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.
New research shows that across the western United States, a
third of all consumed water goes to irrigate crops not for
human consumption, but that are used to feed beef and dairy
cattle. In the Colorado River basin, it’s over 50 percent.
Legal wrangling over San Diego’s proposed Pure Water sewage
recycling system continued Friday, when a judge gave a
temporary reprieve to a group of local contractors fighting for
the ability of non-union workers to help build the system.
The San Diego County Water Authority‘s board voted to largely
end a decade-long legal battle with the Metropolitan Water
District of Southern California after securing over $350
million in concessions.
A judge on Thursday granted a six-month extension for roughly
14,000 Ojai Valley and Ventura property owners facing a
potential water adjudication. In January, the city of Ventura
sent thousands of legal notices and summonses to people with
property near the Ventura River or one of the area’s
California’s complaint challenges the biological opinions
issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National
Marine Fisheries Service under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)
as well as the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s EIS and record of
decision completed pursuant to the National Environmental
Two bills that would make it easier for state regulators and
county officials to limit well-drilling and groundwater pumping
have died in the Arizona Legislature despite support from
lawmakers and pleas from county officials who are asking for
help to protect their rapidly declining aquifers.
A rally before the start of the Department of Water
Resources’(DWR) public scoping meeting for the Delta Conveyance
Project (DCP) set the tone for the event — residents of East
County were in no mood to consider another tunnel project in
The Pentagon may be forced to follow new state environmental
pollution standards for a family of manmade “forever chemicals”
that may have been spilled at hundreds of military sites in the
U.S., Defense Secretary Mark Esper told lawmakers. Esper was
pressed Wednesday at a House Armed Services Committee hearing
over the military’s use of widely used firefighting foam
containing chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl
substances, or PFAS, that never degrade.
The Central Valley is America’s fruit bowl, and the heart of
California’s $50bn agriculture industry. But the 2011-2017
drought raised serious questions about the future of that
industry and forced the state to grapple with regulating the
one thing fueling much of it: groundwater.
The Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC) continued progress
toward implementing the Amended Klamath Hydroelectric
Settlement Agreement (KHSA) to remove the Klamath dams and
restore a free-flowing Klamath River by selecting McMillen
Jacobs Associates to provide owner’s representation services,
according to a news release.
A federal order to drain Silicon Valley’s largest drinking
water reservoir has thrown the region into disarray, with
multiple agencies pointing fingers at each other and some local
leaders fearful their cities could run out of water, not this
summer but the following one.
Joining 12 other conservation groups from throughout the
country, the Olema-based Turtle Island Restoration Network
alleges the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers did not attempt to weigh the potential impacts to
endangered species when it removed millions of acres of
waterways and habitat from Clean Water Act protections in
This year marks the first big deadline for the Sustainable
Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), as dozens of agencies
complete initial plans to protect overdrafted water resources.
Here’s what you need to know:
A California appellate court on Tuesday threw out a Kern County
law that allowed major oil producers to rely on a single,
blanket environmental approval for 72,000 new oil wells,
instead of facing scrutiny of each new project’s potential
impact on air quality, drinking water, wildlife and other
Turns out President Donald Trump is no match for another
California drought. Less than a week after Trump told San
Joaquin Valley farmers in Bakersfield that he was taking bold
steps to increase their water supply, his administration
announced Tuesday farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin
Valley may only receive about 15 percent of their contracted
water supply for the upcoming growing season.
Silicon Valley water officials assured the public Tuesday they
have enough water to avoid shortages this summer, even after
federal regulators announced that Anderson Reservoir, the
region’s largest, must be completely drained beginning this
fall because of the risk its dam might collapse in a major
EPA proposed its revamp of the Lead and Copper Rule last fall.
That revision addresses many elements of the regulation
then-acting Region 5 Administrator Robert Kaplan critiqued. But
it does not follow one key recommendation: that the agency
establish health-based limits on lead in drinking water.
The future of the complicated network of waterways and canals
that supplies millions of Californians with water daily could
be murky at best, U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt
warned Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom in a letter Monday.
San Diego’s long-awaited Pure Water project, a sewage recycling
system that would boost the city’s water independence, is
facing legal challenges that could last longer and cost more
than city officials previously anticipated.
In a dramatic decision that could significantly impact Silicon
Valley’s water supply, federal dam regulators have ordered
Anderson Reservoir, the largest reservoir in Santa Clara
County, to be completely drained starting Oct. 1. The 240-foot
earthen dam, built in 1950 and located east of Highway 101
between Morgan Hill and San Jose, poses too great of a risk of
collapse during a major earthquake, the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission, which regulates dams, has concluded.
Officials in the city of Tehachapi approved new water and sewer
fees — in case new housing developments start moving in — to
support the construction of infrastructure that can’t quite
support projected growth in the next 10 years.
California finds itself once again taking the lead by setting
regulatory standards stricter than the rest of the nation. At
issue is the nearly ubiquitous presence of certain PFAS
chemicals in drinking water, a problem being addressed to
varying degrees by many states and federal regulators.
The contraption, reminiscent of Rube Goldberg, would produce
two of Southern California’s most precious and essential
resources: water and electricity. … The idea, developed by
Silicon Valley-based Neal Aronson and his Oceanus Power & Water
venture, caught the attention of the Santa Margarita Water
District. The agency quickly saw the project’s viability to
fill a void.
President Trump believes he “got it done” in fixing
California’s troubled and contentious water system. What he
actually produced is another wrecking-ball delay and a lawsuit
to try to halt his lopsided solution.
Farm groups are urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to work with the
federal government on water deliveries even as California
followed through Thursday on its threat to sue to nullify
biological opinions that could bring increases in surface water
for San Joaquin Valley growers.
Protecting the North Coast’s waters and the communities that
depend on them is a top priority, Congressman Jared Huffman
told a town hall at the Eureka High School auditorium Friday
night. Making sure fishermen get timely compensation when
they’re barred from fishing and ensuring there is enough water
in the area to protect fisheries are two key issues, the San
Rafael Democrat said.
