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.
A piece of Riverside history could be revived if Councilman
Steve Adams can get the city to refill Hole Lake, an irrigation
and recreation reservoir for 60 years that’s now full of trees
and plants and, in some spots, trash and homeless camps.
Before electric refrigeration brought cheap and available ice
in the early 20th century, ice was harvested along Truckee’s
lakes and rivers. Truckee’s cold mountain air and readily
available clear streams created an ideal environment for ice
companies to create and harvest ice.
Aquatic animals in regions like California that have
historically experienced frequent droughts have evolved
remarkable adaptations to dealing with dry conditions. However,
the duration, severity, and frequency of droughts are all
increasing as a result of ongoing climate change and an
increased human demand for water, leaving even drought-hardened
In 2014 California introduced the Sustainable Groundwater
Management Act (SGMA) into state law to help manage the
conflict between ground and surface water. But updating legal
structures to accommodate evolving scientific knowledge
involves far more than simply rewriting statutes, according to
researchers in the US.
California has long been a top producer of oil. But that may
change. Some hope that change will accelerate under Gov. Gavin
Newsom, who has called for a decrease in the demand and supply
of fossil fuels. A recent massive spill in Chevron’s Cymric
oilfield in Kern County, about 35 miles west of Bakersfield,
prompted a major regulatory shakeup and could bolster that
The Forest Resilience Bond uses private capital to finance
forest restoration activities. Beneficiaries, including the
U.S. Forest Service and the California Department of Forestry
and Fire Protection, reimburse investors over time. Yuba Water
has pledged $1.5 million toward the project and the state of
California has committed $2.6 million in grant funding, with
additional funding from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy.
All residents and organizations within the Indian Wells Valley
will have to implement register their wells come Oct. 1
following the approval of an ordinance by the Indian Wells
Valley Groundwater Authority board of directors.
Trump started promising more water to Central Valley growers
before he was elected. During a campaign stop in Fresno three
years ago, he dismissed the drought, then in its fifth year, as
a hoax and snorted at legal protections for endangered fish in
the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
After four years, San Francisco Zoo officials wrapped up a
successful reintroduction program Monday by releasing the last
of more than 1000 red-legged frogs into Yosemite National Park.
The zoo began partnering with the National Park Service and
Yosemite Conservancy in 2015 to reintroduce the threatened
frogs back into Yosemite National Park…
The idea of conserving the marsh was not popular with most of
the residents and elected officials, and the McCoys were
frequent targets of threats and harassment. It was a rough and
tumble fight and there was a lot of money at stake. Ignoring
personal risk, the McCoys launched their campaign to secure the
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article in which I — perhaps
cavalierly — described Los Angeles as a desert. … There was a
small part of me that raised a red flag as I pounded the words
into my keyboard. Is L.A. a desert, though? I thought. Haven’t
I also heard that it isn’t?
The ban passed last week means that about 8,000 Russian River
property owners are now looking at how to repair or replace
substandard or failing residential sewage disposal systems when
the new law goes into effect next year.
The majestic beauty of the Sierra
Nevada forest is awe-inspiring, but beneath the dazzling blue
sky, there is a problem: A century of fire suppression and
logging practices have left trees too close together. Millions of
trees have died, stricken by drought and beetle infestation.
Combined with a forest floor cluttered with dry brush and debris,
it’s a wildfire waiting to happen.
Fires devastate the Sierra watersheds upon which millions of
Californians depend — scorching the ground, unleashing a
battering ram of debris and turning hillsides into gelatinous,
Commercial salmon catches have surpassed official preseason
forecasts by about 50%, said Kandice Morgenstern, a marine
scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Harvests have been particularly strong in Morro Bay, Monterey
and San Francisco, but weaker along California’s northern
California’s forests aren’t healthy. After a century of
preventing and putting out fires, millions of acres of trees
are overcrowded, drought-stressed, and more than ready to burn.
A couple of hours from the Oregon border, one community is
asking how to do better.
Federal scientists pulled no punches in their report: The Trump
administration’s plan to send more water to San Joaquin Valley
farmers would force critically endangered California salmon
even closer to extinction, and starve a struggling population
of West Coast killer whales.
Recent validation by state regulators of the effective and
sustainable management of Coachella Valley’s groundwater basins
speaks volumes about the importance of collaboration by local
water managers to protect our most important resource.
Finding a way to deal with the wastewater produced by a town
full of people is a challenge, one that’s forced the
McKinleyville Community Services District to find some creative
solutions. Officials are touting the emerging solution as a
win-win, a cutting-edge project that will serve the district’s
needs at minimal cost to ratepayers while also helping the
A panel of experts discuss how reactivating the floodplains can
provide habitat and food for native fish and for migrating
birds, and highlights the many projects and opportunities in
the Sacramento Valley.
Farmers implementing conservation practices that improve soil
health aren’t just hoping for better crop yields, they’re
banking on them. The Natural Resources Conservation Service and
American Farmland Trust recently released case studies
highlighting the economic benefits of implementing soil health
“These are federal lands, and they are being systematically
destroyed through clear-cutting, stream diversion, chemicals
and pesticides,” said U.S. Atty. McGregor Scott at a news
conference, where he was joined by federal, state and local
officials who were part of the investigation. “It’s a vitally
A lot of money will soon be flowing into California communities
with contaminated drinking water thanks to the new Safe and
Affordable Drinking Water Fund. Today at its meeting, the State
Water Board will talk about how to implement that $1.4-billion
program. One community that could use the help is north of Moss
A new legislative audit has concluded Washington County water
bosses will likely be able to generate sufficient revenue to
pay the massive costs of building and operating the proposed
Lake Powell pipeline, but only through large fee, rate and tax
increases and if the county triples its population during the
next 50 years.
