Topic: Water Supply


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

Water regulators investigating illegal siphoning of Russian River

As farms and communities along the Russian River feel the brunt of the worsening drought, state regulators suspect that some people have been siphoning off water illegally. … It seems that some of the water released is not getting all the way down to Healdsburg, and state regulators think some people up river might be cheating.

Aquafornia news Politico

Drought forces first water cuts on the Colorado River. They’re just the beginning

A two-decade-long megadrought along the Colorado River is pushing seven Western states and parts of Mexico into a formal shortage declaration, forcing water delivery cuts to the Southwest that are just the beginning of the pain climate change promises to bring to the region. Climate scientists and water managers have long seen this declaration coming, but what’s alarming them is the speed with which the hot and dry conditions over the past four years have shrunk the river’s two main reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, to levels not seen since they were first filled.

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Aquafornia news Downey Brand LLP

Blog: State Water Board issues emergency regulations for curtailments in Delta watershed

The State Water Resources Control Board (“State Water Board”) issued emergency regulations on August 3, 2021, authorizing Board staff to curtail diversions and require informational reporting from water users in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed (“Delta Emergency Regulations”). The regulations, which are expected to be finalized by the Office of Administrative Law in the coming days, set parameters for information gathering and determination of supply and demand in the watershed as well as the issuance of curtailment orders upon determination of water unavailability. 

Aquafornia news Marketplace

California farms destroying crops instead of paying for water

When Stuart Woolf was growing up on his dad’s ranch in Huron, California, he never liked working the tomato harvest. “I thought, ‘I am never going to do this.’ Everything was kind of wet, hot and stinky,” Woolf said.  These days, though, now as president of the 20,000-acre ranch, Woolf is prioritizing tomatoes over some of his other crops, like cotton and almonds, since they’re relatively less water-intensive. With the drought desiccating California’s Central Valley, farmers like Woolf are having to reevaluate their business models based on how much water they can afford.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Buy water as Western shortages continue, attorneys tell clients

Western water scarcity is prompting big law firms in the Colorado River Basin to advise their clients to pursue conservation measures — but also to buy more water. A projected shortage and first-ever water cuts announced Monday by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Reclamation means that cities, industry, and commercial businesses need to prepare for the likelihood the current 21-year megadrought in the region represents a “new normal.”

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Southern California water officials declare supply alert amid worsening drought

Southern California’s powerful water agency on Tuesday issued a supply alert, calling on the region to conserve vital resources and prepare for continued drought — a move that brings the state’s largest population center closer to the tough water restrictions imposed on communities elsewhere. The move comes one day after U.S. officials declared the first-ever water shortage on the Colorado River, which is a key source of water for the region.

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Aquafornia news KMPH

Sites Reservoir is last proposed dam project being considered in California

Only one water storage project remains a possibility in California seven years after voters approved a bond to build more dams. Sites Reservoir is the last proposed project standing. State Senator Jim Nielsen of Red Bluff has spent years fighting to build Sites Reservoir in Northern California. It’s a $5-billiion project creating 1-point-8 million acres feet of water storage.

Aquafornia news City News Service

Metropolitan board considers declaring water supply alert as drought worsens

In response to worsening drought conditions, the board of Southern California’s regional water wholesaler will consider declaring a Water Supply Alert that calls upon residents to voluntarily conserve the precious resource. According to officials with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), Southern California’s water supply has been severely impacted by extreme drought in both the Northern Sierra and the Colorado River, saying crucial storage reservoirs have never been lower.

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Aquafornia news KTLA

NOAA predicts 70% chance of La Niña winter: Here’s what that means for drought-stricken SoCal

It’s looking increasingly likely the U.S. will see La Niña conditions this winter, something that could spell bad news for an already parched Southern California. As of Thursday, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says there’s a 70% chance that La Niña returns for a second straight winter, this time between the period of November 2021 and January 2022. As such, a La Niña Watch has been issued by the agency. So what does that mean for winter weather?

Aquafornia news SJV Water

The face of California’s water world is changing

In California’s water world, long dominated almost exclusively by men, women are blazing a path — sometimes straight to the top. … Karla Nemeth [director of California’s Department of Water Resources] … said law and engineering backgrounds used to be strictly prioritized in water, but the field is opening up to other disciplines and collaborative skills. Nemeth, arguably one of the state’s most powerful water leaders, helms DWR, which manages California’s water resources, infrastructure and systems. 

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Deep pockets vie for Kern pistachio orchards

Pistachios have recently become perhaps the top choice for institutional investors in Kern County agriculture, apparently surpassing almonds. Farmland brokers say prices and demand for local pistachio orchards — the few properties listed for sale, anyway — have increased since about 2019 because of the trees’ longevity, crop price stability and higher tolerance for limited and lower-quality water supplies.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Colorado River shortage will bring water cuts for Arizona farmers

The federal government on Monday declared a first-ever water shortage on the Colorado River, announcing mandatory cutbacks next year that will bring major challenges for Arizona farmers and reduce the water allotments of Nevada and Mexico. The declaration of a shortage by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has been anticipated for months and was triggered by the spiraling decline of Lake Mead, which stores water used by Arizona, Nevada, California and Mexico.

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Western water projects in infrastructure deal

Included in the sweeping $1 trillion infrastructure bill approved by the Senate is funding for Western water projects that farmers, water providers and environmentalists say are badly needed across the parched region. … The plan would provide $1.15 billion for improving water storage and transport infrastructure such as dams and canals. Groundwater storage projects, which replenish underground aquifers that aren’t vulnerable to evaporation, would also get funding. 

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Monday Top of the Scroll: Western states face first federal water cuts

U.S. officials on Monday are expected to declare the first-ever water shortage from a river that serves 40 million people in the West, triggering cuts to some Arizona farmers next year amid a gripping drought. Water levels at the largest reservoir on the Colorado River — Lake Mead — have fallen to record lows … underscoring the acute water challenges for a region facing a growing population and a drought that is being worsened by hotter, drier weather brought on by climate change.

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Aquafornia news East Bay Times

Contra Costa County sued over controversial open-space housing plan

Contra Costa County was hit by two lawsuits Thursday, a month after the Board of Supervisors approved a boundary change to allow construction of 125 homes in protected open space near Danville. In a controversial decision on July 13, the supervisors voted 4-1 to stretch the urban limit line east of Blackhawk so developers could build the homes on 30 acres in the Tassajara Valley. … [East Bay MUD] has maintained for years that it doesn’t have enough water to supply the homes…

Aquafornia news Napa Register

Napa County recycled water used at record levels amid drought

Napa Valley Country Club golf course is lush and green, thanks to the purple pipe.  A two-year drought is helping to boost Napa County’s recycled water use to record levels. The Napa Sanitation District wastewater treatment plant provides enough non-potable irrigation water annually to fill St. Helena’s Bell Canyon reservoir and more. Napa Valley Country Club in rural Coombsville started piping water from the plant six miles away in late 2015. That allows it to depend less on a well in an area where groundwater levels have long been a concern.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

How California, Oregon have avoided another water rebellion

Anti-government activists seemed primed for a violent clash with federal authorities this summer in the Klamath Basin along the California-Oregon border. The federal Bureau of Reclamation had shut off water for most of the region’s 1,400 farms, denying access to the same irrigation canal in Klamath Falls, Ore., where during a drought two decades earlier, activists tried to pry open its headgates and clashed with U.S. marshals. 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Opinion: California drought – Maybe the state actually has enough water

It’s hard to know how much to panic over California’s dwindling water supplies. The state has never really had enough water, after all, yet lawns in Beverly Hills somehow remain perpetually green. Earlier this month, however, came a sign that life might soon be getting more uncomfortable for more Californians.
-Written by Francis Wilkinson, Bloomberg opinion editor.

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Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Opinion: Why drought should have California’s almond, alfalfa farmers deeply worried

Like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — arid nations with limited water supplies — California should consider banning or limiting the cultivation of water-intensive crops. At a time of severe water shortages, it makes sense to end the cultivation for export of crops like almonds and alfalfa, a plant mostly used to feed cows. Where does the world get 80 percent of its almonds? The Golden State. Where does Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (and Japan and China) get much of their alfalfa? You guessed it. California.
-Written by San Diego U-T columnist Chris Reed.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Small towns grow desperate for water in California

As a measure of both the nation’s creaking infrastructure and the severity of the drought gripping California there is the $5 shower. That’s how much Ian Roth, the owner of the Seagull Inn, a bed-and-breakfast in this tourist town three hours north of San Francisco, spends on water every time a guest washes for five minutes under the shower nozzle. Water is so scarce in Mendocino, an Instagram-ready collection of pastel Victorian homes on the edge of the Pacific, that restaurants have closed their restrooms to guests, pointing them instead to portable toilets on the sidewalk.

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Aquafornia news SFist

La Niña watch is officially on this fall, and that could be disastrous for the drought

We are looking at back-to-back La Niña winters, and while forecasters tried to keep us optimistic about the chances of average rainfall last winter, we all know how that turned out. So we should brace ourselves for another year of this drought. Forecasters at the Climate Prediction Center issued an update Thursday giving a 60% chance that another La Niña pattern will form — and this same forecast was given last year, only to be updated the second week of September to say, “Yep, La Niña is here.”

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Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

New plan slows Lake Mead decline by paying farms not to plant crops

Officials in Lower Colorado River Basin states want to slow the decline of Lake Mead’s water levels over the next few years by paying Southern California farmers not to plant crops. It’s not a plan that Bill Hasencamp, manager of Colorado River resources for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, considers a “drought buster,” but it will reduce lake level decline by up to 3 feet over the next three years, he said.

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Opinion: Water district board vice president makes case for bridge pipeline

We are carefully assessing long-term options like desalination, and weighing a myriad of factors including cost, timing, environmental issues and how much additional water supply each project may provide. During all of this careful consideration, the Board of Directors has not lost the sense of urgency. Reliably providing high-quality water to our customers is our charge, and it is a charge not taken lightly. As we continue to evaluate projects to secure additional water supply, constructing a pipeline across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge has emerged as a strong option to increase Marin Water’s supply long-term.
-Written by Larry L. Russell, vice president of the Marin Municipal Water District Board of Directors.