The Folsom Lake Intake Improvement Project delivers district
water supplies available at Folsom Lake to the El Dorado Hills
Water Treatment Plant and is critical to service reliability
for the El Dorado Hills service area. In service since the late
1950s, significant portions of the pump station have reached
the end of their useful life.
State senators heard impassioned pleas from supporters of
proposed legislation that would make it easier for Arizona
water regulators to limit well-drilling in farming areas where
groundwater levels are falling. But in the end, the bill was
set aside, its future uncertain.
This week, a group of five-dozen microplastics researchers from
major universities, government agencies, tribes, aquariums,
environmental groups and even water sanitation districts across
the U.S. West is gathering in Bremerton, Washington, to tackle
the issue. The goal is to create a mathematical risk assessment
for microplastic pollution in the region similar to predictions
used to game out responses to major natural disasters such as
A proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would
absolve the nation’s manufacturers of cancer-linked “forever
chemicals” from broad financial responsibility for cleaning up
their product as it leaches into the water supply across the
country. The class of chemicals known as PFAS, which are noted
for their persistence in both the environment and the human
body, are used in a variety of nonstick products.
Seawater intrusion in the Salinas Valley continues to seep into
the deeper aquifers, according to the latest Monterey County
Water Resources Agency data, even as the overall rate of
seawater intrusion continues slowing down.
Climate change has dramatically decreased natural flow in the
Colorado River, jeopardizing the water supply for some 40
million people and millions of acres of farmland, according to
new research from the USGS. The decline is expected to continue
unless changes are made to alleviate global warming and the
impacts of drier, hotter temperatures.
Following a promising 2018 fall Chinook salmon season on the
Klamath that saw the run size trending upwards, the 2019
returns fell significantly short of expectations. Looking at
the numbers presented in the PFMC “Review of 2019 Ocean Salmon
Fisheries” document, it’s likely we’ll have some severe
restrictions both in the ocean and in the Klamath and Trinity
rivers in 2020.
This is an approximate 24% reduction in residential water use,
and a 7% reduction for non-residential water use from today’s
levels. This will be implemented through the existing permit
review process and any project that requires a building,
grading, or discretionary permit and would result in more than
500 sq/ft new irrigated landscaping (ex. permitting for new
addition, new garage) would be subject to this water allowance.
Oceanside celebrated the start of construction Wednesday on a
project that could make it the first city in San Diego County
to be drinking recycled water by 2022. At least two other
cities or water districts are close behind on similar projects,
and several more agencies are considering plans to make potable
recycled water a significant portion of their supply.
The state Department of Water Resources said Thursday the
Federal Emergency Management Agency agreed to cover
approximately $300 million in repair costs the agency had
previously denied. … All told, the state now expects to be
reimbursed for approximately $750 million of the $1.1 billion
cost of the crisis…
A day after President Trump visited the Central Valley to
celebrate a boost in water for California farms, state
officials sued to block the additional water deliveries.
Attorney General Xavier Becerra, in a lawsuit filed Thursday,
maintains that new federal rules designed to increase pumping
from the Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta fail to protect
salmon and other endangered fish in the delta estuary.
The Colorado River’s average annual flow has declined by nearly
20 percent compared to the last century, and researchers have
identified one of the main culprits: climate change is causing
mountain snowpack to disappear, leading to increased
The Arvin Community Service District has issued a boil water
notice to its customers due to mechanical failures at two of
its three active wells. … District General Manager Raul
Barraza, Jr. said that the district has contractors working on
both wells and hopes to have one or both wells back online as
soon as possible. He expects the notice will last at least a
Groundwater sustainability plans that have been submitted to
the state are now online at the DWR SGMA Portal. Plans are open
to public comment for 75 days after they were posted online.
Below is a table of the submitted plans, the counties they
cover and details about the public comment period for that
An attempt to list as an endangered species a plant found only
in Shasta County could put it in the middle of a controversy
over raising the height of Shasta Dam. The California Fish and
Game Commission is expected to vote Friday on whether to accept
a petition to list the Shasta snow-wreath as an endangered
species under state law.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, in a pre-emptive strike against President
Donald Trump, said Wednesday he plans to sue Trump’s
administration to block a controversial plan to increase water
deliveries to the San Joaquin Valley. Newsom’s office said he
“will file legal action in the coming days … to protect
highly imperiled fish species close to extinction.”
California is doing more to preserve its groundwater levels
than ever before, but a new, interactive tool by a local water
advocacy group suggests it may not be enough. Last Wednesday,
Visalia-based Community Water Center … argued that California
will experience longer, more severe droughts due to climate
Recently, the Department of Water Resources released a report
to supplement the 2017 California Aqueduct Subsidence Study
that addresses specific issues within a 10-mile-wide study
corridor… At the February meeting of Metropolitan’s Water
Planning and Stewardship Committee, Ted Craddock, DWR Assistant
Deputy Director of the State Water Project, provided an
overview of the report.
The Colusa Groundwater Authority, the California Department of
Water Resources and The Nature Conservancy have partnered to
conduct an on-farm, multi-benefit demonstration program for
growers in two select project locations around Colusa County.
The National Weather Service tweeted satellite images of the
Sierra on Tuesday, showing the stark difference between this
year and the above-average snowfall from 2019. The mountain
snowpack — a crucial element in the state’s annual water supply
— is 53 percent of normal for this time of year, according to
the Department of Water Resources.
Water supply concerns, regulations, labor issues, tariffs,
climate change, and other challenges have prompted some rather
dire predictions about the future of California agriculture. We
talked to Dan Sumner—director of the UC Davis Agricultural
Issues Center and a member of the PPIC Water Policy Center
research network—about his research on California agriculture
In the latest update, the cost of implementing the voluntary
agreements has soared by over $4 billion to a whopping $5.3
billion. Governor Newsom failed to mention the enormous and
growing costs in his oped praising the voluntary agreement
During President Trump’s visit to California this week, the
commander in chief who campaigned on a pledge of shipping more
water to Central Valley farms plans to stop in Bakersfield to
boast about a promise kept. … But what confounds some who are
worried that Trump’s water plan could undermine the environment
is how little the state has done to stop Washington.