The successes and failures of Australia’s recent reform of the
Murray-Darling Basin hold valuable lessons for policy makers in
California and elsewhere who are likely to grapple with the
environmental repercussions of extreme drought in the future.
The Lake County Board of Supervisors approved an amended
resolution Tuesday that will open the door for Lake County to
join a group vying to take over responsibility for the Potter
Valley hydroelectric project.
On the modern farm, soil sensors, well monitors and paperwork
abound. The trick is trying to keep all that data organized. To
that end, a Monterey County winegrape grower, Scheid Family
Wines of Greenfield, came up with its own system, first called
VitWatch, to digitize information previously recorded on paper.
The headwaters of Blue Creek is also among the tribe’s most
sacred sites, said Gene Brundin, a member of the tribe’s
cultural committee. The stream begins at a place called Elk
Valley near Chimney Rock and its cold water ensures the
viability of the salmon runs, he said.
It could take two more years before the Monterey Peninsula
Water Management District is ready to consider a resolution of
necessity to go ahead with eminent domain proceedings aimed at
a forced acquisition of California American Water’s local water
California’s water regulator voted Tuesday to spend $1.3
billion over the next 10 years to provide safe drinking water
to communities throughout California. The money allocated by
the State Water Resources Control Board comes from the Safe and
Affordable Drinking Water Fund, created last month when Gov.
Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 200.
The July 1 assessment, obtained by The Times, outlines how
proposed changes in government water operations would harm
several species protected by the Endangered Species Act,
including perilously low populations of winter-run salmon, as
well as steelhead trout and killer whales, which feed on
The plan affecting Sacramento River tributaries has not been
released, but water-resource managers in the region said they
have been collaborating with government agencies and
environmental groups to develop voluntary agreements that would
accomplish the goals of the state board’s flows-only
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has increasingly
cracked down on commercial boat operators who escort passengers
into MPAs to illegally catch everything from rockfish to bass
to yellowtail. Wardens issued 1,053 warnings and 686 citations
for illegal fishing in the protected areas in 2017, according
to the agency’s most recently available data. That’s up
dramatically from 2013, when wardens gave out just 396 warnings
and issued 327 citations.
Solar energy projects could replace some of the jobs and tax
revenues that may be lost as constrained water supplies force
California’s agriculture industry to scale back. However, the
shift from farm to solar is controversial — it can alter the
pastoral landscape and take some of the most fertile soil in
the world out of production at a time when the global
population is soaring.
Lake Temescal in Upper Rockridge sits atop the Hayward Fault,
which passes underneath the right abutment of the manmade
lake’s aged dam. Experts agree that creep has been observed
near Lake Temescal Dam, but disagree on whether this indicates
the area is at risk of suffering major damage during a strong
One of the key factors when assessing fire danger is the
moistness of the vegetation. When it was raining all the time,
plants were soaking up a lot of that water, which helped them
produce new growth and keep their limbs well hydrated. Usually
by August, they’ve dried out to dangerously low levels, but
this year they’re holding on a bit longer, in part due to
cooler summer temperatures.
Just a few months after completing the Drought Contingency Plan
for the Colorado River states, water managers in the southwest
will likely have to implement it starting in 2020. That’s
according to new projections for the levels of key reservoirs
in the southwestern river basin, and Arizona is first in line
to take water cutbacks.
Law enforcement officials on Tuesday announced a major
operation underway targeting illegal marijuana-growing sites in
the Sierra Nevada allegedly being operated by Mexican citizens
who are using a pesticide banned in the United States.
Newly released documents shed light on why a sewage processing
agency, Silicon Valley Clean Water, paid its general manager
$875,000 as part of a severance agreement, and it appears a big
part of that was equity the agency gave him in a $4.5 million,
six-bedroom home in the hills overlooking Redwood City.
Outside the walls of the lab lies an environment increasingly
unfit for fish like delta smelt. The Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta, some 40 miles inland from the San Francisco Bay, is a
1,100-square-mile tidal marsh that for millennia teemed with
salmon, shellfish, tule elk, deer, and waterfowl — all of which
supported a Native American population of about 300,000 people.
For a moment as columns of sunlight drifted through the pines
with the cobalt surface of Lake Tahoe in the background, it
seemed as though the partisan rancor so characteristic of this
political moment might temporarily evaporate. But such
congeniality was short lived, if it ever lived at all.
There is something about a swimming hole that implies
elusiveness. Compare it to the beach, which, at least in
California, one could reach from just about anywhere by heading
west: The coast is a line, but a swimming hole is a dot on the
map, a point in space and time.
Despite being one of the wettest seasons, Cal Water officials
are saying conservation should be on Californians’ minds. Cal
Water special projects manager, Susan Cordone, said, “It is
important to continue to practice conservation. One wet winter
does not make it, allow us to go back to our old ways of using
water just as we wish.”
Westlands Water District says a preliminary injunction ordering
it to stop work on an environmental impact report may prevent
it from helping to pay for raising the height of the dam,
according to the appeal filed last week.
The desire to expand housing, commerce and other development
around metro Denver and on arid high plains once deemed
inhospitable has driven an innovative urban water broker to
build a $22 million reservoir on a ranch 70 miles east of the
city along the South Platte River.
California regulators are negotiating an agreement with two
major oil companies that would allow them to keep injecting
millions of gallons of wastewater into potential drinking water
and irrigation supplies in the Central Valley for three years.
Arguing that Monterey County officials improperly ignored new
groundwater impact information and a viable, even preferable
recycled water alternative, Marina Coast Water District has
sued the county and California American Water over the county’s
narrow approval of Cal Am’s desalination plant permit.
