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 U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Michael Norris named as Bureau of Reclamation’s Yuma Area Manager

The Bureau of Reclamation announced the selection of Michael Norris as the Area Manager of its Lower Colorado Basin Region Yuma Area Office. He has served as the Deputy Area Manager for seven years. In his new capacity, Norris is responsible for delivery of Colorado River water to the Yuma area and Mexico, groundwater and salinity management, resource management, engineering and construction.

Aquafornia news Martin & McCoy and Culp & Kelly, LLP

News release: New report analyzes ten strategies and solutions for building climate resilience in the Colorado River basin

A new report issued today by seven environmental non-profit organizations examines ten strategies to bolster climate resilience and mitigate the impact of climate change in the Colorado River Basin, which is currently grappling with a historic megadrought. A crucial source of water for over 40 million people, the Colorado River is facing severe declines in stream flows and a looming federal shortage declaration as a result of a decades-long drought and increasing temperatures.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: New CA dams, water reservoirs move slowly as drought worsens

It doesn’t look like much now, a dry and dusty valley surrounded by the modest mountains of California’s Coast Range. These barren, brown hills an hour northwest of Sacramento will be the future home of Sites Reservoir, one of the few major water projects to be built in California since the 1970s. California taxpayers are helping pay for Sites, which would hold more water than Folsom Lake, through a $7.1 billion bond they approved during the 2014 election.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Drought has desperate ranchers asking: “Can I feed tomorrow?”

California may only be one year into the drought, but its toll feels much bigger to San Joaquin Valley livestock operators. … Andrée Soares, president of Star Creek Land Stewards, Inc [is] based in Los Banos on the west side of the valley but her animals are often spread up and down the state doing targeted grazing for fire prevention. Soares doesn’t know where her animals will be in the next few months or how they will eat. 

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

S.F. embraces aggressive new climate change goals as drought, heat and wildfires engulf California

San Francisco set new, more ambitious climate change goals Tuesday, including getting to net zero greenhouse gas emissions produced in the city by 2040, as wildfires, drought and heat waves worsened by climate change plague California and floods in Europe grab headlines. The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an update to the environment code that pledges the city will cut its greenhouse gas emissions to at least 61% below 1990 levels by 2030. 

Aquafornia news KCRW

It takes 400 gallons of water to grow a bread loaf, so don’t trash it, says ‘Eat Less Water’ author

Water is part of nearly every aspect of the farm-to-table supply chain. So how can people eat food that takes less water to grow, clean and prepare?  Florencia Ramirez, author of “Eat Less Water,” found that one way to cut water consumption is by buying organic and seasonal food, whether at farmer’s markets or your local grocery stores.  But even before making those trips, Ramirez says that the main priority should be cutting down on food waste because food that ends up in a landfill wastes a lot of water. 

Aquafornia news Washington Post

Opinion: The thirsty West’s dreaded water crisis is here

To grow up in the American West in the 20th century was to swing between inferiority and hubris. Our history books taught us that all great and elevated events happened back east. We should go there someday and study the monuments. At the same time, there was a sense — an understanding, as it turned out — that the East might be the past but the West was the future. … The Achilles’ heel, the hard ceiling on Western ambitions, was water, and everyone knew it. 
-Written by David von Drehle, Washington Post columnist.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Monterey Peninsula water officials reluctantly agree to pay for buy-out study

Officials with the Monterey Peninsula water district begrudgingly agreed Monday to pay for a feasibility study requested by an intergovernmental body that has control over the future of the district’s plan to take over California American Water Co. The board of directors of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District during its regular meeting Monday approved up to $70,000 to pay for a study that was in effect ordered by the Local Agency Formation Commission…

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Drought in Utah town halts growth

The mountain spring that pioneers used to water their hayfields and now fills people’s taps flowed reliably into the old cowboy town of Oakley for decades. So when it dwindled to a trickle in this year’s scorching drought, officials took drastic action to preserve their water: They stopped building. During the coronavirus pandemic, the real estate market in their 1,750-person city boomed as remote workers flocked in from the West Coast and second homeowners staked weekend ranches. But those newcomers need water — water that is vanishing as a megadrought dries up reservoirs and rivers across the West. 

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

State water board considers resolution on racial equity

Racial equity may soon become a guiding principle at a powerful state agency that helps mediate water disputes and directs taxpayer investments in troubled Central Valley water systems. A draft resolution pending before the State Water Resources Control Board would condemn systemic racism, xenophobia and white supremacy while committing the agency to making racial equity, diversity, inclusion and environmental justice central to its work. 

Aquafornia news ABC 10 San Diego

San Diego homeowner: Removing a water meter in Mira Mesa could cost thousands

Jet Martin wanted to stop service to a water meter to save money for the homeowners in his Mira Mesa HOA. It turns out the city said doing that will cost thousands of dollars. … Martin’s HOA consists of 15 homes. There used to be sprinklers that watered a once-grassy area that sits between two houses. It was a space where residents in the HOA could sit, eat, and enjoy the outdoors. They stopped watering the grass a couple of years ago, but still pay a base fee to the city of nearly $30 per month.

Aquafornia news The Street

The water risks facing California: New index offers future price visibility

A new futures contract based on the Nasdaq Veles California Water Index provides longer-term visibility into the price of water, according to Roland Fumasi of RaboResearch. California is facing another dry summer in 2021, and for agricultural producers, that means a difficult growing season. … The situation has put a strain on the state’s traditionally fragile water resources, resulting in water price spikes for producers looking to sustain their crops.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Cultivating optimism as drought cripples the Colorado River

A historic drought has desiccated much of the American West, bringing reservoir levels to record lows and stoking fears of catastrophic wildfires across the region. We spoke with two members of the Water Policy Center research network and experts on the Colorado River: Dr. Bonnie Colby of the University of Arizona (she’s also a member of the Colorado River Research Group) and John Fleck of the University of New Mexico. Prepare to be surprised: we encountered some delightful optimism in this wide-ranging conversation.

Aquafornia news Treehugger

Blog: What is desalination? Overview and impact

Desalination is the process of converting seawater into potable water by removing salt and other minerals. Although rudimentary forms of desalination have been used since antiquity, only in the mid-20th century did industrial-scale desalination methods become widely available for water-insecure coastal communities around the world. Today, about 300 million people in more than 150 countries get water every day from some 16,000 desalination plants. 

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Teviston CA has a new pump in well, running water restored

After over a month of transporting water from nearby towns and delivering bottled water to residents, the rural Tulare County community of Teviston had running water again Monday. Teviston’s only well broke down in early June, leaving hundreds of residents without running water. Teviston Community Services District board member, Frank Galaviz, said that the well is “back online” in an interview on Monday with The Bee. … In total, Teviston residents went without running water for two to three weeks, said board President Martin Correa. 

Aquafornia news SLO Tribune

Opinion: Central Coast drought level changes due to rain, heat

I recently wrote about how the U.S. Drought Monitor increased the severity of the drought throughout the Central Coast from an Abnormally Dry (D0) classification in late February to an Extreme Drought (D3) level in June. On May 4, the entire Central Coast reached a D2 (Severe Drought) classification. I assumed that San Luis Obispo County would remain at this level through the summer since we had moved into our historically dry season of May through September.
-Written by John Lindsey, a meteorologist and a media relations representative for PG&E.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Kern River water rights case gets hearing date

Whether the Kern River truly has spare water and, if so, how much, has been left up in the air for more than a decade. Now, 11 years after the State Water Resources Control Board ruled the Kern River was not fully appropriated, it will finally start the process of getting at those two key questions: Is water available? How much? A status conference hearing has been scheduled by the board’s Administrative Hearing Office for Aug. 17 at 9 a.m., the board announced on Monday.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Needles, California fights drought along the Colorado River

Rick Daniels lies awake at night worrying about a rusty contraption in a forlorn field, littered with discarded pipes and fire hydrants. It is the only water pump in Needles that meets state water quality standards, running 23 hours a day to keep up with demand, according to Daniels, the city manager. That’s a thin margin in one of America’s hottest cities, an urban speck in the desert near California’s border with Arizona. If this lone pump fails, 5,000 residents face the ultimate risk of taps running dry, as temperatures soar past 120 degrees …

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Illegal marijuana growers steal California’s scarce water

One day last spring, water pressure in pipelines suddenly crashed In the Antelope Valley, setting off alarms. Demand had inexplicably spiked, swelling to three and half times normal. Water mains broke open, and storage tanks were drawn down to dangerous levels. … It took a while for officials to figure out where all that water was going: Water thieves — likely working for illicit marijuana operations — had pulled water from remote filling stations and tapped into fire hydrants, improperly shutting off valves and triggering a chain reaction that threatened the water supply of nearly 300 homes.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin water hookup suspensions spur housing debate

Marin water managers’ strategy to suspend most new water service hookups during the historic drought is drawing criticism from some who say little water will be saved with a policy that comes at the expense of the county’s poorest residents. Such a tradeoff would impact everyone from service workers to businesses to the elderly on fixed incomes, critics say. … Proponents of the hookup moratoriums say the county must live within its means with regards to water supply especially given the uncertainty of how long this drought could last.

Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

Extreme actions underway to ensure Glen Canyon Dam can continue to generate power

The growing crisis on the Colorado River came into sharper focus last week when the Bureau of Reclamation began emergency releases from Flaming Gorge Reservoir to shore up Lake Powell’s declining levels, now at historic lows. The move will bolster Powell’s level by 3 feet in hopes of preventing it from dropping to a point where Glen Canyon Dam would not be able to generate electrical power, according to the agency’s Upper Colorado regional director Wayne Pullan.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Property and Environment Research Center

Blog: Trading water, saving water

Today, as a water economist, my job is to help customers stretch their limited water resources. This means managing supplies wisely and getting a handle on collective demands. Fortunately, one of our available tools is an old one: water markets that can help reallocate the resource to the places it’s needed most. I’ve learned a lot more about water and water markets since I was a second-grader determined to help fish in the San Francisco Bay. One lesson is that even well-intentioned water markets can have bad outcomes if poorly designed or executed, as was my first water transfer.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation announces contract repayment negotiations for the Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project

The Bureau of Reclamation and the Friant Water Authority scheduled a teleconference contract repayment negotiation session for costs of extraordinary operation and maintenance work on the Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project. The date and time of the teleconference-only negotiation session are: July 22, 2021, from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. PDT Call 1-202-640-1187 and, when prompted, type in participant passcode 523 487 550# The public is welcome to listen during the session and comment after the negotiations close. 

Aquafornia news Jfleck at Inkstain

Blog: Not just Mead: Powell will soon drop to the lowest level since filling in the 1960s

While the historic June 15 low for Lake Mead has drawn headlines – “its lowest level on record since the reservoir was filled in the 1930” – we’re about to hit a similar milestone upstream at Lake Powell that has received less attention, but may in fact be more important. It was co-author Eric Kuhn who drew this to my attention – I hadn’t noticed. He notes that sometime around July 24 give or take our eyeballing of the Colorado Basin River Forecasting Center graph, Powell will cross elevation 3,555 feet above sea level. That was the previous post-filling low, on April 8, 2005.

