting of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which supplies clean drinking water to the city of Los Angeles, to allow for the appropriate tie-ins for the dam construction. 

Aquafornia news Arizona Capitol Times

Opinion: Water rights for tribes is environmental justice

This month, the comment period for a potentially landmark piece of legislation ended. Since California v. Arizona in 2000, the Colorado River Indian Tribes have the sole rights to more than 600,000 acres-feet of water from the Colorado River, but they are barred from selling or leasing any of this water to outside communities. The proposed federal legislation, led by the tribes themselves, would allow them to lease some of this water as long as they reduce their own water consumption by an equivalent amount.
-Written by Isaac Humrich, a senior at Sunnyslope High School in Phoenix and a member of American Conservation Coalition.

Aquafornia news The San Francisco Examiner

Opinion: The SFPUC is tarnishing SF’s record as an environmental leader

San Francisco has long been an international leader on environmental issues. However, water policy has been a stain on that record. … Many California rivers are overtapped by excessive pumping, but few are in worse condition than the Tuolumne River. In drier years, more than 90% of the Tuolumne’s water is diverted. On average, 80 percent of the river’s flow never makes it to the Bay. It’s not a surprise that the river’s health has collapsed. …
-Written by Bill Martin, a member of the Sierra Club Bay Chapter Water Committee, and Hunter Cutting, a member of the Sierra Club Bay Chapter’s San Francisco Group Executive Committee

Aquafornia news Sierra Club Angeles Chapter

Blog: Climate change creating enormous challenges

The Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD) is the largest groundwater agency in the State of California, managing and protecting local groundwater resources for over four million residents. WRD’s service area covers a 420-square-mile region of southern Los Angeles County, the most populated county in the United States. The 43 cities in the service area, including a portion of the City of Los Angeles, use about 215,000 acre-feet (70 billion gallons) of groundwater annually which accounts for about half of the region’s potable water supply.

Aquafornia news Sierra Club Angeles Chapter

Blog: California’s new futures market for water

On December 7, 2020, financial futures based on California water prices began trading. This post is a short introduction to these water futures. First, what’s a future? A future is a type of contract. It obligates the seller, who receives money, to provide some good at some future date, to the buyer, who pays money now to lock in the right to buy that good at that price. Humans have been using futures for thousands of years, primarily for agricultural products. But in recent years the futures markets have been expanding. 

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Aquafornia news Office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein

News release: Feinstein to chair Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released the following statement on being named chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. This subcommittee has jurisdiction over funding levels for the Department of Energy, the Army Corp of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation and other federal agencies related to our nation’s energy and water infrastructure programs.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Biden urged to back water bill amid worst US crisis in decades

Democratic lawmakers and advocates are urging Joe Biden to back legislation proposing unprecedented investment in America’s ailing water infrastructure amid the country’s worst crisis in decades that has left millions of people without access to clean, safe, affordable water. Boil advisories, leaky lead pipes, poisonous forever chemicals, bill arrears and raw sewage are among the urgent issues facing ordinary Americans and municipal utilities after decades of federal government neglect, which has brought the country’s ageing water systems hurtling towards disaster. … Water supplies and sanitation have been disrupted over and over in recent decades – in Louisiana, Puerto Rico, California, Ohio and elsewhere …

Aquafornia news Public News Service

Groups call Lake Powell hydropower project unsustainable

Federal regulators have issued a preliminary permit for a pumped-hydropower project using water from Lake Powell, but conservation groups say climate change could make the plan unsustainable. The project would pump water from the lake, drain it downhill to a generator, and send the power to massive batteries for storage. The 2,200-megawatt project would supply cities in Arizona, California and Nevada, over lines previously used by the retired Navajo Generating Station. Gary Wockner, executive director for Save the Colorado, which opposes the plan, said falling water levels will make the Colorado River Basin an unreliable source of water.

Aquafornia news The New Republic

How does a state use 40 percent less water?

Arizona, California, and Nevada will need to cut their use of Colorado River water by nearly 40 percent by 2050. A study by researchers at Utah State University, which the Arizona Daily Star reported this past Sunday, noted that Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming—the Upper Basin states—will have to reduce their usage, as well, though not by as much as those pulling water from the Lower Basin.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Texas lessons for future California natural disasters

Consider California’s water systems. That they are not designed for what is coming seismically is no secret. Southern California still imports most of its water, and all of that imported water has to cross the San Andreas fault to get to us. None of those crossings has been engineered to work after the San Andreas breaks, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has estimated that it will take 18 months to repair all of them.
-Written by seismologist Lucy Jones, the founder of the Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society and the author of “The Big Ones.”

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Water year 2021 – The suspense continues

California’s hydrologic conditions remain dry as February draws to a close. Although late January storms improved a then-dismal snowpack, statewide snowpack remains at about two-thirds of average for this time of year (or 54 percent of the April 1st average) and natural flow in key Sierra Nevada watersheds is still tracking at amounts seen in the severe drought years of 2014 and 2015.

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Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Farmworkers, climate and wildfires are the focus of new legislation in California

The California Legislature is planning an active session this year to make up for lost time in 2020.

Aquafornia news San Bernardino Sun

$650 million Santa Ana River plan adds fish-saving methods to water-saving projects

The San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District has decided to join them, not fight them. Stymied by environmental barriers and losses in court for 11 years, the large water wholesaler serving 700,000 residential and business customers from Fontana to Yucaipa is on the precipice of releasing an environmentally based plan that would nearly double its supply of water by diverting billions of gallons from the Upper Santa Ana River, while mitigating the effects on 20 indigenous fish and bird species. 

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: Delta adapts – Assessing climate change vulnerabilities

As Executive Officer Jessica R. Pearson identified in her December blog on the Delta Adapts initiative, “social vulnerability means that a person, household, or community has a heightened sensitivity to the climate hazards and/or a decreased ability to adapt to those hazards.” With an eye toward social vulnerability and environmental justice along with the coequal goals in mind, we launched our Delta Adapts climate change resilience initiative in 2018. 

Aquafornia news Interesting Engineering

“Water wars” – fights over a precious resource

Picture the desert landscape of a Mad Max movie populated with vigilantes devoted to acquiring not gasoline — but water. This scenario isn’t as far-fetched as you might think. “Water wars” describes conflicts between countries, states, or groups over the right to access water resources, usually freshwater. … As Los Angeles expanded during the late 19th century, it outgrew its water supply, and L.A.’s mayor, Fred Eaton, came up with the plan to divert water from the Owens Valley to L.A. via an aqueduct. 

Aquafornia news Far Eastern Agriculture

Follow the Food: Can agriculture overcome its own water problems?

For centuries, farmers have found ingenious ways of making the best of the water available, but access to fresh water is becoming more and more unpredictable. Extreme weather events and drought is as much of a threat, as flash flooding in farms and food producers. … In California’s Central Valley, a region that produces a quarter of the USA’s food and relies mostly on water pumped from underground, to irrigate the crops, is fast running out of its water supply. 

Aquafornia news Globe Newswire

News release: U.S. legal cannabis water use to almost double by 2025

New Frontier Data, the premier data, analytics and technology firm specializing in the global cannabis industry, in partnership with Resource Innovation Institute and the Berkeley Cannabis Research Center, releases Cannabis H2O: Water Use and Sustainability in Cultivation. The report provides an in-depth look at water usage in the regulated cannabis cultivation market and how its use compares to the illicit market and traditional agricultural sectors. … The report reveals that the cannabis industry uses significantly less water than other major agricultural crops in California.

Aquafornia news Vanderbilt University

Blog: Evidence suggests climate whiplash may have more extremes in store for California

Vanderbilt paleoclimatologists using pioneering research have uncovered evidence of ancient climate “whiplash” in California that exceeded even the extremes the state has weathered in the past decade. Their findings present a long-term picture of what regional climate change may look like in the state that supplies the U.S. with more than a third of its vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts.

