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 CBS San Francisco

Pleasanton tech company aims to cool floating data centers with bay water

A Pleasanton company has an unusual idea to cool data storage machines that they say uses a fraction of the energy and cuts greenhouse gasses. But local environmentalists are against the plan because of the possible impact it could have on San Francisco Bay.

Aquafornia news Arizona Municipal Water Users Association

Blog: Will Our Drought Ever End?

Earlier this month the governor’s Drought Interagency Coordinating Group unanimously voted to inform the governor that Arizona’s long-running drought declaration should continue. This means Arizona has been in a state of drought for more than 20 years, surpassing the worst drought in more than 110 years of record keeping. Now that our drought has been extended yet again, it leaves many to wonder what it will take to get us out of this drought.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Canyon reservoir spurs some debate in Stanislaus County

Del Puerto Water District and Central California Irrigation District have developed the reservoir project without many public concerns rising to the surface. That was until Patterson city staff members showed up for Wednesday’s meeting. Maria Encinas, a city management analyst, asked about a risk assessment for adjacent communities like Patterson. A failure in the dam on Del Puerto Creek, on the west side of Interstate 5, would appear to flood part of the city of 23,700, including perhaps the downtown area in Patterson.

Aquafornia news NPR

After Paradise, living with fire means redefining resilience

Dan Efseaff, the parks and recreation director for the devastated town of Paradise, Calif., looks out over Little Feather River Canyon in Butte County. The Camp Fire raced up this canyon like a blowtorch in a paper funnel on its way to Paradise, incinerating most everything in its path, including scores of homes. Efseaff is floating an idea that some may think radical: paying people not to rebuild in this slice of canyon.

Aquafornia news UC Davis

News release: Thinning forests, prescribed fire before drought reduced tree loss

 The study, published in the journal Ecological Applications, found that thinning and prescribed fire treatments reduced the number of trees that died during the bark beetle epidemic and drought that killed more than 129 million trees across the Sierra Nevada between 2012-2016.

Aquafornia news Sierra Wave

FERC finds Premium Energy’s application ‘patently deficient’

Mono and Inyo counties were handed a reprieve by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last Friday. The Commission’s Division of Hydropower Licensing found Premium Energy’s application for a closed loop system from reservoirs in the Owens Gorge to the White Mountains “patently deficient.” That’s the good news. The FERC did not find the project patently deficient because of environmental or common sense reasons…

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California water utilities seek relief from fire lawsuits

While wildfire lawsuits have typically targeted electric utilities and their downed powerlines that ignite the blaze, some recent lawsuits have also focused on the water systems that are supposed to provide the water for firefighters to put out the flames. The group, known as the Coalition for Fire Protection and Accountability, wants to be included in legislative efforts to reduce utilities’ liability, a prime topic of discussion this year following Pacific Gas & Electric Corp.’s bankruptcy…

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: No, we shouldn’t pump desert groundwater near Joshua Tree to help store electricity

The plan calls for pumping 8 billion gallons of water in the first few years, and more than 30 billion gallons over 50 years, from the aquifer adjacent to, and connected with, the one beneath neighboring Joshua Tree National Park. … A better use for the land, which ceased to be mined more than 30 years ago, would be to return it to the fold and make it part of Joshua Tree National Park.

Aquafornia news High Country News

See where PFAS pollution has been confirmed in the American West

Because the Environmental Protection Agency does not regulate PFAS chemicals, states are left not only to research and track them, but also to develop regulations to clean up already dangerous levels of pollution. And, according to recent data from the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute at Northeastern University and the Environmental Working Group, the West isn’t doing a great job.

Aquafornia news California Ag Today

Opinion: Delta smelt are poor swimmers

Delta smelt are poor swimmers. When they have to swim against voluminous outflows, they struggle. They also lack endurance for distance and swimming against currents. This was the result of the taxpayer-funded swim performance test conducted more than 20 years ago. Why is this important?

Aquafornia news The Conversation

Opinion: The US drinking water supply is mostly safe, but that’s not good enough

The United States has one of the world’s safest drinking water supplies, but new challenges constantly emerge. For example … many farm workers in California’s Central Valley have to buy bottled water because their tap water contains unsafe levels of arsenic and agricultural chemicals that have been linked to elevated risks of infant death and cancer in adults. … So I was distressed to hear EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler tout the quality of drinking water in the U.S. in an interview on March 20, 2019.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Freak mud flows threaten our water supplies, and climate change is raising the risk

Slurries of mud increasingly threaten the water we drink. This rush of sediment, known as “debris flow,” is a type of erosion where mud and boulders in steep catchments suddenly tumble down the stream channel, often traveling at speeds of several meters per second. … Last year, California saw mudslides that destroyed more than 100 homes and killed 21 people.

Aquafornia news Woodland Daily Democrat

Clarksburg flood risk reduction study presented to supervisors

Although flooding hasn’t occurred in Clarksburg since the construction of the levee system in the early 1900s, the community is considered a moderate to high hazard flood area, according to a county report. For that reason, a flood risk reduction feasibility study has been prepared for the town similar to those conducted for Yolo and Knights Landing with funds from the California Department of Water Resources.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: 1 million Californians use tainted water. Will state pass a clean-water tax?

After several failed attempts, there is momentum this legislative session to establish a fund for small water agencies unable to provide customers with clean drinking water because of the high treatment costs. But several hurdles remain before the June 15 deadline for the Legislature to pass a budget — most precariously, a resistance among lawmakers to tax millions of residential water users and others while California enjoys a surplus of more than $21 billion.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Silicon Valley water agency might buy Central Valley farm

Once again, a big thirsty metropolis is looking at buying Central Valley farmland with an eye toward boosting its water supplies. And once again, neighboring farmers are nervous about it. … And any proposal involving the movement of groundwater from a rural area creates controversy, especially as farmers begin to implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act…

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Opinion: California needs Senate Bill 487 for watershed surveying

In my 40 years at the California Department of Water Resources, I have seen changes in climate that have convinced me that the full picture is changing and our extrapolation methods are losing value rapidly. This is especially true in extreme years, wet or dry – such as 2015, when the statistics are just not going to be accurate enough to meet our growing water management needs.

Aquafornia news San Luis Obispo Tribune

Will Arroyo Grande Oil Field add 481 new oil wells? It just cleared a major hurdle

Sentinel Peak Resources has cleared an environmental hurdle that could allow it to move forward with years-old plans to increase drilling in the Arroyo Grande Oil Field — but whether it will or not is still up in the air. The Environmental Protection Agency granted Sentinel Peak Resources an aquifer exemption on April 30, exempting portions of the aquifer under the oil field from protections guaranteed by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

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Aquafornia news Adventist Review

U.S. teens walk miles to raise funds for water

The Del Mar Mesa community in San Diego, Calif., has clean running water. Given this fact, the sight of nearly 20 girls in an affluent neighborhood carrying buckets of water up a ravine was out of the ordinary, to say the least. “What we’re trying to do is represent what African women do on a day-to-day basis: the fact that they have to travel several miles — several hours — to just get water,” said Emma Reeves, an 18-year-old high-school senior…

Aquafornia news The Revelator

Blog: The Colorado River’s biggest challenge looms

States that share the river’s water finalized a big agreement last month, but an even larger challenge determining the river’s future is just around the bend, expert John Fleck explains.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: California’s growing demand for recycled water has ripple effects

Wastewater agencies produce highly treated water that is increasingly being reused as a water supply. While it’s still only a small portion of overall water use, the use of recycled water has nearly tripled since the 1980s―and is continuing to rise as water agencies seek to meet the demands of a growing population and improve the resilience of their water supplies.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Federal bill to help fund water storage expansion for Central Valley

A congressional bill includes almost $14 million in funding for water projects in the Central Valley and Northern California. Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, said he was successful in working the funding into an Energy and Water Development appropriations bill that includes spending for infrastructure across the nation.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Foothills communities face proposed 7% water rate hike

Crescenta Valley Water District’s board of directors have proposed rate increases for both its water and sewer rates. If approved, customers could see their combined monthly bills increase by about $7.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Seeking more water, Silicon Valley eyes Central Valley farmland

The largest water agency in Silicon Valley has been secretly negotiating to purchase a sprawling cattle ranch in Merced County that sits atop billions of gallons of groundwater, a move that could create a promising new water source — or spark a political battle between the Bay Area and Central Valley farmers.

Aquafornia news Tri County Sentry

Nguyen dispels social media rumors about contaminated drinking water in Oxnard

The City of Oxnard struck back about reports of contaminated drinking water within the city limits at it’s May 21, City Council meeting City Manager Alex Nguyen said he wanted to set the record straight about the issue.