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation re-announces 60-day comment period for Central Valley Project Delta and Friant draft contracts

Due to technical difficulties the Bureau of Reclamation re-announced today ongoing congressionally mandated contract conversions pursuant to the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act. Today’s release includes draft repayment contracts from the Central Valley Project Delta and Friant contractors for a 60-day public comment period. These represent seven of over 80 repayment contract conversions requested by federal CVP contractors. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Mendocino water supply depleted by California drought

The Santa Claus of water rolls through this foggy coastal hamlet in a silver and white truck, bringing joy and relief. Wayne Jones refills water tanks for residents and businesses whose wells have gone dry. A bespectacled bald man with a majestic white goatee, he moves quickly and speaks sparingly. Amid Mendocino’s worst drought on record, people are increasingly desperate for the private water hauler’s help. Mendocino has no municipal water system. All businesses and homes rely upon wells — some hand-dug in the 1800s. But rain has been scant. Underwater aquifers are depleting. Wells are running dry.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times:

Friday Top of the Scroll: As drought worsens, Southland residents face new calls for water conservation

As drought conditions worsen, public officials in Southern California are beginning to take steps to conserve dwindling resources. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California — one of the largest water distributors in the nation — is weighing whether to declare a supply alert for the first time in seven years, officials said. And one of its customers, the city of Glendale, this week implemented new mandatory conservation requirements for its residents.

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Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Water? Housing? Sewers? Debate over which Stanislaus pocket-area projects to fund

As Stanislaus creates a framework to spend millions of dollars on improving county islands and urban pockets, there’s disagreement among residents on how and where the money should be invested. Some community leaders want housing to be the priority, others are desperate for water. … People living in unincorporated county islands in Stanislaus have long gone without basic needs. Dark streets, unpaved sidewalks, lack of sewer and potable water systems are everyday realities for many residents.

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Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: It’s time for the Biden Administration to protect salmon

California’s salmon are suffering massive die-offs this summer because of the excessive, reservoir-draining water deliveries authorized by these biological opinions. And Secretary Haaland has now had 90 days times two for her review. It is time for her to act. Join us in telling the Secretary that she must no longer delay reversing the damage done by these Trump biological opinions by reinitiating consultation now and putting strong protections in place while new permits are being drafted.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Green

Climate change hits sushi supply chain amid California water war

If you’ve eaten sushi anywhere in the U.S., chances are the rice came from California’s Sacramento Valley. Fritz Durst, a sixth-generation farmer, has grown the grain and other crops there for more than four decades. But this year, amid a historic drought, Durst is planting only half as many acres of rice as usual. … Farmers like Durst would be having an even worse year if it weren’t for water siphoned from the Sacramento River to irrigate fields. Those diversions, though, have dire consequences for another part of the sushi supply chain: The salmon industry. 

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Aquafornia news CleanTechnica

Blog: Can water megaprojects save the US desert West? (Part 1)

In the American West, water has always been a challenge. Prior to the arrival of European explorers and settlers, there’s broad evidence that droughts and water cycles heavily affected Native Americans. For example, the people who built the Gila Cliff Dwellings may have left the area when water supplies dwindled. Later settlements by the descendants of Europeans also followed water, with settlements placed near rivers so there would be something to drink and grow food with.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Delta water cutbacks weigh on farmers

Organic farmer Al Courchesne of Frog Hollow Farm in Brentwood walks through rows of his aromatic stone fruit orchard, showing off sweet nectarines that thrive in the microclimate and rich soils in his corner of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Weighing on his mind is the drought  … Courchesne is among several thousand water rights holders in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta watershed who could have supplies shut off in response to drought emergency curtailment regulations adopted last week by the State Water Resources Control Board.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Grab your ticket for virtual journey into California’s water hub

Join us for a Sept. 9 virtual journey into California’s most critical and controversial water region in the state, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and learn how the drought is impacting water quality and supply. The Delta, a 720,000-acre network of islands and canals, supports the state’s two large water systems – the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project – and, together with the San Francisco Bay, forms an important ecological resource. 

Aquafornia news CleanTechnica

Opinion: Can water megaprojects save the US desert West? (part 2)

In part one of this article, I covered the American West’s water problems, as well as some of the ways they have been solved with big engineering projects so far. Now, with climate change and growth both pushing the limits of water supplies, people are asking for even bigger projects, like a pipeline from the Mississippi River to somewhere in the Colorado River’s basin. Let’s talk about those ideas, even bigger ones, and why none of them might be a good idea.
-Written by Jennifer Sensiba, a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. 

Aquafornia news Associated Press

First water cuts in US West supply to hammer Arizona farmers

A harvester rumbles through the fields in the early morning light, mowing down rows of corn and chopping up ears, husks and stalks into mulch for feed at a local dairy. The cows won’t get their salad next year, at least not from this farm. There won’t be enough water to plant the corn crop. Climate change, drought and high demand are expected to force the first-ever mandatory cuts to a water supply that 40 million people across the American West depend on — the Colorado River.

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Aquafornia news Eos

Wildfires are threatening municipal water supplies

In recent decades, wildfire conflagrations have increased in number, size, and intensity in many parts of the world, from the Amazon to Siberia and Australia to the western United States. The aftereffects of these fires provide windows into a future where wildfires have unprecedented deleterious effects on ecosystems and the organisms, including humans, that depend upon them—not the least of which is the potential for serious damage to municipal water supplies.

Aquafornia news IV Press

Opinion: Drought, border surge incompatible

Just as the National Weather Service predicts no relief in sight, neither do population analysts foresee a reduction of the numbers of new arrivals that will drink, cook with, bathe in, irrigate or flush with the increasingly scarce water normally available for everyday activities. … Whether California residents heed Newsom or whether visitors pay attention to their lodgings’ pleas to consume less water is beyond anyone’s control. But controlling the millions of future water consumers pouring across the Southwest border is well within the federal government’s power.
-Written by Joe Guzzardi, an analyst with Progressives for Immigration Reform. 

Aquafornia news KOBI-TV NBC5 / KOTI-TV NBC2

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California’s Lake Oroville sees historic low water levels

In a year already plagued by the pandemic and wildfires, Californians are also entangled with the crippling effects of a drought. For example, the drought has lowered Lake Oroville’s level to its lowest level in nearly 44 years, impacting recreation and wildlife. A shuttle boat ferries people back and forth across Lake Oroville. Now, it’s the only way to get to the houseboats on the water.

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Aquafornia news Farm Progress

Historic infrastructure bill clears full Senate

In a strong bipartisan vote Tuesday of 69-30, the Senate advanced the bipartisan infrastructure bill and sent it back to the House. The INVEST in America Act spends roughly $1 trillion including $110 billion for roads and bridges, $65 billion to expand broadband access, and $17 billion for ports and inland waterways. In the days leading up to the vote the American Farm Bureau Federation as well as members of the Agricultural Transportation Working Group urged lawmakers to support the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which would increase infrastructure spending by $550 billion over five years.

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Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

City of Roseville drawing on water it stored in underground aquifers during years of plenty

The City of Roseville is going underground to tap into drinking water as its primary source dries up during the drought. They have a plan to supply water to more than 50,000 homes. For years, Roseville relied almost exclusively on surface water from Folsom Lake for drinking water. But that can be tricky and near impossible, considering previous and current droughts — plus studies showing the impacts of climate change.

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Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Opinion: Glimmer of hope for Stanislaus-area water storage in federal infrastructure deal

Whenever politicians are asked about the California water wars that threaten our well-being in Modesto and Stanislaus County, eventually the talk gets around to something like, “Well, you know what we really need is more water storage.” As in dams, mostly, and also off-stream reservoirs holding water captured in wet years for use in dry ones.  They say something similar when reporters ask about drought, and sometimes about wildfires and climate change.  
-Written by Garth Stapley, Modesto Bee columnist.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: State agencies announce first round of commitments for $200 million in drought funding to support small communities

Moving to provide immediate support to communities facing water supply challenges, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) Wednesday announced the first round of funding commitments for $200 million available through the Small Community Drought Relief Program. DWR, in coordination with the State Water Resources Control Board, is directing $25 million to 10 small water systems in Tulare, Siskiyou, Shasta, Lake and Kern Counties.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Senate passes Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill

The Senate on Tuesday approved an expansive bill to rebuild the nation’s aging roads and bridges, with $8.3 billion specifically targeted to water infrastructure projects in the West and billions more to fund national projects to mitigate the impact of wildfires. … That includes $1 billion for water recycling systems and more than $1 billion for water storage and groundwater storage projects to take advantage of wet years.

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Aquafornia news Montrose Press

As Lake Powell woes worry West, experts call for yet more reduced use

If the Colorado River were a bank account, it would be running toward the red. The river, the lifeblood for several Western states, is being squeezed by overuse and plunging supply — as temperatures stay on the upswing year after year, and thirsty soils rapidly absorb the bulk of moisture from a dwindling annual snowpack. The conclusion is “inescapable,” Colorado River District Manager Andy Mueller said Monday.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Local group files papers in fight over Kern River

A new player has entered the legal fray over the Kern River — the public. Actually, it’s a consortium of Bakersfield and other nonprofit, public interest groups that hope to sway the state Water Resources Control Board to, ultimately, re-water the mostly dry Kern River through town. The Flowing Kern Coalition made its debut Tuesday when it filed a notice of intent to appear at an upcoming proceeding on the Kern River.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Opinion: Voters played role in Marin Municipal Water District shortage

The welcome arch across Modesto’s main street proclaims, “Water, wealth, contentment, health.” In essence, water, the first word, directly leads to the following benefits. The same formula applies to Marin. Now it’s the scarcity of water that endangers our county’s ability to enjoy the benefits of wealth, contentment and health. The entire American West is enduring a drought of epic proportions. The globe’s climate will only get warmer in the next 50 years. Marin is late preparing for that eventuality. Doing so isn’t impossible but it comes with a hefty price tag and can’t happen overnight.
-Written by Dick Spotswood, Marin IJ columnist.

Aquafornia news KCRA

‘We’re in uncharted territory’: Lake Oroville levels reach historic low, impacting recreation

In a year already plagued by pandemic and wildfires, Californians are also entangled with the crippling effect of drought. … In 2017, hundreds of thousands of lives were threatened when massive flooding damaged the Oroville Dam. Today, changing weather conditions have created a stark contrast from years ago: Hot temperatures and low rainfall have left miles of dusty, cracked shorelines exposed.

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Aquafornia news ABC 10

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Could California handle another year of drought?

In a multi-agency meeting on the state of California’s drought conditions, state officials painted a broader picture on water allocation, lack of available water and what the Golden State is facing in the months and years to come. Officials expect record low water levels across the state, especially for Oroville and San Luis Reservoir. … [T]he state is at 58% of average reservoir storage as a whole for this time of year. … Climatologists say it’s too early to tell if it’s going to be a wet or dry year during winter time circulations. A lot of what happens is affected by the jet stream.

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Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Opinion: Sites Reservoir a generational opportunity to tackle California’s drought challenges

The circumstance we find ourselves in today is a prime example of why we need to build Sites Reservoir now. Just a few years ago, in 2017 and 2019, we experienced a series of atmospheric river events that produced so much runoff that it overtopped our flood control system … If Sites Reservoir had been in place during that time, not only could we have avoided many of those flooding impacts, but we also would have captured and stored much of this excess runoff for use in a dry year like we are currently experiencing.
-Written by Robert Cheng, assistant general manager of the Coachella Valley Water District, and Charley Wilson, executive director of the Southern California Water Coalition.