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Aquafornia news Sonoma West

Healdsburg asking residents to voluntarily conserve water

With much of Northern California swathed in a severe drought, the city of Healdsburg is asking residents to voluntarily conserve water by reducing irrigation and switching to drought resistant plants, fixing leaky faucets and running clothes and dishwashers at full capacity. As of Jan. 19, precipitation was at 40% of normal rainfall according to Felicia Smith, a utility conservation analyst with the city of Healdsburg.

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Aquafornia news High Country News

Will the climate crisis tap out the Colorado River?

From California’s perspective, the view upriver is not encouraging. More than half of the upper part of the river basin is in “exceptional drought,” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, while the Lower Basin is even worse off: More than 60% of it is in the highest drought level. In January, water levels in Lake Powell, the river’s second-largest reservoir, dropped to unprecedented depths, triggering a drought contingency plan for the first time for the Upper Basin states of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico. Since 2000, the Colorado River Basin has seen a sustained period of less water and hotter days. This is, as climate scientists like to say, the “new normal.”

Aquafornia news Atlas Obscura

Cresta Aqueduct – Oroville, California

AT FIRST GLANCE, THIS STRUCTURE appears to be an enigma. It’s a bridge between two granite monoliths, an above-ground tunnel, and an aqueduct carrying water over a creek. This structure is actually part of an elaborate water system. The Feather River Canyon is a scenic wonder. Sheer granite slabs rise hundreds of feet above the water. Almost equally impressive are the measures engineers have taken to conquer this rugged terrain.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Waiting for apartments where the pavement ends

The red flags are everywhere for a builder staring out at wide swaths of Riverside County’s second largest city: grassy lots, bumpy dirt roads, entire blocks without streetlights and an unreliable water system where water pressure drops without warning. … Still, the lack of infrastructure, from roads and electricity to water and sewer, hasn’t stopped state housing planners from earmarking some 14,000 low-income units in Moreno Valley to help address the state’s housing crisis — even if none of it ever gets built.

Aquafornia news Sierra Club Angeles Chapter

Blog: My experience as a water board director

I came to the little town of Ojai in Ventura county with a history of running municipal water conservation programs, most recently working with Pasadena Water and Power as a drought coordinator. We were at the end of a 6 year drought and I started working for Patagonia, a clothing company with a social and environmental ethic in Ventura, who hired me to review either ocean desalination or connecting to the state water project as water supply options. I recommended neither.

Aquafornia news Audubon

Blog: Federal priorities for a secure water future in the West

Climate change will continue to impact the West, and particularly its water supply—the many impacts include longer and more damaging wildfire seasons as well as prolonged drought. Federal leadership and action are needed to address the climate crisis. With the 117th Congress now in session, Audubon is advocating at the federal level for funding and policy priorities that restore habitat, protect communities, and support birds through proactive water management and conservation.

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.

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Aquafornia news The Weather Channel

California’s wet season hasn’t brought much drought relief and the outlook isn’t promising

California’s wet season has not brought much relief so far and the outlook is not promising. …Unfortunately, the outlook is not promising. Little to no precipitation is expected through the end of February. California, with the exception of far northern areas, will likely experience drier than average conditions during the March through May period, according to NOAA. Above-average temperatures are also anticipated for the southern half of the state this spring.

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Aquafornia news Union Democrat

TUD, other agencies discuss progress to acquire PG&E water rights, infrastructure

Tuolumne Utilities District provided an update on Thursday regarding negotiations to acquire Pacific Gas and Electric Co. assets in the South Fork Stanislaus River watershed and rights to water in New Melones Reservoir, though the possible costs remain unclear due to a confidentiality agreement. The TUD Board of Directors hosted a rare joint meeting via video with the county Board of Supervisors, Sonora City Council, local Me-Wuk Indian tribes, and other stakeholders, during which members spoke about the need for community-wide cooperation and collaboration due to the scope of the undertaking. 

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Santa Cruz, Soquel Creek water propose extending supply sharing pilot program

The Santa Cruz City Council is poised to approve a 5-year extension between the City and Soquel Creek Water Districts on a pilot program that would funnel excess surface water to Soquel Creek during winter months, in hopes of bolstering overdrawn groundwater supply there. That surface water, on average, is projected to be around 115 million gallons delivered by Santa Cruz Water to Soquel Creek during the wet season, which would take strain off pumping the Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Basin. 

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

News Release: MAGSA awarded $10 million grant to expand On-Farm Recharge Project

The McMullin Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency (MAGSA), a Groundwater Sustainability Agency in the Central Valley’s Kings Subbasin, has been awarded a $10 million grant by the State Water Resources Control Board through the Prop 1 Stormwater Grant Program to expand the existing McMullin On-Farm Recharge (OFR) Project located near Helm in Fresno County.  The Project is identified in MAGSA’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan and is a key element in a vision developed by MAGSA to achieve groundwater sustainability under California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) through innovative approaches in groundwater banking and crediting.

Aquafornia news Wired

Opinion: The energy sector must prepare for more extreme weather

Texas has always seen its share of extreme weather events, but over the past two decades they have intensified. A few years ago, after the fifth “ 500-year flood” in five years, I remarked to a friend, “We’re going to have to stop calling them that.” … Of course, this uptick in extreme weather is not limited to Texas. Numerous places across the country—and indeed the globe—have experienced multiple “historic” weather events in recent years. Last year, droughts in California led to six of the largest wildfires in the state’s history. In 2017 and 2018, British Columbia had two consecutive record-setting forest fire seasons.
-Written by Robert Rapier, a chemical engineer with over 25 years of experience in the energy industry.  

Aquafornia news KMPH

Lack of rain could potentially impact crops in the Central Valley

Crops are now blooming here in the San Joaquin Valley, which marks the beginning of harvest season for farmers. As a drier-than-usual wet season continues to unfold, many are worried about how current drought conditions will impact this year’s crop.

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Aquafornia news Pagosa Daily Post

Editorial: Dragons, unicorns, and Colorado’s water crisis, part six

“Basic climate science reveals that Lake Powell is not a reliable water source for this ill-conceived project.” The reference to ‘basic climate science’ refers to recent computer models that show a drier climate throughout the American Southwest over the next few decades, allegedly due to the continued use of fossil fuels all around the globe. But even without access to clever computer models, we have all seen Lake Powell and Lake Mead — America’s two largest water reservoirs — struggle to remain even half full, as we watch water users extract more water than nature can replace.

Aquafornia news Patch

Opinion: Rebuilding Lake Wohlford Dam

Lake Wohlford Dam is an important water storage, flood control and recreational facility that has served Escondido for generations. Restoring storage capacity and making it earthquake-safe is critically important, which is why I introduced AB 692. The dam was originally constructed in 1895 to store water transported via a wooden flume from the San Luis Rey River to Escondido. One of the first rock-fill dams in California, Lake Wohlford Dam was 76 feet high and had a storage capacity of about 3500 acre-feet.
-Written by Assemblymember Marie Waldron, R-Escondido

Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

Opinion: Utah’s designs on Colorado River water would ignore the facts and evade the law

Utah House Bill 297 is a dangerous spending bill that provides its benefactors with exemptions to conflict-of-interest laws that raises serious moral questions about what is happening at the Utah Legislature. The bill creates another heavily-funded and secretive government agency — the Colorado River Authority — that would receive an initial $9 million, plus $600,000 per year thereafter, in addition to collecting unknown sums of money from other agencies.
-Written by Claire Geddes, a consumer advocate and former director of Utah Legislative Watch.

Aquafornia news The Signal

SCV Water announces extension to comment period, second public meeting

The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency has extended its public comment period for the Saugus Formation Aquifer to March 19, with the addition of a second virtual public meeting. The meeting is expected to provide community members with an additional opportunity to learn more about how the agency is keeping its water safe for drinking water consumption through minimizing and reducing the public health and environmental effects of hazardous substances that have been identified in the aquifer, as well as treatments that could allow several wells to return to service.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Newsom pushes private seawater desalting plant over local and environmental opposition

When Gov. Gavin Newsom was photographed dining at an opulent Napa Valley restaurant during a surge in coronavirus cases, many Californians saw it as hypocrisy. For opponents of a planned $1-billion desalination plant along the Orange County coast, however, the optics were menacing. The unmasked Newsom was celebrating the birthday of a lobbyist for Poseidon Water, which is close to obtaining final government approval for one of the country’s biggest seawater desalination plants. 