Aquafornia news KGET TV

Huerta, local leaders urge lawmakers to support clean drinking water fund to be paid for through tax

Community activist Dolores Huerta joined local leaders in East Bakersfield to urge elected leaders Tuesday to vote in favor of legislation they say will ensure safe drinking water for communities in the valley. Specifically, Huerta urged the legislature to support what’s being termed the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund. It would be financed by the tax payers, estimated to be a one dollar per month tax increase on every water bill in California.

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Aquafornia news The Ukiah Daily Journal

Opinion: Is overwatering really so bad?

Even though the Russian River watershed has received roughly 130 percent of the average rainfall this season, it is time to discuss the impacts of overwatered landscapes as the dry weather returns and irrigation controllers turn on.

Aquafornia news WSIL TV

Herrin, Ill., plans to send treated wastewater to drought-stricken area

Steve Frattini, mayor of Herrin, Ill., went to a water conference a few years ago in California amid a severe drought. So he started working on a plan to send water to the area. The water is from the city’s wastewater treatment plant … The Wastewater Treatment Plant has a rail line nearby that would be used to transport the water… Initially, Frattini said the water would go to the area near the Salton Sea in southern California, a sea that’s been drying up for years.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

The West has many wildfires, but too few prescribed burns, study finds

Despite years of scientific research pointing to prescribed or “controlled” burns as a successful method of clearing brush and restoring ecosystems, intentional fire-setting by federal agencies has declined in much of the West over the last 20 years, the study found. “This suggests that the best available science is not being adopted into management practices…” the report warns.

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Aquafornia news Santa Barbara Independent

Group declares Orcutt oilfields contaminated drinking water wells

A presentation by the U.S. Geological Survey to California water boards has surfaced that reveals contamination in the groundwater around the Orcutt oilfield, the Environmental Defense Center in Santa Barbara claims. The advocacy group released the information on Tuesday, stating that “federal scientists found evidence of oil-field fluids in groundwater underlying the nearby Orcutt oil field.”

Aquafornia news Fox 5 San Diego

‘Stop the Poop’ rally protests coastal pollution at the border

A local advocacy group held a rally Sunday morning calling on the federal government to stop the pollution of coastal waters caused by untreated sewage from the Tijuana River Valley.

Foundation Event

Water Education Foundation’s 2019 Water Summit
Save the Date - Oct. 30 in Sacramento

Save the date for the Water Education Foundation’s 2019 Water Summit, our annual premier event. Registration and more details are coming soon!

This daylong conference will be held October 30, 2019 at a new location along the Sacramento River in Sacramento. The annual Water Summit, now in its 36th year, features top policymakers and leading stakeholders providing the latest information and viewpoints on issues impacting water across California and the West.

Embassy Suites Sacramento Riverfront
100 Capitol Mall
Sacramento, CA 95814
Aquafornia news San Luis Obispo Tribune

Hundreds bash Trump’s oil fracking plan: ‘This battle does not end tonight’

A public meeting erupted into an impassioned rally in San Luis Obispo Wednesday night as activists and local residents took turns bashing a federal plan to resume leasing public land in Central California to new oil and gas drilling, including fracking.

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Aquafornia news The Hill

Environmental groups file lawsuit to force Trump to add eight species to endangered list

The Center for Biological Diversity and San Francisco Baykeeper sued the Trump administration to force the addition of the longfin smelt, the Sierra Nevada red fox and six other species to the Endangered Species List… According to the lawsuit, the agency had previously found the species worthy of endangered species protections under the Obama administration but  the Trump administration had slow-walked the process…

Aquafornia news Redlands Daily Facts

New facility captures water from Seven Oaks Dam for 1 million Inland users

A facility designed to increase water supply reliability for the Inland area was dedicated in a light rain at the foot of the hulking Seven Oaks Dam near Highland on Thursday, May 23. Officials used a new concrete diversion box to move water rushing from the dam to a new sedimentation basin and beyond. The water is intended to spread out and seep into a groundwater basin, which officials have said is historically low due to a 20-year drought.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Business Journal

Opinion: Safe drinking water must be a priority for this legislative session

It is hard to fathom how the fifth-largest economy in the world can settle for letting public water systems serve up contaminated water. How will our economy continue to grow and how will we attract new businesses and new workers if the state can’t provide a basic human need?

Aquafornia news The Hill

Lawmakers, Trump agencies set for clash over chemicals in water

The chemicals, commonly abbreviated as PFAS, are used in items ranging from food wrappers and Teflon pans to raincoats and firefighting foam. … Members of Congress have introduced at least 20 bills this session to address PFAS in some form, a record number and a sign of the growing concern.

Aquafornia news Legal Planet

Blog: Making key policy decisions in advance of droughts

It’s hard to respond effectively to a crisis when you don’t have clearly defined priorities. This is true for sudden-onset crises, like floods and wildfires, and also for slow-onset crises, like droughts.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Are big dams renewable energy? California Democrats split

In an effort to combat climate change and reduce smog, former Gov. Jerry Brown last year signed a landmark law that requires California’s utilities to produce 60 percent of their electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind by 2030. But hydroelectric power from large dams doesn’t qualify as renewable, because of another state law, passed nearly 20 years ago, that aimed to protect salmon and other endangered fish. That’s not right, says State Sen. Anna Caballero, D-Salinas.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Orange County water board vacancy draws ‘unprecedented’ interest after Newsom kills twin tunnels project

After much speculation about whether Janet Nguyen might run for one of Orange County’s hotly contested congressional seats in 2020, the Republican former state senator has thrown her hat in a surprising ring. And she’s not alone. Nguyen is one of seven people vying to fill a board of directors seat with the Municipal Water District of Orange County.

Aquafornia news PBS NewsHour Weekend

Amid drought, Phoenix plans for a future with less water

As the Colorado River’s flow declines, water supplies in seven states are imperiled by potential shortages. That includes Arizona, which passed legislation outlining steps it would take if water from the river continues to decrease. But what does a water shortage mean for Phoenix?

Aquafornia news Inkstain.net

Blog: John Wesley Powell at 150: How can we tell better stories?

Rather than unquestioningly celebrating Powell and his legacy, this year gives us the chance to think about a couple of points: First, how are we telling Powell’s story now, and how have we told it in the past? Is it, and has it been, accurate and useful? Second, whose stories have we excluded, ignored, and forgotten about in the focus on Powell?

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Santa Clara River may be last of its kind in Southern California

The Santa Clara stretches 84 miles and through two counties from the San Gabriel Mountains to the ocean just south of Ventura Harbor. Over the past 20 years, millions of dollars have been invested to protect and restore the river, work that some say has reached a tipping point.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Support Newsom’s ‘reset’ to a one-tunnel project

The Kern County Water Agency supports the state’s “reset” to a one-tunnel approach because it is more cost effective and still prepares California’s water system for earthquakes and climate change while protecting the Delta’s fish and communities.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Sewage flows from Tijuana completely shutter Imperial Beach shoreline

A beach closure that has been in place for months for the southern part of the Imperial Beach was extended Sunday to include the city’s entire shoreline. The San Diego County Department of Environment Health issued the order to close the coastline to swimmers as a result of sewage-contaminated runoff in the Tijuana River.

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Aquafornia news Claremont Courier

Opinion: Little-watched water districts helping Trump administration drain California desert

Cadiz is using Three Valleys Municipal Water District in eastern Los Angeles County and the Jurupa Community Services District in Riverside County to co-sponsor what they’re calling a “peer review” of its groundwater plan, written by four scientific consultants.

Aquafornia news Anchorage Daily News

Southeast Alaska is seeing its first extreme drought ever recorded, climatologists say

The southernmost portion of Southeast Alaska, including Ketchikan, Prince of Wales Island, Wrangell and Metlakatla, has been in a drought for the last two years… Last week, though, the drought was updated to a D3, or “extreme” drought, the second-highest category the U.S. Drought Monitor measures. It’s the first time those conditions have ever been recorded in Alaska, according to the Drought Monitor.

Aquafornia news San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Surprise! East Fork of the San Gabriel River gets a clean bill of health

For years, nonprofits, politicians, state agencies and the U.S. Forest Service have pointed to the East Fork of the upper San Gabriel River as one of the more polluted fresh water rivers in the state. This week, Heal the Bay … rated the upper East Fork and the portion adjacent to the Cattle Canyon picnic area — exactly where thousands would recreate on summer weekends — 100 percent Green, the highest rating in its 2018 River Report Card.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Sierra snowpack levels much higher than average due to late-season wet weather

Northern California rain and snow levels have soared with record wet weather in May, leaving the Sierra with higher-than-normal snowpack levels and pushing several reservoirs toward full capacity.