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Aquafornia news Ducks Unlimited

News release: Klamath Basin stakeholders collaborate to save fish and waterfowl

Today, Ducks Unlimited (DU) announced an agreement to deliver 10,000 acre-feet of water to mitigate severe drought conditions at the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Tulelake, Calif. The agreement comes after the hydraulic analysis by the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) led the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to recommend the diversion of water to save the only standing unit of wetland habitat in either Lower Klamath or Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges this year. 

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Blog: West faces catastrophic water and power shortages

Buried in an hours-long State Water Resources Control Board hearing recently was the admission that California experts overestimated the spring inflow by 800,000-acre feet. Put another way, the state banked on water that never came. That admission, coupled with public policy that favors environmental uses of water over human needs, led to California’s recent curtailment of the most senior of water rights – a private property right that once had value in California and threatens to ripple far and wide.

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Aquafornia news AZPM

Water cutbacks coming to Arizona

The “bathtub ring” at Lake Mead has become a familiar sight. The water level in the lake is the lowest it has been since the Hoover Dam, which created the lake, was built in the 1930s. Those low levels have been decades in the making. … The record low levels mean that later this month the federal government is expected to declare an official water shortage on the Colorado River which feeds Lake Powell. That shortage declaration will mean a 20% cut in Arizona’s allotment of Colorado River water.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: A hotter future is certain, according to U.N. climate report

Nations have delayed curbing their fossil-fuel emissions for so long that they can no longer stop global warming from intensifying over the next 30 years, though there is still a short window to prevent the most harrowing future, a major new United Nations scientific report has concluded. … At 1.5 degrees of warming, scientists have found, the dangers grow considerably. Nearly 1 billion people worldwide could swelter in more frequent life-threatening heat waves. Hundreds of millions more would struggle for water because of severe droughts.

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Aquafornia news NBC

Northern California water restrictions prompt accusations of racial profiling of Hmong farmers

Water restrictions in Northern California have prompted protests from a Hmong community, who say the ordinance has led to discrimination and a rise in racial tension in the area. The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously last week to hold a third hearing about the ordinances, which were passed as emergency measures in May. … But many Hmong residents, many of whom belong to the area’s large farming population, said the policies disproportionately affect their community and have led to racial profiling by local authorities.

Aquafornia news Boise State Public Radio

Climate change could mean almond production moves north to Idaho from California

Virtually all almonds in the U.S. are produced in a 20,000 square mile area in the middle of California. The hot and dry Mediterranean climate there helps produce $17 billion worth of crops every year. … Temperatures rarely dip below freezing and historic rain levels have created rich soil, providing an environment suitable for almond growth. … Some researchers are starting to look north and ask: Could the Potato State become a hub for almonds? University of Idaho researchers are finding commercial production could thrive here.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Dry California tourist town to guests: ‘Please conserve’

Tourists flock by the thousands to the coastal town of Mendocino for its Victorian homes and cliff trails, but visitors this summer are also finding public portable toilets and signs on picket fences pleading: “Severe Drought. Please conserve water.” Hotels have closed their lobby bathrooms and residents have stopped watering their gardens in the foggy outpost about 150 miles (240 kilometers) north of San Francisco after two years of little rain sapped many of the wells Mendocino depends on for potable water.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

How to save water during the California drought

In July, Gov. Gavin Newsom asked Californians to reduce residential water usage by 15% to help combat the drought. Back in 2015, then-Gov. Jerry Brown asked for a 25% reduction. A year later, residential water usage was down 24.5%. But now, some Californians who made those impactful changes half a decade ago — ripping out lawns, replacing old toilets and showerheads, letting the Prius develop a tactile layer of dirt and dust before hitting the car wash — are stumped as to how to cut back any more without risking a body odor apocalypse on top of the climate one.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

CA water district accused of improper diversions from canals

An obscure farm-irrigation agency in the San Joaquin Valley, the Panoche Water District has been struggling with a monumental scandal the past three years, with top officials under criminal indictment for embezzling public funds and illegally dumping toxic waste. It turns out the district has also been allegedly taking water from the federal government. Earlier this year Panoche agreed to pay the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation nearly $7.5 million to compensate for “unauthorized diversion of water” from two federal canals, according to a settlement agreement obtained by The Bee. 

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Late nights, early mornings await Senate on infrastructure

Senators were laboring Sunday toward eventual passage of a  $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, resigned to stay as long as it takes to overcome Republican holdouts who want to drag out final votes on one of President Joe Biden’s top priorities. The bill has won widespread support from senators across the aisle and promises to unleash billions of dollars to upgrade roads, bridges, broadband internet, water pipes and other public works systems undergirding the nation. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation and state of California announces negotiation with Central Valley Project Cross Valley contractors

The Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources announced a public negotiation session with seven Cross Valley contractors on a long-term conveyance contract for delivery of federal Central Valley Project water through state-owned facilities. Reclamation, DWR, and the contractors have previously entered into successive, short-term interim renewal contracts pursuant to the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, which included both federal water service and state conveyance terms and conditions. 

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: Why NRDC opposes the proposed Sites reservoir

There will undoubtedly always be some folks who believe the myth that building new dams and reservoirs will be a silver bullet that solves California’s water supply challenges.  The reality, of course, is that California already has constructed nearly 1,400 dams and reservoirs, and compared to the excessive and unsustainable demand for water in our state, new dams and reservoirs provide little water – at high cost.  And of course, most dams and reservoirs have had devastating impacts on our native fish and wildlife, and the Tribes, fishing jobs, and communities that depend on their health.  

Aquafornia news ABC News

Lawn renovations could play major role in conserving water in West, experts say

Lawmakers and water utilities in the West are urging residents to conserve water as reservoirs hit record lows amid climate change-driven megadrought. Among the calls to action is a reminder for residents to make choices that lessen use of municipal water when it comes to maintaining landscaping in desert surroundings. About 30% of water usage for the average American family is used for the outdoors, such as watering lawns and gardens, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Aquafornia news USA Today

Lake Powell water levels hit record lows, forcing off some houseboats

A thick, white band of newly exposed rock face stretches high above boaters’ heads at Lake Powell, creating a sharp contrast against the famous red desert terrain as their vessels weave through tight canyons that were once underwater. It’s a stark reminder of how far the water level has fallen at the massive reservoir on the Utah-Arizona border. Last year, it was more than 50 feet (15 meters) higher. The level at the popular destination for houseboat vacations is at a historic low amid a  megadrought engulfing the U.S. West.

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Aquafornia news East Bay Times

California curtails Russian River water rights as Lake Mendocino level drops

In the hopes of having at least 20,000 acre-feet of water remaining in Lake Mendocino by Oct. 1, the California State Water Resources Board this week ordered about 1,500 water rights holders to stop diverting water from the Russian River. However, if the current rate of outflow from the reservoir continues, the lake could reach 20,000 acre-feet by Aug. 23, said Elizabeth Salomone, general manager of the Russian River Flood Control & Water Conservation Improvement District.

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Aquafornia news Desert Sun

IID’s new Coachella Valley Energy Commission tackles energy, water divide

Seeking to stave off legislation that would force Riverside County representation on its board of directors, the Imperial Irrigation District on Thursday convened the first meeting of its new Coachella Valley Energy Commission.  Undera long-term agreement with the Coachella Valley Water District, IID provides electrical power to 100,000 Coachella Valley residents. That pact expires in 2033, and the new commission’s overarching goal is to hammer out a way forward for those customers.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Monday Top of the Scroll: California drought – Santa Clara County residents falling far short of water conservation target

When it comes to California’s worsening drought, Santa Clara County residents are falling far short in conserving water. On June 9, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, the county’s main wholesale water provider, declared a drought emergency and asked all 2 million county residents to cut water use by 15% from 2019 levels as local reservoirs dropped alarmingly and state and federal water agencies reduced water deliveries. But new numbers out Friday show that instead of hitting the 15% target, residents saved 0% in June — essentially using the same amount of water as they did in June 2019.

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Aquafornia news KCRA

Water-saving efforts helped preserve pressure, supply during River Fire

When hit suddenly by wildfire this week, people in Colfax responded the way many in towns on the verge of being evacuated from their homes often do. They turned on their sprinklers to dampen property and broke out their garden hoses to spray down their homes and rooftops. Then, the Placer County Water Agency (PCWA) issued an urgent plea during the fire crisis for residents to conserve water.

Aquafornia news KRCR

Bureau of Reclamation explains releases from Shasta Dam

Shasta Lake is at about 30 percent of capacity, the lowest it’s been at this time of year since 1977. KRCR spoke with Bureau of Reclamation Area Manager Don Bader on a windy morning on top of Shasta Dam. He says a water schedule is set in February and adjusted as necessary. The release from Keswick Dam is about 8,000 cubic feet per second (CFS). Normally it would be 12,000 CFS. The reason that much water is flowing downriver is for freshwater fish in the delta and agricultural diversions.

Aquafornia news Herald and News

More Klamath Basin wells go dry as groundwater decline persists

In July, the number of dry wells registered in Klamath County was at 84. A month later, that number has climbed to 185 as wells from the California state line all the way to Crescent and La Pine are getting low and going dry. There are likely more unregistered dry wells in Klamath County. The county watermaster’s office said they receive daily calls from well owners asking how to register. And the Modoc County Sheriff shared a PSA on Facebook explaining what to do if someone in that county is without well water.

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Aquafornia news Village News

Opinion: Getting the facts straight when it comes to changing water suppliers

We’d like to set the record straight in response to the recent guest commentary in the Village News titled: “San Diego County must not suffer if Fallbrook and Rainbow leave Water Authority” by San Diego County Water Authority board members Mel Katz and Keith Lewinger. First, it is the ratepayers of Fallbrook and Rainbow who have been suffering – over the past 10 years, they have overpaid nearly $50 million to the Water Authority compared to the benefits they’ve received.
-Written by Jennifer DeMeo, board president of the Fallbrook Public Utility District, and Hayden Hamilton, board president of the Rainbow Municipal Water District.

Aquafornia news Water Foundation

Blog: No easy scapegoats when drinking water systems fail

While recent commentary saddled the state with all the blame for the lack of drinking water in Teviston, local jurisdictions in the San Joaquin Valley must also accept responsibility. Small water systems are caught between the historic legacy of discriminatory policy, dropping groundwater levels caused by overpumping, and chronically failing water systems. Local governments have long resisted providing aid to these communities or initiating processes that could require nearby systems to provide water, particularly when those solutions may impact wealthier neighbors.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Big battle looms over California water rights

California doesn’t have enough water to meet all demands even in wet years, and when drought strikes the competition becomes, to put it mildly, intense. State and federal officials who must ration the restricted supply are beset with pleas from farmers, municipal water systems and advocates for the environment. However, water managers must also contend with a bewildering array of water rights, some of which date to the 19th century, as well as long-standing contractual obligations and laws, both statutes and judicial decrees, on maintaining flows for spawning salmon and other wildlife.
-Written by Dan Walters, CalMatters columnist.