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: CalTrout v. Goliath — a monumental victory at Mono Lake

There are six Mono Lake tributaries to be exact – Rush, Lee Vining, Parker, Walker, Wilson, and Mill creeks. And the fact is Mono Lake never had any surplus water; its fullness has always depended on the amount of water running into it. So as soon as some of that water was cut off, which began in 1941, the Lake started to plummet and the entire ecosystem dependent on those “half a dozen little mountain brooks” soon followed. 

Aquafornia news BenitoLink

Rivas co-introduces statewide Clean Water Act

Nearing the 50th anniversary of the federal Clean Water Act, Assemblyman Robert Rivas held a press conference on Feb. 2 to discuss the proposed California Clean Water Act, AB 377. The legislation, co-introduced by Rivas and state Senate Majority Leader Robert Hertzberg, would work to ensure all rivers, lakes, oceans and other bodies of water in California are clean enough for drinking, swimming and fishing purposes by 2050. 

Aquafornia news The Porterville Recorder

Monday Top of the Scroll: Hurtado reworks bill to help Friant-Kern, but also state as a whole

As she promised, State Senator Melissa Hurtado has reintroduced legislation that would provide fund to improve California’s water infrastructure, including the Friant-Kern Canal. On Friday, Hurtado, a Democrat from Sanger whose district includes Porterville, introduced the State Water Resiliency Act of 2021 that would provide $785 million to restore the ability of infrastructure such as the Friant-Kern Canal to deliver water at their capacity. The bill would also go to fund other infrastructure such as the Delta-Mendota Canal, San Luis Canal and California Aqueduct. 

Aquafornia news Weather West

Blog: Despite cool and occasionally unsettled conditions in NorCal, unusually dry conditions to persist into March

The main weather excitement of the season thus far was certainly the major late January atmospheric event that was the focus of my last blog post. Despite missing some the details during the early portion of the event (winds were stronger and precipitation less intense than originally predicted), the storm largely evolved as expected–stalling along the Central Coast and bringing very heavy double-digit rainfall totals there, as well as extremely heavy snowfall throughout the Sierra Nevada (on the order of 3-8 *feet* in many places).

Aquafornia news High Country News

Despite discrimination and drought, Punjabi Americans farm on

On a bright February morning, Kulwant Singh Johl, a third-generation Punjabi American farmer, checked the rain gauge in front of his neat stucco home in Northern California’s Yuba-Sutter area. Gusts and drizzles had battered his peach orchard nonstop for a week, but it still wasn’t enough to quench the recent drought. … And indeed, the intensifying drought could devastate livelihoods of many multigeneration Punjabi American farmers in California. This year, many may have to sell their hard-earned farm plots and leave an industry that they hold in high esteem.

Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

Despite recent storms, snowpacks are down, soils are parched and some farms and streams could go dry

Old Man Winter has been busy of late, bringing much-needed relief to Utah’s dangerously low snowpacks. But don’t let the piles of fresh snow fool you. After near-record low precipitation over the past year, Utah water supplies remain in serious trouble even with the recent return of long-absent wet weather. 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Groundwater salinization in California’s Tulare Lake basin, the ABCSAL model

Lower groundwater levels can prevent drainage of water and salts from a basin and increase aquifer salinity that eventually renders the groundwater unsuitable for use as drinking water or irrigation without expensive desalination. Pauloo et al. (2021)  demonstrate this process for the Tulare Lake Basin (TLB) of California’s Central Valley. Even if groundwater pumping does not cause overdraft, it can cause hydrologic basin closure leading to progressive salinization that will not cease until the basin is opened by allowing natural or engineered exits for groundwater and dissolved salt. The process, “Anthropogenic Basin Closure and Groundwater Salinization (ABCSAL)”, is driven by human water management. 

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Colorado River study means it’s time to cut water use now, outside experts say

Less water for the Central Arizona Project — but not zero water. Even more competition between farms and cities for dwindling Colorado River supplies than there is now. More urgency to cut water use rather than wait for seven river basin states to approve new guidelines in 2025 for operating the river’s reservoirs. That’s where Arizona and the Southwest are heading with water, say experts and environmental advocates following publication of a dire new academic study on the Colorado River’s future. The study warned that the river’s Upper and Lower basin states must sustain severe cuts in river water use to keep its reservoir system from collapsing due to lack of water. That’s due to continued warming weather and other symptoms of human-caused climate change, the study said.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Obituary: George Basye, long-time water law practitioner

In 1955 he joined Downey, Brand, Seymour and Rohwer in Sacramento, becoming a partner in 1958 and specializing in water and natural resources law. He represented the California Central Valley Flood Control Association and over 30 reclamation, levee, water, and irrigation districts and mutual water companies in the Sacramento Valley. He was actively involved in negotiations leading to the water right settlement agreements between the Sacramento River water users and the United States in 1964. He formed the North Delta Water Agency and negotiated the agreement in 1981 between that Agency and the State of California, protecting water quality and uses within the northern half of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news University of California Ag & Natural Resources

Blog: Growers and researchers refine date palm irrigation

California’s $86 million date industry produces more than half of the nation’s dates. Most of the fruit is grown in the arid Coachella Valley. Despite efforts by growers to conserve water, data was lacking on date palms’ actual water use to refine the best irrigation management for the crop until a recent research project led by Ali Montazar, UC Cooperative Extension irrigation and water management advisor for Imperial and Riverside counties.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday Top of the Scroll: What California needs to do to avoid a Texas-style electricity crisis

California and Texas, the country’s two most populous states, have each faced major energy crises within the past six months that share a primary cause: extreme weather….The Lone Star State’s plight is many orders of magnitude worse than the rolling blackouts Californians endured over two blistering days in August. Yet both situations have exposed the extent to which the United States’ vital energy infrastructure is threatened by erratic and extreme weather conditions that are becoming increasingly common as climate change advances.

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Aquafornia news The Independent

Water market could spell higher costs for local agencies

A recent webinar on trading of guaranteed future water prices on the stock market showed the potential to drive up the price tag of water for public agencies. During a Feb. 2 California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) virtual meeting, water stock market advocates were clear that prices would rise. However, they stated that it would be a good thing, because water has been undervalued and therefore wasted. Their approach would encourage more efficient use of water, they told the CDFA board.

Aquafornia news KSRO

California Sierra snow pack at 68% of average following series of winter storms

California’s Sierra snow pack is 68% of average after a series of storms in recent weeks. The Department of Water Resources says the statewide average is down slightly from the 70% number about two weeks ago during the last monthly snow survey. The snow pack was sagging at about 40% of normal back in mid-January.

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Aquafornia news myMotherLode.com

TUD moving closer to acquiring water rights and infrastructure

The Tuolumne Utilities District hosted a joint meeting to provide local stakeholders an update on efforts to acquire PG&E assets like Pinecrest Reservoir and Lyons Dam, and water rights from New Melones. The informational meeting included the Tuolumne County Supervisors, Sonora City Council and local tribal representatives. 

Aquafornia news American Rivers

Blog: 69 dams removed in 2020

Despite the challenges of working through a pandemic, river restoration practitioners continued to pursue dam removal projects in 2020 to revitalize local economies and communities and reconnect 624 upstream river miles for fish, wildlife and river health. Sixty-nine dams were removed in 2020 across 23 states, including: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Aquafornia news Gilroy Dispatch

Opinion: Valley Water gathering feedback on expansion of Pacheco Reservoir

The first few months of this rainfall season were below average across California, with drought conditions evident statewide. Although the Golden State received a much-needed soaking in late January, moderate drought conditions remain across Santa Clara County. Valley Water remains focused on preparing for future wet and dry years through various projects and programs, including the proposed expansion of Pacheco Reservoir in southern Santa Clara County.
-Written by Valley Water Directors, Vice Chair Gary Kremen, John L. Varela, and Richard P. Santos. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Sentinel

Jasmin Hall becomes first Black President of the Inland Empire Utilities Agency  

Two elections held in the last three months have placed San Bernardino County resident Jasmin Hall in a position where she wields the most influence among a handful of African Americans serving in California water industry leadership roles. Late last year, Hall’s colleagues elected her the first African American president of the Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA). Earlier this year, she was sworn in to serve in that role.