Extracting salt from water seems like an easy fix to a global
problem, but the process of desalination can be expensive, and
it can also have a huge impact on the environment. That’s why
some researchers are looking into how to lower the cost and
Marking a historic moment for the city of Oceanside and the
region, city officials and water industry leaders will break
ground on Pure Water Oceanside on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 10 a.m.
at the San Luis Rey Water Reclamation Facility. Scheduled to be
completed before the end of 2021, Pure Water Oceanside will be
on the map as the first operating recycled water project in San
Hoisting the spoils of victories in California’s hard-fought
water wars, President Donald Trump is directing more of the
state’s precious water to wealthy farmers and other agriculture
interests when he visits their Republican Central Valley
A persistent ridge of high pressure has taken up residence in
the eastern Pacific, and it shows no sign of budging. It is
diverting storms into the Pacific Northwest region, which means
more dry weather for California. But did the drought in
California ever really end? Climatologist and weather expert
Bill Patzert thinks Southern California continues to be mired
in a two-decade drought…
While the Arizona Legislature considers how to respond to
problems of falling groundwater levels in rural areas, the
agriculture industry is pushing back against proposals that
would require owners of large wells across the state to measure
and report how much water they’re pumping.
Local reservoirs and municipal water supplies might become so
polluted from the fires that the current water supply
infrastructure will be challenged or could no longer treat the
water. … But most of the fire-prone areas in North America
lack large-scale vulnerability assessments of their municipal
There are many reasons for the shift, from rising incomes
overseas and a shortage of farm labor to scarcity of water for
irrigation. But as expected, the bottom line is the bottom
line: growers generally plant what sells best.
Though sampling indicated levels of PFOS and PFOA in a couple
of local sources of water, Elsinore Valley Municipal Water
District is currently not producing drinking water from
impacted sources. EVMWD is evaluating options to meet these new
regulations including importing water to offset local supplies
and in the long term, considering construction of treatment
systems if water sources exceed state mandated response levels.
A persistent ridge of high pressure has taken up residence in
the eastern Pacific, and it shows no sign of budging. It is
diverting storms into the Pacific Northwest region, which means
more dry weather for California. But did the drought in
California ever really end? Climatologist and weather expert
Bill Patzert thinks Southern California continues to be mired
in a two-decade drought…
The changes, mandated by Senate Bill 998, mean customers will
have at least 60 days to settle their bill before becoming
delinquent. The changes also require water utilities to provide
written notice at least seven days before service
discontinuation, which must contain information on how to avoid
an interruption of service as well as procedures for contesting
or appealing a bill.
It’s time for Gov. Gavin Newsom to own up on water policy. He
can either play nice with a roughshod plan from President Trump
to divert crucial water flows or craft his own blueprint that
balances both wildlife and California’s economy.
11,000 households in San Jose’s Willow Glen and Williams Road
neighborhoods received letters in the mail beginning in late
January from the San Jose Water Company warning that the wells
that provide them with drinking water tested positive for
elevated levels of per-flouro-octane sulfonic acid, known as
David joins me today to discuss the water economy and where we
are right now as a civilization. He shares why we should be in
a global state of panic and why we’re no longer in a world
where water is sustainable. He explains the need for water to
be priced and how it can positively affect the ag industry.
David also discusses water rights, “free water,” the water
market, and possible solutions to water scarcity.
Cal Am’s request calls for raising water rates to increase
revenue by about $8.4 million in the Monterey district to cover
new capital investment, increased labor costs, and higher
administrative and operations expenses, driving the “average”
local customer’s bill from about $89.40 to about $105.78 over
the three-year period from 2021-2023.
While Trump will be in town Wednesday to discuss agriculture
issues with local farmers, as of Friday the Kern County Farm
Bureau remained in the dark about the president’s visit, and
the Kern County Republican Party similarly had not been
informed of Trump’s plans. … A White House statement released
to the media said Trump’s Bakersfield visit would focus on
efforts to dramatically improve the supply and delivery of
water in California and other Western states.
Access to reliable, clean drinking water should be a
fundamental human right for all Californians. Unfortunately,
many disadvantaged communities throughout the state lack access
to clean drinking water, and our aging water delivery
infrastructure threatens water reliability for millions of
President Trump will splash into California’s perpetually
roiled water world next week when he drops by the southern San
Joaquin Valley city that’s home to his biggest House booster
and proximate to some of the state’s biggest dilemmas. With his
expected visit to Bakersfield, Trump can affirm support for
increased irrigation water deliveries, troll Democratic Gov.
Gavin Newsom and reward House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy
(R-Calif.) in his hometown.
A potential lawsuit in North Carolina and legislation in
Congress have together surfaced an under-the-radar debate about
who shoulders the burden of preventing contamination of
waterways with toxic PFAS chemicals.
In response to concerns about lead in the water at schools in
Cabrillo Unified School District, the district is moving
forward with a plan to get 25 filtered water bottle filling
stations installed across Cabrillo campuses.
Reps. Jim Costa (D–Fresno) and TJ Cox (D–Fresno) joined fellow
Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee to grant
wide-ranging subpoena power to the committee’s chair, Raul
Grijalva (D–Ariz.)… A key inquiry likely to be explored by
Grijalva … is to dig into the Trump administration’s issuance
of new biological opinions governing the Central Valley
By the most conservative estimate, 500,000 acres of agriculture
land are expected to go fallow in the San Joaquin Valley as
SGMA is implemented over the next 20 years, [David] Orth said,
while some studies say it could be as much as 1 million acres.
Since this process is just starting in the Sacramento Valley,
it’s unclear how the area might be impacted, but in general,
north of the Delta is in better shape.