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Aquafornia news Al Jazeera

Historic drought threatens California farms

In the valleys of central California, the search for water has turned into an all-out obsession as the region suffers through a drought that could threaten the US’s food supply. Residents have watched with dismay as verdant fields turned into brown, dusty plains, leaving shrivelled trees, dying plants and frustrated farmers. Much of California, and of the broader US West, has suffered through years of lighter-than-usual precipitation and a particularly dry winter.

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Aquafornia news California Water Boards

News release: Jayne Joy appointed executive officer of Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board

The Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board has appointed Jayne Joy as its new executive officer. Joy replaces Hope Smythe, who devoted 37 years to the regional board and served as executive officer since 2017. … Joy, an engineer who was promoted in July, was the regional board’s assistant executive officer since November 2017. Since earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, San Diego in chemical engineering, she has managed a broad array of environmental programs in Southern California in the areas of water and wastewater treatment, groundwater studies and remediation, and solid waste management.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation selects Jacklynn Gould as Lower Colorado Basin regional director

Bureau of Reclamation Deputy Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton today named Jacklynn (Jaci) L. Gould as regional director for the Lower Colorado Basin Region. Gould has more than 29 years of experience with Reclamation. … As regional director, Gould will lead over 800 employees in the region, which encompasses the last 700 miles of the Colorado River to the Mexican border, southern Nevada, southern California, and most of Arizona. She will oversee hydropower operations and maintenance for 15 facilities … 

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Drought, water supply are top environmental concerns in California –

As the state copes with yet another severe drought and a challenging fire season, a new PPIC survey on Californians and the Environment finds that Californians are increasingly concerned about drought and water supply. More than ever before, they also recognize that climate change is worsening drought and wildfires in the state, and they broadly support the state taking action on climate change. Drought, wildfire, and climate change round out the top three environmental issues that most concern Californians. 

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Young farmers lose hope as drought closes in: ‘It’s like a sad country song’
America’s water crisis

They are land rich and resource poor. Most have hundreds of acres of fertile soil, some thousands, but little money in the bank and – most importantly – no water. Now the young farmers of the Klamath Basin, an agricultural community on the border of Oregon and California, fear they might be the last generation of their kind. … The area has struggled with water scarcity for years – but this year has been unlike any other. Amid a historic drought, in May the federal government cut off all irrigation to farmers for the first time in more than a century…

Aquafornia news Newsweek/Zenger

Drought will force western U.S. to rethink water use, experts say

A record hot summer has laid bare a stark new reality for many states on America’s West Coast: Amid rising temperatures and worsening droughts, many will need to systematically rethink the way they manage limited water supplies. … Washington state’s official climatologist, Nicholas Bond told Zenger that rising temperatures were impacting year-round water supply levels by melting the state’s mountain snowpack earlier than in past years.

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Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Could Colorado cities save enough water to stop building dams?

Large water agencies like Denver Water and Aurora Water say they do have ongoing conservation efforts they take seriously, but that fast population growth on the Front Range overwhelms potential savings and they need new water storage. It would be much better for Colorado’s environment, the conservation groups respond — not to mention cheaper — to acquire water by using less of it, rather than spending billions of dollars on dams and diversions of Western Slope water. 

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Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

News release: Seismic work underway on Castaic Dam’s tower access bridge

The California Department of Water Resources begins construction on Castaic Dam’s tower access bridge in Los Angeles County to reduce seismic risks during a major earthquake. … Work on the over 500-foot-long bridge consists of strengthening the three bridge piers and installing various components to the bridge superstructure to allow for controlled movement during a seismic event. Each pier will be encased with a reinforced fiber wrap compound, which requires the temporary drawdown of Castaic Lake that began in early May. 

Aquafornia news Mercury News

South Bay water parks still full, even amid drought

California is in the early stages of its latest drought, one that could worsen as another dry year continues across much of the Golden State. With calls from Gov. Gavin Newsom and regional agencies like Santa Clara Valley Water District for 15% water use cutbacks, residents are looking for ways to conserve at home and work. Despite the need for broad conservation, however, water parks in the South Bay remain open, full of visitors seeking a refreshing cool down from the region’s frequent summer heat waves.

Aquafornia news Record Searchlight

Redding council approves selling some of its water to Shasta Lake

The Redding City Council approved the 2021 Water Transfer Agreement with the city of Shasta Lake. The approval, given at the council’s meeting on Tuesday night, paves the way for the sale of up to 120 acre-feet of Redding’s water to Shasta Lake at a cost of $328 per acre-foot.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Opinion: Mother Nature is not stupid; that’s why long fescue grass isn’t native to California

The largest crop grown in the United States is not corn.  Farmers grew corn on just a paltry 14,281 square miles in 2019.  It pales in comparison to the largest crop estimated at 63,000 square miles — lawns.  Experts indicate lawns in the United States collectively would almost cover the state of Texas.  Lawns are a crop that humans cannot eat. Except for lawns that are in parks, sports field, and golf courses the only real purpose they serve are for eye candy.  
-Written by Dennis Wyatt, Manteca Bulletin editor.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

President Joe Biden’s agriculture secretary touched down in Fresno. Here’s what he saw

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack stressed innovation and collaboration Thursday as he visited a Fresno County farm dealing with California’s drought. … Vilsack’s visit comes the same week the State Water Resources Control Board imposed an “emergency curtailment” order covering the rivers of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed — essentially the entire Central Valley.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Rare California water restrictions hit farmers amid dire shortages

Regulators on the water resources control board, which oversees the allocation of the state’s water, voted unanimously on Tuesday to stop diversions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a vast watershed sprawling from Fresno to the Oregon border. … But the timing of the order, which will take effect in two weeks, could spare many growers from hardship as the greatest agricultural demand on the watershed tends to fall in late spring and summer …The order, which could affect as many as 5,700 water rights holders, includes exceptions for uses such as drinking, sanitation and generating electricity. 

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Aquafornia news The Washington Post

In a summer scarred by heat, drought and fire, adaptation becomes a necessity

In the vast tract of wilderness that is the Boundary Waters area of northern Minnesota, kayakers still ply the glasslike surface. But they do so beneath a smoke-clogged sky, with no campfires to warm them on chilly summer nights. In California’s wine country, backyard gardeners still harvest lush tomatoes and nurture feathery lavender. But they must use water recycled from sinks and showers, risking hefty fines should they dare run the hose amid crushing drought.

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Aquafornia news Office of Senator Dianne Feinstein

News release: California water, energy priorities well-represented in funding bill

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, applauded the inclusion of California water priorities in the Energy and Water funding bill for fiscal year 2022, which was advanced out of committee today.

Aquafornia news Politico

Colorado River: A watershed moment

A “mega-drought” across the Southwest will force the federal government to declare a water shortage on the Colorado River this month. The decision would be historic for the watershed, which serves 40 million people in seven states: California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming. The river system provides irrigation that turns desert into farmland and is an important source of drinking water and hydroelectric power.

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Aquafornia news Northern California Public Media

No more water to support water rights along the Russian River

Unprecedented drought conditions have forced state water regulators to take the drastic step of officially suspending water rights along the Russian River.   Sam Boland-Brien with the state water board said conditions have continued to worsen in the Russian River watershed and the orders formally direct those who have longtime permission to divert water from the Russian River to stop, because there is no longer enough water to support their water right.   

Aquafornia news Lost Coast Outpost

Trinidad declares drought emergency, says water conservation is necessary and may become mandatory

The Water Committee of the City of Trinidad has announced a drought notice for its residents. Trinidad draws about 2 million gallons of surface water each month from Luffenholtz Creek and processes it for about 323 water customers. Surface water flow of the creek has been steadily decreasing since June. … If creek water flow were to decrease further, mandatory restrictions of water use would be enforced.

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Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

Ranchers selling off cattle in order to stay afloat during drought

Two droughts in the last decade mean a rough ride for ranchers who are selling off cows to survive. The cost of meat is sky high during COVID but that money is being spent on the supply chain in the form of labor at meatpacking plants. It’s not trickling down to meat producers. But now the drought is drying up animal feed. … Casey Stone and his family operate Yolo Land and Cattle Company in the hills of Esparto. They run more than 600 cows and calves and manage 7,500 acres. Two droughts in the last 10 years and multiple wildfires are hitting hard. Stone is about to sell off 30 to 40 percent of his herd.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California farmers cut off from rivers in emergency drought order

California regulators cut off thousands of farmers from their main irrigation supplies Tuesday, banning them from pulling water from the state’s main rivers and streams as the drought worsens. The State Water Resources Control Board, following hours of debate and comment, voted 5-0 to impose an “emergency curtailment” order covering the rivers of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed — essentially the entire Central Valley. It’s the most dramatic step taken to date by state regulators since the drought was officially declared in most of California’s counties — and surpasses any of the moves made during the previous drought. 

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Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

10 charts and maps that explain California’s drought

A historic drought is spreading across California and much of the American West. How bad is it? Which places are most affected? What does it mean for our water supply and wildfire risk? These 10 maps and charts tell the story.

Aquafornia news Daily Californian

Researchers study impact of California drought, wildfires

As California grapples with the effects of an ongoing drought, UC Berkeley researchers are studying changes in the magnitude of streamflows and drought-induced tree mortality in order to advise climate change policy.

Aquafornia news Governing Magazine

California invests in recycled water as droughts take a toll

MWD’s most recent assessment concluded that there will be enough supply to meet projected demand through 2045, even if that period includes five consecutive drought years. This is the result of more than a century of planning, investment, engineering and policy. However, it has become increasingly apparent that climate change is a wild card looming over both imported supply and the water that Southern California agencies can draw from local sources.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

LaMalfa, Gallagher, Nielsen criticize state leadership’s management of wildfires, water and other resources

Flanked by a hazy backdrop of Lake Oroville with the nearby Dixie Fire creating a smoke-filled sky, federal and state politicians representing the north state gathered above the Hyatt Power Plant at Oroville Dam for a press conference Tuesday to criticize, in their words, the state’s “gross mismanagement” of water, wildlands and power.