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

High schooler takes on contaminated water in Thermal

“I was inspired by Erin Brockovich to help communities with contaminated tap water,” says Ryan Sinderbrand, a junior at Westlake High School in Thousand Oaks, “so I took some environmental and sustainability classes to learn more. I’d watched the news, and I’d heard stories about how serious the problem was.” Wanting to help, he researched communities in California with contaminated water and came across the Coachella Valley.

Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News release: Expert panel – food grown with produced water safe for human consumption

An expert panel has concluded that the decades-old practice of irrigating agricultural food crops with “produced water” from oil fields shows no evidence of increased risk to human health. The panel’s 35-page Food Safety Project White Paper is the result of five years of extensive crop sampling and a thorough evaluation of data, along with a review of existing literature…. The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board is inviting members of the pubic to comment on the white paper at its next meeting on Feb. 18-19, along with an option to submit written comments until March 5.

Aquafornia news Union Democrat

TUD board gridlocks on water supply, future availability

Tuolumne Utilities District will continue to process applications for new water hookups because its Board of Directors failed Thursday to reach a determination on future supply and availability. The TUD board held a special workshop Thursday to grapple with the oldest challenge in county history when it comes to water, but the big picture has not changed. The district relies on the South Fork Stanislaus River watershed that still provides a limited amount of runoff, an average of 104,000 acre-feet annually, and typically has access to less than one-quarter of that.

Aquafornia news The Texas Tribune

Texans warned to boil and conserve water as power outages persist

First Texans lost their power. Now, they’re losing their potable water. After enduring multiple days of freezing temperatures and Texans dripping faucets to prevent frozen pipes from bursting, cities across the state warned residents on Wednesday that water levels are dangerously low and may be unsafe to drink. They’re telling Texans to boil tap water for drinking, cooking, brushing their teeth and for making ice — as residents have been struggling to maintain power and heat while an unprecedented winter storm whips across the state. 

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Opinion: California’s climate change future is being written – in its waterways

Much like COVID-19 is changing our election practices and day-to-day business operations, climate change could change your water rights, according to the State Water Resources Control Board. In the past, I have eluded to the shift from historical facts used for analysis and forecasting to a fear-based guessing game that allows an unelected bureaucracy backed by a one-party-rule elected body to usurp your property rights.
-Written by Wayne Western, Jr. the Sun’s Agriculture Pulse contributor, writing on the San Joaquin Valley’s agricultural community and water issues. 

Aquafornia news Sterling Journal-Advocate

Colorado work group eyes new tools to stop water profiteering

Imposing hefty taxes on speculative water sales, requiring that water rights purchased by investors be held for several years before they can be resold, and requiring special state approval of such sales are three ideas that might help Colorado protect its water resources from speculators. The ideas were discussed Wednesday at a meeting of a special work group looking at whether Colorado needs to strengthen laws preventing Wall Street investment firms and others from selling water for profit in ways that don’t benefit the state’s farms, cities and streams. 

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin Municipal Water District seeks voluntary conservation

The Marin Municipal Water District is calling on customers to voluntarily cut back on their water use for the first time since the 2013 drought in response to meager rainfall reminiscent of the notorious 1976-1977 drought.

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Aquafornia news Antelope Valley Press

Palmdale Water District to host informative meeting on fire

A local water utility company is set to share information about how the Littlerock Creek watershed was adversely affected by the Bobcat fire. Palmdale Water District will host a free, virtual event at 3 p.m. on Feb. 24 and provide information to the public about what steps are being taken to mitigate the damage. Much of the watershed has been burned and there is concern that potential heavy debris flow will create excessive sediment in the Littlerock Reservoir and affect water quality.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Water Authority didn’t always take Pure Water project seriously, emails show

In its 25-year plan ensuring the San Diego region has enough water to go around, the county’s largest water provider didn’t appear to take the region’s biggest water recycling project to date very seriously, at least at first. Emails between the San Diego County Water Authority staff and city of San Diego officials show the city had to argue for the second and biggest phase of its Pure Water program to be considered a realistic future source of drinking water. 

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Western water conference goes virtual

A western water conference that draws national speakers each year — and normally draws Basin irrigators to Reno for the weekend — is being held virtually this Thursday and Friday due to COVID precautions. The Family Farm Alliance conference, organized in part by Klamath Falls-based executive director Dan Keppen, is themed “A Bridge over Troubled Water” this year. The alliance advocates for irrigated agriculture in 17 western states, including in Oregon.

Aquafornia news Deseret News

Why Utah lawmakers are worried about having enough water in the future

Utah lawmakers say drought and the dwindling Colorado River make it more important than ever for the state to act now to safeguard its interest in the river. 

Aquafornia news Growing Produce

Labor and water dominate California fruit growers’ concerns

Growers all over the U.S. are concerned about labor, and those in the Golden State are no exception. The California Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA) announced the results of their “Top Issues Survey” for 2021, and labor- and water-related issues were prominently featured. CFFA members were recently surveyed to rank the top issues for the association to focus its efforts on this year.

Aquafornia news Axios

Biden presidency could bring regulations on toxic “forever chemicals”

Industrial “forever chemicals” found in hundreds of consumer goods and linked to adverse health effects may face new regulations under the Biden administration. Why it matters: Environmental groups and members of Congress are calling on President Biden to follow through with his promise to designate the long-ignored and largely unregulated synthetic chemicals, which can last for hundreds of years without breaking down, as hazardous substances. They’re also calling for him to set enforceable limits for the chemicals in the Safe Drinking Water Act and to fund toxicity research on them.

Aquafornia news Times-Standard

Humboldt district, Trinidad Rancheria move forward on water study

The Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District and the Trinidad Rancheria are moving forward with a feasibility study to investigate the possibility of extending water service from McKinleyville up to the Rancheria. The Trinidad City Council and the Westhaven Community Services District declined to participate in the study last month, citing risks of overdevelopment. 

Aquafornia news CapRadio.org

California now has a futures market for water. Some farmers are skeptical

Investors, farmers, and Reddit users can now all hedge bets on the price of water in California thanks to the launch of the first water futures market in the country late last year. It represents a new financial outlook on water in California — one driven by the market. Since its launch Dec. 7, the futures the market has seen 180 trades — equivalent to over 550 million gallons of actual water. But the water futures market has nothing to do with the movement of real water: it’s just about money.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

FEMA releases more funds for reimbursing Oroville Dam spillway repair costs

The process to recoup over $1 billion in repairs to Oroville Dam’s spillways after the 2017 crisis is receiving more federal funds. The Department of Water Resources announced Feb. 1 that the Federal Emergency Management Agency released an additional approximately $308 million in requested funds for the Oroville Dam spillways reconstruction and emergency response. These funds are in addition to over $260 million that FEMA has already committed to …

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Water agencies disagree on how much water San Diego needs

The San Diego Water Authority thinks the region is going to need way more water over the next few decades, but the smaller agencies that buy water from them aren’t so sure. They think the Water Authority is projecting too much growth in future water demand, and they’re worried that if they’re right, residents are going to end up paying for it, even as they curtail their own water usage.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Gold Country Media

Latest storms should help lift snowpack above 70%

A series of precipitation-producing storms continue to contribute to the abundance of new snow to the Sierra and officials hope to see Northern California to catch up soon from the slow start to winter and remnants from a dry 2020. Last week, state water officials made their second trek to the Sierra to measure the latest snowpack, which showed great improvement and hopes that more is on the way. Statewide, the water content of the snowpack was 70 percent of average to date …

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Double blast of lawsuits fired at proposed Kern groundwater bank

A major water banking proposal northwest of Bakersfield that won coveted Proposition 1 funding in 2018, was hit by two lawsuits earlier this month, one claiming it is nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing intent on selling Kern River water to southern California. The City of Bakersfield and the Kern County Water Agency filed separate complaints Feb. 2 against the Kern Fan Groundwater Storage Project seeking to have the project’s recently approved environmental impact report deemed inadequate. … 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday Top of the Scroll: Rain in the Bay Area, snow in Tahoe: Here’s when storms are forecast to hit

A series of storms will usher in a wet holiday weekend across Northern California, threatening to put a damper on outdoor activities and cause driving delays for holiday travelers. The soaking rains that doused much of the Bay Area on Thursday were anticipated to dissipate by sunrise on Friday, according to the National Weather Service. But more wet weather is expected to arrive Saturday and Monday, bringing light to moderate rains and cooler temperatures.