Related articles: 


Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Feeling the California drought on my family farm

I can see my future: It’s dry, thirsty and bleak. On our farm, we live with drought daily, working with limited groundwater and learning to adjust and adapt, or to fail and abandon our fields. Water will determine a farmer’s survival. I farm organically outside Fresno, part of one of the world’s richest and most productive agricultural oases, providing, of course, that we have water. … A severe two-year drought is drying out the West and Southwest from Washington to California, Montana to Texas. Agriculture feels the impact with crops withering and production limited.
-Written by David Mas Masumoto, a farmer in Del Rey, California. 

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Santa Barbara News-Press

Water districts vs. Santa Barbara County

Local water districts are suing Santa Barbara County, claiming that they should not be subject to restrictions over certain water sales and purchases. The districts claim that the county doesn’t deliver or pay for any water and therefore shouldn’t be able to dictate terms to them. The districts argue that the county’s imposition of restrictions ultimately hurts consumers. In response, the county claims that the oversight is needed to maximize the entire water supply for all consumers. 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: California’s missing forecast flows in spring 2021 – challenges for seasonal flow forecasting

California’s 2021 water outlook became grimmer this spring as the state did not get fabulous February or miracle March precipitation. Unsurprisingly, spring streamflow forecasts from snowfed basins in the Sierra were far below average. For example, early April forecasts from California DWR called for April-July runoff to be between 59-70% of normal. Bad, but not terrible. Then came April, bringing little additional precipitation. To compound matters, April brought very warm temperatures for much of the state that led to rapid ablation (evaporation) of the Sierra snowpack. 

Aquafornia news The Colorado Sun

How water rights work in Colorado — and how it’s different during drought

Whether you’re a kayaker or an angler or a hard-core gardener in Colorado, we get that this water thing is confusing. … The drought and the overarching impacts of climate change have already generated multiple stories in 2021 and will be a big part of news coverage from here on out. We get reader questions along the way about the severity of the drought and what it means for Colorado residents — here are a few of those questions, and some answers from some key experts. 

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Drought: Marin vets options for desalination, water pipeline

Marin Municipal Water District announced Friday that it has found a potential vendor for temporary desalination plants and four Central Valley water suppliers that could transfer water to the county through a pipeline across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. The emergency water projects are being explored based on forecasts that the majority of Marin residents could run out of water by July 2022 if the upcoming winter is as dry as last year’s. The district serves about two-thirds of the county including 191,000 residents in central and southern Marin. 

Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

Megadrought poses ‘existential’ crisis in California and the West

The American West was once seen as a place of endless possibilities: grand vistas, bountiful resources and cities that somehow grew out of deserts. Now, manifest destiny has become a manifest emergency. A scorching drought made worse by climate change is draining reservoirs at an alarming pace, fueling massive wildfires and deadly heat waves and withering one of the most important agricultural economies in the country.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Folsom CA adds new housing despite drought, climate change

On the surface, the city of Folsom would seem to be water rich. Perched at the foot of Folsom Lake, where snowmelt funnels into the Sacramento Valley, the city taps into large intake pipes plumbed deep into Folsom Dam’s inner face to send cool water to nearby homes and businesses. That easy access is turning into a mirage. After two dry winters, the reservoir has shriveled to its second-lowest level for July in nearly 50 years. It’s lower than it was in July 2014 and July 2015, when the last drought was raging, California ordered mandatory water cutbacks, and Folsom residents had to swallow a 32% reduction in usage.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Outdoor Life

California’s drought is threatening salmon and waterfowl

Millions of waterfowl and other birds are going to have a tough year due to the ongoing drought in the West. Not only is there less water for ducks and geese, but the agriculture fields these migrating birds depend on for food will be significantly smaller, which means less waste grain. … That potentially can negatively impact Pacific Flyway waterfowl flights and hunting this year. Farmers report only 25 percent of the fields usually flooded in autumn will have water. With reduced water, ducks and geese are impacted. They concentrate more and diseases and bacteria can spread more readily, including bird botulism.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news KQED

Drought-stricken California hasn’t mandated statewide water restrictions. Here’s why

After two consecutive dry winters and a series of early summer heat waves, the vast majority of California is gripped by drought. Water levels in reservoirs like Lake Oroville, Shasta Lake and Lake Mendocino are dangerously low. Wells in parts of the San Joaquin Valley and along the Russian River are drying up, and local water officials have mandated water restrictions up to 40% in some areas. Already, more than 85% of California is experiencing extreme drought conditions … and experts forewarn a third year of drought could be on the horizon if the state doesn’t see significant winter rain storms.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

State ponies up $200 million toward $2.35 billion repair bill for major canals

Several of the state’s key canals will get a sprinkle of state money this year and next toward fixing more than $2 billion in damage caused by sinking land from excessive groundwater pumping. On July 12, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a massive budget “trailer” bill, which authorizes actual funding for programs and services outlined in the state budget that was passed June 15. The trailer bill included $200 million for the Department of Water Resources to spend over the next two years on the California Aqueduct, Delta-Mendota Canal and Friant-Kern Canal. Together, repairs for those canals are estimated at $2.35 billion.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news GV Wire

In first Valley visit, U.S. senator gets pushed on farm water

Alex Padilla made his first official visit to the Central Valley as U.S. Senator, holding several discussions about water. Padilla, along with other elected officials, held a media availability at his only public event of the day — a tour of the Dos Palos water treatment plant. There, he spoke about the need to upgrade infrastructure for drinking water, as well as water for farmers. Padilla says the infrastructure bill being debated in the Senate will help with water, especially in underserved areas.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

Blog: Downloading the facts from California’s first groundwater plan assessments

In June 2021, the Department of Water Resources released the first groundwater sustainability plan decisions ahead of the statutory deadline identified in the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act – commonly called SGMA.  The long-term planning required for SGMA will provide a buffer against drought and climate change and over time will contribute to reliable water supplies regardless of weather patterns in the State.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: Cheap cybersecurity defenses exist, but they’re not reaching water utilities who need them

Super Bowl weekend was the headline event last winter in Tampa, Florida, where the mood was giddier than usual, given that the hometown Bucs had advanced to the championship. But two days before the big game, an incident just a few miles west of Raymond James Stadium temporarily stole the show. A hacker gained remote access to a water treatment plant in the town of Oldsmar. The intrusion on February 5 lasted only a few minutes — just long enough for the hacker to raise the concentration of lye in the water by a factor of 1,000. 

Aquafornia news KUNC

Colorado River basin reservoirs begin emergency releases to prop up a troubled Lake Powell

Emergency water releases from reservoirs upstream of Lake Powell are underway to preserve the nation’s second-largest reservoir’s ability to generate hydroelectric power. The Bureau of Reclamation started releasing additional water Thursday from Flaming Gorge reservoir in Wyoming. Additional water releases from Blue Mesa reservoir in Colorado and Navajo reservoir in New Mexico are planned to commence later this year. Emergency releases could last until at least December, and could extend into 2022. Lake Powell is projected to hit a record low in July. It’s situated on the Colorado River, a drinking and irrigation water source for more than 40 million people in the Southwest.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday Top of the Scroll: California drought – La Niña could dash hopes of desperately needed rain this winter

The punishing drought conditions afflicting most of California are expected to endure for months, climate experts with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association said Thursday. There is a 60% chance, NOAA experts said, of a La Niña event this winter — conditions that would likely bring about a cool and very dry winter. NOAA climatologists presented a stark portrait of the fiercely dry conditions gripping a huge portion of the country: 46% of the contiguous U.S. is in a state of drought, they said.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Amid escalating drought, Bay Area residents slow to cut back on water use

With California descending deeper into drought, Santa Rosa is getting serious about water use. So are other communities that are increasingly urging residents to conserve, sometimes asking for water reductions, sometimes mandating them. Gov. Gavin Newsom joined the cause last week, issuing a statewide plea for voluntary savings. Still, amid the growing calls for conservation, the Bay Area’s initial response has been slow. Nearly a dozen of the region’s largest water suppliers that have sought cutbacks recently have come up short of their water-savings goals, according to water agency data reviewed by The Chronicle.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news The Stanford Daily

California is heating up. Here’s what Stanford climate scientists say needs to happen

Temperatures are up, and Stanford researchers are worried the record highs don’t bode well for the future of wildfire and drought in California. Though mitigating the effects of climate change is the only long-term solution, the researchers said there are short-term adaptations communities can make to stay safe. This June, Stanford reached a high of 103 degrees Fahrenheit, with the Pacific Northwest recording widespread average highs over 100 degrees in the recent, record-breaking heatwave that enveloped the West.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

Blog: All together now? Differences in water shortage conditions across California 

California is back in a drought. You’ve heard it on the news, you’ve heard it from scientists, and they’re right — 100% of the state is in at least moderate drought. Yet, California Governor Gavin Newsom has yet to declare a statewide drought emergency, instead opting for county-level declarations — 50 of 58 counties have been declared so far this year. And if you look closer at what impacts different regions are facing, and how they are responding, you see important differences in water shortage conditions across the state.

Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

Colorado’s monsoon season is struggling to bring relief to rivers, ranchers and wildfires as the climate warms

The North American monsoon has returned to Colorado, and the rain has brought some much-needed relief to some of the driest parts of the state — after multiple back-to-back years of almost no summer rain. … Gov. Jared Polis has recently declared a drought emergency for the region and the rest of western Colorado. … The seasonal moisture from the tropics creates afternoon cloud cover that protects … drought-stricken creeks from baking in the sun. The rain helps lower the risk for wildfires. The timing of the monsoon is vital to Colorado’s ecosystem, which evolved on its schedule.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Fox 5 Las Vegas

UNLV study: Residential water use jumped more than a billion gallons during stay at home order

A study from UNLV shows some interesting results about how much water people used during Governor Steve Sisolak’s stay at home order in March 2020. Researchers at UNLV wanted to know the impact staying at home had on water use. Researchers looked at water bills from Henderson before the stay at home order and several months after the order was in place. The study found usage at home soared, outpacing pre-pandemic usage at homes, businesses and schools.

Aquafornia news Valley Water News

News release: Governor Newsom signs bill to allow Valley Water to select “best value” contractor for project to strengthen Anderson Dam

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a state bill on July 9 that will allow Valley Water to use a method known as “best value” to select a contractor for the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project. Under current California law, Valley Water must select the contractor with the lowest bid, regardless of their experience. But Assembly Bill 271, signed by Gov. Newsom and overwhelmingly passed by the California Legislature, authorizes Valley Water to use a method known as “best value” to select a contractor for the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project.

Aquafornia news Keep Long Valley Green

News release: Persistent and continuing air quality violations at Mono Lake due to dewatering

The Great Basin Unified Air Polution Control District‘s letter emphasizes how: The historical water diversions by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) from Mono Lake have lowered the lake level and caused the persistent and continuing violations of law regarding the PM10 standards. The only feasible solution is to allow the lake level to rise to inundate the emissive areas of the lake bed. Water savings from Owens Lake dust mitigation efforts would completely offset exports from Mono Lake. 