Aquafornia news Ensia

In arid U.S. West, water agencies look to direct potable reuse

San Diego is just one city among many in the country’s most arid regions facing the ongoing threat of long-term drought. Western water agencies continue working to not only conserve water, but to also reuse as much wastewater as possible, including from the stable supply [Direct Potable Reuse] promises. As San Diego discovered decades ago, making DPR a reality entails — along with regulatory and permitting changes — trying to overcome the “yuck factor.” Today, despite its “toilet-to-tap” hurdle, San Diego is now intent on becoming the first city in California to convey treated effluent directly from factory to faucet.

Aquafornia news KQED

Gripped by drought, Marin considers desalination, water pipeline over the Richmond Bridge

As the drought deepens across the West, coastal cities are considering whether or not to filter ocean water as a solution to their water woes. In the Bay Area, Marin Water is mulling plans to draw its drinking water from the San Francisco Bay. Reservoir levels in Marin County are at historic lows this year, and water leaders are calling for a 40% reduction. So far the county has reached a 23% reduction, says Cynthia Koehler, president of the agency’s board of directors.

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Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

State taking unprecedented action to conserve water in upper Russian River

State regulators are suspending the ability of about 1,500 water right holders to draw from the upper Russian River watershed, in an unprecedented bid to try to preserve as much storage in Lake Mendocino as possible in the event of a third successive dry winter. The order handed down Monday will affect hundreds of grape growers, ranchers, small water districts, towns and rural property owners. It takes effect Tuesday under emergency regulations adopted in June by the State Water Resources Control Board.

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Aquafornia news Red Bluff Daily News

Red Bluff council to discuss water sharing policy

After tabling the topic at a previous meeting, the City Council will discuss an emergency resolution Tuesday that would create a temporary emergency water usage policy for unincorporated area residents without water. The initial residential water rate for water made available will be $10 per every 1,000 gallons of water plus a $25 monthly administration fee. Some property owners in the county’s unincorporated areas have told the city their wells have gone dry. The Tehama County Board of Supervisors and Corning City Council have approved temporary water-sharing policies.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Facing severe droughts, developers seek to reuse the water they have

When Salesforce Tower in San Francisco fully reopens this year after 16 months of pandemic-induced closure, one of its more unusual features will be found in the basement. … Taking up the space of 16 cars, the black-water system, so called because it treats all wastewater, including from toilets and showers, will filter an estimated 30,000 gallons per workday, or 7.8 million a year. [Water recycling efforts are] gaining traction as a severe drought punishes industries in states like California, Montana, New Mexico and Utah. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation announces 30-day comment period for Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project repayment contract

The Bureau of Reclamation and the Friant Water Authority announced today a 30-day public comment period for a repayment contract related to costs of extraordinary operation and maintenance work on the Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project. This project will restore a 33-mile stretch of the canal that has lost over half of its original capacity to subsidence. 

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Opinion: The Tuolumne

The waters of the Tuolumne River flow through Modesto two ways. One is in the natural riverbed that cuts through the city just south of downtown. The other is in the original “Delta bypass tunnel” — the 46.7 mile pipeline across the San Joaquin Valley beneath the Hetch Hetchy Trail that moves water diverted from the reservoir the urban trail is named after.
-Written by Dennis Wyatt, columnist for the Manteca Bulletin.

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Opinion: Proposed housing bills could cause radical changes in California

But come back in 40 or 50 years, and most California cities would look very different if [new housing] bills passed. Cities would be bigger, housing would be cheaper (after inflation is factored in), and living conditions would be more crowded than ever before. Neighborhoods filled with single-family homes on distinct lots would be far rarer than today. That is, if enough water and energy can be found to make these changes possible, two problems that grow larger and less predictable the longer the current drought continues and the more often dry spells recur in an era of expanded climate change.
Written by Thomas Elias, a syndicated columnist.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg

How to build a water-smart city

A recent United Nations report on drought says climate change is increasing the frequency, severity and duration of droughts, which contribute to food insecurity, poverty and inequality. … In 2018, Cape Town, South Africa, narrowly averted a “Day Zero,” when the taps would have run dry. Indian aquifers are falling fast. The Colorado River, a water source for 40 million people, faces dire shortages as the American West slides deeper into “megadrought.” By 2050, the world’s population is projected to near 10 billion, increasing water demand by 55%. And by then, two-thirds of people will live in cities.

Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

Is Utah using all the Colorado River water it’s entitled to? New state agency wants to find out

The future of Utah’s relationship with the Colorado River began to take shape in downtown Salt Lake City on Friday, as the newly created Colorado River Authority of Utah held its first meeting. The organization, created by the Utah Legislature during the 2021 session, was formed “to protect, conserve, and develop Utah’s Colorado River system interests,” according to the agency’s website. The agency, which is officially under Gov. Spencer Cox’s office, consists of six appointed members representing water interests from around the state.

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Aquafornia news Press Banner

SLVWD will shift approach for nonpayment

Even after the pandemic subsides, the San Lorenzo Valley Water District (SLVWD) will not turn off customer’s water supply for nonpayment. SLVWD Manager Rick Rogers in an interview said the board has “a strong position that we should not be turning people’s water off for nonpayment. It’s a fundamental right, but we also have to pay our bills.” SLVWD, Rogers said, will no longer issue a 48-hour tag for nonpayment. Instead, the district will, once a year, move any outstanding bills onto residents’ property tax bills.

Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

News release: Updated computer models released for key California water projects

The Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) today released the next versions of two computer models that simulate operations of the State Water Project (SWP) and the Central Valley Project (CVP). Water managers use the models – CalSim II and CalSim 3 – to examine project operations under various assumptions for hydrologic conditions, project  facilities and regulatory requirements.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation launches website with real-time information, interactive resources on drought

The Bureau of Reclamation launched a new web portal today that provides real-time drought-related information and details of drought actions taken in collaboration with stakeholders and partners. The science-based web portal is designed to increase public and media understanding of drought conditions and the all-of-government efforts to mitigate these conditions by the Biden-Harris administration. 

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Study: North Coast cannabis growers rely more on groundwater amid debate over drought restrictions

A new study has found that cannabis farms in California’s prime growing regions, including the North Coast, rely primarily on groundwater wells to irrigate their crop as opposed to streams, providing more insight into the debate over water scarcity as the state grapples with a historic drought. The Cannabis Research Center at UC Berkeley report found that well water use by cannabis farms is common statewide, exceeding 75% among farms that have permits to grow in nine of the 11 top cannabis-producing counties that include Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake counties.

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Aquafornia news ABC7

California recall candidate Larry Elder ‘not sure’ climate change is reason for state’s wildfires

Conservative talk show host Larry Elder is currently leading the pack of Republicans hoping to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom in California’s recall election. A new poll from the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies found that among voters most likely to participate in the recall, Elder has the most support, followed by San Diego businessman John Cox, former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer and Assemblymember Kevin Kiley.

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Aquafornia news KRCR

Lake Oroville feet away from historic low, could beat record in coming days

How low can Lake Oroville go? While losing over a foot of water each day, historically low is the answer. The lake is on track to beat its lowest recorded record: 645 feet above sea level in September 1977. Friday, it sits at 646.97 feet, just feet away from a new record. This could drop dramatically further to 620 feet by late October, according to Molly White, Water Operations Manager for the Department of Water Resources (DWR).

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Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Monday Top of the Scroll: Drought is pushing more saltwater into the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. California built a wall to keep it out

Drought conditions have prompted the building of a 750-foot wide rock barrier to prevent saltwater intrusion into the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The California Department of Water Resources constructed the temporary barrier with 110,000 cubic yards of rock off West False River in Contra Costa County. Principal engineer Jacob McQuirk said that without the barrier, saltwater would endanger freshwater supplies in the Delta and water exports to the south. … McQuirk said 27 million people are dependent upon those water supplies and that the barrier will be taken down by November. 

Aquafornia news KUER Salt Lake City

A major drought is gripping the West. Still, there’s reason to be hopeful the water situation will improve

Concerning news about Utah’s extreme drought keeps coming. On Wednesday, Utah’s Department of Natural Resources said the drought continues to have “a stranglehold on the state,” despite wild weather swings that dumped rain in some areas. Washington Post Columnist David Von Drehle recently wrote an opinion piece about the drought gripping the West. He spoke with KUER’s Pamela McCall about the situation.

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Aquafornia news Western Farmer-Stockman

Blog: How to make water: Saving, reusing can extend resources

Low precipitation and heat continue to dry out the West. With nine of the 11 Western states recording average water year-to-date precipitations from 50%-to-80% of normal and record-breaking high temperatures, drought is literally a hot topic. When water is limited, the first thing to consider is how to better conserve the water that you have. Then, investigate alternative water sources.

Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

News release: DWR completes installation of emergency salinity drought barrier

After three weeks of round-the-clock work, the emergency drought salinity barrier (EDSB) was completed in late June. The barrier will help prevent saltwater contamination of water supplies used by millions of Californians who rely on Delta-based federal and state water projects for at least some of their water supplies.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Projection: Lake Oroville could reach record low by November

As drought conditions continue throughout Butte County, the Department of Water Resources is currently projecting that the surface water level of Lake Oroville could reach an all-time low of 620 feet above sea level by October or November. The lake reached an all-time low of 645 feet above sea level in September 1977. As of Thursday, Lake Oroville’s surface water level was 648.47 feet above sea level. When full Lake Oroville’s surface water level is 900 feet above sea level.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Friday Top of the Scroll: California drought – Dozens of communities are at risk of running out of water

In Fort Bragg on the Mendocino Coast, city leaders are rushing to install an emergency desalination system. In Healdsburg, lawn watering is banned with fines of up to $1,000. In Hornbrook, a small town in Siskiyou County, faucets have gone completely dry, and the chairman of the water district is driving 15 miles each way to take showers and wash clothes. So far, California’s worsening drought has been an inconvenience in big cities. But it’s already imperiling an alarming number of communities, especially between the Bay Area and the Oregon border, threatening the water supplies for more than 130,000 people.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Biden rallies public-private sector to thwart infrastructure hacks

Confronting the rise of attacks on major American infrastructure and industry, the White House released an executive order Wednesday in which President Joe Biden will ask companies to layer on more cybersecurity protections. The order follows up on a series of cybersecurity directives prompted this year when the nation suffered a series of fuel shortages after Russian-tied cybercriminals launched a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline.

Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

Report: Valley could see 6-9 degree temperature increase by 2100

Climate change projections show the Central Valley will see more hot, dry years like 2021, but also some dangerously wet years as well. This year has already seen high temperatures, drought and high fire risk for Central Valley residents, and Jordi Vasquez, environmental scientist for the California Department of Water Resources, said climate models show the Central Valley heating up 6 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. … The biggest impact for Central Valley communities like Hanford will be water management, Vasquez said.

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Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Monterey County officials get earful about private desal projects

Advocates for public water systems on Tuesday jumped quickly on a request by a Monterey County supervisor to consider amending a law that currently allows only public ownership and operation of desalination facilities. The request came in the form of a board referral, an instrument allowing members of the Board of Supervisors to make requests to the county’s chief administrative officer for work by staff or additional information on a specific topic.