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Aquafornia news Bakersfield.com

Local ag looks to spotlight its climate-friendly profile

The Kern County Farm Bureau issued a “call to action” this week asking local growers and ranchers to participate in a series of upcoming meetings that will influence the role California’s agricultural lands will be expected to play, or continue to play, in fighting climate change.

Aquafornia news Water News Network

News release: Tish Berge joins Water Authority executive leadership team

Veteran water industry executive Tish Berge is joining the San Diego County Water Authority as assistant general manager, bringing experience from every aspect of water utility management to serve the region. Berge is currently general manager of the Sweetwater Authority, one of the Water Authority’s 24 member agencies. Berge starts her new role February 22 alongside Deputy General Manager Dan Denham and General Manager Sandra L. Kerl.

Aquafornia news Down to Earth

Blog: Safe drinking water in America: Not everyone has it

When the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak swept across the United States, toilet paper, hand sanitiser and Clorox wipes flew off store shelves. But shopping carts have also been full of something that most Americans get supplied straight to their home: Water.

Aquafornia news Deseret News

Utah ‘behind the times,’ needs watchdog on Colorado River, leader says

Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson says the state needs to do everything it can to protect its share of water in the drought-challenged Colorado River, and the creation of a new entity would foster that protection. … He and Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, are sponsors of the Colorado River Amendments, HB297, which would set up the Colorado River Authority of Utah with $9 million in one-time money and $600,000 of ongoing money.

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Aquafornia news Press Banner

Tensions boil over in San Lorenzo Valley water merger meeting

In a tense, two-and-a-half-hour board meeting on Feb. 4 that included more than 100 attendees, San Lorenzo Valley Water District (SLVWD) broached the subject of a potential merger with Scotts Valley Water District (SVWD). The reaction from those who attended the Zoom meeting was anything but subtle: the majority opposed the idea, and representatives of SLVWD found themselves back on their heels from the opening salvo.

Aquafornia news Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Opinion: Drought potential? Here we go again

When it comes to water availability in the Santa Clarita Valley, the issue is not new and has certainly been discussed “ad nauseam,” but we seem to look on it as a new subject every couple of years. … The SCV Water team are supposed to be experts, they have monitored the valley’s water use for years, they know the differences in water use based on the season and should have accounted for our water needs. But instead, what they have done is continually add new users, stretching the supply over a larger base…
-Written by Alan Ferdman, a Santa Clarita resident and a member of the Canyon Country Advisory Committee board.

Aquafornia news Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Opinion: Navigating uncharted waters in Santa Clarita Valley

While the situations and circumstances may have been unfamiliar, SCV Water faced them with expertise, professionalism and compassion. We assessed the situation, adjusted our sails, and adapted to meet the challenges while holding fast to our mission: Providing responsible water stewardship to ensure the Santa Clarita Valley has reliable supplies of high-quality water at a reasonable cost.
-Written by Gary Martin, board president of the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Green

How your water heater works can be a secret weapon in the climate change fight

Nearly every home has a water heater, but people tend not to think about it until the shock of a cold shower signals its failure. To regulators, though, the ubiquitous household appliance is increasingly top of mind for the role it could play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and weaning the power grid from fossil fuels High-tech electric water heaters can double as thermal batteries, storing excess production from wind and solar generators. In California, officials aim to install them in place of millions of gas water heaters throughout the state. That would reduce the need to fire up polluting fossil fuel power plants to supply electricity for water heating after the sun sets. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Colorado

Blog: Colorado Water Plan turns five: Is it working?

In the five years since Colorado’s Water Plan took effect, the state has awarded nearly $500 million in loans and grants for water projects, cities have enacted strict drought plans, communities have written nearly two dozen locally based stream restoration plans, and crews have been hard at work improving irrigation systems and upgrading wastewater treatment plants. But big challenges lie ahead — drought, population growth, accelerating climate change, budget cuts, wildfires and competing demands for water, among others.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California’s rainfall is at historic lows. That spells trouble for wildfires and farms

There’s a race on in California, and each day matters: the precipitation during winter that fuels the snowpack in the Sierra Nevadas and fills groundwater supplies has been slow to start, and faltering at best. Northern California remains stuck in one of the worst two-year rainfall deficits seen since the 1849 Gold Rush, increasing the risk of water restrictions and potentially setting up dangerous wildfire conditions next summer. The current precipitation is only 30% to 70% of what the state would expect to have seen during a normal year – with no more big rainfall events on the horizon for February. 

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Aquafornia news The Center Square

California water users petition to end proposed Klamath River dam demolition

A Northern California water users’ association has filed a motion against a $450 million plan to tear down four dams on the Klamath River they claim irrevocably hurts local homeowners. The motion was filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last Wednesday by the Murphy and Buchal Law firm on behalf of the Siskiyou County Water Users Association. It claims the interstate agreement reached by Oregon and California last year to remove the dams has incurred “irreparable damage” to lakefront home values in the COPCO Lake area as water levels are feared to decline.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn, Attorneys at Law

Blog: Court of appeal holds that a city’s surcharge for utility services to cover voter approved general tax on revenues from customer fees and charges did not violate Proposition 218

The Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District recently ruled in Wyatt v. City of Sacramento that a City’s imposition of a surcharge in the form of a “general tax” on property-related utility services payable to the City’s general fund did not violate Proposition 218 (Prop. 218). The appellate court decision confirms that a surcharge imposed on a utility enterprise is a cost of providing utility services and is therefore properly part of the Prop. 218 analysis of determining whether revenues exceed funds required to provide the services. 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Dry year myths revisited

It might be hard to imagine that it has already been more than five years since we exited the extreme dry years of 2014 and 2015. At that time, local, state and federal water managers were taking unprecedented actions in response to the dry conditions to maximize beneficial uses and every Californian was feeling the impact of multiple dry years. … In their blog earlier this year, Fritz Durst and Brent Hastey outlined much of the work that has occurred since 2015 to prepare for the next dry year. In addition to those actions, we also have worked to better identify the timing and quantity of water needed during dry years to maximize habitat benefits with limited resources.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog Q&A: How is the Delta conveyance project financed?

In the latest Delta Conveyance Deep Dive video, we take a look at the financing mechanisms that make the project possible, both now, in the initial planning stages, and in the future if the project is approved. It might not sound like the most exciting aspect of the project but it’s certainly one area where there’s a lot of public interest and concern. With a project of this scale (the most recent estimate of the total cost is around $16 billion) it’s not surprising that people want to know who’s footing the bill.

Aquafornia news Grist

What would a just transition look like for the Navajo Nation?

Two decades ago, Nicole Horseherder, a member of the Navajo Nation, coordinated a community meeting. Beneath the shade of Juniper trees at her late grandmother’s house, several dozen people gathered to find a way to protect their pristine water. The springs and wells along Black Mesa, a semi-arid, rocky mesa that overlies the Navajo Aquifer, were increasingly drying up, as tens of billions of gallons of potable water were used to extract, clean, and transport coal mined in the region. This meeting was the start of a long struggle to safeguard the community from coal projects, which threatened the drinking water supply of both the Navajo and Hopi people.

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Bay Area weather: Rain returning Thursday and Saturday

A storm is forecast to bring rain to the Bay Area on Thursday Feb. 11, 2021. After a stretch of sunny, dry weather, the first significant rainfall is heading to the Bay Area since an atmospheric river storm pummeled Northern California two weeks ago. A new storm is forecast to roll in Thursday night, forecasters said Tuesday. It won’t be anywhere near as big as the late January storm that triggered landslide warnings and evacuations in Santa Cruz County communities, and washed out a big chunk of Highway 1 in Big Sur.