Aquafornia news ABC 7 News

Could meters be the key to conserving water in California agriculture? Watsonville growers explain

As he set goals last Thursday for the Bay Area to conserve water, Gov. Gavin Newsom acknowledged the lack of metering provides no sense of how much water is used by California agriculture. Growers in the Watsonville area in Santa Cruz County, however, are metered, and the meters have resulted in significant water conservation.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Earth Observatory

Blog: Sierra snowbank short on funds

Mountain snow is like a bank account for water across the western United States. Snow that falls on the Sierra Nevada, the Rocky Mountains, and other ranges becomes a natural reservoir that slowly melts each spring and summer and flows down into the river valleys. The resource managers of western states count on this allowance from nature to fill reservoirs with sufficient water for the typically dry months of summer and autumn. In 2021, those meltwater accounts have been turning up “insufficient funds.”

Aquafornia news Water Education Colorado

Report: Colorado River ranch water savings hit 42 percent

Colorado’s high altitude hay meadows, a significant water user in the state, could be re-operated to yield more than 40 percent in water savings, according to a new report. The report is based on a major high tech research initiative to see if ranch-scale water conservation techniques, in which farmers are paid to voluntarily stop irrigating their fields temporarily, could produce enough saved water to help protect the Colorado River from unplanned shortages due to drought and climate change.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Save the dates for our fall events, join our team, check out our drought page and moving sale

Dear Friends and Supporters of the Water Education Foundation … we are busy preparing to move to a new office near the confluence of the Sacramento and American rivers, planning a blend of virtual and in-person programming for the fall and offering a sale on our beautiful water maps and guides so we don’t have to move them. We’re also looking to hire a programs and communications manager who is passionate about all things water in California and across the West. Resumes are due July 23.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Valley rivers going dry

Southern San Joaquin Valley Rivers are running at near historic lows — again. In fact, the Bakersfield City Council passed a resolution Wednesday officially declaring the Kern River as running at only 17% of normal, it’s second driest year since record keeping began in 1893. The driest year on record was 2015, the worst year of the 2012-2016 drought. The resolution notes the river is so low this year, the city won’t have any “excess” water to sell to local agricultural irrigation districts. This is the first time the City Water Resources Department has made such a resolution.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Water and transit infrastructure key topics in Kate Gallego meeting with President Joe Biden

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said water infrastructure and transit investments in Arizona were two key items discussed during a meeting with President Joe Biden on Wednesday. Gallego was part of a bipartisan group of three governors and four other mayors who met with Biden at the White House to build support for a proposed $1.2 trillion infrastructure package under consideration in the U.S. Senate…. The group also talked about… the state’s long-term drought and its effects on the Colorado River…  

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Wildfires, drought and record heat: Numbers reveal impact in the West

The American West is baking, burning and drying in intertwined extreme weather. Four sets of numbers explain how bad it is now, while several others explain why it got this bad. The West is going through “the trifecta of an epically dry year followed by incredible heat the last two months and now we have fires,” said University of California Merced climate and fire scientist John Abatzoglou. “It is a story of cascading impacts.” And one of climate change, the data shows.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: In California, who owns water rights is a mystery

As we careen deeper into drought, California will face increasing impacts to urban and agricultural economies, rivers and forests, and wildlife. In response, government agencies will need to determine how to allocate water among competing needs. Water users will scramble to buy and sell water — if they can — or reduce their use. But the current lack of information hobbles the ability to make difficult decisions about water management. For California to cope with persistent shortages, water rights data need to be accessible to decision-makers and the public.
-Written by Michael Kiparsky, director of the Wheeler Water Institute in the Center for Law, Energy and the Environment at UC Berkeley School of Law.

Aquafornia news Coachella Valley Water District

News release: CVWD opposes proposed IID fee

Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) went on record today during Imperial Irrigation District’s (IID) Board of Directors meeting to oppose IID’s proposed fee to be charged to IID’s Coachella Valley rate payers.  CVWD is IID’s largest single power customer. IID and CVWD are party to the 1934 Compromise Agreement, and under that agreement, IID is obligated to charge Coachella Valley rate payers (including CVWD) the same rates as IID charges to rate payers within its district in the Imperial Valley. 

Aquafornia news The Milpitas Beat

Valley Water embarks on Anderson Dam project after years of unexpected delays

It started with a warning from state officials more than a decade ago that a major earthquake could cause the crest of Anderson Dam to slump, allowing water to cascade over the top and leave Morgan Hill underwater in mere minutes. Last week, the Santa Clara Valley Water District finally broke ground on the first phase of what has become a 10-year, $648 million project to retrofit the dam.  The district first started its planning process in 2012. 

Aquafornia news Kings River Conservation District

News release: KRCD board appoints David M. Merritt as general manager

Kings River Conservation District (KRCD) Board announced on July 13, 2021, the appointment of David M. Merritt as KRCD’s new general manager. … Mr. Merritt started his tenure with KRCD in 2010 as the Deputy General Manager of Power Resources. Through his leadership, KRCD successfully divested its gas turbine power generation facility, the Malaga Peaking Plant, in 2015. Mr. Merritt has further improved the long-term reliability of its Jeff L. Taylor Pine Flat Power Plant, which is a key KRCD asset. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

State should help fund local water resilience projects

On July 8, Gov. Gavin Newsom expanded two earlier drought emergency declarations to cover 50 of the state’s 58 counties. In May, he directed state agencies to consider easing requirements for reservoir releases to conserve water upstream, and to make water transfers easier. Both are needed. Notably, the governor’s emergency proclamation did not impose water conservation mandates. Instead, Gov. Newsom is leaving water conservation to each region — a smart and necessary approach that incentivizes regional investments in water supply.
-Written by Sean Bigley, chair of the Sacramento Regional Water Authority Board, and Gary Croucher, chair of the San Diego County Water Authority Board.​

Related article: 

Aquafornia news CNN

Arizona weather: Monsoon rains to hit drought-stricken region

The punishing heat wave continues in much of the West. However, for some in places in the Southwest including Arizona, the long-awaited monsoon will bring milder temperatures and rainfall. It may just arrive a little bit too fast, raising flash flooding concerns in the area. … Rainfall amounts of anywhere from a half inch to 1 inch are possible, said the National Weather Service in Phoenix. Upper-end amounts of 2 to 4 inches aren’t out of the question.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news University of Nevada, Las Vegas

New research: Why remote work might worsen Southwest water woes

As concerns flare over record-low water levels at Lake Mead, a new UNLV study shows that COVID-19 pandemic stay-at-home orders — and a subsequent societal shift to remote work — may be exacerbating the problem. The study, recently published in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, found that Las Vegas Valley residential water use soared during the pandemic, outpacing even combined pre-pandemic usage across Southern Nevada’s three main property types (residential, commercial, and schools). 

Aquafornia news Lake County News

Prop 64 funded program protects fish and wildlife habitat statewide

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, in conjunction with their state and county partners, are preparing for the 2021 cannabis enforcement season. As authorized by Fish & Game Code section 12029, CDFW, in coordination with the State Water Resources Control Board, or SWRCB, and the state licensing authority, established a watershed enforcement program to address environmental violations associated with unlicensed cannabis cultivation. The environmental impacts associated with illegal cannabis cultivation can have a detrimental effect on fish and wildlife and their habitats…

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Californians will adapt to living with drought, as we always have

Climate change is exacerbating droughts and accelerating the transformation and decline of California’s native forest and aquatic ecosystems. As a state, we are poorly organized to manage these effects, which need extensive focused preparation. We need to adapt (and we will make mistakes in doing so). Our human, economic and environmental losses will be much greater, however, if we manage poorly because of delay, complacency or panic.
-Written by Jay Lund, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California at Davis. 

Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

Northern California farmers bracing for drastic water restrictions

Farmers are facing a water shortage right as we head into peak growing season…. Solano County farmer Spencer Bei shows us one of the wells his family uses to farm 15,000 acres. He says he is losing pressure now as he is pumping because he is pulling more from the aquifer due to a lack of surface water and no rain in sight. He is one of many farmers feeling the heat after the State Water Resources Board sent out letters to 4,300 water-right holders saying there was no longer enough water for them and that the remaining 2,300 with pre-1914 riparian rights could see even more restrictions soon.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Mountain View Online

Valley Water presents $16M check for small salt-removal facility

With drought on everyone’s mind, city leaders from Palo Alto and Mountain View held a brief summit on June 18 at the Regional Water Quality Control Plant to highlight a project that both cities hope will help make water consumption more sustainable for decades to come. Mayors Tom DuBois and Ellen Kamei met with Valley Water board member Gary Kremen at the Palo Alto facility to accept a $16 million check from the water district. 

Aquafornia news Sacramento News and Review

As drought hits Sacramento, officials make it rain cash for ditching lawns and converting landscapes

This could be a good time to downsize the lawn. Thanks to your water provider, you may get more cash for your grass. The reason? We’re in a drought – again. But this may be no ordinary dry spell. … Sacramento’s new rebates, which went into effect July 1, double the amount available for River Friendly Landscape conversions. Customers can receive up to $3 per square foot of turfgrass removed. That adds up quickly; a 10- by 10-foot block of gone lawn equals $300.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Fox 40

Drought exposes abandoned Gold Rush village in Folsom Lake

As the waters of Folsom Lake recede to levels rarely seen, the remnants of a long-ago abandoned, flooded Gold Rush village are reemerging. Visitors can now see building foundations, bricks, broken pottery and rusty nails that were all once part of Mormon Island. The town was settled in the late 1840s by prospectors. By 1853, it had a population of more than 2,500 settlers, according to California archives. What was left of the town got flooded in 1955 when Folsom Dam was built.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Drought reduces projected almond crop in Central Valley

The worsening drought forced a 13% cut in the projected almond crop in California. The U.S. Department of Agriculture now expects about 2.8 billion pounds from the August-October harvest. The initial estimate in May was for a record 3.2 billion pounds. Some growers have opted to strip nuts from branches so their trees can get by with less irrigation this summer, Monday’s report said. Water is especially short in parts of the western and southern San Joaquin Valley.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: How Southern California became the land of swimming pools

Here we are, living 25 miles, five miles, even a scant hundred feet from that splendid dunk known as the Pacific Ocean, and what are we known for the world over? Swimming pools. By one calculation from five years ago, there are a quarter-million private swimming pools in Los Angeles County. … Our stories wouldn’t be our stories without swimming pools as image and metaphor. In “The Graduate,” Benjamin Braddock bastes in his parents’ pool in Pasadena, worrying about his future. … The crowded, chlorinated deep-end water in “Boogie Nights” memorializes porn, pools, and the 1970s San Fernando Valley, the suburban birthplace of a pool paradise …
-Written by Patt Morrison, a Los Angeles Times columnist.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Severe drought threatens Hoover dam reservoir – and water for US west

[S]ince 2000, scientists say the river’s flow has dwindled by 20% compared to the previous century’s average. This year is the second driest on record, with the flow into Lake Mead just a quarter of what would be considered normal. … In June, the level of Lake Mead plunged below 1,075ft, a point that will trigger, for the first time, federally mandated cuts in water allocations next year. The Bureau of Reclamation expects this historic low to spiral further …

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Foreign Policy

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: The American west’s climate hellscape is just a preview

For the past few weeks, the American West has been confronting a hellish climate nightmare of scorching heat waves, a severe drought, and raging wildfires. And it’s not just the West—or even the United States. In typically chilly Siberia, ground temperatures reached a blistering 118 degrees Fahrenheit. The Middle East has been gripped by a searing heat wave and a drought that has especially hammered Syria. In late June, a small Canadian village was almost completely consumed by wildfire. China is also bracing for another year of extreme weather… 

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Eos

U.S. data centers rely on water from stressed basins

Thanks to our ever increasing reliance on the Internet, the amount of data online is skyrocketing. The global data volume is expected to grow sixfold from 2018 to 2025. It might seem like that information is swirling in the cloudy sky, but it’s stored in physical data centers. Landon Marston, an assistant professor at Virginia Tech, recently noticed news articles addressing the growing energy requirements of the data center industry. As an expert in water resources engineering, he wondered how those energy requirements translated into water consumption. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Illegal pot farms have invaded the California desert

[The] hot, dry, unforgiving climate [of the Mojave Desert] has attracted more than a thousand marijuana plantations that fill the arid expanse between the Antelope Valley and the Colorado River. It’s an unprecedented siege that has upended life in the remote desert communities and vast tract developments that overlook Joshua trees and scrub. Authorities say the boom has led to forced labor, violence, water theft and the destruction of fragile desert habitat and wildlife. Longtime residents say they feel less safe, claiming black-market growers act with impunity by carrying weapons, trading gunfire with rivals and threatening those who wander too close to their farms.