Aquafornia news UC Merced

News release: New AI institute expands UC Merced’s smart, sustainable agriculture effort

With a new $20 million federal grant, UC Merced becomes part of a multi-institutional research collaborative to develop artificial intelligence — or AI — solutions to tackle some of agriculture’s biggest challenges related to water management, climate change and integration of new technology into farming. The new institute is one of 11 launched this year by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and among two funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture. 

Aquafornia news Ag Net West

Regulatory pressure on California production has a global impact

Regulatory pressures on California agriculture can have a global impact on consumers. North American Regional Head of RaboResearch Food and Agribusiness for RaboBank, Roland Fumasi explained that the agriculture industry ultimately exists to meet the global demand for food. Restrictive policies enacted that put added pressure on agricultural production can potentially have a negative impact on billions of consumers that rely on California ag products. 

Aquafornia news Fresno Bee

Republican recall candidate Kevin Faulconer visits Fresno, offers plan for valley water

Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer made a stop in Fresno on Wednesday to plead his case on why he’s a key candidate in the potential recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom.  Faulconer’s talking points during the visit consisted almost entirely of the state’s water woes as he stood outside the Department of Water Resources office in central Fresno, where he was accompanied by Fresno County Supervisor Buddy Mendes.  

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

Blog: The true tale of how IRWD set a standard for recycled water

Throughout the nation and around the world, purple pipes pulse with water that has gone down drains and been treated for reuse in landscaping, agriculture and commerce. Irvine Ranch Water District was the mastermind behind that color: leading the charge in the early 1980s to certify a standard for pipes carrying recycled water, to distinguish them from drinking water systems. But how did it happen? It’s a colorful story of IRWD leadership, creativity and humor — centered around an engineer who sees much of the world in neutral tones.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

$65M in fed bill for more water storage

Not a drop of new “moon shoot” water storage has been created in California for more than 40 years. It’s a point that isn’t lost on Congressman Josh Harder. Nor is the fact water issues facing the heart of the Northern San Joaquin Valley are interconnected with communities often hundreds of miles away from the 10th District that he represents in Congress. It is why the Turlock Democrat has pursued do-able water projects — including those outside of his district that would reduce efforts to try and commandeer water from the Stanislaus and Tuolumne watersheds to address fish flow, urban, and irrigation needs elsewhere — since taking office in 2019.

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Aquafornia news NASA

Blog: A long view of Sierra snow

In Spanish, Sierra Nevada means “snowy mountain range.” While the term “snowy” has generally been true for most of U.S. history, those mountains have seen less snow accumulation in recent years. This decline plays a role in water management and response to drought in California and other western states. Each spring and summer, meltwater runoff from Sierra Nevada snowpack helps replenish rivers and reservoirs, while also recharging the groundwater. In fact, snowpack accounts for about 30 percent of California’s water supply in a typical year, according to the California Department of Water Resources. 

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn | Attorneys at Law

Blog: California State Water Resources Control Board’s draft emergency regulations likely to lead to curtailment for Delta watershed water users

California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) is currently experiencing one of the driest years in recorded history.  The US Drought Monitor recently classified large portions of the Delta Watershed as being in a state of “Exceptional Drought,” while the remaining portions are in a state of “Extreme Drought.”  The California Nevada River Forecast Center also provides information that the to-date flows in nearly all streams in the watershed are between 20 and 40 percent of the annual average.  As a result, the water supplies for many users in the region are in jeopardy.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Long troubled Salton Sea may finally be getting what it most needs: action — and money

State work to improve wildlife habitat and tamp down dust at California’s ailing Salton Sea is finally moving forward. Now the sea may be on the verge of getting the vital ingredient needed to supercharge those restoration efforts – money. The shrinking desert lake has long been a trouble spot beset by rising salinity and unhealthy, lung-irritating dust blowing from its increasingly exposed bed. It shadows discussions of how to address the Colorado River’s two-decade-long drought because of its connection to the system.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Will drought and climate change feed more extremism in the West?

It’s sometimes thought that worsening wildfires, droughts and farming conditions — products of climate change — will lead to more conflicts and extremism, including in the West. Imagine a repeat of lawless mobs confronting and terrorizing federal land managers, as occurred at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016, and could happen again amid the Klamath Basin water crisis…
-Written by Stuart Leavenworth, LA Times’ California Enterprise Editor.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

How California drought impacts beef, dairy cow ranches and prices

Jennifer Beretta has been working as a dairy farmer since she was 6 and knows some of her family’s 700 cows by name. One of her favorites, a Jersey named Harmony, has won top prizes at the Sonoma County Fair. … But business is business, and right now business is bad. California’s devastating drought has dried up most of the Beretta Family Dairy’s pastures, driven up the cost of feed and made milking cows unprofitable. The Beretta family has sold off more than 40 of its cows this year, and could sell more before too long.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Water shortages and drought are California’s biggest environmental concern, new poll shows

After the two driest consecutive years in much of California in nearly half a century, reservoir levels are dropping. Lawns are brown. Water restrictions are increasing. And Californians are getting worried. Asked to name the environmental issue they are most concerned about, more California residents cited water shortages and drought than any other, according to a new poll released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California, a non-partisan research organization in San Francisco.

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Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

Drought depleting Bay Area reservoirs, driving urgent need for conservation

The state’s severe drought is transforming the landscape of our streams, lakes and reservoirs as the supply of water is depleted day by day. The changes at Uvas Reservoir in the hills above Morgan are readily apparent. The waterline has receded significantly as the footprint of the reservoir shrinks. … According to the Santa Clara County Water District, Uvas is currently at roughly 20% of its total capacity – basically 80% empty. And a district spokesperson says the situation is bad at all of the county’s reservoirs.

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Aquafornia news Food & Wine

California faces water theft amid drought conditions

It sounds like the plot of a post-apocalyptic movie: Water thieves roaming scorched terrain in search of nature’s most precious resource. But in California, water theft is a massive reality with numbers that are hard to comprehend — and as droughts increasingly afflict the state, so does the extent of this illegal activity. Over 12 billion gallons of water have likely been stolen in California since 2013, John Nores — the former head of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Marijuana Enforcement Team — recently told CNN.

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Aquafornia news KCBX

Beavers aid in climate battle, local experts fight to protect species in California

Wild beavers play a critical role in the fight against climate change by creating wetlands that combat drought and wildfire. The species is native to California — but unlike beavers in Oregon and Washington, they aren’t protected from being trapped and killed in the state. Beavers have existed in North America for millions of years, with large populations in the American west.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California drought reveals Gold Rush artifacts at Folsom Lake

In another vivid example of California’s ongoing drought and water crisis, the water level is so low at Folsom Lake that Gold rush era relics that typically are submerged are now visible on dry land. … For more than a century before the Folsom Dam was built, the current lake floor in Northern California was used for gold mining and farming. Settlements were destroyed when the reservoir was filled in the mid-1950s, but some old foundations and artifacts remain on the lakebed.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

With record-low inventory going into the pandemic, California tomatoes wither under drought and limited irrigation water

Tomato sauce is feeling the squeeze and ketchup can’t catch up. California grows more than 90 percent of Americans’ canned tomatoes and a third of the world’s. Ongoing drought in the state has hurt the planting and harvesting of many summer crops, but water-hungry “processing tomatoes” are caught up in a particularly treacherous swirl (a “tormado”?) of problems that experts say will spur prices to surge far more than they already have. The drought threatens to imperil some of Americans’ favorite ingredients — pizza sauce, marinara, tomato paste, stewed tomatoes and ketchup all hang in the balance.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Will Delta users sue again to stop California’s drought rules?

Drought-plagued California is poised to bar thousands of farmers, landowners and others from pumping water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed, a move that irrigation districts said exceeds the water board’s authority. The emergency rules would be the first time state regulators have taken such wide-reaching action during a drought to prevent diversions from the massive Delta watershed stretching from Fresno to the Oregon border.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Lake Powell and Lake Mead water levels drop to historic lows

The water level in Lake Powell has dropped to the lowest level since the U.S. government started filling the enormous reservoir on the Colorado River in the 1960s — another sign of the ravages of the Western drought. … The water level has plunged as the American West experiences what scientists are calling a “megadrought.” Too little water is coming into the lake, and too much is being sent downriver to maintain levels in Lake Mead, which is also at historically low levels. 

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Extreme drought water crisis slams Oregon-California line

Ben DuVal knelt in a barren field near the California-Oregon state line and scooped up a handful of parched soil as dust devils whirled around him and birds flitted between empty irrigation pipes. DuVal’s family has farmed the land for three generations, and this summer, for the first time ever, he and hundreds of others who rely on irrigation from a depleted, federally managed lake aren’t getting any water from it at all. … [T]his summer there is simply not enough, and the farmers, tribes and wildlife refuges that have long competed for every drop now face a bleak and uncertain future together.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: California salmon wipeout is worse than you think

The news reports about the California salmon wipeout got a good chunk of the story right: Record-breaking heat waves made Northern California rivers too warm to sustain migrating Chinook salmon, and virtually all of the salmon in the Sacramento River this summer have died, or will die, before reproducing. Any eggs that were successfully laid, or the fry hatched from those eggs, are also likely doomed. So a generation of the rare and endangered winter-run Chinook, and the spring-run as well, are virtually gone.

Aquafornia news Patch

Livermore would get $20M under infrastructure bill

The House of Representatives approved a $715 billion infrastructure plan, and if the Senate passes it, it will mean $20 million for the Valley Link project to connect Bay Area Rapid Transit to the Altamont Corridor Express commuter train. … California would be a big winner under the proposed law. The bill includes more than $900 million for projects throughout the Golden State. They include bridges, bike lanes and express lanes … wastewater and drinking water projects and other infrastructure to prepare for rising sea levels.

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Aquafornia news The Conversation

Blog: Snow can disappear straight into the atmosphere in hot, dry weather

Creeks, rivers and lakes that are fed by melting snow across the U.S. West are already running low as of mid-July 2021, much to the worry of farmers, biologists and snow hydrologists like me. This is not surprising in California, where snow levels over the previous winter were well below normal. But it is also true across Colorado and the Rocky Mountains, which in general received a normal amount of snow. You’d think if there was normal amount of snow you’d have plenty of water downstream, right? … But another less studied way moisture can be lost is by evaporating straight into the atmosphere. 

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Photos: Drone views of EBMUD reservoirs as California faces extreme drought

After a very dry winter and spring, all of California is now in some level of drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. One year ago, just 58 percent of California was in drought. In the East Bay, the East Bay Municipal Utility District’s reservoirs total system capacity is currently at 61% full, which is 73% of average. The district is in decent shape for now, but is encouraging its customers to conserve water as much as possible. … EBMUD has worked for decades to diversify its water sources, and if the drought gets worse next year, the district will look at purchasing water from other entities. 