Aquafornia news The Colorado Sun

Colorado’s Water Plan has made progress toward ensuring supply, but the work’s far from done

In the five years since Colorado’s Water Plan took effect, the state has awarded nearly $500 million in loans and grants for water projects, cities have enacted strict drought plans, communities have written nearly two dozen locally based stream-restoration plans and crews have been hard at work on improving irrigation systems and wastewater treatment plants. But there are big challenges ahead — drought, population growth, accelerating climate change, budget cuts, wildfires and competing demands for water, among others. 

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Diversifying water supplies includes aquifer recharge

Bracing for potentially a second consecutive year of dry conditions, California water officials, farmers and researchers participating in an irrigation conference discussed recharging aquifers with stormwater and increased water efficiency among ways to diversify the state’s water supply.

Aquafornia news Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

News release: Directors representing Fullerton, Santa Ana, Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District join Metropolitan board

Three new directors representing the cities of Fullerton and Santa Ana as well as the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District were seated on the board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Aquafornia news CBS8.com

Drowning in debt: Nearly 70,000 San Diego families are behind on water bills

A new report finds that nearly 70,000 San Diego families are behind on their water bills during the pandemic, with more than 11,000 owing over a thousand dollars. That same study by the state’s Water Resources Control Board finds that one in eight California households are behind on their water bills: a a tsunami of debt adding up to more than a billion dollars.

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Aquafornia news Business Wire

News release: California American Water invested more than $68 million in infrastructure improvements in 2020

California American Water recently announced its end-of-year investment total and system improvements for 2020. More than $68 million total was invested on system upgrades and various improvement projects in the communities we serve throughout the year. These improvements come despite the complications and challenges posed by COVID-19 public health emergency.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin water suppliers consider drought restrictions

Marin County water districts are weighing the need for mandatory conservation actions in the face of abnormally low rainfall and what could be another prolonged drought. Marin’s two largest suppliers — the Marin Municipal Water District and the North Marin Water District — plan to begin with voluntary conservation measures before considering more restrictive options such as rationing and irrigation bans similar to those of the 2014 drought.

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Despite below-average snowpack, 2021 water year still a wild card

The Klamath Basin’s snowpack forecast isn’t looking so hot this month, but it’s still too early to tell whether water year 2021’s luck will change. The Natural Resources Conservation Service released its February outlook report last week, reporting below average precipitation and snowpack in river basins across Oregon. Though January did bring several winter storms to the region, warmer-than-normal temperatures caused them to dump more rain than snow on mountains, melting some of the powder that had already accumulated in some areas of the state.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Mountains, ice and climate change: A recipe for disasters

The flash flood that killed dozens of people and left hundreds missing in the Himalayas of India on Sunday was far from the first such disaster to occur among the world’s high-mountain glaciers. In a world with a changing climate, it won’t be the last. Shrinking and thinning of glaciers is one of the most documented signs of the effects of global warming caused by emissions of greenhouse gases … Over the long term, there are concerns about what the loss of glaciers will mean for billions of people around the world who rely on them at least in part for water for drinking, industry and agriculture.

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Citing support for a grand bargain, Water Board member calls it quits

State Water Board Member Tam Doduc believes the board will approve a Bay-Delta Plan that includes voluntary agreements with agricultural water interests.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Water systems in Fresno, Tulare counties in financial crisis

Unpaid water bills are piling up during the pandemic, as small water providers in the central San Joaquin Valley teeter toward a financial crisis that could affect drinking water quality and affordability. More than 76,000 customers in Madera, Fresno, Tulare and Kings counties are behind on their water bills for a total debt of more than $15 million — according to the results of a state survey of just a fraction of community water systems. In reality, the collective debt is much larger. Small community water systems, many already on shaky financial footing, may need a bailout to keep safe and drinkable water running at a price affordable to customers.

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Aquafornia news MarketScreener

Cal Water selects Evan Markey to temporarily lead Oroville District

California Water Service (Cal Water) has announced temporary leadership changes for its Oroville District. Evan Markey has been named Interim District Manager, while previous District Manager George Barber is serving as Interim Director of Field Operations for the utility’s northern California region. Tavis Beynon will continue to serve as the Interim District Manager for the Chico District.

Aquafornia news The New Republic

The Colorado River crisis is a national crisis

The Colorado River supports over 40 million people spread across seven southwestern states, 29 tribal nations, and Mexico. It’s responsible for the irrigation of roughly 5.5 million acres of land marked for agricultural use. Local and regional headlines show the river is in crisis. The nation mostly isn’t listening.

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Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Monterey won’t protect water district from legal action by the state

A concern over a potential lawsuit by state water officials against the Monterey Peninsula water district could threaten an affordable housing project in Monterey. In May, the board of directors of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District reversed a staff recommendation and approved sending roughly 5 acre-feet of additional water — some 1.7 million gallons — for one section of a Garden Road project that will be built out by developer Brad Slama. 

Aquafornia news The Salt Lake Tribune

Why hedge funds are eyeing Utah’s shrinking water supply

[T]he president of New York-based hedge fund Water Asset Management … has called water in the United States “a trillion-dollar market opportunity.” The hedge fund invested $300 million in farmland in Colorado, California, Arizona and Nevada as of 2020, including $16.6 million on 2,220 acres of farmland with senior water rights in Colorado’s Grand Valley just upstream from where the Colorado River crosses into Utah.

Aquafornia news Tucson.com

Colorado River outlook darkens dramatically in new study

In the gloomiest long-term forecast yet for the drought-stricken Colorado River, a new study warns that lower river basin states including Arizona may have to slash their take from the river up to 40% by the 2050s to keep reservoirs from falling too low. Such a cut would amount to about twice as much as the three Lower Basin states — Arizona, California and Nevada — agreed to absorb under the drought contingency plan they approved in early 2019. Overall, the study warned that managing the river sustainably will require substantially larger cuts in use by Lower Basin states than currently envisioned, along with curbs on future diversions by Upper Basin states.

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Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Water America’s crops challenge

Reclamation maintains and operates over 8,000 miles of water distribution systems that use, among other means, reservoirs and canals to store and deliver water. Water lost to seepage reduces the efficiency of the water delivery to the users and can cause undermining/erosion, subgrade soil migration, adverse vegetation growth, and even canal failure….This prize competition seeks innovative solutions that can reduce the costs and burdens associated with installation and maintenance of seepage reduction methods, and improve durability in a range of climatic conditions.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

San Diego’s infrastructure deficit is really a stormwater deficit

The infrastructure deficit that has hung over San Diego politics for years without meaningful intervention is perhaps better understood as a stormwater deficit. Eight years ago, Mayor Todd Gloria, then Council president, pledged to craft an infrastructure-focused ballot measure for the 2016 ballot, to address the city’s crumbling roads, sidewalks, pipes and drains. That never happened, and the problem has only gotten worse. But the city now appears to be serious about pursing a measure to fund a specific, and massive, piece of the city’s infrastructure failure: its stormwater system.

Aquafornia news UCLA

Study: The human right to water in poor communities of color: Southern Los Angeles County

Disadvantaged communities concentrated in southern Los Angeles County lack fair options when it comes to water supply. When served by public utilities, aging infrastructure, water quality problems, and other complications can translate into sacrifices in quality or reliability. When supplied by investor-owned utilities, they receive reliable water supply but pay more than affluent communities. This report examines the case study of Sativa County Water District, a cautionary tale of a failed water system in southern LA County. 

Aquafornia news NPR

Near coasts, rising seas could also push up long-buried toxic contamination

For many Bay Area residents who live near the water’s edge, little-publicized research indicates groundwater rising beneath their feet could start to manifest in 10-15 years, particularly in low-lying communities like Oakland. And that could resurface toxic substances that have lingered for years underground.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday Top of the Scroll: Can Newsom end California water wars now that Trump is gone?