Aquafornia news Center for California Water Resources Policy and Management

Research analysis: An overview of the listing process under the California Endangered Species Act

The California Endangered Species Act (CESA) is one of the most impor- tant legal tools available to the Fish and Game Commission and Department of Fish and Wildlife to protect the State’s wildlife resources. … Listing decisions can be the difference between persistence and extinction of a species. They can also cause severe economic disruption and, for this reason, should in our view be made with due deliberation and based on the best available scientific information.

Aquafornia news Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management

New research: Approaches to planning water resources

Water resource problems and management are complex, confusing, and controversial for participants in technical, policy, and public water deliberations. A thoughtful planning approach can reduce confusion and structure controversies. This paper attempts to summarize and organize various technical approaches to water resources planning. This paper summarizes the basic approach of rational planning, followed by brief reviews of requirements-based, benefit-cost-based, multiobjective, conflict resolution, market-based, and muddling through approaches to planning.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Key players in California water confront drought, fish and more at Modesto summit

A key message emerged when California water leaders gathered in Modesto: Stop grumbling about drought, and get cracking on real fixes.  Rep. Josh Harder, R-Turlock, convened the Thursday afternoon summit at the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau.  Several speakers called for new reservoirs and groundwater recharge to hold wet-year surpluses for use in dry times like 2021. The manager of a West Side irrigation district invited others to follow her lead in using water recycled from city sewage plants. 

Aquafornia news ABC 10 San Diego

In-Depth: California drought could make housing crisis worse

As California enters another period of drought, experts say the dry spell could make an already difficult housing market even worse. … Some housing experts say about 20,000 homes need to be built in San Diego every year. Building more houses requires more water. … [Dr. Norm Miller, a Real Estate Professor at USD] believes San Diego already has enough water to build that many new homes. But he thinks the State and Federal Governments need to make housing a priority over other water users, like agriculture.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: California isn’t running out of water; it’s running out of cheap water

A California water myth which becomes especially pernicious in droughts is that California is “running out of water”. Viewing California’s supply and demand pressures in terms of fixed water requirements perpetuates this myth and invariably places undue attention on building additional supply infrastructure. Instead, managing water as a scarce resource suggests a balanced portfolio of water trading, investments in conveyance, smart groundwater replenishment, and demand management. 

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Bill aims to spend billions to fix nation’s aging dams

Lawmakers in Congress on Friday introduced a bill that would pump tens of billions of dollars into fixing and upgrading the country’s dams. The Twenty-First Century Dams Act, introduced by Democratic U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster of New Hampshire, proposes to spend nearly $26 billion to make the repairs that would enhance safety and increase the power generation capacity of the country’s 90,000 dams. It also calls for removing any dams that have outlived their usefulness.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news ABC7 Los Angeles

Diamond Valley Lake: SoCal’s largest water reservoir filled to 80% capacity despite drought

Southern California’s largest reservoir is filled to more than 80% of its total capacity, despite the fact the state as a whole is in the second year of a severe drought. And Diamond Valley Lake near Hemet is proving to be a key asset in making up for the shortfall in water from other sources after another year of below-normal precipitation.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news The Guardian

In California’s interior, there’s no escape from the desperate heat: ‘Why are we even here?’

In Cantua, a small town deep within California’s farming heartland, the heat had always been a part of life. “We can do nothing against it,” said Julia Mendoza, who’s lived in this town for 27 years. But lately, she says, the searing temperatures are almost unlivable. … Global heating is driving stronger, longer heatwaves in the region, said Jose Pablo Ortiz Partida, a climate scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists, a non-profit advocacy group. Researchers have been warning of such extreme heatwaves for decades, he said, but the barrage of heat surges that California and the western US have been alarming, he said.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Fault system that produced 6.0 quake poses big dangers

While much of California’s earthquake risk has been historically focused on the San Andreas fault and places like Los Angeles and San Francisco, quakes are capable of causing significant destruction in the state’s Sierra Nevada and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta … UCLA experts warned in 2014 that a major earthquake sending destructive shaking to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta could potentially destroy aging levees, causing flooding and drawing in saline water from San Francisco Bay — which would contaminate one of the state’s key water supply systems.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Can California dramatically cut water use again?

In the face of rapidly worsening drought conditions this week, Gov. Gavin Newsom urged all Californians to voluntarily cut their water usage by 15% — but what exactly does that mean for the average California household? The governor made his plea Thursday as he extended a regional state of drought emergency to 50 counties, comprising about 42% of the state’s population. For many, the talk of water reductions reminded them of the shriveled lawns, attenuated showers and water-bucket toilet flushing of the last devastating drought.
-Written by Julia Wick and Chris Kuo, of the Los Angeles Times.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: Lake Mead, crucial water source in West, tips toward crisis

[A]fter years of an unrelenting drought that has quickly accelerated amid record temperatures and lower snowpack melt, [Lake Mead] is set to mark another, more dire turning point. Next month, the federal government expects to declare its first-ever shortage on the lake,  triggering cuts to water delivered to Arizona, Nevada and Mexico on Jan. 1. If the lake, currently at 1,068 feet, drops 28 more feet by next year, the spigot of water to California will start to tighten in 2023.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

San Lorenzo Valley Water District outlines future plans

Slowly but surely, the San Lorenzo Valley community is rebuilding itself after the CZU Lightning Complex fire. Its water district is no exception. The San Lorenzo Valley Water District lost all of its water intake infrastructure at the Lyon Water Treatment Plant in Boulder Creek, built in 1994 with the purpose of treating surface water coming from many streams on the Empire Grade mountain. About 50% of the water stored at the plant was lost as well. All of the 1,600 acres of the watershed were affected by the wildfire.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Water customers in East Bay district urged to cut usage 10% as drought worsens

The Contra Costa Water District is asking customers to reduce their water use by 10% amid worsening drought conditions in California. The district’s Board of Directors on Wednesday voted unanimously to declare a Stage 1 water shortage level, which includes calling for 10% voluntary conservation … The district provides water to about 500,000 people in central and eastern Contra Costa County, from the city of Martinez to Brentwood. Its main source of water is the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, which conveys water allocated from the Central Valley Project through a contract with the federal government.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: More housing and more drought calls for more thought

Although 41 of California’s 58 counties are in drought conditions, legislators are debating bills, such as Senate Bill 9 and Senate Bill 10, that address the construction of housing to meet the state’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation. Between 2023 and 2031, the state mandate for the nine-county Bay Area is 441,000 units, representing an expected population increase of 1,102,500. The allocation for Los Angeles County is 1,327,000 housing units to accommodate an expected population increase of 3,317,500. The state’s propensity to accept the RHNA numbers ignores our drought conditions.
-Written by Rick Johnson, a retired 40-year veteran of the San Francisco water department. 

Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

IID pounds pavement to head off bill

Imperial Irrigation District officials are making a last-ditch effort to amend or kill proposed legislation that could fundamentally transform the governing board of the agency, Assembly Bill 1021. At the heart of the issue is how the bill could force the district — which provides water and power to virtually all of Imperial County, and electricity to part of the Coachella Valley — to add a seat representing energy ratepayers from a small section of southeastern Riverside County to the IID Board of Directors. 

Aquafornia news LA Department of Water and Power

News release: LADWP hires first-ever chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer 

As part of the ongoing initiatives to advance diversity and equity, Monique Earl has been named to lead the newly-created Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.  Earl will become part of the senior management team reporting to General Manager Martin Adams, and will be responsible for the oversight of policies, practices and programs designed to improve diversity and opportunities throughout LADWP and position the agency to better serve communities with the highest needs. 

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Opinion: Environmental consequences of pipeline, desalination plans must be considered

How can Marin County effectively address the severe drought we’re in? Right now, many are reasonably urging the Marin Municipal Water District to explore desalination and a water supply line on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Apparently our water district is proceeding expediently with this exploration, so they can implement those measures as quickly as possible if needed. However, we should recognize that with urgent competition for water throughout the southwestern U.S., these measures have uncertainties, will take time and require very large expense and energy use.
-Written by Tom Flynn, team lead at 

Aquafornia news KUNC

After decades of warming and drying, the Colorado River struggles to water the West

The Colorado River is tapped out. Another dry year has left the waterway that supplies 40 million people in the Southwest parched. A prolonged 21-year warming and drying trend is pushing the nation’s two largest reservoirs to record lows. For the first time this summer, the federal government will declare a shortage. Climate change is exacerbating the current drought. Warming temperatures are upending how the water cycle functions in the Southwest. The 1,450-mile long river acts as a drinking water supply, a hydroelectric power generator, and an irrigator of crop fields across seven Western states and two in Mexico.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday Top of the Scroll: As California drought worsens, Newsom urges residents to cut water use

As a heat wave exacerbates California’s drought, Gov. Gavin Newsom asked residents Thursday to voluntarily cut their water use by 15% and extended an emergency drought declaration to nearly every Bay Area county. Those measures were the latest in a series of modest steps Newsom has taken to encourage Californians to conserve and to make it easier for state regulators to curtail use for farmers and water agencies. Newsom said urgent action is needed because conditions in the state “continue to devolve,” with sparse rainfall and higher-than-normal temperatures — and a heat dome forecast to scorch the West Coast this weekend.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

“Silver tsunami” could open doors to California’s top water jobs

Job alert: The Shafter-Wasco Irrigation District, which serves nearly 30,000 acres of farms in Kern County, is hiring a new general manager. But what exactly does the general manager of an irrigation district do? It’s a question that isn’t easily answered, even by water executives themselves…. [Dale] Brogan managed the Delano-Earlimart Irrigation District in Tulare and Kern counties for 28 years. He’s helping to fill the role at Shafter-Wasco until someone is hired on permanently. 