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Aquafornia news Oroville Mercury-Register

Butte County concerned over lake levels

There are more concerns over lake levels in Oroville as Butte County leaders take initiative to explore alternative options for safety measures. The Department of Water Resources (DWR), a leg of the State Water Project, manages the Oroville Dam. On Wednesday, DWR officials remained adamant in saying they have no plans to release water from the Oroville Dam spillway.

Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Rural Nevadans unite with environmentalists over water bill fears

Nevada ranchers, environmental groups and American Indian tribes are sounding the alarm over legislation they say could drain the water supply from rural areas throughout the state. They’re worried about Assembly Bill 30 in the Nevada Legislature after negotiations over arcane language in the bill broke down in recent days.

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Aquafornia news ABC 15 Arizona

How Arizona is cleaning up dozens of contaminated groundwater sites

Slow moving plumes of potentially toxic water are sitting underneath homes, businesses and schools throughout Arizona. … While some cities like Phoenix do not use groundwater for drinking water, much of the state does.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

California agriculture & water history plays out in Traver

The history of Traver, preserved in many books and archives, is a study in land development, agriculture and irrigation. It started when a civil engineer named Peter Y. Baker conceived a plan to convert thousands acres of rangeland in northern Tulare and southern Fresno counties into fields of wheat by diverting water by canal from the Kings River.

Aquafornia news Calaveras Enterprise

Calaveras Public Utility District ratepayers face 40% increase; district prioritizing infrastructure upgrades

The proposal is to increase both base and usage rates by approximately 40% in the first year, and by about 70% of the current rate by July of 2023. … The last set of rate increases ended in 2016, yet system costs have been increasing each year due to inflation and maintenance expenses associated with an aging system…

Related article:

Aquafornia news Fairfield Daily Republic

DWR reverses Solano lowlands groundwater priority for now

It appears Solano County and Vallejo have avoided a potentially costly state shift in the groundwater sustainability priority for the Napa-Sonoma Lowlands. While the final decision by the Department of Water Resources has not been made, the state agency has for now backed off its proposal to increase the priority status from very low to medium for the lowlands.

Aquafornia news Western Water

150 years after John Wesley Powell ventured down the Colorado River, how should we assess his legacy in the West?

University of Colorado Professor Emeritus Charles Wilkinson … described the Western icon and one-armed Civil War veteran as a complex character, a larger-than-life person and an early visionary of wise water use in an arid West. Wilkinson spoke recently with Western Water about Powell and his legacy, and how Powell might view the Colorado River today.

Aquafornia news Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Santa Clarita Valley Water shuts down well after perchlorate detected

Acting on “an abundance of caution,” SCV Water officials shut down one of their wells last week, after routine testing detected the presence of perchlorate, a suspected carcinogen and long-standing concern in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Aquafornia news The Pacific Institute

Blog: Can California shift to proactive drought preparedness?

Precipitation in California is highly variable from year to year, and climate change is increasing this variability. … To address this and other challenges, the state passed Assembly Bill (AB) 1668 and Senate Bill (SB) 606 in June 2018. Known jointly as the Water Conservation Legislation, these bills were drafted in response of Governor Jerry Brown’s 2016 executive order to “make water conservation a California way of life.” There are six key components…

Aquafornia news KHTS

Santa Clarita solar company offering ‘smart’ sprinkler controller to save water during rain

The “smart” sprinkler controller … uses the internet to detect when rain is in the forecast and automatically delays the system so the homeowner doesn’t even have to think about it. In addition, the controller syncs to smartphones, allowing the homeowner to easily adjust watering schedules manually as well.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

‘It’s raining plastic’: Researchers find microscopic fibers in Colorado rain samples

U.S. Geological Survey researcher Greg Wetherbee collected rain samples from eight sites along Colorado’s Front Range. … In 90 percent of the samples Wetherbee found a rainbow wheel of plastics, mostly fibers and mostly colored blue. … The plastics were tiny, needing magnification of 20 to 40 times to be visible and they were not dense enough to be weighed. More fibers were found in urban sites, but plastics were also spotted in samples from a site at elevation 10,300 feet in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Aquafornia news Noozhawk

Speakers plead for Santa Maria to resume putting fluoride in water

Dentists and public-health advocates are speaking out against the city of Santa Maria’s decision to stop adding fluoride to local tap water, calling the supplement a vital step for good oral health. After hearing pleas at the start of the meeting Tuesday night, the City Council asked staff to include the possible restoration of fluoride as part of budget deliberations set for June 18.

Aquafornia news KALW

A small city fights plans for a desalination plant

The desalination plant would have seven wells sloping into the ground and sucking up water underneath the dunes, removing the salt, and sending it to cities on the Monterey Peninsula … but not Marina. They wouldn’t get any of the desalinated water because they’re not served by CalAm. Biala and other Marina residents oppose the plant because they think it will cause irreversible damage to their town’s ecosystems.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Public hearing on fracking in Valley not recorded – ‘I feel like the process is rigged’

The majority of the dozens of commenters at the meeting spoke out against the analysis and the prospect of increased fracking in the region, expressing concerns about air pollution, drinking water quality, and climate change. … Tempers at the meeting also flared for what many attendees viewed as a lack of accountability from the BLM. The agency did not record the meeting, instead inviting attendees to submit written comments online, electronically, and only in English.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Bureau of Reclamation bumps Westside water allocation to 70 percent

The Bureau of Reclamation updated its 2019 allocation for the Central Valley Project South-of-Delta, increasing the westside water allocation to 70 percent of the contract total. Said Mid-Pacific Regional Director Ernest Conant: “The late storms provided an added boost to the already above average precipitation for 2019. Snowpack throughout the state is still about 150% of average for this time of year.”

Related articles:

Western Water Gary Pitzer Colorado River Bundle Gary Pitzer

150 Years After John Wesley Powell Ventured Down the Colorado River, How Should We Assess His Legacy in the West?
WESTERN WATER Q&A: University of Colorado’s Charles Wilkinson on Powell, Water and the American West

We have an unknown distance yet to run, an unknown river to explore. What falls there are, we know not; what rocks beset the channel, we know not; what walls ride over the river, we know not. Ah, well! We may conjecture many things.

~John Wesley Powell

Explorer John Wesley Powell and Paiute Chief Tau-Gu looking over the Virgin River in 1873.Powell scrawled those words in his journal as he and his expedition paddled their way into the deep walls of the Grand Canyon on a stretch of the Colorado River in August 1869. Three months earlier, the 10-man group had set out on their exploration of the iconic Southwest river by hauling their wooden boats into a major tributary of the Colorado, the Green River in Wyoming, for their trip into the “great unknown,” as Powell described it.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: Infrastructure funding should include irrigation modernization

As the focus on infrastructure retakes center stage in Washington, we hope lawmakers don’t overlook a prime opportunity to invest in Western water and irrigation systems. Here in the West, our dams, irrigation systems, canals and other infrastructure — much of it more than a century old — are past due for modernization.

Aquafornia news Fairfield Daily Republic

Dodd’s water flow gauging legislation passes Senate

Legislation that would require the state to enhance its river and stream gauging system has cleared the state Senate. … The bill requires the Department of Water Resources and Water Control Board to improve and enhance the monitoring system, including filling those gaps that are found, as well as assess a funding source to complete the work.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Water-rights dispute between Fallbrook, Camp Pendleton ends after nearly 70 years

After 68 years of litigation and more than a half-century of settlement talks, a dispute between the water district that serves Fallbrook and Camp Pendleton has officially ended. The agreement settles a lawsuit filed in 1951 and lays out how the Fallbrook Public Utility District and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton will share water rights to the Santa Margarita River.