Shortly after taking office two years ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom promised to deliver a massive compromise deal on the water rushing through California’s major rivers and the critically-important Delta — and bring lasting peace to the incessant water war between farmers, cities, anglers and environmentalists. … [C]oming to an agreement as promised will require Newsom’s most artful negotiating skills. He’ll have to get past decades of fighting and maneuvering, at the same time California is continuing to recover from the worst wildfire season in modern state history and a pandemic that has since killed more than 42,000 state residents.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Reporter notebook: San Diego’s water war with L.A. is almost a century old

I’ve written in the past about the San Diego County Water Authority’s efforts to divest from its parent agency the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. That includes the bad blood between the two agencies stemming from MWD’s water cutbacks to San Diego in 1991, and how local leaders felt they were mistreated. What I didn’t realize was just how far back the tension goes between San Diego leaders and MWD. All the way back to the Great Depression…

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Despite storms, San Joaquin County, Sierra still in drought

Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop may not see any more rain until March. The long-range forecast by Accuweather based off of National Weather Service modeling underscores the fact California isn’t out of the woods when it comes to the potential for 2021 being a drought year even with the recent heavy storms that dumped significant snow in the Sierra. The rest of the month is expected to see weather that has daily highs in the mid-60s to the low 40s with no rain anticipated until March 1.

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Aquafornia news Mountain Town News

A deep rethink of the Colorado River

Much has been said about a “new normal” in the Colorado River Basin. The phrase describes reduced flows in the 21st century as compared to those during much of the 20th century. Authors of a new study contemplate something beyond, what they call a “new abnormal.” The future, they say, might be far dryer than water managers have been planning for. … In the 133-page report, they identified a wide variety of alternative management ideas, not simple tweaks but “significant modifications or entirely new approaches.” 

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

‘Better days ahead’: Restoration deal signed to revive Klamath River after dam removal

The Klamath River Renewal Corporation last week signed an agreement with Resource Environmental Solutions, a Texas-based ecological restoration company, to provide restoration services following the removal of four dams on the Klamath River. The agreement with RES brings North Coast tribes one step closer to their decades-long goal of dam removal. 

Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

Proposed river authority would assert Utah’s claims to the Colorado’s dwindling water

Utah legislative leaders on Thursday unveiled plans for a new $9 million state agency to advance Utah’s claims to the Colorado River in hopes of wrangling more of the river’s diminishing flows, potentially at the expense of six neighboring states that also tap the river. Without any prior public involvement or notice, lawmakers assembled legislation to create a six-member entity called the Colorado River Authority of Utah, charged with implementing “a management plan to ensure that Utah can protect and develop the Colorado River system.”

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Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

In California, a warming climate will help a voracious pest—and hurt the state’s almonds, walnuts and pistachios

California almond farmers enjoyed record-breaking harvests over the last five years, after production dipped in the wake of 2014’s historic drought. That year a chorus of headlines vilified almonds for sucking up a gallon of water per nut, though irrigation efficiency has been improving.  Now, as global temperatures rise, a caterpillar barely the size of a paper clip may threaten California’s position as the world’s leading producer of almonds, walnuts and pistachios. 

Aquafornia news The Signal

Santa Clarita Valley Water to host meeting on hazardous materials in Saugus Aquifer

Santa Clarita Valley Water has scheduled a virtual public meeting for the community to learn more about how the agency is keeping its water safe for drinking by addressing the public health and environmental effects of hazardous substances that have been identified in the Saugus Formation Aquifer. Set for Feb. 11, the agency will provide an overview of project objectives and alternatives for removal of the hazardous substances.

Aquafornia news San Diego Union-Tribune

A $5 billion water project could drill through Anza-Borrego park. Is it a pipe dream?

It would be arguably the most ambitious public works project in San Diego history. The envisioned pipeline would carry Colorado River water more than 130 miles from the Imperial Valley — through the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, tunneling under the Cuyamaca Mountains, and passing through the Cleveland National Forest — to eventually connect with a water-treatment plant in San Marcos. An alternative route would run through the desert to the south, boring under Mt. Laguna before emptying into the San Vicente Reservoir in Lakeside. Estimated cost: roughly $5 billion. New water delivered: None.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Future of Monterey Peninsula water could be determined by new board appointees

Four new Monterey Peninsula representatives on key local water and wastewater agency boards could have a big say on the future of two Monterey Peninsula water issues — the proposed California American Water public takeover and the Pure Water Monterey expansion proposal. Last week, Monterey architect Safwat Malek was unanimously chosen to replace Molly Evans as Monterey Peninsula Water Management Agency Division 3 director …

Aquafornia news The (Santa Rosa) Press Democrat

Friday Top of the Scroll: High-tech forecasting model scores scientific win at Lake Mendocino, showing promise for Western reservoirs

Sandbars are spreading across rain-starved Lake Mendocino, the reservoir near Ukiah that is 35 feet lower than it was a year ago, a grim wintertime sight for the second major source of water for more than 655,000 people in Sonoma, Mendocino and Marin counties. But the situation would be considerably worse without the payoff from a six-year, $50 million project applying high-tech weather forecasting to management of the reservoir behind Coyote Valley Dam built on the East Fork of the Russian River in 1958. 

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Save the date for our virtual Water 101 workshop in April

Curious about water rights in California? Want to know more about how water is managed in the state, or learn about the State Water Project, Central Valley Project or other water infrastructure?  Mark your calendars now for our virtual Water 101 Workshop for the afternoons of April 22-23 to hear from experts on these topics and more.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

Southern Nevada can’t afford to get complacent about water conservation

For years, Southern Nevadans have watched the water level in Lake Mead inch downward and wondered how long we could avoid the federally mandated rationing that kicks in when the lake elevation hits certain thresholds. Now comes a forecast bearing worrisome news. For the second time since 2019, we may be in for a reduction. A study issued last month by the Bureau of Reclamation says the lake level could dip below 1,075 feet by the end of the year.

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Aquafornia news Yale Environment 360

Water warning: The looming threat of the world’s aging dams

Tens of thousands of large dams across the globe are reaching the end of their expected lifespans, leading to a dramatic rise in failures and collapses, a new UN study finds. These deteriorating structures pose a serious threat to hundreds of millions of people living downstream…. In 2017, a spillway collapsed at the 50-year-old Oroville Dam in California’s Sierra Nevada foothills. It caused the evacuation of around 180,000 people. The 770-foot dam is the highest in the U.S. and, after repairs to the spillway, remains critical to the state’s water supply.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Opinion: Advanced metering, desalination would bolster water supply amid construction mandates

If the natural water supply doesn’t meet the water needs of an increased population, Marin is going to have to revisit the idea of building a desalination plant. Currently, the largest U.S. desalination plant in San Diego produces 50 million gallons daily at a cost of one cent per gallon. That cost is kept low given the San Diego’s plant is adjacent to a power station. If Marin had to draw its power from MCE or Pacific Gas and Electric Co., the cost would rise to 1.33 cents per gallon or $10 per billing unit over and above normal water charges. 
-Written by Rick Johnson, who worked 40 years with the San Francisco Water Department as a senior inspector and revenue recovery project manager.

Aquafornia news The (Riverside) Press Enterprise

Water lawsuit settled with Redlands and 2 other cities in San Bernardino County

A lawsuit against several cities and the county of San Bernardino over failing to file water efficiency reports required by the state has been settled and the jurisdictions are now working on fulfilling the terms of the settlements. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimated 340 cities and counties in the state did not file one or more annual reports on permit programs for new irrigated landscapes, robbing the public of critical information regarding local conservation efforts.  

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Despite recent storms, California’s dismal snowpack raises worry of dry year ahead

State water surveyors who trekked into the Sierra Nevada on Wednesday found exactly what they expected: little snow and long odds of anything but a dismally dry year ahead. Despite last week’s pounding snowstorm, which hammered roads with days of whiteouts and delivered to ski slopes as much as 10 feet of fresh powder, this month’s statewide snowpack measured just 70% of average.

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Aquafornia news National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Report: Subseasonal and seasonal forecasting innovation: plans for the 21st century

This report outlines the current use of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) S2S products and services, and how NOAA plans to improve the usability and transference of data, information, and forecasts. It will serve as a guidepost for NOAA planning and execution, as well as to inform the public and NOAA’s stakeholders on its efforts on subseasonal and seasonal forecasting…. and recommends a western U.S. pilot project to support water management. 