This rain-year has brought an alarmingly dry winter in
California so far, according to climate change experts. Now,
there’s a new tool to help Californians navigate your water
supply. It’s an online tool that allows a person to see the
groundwater levels in their area. The tool then gives a
representation of what could be at risk or impacted if a
The Atwater City Council this week unanimously declared its
highest priority public improvement project to be restoring the
city’s clean water. The urgent resolution came after a
carcinogenic chemical, 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (TCP), was found
in several Atwater wells — and in quantities exceeding
state-approved maximum contaminant levels.
Do you have something to say about the state-mandated
sustainability plan that will limit individual and agricultural
groundwater consumption in Merced County? The Jan. 31 deadline
for local agencies to submit their 20-year sustainable
groundwater management plan has passed, kicking off a 75-day
public comment period before the Department of Water Resources
Warren Turkett, a natural resource analyst for the Colorado
River Commission of Nevada, told commissioners Tuesday that a
warm summer and lack of precipitation in the upper Colorado
River Basin last year left soil drier than normal, which is
expected to cut the amount of water flowing into Lake Powell to
20 percent below average based on current projections.
City staff recommends Pleasanton sign on to a potentially $1
million task order with three other Tri-Valley public water
agencies for preliminary studies and community outreach … to
explore the possibility of supplementing the local water supply
with recycled water treated for drinking purposes, better known
as potable reuse water.
State water officials offered an early look at the downsized
California WaterFix project earlier this month, and
conservationists and far-traveling indigenous tribes say they
still believe it has the potential to permanently alter life in
and around the Delta.
California American Water has received a 90-day extension of
the deadline for the Coastal Commission to consider the
company’s desalination project permit application, effectively
allowing commission staff about four more months to complete
Wednesday, the House Natural Resources Committee is scheduled
to vote on a resolution granting Committee Chair Raul Grijalva
(D–Ariz.) wide-ranging subpoena power over the Interior
Department. One inquiry in the hopper: a closer look at the
process that yielded the Trump Administration’s
freshly-released biological opinions governing the
federally-operated Central Valley Project.
Both Republicans and Democrats are backing measures in the
Legislature that would enable Arizona to start measuring how
much groundwater is pumped in unregulated rural areas where
aquifers have been rapidly declining.
A growing health crisis fueled by synthetic chemicals known as
per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in groundwater
has garnered much attention in the last few years. The reported
levels could be “just the tip of the iceberg,” as most of the
chemicals are still migrating down slowly through the soil,
according to Bo Guo, University of Arizona assistant professor
of hydrology and atmospheric sciences.
Experts and advocates on Tuesday criticized the Environmental
Protection Agency’s proposed rule to combat lead in the water
supply, calling for the agency to require that service lines
containing lead be replaced.
Dr. Kurt Schwabe … stated that from 2007 to 2015 water prices
increased an average of 45% while income has been stagnant or
decreased by an average of 6%. This affects a household’s
discretionary income, the disposable income left over after
subtracting the cost of water and other essential needs. As
water prices rise and discretionary income falls below zero,
households are forced to make tradeoffs for some of their
California’s alarmingly dry winter continues, with no
meaningful snow or rain in sight. Although it’s far too soon to
predict a drought, experts said wildfire risks could worsen
this summer as a result of the shortage of precipitation.
A bill that could help disadvantaged Central Valley towns
including ones in Tulare County provide safe and affordable
drinking water is facing opposition by Republican critics,
including GOP representatives from California. In December
2019, Rep. TJ Cox (D-Fresno) unveiled a $100 million proposal
to make improvements in small towns suffering from contaminated
In the coming weeks and months, the Newsom administration,
water users and conservation groups will continue to refine a
framework for potential voluntary agreements intended to
benefit salmon and other fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin
A report recently published by the Lawrence Livermore National
Lab, Getting to Neutral, suggests that power plants across the
state could profitably convert wood from forests and orchards
into liquid or hydrogen fuels, all while capturing their
Wildfire poses layers of risk to drinking water that unspool
over time and geography, with some effects emerging years
later, sometimes outside the burn zone… Water utility
managers, engineers and scientists have only recently begun to
grapple with the aftereffects of fires that consume entire
neighborhoods and towns—as they did in California—and that in
the process, release dozens of manmade pollutants into water
The EIR scoping meetings for the single-tunnel delta conveyance
facility (DCF) began this week. My comments focus on two
critical areas where DWR appears to be repeating their mistakes
of their past despite the Newsom administration’s stated
intention of taking a fresh approach
The group called Water Audit California has used lawsuits to
pry water releases from local reservoirs for fish and has
threatened a groundwater-related lawsuit against Napa County.
The group last week co-sponsored a forum to suggest another
Wildfires can have many detrimental impacts on water supplies.
The effects can last for multiple decades and include drinking
water pollution, reservoir sedimentation, flash floods and
reduced recreational benefits from rivers. These impacts
represent a growing hazard as populations expand, and
communities encroach onto forest landscapes.
The local steelhead run is at the height of its roughly
four-month window, when adult fish raised from eggs at the Don
Clausen Hatchery return from the ocean, swimming up the Russian
River and Dry Creek. Returning salmon — including wild and
hatchery raised chinook and coho — make similar journeys
through the watershed, but their spawning seasons are a bit
More than dust-filled air could be plaguing residents around
the quickly evaporating Salton Sea in Imperial Valley.
University of California, Riverside research shows toxic
aerosols could also be filling the air. The problem has to do
with agricultural fertilizer in the Salton Sea wetland area.
First things first: you’d be wise to forget everything you’ve
read or heard recently about “voluntary agreements,” which
according to the usual suspects, will bring a just and peaceful
end the seemingly never-ending battle over California water.
Not true. Not even close.
Under a 1944 treaty, Mexico and the United States are supposed
to allow cross-border flows of water to each other, but Mexico
has fallen badly behind and now has to quickly catch up on
payments. … Mexico’s federal government dispatched National
Guard officers to protect the La Boquilla dam Tuesday, but
hundreds of farmers pushed and shoved them back hundreds of
yards in a failed bid to take over the dam’s control room.