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

2020 wildfires could be boon for water allocation

Last summer’s catastrophic Creek Fire burned about 380,000 acres in the upper San Joaquin watershed, the largest fire in the Sierra Nevada’s history. The fire literally exploded, fed by strong gusty winds and 150 million dead trees the fire scorched 43% of the burned area “with high severity” said the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, a state agency. Altogether, about 36% of the upper San Joaquin watershed was burned—the same watershed that supplies nine dams and impounds water that feeds a million acres of farmland below, along the Madera and Friant Kern Canals. 

Aquafornia news Denver Post

Denver Water reduces diversions from Colorado River headwaters, keeps streams flowing on Western Slope

With a federal water shortage declaration looming for the Southwest, Denver Water is trying to help. Normally nearly 20% of the city’s water comes from Grand County, which is filled with streams that make up the headwaters of the Colorado River. In a normal year, 60% of the water in Grand County is diverted from streams high above Grand Lake and captured near Winter Park and sent to the other side of the Continental Divide for agricultural and municipal water supply, mostly on the Front Range. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Sacramento asked to cut water usage as California drought worsens

The city of Sacramento, invoking its water shortage contingency plan, asked residents Wednesday to reduce consumption by 10% as California’s drought intensifies. City Manager Howard Chan moved the city into Stage 1 of its contingency plan, which mandates a 10% cut by city government and a voluntary call to residents and businesses to do the same, according to spokesman Carlos Eliason. If additional measures need to be taken, they would require action by the City Council.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

La Nina threatens to return and worsen drought in U.S. West

The possible return of La Nina threatens to give the drought-ravaged U.S. West another winter without much rain or snow. The U.S. Climate Prediction Center issued a watch for La Nina on Thursday, saying there’s a 66% chance the phenomenon will return for a second straight year some time in the November-January period. La Nina occurs when the equatorial Pacific Ocean cools, triggering an atmospheric chain reaction that can cause droughts across the western U.S. and roil weather systems globally.

Aquafornia news ABC7 Los Angeles

Drug cartels stealing millions of gallons of water for illegal marijuana grows in Antelope Valley, officials say

Amid California’s ongoing drought, drug cartels have been stealing 2-3 million gallons of water a day to feed illegal marijuana grows in the Antelope Valley, officials said. Asked where the water was being stolen from, Rep. Mike Garcia, who represents the state’s 25th District, said: “Right here from our local aqueduct system. The California Aqueduct flows right through the Antelope Valley. They’re taking it out of wells. They’re stealing it from fire hydrants.”

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Fox News

Western farmers fight for fairness, businesses amid drought ‘like Hurricane Katrina’

As the western United States continues to face a months-long bout with extreme drought, American farmers are feeling catastrophic effects to their livelihoods. … John Moore, a fourth-generation crop farmer from Kern County, California, highlighted the misunderstanding lawmakers have toward the agricultural community. In his mind, heeding to some Trump-era water policies would’ve changed the entire landscape of how farmers face droughts like these.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Eastern Municipal Water District

News release: EMWD projects receive federal funding

Two Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) projects have received preliminary federal funding allocations in appropriations legislation, thanks to the diligence of Representatives Ken Calvert and Mark Takano. In the House Appropriations Committee’s FY2022 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies legislation, EMWD’s Quail Valley Septic to Sewer program is slated to receive  $2.5 million from Congressman Ken Calvert’s (CA-42nd) request, and its Mead Valley Booster Station project received $1 million from Congressman Mark Takano’s (CA-41st) request.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Tonya Hart named Reclamation’s regional engineer for the southwest

The Bureau of Reclamation Tuesday announced the selection of Tonya Hart as the Regional Engineer of the Lower Colorado Basin Region. In this capacity, she oversees and provides direction for the Region’s engineering activities in Arizona, Southern Nevada and Southern California. Additionally, she oversees the operations and maintenance of Reclamation’s Boulder City campus. Hart most recently served as a Supervisory Civil Engineer in the Geotechnical Services Division of Reclamation’s Technical Service Center (TSC) located in Denver, Colorado. 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Drought-stricken western districts plan new ways to store water

Driving through the Sacramento valley an hour north of California’s capital, most travelers notice nothing but a few cows grazing on grass scorched brown by the heat. But Jerry Brown, the executive director of the Sites Reservoir Project, sees the future of California’s water system….Sites is just one of hundreds of new projects being urgently pushed by districts, whose officials see that climate change is irrevocably changing their water equation.

Aquafornia news The Center Square

Fitch: low river levels likely to increase Arizona water bills

The expected water cuts from the Colorado River as a result of the Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) will likely mean higher water utility rates, according to Fitch Ratings. The U.S. Congress passed the DCP in 2019 to protect water levels in Lake Powell and Lake Mead which provide water to Colorado River basin states. Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, and Mexico entered into the DCP, which mandates how water cuts will occur when the lakes drop to certain levels, called tiers.

Aquafornia news ABC 10

Sacramento offering more rebates for water conservation

If you’re a Sacramento homeowner, the city is now offering twice as much money for you to conserve water. According to a press release, the city’s Department of Utilities announced it is doubling its River Friendly Landscape rebates while funding is available. The program includes: Turf conversion, which doubled from $1.50 to $3 per square foot of grass replaced. Irrigation upgrades of up to $800 for new sprinklers or smart irrigation controllers. Installing a smart controller in the home. 

Related articles:

Aquafornia news CNN Politics

Western governors make bipartisan plea as states battle record heat and drought

A pair of governors on Sunday called on the federal government for help and pushed for solutions as their states grapple with recording-breaking temperatures, drought and wildfires that officials have said is being driven by climate change. … The bipartisan plea follows a meeting last week between President Joe Biden and other Western governors during which he announced new federal response plans to help address the wildfire threats and extreme heat being driven by climate change. They include extending seasonal hiring, adding “surge capacity” by training and equipping additional personnel, and adding fire detection resources. 

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news ABC 15

Data centers consume millions of gallons of Arizona water daily

Massive buildings are sprouting from our desert landscapes, their footprints normally more than a million square feet. The structures are filled with computer servers processing and storing huge amounts of data. … Duff is the only city council member to vote no on a recently approved $800 million data center – rumored to be for Facebook – after discovering the facility would eventually use 1.75 million gallons of water every day for cooling their rows of servers once fully operational. This as state reservoirs like Lake Mead and rivers like the Colorado are so low that federal restrictions are likely to be triggered on Arizona’s water allocation as early as next year.

Aquafornia news The Conversation

Blog: ‘Megadrought’ along border strains US-Mexico water relations

The United States and Mexico are tussling over their dwindling shared water supplies after years of unprecedented heat and insufficient rainfall. Sustained drought on the middle-lower Rio Grande since the mid-1990s means less Mexican water flows to the U.S. The Colorado River Basin, which supplies seven U.S. states and two Mexican states, is also at record low levels. A 1944 treaty between the U.S. and Mexico governs water relations between the two neighbors. 

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Tribe becomes key water player with drought aid to Arizona

For thousands of years, an Arizona tribe relied on the Colorado River’s natural flooding patterns to farm….Now, gravity sends the river water from the north end of the Colorado River Indian Tribes reservation through 19th century canals to sustain alfalfa, cotton, wheat, onions and potatoes, mainly by flooding the fields. Some of those fields haven’t been producing lately as the tribe contributes water to prop up Lake Mead to help weather a historic drought in the American West…. As Arizona faces mandatory cuts next year in its Colorado River supply, the tribes see themselves as major players in the future of water.

Related article:

Aquafornia news SkyHi News

Governor declares drought emergency for much of Western Colorado

Gov. Jared Polis formally declared a drought emergency Friday for almost two dozen western Colorado counties. Colorado’s Drought Task Force, Agriculture Impact Task Force and Municipal Water Task Force will remain active and responsive to local needs, a release from the Colorado Water Conservation Board states Friday.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

3 tips to save water at Tahoe during drought, high demand

With drought conditions and a pair of record-setting heat waves already in the rearview mirror, saving water is key during high demand. In the face of record temperatures and the worst drought in decades, the South Tahoe Public Utilities District is offering three tips to save water as demand increases.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Two federal decrees affect California water wars

The powerful interests who vie for shares of the state’s ever-changing water supply — dubbed “water buffaloes” — are adept at fending off political and legal assaults by their rivals and the outcomes of their clashes are often stalemates. That’s why it was surprising in June to see two game-changing decrees out of Washington, one from the new Biden administration and another from the Supreme Court, affecting two of the state’s most prominent water interests, Southern California’s Imperial Irrigation District and the San Joaquin Valley’s Westlands Water District.
-Written by CalMatters columnist Dan Walters.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Arizona lawmakers flubbed a major opportunity to shore up our water

You’d think that spending $200 million to help shore up our shrinking water supply would be a monumentally good thing. And it could have been, if there weren’t so many stipulations on how that cash must be spent. Lawmakers plopped $160 million into a newly created drought mitigation fund – a hefty chunk of change that some have called “unprecedented.” They set up the fund, according to the budget bill, because “many regions in this state lack access to sustainable water supplies to meet their long-term water demands and need financial assistance to develop water supply and conservation projects.”
-Written by Arizona Republic columnist Joanna Allhands. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Budget trailer bills misused for renewable energy squabble

To understand a sharp-elbows squabble that’s developing behind the scenes in the state Capitol, one must first understand “pumped-storage hydro,” a way for electrical energy to be stored. In its simplest form, water stored in a reservoir is released to generate power as it flows into a second reservoir at a lower elevation. Later, when the electrical grid’s need for power diminishes, the water is pumped back into the upper reservoir so the cycle can be repeated when demand increases.
-Written by Dan Walters, CalMatters columnist.

Aquafornia news PR Newswire

News release: Cadiz completes acquisition of 220-mile pipeline asset

Cadiz Inc. is pleased to announce today that it completed the acquisition of an existing 220-mile pipeline, the Cadiz “Northern Pipeline,” making final payment of $19 Million to El Paso Natural Gas. As California continues to address supply inequalities, infrastructure challenges and intensifying drought, the Northern Pipeline can provide new water conveyance access and supplement California’s water infrastructure along an underserved, growing east-west route with additional regulatory approvals. The Northern Pipeline extends southeast from California’s Central Valley near Bakersfield and terminates at the Company’s Cadiz Ranch agricultural operations.

Aquafornia news Science

The Colorado River is shrinking. Hard choices lie ahead, this scientist warns

As a warming climate reduces the river’s flow, [Utah State University scientist Jack] Schmidt, 70, is making what could be his most important push to shape the fate of his beloved waterway. He and his colleagues are working to inject a dose of scientific reality into public debate over water resources that, the team says, is too often clouded by wishful or outdated thinking. The biggest delusion: that there will be enough water in a drier future to satisfy all the demands from cities, farmers, power producers, and others, while still protecting sensitive ecosystems and endangered species.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California’s rain year just ended – and the data shows we’re in trouble

California’s rain year officially ended Wednesday, and the data reflects what the dry landscape in much of the Bay Area already shows: It wasn’t pretty. Data shows that for many of the major regions of California, the July 2020-June 2021 rain year was one of the top 10 driest ever. Even more troubling is that the extreme dry spells are starting to stack up, especially in the Sierra Nevada watersheds that supply so much of the state’s water.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: There’s still time to save 30% on water maps, guides and more during our moving sale!