Aquafornia news Fox 40

‘It’s been dropping fast all year’: Concerns rise over water levels at Lake Oroville

The drought is taking its toll on dams and rivers throughout California and there is no clearer example than at Lake Oroville where water levels have been dropping all year. … The Oroville Dam is the state water system’s tallest, but boaters and fishermen have witnessed the water level fall nearly 250 feet below average. State water regulators are required to release water to protect fish downstream. They are trying to preserve as much water as possible, but levels are dropping a foot a day.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Experts say climate change is to blame for unprecedented heat waves worldwide, and there’s no end in sight

New research says extreme weather events like the recent surge of summer heat waves across the U.S. are being spurred by the planet’s ongoing battle with climate change. In recent decades, many have become all too acquainted with record shattering heat waves that have put serious — and often deadly — pressure on communities around the world. … New research explores this new reality that many experts have been warning about for years.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Feds will prop up Lake Powell as it hits record low elevation

With water levels falling rapidly at Lake Powell on the Arizona-Utah border, federal officials are taking what could be the first of several steps to prop it up. This month the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation started a six-month effort to raise the lake around 3 feet by the end of 2021 by releasing 181,000 acre feet of water from three upstream reservoirs. It comes as the lake just Sunday fell below its lowest level on record.

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Aquafornia news Antelope Valley Press

Palmdale Water District seeks removal of reservoir sediment

The Palmdale Water District looks to take the next step in its years-long project to remove sediment from the reservoir behind the Littlerock Dam and increase its water storage capacity. On Monday, the Board of Directors will consider a $1.6 million contract with Aspen Environmental Group for work involved with the design, permitting and construction of the project over the next three years, with potentially two years after that. The Littlerock Reservoir Sed­i­ment Removal Project has been in the works for more than 25 years.

Aquafornia news Santa Barbara News-Press

City Council to consider partnerships with La Cumbre Mutual Water Company

The Santa Barbara City Council will discuss negotiating a water supply agreement with La Cumbre Mutual Water Company during their regular meeting Tuesday.  Due to water supply shortages exacerbated by drought conditions, officials from La Cumbre Mutual Water Company have asked the City to negotiate a long-term supply agreement tied to the Charles E. Meyer Desalination Plant.  The Desal plant, which was constructed by the City in 1991, acts as a regional water supply for the City, the Goleta Water District and the Montecito Water District.

Aquafornia news Sonoma County Gazette

Opinion: Who’s bearing the water burden in Healdsburg?

How are we messaging to our summer guests about our Climate Emergency? About our town’s precious, empty Russian River watershed? Is this a teachable moment for these privileged travelers who come from places of Water Security? We should all be True Believers in Climate Change. Effective June 8, 2021, Healdsburg’s Stage Three mandatory conservation seeks a 40% reduction in water use citywide with additional, restrictive rules: 74 gallons per resident per day; No irrigation; Hand watering only; Planting is prohibited; $1,000 fine per day…the city means business! -Written by Brigette Mansell, former Healdsburg mayor. 

Aquafornia news Ag Net West

Cost of regulatory compliance more than triples in six-year period

A study tracking regulatory compliance costs in California was recently released, with striking findings. Researchers looked at data from 22 different farms of various sizes in the San Joaquin Valley between 2012 and 2018. During that timeframe, regulatory costs increased by 265 percent. Professor of Agribusiness at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and co-author of the report, Lynn Hamilton said several factors contributed to the significant increase. 

Aquafornia news Ag Net West

Audio: Harsh reality of California drought shown in no water=no crops campaign

The drought in California isn’t quite fathomable to all. In efforts to showcase the harsh reality producers are experiencing, Western Growers has a new campaign called “No water= No Crops.” In a series of videos, the campaign focuses on a few California producers who are struggling with the water shortages. Joe Del Bosque of Del Bosque Farms is one of the farmers in the campaign. He started out his planting year thinking he’d have enough water but that quickly changed as the dry water year encroached.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Podcast: What’s up with the fierce drought in the West

Today we launch Drought Week, a five-part series looking at how water shortages across the West are profoundly changing life. We’ll swoop around, from Oregon to the Sonoran Desert, from cities to national parks, from Joshua trees to lawns. To start Drought Week, it’s only natural — pardon the pun — that we take the bigger view first with our Masters of Disasters, the L.A. Times reporters who focus on natural calamities. So get your five-gallon buckets and put them next to you when you shower, ’cause things are serious right now.

Aquafornia news California Sportfishing Protection Alliance

Blog: Court ruling finds FERC 401 waiver not justified – important implications for California hydropower project licenses

On July 2, 2021, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued an important decision regarding Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, overturning an Order by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  FERC’s Order had found that the state of North Carolina had unlawfully “coordinated” with the license applicant to delay the state’s certification that a new FERC license for the Bynum hydroelectric project complied with state water quality laws.  FERC found that North Carolina’s participation in the delay meant that the state had “waived” its authority under Section 401 to issue the certification.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California senators press Congress for $1 billion to prep for future drought

With rural wells running dry and reservoir levels dwindling amid the Western drought, California senators are pressing Congress for an infusion of cash to renovate the state’s collapsing drinking water system. But instead of new dams or desalination plants, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla want … to boost stormwater capture, groundwater recharge and water recycling efforts in the Golden State and throughout the U.S.

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Aquafornia news KCRW

‘Drought isn’t nature, drought is man,’ says journalist Mark Arax

Through fierce reporting and captivating prose, journalist Mark Arax paints a vivid and complex portrait of California and its water. Born into a family of farmers in Fresno, Arax has witnessed firsthand the cyclical nature of droughts and floods in the state. He delves into the history and future of agriculture and water in his 2019 book “The Dreamt Land.” Arax joins Evan Kleiman to talk about the lessons gleaned from the state’s fraught water history, and what they might mean for its present and future.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Another valley town on the brink of going dry

The small, rural community of Tooleville is on the brink of going dry after one of its two wells went down Friday morning. It’s the second community in Tulare County to suffer water problems in the last two months as California struggles through the grip of a devastating drought. The only well in the town of Teviston, also in rural Tulare County, broke down June 9 leaving residents there dry until the pump was fixed July 16.

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Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Helix Water District moving forward with water shutoffs

Helix Water District, which provides water for much of East County, will reinstate late fees starting in August and renew water shutoffs on Oct. 1. The utility’s governing board voted 4-1 on Wednesday to support staff’s decision to bring back late fees and shutoffs for nonpayment. Customers suffering financial hardship had been given a grace period during the pandemic. The district currently has 546 accounts in arrears for a total of more than $470,000. Helix officials say that 475 of those accounts are residential.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

American Canyon calls for 20% water use cut

American Canyon is requiring residents and businesses to up their water conservation efforts from 10% to 20%, though it’s not yet ready to impose penalties. … While all five Napa County cities are taking water conservation measures, each is in a different situation when it comes to water sources. The south county city of American Canyon has no local reservoir and relies on State Water Project supplies that have seen a drastic cutback.

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Aquafornia news Sierra Club Magazine

Could Las Vegas’s grass removal policies alter the western US drought-scape?

Earlier this year, the Nevada legislature made turf removal a requirement in cases where grass exists for purely aesthetic purposes. The legislation, pushed by the water authority and signed by Governor Steve Sisolak, requires the removal of all decorative, or “nonfunctional,” turf in Las Vegas by 2026. Under this law, residents can keep their lawns, and parks can keep their fields. But that turf decorating medians and buildings must be converted to less water-intensive vegetation. Irrigating grass in the desert heat demands a lot of water. 

Aquafornia news KRCR - Redding

Hmong community protests outside Yreka courthouse over water restrictions

Members of Siskiyou County’s Hmong community rallied outside the county courthouse in Yreka on Tuesday over what they say is racist treatment by police and racist enforcement of water usage rights by the county. An ordinance passed in May aimed at curtailing illegal marijuana grows prohibits water trucks and other vehicles from carrying over 100 gallons of water on certain county roads. Rally organizers say the roads selected, primarily in the rural, unincorporated communities of Butte Valley and Big Springs, unfairly target the Hmong community who reside there.

Aquafornia news KTVL

Klamath Water Rights: Could there be a solution?

The Klamath water rights issue dates back decades and is as complex and nuanced as it is lengthy but when boiled down it seems to come back to one primal animal instinct that all living beings share: to ensure the survival of our spawn. For the Lost River and Shortnose Suckerfish in the Klamath basin, that continuum was disturbed somewhere along the line. The adult fish are healthy but aging while their spawn has been failing to thrive. Pending on their survival are the identity, traditions, culture, and livelihood of the Klamath tribes.

Aquafornia news KRCR - Redding

Happy Valley resident says their small farm is struggling with the water crisis

In the town of Happy Valley, residents are dealing with a crisis. California is experiencing an extreme drought, and Happy Valley says there is a meager amount of water left in the community. Coleen Wogoman, a resident of Happy Valley said their small farm, Wogoman’s Farm, is struggling to stay afloat as the lack of water striking hard for her family and their livestock. A mix of emotions is expressed from Wogoman as she looks upon her farmland and home for over 15 years.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Will the Drought Contingency Plan be enough to save Lake Mead? Maybe – for now

When the current drought began in 2000, the three Lower Basin states that take water from the lake (Arizona, California and Nevada) suddenly awakened to the problem. After several years of difficult negotiations, they agreed on a Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) that, with previously agreed cuts, would bring the lake into balance.  Hoping the drought would lift before too long, the DCP negotiators agreed to spread the cuts over coming years in response to changing lake levels. However, as the drought continues and intensifies, the Drought Contingency Plan is looking more like a Drought Certainty Plan.
-Written by former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt.

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Aquafornia news Forbes

Let your profits flow with these top 5 water stocks

Water could be one of the biggest investing themes over the next several decades. An increasing global population is only going to cause demand for water to rise in the future. And, given the fact that water is a necessity of human life, demand for water should hold up extremely well, even during the worst recessions. Therefore, investors with a longer time horizon should consider water stocks.

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Fixing sinking Friant-Kern Canal is unprecedented task. The latest hurdle? Scheduling payments.

After some negotiation, the Friant Water Authority Board of Directors will vote on a repayment contract with the Bureau of Reclamation regarding the repair of a portion of the Friant-Kern Canal.  The Friant Water Authority and the Bureau of Reclamation held its second round of negotiations Thursday morning, which was a two-hour process hammering out contract language in the repayment deal. … At the center of the issue is a 33-mile stretch of the Friant-Kern Canal that has lost over half of its original capacity to subsidence. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: Thousands of Central Valley farmers may lose access to surface water amid worsening drought

Forced to reckon with a worsening drought, California’s water regulators are preparing to forbid thousands of farmers from tapping into the state’s major rivers and streams. It’s an extraordinary step — and one that regulators didn’t take during the last drought, which was considered one of the worst on record. The State Water Resources Control Board on Friday released an “emergency curtailment” order that would cut thousands off from rivers and streams in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river watersheds.