A warming climate has been linked to human activity around the
world, and has affected the Colorado River System as well. The
impacts are substantial, from reduced water flows, threats to
indigenous species and the influx of new invasive species along
the river system.
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission recently
purchased nearly 800 acres of verdant, rolling hills and
expansive bay area views east of Milpitas, a property known as
Wool Ranch, adding cohesion to its collection of protected
lands that surround the watershed feeding the Calaveras
Regulating the day-to-day details of an oil and gas operation
can be a complex task, with both regulators and operators
working hard to prevent leaks, explosions and other threats to
worker safety, community health and the environment. … That’s
why we track what states are up to on a consistent basis.
“In many ways, summer steelhead are the most extreme athletes
of the steelhead, allowing them to get up to habitats higher in
the watersheds like the Middle Fork Eel River in the Yolla
Bolly Wilderness, their southernmost stronghold where they have
unimpeded access,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
biologist Damon Goodman. “Having clear routes of passage to be
able to make it up and express their life history is critical
to their survival.”
In the waning moments of 2019, San Francisco’s Water Department
persuaded Congress to deny long-promised access to unreachable
areas of Yosemite National Park. This power play would ban
environmentally benign boating on Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. The
move reverses the guarantees of improved access and recreation
which San Francisco made in 1913, when it pleaded with Congress
to pass the Raker Act and allow it to build the reservoir in
Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park.
Jan. 31 marked a major milestone for building groundwater
sustainability and climate resilience into California’s complex
and increasingly stressed water systems. It was the first major
planning deadline for implementing the state’s historic
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
While the Ventura River may be beautiful, a legal case over its
water is turning ugly. Thousands of people like Jessica
Colborn, born and raised in Upper Ojai, are being served legal
papers. This is because of their wells that use water from the
The governing boards of the two water agencies, which combined
serve southern and eastern San Diego County, recently created a
joint committee to explore a potential arrangement that would
allow Sweetwater to purchase recycled water from Otay.
Owens Valley Indian Water Commission is pleased to announce the
Commission awarded the Big Pine Tribe a $100,000 Agriculture
Assistance Grant torepair segments of the Tribe’s irrigation
system to ensure tribal members have access to water for
agricultural and general purposes.
The state lowered the acceptable levels for two PFAS toxins in
drinking water on Thursday, triggering the closure of wells
throughout the California — including 33 in Orange County,
which has been particularly plagued by the so-called “forever
Luisa Valiela is an Environmental Protection Specialist in the
watershed division of US EPA Region 9. Xavier Fernandez is the
Chief of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Board’s Planning
and TMDL division. At the 2019 State of the Estuary conference,
Ms. Valiela and Mr. Fernandez gave a joint presentation
covering the goals and objectives of the Wetlands Regional
Monitoring Program, the development process, and the Program
Plan that will be released in early 2020.
The governor’s newest proposal signals Newsom may be softening
his fight against Trump, but opening another battle. Newsom may
have traded a court fight with Trump for a legal battle with
the very environmentalists the Democratic administration has
seen as allies.
Pure Water Monterey has finally secured a critical final state
approval and is poised to begin delivering potable recycled
water to the Seaside basin by mid-February. After an all-day
inspection of the $126 million recycled water project’s
advanced water purification facility by a nine-member team on
Tuesday, the state Division of Drinking Water signed off both
verbally and by email.
Researchers at Virginia Institute of Marine Science issued
their annual report card which looked at tide-gauge records for
32 coastal locations, stretching from Maine to Alaska. … The
Bay Area was home to two of those stations: one in Alameda and
one in San Francisco, which both recorded a year-over-year
Lawmakers in Arizona have proposed a new bill that would
require toilets, faucets and other plumbing fixtures sold in
the state to work more efficiently in an effort to save water.
… If passed into law, HB 2737 would emulate rules in states
like Texas, Colorado, California, Oregon, and New York state
that all require WaterSense certified fixtures in all new
Across much of California, fossil fuel companies are leaving
thousands of oil and gas wells unplugged and idle, potentially
threatening the health of people living nearby and handing
taxpayers a multibillion-dollar bill for the environmental
The Ventura City Council announced Monday that it may request a
six-month extension from the court for the thousands who were
sent legal notices or served with a court summons in the case.
… The litigation dates back to 2014 when Santa Barbara
Channelkeeper filed a lawsuit alleging the city of Ventura
was taking too much water from the Ventura River,
hurting habitat for steelhead trout and other wildlife.
Unfortunately, there are few places so well-suited for
geothermal energy as the site of the Geysers in California,
which was built over an area with naturally occurring steam and
a reservoir of hot water. That is why some experts advocate for
enhanced geothermal energy systems (EGS), which pump water into
the ground to tap natural heat sources, creating conditions for
geothermal energy in areas where it would otherwise be
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers finalized a long-awaited new rule redefining the term
“Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act
(CWA). The Agencies state that their so-called Navigable Waters
Protection Rule will improve and streamline the regulatory
definition of WOTUS.
The Air Force research crew on the WC-130J Super Hercules
airplane was cruising at 28,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean,
preparing to deploy 25 weather-sensing devices over a long band
of water vapor known as an “atmospheric river” when the hazards
of air travel got in the way of science.
The Four Corners drought of 2017 and 2018 caused $3 billion in
losses and prompted the Navajo Nation to issue an emergency
drought declaration. Now, new research in the Bulletin of the
American Meteorological Society suggests a sizable portion of
the drought’s impacts stemmed from human-caused climate change.
The Bureau of Land Management may stop studying how its
long-term blueprints for millions of acres of public lands
would affect the environment, according to a document shared
with Bloomberg Environment. … The BLM may propose a land use
planning rule that will “remove NEPA requirements from the
planning regulations,” referring to the National Environmental
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation last year lost a major partner
willing to help pay for raising the height of Shasta Dam, but
that hasn’t stopped the agency from going forward with the
project. The federal agency continues to look for new partners
after the Fresno-based Westlands Water District backed out, and
the bureau continues to do “pre-construction” and design work
on the dam.