Ariel Rubissow Okamoto, the editor in chief of Estuary Magazine
and long-time Bay Area science writer, talks about the
resiliency of the largest estuary on the West Coast, the
challenges facing the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, and the
potential impacts of climate change and sea-level rise on the
San Francisco Bay.
Abalone is a much-sought-after delicacy with a sweet, delicate
flavor similar to a sea scallop, say those who’ve tried it. …
But as marine heat waves, ocean acidification, habitat loss,
and overfishing shrink the red abalone fishery, the sweet
delicacy is at risk of permanently losing its food source: the
The Clovis City Council in July approved an amended deal with
the Fresno Irrigation District concerning the conveyance of
Kings River water to the city’s water system. … The agreement
includes “the addition of a new water supply to meet future
City growth and support implementation of the Sustainable
Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).”
While wildfires have gotten much of the attention in California
as consequences of climate change, it’s really rising sea
levels that will likely wreak the most damage. With more than
25 million people living near the coast, some $150 billion
worth of property is at risk.
Ask around and many agree: just the sight of water in the Kern
River on a hot day has its own cooling effect. … Lucky for
us, water is expected to remain in the river for weeks to come,
though it won’t be quite as deep and full as it has been in the
The more than 1 million Californians without access to safe,
affordable drinking water may soon see money flowing for water
districts to regionalize, consolidate, install treatment, or
take other actions to improve water quality.
The proposed rule would re-write EPA’s existing Section 401
implementing regulations and significantly narrow the authority
of states and Indian tribes when acting on Section 401
California’s rivers and streams have experienced enormous
changes over the past 150 years, and a warming climate brings
new challenges. We talked to Ted Grantham—a river scientist at
UC Berkeley and a member of the PPIC Water Policy Center
research network—about the state of the state’s rivers.
Although more fundamental ESA reform is needed, last week’s
action yielded modest and common-sense improvements to
implementation of an imperfect law. New efficiencies, clarity,
and transparency will serve the purposes of the ESA and the
In a paper published Tuesday in the Journal of Applied Ecology,
scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz and the
National Marine Fisheries Service used statistical modeling to
determine an optimal water management plan that would protect
both species and ensure other water users would benefit as
In a region that has already seen two 20-year droughts, the San
Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District continues to invest
in water supplies to help the region sustain prolonged
droughts. A new program offered by Valley District provides
financial incentive to local water agencies for projects that
produce recycled water or capture storm water.
Not every bloom is toxic, but the toxins produced by the
blue-green algae can be harmful and even deadly for pets when
they eat the algae or drink the water, even in small amounts,
water experts warn. Summer heat, stagnant or slow-moving water
and nutrients from agricultural or septic runoff are an ideal
recipe for the toxic stew.
Irvine Lake looks a lot different today than it did a year ago.
Last September the reservoir looked like a giant puddle at 13
percent of capacity, today, after a rainy winter, the water
covers the area and is ready to greet the public on Saturday,
Aug. 17. After a 3-year hiatus, Irvine Lake is reopening for
shoreline fishing on Aug. 17.
The story behind a proposal to pump water from under the Mojave
Desert in San Bernardino County is a long and complicated one.
Since its approval in 2012, the Cadiz Valley Water
Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project has been tied up in
litigation from environmental groups, fought over in the state
legislature and faced hurdles by state and federal government
For most of the last 150 years, traditional Karuk burning
practices were criminalized. The Plan attempts to reverse all
this by re-establishing a more natural fire regime on the
landscape through prescribed burns at appropriate times of
Released on Friday, the 15-page plan authored by water district
general manager Dave Stoldt outlines a recommended approach to
meet the district’s formal policy of pursuing public control of
all “water production, storage and delivery assets and
infrastructure,” as established by voter-approved Measure J.
Although prescribed burns have been part of federal fire policy
since 1995, last year the Forest Service performed them on just
one per cent—some sixty thousand acres—of its land in the
Sierra Nevada. “We need to be burning close to a million acres
each year, just in the Sierras, or it’s over,” said Jeff Brown,
manager of a field station in the Tahoe National Forest.
Desalination began to lose its urgency among Californians and
their public officials two years ago, after the drought-busting
winter of 2016-17, when heavy rain and snow ended dry
conditions in most of the state. The idea of drawing potable
water from the sea became even less of a priority this year,
when an autumn of record-level fires gave way to one of the
state’s wettest winters on record.
Earlier this week, the Trump Administration announced final
regulations that would gut the Endangered Species Act
nationwide, weakening protections for our most imperiled
wildlife. … SB 1 is intended to help fill these gap to ensure
no backsliding in protecting clean air, clean water, and
A dozen conservationists gathered eagerly around the edges of
some shallow pools above a waterfall in the Angeles National
Forrest. They watched with anticipation as about a thousand
Southern mountain yellow-legged frog tadpoles and three adult
frogs enjoyed their first few minutes of life in the wild.
Hydrogen sulfide is associated with the natural processes
occurring in the Salton Sea, a non-draining body of water with
no ability to cleanse itself. Trapped in its waters are salt
and selenium-laden agricultural runoff from surrounding farms,
as well as heavy metals and bacterial pollution that flow in
from Mexico’s New River, authorities said.
The California Tahoe Conservancy had planned to get started on
their $9 million, multi-stage Upper Truckee River project to
restore and enhance over 500 acres of floodplain this fall, but
that has been postponed until 2020. They will be redirecting
the Upper Truckee River flows to a historical network of
channels through the current Marsh while creating new channels
for the river in the vicinity of the Silverwood neighborhood.