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

Opinion: A public board keeps documents under wraps in a slog toward public water

Monterey Peninsula voters last year passed Measure J, which requires that the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District conduct a feasibility study to determine whether a public buyout of California American Water is doable… Not only is the MPWMD trying to keep the process behind the feasibility study hidden, they’re doing it in such a Machiavellian way I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around it.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Huntington Beach water rates to increase for 5 years, despite protests from residents

The Huntington Beach City Council on Monday voted to increase local water rates for the next five years, despite receiving 691 protest letters from residents. Under the plan taking effect July 1, most single-family households will pay $53.03 a month — 70 cents more than now — in the first year of five annual rate increases.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Cadiz bill passes California Senate, now to Assembly

The California Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would require additional environmental review for groundwater transfers that would affect desert areas, which would put a major roadblock in front of a controversial water project proposed in the Mojave Desert by Cadiz Inc.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Update provided on imported water goal

A firm hired by the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority is already in the initial phase to find sources of imported water for the valley, according to a progress report delivered at a Thursday board meeting. … Capitol Core Group, retained in March, is looking at what water supply options are available and how to secure funding to ultimately purchase and develop infrastructure to deliver into the valley.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Managing drought in a changing climate: Four essential reforms

Last fall, a team of researchers at the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) studied the state’s response to the extreme drought conditions, distilling their findings down to four essential reforms that will better prepare the state to adapt to the impacts of climate change. At the Association of Water Agencies of Ventura County’s Annual Symposium held in April of 2019, Ellen Hanak, Director of Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center gave this recap of their research.

Related article:

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Opinion: What’s behind California’s lawsuit against Westlands, raising Shasta dam?

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and his allies have filed a lawsuit to stop Federal water users from participating in the raising of Shasta Dam, a federal dam. … Plain and simple, this is a lawsuit waged against Central Valley farmers.

Aquafornia news CSUN Today

CSUN students help link communities with clean water

CSUN students and faculty have long contributed to California’s efforts to ensure access to clean drinking water, efforts that have intensified during the recent multi-year drought. A group of students in CSUN’s Department of Geography and Environmental Studies is helping in these efforts.

Aquafornia news Sonoma County Gazette

Sonoma County approves plan to offset groundwater fees in the Santa Rosa Plain

On Tuesday, May 21, the Board of Directors of the Sonoma County Water Agencyand the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved a plan to offset a fee that is likely to be imposed on groundwater users in the Santa Rosa Plain… Under the plan, the County and Sonoma Water would contribute up to $240,000 annually for three years to the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Sustainability Agency.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Huntington Beach desalination plant: How it might have been operating by now

The slower timeline for Huntington Beach resulted in it facing new, stricter regulations and additional delays. The controversial plant still needs two major permits, opponents remain steadfast and a recent water-supply study raised questions about the cost and need for the project.

Aquafornia news San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Dirt hauling has begun at Devil’s Gate Dam in Pasadena despite sighting of nesting rare birds

The idea is simple, the task gargantuan: Remove 1.7 million cubic yards of sediment to return the circa 1920 dam to full functionality, protecting Pasadena, South Pasadena, Highland Park and other northeast Los Angeles communities downstream — including the Rose Bowl, Brookside Park and the Arroyo Seco Parkway — from the potential flooding of a 100-year storm.

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Domino droughts: How droughts travel across continents

Could a drought in California be linked to a drought in the Midwest? A recent Stanford-led study published in Geophysical Research Letters finds that regions may fall victim to water scarcity like dominos toppling down a line.

Aquafornia news SFGate.com

The science behind why California has been soaked by storms this May

By late spring, the Pacific jet stream is typically rushing over the Northwest, but this year its trajectory never shifted to the north and remains over California, hurling storms from the Pacific Ocean onshore. Jon Gottschalck, chief of the operational prediction branch at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says the reason for the jet stream’s wayward activity are complicated, but he and his colleagues at NOAA think El Niño is definitely at play.

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Almond growers learn about their ‘largest challenge’

The session, “Navigating the Waters,” drew a crowd of about 150 farmers to the International Agri-Center in Tulare last week, where attendees heard from water-agency leaders, state water officials, farmers and others on a range of topics with the goal of helping almond growers make informed water decisions.

Aquafornia news Chico News & Review

Eye of the storm

Barbara Vlamis is smiling. Often, the executive director of the Chico-based advocacy group AquAlliance wears a steely expression, as her work involves David-versus-Goliath battles against powerful interests—namely, government agencies and water brokers. Now, she’s satisfied, even a bit celebratory.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California Senate rejects proposed tax on water bills

The Senate voted 37-1 on Wednesday to approve a bill that would create a fund dedicated to improving the state’s drinking water. But the bill is clear the money could not come from a new tax on water bills. Instead, Senate leaders have signaled their intention to use $150 million of existing taxpayer money each year.

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Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Activists speak out against fracking on federal land in California

Kern’s oil industry took a pass Tuesday on a public hearing focused on the environmental impacts of fracking, handing the day to dozens of anti-oil activists who convened in downtown Bakersfield to rail against the technique and the threat of climate change. … The event was one of three hearings the BLM is hosting as part of its plan to reopen federal land in California to oil production.

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Aquafornia news KUOW

Drought emergency declared over nearly half of Washington

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has declared a drought emergency across nearly half the state. The drought declaration covers the Olympic peninsula, the North Cascades, the eastern Cascades and most of southwest Washington. It allows local governments to tap into $2 million in state funding to respond to hardships caused by the drought. … Snowpack is now at its fourth-lowest level in the past 30 years.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Cow manure: An unexpected climate solution

In 2016, California became the first state to pass legislation regulating dairy methane, requiring the farms to cut their manure emissions 40% by 2030. … Enter Neil Black. Black’s company builds multimillion-dollar projects at the state’s largest dairies to capture the gas.

Aquafornia news The Ceres Courier

City to reluctantly extend water line to rural park

City water will be flowing to yet another community living in county jurisdiction with the state forcing the City Council’s Monday action to supply water service to the privately owned Ceres West Mobile Home Park. … The park, which was approved by the county in 1969, had limited options to supply drinking water to its residents because water from an on-site well exceeds state limits for arsenic and nitrates.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Public Water Now appeals Monterey County’s Cal Am desal approval

The organization best known for backing a public takeover of Cal Am’s local [Monterey Peninsula] water system filed an appeal of the Planning Commission’s narrow approval of a permit for the 6.4-million-gallon-per-day desal plant north of Marina and associated infrastructure. The appeal argues the desal project proposal fails to properly address several key details, including groundwater rights, and calls for the county to require a supplemental environmental review before considering the proposal.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Why Orange County and California’s drinking water should not go to waste

Billions of gallons of treated wastewater is dumped into our California coast each day, and with it, billions of resident dollars are quite literally going to waste. Why aren’t we utilizing available solutions to stop this sewage discharge and capitalize on our people’s investment in clean drinking water?

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Humboldt County eyes role in Potter Valley project

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to investigate becoming a stakeholder in the Potter Valley project, a massive water development in the Eel and Russian river basins. … The idea is to protect the Russian River’s water supply for Potter Valley residents while mitigating the effects of the Scott Dam on Eel River fish populations.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Evaluating landscape effects of turf replacement

As part of efforts by Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) to assess its 2014-2016 turf replacement program during the California drought, we evaluated how yards changed after converting a lawn through a MWD rebate in LA County. We also evaluated trends in participation across cities.

Aquafornia news Curbed LA

Zanja Madre: Life and death on LA’s first water system

For more than a century, the zanja system, a series of irrigation ditches that brought water from the Río de Porciúncula (now the LA River) to the homes and fields of Los Angeles, was the lifeblood of the region. At its height in 1888, 52 miles of zanjas, half open earth and half concrete, ran within the city limits. An additional 40 miles of zanjas ran outside the city proper. Controlled by the local government, the water that flowed in these zanjas enabled life, and occasionally death, to flourish in Los Angeles.

Aquafornia news The Union Democrat

Before there was a New Melones Dam: A look back at efforts to save the Stanislaus River

Members of Friends of the River and the Sierra Club are planning a presentation on a controversial episode in Mother Lode history, when activists unsuccessfully tried to prevent flooding of a raftable section of the Stanislaus River by rising water levels in New Melones Reservoir in the 1970s and 1980s. … The event is scheduled at 7 p.m. Wednesday this week at Tuolumne County Library, 480 Greenley Road in Sonora.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: An abandoned mine near Joshua Tree could host a massive hydropower project

An abandoned iron mine on the doorstep of Joshua Tree National Park could be repurposed as a massive hydroelectric power plant under a bill with bipartisan support in the state Legislature. … The bill could jump-start a $2.5-billion hydropower project that critics say would harm Joshua Tree National Park, draining desert groundwater aquifers and sapping above-ground springs that nourish wildlife in and around the park.

Aquafornia news Sierra Wave

A beginner’s course on how officials determine potential run-off

To Eastern Sierra residents, in most years, annual run-off means the streams and canals rise and pasture lands start to green-up. For Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, run-off is the city’s life’s blood… So, how do they figure it out? Eric Tillemans, LADWP engineer, gave the Inyo County Board of Supervisors a beginner’s course in Run-Off 101 at a recent meeting.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Learn about atmospheric river research and forest management on Headwaters Tour, June 27-28

Our Headwaters Tour June 27-28 highlights the connection between fire and water with an up-close look at the critical role healthy Sierra forests play in water supply and quality across California. We will also learn about a new initiative between Yuba Water Agency, the California Department of Water Resources and University of California, San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography to study how atmospheric rivers affect the location, duration and intensity of storms.