California’s governor revealed a plan on Tuesday that would
keep more water in the fragile San Joaquin River Delta while
restoring 60,000 acres of habitat for endangered species and
generating more than $5 billion in new funding for
From an ecologist’s perspective, river habitat and species
population sizes and life histories were shaped by unimpaired
flow patterns (including volume and natural variability) across
seasons and years. Science from across the world, other regions
in the US, and right here in California suggests that we can
take some of that flow for other uses, but must preserve
adequate volume and natural patterns of variation if we want
native species to survive.
Vast amounts of valuable energy, agricultural nutrients, and
water could potentially be recovered from the world’s
fast-rising volume of municipal wastewater, according to a new
study by UN University’s Canadian-based Institute for Water,
Environment and Health.
A bill introduced last week by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) helped craft would ban
fracking nationwide by 2025, according to its newly unveiled
text. The legislation would immediately prevent federal
agencies from issuing federal permits for expanded fracking,
new fracking, new pipelines, new natural gas or oil export
terminals and other gas and oil infrastructure.
Connie Woodhouse and David Meko, professors at the University
of Arizona’s Laboratory of Tree Ring Research, found the most
recent span of 100 years, when five perfect droughts hit
California, was not unusual compared to past centuries.
Congressional leaders unveiled a transformative vision of
moving America and the environment forward by investing in 21st
century infrastructure. The Moving Forward Framework outlines a
five-year plan for bold investment in transportation and water
Plans to replace the Lake Wohlford dam are now on hold as
Escondido investigates other, less expensive options because
the projected cost of the project has escalated to more than
$50 million. It was nearly 13 years ago when state inspectors
determined that the top quarter of the dam might liquefy in the
event of a major earthquake…
Democratic congressman from Fresno introduced two pieces of
legislation that aim to repair aging canals and water
infrastructure in California that’s been damaged by sinking
ground levels – called subsidence, caused by groundwater
State Sen. Scott Wiener will unveil legislation today to let
the state of California seize control of the embattled utility
PG&E. Wiener’s bill … would use eminent domain to force
the company’s stockholders to sell their shares to the state of
California, which would then take over operations.
In November 2018, more than two-thirds of voters passed Measure
W, a comprehensive plan to address how we capture water and how
to reduce our reliance on imported water. Now called the Safe
Clean Water Program, this annual 2.5 cent per impervious square
foot tax for all non-exempt property owners will fund over $250
million dollars annually to build and maintain projects that
capture rainfall and storm water…
An audit of 650 California dams considered hazardous found that
only a small fraction have completed emergency plans required
after the Oroville Dam spillway collapsed three years ago and
forced the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people.
One of the major questions fish biologists are often asked is
“how much water do fish need?” In 2016, a group of scientists
from California Trout, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, The Nature
Conservancy, Utah State University and the Southern California
Coastal Water Research Project, with funding in partnership
from the State Water Board, began to delve into this question
Overpumping of groundwater has led to a variety of negative
effects including reduced groundwater levels, seawater
intrusion, and degraded water quality. It has also led to
subsidence, which causes damage to critical water
infrastructure. In some cases, years of overpumping have left
entire California communities and farms without safe and
reliable local water supplies.
When a Healdsburg winery leaked thousands of gallons of
Cabernet into the Russian River last week, the jokes flowed,
too. … But the spill coincided with a more sobering blow to
clean water, coming to light the day the Trump administration
announced it was ripping up expanded protections for streams,
wetlands and groundwater adopted by the Obama administration.
To inform our conservation work on the Eel, CalTrout has teamed
up with partners on this new project – The Adult Salmonid Sonar
Monitoring Program – to tally the annual spawning run of
Chinook salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead on the South Fork
Eel River with a Sound Metrics Dual Frequency Identification
California’s win rate shows that lawyers in its attorney
general’s office are bringing strong cases, says legal scholar
Buzz Thompson, founding director of the Stanford Woods
Institute for the Environment.
The situation in Australia illustrates a growing global
concern: Forests, grasslands and other areas that supply
drinking water to hundreds of millions of people are
increasingly vulnerable to fire due in large part to hotter,
drier weather that has extended fire seasons, and more people
moving into those areas, where they can accidentally set fires.
Kiara Nirghin, ’22, developed a unique polymer that can keep
crops hydrated during dry spells. The innovative research has
garnered her global recognition, including top honors at the
Google Science Fair.
A San Francisco Bay Program Office would be established at the
Environmental Protection Agency to make grants for estuary
conservation and other water-related initiatives under a
modified version of H.R. 1132. The bill would authorize $25
million annually for the office for fiscal 2021 through 2025.
On the heels of a seemingly perpetual drought that has slowed
surface water deliveries to a trickle and made water transfers
complicated and expensive, Joe Del Bosque and other growers
face new pumping restrictions under the Sustainable Groundwater
Management Act. … The farm’s water costs have already more
than doubled in the past 10 years…
In the South Bay, Santa Clara County’s 10 reservoirs combined
are at about two-thirds of their normal levels at this point in
the year. Lexington Reservoir, near Los Gatos is just half
full. Water managers say local groundwater supplies remain
strong so the reduced Sierra snowpack is not yet of critical
California’s win rate shows that lawyers in its attorney
general’s office are bringing strong cases, says legal scholar
Buzz Thompson, founding director of the Stanford Woods
Institute for the Environment.
People crowded into an Ojai junior high school auditorium
recently after thousands received legal notices or a court
summons from the city of Ventura. The city notified 14,000-plus
property owners in the Ventura River watershed of a potential
adjudication of water rights. That move came years after the
city faced legal action over its own water use.
The plan, put together with the help of Carollo Engineers,
Inc., lays out a 20-year road map of projects needed to
maintain and improve the city’s reservoirs, water tanks, wells,
underground pipes and pump stations.