We’re in the final weeks of our moving sale as we prepare to head to new quarters next month, so you still have a little time left to knock 30 percent off the price of our water maps, Layperson’s Guides, DVDs and more. Use the code MOVINGSALE when you check out to claim your 30 percent discount and get those updated maps, guides and DVDs you’ve wanted.

Aquafornia news ABC 10 San Diego

Valley Center residents blame SDG&E project for low water supply

Residents in Valley Center say they are running out of water and blaming an SDG&E project meant to reduce fire danger. The olive trees that line Kristen Bazata’s Valley Center farm have not been watered recently – at a time they need all the H20 they can get. … Bazata stopped watering the trees after noticing an alarming change when she turned on her own faucets. “We have lower water pressure than we have ever had,” Bazata said. 

Aquafornia news Eastern Municipal Water District

News release: EMWD introduces latest education book

Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) is proud to introduce “Frog and Turtle: Water Escapades” as the newest in its ongoing series of educational books. The comic book inspired story details where EMWD’s water supplies come from, with a frog and a turtle discovering that they are living through an ongoing drought and learning about their water supplies to better understand how to use water more efficiently.

Aquafornia news Idaho State Journal

Idaho almond trial drawing a lot of interest from California

Interest from California growers in the possibility of growing almonds commercially in Idaho has not waned. In fact, it’s increasing. University of Idaho fruit researchers have been conducting a major almond trial at the university’s agricultural research and extension station in Parma since 2014.  … California is the global leader in almond production but growers there are increasingly concerned about burdensome regulations, an uncertain water supply and expensive land prices, Fallahi says.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Monterey water officials told to pay for another Cal Am review

An inter-governmental body wants Monterey Peninsula water officials to pay for an independent third-party review of costs associated with a planned takeover of California American Water Co., a study water officials say they’ve already performed at a cost of over a half-a-million dollars. A majority of commissioners with the Local Area Formation Commission for Monterey County (LAFCO) said Monday night they want the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District to foot the bill for an independent review to better establish the financial wherewithal of the district to operate a water delivery system…

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Infrastructure bill could help California drought, water storage

As California and the West suffer through an epic drought, President Joe Biden and Senate Republicans and Democrats have included $5 billion for Western water projects in their infrastructure deal. The prospect of federal money comes as several big-ticket water projects are on the drawing boards in California — although many are still years from completion and probably wouldn’t get finished in time to help California with the current drought. But the federal dollars, which are probably months and several more negotiations away from possible approval, could enable California to jump-start projects that have been in the works for years.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Report: Dispute resolution clauses in interorganizational coordination agreements

California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), a landmark piece of legislation in the quest for comprehensive management of California’s groundwater, required the creation of Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs), and authorized local governments either to form GSAs separately or join with other local governments in the same groundwater basin. This was the genesis of 74 interorganizational agreements now examined in a new report, which focuses on whether, given the high stakes and history of conflict in water resources management in California, participants were prepared for disagreements with dispute resolution clauses in their planning.

Aquafornia news Transportation Today

Reps. DeFazio, Pallone announce details of $715B surface transportation and water infrastructure bill

U.S. Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) announced Thursday new details of the $715 billion INVEST in America Act, which is scheduled to be sent to the House floor this week. The bill, the congressmen said, will create jobs, rebuild and reimagine the country’s roads, bridges, transit, rail, and wastewater infrastructure, as well as the drinking water infrastructure.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California budget – Newsom, Legislature have a deal

California lawmakers voted [Monday night] to approve a record-busting state budget that reflects new agreements with Gov. Gavin Newsom to expand health care for undocumented immigrants, spend billions to alleviate homelessness and help Californians still struggling through the pandemic… The budget includes $1 billion over several years for wildfire prevention, $3 billion to alleviate drought and $3.7 billion over three years to mitigate dangers posed by climate change — but Newsom and legislative leaders are still figuring out how to spend the funds.  

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: Climate change is creating hell on Earth

The record-breaking heat wave baking the West Coast is another painful sign that climate change is here, and we have to adapt. The Pacific Northwest has been sizzling, with conditions forecasters have described as unprecedented and life-threatening. Portland, Ore., hit 113 degrees Monday, breaking the previous all-time high of 112 degrees, set Sunday. … Seattle hit 107 degrees, also a record high. … And further north, the town of Lytton in British Columbia hit 116 degrees Sunday, the highest temperature ever recorded in Canada.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Times of San Diego

Opinion: San Diego County must not suffer if Fallbrook and Rainbow leave water authority

With nearly 100 years of combined experience working on important regional issues across San Diego County, we wanted to share some observations about a proposal currently pending among our region’s water providers. The Fallbrook Public Utility District and Rainbow Municipal Water District have filed applications to leave the San Diego County Water Authority and instead get their water from an agency in Riverside County.
-Written by Keith Lewinger and Mel Katz, of the San Diego County Water Authority’s board of directors​

Aquafornia news The New York Times

It’s some of America’s richest farmland. But what is it without water?

In America’s fruit and nut basket, water is now the most precious crop of all. It explains why, amid a historic drought parching much of the American West, a grower of premium sushi rice has concluded that it makes better business sense to sell the water he would have used to grow rice than to actually grow rice. Or why a melon farmer has left a third of his fields fallow. Or why a large landholder farther south is thinking of planting a solar array on his fields rather than the thirsty almonds that delivered steady profit for years.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news New York Times

What to know about the drought in California and western half of U.S.

Much of the Western half of the United States is in the grip of a severe drought of historic proportions. Conditions are especially bad in California and the Southwest, but the drought extends into the Pacific Northwest, much of the Intermountain West, and even the Northern Plains. Drought emergencies have been declared. Farmers and ranchers are suffering. States are facing water cutbacks. Large wildfires burned earlier than usual with more major fires burning in Arizona, New Mexico and other states. There appears to be little relief in sight.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

As climate change turns up the heat in Las Vegas, water managers try to wring new savings to stretch supply

Las Vegas, known for its searing summertime heat and glitzy casino fountains, is projected to get even hotter in the coming years as climate change intensifies. As temperatures rise, possibly as much as 10 degrees by end of the century, according to some models, water demand for the desert community is expected to spike. That is not good news in a fast-growing region that depends largely on a limited supply of water from an already drought-stressed Colorado River.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

San Diego is relatively drought-proof – and has prices to prove it

The 2021 California drought is as bad if not worse as the one in 2014, which endured for five long, dry years. As of Friday, 33 percent is in a state of “exceptional drought,” the most severe drought category given by the federal U.S. Drought Monitor. … Yet San Diego officials aren’t just calm in the face of these troubling conditions, they’re downright celebratory. The Water Authority initially scheduled a press conference and photo op to tout its “drought-safe” status and “how far the region has come since prior droughts,” but postponed the event when Mayor Todd Gloria couldn’t make it.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Water and housing needs collide in California’s severe drought

Housing advocates and developers are warily watching California’s intensifying drought and what it may mean in a state that needs millions of new homes to house its residents. Eighty-five percent of the state is in extreme drought. And in coastal Marin County, north of San Francisco, rainfall is at its lowest levels since records began 140 years ago. It’s here where the state’s twin issues of housing stock and water availability are colliding. But it could be a harbinger of things to come for the rest of the state. Additional housing puts more stress on water supplies. 

Aquafornia news City of Scottsdale

News release: Water – Colorado River shortage

For the first time ever, an official Colorado River Tier 1 Shortage is expected to be declared starting January 1, 2022. The announcement comes from the Bureau of Reclamation in August based on projections for Lake Mead water levels for the following January. The shortage declaration means reduced water for some stakeholders who receive water from the Central Arizona Project (CAP); those stakeholders who receive a portion of their water from CAP include municipalities, agriculture, tribes, and others.

Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger

Blog: EPA publishes instructions for water utilities to obtain chemicals in short supply

Many water utilities face challenges from a nation-wide shortage of chlorine and other chemicals for water and wastewater treatment and are struggling to locate necessary supplies or alternative sources. The Environmental Protection Agency administers a program under Safe Drinking Water Act section 1441 that allows water agencies to obtain priority access to these chemicals.

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: NRDC applauds nomination of Nichole Morgan to Water Board

I was pleased to hear that Governor Newsom has nominated Nichole Morgan to fill the civil engineering seat on the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board).  Ms. Morgan, a Cal State Sacramento graduate, is currently Assistant Deputy Director of Financial Assistance at the State Water Board and previously worked at the Central Valley Regional Board. The State Water Board is the primary regulatory agency that is supposed to manage water resources in California.  

As Climate Change Turns Up The Heat in Las Vegas, Water Managers Try to Wring New Savings to Stretch Supply
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Rising temperatures are expected to drive up water demand as historic drought in the Colorado River Basin imperils Southern Nevada’s key water source

Las Vegas has reduced its water consumption even as its population has increased. Las Vegas, known for its searing summertime heat and glitzy casino fountains, is projected to get even hotter in the coming years as climate change intensifies. As temperatures rise, possibly as much as 10 degrees by end of the century, according to some models, water demand for the desert community is expected to spike. That is not good news in a fast-growing region that depends largely on a limited supply of water from an already drought-stressed Colorado River.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Ventura County drought: What we know about local water supplies

Though Ventura, like most of California, is deep into a severe drought, imported water will buffer many residents against water shortages this summer and fall, local water managers said. The Calleguas Municipal Water District, which supplies roughly 75% of the county’s population — from Simi Valley to the Oxnard plain — expects no mandatory cuts this year in the amount of imported water it buys from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, said Dan Drugan, resources manager for the Thousand Oaks-based wholesaler.

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

These are the California crops that use the most water

When discussing the drought, the question of which crops use the most water comes up a lot. A Pacific Institute analysis of California Department of Water Resources data sheds light on the state’s top 10 water-intensive crops in 2015, the most recent year for which the department has published water-use estimates. … The analysis ranked pasture first among California’s top 10 most water-intensive crops …, followed by nuts and alfalfa…

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Giant rock wall built across Delta river to protect California’s water supply

For the past three weeks, construction crews working 24 hours a day have been stacking boulders across a river in eastern Contra Costa County, building what may be California’s biggest defense yet against the drought: a nearly 800-foot-long rock wall. The state’s emergency project, which was wrapping up Thursday, is designed to prevent San Francisco Bay’s salty flows from pushing into the coveted freshwater supplies of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Water levels in the delta’s rivers and sloughs have dropped after two dry years, putting water for almost 30 million Californians at risk of saltwater intrusion. The plan is to keep the wall up until November…

Aquafornia news The New York Times

The effects of climate change

Climate change has plunged the Western U.S. into its worst drought in two decades. And a record-breaking heat wave only made things worse. In Arizona and Nevada, it’s been so hot that doctors warned people they could get third-degree burns from the asphalt. Wildfires raged in Montana and Utah. Power grids in Texas strained as officials asked residents to limit appliance use to avoid blackouts. The levels in Lake Mead, which supplies water for millions of people, are at their lowest since the 1930s.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Visalia Times-Delta

East Orosi one step closer to clean water as Tulare County moves to become administrator

East Orosi is one step closer to achieving clean drinking water, a basic human right that is denied to many of California’s disadvantaged communities, particularly in the rural San Joaquin Valley. Last Tuesday, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to take steps to become the manager of the small agricultural community’s water board. That means the town of about 500 will soon have the financial resources and technical know-how to gain clean water.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Slate Magazine

Heat dome and drought are promising another summer of wildfires

Wildfires erupted this past weekend across 10 states—including California, Colorado, Arizona, and Oregon—as record-high temperatures continue to bake many areas in the West and Southwest United States. By Monday, 7 million people were under fire danger warnings, as the record-shattering temperatures—stretching from Palm Springs to Tucson to Denver—migrate north into Oregon and Washington.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Association Of California Water Agencies

News release: ACWA-Sponsored SB 323 advances to Assembly floor

ACWA-sponsored SB 323 passed out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Tuesday and is headed to the Assembly floor. SB 323, authored by Senator Anna Caballero (D–Salinas), would provide financial stability for public agencies by creating a 120-day statute of limitations for challenges to new water and sewer rates. This would provide public agency water and sewer service rates the same protections already afforded to fees and charges that fund other essential government services. 