Aquafornia news Inkstain

Blog: What the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan means in practice

I ran down a quick summary this morning of the relevant data, comparing recent use with the cuts mandated under the DCP. It shows that, at this first tier of shortage, permitted use is less than the voluntary cuts water users have been making since 2015. In other words, all of the states are already using less water than contemplated in this first tier of DCP reductions.

Aquafornia news Noozhawk

Santa Barbara Water Commission discusses proposed surcharge for “high strength” wastewater

As the city considers changes to its wastewater rates, its consultant, Nebraska-based HDR Engineering Inc., suggests users that send “high strength” wastewater to the city’s treatment system pay more because of the additional treatment costs. Domestic septic tank/portable restroom discharges, industrial laundry services and alcohol beverage manufacturers such as breweries, wineries and distilleries could be affected…

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: California’s dairy industry faces water quality challenges

Contaminated groundwater is an ongoing problem in some of the state’s poorest rural communities, particularly in the San Joaquin Valley. One big threat is nitrate, caused mainly by many decades of crop fertilization with chemical fertilizers and dairy manure. We talked to Anja Raudabaugh of Western United Dairymen about what can be done to address these challenges.

Aquafornia news Redding Record-Searchlight

After 25 years, winter-run salmon return to Battle Creek

For years fisheries experts have watched the number of winter-run Chinook salmon dwindle as they suffered through drought and adverse conditions in the Sacramento River. But this year a small crop of the endangered salmon have made their way back from the ocean to return Battle Creek in southern Shasta County, something that hasn’t happened in some 25 years. And officials hope the fish are the beginning of a new run of salmon in the creek.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

August tour examines lurking threat of drought along the California coast

On our August Edge of Drought Tour, we’re venturing into the Santa Barbara area to learn about the water challenges and the steps being taken to boost supplies. The region’s local surface and groundwater supplies are limited, and its hydrologic recovery often has lagged behind much of the state despite the recent lifting of a drought emergency declaration following this winter’s storms.

Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

Interior Department pulls support from Klamath dam removal project

Recently-appointed Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has rescinded a letter of support that Obama-era Interior Secretary Sally Jewell wrote in 2016. … Matt Cox is with the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, the non-profit formed to implement the dam removal agreement. He says rescinding Jewell’s letter has no legal effect.

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Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Russian River’s seasonal dam coming down again amid heavy rain, runoff

Two days of above-average spring rainfall in the North Bay have forced Sonoma County officials to begin deflating the seasonal dam across the Russian River, an about-face that comes less than a week after the rubber dam was fully inflated to serve the region’s drinking water system.

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

West Marin nonprofit snares $593K for creek restoration

The West Marin ghost town of Jewell is set to be reclaimed by nature this year with a $593,000 boost from the state. The Olema-based Salmon Protection and Watershed Network, or SPAWN, plans to use a grant to restore the historic floodplains on Lagunitas Creek that once provided vital refuge for the now dwindling populations of endangered coho salmon and other wildlife.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

‘Flint Is everywhere’: California farmworkers confront a tainted water crisis

Water is a currency in California, and the low-income farmworkers who pick the Central Valley’s crops know it better than anyone. They labor in the region’s endless orchards, made possible by sophisticated irrigation systems, but at home their faucets spew toxic water tainted by arsenic and fertilizer chemicals.

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Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Rain and windy weather causing problems for North Coast wine grape growers

Because of the pelting rains and accompanying windy conditions, chardonnay and pinot noir grapes have the greatest chance to suffer from shatter, the term used by vintners when a grapevine’s delicate flowers don’t pollinate and develop into grapes.

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Aquafornia news Visalia Times Delta

Tulare County supervisors to support water over high-speed rail

Tulare County Supervisors will vote to approve a letter of support for proposed legislation that will bring up to $3.5 billion for water infrastructure improvements. The money comes at a cost to California’s biggest undertaking — high-speed rail.

Aquafornia news The Mountain Democrat

EID approves Folsom Lake intake improvements

The planned improvements include replacing six of the lake pumps and three booster pumps with four new, higher-powered pumps capable of pumping water directly to the treatment plant without the use of booster pumps.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Napa County moving ahead cautiously on watershed monitoring program

Cautiously, cautiously – that’s Napa County’s approach to creating a watershed computer model that could someday influence rural land use decisions in an effort to keep contaminants out of city of Napa reservoirs. Given the stakes, supervisors want stakeholders such as the wine industry and environmentalists involved in various decisions.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Colorado River deal: As states sign, long-term challenges remain

The Colorado River just got a boost that’s likely to prevent its depleted reservoirs from bottoming out, at least for the next several years. Representatives of seven Western states and the federal government signed a landmark deal on Monday laying out potential cuts in water deliveries through 2026 to reduce the risks of the river’s reservoirs hitting critically low levels.

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Aquafornia news Business Insider

Silicon Valley drinking water crisis is a result of drought, climate

The combination of droughts and floods has given rise to a process known as saltwater intrusion — what San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo refers to as his city’s greatest climate threat. … In coastal regions like San Jose, overpumping allows seawater to seep into the city’s aquifers, exposing local residents to excess sodium in their drinking water. The problem is compounded by sea level rise, which pushes seawater inland toward the city’s filtration system.

Aquafornia news KGET TV

Bureau of Land Management to hold meeting on White House proposal to expand oil drilling, fracking

The Bureau of Land Management Bakersfield office is set to hold a meeting Tuesday over a White House proposal that would expand oil drilling and fracking on more than a million acres of public land across the state. … The proposal includes 40 new wells over the next 10 years on roughly 400,000 acres of public land and 1.2 million acres of federal mineral estate — land where the surface is owned privately, but the mineral rights beneath the ground are managed by the federal government.

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Aquafornia news Santa Barbara Independent

Bill proposed to cut toxic cigarette waste

A new bill introduced by State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson … would effectively ban traditional cigarettes through its prohibition on the sale of tobacco products that have single-use filters. … Cigarette butts constitute about a third of all the trash found on California’s beaches

Aquafornia news Grand Junction Sentinel

Opinion: One good year does not end a drought

It takes more than one wet year to not only refill reservoirs but also recharge aquifers and return moisture in parched soils to normal levels. … All this upstream snowpack and rain is predicted to boost Powell to 47% of capacity by the end of the year, another three or four feet, but there’ll still be plenty of the “bathtub ring” visible. It’s been 36 years since Powell was full. It’s not likely it’ll ever fill again.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Lawmakers advance bill to increase oversight on Cadiz’s Mojave Desert Water Project

A bill that could block a Los Angeles-based water supply company from pumping water out of a Mojave Desert aquifer passed through the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday, extending the yearslong fight over whether the environmental impact of groundwater extraction merits additional scrutiny.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Dispute over Desert Hot Springs groundwater picks up steam in latest report

Mission Springs Water District alleged that Desert Water Agency, which also provides water to more than 100,000 Palm Springs and Cathedral City residents, made a board decision that violated a previous settlement between the two agencies. … Last month, the issue over groundwater management in Desert Hot Springs picked up steam when a study group formed by Mission Springs published a 16-page report that lambasted Desert Water Agency’s actions…

Aquafornia news ABC 15 Arizona

Beer makers teaming up to protect Arizona’s water supply

There is a unique partnership happening in Arizona between farmers, those involved in the malting process, and brewers that is saving thousands of gallons of water from being taken from the Verde River.

Aquafornia news Oroville Mercury-Register

Editorial: Oroville Dam is fine, despite what the internet says

Well, apparently we’re all about to die again. The internet says so. And while the internet often says we’re all about to die, and we don’t, for some reason people still unquestionably believe the next scare to come down the information highway. So it is with the latest local scare, involving the Oroville Dam spillway.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Opinion: Take action now to protect Central Coast public lands from fracking

On March 28, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order to promote increased oil and gas development… Then, in April 2019, in response to the President’s order, the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposed opening up more than 1 million acres of public land in California’s Central Valley and southern Central Coast to oil and gas production.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Opinion: A new water tax? California has a $21 billion surplus, use that instead

Clean water is important, and there are a million people in the Central Valley without access to it. But do we need a new tax to pay for it? Maybe we don’t. Just last week, a state Senate budget subcommittee eliminated Gov. Newsom’s recommendation for a water tax and replaced it with a $150 million continuous appropriation from the General Fund.