The Lake Powell Pipeline (LPP) proposal arose from a belief
that Utah has an unused share of the Colorado River and a fear
of water shortages stifling Washington County’s rapid
population growth. Although many leaders across the state say
southern Utah needs the LPP, this statement is not based on
In a joint statement, the local utility providers announced
that the Chili Bar Hydroelectric Project — a dam, reservoir,
spillway and powerhouse that generates electricity north of
Placerville on the South Fork of the American River — would be
changing hands after SMUD’s board of directors voted Thursday
evening to greenlight the purchase.
Los Angeles city and county representatives hosted a discussion
with state officials to address ways to increase local water
supplies and to support a proposed statewide water system. Los
Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was joined Friday by the California
Secretary of Natural Resources, Wade Crowfoot, and Secretary of
Environmental Protection, Jared Blumenfeld, to discuss the
city’s maintenance of its water sources.
The study, published Wednesday in the scientific journal PLOS
One, documented dramatic decreases in wetland habitat around
San Francisco Bay, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and
nearly 450 other bays, lagoons, river deltas and coastal creek
mouths throughout the West.
With the last drought in the rearview and the next one
inevitable, the damaging run on groundwater has state water
agencies and lawmakers mulling whether to spend hundreds of
millions to patch up a federally owned canal. But critics say
doing so would amount to a clear bailout for the state’s
The twin earthquakes that rattled Southern California last
month caused up to $5.2 billion in damages to the China Lake
Navy base, according to estimates in a report released
Wednesday by the base. The report cites extensive damage among
the nearly 3,600 facilities at the base, including 1,341
buildings, as well was infrastructure like water supplies and
A team of researchers from Washington state recently studied
the effects of acidification on salmon’s sense of smell, also
known as “olfaction,” which is particularly important for
salmon to navigate back to their home streams to spawn. The
scientists made the alarming discovery that at the pH levels of
seawater predicted to occur in the next 50 to 100 years,
salmon’s sense of smell may be significantly impaired.
Arizona, Nevada and Mexico will be required to take less water
from the Colorado River for the first time next year under a
set of agreements that aim to keep enough water in Lake Mead to
reduce the risk of a crash.
In light of the recent groundwater modeling scenarios generated
by Indian Wells Valley Water Groundwater, some stakeholders in
the basin have pushed back, including Searles Valley Minerals
and Meadowbrook Dairy.
GAR Tootelian, a major agricultural chemical company, and
Families Protecting the Valley are rolling up their sleeves to
put up several hundred road signs calling for action to build
more dam storage and the message is simple: Dam Water Grows
Waverly Elementary School has levels of a chemical called TCP
in its drinking water that are above state standards. The
Linden Unified School District, which the school is part of,
tests for water contaminants throughout the year and found that
between April of 2018 and March of 2019 the water violated the
A decade’s worth of junk including cars, refrigerators and even
goat carcasses that were illegally dumped into a West Marin
creek is being removed this week through a collaborative effort
between environmental groups, local businesses and government
As the sun sets across Lake Tahoe, UC Davis researcher Brant
Allen and his team lower their sonar machine into the lake.
Thousands of little purple dots rise across the screen as they
cross the lake. … It’s not fish or Tahoe Tessie; it’s a horde
of tiny mysis shrimp, which researchers think have been making
the lake murkier since they were introduced in the 1960s.
In June, Kathy Joseph learned that the fungicide she has been
spraying on her grapes for decades could be drifting onto the
cannabis. Unlike food crops, cannabis can’t be sold if there’s
any trace of fungicide or pesticide in it, according to state
law. So while the county investigates, she’s using a more
expensive and far less effective spray on the grapevines that
are nearest to the cannabis farm.
During the drought of 2012-16 landowners pumped more and more
groundwater to compensate for the lack of rain. Thousands of
wells ran dry. As a result, California passed a law requiring
water users to organise themselves into local Groundwater
On Tuesday, groups submitted a letter to California’s key
resource agencies responsible for preserving and managing the
state’s natural resources, urging the agencies to protect
drinking water and safeguard public health from the pending
request for exemption from federal safe drinking water rules in
the Cat Canyon Oil Field in Santa Barbara County.
The City Council is split on how much to raise water rates over
the next five years to fund projects that will wean Santa
Monica off of imported water. … Bi-monthly water and
wastewater bills for single-family homes would increase by $23
on average under the lower rate structure and $36 under the
higher rate structure.
Conventional oil and gas production methods can affect
groundwater much more than fracking, according to
hydrogeologists Jennifer McIntosh from the University of
Arizona and Grant Ferguson from the University of Saskatchewan.
It was happy hour at the “Frog Shack,” a tiny building at the
Los Angeles Zoo offering all the amenities that Southern
California’s rarest — and perhaps fussiest — amphibians might
need to survive. … This is where Ian Recchio, the zoo’s
curator of reptiles and amphibians, is performing what some
call miracle work in keeping alive a federally endangered
species, one of the rarest vertebrates on Earth.
Californians, your yard sprinklers are about to get a little
bit more expensive. The good news is, your water bill is about
to get cheaper. California on Wednesday officially adopted new
regulations which are estimated to save more than 400 million
gallons of water per day within 10 years, enough to supply San
Diego, the second largest city in the state.
The Carpinteria Valley Water District is in the process of
forming a groundwater sustainability agency for Carpinteria
Groundwater Basin in partnership with the city of Carpinteria,
Santa Barbara County and Ventura County.