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: Water infrastructure — the unmet needs of low-income communities

To meet the promise of its day one executive order on Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities, the Biden administration needs to provide low-income communities, communities of color and Indigenous people the same access to clean and safe water that the rest of our nation takes for granted. 
-Written by David F. Coursen, a former EPA attorney and a member of the Environmental Protection Network, a nonprofit organization of EPA alumni.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Updated analysis could alter Klamath water supplies

A detailed analysis released by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation could change its approach in operating the Klamath Project in compliance with the Endangered Species Act.

Aquafornia news NPR

Biden wants to move fast on climate change. Is it fast enough?

In a flurry of first-week executive orders, President Biden sent a definitive message that his administration would move faster on climate change than any before. Now, the question is whether it will be fast enough. Scientists warn that the coming decade will be critical for slowing heat-trapping emissions, potentially keeping average annual global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to the mid-19th century. Right now, the world is on track for an increase of 3 degrees Celsius, a level that ensures more destructive wildfires and hurricanes, devastation for coral reefs and rising seas flooding the coastlines.

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Aquafornia news The San Francisco Examiner

Opinion: Salmon dwindling while SFPUC fiddling

While wetter streets and a greener White House may offer San Franciscans some hope for the future, the situation remains dire for salmon in the Tuolumne River. … [I]t’s hard not to feel that the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s water policies are partially to blame. Californians are significantly reducing or eliminating dependence on river water. But the SFPUC continues to side with agricultural users to fight limitations on the water it takes from the Tuolumne. 
-Written by Robyn Purchia, an environmental attorney, blogger and activist

Aquafornia news Arizona Central

Opinion: SRP is helping thin Arizona forests. Our water supply depends on it

Over the last 10 years, we have watched as large wildfires ravaged the watershed in and around the Salt and Verde Rivers. The devastation proves one important fact that must be addressed now – our forests are unhealthy. SRP manages the water supply for much of the Valley – most of which comes from 8.3 million acres of land in northern Arizona. Snowfall and rain provide the water that travels through the watershed into SRP reservoirs, which is then delivered to homes and businesses via canals. The forested lands that harness this precious resource have been hit by devastating wildfires and are primed for more infernos like those that impacted California and Colorado. 
-Written by Elvy Barton, a forest health management principal who leads Salt River Project’s forest restoration partnerships, programs and policy analysis initiatives.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Rural Valley cities secure permanent water supply in deal with Feds

Three rural Valley cities finalized deals with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to cement permanent access to water from the Central Valley Project on Monday, the Federal bureau announced. The cities of Avenal, Coalinga, and Huron converted their water contracts with Federal water authorities along with Firebaugh-based Pacheco Water District and Panoche Water District, and Los Banos-based San Luis Water District.  

Aquafornia news Kingsburg Recorder

Valadao introduces critical California water legislation

U.S. Representative David G. Valadao introduced the Responsible, No-Cost Extension of Western Water Infrastructure Improvements, or RENEW WIIN, Act, a no-cost, clean extension of operations and storage provisions of the WIIN Act (P.L. 114-322). 

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Sierra snow grows, but Bay Area rain deficit is 3rd worst since 1849

California’s water picture is heading in two different directions. A major storm last week and a more modest system Tuesday continued to boost the Sierra Nevada snowpack, the source of one-third of the state’s water supply, in promising ways. But the Bay Area and most cities across Northern California remain stuck in one of the worst two-year rainfall deficits seen since the 1849 Gold Rush, increasing the risk of water restrictions and dry wildfire conditions locally next summer. 

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Aquafornia news Pagosa Daily Post

Opinion: Drain Lake Powell, not Colorado farms

Experts agree the amount of water in the Colorado River basin has declined because of drought and climate change, and that population growth is fueling demand for water higher and higher. One result is the level of Lake Powell in Arizona, behind Glen Canyon Dam, has steadily declined and is now at 43% of capacity. Further, just last week, the U.S. Dept of Interior sounded an alarm that they may have to start draining other reservoirs in Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming to try and “save” Lake Powell. 
-Written by Daniel P. Beard, former commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and Gary Wockner, director of Save The Colorado.

Aquafornia news Globe Newswire

News release: $2M seed funding round empowers AQUAOSO to further its water risk mitigation tool set for agricultural lenders and landholders

According to the U.S. Intelligence Community Assessment of Global Water Security, by 2030 humanity’s “annual global water requirements” will exceed “current sustainable water supplies” by 40%, highlighting the importance of building a water resilient future.

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

A surge from an atmospheric river drove California’s latest climate extremes

Flooding rains and record snow in California last week marked another extreme swing of the state’s climate pendulum. The widespread downpours triggered mudslides that damaged homes and roads near some of the huge fire scars from last summer, and also brought some of the water the state will need to end a months-long hot and dry streak and douse a record-setting wildfire season that extended into January. ….It could get worse. Stronger atmospheric rivers are part of California’s “whiplash” climate future…

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Aquafornia news AZ Central

Opinion: If Queen Creek gets more Colorado River now, brace for WW III

Comedian Ron White once joked that we should have two levels of national security warnings: Find a helmet and put on a helmet. If such a system were in place for controversies, Arizona’s water community would now be in the “put on a helmet” stage. Tensions were already high over a proposal to transfer Colorado River water from a farm in La Paz County to Queen Creek. And now that the recommendation has quietly changed, some folks in on-river communities view it as nothing less than the start of World War III. Heaven help us if it is. 
-Written by Joanna Allhands, a columnist for the Arizona Republic

Aquafornia news Pleasanton Weekly

Pleasanton City Council to revisit potable water project

The Pleasanton City Council will revisit the subject of potable water and the city’s regional efforts to study water supply alternatives at its Tuesday night online meeting, starting 7 p.m. In November, the council asked city staff to make recommendations on continuing “to participate with regional agencies on studies of water supply alternatives including potable reuse and $300,000 in funding from the city’s Capital Improvement program.”

Aquafornia news The Signal

SCV Water hosts meeting on water-shortage plan

In a year when California has only received approximately half its average rainfall, the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency hosted a virtual public meeting to inform residents of the Water Shortage Contingency Plan and gather community input Thursday. The large amount of rain and snow that fell in recent days were the result of the state’s first major atmospheric river this winter, changing drought predictions, according to Thomas Chesnutt, a consultant from A&N Technical Services. However, according to data released Jan. 19, drought conditions have returned to California, with much of Los Angeles County in moderate drought conditions. 

Aquafornia news Utah Public Radio

The Colorado River basin’s worsening dryness in five numbers

Dry conditions are the worst they’ve been in almost 20 years across the Colorado River watershed, which acts as the drinking and irrigation water supply for 40 million people in the American Southwest. As the latest round of federal forecasts for the river’s flow shows, it’s plausible, maybe even likely, that the situation could get much worse this year. Understanding and explaining the depth of the dryness is up to climate scientists throughout the basin. We called several of them and asked for discrete numbers that capture the current state of the Colorado River basin. 

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Aquafornia news My Mother Lode

TUD schedules special water rights meeting

The Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD) Board of Directors is hosting a virtual information meeting to update local board members and agencies about the proposed purchase of water infrastructure and water rights contracts. As reported here in March last year, TUD and PG&E announced they were in exclusive negotiations about the potential transfer of the Phoenix Hydroelectric Project. The proposed agreement includes the Phoenix Powerhouse, the Main Tuolumne Canal, the pre and post 1914 water rights, the Lyons Dam and Reservoir, Strawberry Dam and Pinecrest Reservoir. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

After a snowy few days in Northern and Southern California, there’s more to come this week

After a particularly wet week, Californians shouldn’t hang up their snow shovels and raincoats just yet. Those in Southern California should expect 1 to 8 inches of snow to fall in the mountainous areas of Ventura and Los Angeles counties between late Tuesday and Wednesday night, said Kathy Hoxsie, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. Elsewhere in Los Angeles County, one-quarter to one-half of an inch of rain is forecast to fall, with 3/4 inches expected in the foothills, Hoxsie said. 

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