Aquafornia news East Bay Times

Tech firm plans to siphon, discharge San Francisco Bay water

A data storage company wants to siphon water from the bay to cool its equipment, a process it says is greener and more sustainable than using traditional air cooling. But the idea is not winning over some environmentalists, because the water will warm slightly by the time it’s returned to the bay and they say that could potentially damage marine wildlife.

Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

Monday Top of the Scroll: What’s up with all the late-May rain? Atmospheric science suggests answers

We’re likely seeing the effects of a batch of runaway arctic air slinking far enough south to energize and reinvigorate the subtropical jet stream. If true, we can thank the “relentless grind” of warmth in the Arctic this month for our unusually rainy May here in the Bay Area.

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Aquafornia news KSBW

Steelhead numbers are up in the Carmel River

This year 126 fish have been counted going over Los Padres Dam on the Carmel River. The number may not sound high but it is up from single digits in years past. Last year the count was 25 fish and during the peak of the drought, there were zero fish years. “After five years of drought it’s really welcome news,” said Brian Leneve with the Carmel River Steelhead Association.

Aquafornia news The Argonaut

A ‘culture of noncompliance’

The agency charged with monitoring water quality standards throughout the Greater Los Angeles region found that local cities have committed more than 2,000 water quality violations within a five-year period, but the violators suffered little if any consequences.

Aquafornia news High Country News

Can small-scale farmers grow a healthier California?

Aidee Guzman is focusing on these small farms to find out whether, ecologically, this diversity has any positive effects on soil health. Her work won’t be published for another two years, but there is already a large body of research that explains how large monocropping operations strip soils of their nutrients and make them less capable of storing carbon… As she works, she is documenting a potential alternative to the industrial mega-farms of the valley and the West.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Salton Sea: Ideas abound to fix the California lake. Will any work?

Many have gazed across its shimmering expanse and seen an idea just as big to fix it. … So far, with the exception of geothermal energy, none have seen the light of day. But with new interest in Sacramento, the rough outlines of immediate, medium range and long-term plans to protect public health and restore wildlife are taking shape.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Weakling or bully? The battle over CEQA, the state’s iconic environmental law

Inside the Capitol’s corridors and pro-development quarters around the state, CEQA is increasingly disparaged as a villain in the state’s housing crisis. … New Gov. Gavin Newsom, to fulfill his hyper-ambitious quota of new housing construction, has called for fast-tracking judicial CEQA review of housing, similar to that granted sports teams building stadiums. But the act’s environmentalist defenders are pushing back.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

The Drought Contingency Plan is done. Now what?

After months of tense, difficult negotiations, a plan to spread the effects of anticipated cutbacks on the drought-stricken Colorado River is nearing completion. On Monday, representatives of the seven states that rely on the river will gather for a formal signing ceremony at Hoover Dam, the real and symbolic center of the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Opinion: We were warned 150 years ago about our water shortage. We have to do better

The Colorado River — of which the Green is the biggest tributary — is the main water source for 40 million people. It’s already overallocated, and climate change is predicted to shrink flows by up to 50 percent by the end of the century. We’re finally coming to grips with those forecasts and beginning to heed Powell’s century-and-a-half-old warnings. But it’s taken drought and desperation to get us there, and we have to do better.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Health of Napa County watersheds takes centerstage

Napa County’s latest watershed symposium came at a time when tensions are high over how to protect trees and reservoirs in the area’s mountains. Close to 200 people from various backgrounds came to Copia on Thursday for an A-to-Z look at what’s happening in the watersheds. Scientists, elected officials, wine industry members and citizen activists all attended.

Aquafornia news KQED News

Mark Arax: Chasing the water and dust behind the California dream

Mark Arax’s new book, “The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California,” explores how the quest to find and move water has always been essential to the California Dream. … He sat down with California Report Magazine Host Sasha Khokha.

Aquafornia news Madera Tribune

Council ponders building 2.5 million-gallon tank

A presentation to the Madera City Council Wednesday evening focused on current water usage, projected peak water demands and highlighted the immediate need for a new 2.5 million-gallon concrete water storage tank to meet the water needs of today’s users and also to meet required fire-flow targets. The estimated cost of the project is more than $18 million…

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

Pacific Grove set to sell $6.3 million in water credits, thanks to recycled water project

The idea was to count the reductions in water consumption thanks to new irrigation sources, and count that water toward the city’s water yearly water allowance. After that, the city would make those excess water credits available for sale to the residents and businesses that had languished on the city’s water waiting list, sometimes for years.

Aquafornia news Lost Coast Outpost

CalTrout gets big state grant to return 950 acres of Cannibal Island to marshland

The funding allows CalTrout to develop a broad team of agency partners to restore a 950-acre tidal marsh estuary surrounding Cannibal Island, adjacent to the mouth of the Eel River. … The goal of restoration is to transform the monotypic landscape of diked and drained land back to a mosaic of natural habitats and pasture with reconnected tidal slough channels and access for aquatic-dependent species.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Tainted tap water shut off for thousands in El Rio

A well for the Vineyard Avenue Acres Mutual Water Co. tested as having water with more than 10 milligrams of nitrates per liter, the limit set by the California State Water Resources Control Board, according to a letter sent to customers by the utility under state orders. The utility serves a discrete area of El Rio, so the problem does not affect other parts of the Oxnard area.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: This Arizona bill supports local planning for resilient groundwater supplies in two rural counties

Arizona relies on groundwater for about 40% of its water supply, yet groundwater resources outside of the state’s biggest urban areas are largely unprotected and unregulated… HB 2467, a bill that passed in the Arizona House and currently awaiting a final vote in the Senate, takes an important step forward to address groundwater challenges in Mohave and La Paz counties.

Aquafornia news Highland Community News

Watermasters celebrate peaceful 50 years

The Western-San Bernardino and Orange County judgments, signed April 17, 1969, helped establish five watermasters and settle water rights throughout the watershed that supplies the water agencies within San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties. The agreements settled decades of lawsuits over water rights…

Aquafornia news FishBio

Blog: Stay cool, babies: Growth and temperature tradeoffs for juvenile Chinook

Although they spend their lives hidden beneath the surface, fish are directly affected by the weather happening outside their aquatic world. This is particularly true of species that rely on watersheds in regions like California, where the availability of water changes dramatically with the seasons.

Aquafornia news KHSL TV

Paradise officials provide update on water supply recovery program

The Paradise Irrigation District said it plans on testing water from lot-to-lot instead of in zoned areas. The process will also give priority to people currently living in their homes or in temporary housing on their properties in Paradise. Kevin Phillips, the district’s director, said the majority of testing they’ve done shows no contamination in the main lines, but individual services lines are still showing volatile organic compounds, like benzene.

Aquafornia news Siskiyou Daily News

Fundraiser focuses on stopping Klamath dam removal

Halting plans to remove four dams on the Klamath River was the theme of a well-attended fundraising event hosted May 4 by the Siskiyou County Water Users Association. Guest speakers, including Congressman Doug LaMalfa, Siskiyou County Supervisor Brandon Criss, former Klamath County Commissioner Tom Mallams and Attorney James Buchal, author of “The Great Salmon Hoax” discussed problems they foresee with dam removal which they believe is far from a done deal.

Aquafornia news KQED News

The not-so-crystal-clean history of San Francisco’s drinking water

Tens of thousands of people flooded into San Francisco in the 1850s looking for gold, but there wasn’t nearly enough drinking water to quench the thirst of the boomtown. So speculators looked south of the city to San Mateo County in hopes of delivering clean water to San Francisco and big money to their own pockets. And they weren’t going to let anything get in their way.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

As Nevada legislators weigh changes to water law, litigation and the pipeline loom

In the ceaseless conflict over how to use the state’s available water — and maybe then some — a varied group of water users and lawmakers sang a refrain older than Nevada: “Everyone is going to court in the end.” … The ghosts of litigation — past, present and future — loomed over the Thursday Senate Natural Resources Committee hearing that stretched until 8 p.m. and offered insight into why it’s so difficult to update Nevada water law.

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

Pinpointed: Water officials name alleged culprit of TCE contamination near airport

A nearly four-year investigation into how a chemical known to cause cancer showed up in more than a dozen rural wells by the San Luis Obispo County Airport has finally concluded with an alleged culprit. Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board investigators say that Noll Inc., a machine shop on Thread Lane, is responsible for the trichloroethylene (TCE) leak…

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Officials: Rule change needed to keep water flowing to fight wildfires

California agencies have appealed to air pollution control officials to change the rules after backup generators failed and water stopped pumping as wildfires burned last year. They said they need more time to test and maintain diesel-operated generators that power water facilities during a fire. Because of air pollution concerns, the agencies are limited to testing the diesel-powered generators as little as 20 hours per year in some cases.