On Monday, Aug. 19, the Yurok Tribe, Green Diamond Resource
Company and Western Rivers Conservancy will celebrate a
decade-long, hard-won effort to preserve and place into tribal
ownership approximately 50,000 acres of forest surrounding four
salmon sustaining streams, including Blue Creek, according to
For five decades, PG&E paid for and operated the Colgate
Powerhouse in exchange for the revenue generated by the
hydroelectric generation. But now, instead of tens of millions
of dollars flowing out to the utility, that agreement has
expired and the revenue, potentially as much as $30 million per
year, is flowing back into the Yuba Water Agency.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation on Thursday will release its
projections for next year’s supply from Lake Mead, a key
reservoir that feeds Colorado River water to Nevada, Arizona,
California and Mexico. After a wet winter, the agency is not
expected to require any states to take cuts to their share of
water. But that doesn’t mean conditions are improving long
Earlier this year, Sacramento politicians introduced Senate
Bill 1 (SB1) which seeks to inject politics into California’s
environmental regulations. SB1 will restrict water deliveries
to the Central Valley and make California even more
unaffordable. SB1 puts our communities in danger.
A plume of toxic chemicals has tainted the groundwater for
decades, and it’s now at the center of a bitter fight over how
the aquifer should be cleaned up and what should happen to the
water in the future.
Some areas of the country are predicted to see increased
flooding from hurricanes and other storms, while climate models
show the West, particularly California, will be getting dryer.
This will especially affect the water supply in California and
here locally in the Santa Clarita Valley, where we have long
depended on water from the melting Sierra snowpack to get us
through our hot, dry summers.
With big western cities clamoring for a share of the
river’s diminishing supply, desert farmers with valuable claims
are making multimillion dollar deals in a bid to delay the
inevitable. … But if the river’s water keeps
falling, more radical measures will be needed to protect
California was the last Western state to pass legislation
regulating groundwater: the Sustainable Groundwater Management
Act of 2014 arrived after more than a century of development,
intensive agriculture, bouts of drought and the looming threat
that our aquifers will dry up. But the details of who would get
to pump what – and the financial cost of achieving groundwater
sustainability – are only now becoming clear.
An unprecedented survey has revealed the loss of about 85
percent of historical tidal wetlands in California, Oregon, and
Washington. The report, published today in PLOS ONE, also
highlights forgotten estuary acreage that might now be targeted
Two species of Klamath Basin sucker have been dying before they
can reach adulthood, and U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley is showing
continued interest in expediting efforts already underway to
save the fish species.
Nowadays there’s about a 7 percent chance that snowy areas in
the western U.S. will get two really bad snow years in a
row—years with snowpack lower than a quarter of the long-term
average. But within a few decades, if climate change continues
apace, those bookending “snow droughts” could occur about 40
percent of the time, according to work published in August in
Geophysical Research Letters.
According to a 2017 report by the Outdoor Industry Association,
outdoor recreation generated $92 billion in consumer spending
in California and is directly responsible for 691,000 jobs in
the state. That’s why local residents and elected leaders have
sought additional safeguards to make sure that some of the more
extraordinary lands and rivers within the national forest and
monument receive permanent protection as wilderness and wild
and scenic rivers.
A plan to increase mining depths at a 920-acre sand and gravel
mining facility between Livermore and Pleasanton will be
reviewed next week during a public meeting where citizens can
learn more about the possible impacts to water quality, water
management and flood channels.
California Water Service crews are at work in Los Altos’ Rancho
neighborhood and the surrounding areas, installing a new water
pipeline aimed at strengthening infrastructure reliability and
resiliency for customers and enhancing fire protection in the
area for first responders.
The implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management
Act has presented some challenges, however it appears the
overall process is progressing smoothly overall. Supervising
Engineering Geologist with the Department of Water Resources,
Steven Springhorn noted that the stakeholders have been
diligent in adhering to the timeline established by the
Mediterranean climates, like California’s, typically follow
boom and bust cycles, marked by a predictable shift between
cold and wet and hot and dry. But the changing climate will
amplify that pattern with weather that is, at times, wetter and
at other times hotter.
In a 2018 Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) survey,
80 percent of respondents said climate change is a serious
threat to California’s future. And 72 percent cited water as a
concern, with drought and water supply named most frequently as
our biggest environmental issue. If you see yourself in these
statistics, you should be cheering the efforts of California
California could be the canary in the coal mine. Over the next
decade, 40 U.S. states are expected to experience water
shortages, according to the U.S. Government Accountability
Office. The situation is serious, but California’s
entrepreneurs, who are seeking to boost supply and tame demand,
offer a glimmer of hope.
We are a profession that depends on, and you might even say
reveres, a good map. Rights to water flowing in surface streams
are fundamentally defined by geography, and maps have long been
a requirement of appropriation and essential evidence of
The State Water Project helped make Kern County the number one
agricultural county in the nation and ensures Bakersfield
always has a clean, high quality supply of drinking water while
protecting our region against drought. The State Water Project
reflects our past generation’s drive to make California the
great state it is today.
Cal Water needs power in order to meet state and federal water
quality standards. But meeting those standards got more
difficult for Cal Water. The California Public Utilities
Commission gave power companies the ability to turn off the
power to prevent wildfires after last year’s deadly wildfires
in Paradise, California.
Butte County, California Water Service and Paradise Irrigation
District are kicking off the lengthy process on a project to
pipe water from Paradise to Chico. The project would seek to
restore some viability to PID, which lost most of its customers
after the Camp Fire. It would also reduce demands on the
groundwater basin currently used for water in Chico to boost
Removing four hydroelectric dams along the lower Klamath River
in Southern Oregon and Northern California is expected to cost
just under $434 million and could happen by 2022, according to
a new filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
With the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority Board of
Directors set to pass an ordinance requiring mandatory
groundwater well registration on Aug. 15, a looming question
remains: how to notify residents in the valley.