Aquafornia news KNAU Arizona Public Radio

Report warns of Arizona’s diminishing groundwater supplies

A recent report from Arizona State University warns the state is mining groundwater faster than it can be replaced. The report focuses on five areas around the state including Prescott and Phoenix that fall under the rules of the 1980 Groundwater Management Act. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with water expert Sarah Porter about the report’s conclusions.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news High Plains Public Radio

Another dry year on the Colorado River could force states, feds back to negotiating table

Colorado River water managers could be pulled back to the negotiating table as soon as next year to keep its biggest reservoirs from declining further. The 2019 Drought Contingency Plan was meant to give the U.S. and Mexican states that depend on the river a roadmap to manage water shortages. That plan requires the river’s biggest reservoir, Lake Mead, to drop to unprecedented levels before conservation among all the lower basin states — Arizona, Nevada and California — becomes mandatory. California isn’t required to conserve water in the reservoir until it drops to an elevation of 1,045 feet above sea level.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Wildfires threaten urban water supplies, long after the flames are out

When wildfires blaze across the West, as they have with increasing ferocity as the region has warmed, the focus is often on the immediate devastation — forests destroyed, infrastructure damaged, homes burned, lives lost. But about two-thirds of drinking water in the United States originates in forests. And when wildfires affect watersheds, cities can face a different kind of impact, long after the flames are out.

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Valley’s westside farmers are angling for a water lifeline. Federal water officials could cut it off

As farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley struggle to irrigate crops and weather an ever-worsening historic drought, a bit of relief could be on the horizon courtesy of farmers in the north Valley. But it could be all for naught if Federal water managers don’t sign-off. What’s at stake? A proposed transfer of 100,000 acre-feet of water from the Southern San Joaquin Irrigation District (SSJID) and Oakdale Irrigation District to farmers utilizing water from the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Monterey Peninsula water officials object to Cal Am’s ‘unfounded accusations’

The board of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District approved a letter to state water officials Tuesday that is a stinging rebuke of what they say is California American Water Company’s attempt to blame the district for Cal Am’s failure to meet required milestones in its proposed desalination project. Information supplied to the State Water Resources Control Board is important to the entire Monterey Peninsula because it will take that information and data and use it to make decisions affecting the water availability to the Monterey Peninsula.

Aquafornia news SF Gate

California drought is causing some tap water to taste like dirt

A muddy flavor in your tap water lately may not be the product of your imagination.  An algae bloom is causing water sourced from the Sacramento and American rivers to impart a “musty” taste to tap water. The bacterial bloom generates something called geosmin, which is harmless for consumption but is easily detectable due to its earthy smell and taste. 

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Nasdaq

Blog: The answer to inflation woes could be under this dusty lake

Severe water restrictions like these are not merely a serious economic threat to farming operations; they are also a contributor to rising food prices. Without adequate water supplies, many farmers simply refrain from farming. And that’s not a good thing in a state like California, which grows nearly half the country’s fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Almost all agriculture is thirsty, of course, but California agriculture is especially thirsty. Growing a single almond requires more than one gallon of water, while growing a single avocado requires 60 gallons! Obviously, a major drought is not helpful.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Thursday Top of the Scroll: San Jose Water Company – New drought rules limit lawn watering to two days a week

Brown lawns and dirty cars will soon be the norm in the South Bay. San Jose’s largest retail water provider on Wednesday announced new rules aimed at increasing water conservation as the state’s drought grows more serious — chief among them a limit on watering lawns and landscaping to no more than two days a week, and a ban on washing cars at home.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

News release: Water Replenishment District Board of Directors appoints new GM

The Water Replenishment District (WRD) Board of Directors appointed Stephan Tucker as the new General Manager of the district. With his expertise in managing large-scale water infrastructure projects, Mr. Tucker will help lead the District’s efforts to build a drought-resilient water supply in the region. … Mr. Tucker is a successful Program Management Director and mechanical engineer with more than 35 years of experience managing significant programs at the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power for most of his career.

Aquafornia news Santa Barbara News-Press

Water Authority sues Santa Barbara County

The Central Coast Water Authority is suing Santa Barbara County over the management of the State Water Project.  The organization filed the lawsuit in Santa Barbara County Superior Court and called the suit “significant and unprecedented” in its announcement Monday. The Water Authority alleged in a news release that the County Board of Supervisors inserted itself into decisions about how to manage State Water supplies.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette Newspaper

Tulare County takes over East Orosi water system

Help may be on the horizon for the about 700 residents of East Orosi dependent on bottled water. The Tulare County Board of Supervisors has directed county staff to begin negotiating the scope of work and a budget … to take control of the East Orosi Community Services District public water system. … East Orosi’s water has been plagued with nitrates from fertilizers and coliform bacteria since at least 2003, for which their water system has been cited for violating the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) both contaminants dozens of times.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Lawsuit: Point Reyes negligent in tule elk die-off

A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday is alleging the Point Reyes National Seashore was negligent in its wildlife management and violated federal law after more than 150 tule elk died in a park preserve last year. … Environmental groups and activists allege the Tomales Point elk died because of a lack of drinking water. Park staff said there were adequate water sources within the enclosure when the population decline occurred.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Opinion: Don’t expect the speed of 1977 in latest plan for water across Richmond Bridge

Marin Municipal Water District will soon study the idea of returning the long-gone water pipeline to the upper deck of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. It’s a smart move if the district can locate another agency to sell them additional water. They also should understand times have changed in the past 55 years. Installing a new, hopefully permanent, pipeline won’t be the snap it was in 1977.
-Written by Dick Spotswood. 

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Farmers face water rights curtailments

The California priority water rights system is being put to the test, as state regulators impose emergency regulations and send notices of water unavailability to farmers who are trying to negotiate their crops through another drought year. Reacting to worsening dry conditions, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted emergency regulations last week to curtail water diversions in the Russian River watershed in Mendocino and Sonoma counties.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Editorial: This is why proposed Stanislaus River water sale makes good sense

State water officials should approve a plan to sell up to 100,000 acre-feet of Stanislaus River water to thirsty buyers on the Valley’s west side and south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The $40 million deal could fall apart if the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation succeeds in blocking it. The California State Water Resources Control Board should reject the Bureau’s interference for several solid reasons.

Aquafornia news ABC15 Arizona

Groups come together to fund Arizona water conservation program impacting Colorado River

As the federal government prepares to declare a first-ever water shortage at Lake Mead, Arizona state leaders, Native American tribes, and philanthropic and corporate foundations are stepping up to help conserve water. This week, these entities committed to funding an $8 million gap to complete a landmark water conservation project with the Colorado River Indian Tribes and the state of Arizona.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Racial tension builds in Klamath Tribes water, drought crisis

For decades, an agonizing war over [water] has divided indigenous people and the descendants of settlers of [the Klamath basin], which like much of the American West, is now plagued by drought. Family farmers often describe the conflict as one that pits them against federal bureaucrats who protect the suckerfish, imperiled as the lake grows more inhospitable. That portrayal, say members of the tribes, dismisses a tougher truth … about race, equity and generational trauma to a people whose history includes slaughter, forced removal of children, federal termination of their tribal status and loss of land …

Aquafornia news CalMatters

California water shortages: Why some places are running out

In Los Angeles, people have been hearing about the dangers of drought for decades. But in this land of infinity pools and backyard putting greens — better suited for rattlesnakes and scrub — water never seems to run out. Yet little Redwood Valley in Mendocino County, which gets a bountiful 38 inches of rain in an average year and sits near the headwaters of the Russian River, has been devastated by this year’s drought. Each resident has been told to use no more than 55 gallons per day — enough to fill a bathtub and flush a toilet six times. … When it comes to the impact of drought, location is key.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news KCRW

Metropolitan Water District gets a new chief. What changes might Adel Hagekhalil bring?

Much of Southern California’s water comes from Northern California, the Sierra snowpack, and the Colorado River. One of the agencies tasked with making that happen is the Metropolitan Water District (MWD), headquartered in downtown LA by Union Station. Nearly 19 million people across Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Ventura counties depend on MWD for at least some of their water supply. Hundreds of MWD workers have a new incoming leader: Adel Hagekhalil.

Aquafornia news The Coast News Group

San Elijo’s water reclamation facility named ‘Plant of the Year’

The San Elijo Joint Powers Authority’s water reclamation facility near San Elijo Lagoon on Manchester Avenue in Encinitas was named “Plant of the Year” by the California Water Environment Association, the agency announced today. The award recognizes accomplishments in compliance, innovative practices, cost-effectiveness and superior plant performance amongst wastewater agencies across California.

Aquafornia news ABC30 Fresno

New bill would make it easier to transfer water throughout California

Growers are dealing with severe cutbacks in the surface water deliveries they normally receive from reservoirs. The lack of steady irrigation has already impacted spring cropping decisions made by farmers. … A bill introduced by Republican Congressman David Valadao would allow more water to be moved south from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta while keeping protections in place for fish such as the delta smelt and salmon.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Drought: Emergency project being built to protect California water supplies

In a new symbol of California’s worsening drought, construction crews are putting the finishing touches on a $10 million emergency project to build a massive rock barrier through part of the Delta in Contra Costa County to preserve water supplies for millions of people across the state. The 800-foot long barrier — the size of San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid laid on its side — is essentially a rock wall, 120 feet wide, built in water 35 feet deep. Its purpose: To block salt water from the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay from flowing too far east and contaminating the huge state and federal pumps near Tracy …

Related article: 

Aquafornia news The Ukiah Daily Journal

Water: Lake Pillsbury Alliance – Part 2

In April of 2017, PGE began moving forward with its plans to relicense the Potter Valley Project (PVP)—with, as of yet, no designs to remove any of the infrastructure—and in August of 2019, Congressman Jared Huffman created the PVP Ad Hoc Committee, a Two Basin Solution for the Eel and Russian River basins, whose more than 20 members were tasked with the relicensing process of the PVP to improve fisheries and fish migration, minimize adverse impacts to water supply reliability, respect tribal rights and minimize and mitigate adverse impacts to Lake County including Lake Pillsbury. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Farmers and ranchers need support during drought

While California is known for its world-famous entertainment industry and ever-transforming tech sector, agriculture is the often-overlooked backbone of our diverse state and one of its earliest economic engines.  Our state’s multigenerational farmers and ranchers not only feed Californians, but also supply one-third of our country’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts, while also leading the nation in milk production.
-Written by Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture; and David Shabazian, director of the California Department of Conservation.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

This giant ‘inland ocean’ is Southern California’s last defense against drought

Mechanical engineer Brent Yamasaki set out amid the recent blistering heat wave to take stock of the giant dams, pumps and pipes that support Diamond Valley Lake in Riverside County, the largest storehouse of water in Southern California…. water availability in Southern California “is expected to remain relatively stable over the next few years,” says Deven Upadhyay, the MWD’s chief operating officer. “Diamond Valley Lake is a key part of that forecast….”