Aquafornia news Capitol Media Services

Pinal County farmers make another plea for $20M from state to drill wells

Insisting the state made a commitment, a central Arizona lawmaker and farmers he represents are making a last-ditch pitch for $20 million from taxpayers to drill new wells and water delivery canals. Rep. David Cook, R-Globe, said Thursday the farmers in Pinal County agreed to give up their right to Colorado River water to help the state come up with a plan to deal with the drought. In exchange they were given the right to take additional water out of the ground.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

NASA’s GRACE: What researchers have learned from water in motion

When you hear news about ice loss from Greenland or Antarctica, an aquifer in California that is getting depleted, or a new explanation for a wobble in Earth’s rotation, you might not realize that all these findings may rely on data from one single mission

Aquafornia news California Water News Daily

San Diego water board updates, renews Carlsbad desalination plant permit

Poseidon Water, owner of the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, has received an updated permit from the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board (SDRWQCB) governing the desalination plant’s discharges into the Pacific Ocean. Additionally, the permit includes structural and operational changes to provide greater protection for marine life and water quality.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Unsafe drinking water is bad enough: But what if you’re the one tasked with fixing it?

When the federal government reduced how much arsenic it would allow in drinking water in 2006, the water system in Jim Maciel’s Central Valley community was suddenly considered unsafe to drink. Bringing that arsenic content back down to a safe level required a lot of work, as he explains to a few colleagues at a water leadership institute in Visalia.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: Disneyland, dozens of cities could be flooded by dam failure, engineers warn

Federal engineers are raising alarms that a “significant flood event” could breach the spillway of Southern California’s aging Prado Dam and potentially inundate dozens of Orange County communities from Disneyland to Newport Beach. After conducting an assessment of the 78-year-old structure earlier this month, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it was raising the dam’s risk category from “moderate” to “high urgency.”

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Aquafornia news Los Altos Town Crier

Water district officials say McKelvey Park flood basin project nearing completion

The Mountain View City Council approved the water district’s 18-foot-deep basin project in 2013 in exchange for the park upgrades. Designed to accommodate a 100-year flood, the McKelvey Park basin is one of two basin projects of the larger Permanente Creek Flood Protection Project, which water district officials claim will provide natural flood protection for approximately 2,200 properties in Mountain View and Los Altos.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Valley Water’s farm subsidy to remain, for now

Like everyone else in Santa Clara Valley who uses wells, farmers will see their groundwater production charges go up 6.8 percent this year. But unlike the others, they’ll continue to receive substantial subsidies. In approving the increased charges for well users, the Santa Clara Valley Water District board left intact for at least two years the current structure that allows farmers to pay only 6 percent of the amount residents and businesses pay.

Aquafornia news Colorado Springs Gazette

Colorado snowpack, streamflow far exceeding early winter predictions

Colorado is swimming in snowpack this year, with the state’s southwest corner at 19.5 inches, 220% of the median for May 14 and 1.6 inches above the usual April 2 median peak, federal data show. So reservoirs are filling, and the generous snowfall has nearly eliminated a drought that hydrologists said in January would take years for recovery.

Aquafornia news KEYT

Nipomo Community Services District lifts restriction on new water connections

A four-year long restriction for new water connections has ended in many parts of Nipomo. Last week, the Nipomo Community Services District Board of Directors voted to proceed with an upgrade to the supplemental water pipeline it has with Santa Maria. … The additional water allows the NCSD to now accept applications for new connections.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday Top of the Scroll: One less tax: California lawmakers move to reject Gavin Newsom’s water fee

A Senate budget subcommittee rejected Gov. Gavin Newsom’s water tax plan on Wednesday, instead recommending finding $150 million elsewhere to finance a safe and affordable drinking water fund. … The subcommittee’s decision to lock in funds for future budget cycles could eliminate the challenge of securing votes to pass another tax.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

As PG&E dumps Potter Valley project, new suitors line up

California Trout, Mendocino County Inland Water & Power Commission, and Sonoma Water have officially put a foot forward to explore a planning agreement for the project’s future. The coalition is championing a “two-basin solution” that could mitigate the effects of the Scott Dam on fish populations in the Eel River while ensuring that the Russian River basin doesn’t lose its water supply, which Potter Valley residents have relied on for over 100 years.

Aquafornia news KRCR

Yurok Tribe establishes rights of the Klamath River

The Yurok Tribal Council recently voted in favor of a resolution to establish the Rights of the Klamath River. According to the Yurok Tribe, the resolution “establishes the Rights of the Klamath River to exist, flourish, and naturally evolve; to have a clean and healthy environment free from pollutants; to have a stable climate free from human-caused climate change impacts; and to be free from contamination by genetically engineered organisms.”

Aquafornia news Sierra Wave

Owens Valley groundwater basin goes low

Over the short life of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, Owens Valley has gone from medium to high and now low priority. That prioritization would have had an impact three years ago. Medium and high priority basins are required to form an agency and sustainability plan; low basins are not.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Tribal groundwater rights and SGMA: A new underlying tension?

At the 28th California Water Policy conference held in April of 2019, a panel discussed how tribal lands and tribal representatives, as independent nations, can be integrated into SGMA implementation, what some of the obstacles to doing so are, and how those hurdles might be transcended.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Latest Western Water News looks at challenges ahead in next round of Colorado River talks

Stakeholders throughout the Colorado River Basin just wrapped up arduous negotiations on a drought plan. There’s little time to rest, however. Stakeholders are expected to begin the even more difficult task of hammering out sweeping new guidelines for delivering water and sharing shortages that could re-imagine how the overworked river is managed.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Opinion: Senate should OK SB 307 to give California more review of Cadiz aquifer harvesting project

California must defend our scarce and sacred resources … The legislation, authored by Sen. Richard Roth of Riverside, authorizes state agencies to conduct independent review of the Cadiz project, restoring safeguards eliminated at the federal level and ensuring any pumping from underneath Mojave Trails and protected desert lands is sustainable. 

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Aquafornia news KSBY

Atascadero moving forward with 19% wastewater rate increase plan

Atascadero residents will likely be paying more for wastewater services starting in just a few months. The last time wastewater rates were increased in Atascadero, President Bill Clinton began began his first term in office and Seinfeld was one of the most watched shows on television.

Aquafornia news UC Davis

Study: Maximizing use of water stored in soil could result in savings for farmers

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, looked at using a “free” resource — rain water stored in the soil — and found that optimizing its use could go a long way to help meet demand for five California perennial crops. Their findings appear in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

Regulation headed for Upper Klamath Lake tributaries, Wood River

Oregon Water Resources Department is in the process of validating a call on Upper Klamath Lake tributaries, including the Wood River, filed by senior water right holders — the Klamath Tribes — on April 18. … Water users that irrigate can call the watermaster’s office if they believe someone with a junior water right to theirs is irrigating with water that should be coming to them.

Aquafornia news Chico News & Review

Caution in the creeks: Metals, chemicals found downstream from the Camp Fire

When it rains, it pours. And the Camp Fire just keeps on pouring. The latest byproduct? Waterways testing positive for heavy metals, from aluminum to selenium, as well as chemical contaminants. And the most recent test results, released last month, show unhealthy levels of both throughout the county, primarily in Paradise and nearby creeks.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Interview with Wade Crowfoot: Implementing Newsom’s “One California” portfolio approach for water

When asked about his priorities, California’s recently appointed Natural Resources Secretary quickly rattles off a range of topics: climate change; strengthening water supply resilience; and building water capacity for communities, agriculture, and the environment, among them.