A new tool from the World Resources Institute for assessing
water stress around the globe is shedding much-needed light on
a growing mismatch between the supply and demand for fresh
water. But an article surveying the data assembled by WRI for
the digital New York Times this week missed the mark in
describing California’s situation, where water use tops all
Westlands Water District isn’t giving up on raising Shasta
Dam… The district, stopped in late July by a Shasta County
judge from conducting an environmental study on the impact of
raising Shasta Dam, filed a petition with the Sacramento-based
Third District California Court of Appeal on Monday to vacate
the trial court’s injunction.
At his inaugural Speaker Series on July 15, California
Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot led a discussion
on restoring local wildlife species and habitats by
reactivating floodplains. The Secretary’s Speaker Series
provides a public discussion on emerging ideas and priorities
in the natural resources arena.
The existing standard for indoor residential water use is 55
gallons per day per person. On January 1, 2025, the standard
decreases to 52.5 gallons per capita per day. Then, on January
1, 2030, the standard drops to 50 gallons per person per day.
So, how much is 50 gallons per day?
The recently adopted Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) was an
important step toward addressing the Colorado Basin’s chronic
water shortages, but more work is needed to prepare for a
hotter, drier future. We talked to Doug Kenney, director of the
Western Water Policy Program at the University of Colorado and
a member of the PPIC Water Policy Center research network,
about managing the basin for long-term water sustainability.
The Trump administration on Monday extended rollbacks of the
nation’s environmental laws to the Endangered Species Act, a
cardinal conservation program that’s helped keep wolves, whales
and condors, among scores of other critters, flourishing across
A drone soared over a blazing hot cornfield in northeastern
Colorado on a recent morning, snapping images with an infrared
camera to help researchers decide how much water they would
give the crops the next day.
Prominent Sonoma County wine executive Hugh Reimers, who last
month abruptly left as president of Foley Family Wines, faces
allegations that his grape growing company has violated
regional, state and federal water quality laws for improperly
clearing land near Cloverdale to build a vineyard.
The Superior Court of California in the County of Siskiyou said
the company owns the exclusive right to divert and use 4.07
cubic feet per second of Beaughan Springs water and the City of
Weed acknowledged that it has no ownership interest in the
water and agreed to end all claims to the water rights.
The tactic is considered one of the best ways to prevent the
kind of catastrophic destruction that has become common from
wildfires, but its use falls woefully short of goals in the
U.S. West. A study published in the journal Fire in April found
prescribed burns on federal land in the last 20 years across
the West has stayed level or fallen despite calls for more.
Waters covered by the Act, called “jurisdictional waters,” are
determined by the language of the Act and by court decisions
and administrative rulemakings interpreting that language.
Ongoing rulemaking efforts by the Trump administration, coupled
with several recent court decisions, make defining
jurisdictional waters very difficult.
An estimated 147,000 cubic yards of polluted soils were shipped
to regional landfills and replaced with clean dirt. In 2004,
the Regional Water Quality Control Board declared the cleanup
finished and began overseeing the monitoring. Now Napa’s oil
industry row pollution legacy is officially gone…
Environmentalists have raised concerns about the project’s
costs, and the fact that it would submerge 1,245 acres of oak
woodlands… But the Santa Clara Valley Water District, a San
Jose government agency that provides water to 1.9 million
Silicon Valley residents, says the reservoir is needed to store
more water as insurance against California’s next drought.
Under U.S. EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Act and California
regulations, when oil companies want to use “cyclic steam”
blasting or steam flooding, they’re required to submit an
“underground injection control,” or UIC, application to state
regulators. But state employees said at least 12 ”dummy”
project folders appear to have been used over the past
several years to wrongly issue permits, including by
The recent Ridgecrest earthquakes jolted less than 50 miles
away from Lake Isabella, where the Isabella Dam is in the midst
of a $600 million improvement project by the US Army Corps of
Engineers. How did the dam fare during the earthquakes, and how
much longer until the upgrades will be complete?
There is hard reality that can’t be dodged in pursuing a dreamy
idea that’s existed as long as the 100-year old water and power
system. Pulling the plug on the watery expanse to expose the
original valley is much more complicated than a sunny study
commissioned by an anti-dam environmental group hoping to pump
up its cause.
Steven and Cindy Bolt couldn’t have been happier. For the first
time since February of 2017 and the Oroville Dam spillway
crisis they could launch their houseboat from the spillway’s
boat ramp. “It’s been our favorite place to come,” said Cindy.
“And it’s been a long time.”
The upcoming groundwater recharge project will improve existing
facilities and build new facilities to capture surface runoff
from the Santa Margarita River. When water flows are high, the
runoff would recharge groundwater basins on Camp Pendleton.
A plan to raise and expand California’s largest reservoir is on
hold as federal officials look for partners to share in the
$1.4 billion cost. The federal Bureau of Reclamation also must
grapple with opponents who have sued, saying the Shasta Dam
project violates state law.
Tomorrow, the Golden State’s Democrat-run, veto-proof
legislature returns from its summer break and is expected to
quickly take up S.B. 1, the “California Environmental, Public
Health, and Workers Defense Act of 2019.” It has been proposed
for one reason: Donald Trump is president.
The proposal would upend long-held environmental practices that
have been in place since 1970, and make it easier for timber
harvesting and bulldozing forest roads in all 20 of
California’s federal forests…
The Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District is working with
the Environmental Defense Fund to develop a web-based platform
growers can use to sell or buy units of groundwater. … As
groundwater use is restricted, growers may decided to fallow
cropland and instead sell their groundwater allocations to
The proposed changes to Clean Water Act permitting rules,
announced Friday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
would limit the amount of time states and tribes can take to
review new project proposals… It also would limit states to
considering only water quality and allow the federal government
to override states’ decisions to deny permits for projects in
The town plans to add 40 to 45 members to its staff, but only
if a judge decides in the coming months it has the right to
acquire its largest water provider and end a three-year legal
battle. If Apple Valley prevails in its eminent domain action
against Liberty Utilities, a town official said the acquisition
would also result in lower water bills for customers.