The preferred alternative to address seismic safety concerns at
the structure, commonly known as San Luis Dam, involves raising
the crest of the dam by 12 feet, adding shear keys to prevent
slippage and construction of downstream berms to strengthen the
structure… Work on the project is expected to begin in August
Coastal Commission staff has recommended California American
Water withdraw and resubmit a coastal development permit
application involving the company’s proposed Monterey Peninsula
desalination project, which would likely postpone a hearing on
the desal permit and a pending appeal until September at the
The vast majority of California’s major dams aren’t adequately
prepared for an emergency. Three years after the near-disaster
at Oroville Dam, only 22 state-regulated dams have finalized
emergency plans — out of 650 major dams that are required by
law to have plans in place — according to a report issued
Thursday by State Auditor Elaine Howle.
Congress began the process of providing relief to the San
Joaquin Valley when it comes to the Friant-Kern Canal and clean
drinking water in rural communities when a subcommittee held a
hearing on two bills sponsored by T.J. Cox.
The Santa Monica City Council approved a water self-sufficiency
plan Tuesday that will double the price of water and wastewater
removal by 2024. The rate increases will finance about $42
million in infrastructure projects that will allow Santa Monica
to stop importing water from the Metropolitan Water District of
Southern California by 2023.
Large lawns and backyard pools were once common features of new
homes in the Phoenix area, but not anymore. A recent study of
single-family homes in the Phoenix metropolitan area showed
that nearly two-thirds of homes do not have a swimming pool.
The California Department of Water Resources conducted the
second monthly snow survey of the year Thursday morning at
Phillips Station snow course in the Sierra Nevada, south of
Lake Tahoe. Snowpack across the state is averaging 72 percent
of what’s normal for the start of February.
The multi-year, multi-agency effort to transform the lower
landscape of the Carmel River into a natural floodplain took a
massive step forward Jan. 28 when the Monterey County Board of
Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the project’s final
environmental impact report.
At a breakfast event hosted by the Water Association of Kern
County shortly after the amendments were adopted, a panel
discussed what the new program from the Central Valley Regional
Water Quality Control Board means for dischargers in the
Central Valley. The panel speakers were Clay Rodgers, Assistant
Executive Officer at the regional water board; Tess Dunham, an
attorney with Somach Simmons & Dunn; and Richard Meyerhoff, a
water quality specialist with GEI Consultants.
Wildfires are feasting on overgrown, overcrowded and
undermanaged forests, warmer temperatures have created longer
fire seasons and officials are trying to prevent another
environmental catastrophe. That was all just part of the
discussion Monday during Operation Sierra Storm, a national
weather conference sponsored by the Lake Tahoe Visitors
Understanding why desalination is so critical to California’s
water future is a lot like building a personal budget. With a
changing climate, growing population and booming economy, we
need to include desalination in the water supply equation to
help make up an imported water deficit.
When Wendy Rash was diagnosed in 2005 with a thyroid disorder,
chronic fatigue and other ailments, her doctor couldn’t explain
her suddenly failing health. … It wasn’t until 2016 that
scientists tested the tap water they had been drinking and
found it was contaminated with man-made chemicals known as
per-fluorinated compounds, part of a family of chemicals called
In preparation for the inevitable, Self-Help Enterprises …
has launched a new and innovative Emergency Services Division
that will reach and engage diverse and vulnerable populations
around natural disasters, such as drought, fire, flood and
earthquake. The program will also help families receive urgent
access to clean water, help with water well replacement and
water filtration services as needed.
Fracta combines artificial intelligence with machine learning
and measures everything from soil quality to population density
of an area, along with historical information on when pipes
were installed and what they are made of. The startup says it
has already won contracts in 23 states, including cities such
as San Francisco and Oakland, which have faced water shortages.
The public will get an opportunity to hear from the city of
Ventura on Thursday about why it has sent out thousands of
notices and summonses to those who use, pump or own property in
the Ventura River watershed. The process started years ago
after Santa Barbara Channelkeeper filed a lawsuit alleging the
city was taking too much water from the watershed, officials
January 31 is a big day for California water. It’s the day when
21 critically overdrafted groundwater basins must submit plans
to the state for how they will bring their groundwater demand
in line with available supplies over the next 20 years.
Water-related projects topped the list of infrastructure
priorities for mayors, according to the 2019 Menino Survey of
Mayors released this month. Why it matters: The survey revealed
urgency around investments in water, wastewater and stormwater
facilities, with mayors 10 percentage points more likely to
focus on that issue than four years ago.
It was standing room only as supporters of Curtimade Dairy
lined the walls of Corcoran City Council chambers during last
night’s city council meeting. Corcoran is currently suing the
Curti family for $65 million dollars for damages incurred when
their dairy allegedly contaminated the city’s water supply at
the height of the drought in 2015.
It is doubtful that the new Navigable Waters Protection Rule
will provide any benefits to California’s farmers and ranchers.
Because of rules that the State Water Board established last
year, California is unlikely to be affected by the recent
federal regulation that replaces the Waters of the U.S. rule.
Tests are still finding such deadly pesticides as DDT, despite
the ban of its use in farming during the 1970s. There are also
untold amounts of ammunition from military testing as well as
uranium left over from the Atomic Energy Commission for
WWII-era testing. Proponents don’t claim sea water import is a
perfect answer; just the most feasible means of containing
these toxins as they are heavier than water.
Executive Director and Founder of the Kern River Conservancy
Gary Ananian spoke to the Kern Valley Sun about the
organization’s project in process. For the last couple of
years, the organization has been working on a documentary
highlighting the importance of introducing native trout back
into the ecology of the Kern River and bringing about awareness
of issues facing the river.
Time and time again seemingly well-intentioned initiatives and
repeated attempts to develop a comprehensive water management
solution have failed, despite cautionary tales. However, 2019
witnessed the horizon of a new initiative called the Voluntary
Agreements that could do what few, if any, past plans, efforts,
or reports could do – unite water management and develop
By analyzing more than two decades of data in the western U.S.,
scientists have shown that flood sizes increase exponentially
as a higher fraction of precipitation falls as rain, offering
insight into how flood risks may change in a warming world with
Doug Ridley and Sherry Shen figured their condominium in Santa
Clara would serve as a retirement nest egg, drawing enough
rental income so they could comfortably travel to the United
Kingdom and Asia visiting relatives. Instead, the last two
years have turned into a homeowner’s nightmare, thanks to an
old artesian well
The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians has filed a second
lawsuit against the Coachella Valley Water District and Desert
Water Agency over groundwater. … In the new complaint filed
on Jan. 24, the tribe asserts that it and its members should
not have to pay a “replenishment assessment charge” for
groundwater production on land owned by the tribe and
individual tribal members.