Aquafornia news Arizona Capitol Times

Opinion: Latinos rely heavily on Colorado River water amid plans for cutbacks

This river provides water for one-third of Latinos in the United States. Latinos make up the bulk of agricultural workers harvesting the produce this river waters. We boat, fish, swim and recreate along its banks. We hold baptisms in its waters. Therefore, it is critical to engage the growing Latino population on water-smart solutions.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Commentary: Key conflicts roil California’s ever-evolving waterscape

The big conflicts are deeply interconnected and appear to be reaching their climactic phases. How they are resolved over the next few years will write an entirely new chapter in California’s water history, changing priorities and perhaps shifting water from agriculture to urban users and environmental enhancement.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Indian Wells board hears brackish water study update

A brackish water study conducted by consulting firm Aqualogic has predicted three potential areas that can be tapped for brackish water extraction in the Indian Wells Valley. … The brackish water project has the potential to help expand local supplies if the water is properly treated and brine removed.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: Newsom administration is getting closer to water deals

With the administration’s leadership, representatives of farmers, cities and conservation groups are having productive negotiations on a complex package of actions that would increase river flows and improve fish habitats, collectively called a “voluntary agreement.” A possible final agreement is months away, but we are making progress.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Opinion: Newsom crafts smart water portfolio for California

In reality, the WaterFix could not increase water exports while protecting the Delta ecosystem. That’s because California’s snow and rainfall are highly variable, making it unlikely that existing supplies can meet increasing water demands reliably into the future. Plus, the science demonstrates that San Francisco Bay’s fish and wildlife need more water, not less, to flow from the Central Valley to the Bay.

Aquafornia news The Atlantic

Our Towns: National policies have local effects

Five years ago, Deb Fallows and I made the first of what became many visits to the farming town of Winters, California. … When we first visited five years ago, the main question for the area’s nut-tree farmers, and for California’s agricultural economy as a whole, was whether the state’s drought-ravaged water supplies could support such commercially valuable but water-intensive crops.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Rare ‘atmospheric river’ storms to soak California this week

Dig out that umbrella, and even the tire chains. It’s mid-May, but a series of rare, winter-like storms will soak the Bay Area and much of California through next week and bring up to 2 feet of new snow to the Sierra Nevada.

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Aquafornia news The Ukiah Daily Journal

Work underway on damaged water storage basins

The “backwash basins” were damaged during the flooding that occurred because of the heavy rainfall in late February, and they need to be repaired as soon as possible because they help the city provide drinking water to its residents during the peak demand months coming soon.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Stanislaus leaders support bottled water as alternative for small water systems

Stanislaus County will ask the state to consider use of bottled water as a permanent alternative for small public water systems that are in violation of safe drinking water standards.

Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

South Tahoe Public Utility District to hold hearing on proposed rate increases

The district is considering a five-year series of rates increases — up to 5% per year for sewer and up to 6% per year for water. … As district staff have explained during public meetings, much of STPUD’s infrastructure is outdated and in need of repair or replacement. Additionally, more than 10% of the STPUD’s water system lacks adequate water capacity to fight a major fire.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: What does the Colorado River drought plan mean for California?

The DCP … provides assurance against curtailments for water stored behind Hoover Dam. This is especially important for the Southern California water agencies, whose ability to store water in Lake Mead is crucial for managing seasonal demands. Some significant challenges must still be addressed, however.

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Aquafornia news Legal Planet

Blog: Developing a decision-support framework for curtailment

What happens when there is not enough surface water to go around in a watershed? California water rights law says that certain water users must curtail their water diversions — in other words, reduce the amount of water they divert or stop diverting water altogether. … But following water right priorities is not always straightforward, and other aspects of state and federal law complicate the picture …

Aquafornia news Coastalview.com

Opinion: Drought recovery in Carpinteria

Because of the wet weather this winter, the district is proposing to lower its Stage Two Drought Condition to a Stage One Drought Condition, which would lift many mandatory drought water-use restrictions.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: The Cadiz project to drain the desert is a bad idea

The U.S. Geological Survey studied the land and the water and, in 2002 … concluded that the proposed pumping would far exceed the rate of natural refill. The National Park Service submitted comments in 2012 stating that Cadiz’s estimates are “3 to 16 times too high.” The Geological Survey, in 2017, reported that there was no information to lead it to change its 2002 conclusions. … And that ought to have been the end of it.

Aquafornia news Redding Record-Searchlight

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California, environmental groups sue to stop Shasta Dam raise

The lawsuit against the Fresno-based Westlands Water District was filed in Shasta County Superior Court on Monday. State officials have for years maintained that raising the height of the dam would violate the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act because a higher dam would further inundate the McCloud River, in violation of state law.

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Aquafornia news Lake County News

Groups reach agreement to find path forward for Potter Valley Project

California Trout, Mendocino County Inland Water & Power Commission and Sonoma Water announced that they have entered into a planning agreement to explore pathways to relicense the Potter Valley Project in the wake of Pacific Gas and Electric’s decision to withdraw from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission relicensing process for the project.

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Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

April water use up 8% in Manteca; growing faster than city population

Last month there was an 8 percent increase in water compared to April 2018. Meanwhile the population over the same time period went up 2,759 residents or just over a 3 percent increase. … Using a five-year yardstick with the city adding just over 9,000 residents since 2014, per capita water consumption is down by more than 10 percent from April 2014 to April 2019.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Hoopa’s Copper Bluff Mine listed as Superfund site

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officially added the Copper Bluff Mine in Hoopa to the Superfund National Priorities list, one of seven sites added across the county and the only one in California. … In the meantime, the mine continues to leak acid drainage. Anywhere from 3 to 500 gallons of contaminants are leaked into the Trinity River per minute…

Announcement

Headwaters Tour Explores the Role of Forest Management in Watershed Health From Research to Application
June 27-28 tour will include stops at forest research station and a pilot project aimed at forest restoration

Sixty percent of California’s developed water supply originates high in the Sierra Nevada, making the state’s water supply largely dependent on the health of Sierra forests. But those forests are suffering from ecosystem degradation, drought, wildfires and widespread tree mortality.

On our Headwaters Tour June 27-28, we will visit Eldorado and Tahoe national forests to learn about new forest management practices, including efforts to both prevent wildfires and recover from them.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Marina, Coastal Commission staff disagree over Cal Am right to desal appeal

Coastal Commission staff on Monday reiterated to The Herald that Cal Am can appeal the city’s denial under the state’s Coastal Act because the city charges an appeal fee. They called the city’s own rules “internally inconsistent” and noted the Coastal Act’s regulations supercede local ones.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Landmark UN plastic waste pact gets approved but not by US

Nearly every country in the world has agreed upon a legally binding framework to reduce the pollution from plastic waste except for the United States, U.N. environmental officials say. … Even the few countries that did not sign it, like the United States, could be affected by the accord when they ship plastic waste to countries that are on board with the deal.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

$2 billion verdict against Monsanto is third to find Roundup caused cancer

A jury in Oakland, Calif., ordered Monsanto on Monday to pay a couple more than $2 billion in damages after finding that its Roundup weed killer caused their cancer — the third jury to conclude that the company failed to warn consumers of its flagship product’s dangers. Thousands of additional lawsuits against Monsanto, which Bayer acquired last year, are queued up in state and federal courts.

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Aquafornia news Stanford Earth

Toward safe and reliable drinking water for all Californians

California struggles to deliver safe drinking water to millions of residents. The challenges – often complex issues at the interface of human, legislative, technical, and geological dimensions – resist easy answers. Stanford experts explored possible ways forward at a recent panel discussion in Sacramento.

Aquafornia news LAist.com

How LADWP uses two lakes to store energy like a giant battery

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has turned two big lakes into a monster battery capable of storing enough energy to power tens of thousands of homes. It involves using the excess wind and solar power L.A.’s renewable energy sites produce during the day to pump water from Castaic Lake uphill 7.5 miles to Pyramid Lake.

Aquafornia news PasadenaNow.com

City council approves new PWP water rates

The new rates would increase the Distribution and Customer Charge, for all customers, by 5.7%, to generate annual revenue of $3.4 million, effective August 1, 2019. The new rates would also increase the Distribution and Customer Charge for all customers in July 2020 by 5.8%, to generate annual revenue of $3.7 million; and also increase the Commodity Charge, increasing the system average by 0.7%, to generate annual revenue of $0.5 million in July 2020.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Editorial: A new water tax might be California’s best chance at clean water for all

In his February State of the State address, Gov. Gavin Newsom called the safe drinking water crisis — which is centered in lower-income communities ranging from the coasts to the Central Valley — “a moral disgrace and a medical emergency.” He’s right.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

The massive snowmelt is coming. Are we ready?

Estimates vary, and can change as the water year progresses, but the Kern River basin, the rivers and streams that collect the water that flows into Isabella Lake and downstream toward Bakersfield, is estimated to be at 172 percent of normal, possibly more. And all that ice and snow is starting to melt, big time. Are local water managers ready?

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Central Coast may be opened to new oil and gas extraction

More than 725,000 acres of Central Coast land could be opened up for oil and gas extraction under a new plan led by the Trump administration. But due to local regulations — and economic realities — Santa Cruz County land appears unlikely to be affected even if the plan is approved.

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