A new report from a Portland-based economics firm, which says
the removal of dams on the Snake River in Eastern Washington
would have broad financial benefits, is getting pushback from
local politicians in the Tri-Cities area.
There are nearly 5,000 of these chemicals in a class called
PFAS, for perfluoralkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. We’re
just beginning to understand the risk they pose. What chemists
know is that the tough carbon-fluorine bonds in these “forever
chemicals” make them break down very slowly in the environment
— posing a persistent risk to water supplies.
Brea’s elected City Treasurer Rick Rios has been spending a lot
of time in recent months at a tiny, nondescript historical
building on the eastern edge of Whittier Boulevard that houses
one of the region’s oldest water companies, California Domestic
Water. Rios is asking a lot of questions about how the city
buys it’s water…
Funding is available for projects that: Increase the
reliability of water supplies through infrastructure
improvements; improve water management through decision support
tools, modeling and measurement; provide protection for fish,
wildlife and the environment. Up to $300,000 per agreement is
available for a project that can be completed within two years.
Up to $750,000 per agreement is available for a project that
can be completed within three years.
The Delta smelt is practically extinct in the wild already. So
could the Delta be repopulated by taking up the farmers’ offer
to “hatch and repopulate the fish,” as Jack Fowler says in
National Review? That certainly sounds like common sense!
Except that the Delta smelt war has never really been about the
Delta smelt at all.
Marin residents living in the Ross Valley will see a 3%
increase in the annual stormwater drainage fee to finance flood
control projects. … Following the 3% increase, homeowners
will be paying $149.28 annually. The Ross Valley has been
dogged by flooding over the past century.
In recent years, algae blooms – actually microscopic bacteria
called cyanobacteria – have erupted in hundreds of lakes
nationwide, putting at risk Americans whose drinking water
comes from those lakes, or who swim, ski or fish in them. If
ingested, microcystins can cause adverse health effects in
people and animals, ranging from skin rashes to serious illness
and even death.
Ivan Soto has aspired to produce research with a positive
impact on the public — not just to benefit the academic
community. … His research examines the power dynamics of
infrastructure and water politics through an environmental
history of southernmost California’s Imperial Valley along the
Many farmers probably haven’t read the new report from the
United Nations warning of threats to the global food supply
from climate change and land misuse. But we don’t need to read
the science — we’re living it. Here in the San Joaquin Valley,
one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions,
there’s not much debate anymore that the climate is changing.
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center estimated the chances of
neutral conditions sticking through the winter at about 55%. An
El Nino has a 30% percent chance of returning, while La Nina
has a 15% chance of forming, according to the center.
A partnership of state, local and conservation groups,
including Trout Unlimited, is engaged in a restoration effort
that could serve as a template for similar regions across the
West. Centered around the high plateau near Kremmling, a town
of about 1,400 people in northern Colorado about 100 miles west
of Denver, the partnership aims to make the river function
better for people and the environment.
Nearly two dozen government officials met Wednesday to discuss
options for one of the state’s most important and imperiled
water sources. Scoggins Dam was built in the early 1970s to
hold back water from the Tualatin River to form Hagg Lake. In
recent years, it has been classified as a seismically at-risk
dam that needs to be modified in order to reduce downstream
hazards in the event of a large earthquake.
Sonoma County has hired a new ombudsman, Alisha O’Laughlin, to
help river residents deal with the new maze of regulations
targeting older sewage disposal systems along the Russian River
and its tributaries. … O’Loughlin’s hiring coincides with
county efforts to implement its onsite wastewater treatment
system (OWTS) regulations and comply with state law…
There’s no law of nature nor of economics that says water must
be delivered by a government agency. Yet in California, nearly
every drop of flowing water is under the boot of a public
authority — local boards, state authorities and federal
Known as “forever chemicals” because they do not easily break
down, PFAS have found their way into drinking water supplies
and into a variety of foods, and almost all Americans have
detectable levels of PFAS in their blood. Yet federal
regulators have taken few measures to protect citizens from
PFAS’s harms — and when they have acted, they’ve been seemingly
a step behind at every turn. That must change.
What would happen if we ran out of water? For an increasing
number of people, that question is moving from a hypothetical
to a reality. New data from the World Resource Institute show
that a quarter of the world’s population is at high risk of
running out of water.
During the past 107 years, daily air temperatures measured in
Tahoe City have increased. The average daily maximum
temperature has risen by 2.25 degrees Fahrenheit, and the
average daily minimum temperature has risen by 4.43 degrees.
According to the report, the number of days when air
temperatures averaged below freezing has declined by about 30
days since 1911, though year-to-year variability is high.
Between 1901 and 2016, temperatures increased across the
Southwest, with the greatest upturns in California and
Colorado. … Meanwhile, growing population, aging
infrastructure, and groundwater depletion are also compounding
long-standing water scarcity issues in the region. These
mounting pressures have a bevvy of potential implications, from
human health and ecological function, to food and energy
In a newly published study, my colleagues and I analyze
year-to-year variations of future snowpack to see how
frequently western states can expect multiple years in a row of
snow drought, or very low snow. We find that if climate change
continues relatively unabated, consecutive years with snow
drought conditions will become much more common…
High in the headwaters of the Colorado River, around the hamlet of Kremmling, Colorado, generations of families have made ranching and farming a way of life, their hay fields and cattle sustained by the river’s flow. But as more water was pulled from the river and sent over the Continental Divide to meet the needs of Denver and other cities on the Front Range, less was left behind to meet the needs of ranchers and fish.