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Water Audit California sues St. Helena over water management

Water Audit California sued the City of St. Helena this week over its management of water. The watchdog group says the city is violating its “public trust” responsibilities relating to the Napa River and its aquatic habitat. It cites the city’s policies on groundwater pumping, well permitting, and water consumption by vineyards and wineries.

Aquafornia news San Mateo Daily Journal

Water system maintenance causes concerns among some San Mateo County residents

Routine maintenance repairs on a portion of water system pipes along Cordilleras Creek left some San Mateo County residents concerned water was being wasted as the state enters a drought. … The Cordilleras Creek, one of two creeks running through Redwood City, also cuts through Redwood High School where [Redwood City resident Rudy] Tureillo works as a custodian. Typically the creek is “bone dry,” Tureillo said, but starting Wednesday, June 9, staff at the school noticed it was flowing strong.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Drought: Marin district details water pipeline, desalination plans

The Marin Municipal Water District has taken the first steps toward building an emergency water pipeline across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge for the first time in nearly 50 years to avoid potentially running out of water next summer. The district said Friday that it has hired a consulting firm, Woodard & Curran, to find potential water rights holders in the Central Valley willing to sell their allotments. This water could be pumped across the bridge via the pipeline and into Marin’s water system should the drought stretch into winter.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Biden picks career water policy adviser to lead water agency

Camille Touton, a veteran congressional water policy adviser, has been nominated to lead the agency that oversees water and power in the U.S. West. President Joe Biden on Friday nominated Touton to be the next commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. If confirmed, the Nevada native will be a central figure in negotiations among several states over the future of the Colorado River.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Two Central Coast water organizations fight over new restrictions

The Central Coast Water Authority, along with a number of its customers — namely eight nearby California cities and water districts — filed a lawsuit Friday claiming the Santa Barbara County Flood Control and Water Conservation District overstepped its authority by passing a new resolution that imposes an undue burden on their water rights. The lawsuit, filed in Santa Barbara County Superior Court, accuses the district of meddling in its affairs by improperly imposing restrictions on its right to transfer and exchange water with other entities.

Aquafornia news Union Democrat

Monday Top of the Scroll: Irrigation districts agree to send water from New Melones south to drought-stricken farmers

As much as 100,000 acre-feet of water — enough to meet the annual demand of more than 40,000 Tuolumne County residents for at least five years — that’s currently stored in New Melones Reservoir could soon be sent south to aid drought-stricken farmers under an agreement between the Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

If Lake Powell’s water levels keep falling, a multi-state reservoir release may be needed

Lake Powell’s water level is the lowest it’s been in decades, and the latest 24-month projections from the Arizona and Utah reservoir show that it’s likely to drop even further — below a critical threshold of 3,525 feet by next year. A 20-year megadrought and a hotter climate has contributed to shrinking water supplies in the Colorado River. If Lake Powell’s levels continue to dwindle, it could set off litigation between the seven states and the 40 million people that all rely on the Colorado River.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

With fish on the brink of extinction, tribes say government must act

[T]he problem goes way beyond grazing. Dozens of tributaries and hundreds of springs feed Upper Klamath Lake, supplying plenty of good, clean water. A century of mismanagement has caused erosion of high phosphorus soils that accumulate in the bottom of Upper Klamath Lake. Now, annual algae blooms kill entire generations of young endangered fish every year. … All the problems in the Upper Klamath Lake flow downstream, affecting endangered salmon in the Klamath River as it runs to the Pacific Ocean. The Karuk, a Klamath River tribe, are worried that this could be another year marked by a historic fish kill. 

Related articles:

Aquafornia news CNN

A California reservoir is expected to fall so low that a hydro-power plant will shut down for first time

Water in a key California reservoir will fall so low this summer that its hydroelectric power plant will be forced to shut down for the first time, officials said Thursday, straining the state’s already-taxed electric grid. An unrelenting drought and record heat, both worsened by the changing climate, have pushed the water supply at Northern California’s Lake Oroville to deplete rapidly. As a result of the “alarming levels,” officials will likely be forced to close the Edward Hyatt Power Plant for the first time since it opened in 1967…

Related article: 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Cyberattack on Bay Area water supply: ‘No specific threat to public safety’

A hacker accessed the computer system of a Bay Area water treatment plant in January and deleted programs the plant used to treat drinking water, a senior intelligence official confirmed Thursday. NBC News first reported Thursday that the unidentified hacker used a former plant employee’s username and password to gain entry to the unidentified Bay Area water treatment facility on Jan. 15.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Metropolitan Water District

News release: Director representing Western Municipal Water District appointed to Metropolitan board

Experienced water advocate Brenda Dennstedt has been appointed to the board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to represent the Western Municipal Water District, which serves both wholesale and retail customers in western Riverside County. Dennstedt fills the vacancy left by former Western director Don Galleano, who passed away on June 2. Galleano had served on the Metropolitan board since 2015.

Aquafornia news Reuters

‘There’s no water,’ says California farm manager forced to leave fields fallow

Salvador Parra, the manager of Burford Ranch in California’s Central Valley agricultural breadbasket, is worried about the lack of water. California’s worst drought since 1977 has forced Parra to leave fallow 2,000 of his 6,000 acres and dig deep for water to save the crops already planted.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Lost Coast Outpost

Blog: Klamath Trinity spring chinook salmon added to California endangered species list

The California Fish and Game Commission ruled unanimously to add Upper Klamath Trinity Spring Chinook to the California Endangered Species List.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news ABC News

Las Vegas weighs tying growth to conservation amid drought

Record-breaking heat and historic drought in the U.S. West are doing little to discourage cities from planning to welcome millions of new residents in the decades ahead. From Phoenix to Boise, officials are preparing for a future both with more people and less water, seeking to balance growth and conservation. Development is constrained by the fact that 46% of the 11-state Western region is federal land, managed by agencies like the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management that are tasked with maintaining it for future generations.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

California drought: Morgan Hill imposes mandatory water restrictions

Unlike most Bay Area cities, Morgan Hill gets 100 percent of its water from underground wells. And that’s a big reason why the city became the first in Santa Clara County to issue mandatory water use restrictions. … The mayor said he enjoys his green grass as much as the next person, but said mandatory watering cutbacks to just two days a week and only in the early morning or late evening hours mean it won’t look lush for long.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation names Carly Jerla to lead effort for updated Colorado River operating guidelines

The Bureau of Reclamation announced that Carly Jerla will lead the Department of the Interior’s efforts, as a senior water resources program manager, to develop updated operating rules for Colorado River reservoirs. The Colorado River sustains ecosystems and economies across the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. A number of operating rules and agreements within the United States and with the Republic of Mexico expire at the end of 2025.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

SFPUC endorses City Attorney Dennis Herrera as next S.F. water, power and sewer chief

Mayor London Breed could announce a new city attorney within weeks, following the San Francisco Public Utility Commission’s Wednesday decision to formally recommend the city’s top lawyer, Dennis Herrera, as the agency’s next general manager. Breed nominated Herrera to the position in April, months after the FBI charged the previous general manager, Harlan Kelly, with allegedly accepting bribes from a city contractor and permit consultant. Kelly resigned in November. 

Aquafornia news Sen. Bill Dodd

News Release: Sen. Dodd’s Water Access & Equity Bill Clears Committee

Legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would help hundreds of thousands of Californians who have fallen behind on their water bills and are at risk of being disconnected from water service cleared a key committee on Wednesday. … Sen. Dodd’s legislation comes as the State Water Resources Control Board heard results of a survey that found water debt in California climbed to about $1 billion. The survey estimated 12% of California households are behind on their water bills with an average debt of $500 per household. 

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Editorial: State restrictions reflect urgent need to conserve water

The state’s decision this week to cut off Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta access to thousands of farmers and water agencies highlights the need for serious and immediate conservation throughout the Bay Area and California. It’s been obvious for months that the state faces its most serious water shortage since the historic 2012-16 drought. Bay Area water agencies should be imposing mandatory water restrictions on users now.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Salinity management: Putting Southern California’s water supply on a low sodium diet

While the saying, “too much of a good thing,” sounds pleasant at its core, water managers take that very seriously when it comes to managing salt, or salinity, in the water supply. Water managers across California are responsible for providing a clean and safe drinking water supply, and salinity management plays a critical role in the quality of water that is provided to communities. While salt is composed of natural elements commonly found in soil and water, how is salinity managed to support a diversified water resource portfolio? 

Aquafornia news Outside Online

The drought in the West is bad and it’s gonna get worse

In the same area of the mountains where the snow was 80 percent, river flows dripped out at 30 percent of their average. … [T]here’s not much water when there’s this level of aridity. Paddling, for me, is a benchmark, a tangible way to understand what all those drought maps and numbers mean. And these days, the bottom-scraping springtime runs feel like a creepy indicator of how bad things will be downriver, where those waterways are used to grow food, maintain ecosystems, fight wildfires, and provide drinking water.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news KCBX

Regional recycled water project in conflict; Arroyo Grande ‘demanding’ equal share

A long-planned water recycling project for the Five Cities area — Central Coast Blue — hangs in uncertainty after the City of Arroyo Grande unanimously voted on June 8th to withdraw from the project unless their demand for a shared operating agreement is met. Central Coast Blue, spearheaded by the City of Pismo Beach, is a multi-million dollar project set to bring a reliable water source to the Five Cities area by using recycled water. 

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Drought exposes need to upgrade water facilities

Severe drought highlights the need for greater investment to improve aging California water facilities, and increases calls for allocation of federal and state resources to tackle the problem. A national coalition that includes the California Farm Bureau urged U.S. Senate leaders last week to take action to address the shortcomings of aging water infrastructure, and to include “a broad range of water uses” in any federal infrastructure legislation. 

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Union of Concerned Scientists

Blog: Can the US survive California’s drought?

The drought facing the Western United States is bad. Really bad. It’s become worse faster than the last one. As more of the United States suffers from drought conditions and water supplies are diminishing, water demands are rising. Smaller water supplies combined with increasingly unpredictable weather patterns and other effects of climate change pose an enormous threat by creating a feedback loop that exacerbates drought conditions and increases wildfire risk across the United States. 

Aquafornia news Newsweek

Verizon, Southern California water supplier among those hit in suspected Chinese hack

Verizon and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California were two high-value targets hit by a suspected Chinese-backed hack that was first brought to the public’s attention in April, the Associated Press reported. Pulse Connect Secure networking devices are used by many companies and governments to allow secure remote access to their networks and those were the targets of the hacks. The Chinese government was suspected of backing the hacks, but China has denied any role.