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Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

After 20 years of drought, Western Slope ranchers face a choice — keep adapting, or move along

On the side of a dirt road in Gunnison County, a herd of cattle is cooling off in the water of an irrigation ditch.  Doug Washburn, range manager for Spann Ranches in southwestern Colorado, points at the hills surrounding the operation’s northern headquarters. … Colorado’s Western Slope is considered a climate hot spot where temperatures are increasing faster than the global average. This warming has contributed to more than 20 years of dryness, which scientists are calling a megadrought.

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Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

Lake Powell level about to hit a historic low as West’s water crisis deepens

Lake Powell will soon hit its lowest level since Glen Canyon Dam started trapping the Colorado River’s water in 1963 — even with emergency releases of water from reservoirs upstream. The Bureau of Reclamation announced Thursday that the lake elevation will soon drop below 3,555.1 feet above sea level, the record set in 2005, back near the start of a 20-year dry cycle plaguing the Colorado River Basin….The increasingly dire situations at Lake Powell and its downstream partner Lake Mead illustrate the stress on the Colorado River system….

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin water district restricts new landscaping for development

New development projects in most of Marin won’t have new landscaping irrigated with drinking water under drought restrictions imposed by Marin Municipal Water District this week. The Board of Directors voted Tuesday to approve the ban aimed at preserving the district’s dwindling reservoir supplies in the Mount Tamalpais watershed amid severe drought conditions. 

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Aquafornia news KCRW

Why LA’s fashion industry should worry about the drought

Manufacturing jobs in California have migrated overseas for years in a race to the bottom on wages and regulations. But now many industries face a new challenge: They depend on access to cheap endless water, and California’s future looks increasingly dry. Textile factory owners like [Sean] Zahedi are among the first to ask: Will we adapt or call it quits? Eighty-five percent of California is experiencing either extreme or exceptional drought conditions, the highest level there is on the U.S. Drought Monitor scale. Without water, Zahedi says, there’s no fabric.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Officials warn of cybersecurity vulnerabilities in water systems

Lawmakers and experts on Wednesday warned of gaping cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the nation’s critical water sector amid escalating attacks against a number of U.S. organizations. … [C]oncerns came during a committee hearing on cybersecurity vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure that zeroed in on concerns around water and wastewater treatment facilities. Cyber threats have soared in recent years, including recent ransomware attacks on critical infrastructure such as Colonial Pipeline, and the water sector has not been immune.

Aquafornia news ABC10 News

San Diego gets state funding for Ocean Beach Pier repairs, energy storage, Pure Water program

A windfall of state funding is coming to San Diego, including money for Ocean Beach Pier repairs, an energy-storage project at San Vicente Reservoir, and the city’s Pure Water program. Money from California’s state budget, signed last week, will fund the series of San Diego projects and programs.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News

Lawsuit: San Diego excess water fees

A class action lawsuit was filed against San Diego and its public utilities department on Wednesday, alleging that residential and commercial customers were overcharged in fees to make up for shortfalls from industrial wastewater dischargers.

Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

Drought impacts: Tahoe likely to drop below rim in 3 months

After two consecutive dry winters, Tahoe’s lake level is sitting a little over 1.5 feet above its natural rim — a threshold the alpine lake is forecasted to drop below in the next three months. And while the rise and fall of Lake Tahoe’s water level is cyclical in the short-term (with evaporation and downstream flow offsetting spring runoff filling the lake each year) and the long-term (the lake has fallen below it’s natural rim over 20 times in the last century since data collection began), experts are concerned by the severity of the current drought and its impacts on water supply, wildfires and wildlife.

Aquafornia news NPR

Without enough water to go around, farmers in California are exhausting aquifers

A lot of the fruits, vegetables and nuts that you see in grocery stores come from California. Growing them takes a huge amount of water, which is a huge problem when the state is in the middle of a drought. California’s farmers are pumping most of that water from underground aquifers. They can’t keep doing that, though, especially as the climate changes. NPR’s Dan Charles has the story.

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Interior Secretary: Drought demands investment, conservation

Confronting the historic drought that has a firm grip on the American West requires a heavy federal infrastructure investment to protect existing water supplies but also will depend on efforts at all levels of government to reduce demand by promoting water efficiency and recycling, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said Thursday. 

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Aquafornia news Ripon Advance

Valadao water amendments to appropriations bill nixed by Democrats

U.S. Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) last week introduced three amendments to the Energy and Water Development Appropriations fiscal year 2022 bill that aimed to alleviate California’s ongoing drought, but House Appropriations Committee Democrats voted down all three of them during a July 16 markup. The congressman’s first amendment would have extended California water storage provisions of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act for one year …

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Low water levels could force Oroville hydropower offline

A major California hydroelectric power plant could soon stop generating power amid worsening drought conditions. According to state water officials, the Edward Hyatt Powerplant at Lake Oroville could go offline as soon as August or September — a time frame that would coincide with a feared power crunch this summer. The plant, which opened in the late 1960s, has never been forced offline by low lake levels before.

Tour Nick Gray

Central Valley Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - November 4

Join us as we guide you on a virtual journey through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country.

Tour Nick Gray Jennifer Bowles

Northern California Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - October 14

Join us as we guide you on a virtual exploration of the Sacramento River and its tributaries and learn about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.

All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project.

Tour Nick Gray Jennifer Bowles Layperson's Guide to the Delta

Bay-Delta Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - September 9

This tour guided participants on a virtual journey deep into California’s most crucial water and ecological resource – the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The 720,000-acre network of islands and canals support the state’s two major water systems – the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project. The Delta and the connecting San Francisco Bay form the largest freshwater tidal estuary of its kind on the West coast.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Lemoore says deadly water tank explosion was preventable

The city of Lemoore said Wednesday afternoon that a water tank explosion that killed one worker and injured another last month was “preventable.” Officials have said the tank lifted approximately 70 feet off the ground in the explosion, which occurred when methane gas ignited as welding was being done as part of a city project.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Opinion: This ‘infrastructure’ fix is simple – Pipe clean water to Native Americans

Much of the infrastructure talk in Washington these days focuses on large, complicated projects involving tunnels, bridges and highways. But there is a much more basic matter involving infrastructure that also merits attention: the need to provide clean water to the more than half a million Native Americans who lack the sort of water and sanitation services that other Americans take for granted.
– Written by Bidtah Becker, an associate attorney for the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, and Anne Castle, senior fellow at the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment at the University of Colorado and former assistant secretary for water and science at the U.S. Interior Department.

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Aquafornia news KVOA

Southern Arizona starts to recover from exceptional drought thanks to strong monsoon start

Southern Arizona has been under the strongest category of drought since early last year. With a strong start to monsoon, the area should soon show a bit of recovery. It takes more than just a handful of good rainfalls to recover from such a bad drought. … The drought is one of the reasons why Pima County has had so many flash flood warnings this year. Soil that has not seen rain in a while is not as absorbent as regular soil, so heavy rainfalls over dry ground lead to flash flooding more often. This also causes problems on the roads.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

MWD has no systemic issues in handling worker complaints, report says

A powerful Southern California water agency accused by some employees of sexual harassment and other workplace violations “generally provides a safe and respectful working environment” for people of color, women and LGBTQ+ workers, a report on the agency concludes. The review of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California found no systemic problems in how the agency handles complaints of harassment, racism, retaliation and other alleged discrimination. 

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Aquafornia news North Bay Bohemian

Salmon suffer in a state of drought

Environmentalists say the San Joaquin watershed needs more water. So do state officials, who in 2018 ordered water users to give a large share of water back to the San Joaquin and its tributaries, notably the Tuolumne. But the fight to restore this ailing ecosystem has turned political, and environmentalists leading the effort are facing an unlikely foe the water service provider for one of the most liberal cities in the country.

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Fix aging water infrastructure, Senate told

California Farm Bureau, as part of a national coalition representing thousands of western farmers, ranchers, water providers, businesses and communities, urged leaders of the U.S. Senate to take action to address the shortcomings of aging water infrastructure. Citing an “acute and critical need” magnified by another all-too-familiar drought, the coalition sent a letter last week to Chairman Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Ranking Member John Barrasso, R-Wyo., of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. It called for increased federal investment in water infrastructure.

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Aquafornia news KDVR - Denver

Secretary of Interior arrives in Colorado to address worsening drought and wildfire conditions

The Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, will visit Denver to address the worsening drought and wildfire conditions. The biggest area of concern is the deep drought on the western slope. Haaland will be in Grand Junction Friday talking about wildland fire preparedness and response. On Saturday, Haaland will be in Ridgeway discussing Colorado’s outdoor recreation economy.

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Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Not quite at 2015 level, but Tule River low

When it comes to the water year this summer, it could be referred to as a season on the brink. Tule River Water Master David De Groot announced on Monday water from the Tule River began to be run off over this past weekend. … De Groot said the water runoff will last 30 days through mid-August. He added the Tule River’s flow was just at 15.6 percent of normal …  the lowest level the lake will be at since the dire drought of 2014-2015.

Aquafornia news Record Searchlight

In historic drought year, water shortages predicted for these Shasta County communities

With the North State’s drought reaching historically severe levels, thousands of Shasta County residents from Happy Valley and Redding to Palo Cedro could face water shortages by the end of summer.  The lack of rain and snowfall this past year has left officials scrambling to find new sources of water to get through the dry season. …”We will absolutely, completely run out of water…. We will not have enough water to get through the year,” [Bella Vista Water District General Manager David] Coxey said.

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Aquafornia news KCRW - Santa Monica

Why Southern California has largely been spared by the state’s worst drought conditions

Los Angeles received less than half its average rainfall last year, most of the state is in a drought emergency, and Governor Gavin Newsom has asked all residents to reduce their water usage by 15%. But a stroll through any well-watered neighborhood in Southern California would suggest otherwise. … So far in Southern California, the golf courses are almost as green as they were when it rained a lot a couple years ago. Some Northern California communities have already issued mandates to cut back water use, and some homeowners have seen their wells run dry. 

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Aquafornia news PV Magazine USA

Pumped storage project gets seed money… now the work begins

A 500 MW pumped energy storage project proposed jointly by the City of San Diego and the San Diego County Water Authority received $18 million in the California state budget. The support will help fund the San Vicente Energy Storage Facility through initial design, environmental reviews, and the federal licensing process. The project … could generate revenue to help offset the cost of water purchases, storage, and treatment.

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