“What used to be a very large river that inundated the land has really become a trickle,” said Mely Whiting, Colorado counsel for Trout Unlimited. “We estimate that 70 percent of the flow on an annual average goes across the Continental Divide and never comes back.”
Higher-priced bottled water won’t affect average Californians
much; either they can afford to not think about the price hike,
or they have access to safe tap water. It is our most
vulnerable—roughly a million residents who depend on bottled
water due to contaminated pipes—who will suffer. That’s one in
forty Californians, predominantly people of color, unable to
use their tap water to drink, cook or wash.
From the infamous “Garbage Patch” islands of floating plastic
to the guts of fish and bellies of birds, plastics of all sizes
are ubiquitous and well-documented in the ocean. But little
data exists on microplastics in lakes. If Katie Senft’s
preliminary research at one of the clearest, cleanest lakes in
the world is any indication, the problem is widespread in
freshwater systems, as well.
Riverside County supervisors Tuesday approved an aggregate
$1.79 million in expenditures for a project to clear the Salton
Sea north marina of dirt and debris to make the channel usable
again by boaters who dock at the North Shore Beach & Yacht
Local land owners have an opportunity to get their irrigation
systems inspected free of charge as part of a program offered
across Northern California. Jay Thomas, engineering technician
for the Irrigation Training Facility at California State
University, Chico, said this program is part of a mobile
irrigation laboratory that services the growers of Northern
Rep. Josh Harder has focused much of his first year in office
on local issues such as water storage and the effects of almond
tariffs on Central Valley farmers. Now he is training his
attention on the nutria, a semi-aquatic rodent that has drawn
the ire of environmentalists, farmers and local officials
Litigation over water rights in western Nevada began as early
as 1864 on the Carson River and just a bit later the Truckee
River when the first retaining dam was built at Lake Tahoe’s
outlet. It was just the beginning of bi-state water wars
between the Silver State and California, a volatile conflict
that continued for well more than a century.
The Sacramento County Water Agency says customers have alerted
the agency to the scheme, in which the caller claims county
officials will shut off their water within 30 minutes if they
don’t make a payment, the county Department of Water Resources
said Tuesday in a news release.
Last December, the board voted not to adopt a proposal to raise
rates by an average of 3 percent over the three years, sending
the district back to work with its consultants to come up with
a different plan that would be best for ratepayers.
Microcystins are poisonous toxins that can form in blooms of
blue-green algae. In recent years, algae blooms – actually
microscopic bacteria called cyanobacteria – have erupted in
hundreds of lakes nationwide, putting at risk Americans whose
drinking water comes from those lakes, or who swim, ski or fish
An important but not widely-publicized local planning process
reached a milestone with the July release of the draft
Groundwater Sustainability Plan for the Eastern San Joaquin
Subbasin. This is the public’s first chance to see how
groundwater in this region may be managed for the next 20
It’s hard for U.S. Representative T.J. Cox to understand why
the Friant-Kern Canal is just at 40 percent capacity. … Cox
said funding is provided to maintain the Friant-Kern Canal
that’s supposed to be reimbursed by the Federal Government, but
those reimbursements haven’t been coming.
The general rule of thumb had been that El Niño years — when
the sea surface in a region off the coast of Peru is at least 1
degree Celsius warmer than average — tend to have more
rainfall, and La Niña years, when that region is 1 degree
Celsius cooler than average, tend to have less rain. But that
simple rule of thumb doesn’t always hold true.
Across the United States, more than 460,000 households, or
nearly 1.5 million people, lack a plumbed connection to
drinking water or sewers. … A new study in the Annals of the
American Association of Geographers takes a detailed look at
the persistence of “plumbing poverty” in the U.S. …
Next spring, the Yurok Tribe will begin its Redwood Canoe
Adventure Tour and it will utilize six hand-crafted redwood
canoes made using traditional tribal tools and techniques. …
According to the tribe, it’s an opportunity you won’t find
anywhere else in the world due to the unique relationship
between the Yurok people and the Klamath River.
Whenever the price of other water goes up, desalinating Pacific
waters becomes more enticing. It will become more so if the
price of filtering minerals out of salt water drops. But if the
price and availability of fresh water remains reasonable, as it
surely will be this year, desal stays in the back seat.
Whether you are a water utility manager, elected official, or
homeowner, future water availability is a concern. There are
several factors fostering that concern and one of them is
climate change. … But as the empirical evidence mounts and a
once doubtful citizenry become more informed, it is instructive
to review what a changing climate fundamentally means to
California’s water resources; arguably our most important.
San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District reported more
than 20 billion gallons of water captured, a new record for
captured groundwater recharge. … This is a 30-year record
with 1987 being the last year this much groundwater was stored
into the region’s aquifers. Prior to that, 20 billion gallons
of storage had not been achieved since the late 1940s.
As the Tejon Tribe casino makes its way through the regulatory
process, concerns have been raised over the impact the complex
will have on the county’s groundwater. However, county
officials believe the casino may actually use less water than
the farms that currently occupy the planned site just south of
Bakersfield. But questions do remain …
While other regions grappled with destructive waves and rising
seas, the West Coast for decades was spared by a rare
confluence of favorable winds and cooler water. This “sea level
rise suppression,” as scientists call it, went largely
undetected. Blinded from the consequences of a warming planet,
Californians kept building right to the water’s edge. But lines
in the sand are meant to shift.