The city of Corcoran and Curtimade Dairy have been neighbors
for more than 100 years. But about four years ago, their
relationship turned contentious. The city said it planned to
sue the dairy for contaminating its drinking water wells with
nitrates, a contaminant that if consumed, can interfere with
the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen to body tissues.
Despite growing concerns of a below-average rainfall season,
the city of Ontario revoked mandatory conservation measures
this week, setting a 0% water conservation target with state
regulators. … The City Council approved the change from
mandatory Stage 2 water conservation to voluntary conservation
on Tuesday, Jan. 21.
The Lake Local Area Formation Commission has approved a
proposal to annex Middletown Rancheria land into the Callayomi
County Water District in order to ensure a safe, reliable
source of water for the tribe’s homes and casino.
A company’s proposal to take water from farmland along the
Colorado River and sell it to a growing Phoenix suburb has
provoked a heated debate, and some Arizona legislators are
trying to block the deal with a bill that would prohibit the
The Chino City Council on Tuesday night approved selling
3,500-acre-feet of surplus groundwater to the Fontana Water
Company for more than $2 million. … As of June 2019, the city
of Chino’s stored groundwater reserves totaled approximately
120,000-acre-feet, which is equivalent to 31.1 billion gallons
A single almond takes about three and half litres of water to
produce. Most almonds – an estimated 82 per cent – are grown in
drought-afflicted California, where it constitutes a
multibillion-dollar industry. The number of almond orchards has
doubled in the last 20 years in California.
Cleaning up the tens of thousands of oil and gas wells
scattered across California — which includes plugging them,
removing surface infrastructure and cleaning the soil — could
eventually cost more than $9 billion if they fall to the state
to handle, a new report commissioned by state oil regulators
The moratorium has led state officials to place on hold 58
permit applications for high-pressure cyclic steam wells,
according to Don Drysdale, a spokesman for the Department of
Conservation, which oversees the division now known as the
California Geologic Energy Management Division, or CalGEM. A
Southern California lawmaker who has launched an inquiry into
the steam injection wells says CalGEM’s new rules don’t go far
Watershed adjudications take a long time and their outcomes are
impossible to predict. Thus the interest expressed by some
major water purveyors (like the City of Ventura, Casitas
Municipal Water District, Ventura River Water District and
Meiners Oaks Water District) in pursuing a court-sanctioned
settlement agreement. Negotiations on a settlement have begun
and could avert the need for a lengthy basin-wide adjudication.
In California’s never-ending water and fish wars, the striped
bass doesn’t get nearly the publicity as its celebrity
counterparts, the endangered Chinook salmon and Delta smelt.
Yet the striped bass is at the heart of a protracted fight over
California’s water supply, 140 years after the hard-fighting
fish, beloved by anglers, was introduced here from the East
New state-of-the-art water meters that will provide accurate,
real-time readings of how much water Lathrop’s residential
customers use are on the way. The Lathrop City Council approved
a consent calendar item that will allow city staff to purchase
the remaining 3,506 water meters in the city that have not yet
been updated – approving the expenditure of $436,760 and a
contingency of $43,676 to modernize the aging system.
For decades, California’s coastal aquifers have been plagued by
invading seawater, turning pristine wells into salty ruins. But
the state’s coastal water agencies now plan to get more
aggressive in holding back the invasion by injecting millions
of gallons of treated sewage and other purified wastewater deep
Trump administration officials took a victory lap after they
unveiled their final revisions to Clean Water Act protections
for waterways and wetlands. But the Waters of the U.S., or
WOTUS, replacement rule that EPA and the Army Corps of
Engineers completed yesterday must now survive a possible
Democratic win in the 2020 presidential election and an
expected inundation of challenges in the courts.
A new project out of UC Merced — funded by a $2.5 million grant
from the National Science Foundation — seeks to address this
problem by developing an innovative, environmentally friendly
and economically feasible system to desalinate and reuse
agricultural drainage water.
January’s rainfall has been unimpressive to date, and Jan Null,
veteran meteorologist with Golden Gate Weather Services, agrees
that the last week of the month looks relatively dry. Seasonal
precipitation totals for Northern and Central California
continue to fall behind normal.
A water management district created by a 1993 state law that
allowed massive subdivisions to spread into the outer suburbs
of Tucson and Phoenix is now heading for a “train wreck,” warns
former Arizona Governor and Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.
Yolanda Cuevas saw herself on the big screen for the first time
during the Saturday premiere of “The Great Water Divide:
California’s Water Crisis” in Exeter. The short documentary
focuses on Tooleville, a hamlet in eastern Tulare County where
children can’t wash their hands, dishes or vegetables without
supervision because the water is tainted with multiple
In wildland forest locations, they found that drought-ridden
and drier locales like Idaho and Colorado have longer stretches
of post-burn protection (about 20 years) because the woody
debris in those forests require extreme drought to carry fires
and the land lacks grassy fuels. Coastal California, however,
receives more moisture and grassy fuel grows quickly,
increasing the risk for reburn, seeing that negative feedback
disappear after about 10 years.
Konar and her colleagues combined groundwater depletion data
with county-level food trade data. They found that, between
2002 and 2012, unsustainable groundwater use increased by 32
percent in products traded domestically. The increase was 38
percent for exported goods. If groundwater is like a bank
account, then this is deficit spending.
We are on the brink of a historic accomplishment in California
water to resolve longstanding conflicts through comprehensive
voluntary agreements that substitute collaboration and creative
solutions for perpetual litigation. For anyone to abandon this
transformative effort in favor of litigation would be a tragic