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.
The city of Sacramento has approved a $2.9 million contract that will allow construction of a new sewage vault underneath McKinley Park. The goal of the project is to provide a place to store sewage during wet weather, when stormwater runoff — and wastewater — can end up in the same place, and overflow can send it all into East Sacramento’s streets.
Recent rains have left the San Joaquin Valley’s reservoirs in better shape, but groundwater depletion and the resulting ground subsidence continue to beset farmers and water managers. What will this year hold? … Your best opportunity to understand the challenges and opportunities of this vital resource in the nation’s breadbasket is to join us on our Central Valley Tour April 3-5.
Implementing the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act—which requires overdrafted groundwater basins to achieve balance between supply and demand by the 2040s—could require taking at least 500,000 acres of irrigated cropland out of production in the San Joaquin Valley. … We talked to Soapy Mulholland, president and CEO of Sequoia Riverlands Trust, about this impending challenge.
When an atmospheric river meets mountainous terrain like the Sierra Nevada, the water vapor condenses and becomes rain or snow. Strong atmospheric rivers can bring about floods and landslides, but the water and snowpack they leave behind provide California with 25 to 50 percent of its yearly precipitation in just a few days.
Local officials have received an OK to divert more water into Lake Casitas, years after prolonged drought conditions shrunk the reservoir to historic lows. But the new measures were in effect just a matter of days and just for one storm.
Hundreds of Bakersfield agriculture, oil and political leaders came together March 7 to examine the challenges and opportunities associated with providing California residents and businesses with a secure, reliable supply of clean water. Lest the wet winter create a sense of complacency around one of the state’s most vital needs, specialists from various fields urged collective attention to the costly and increasingly complex problems that surround sourcing, storing and conveying water.
It won’t arrive in time for this wet winter, but hopes are rising that Central Valley politicians will soon deliver on one of their top political goals in recent years: investment in California water storage. Bills introduced last week by Bakersfield Republicans in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., would redirect money from the state’s high-speed rail project toward a series of reservoir projects, as well as repairs to a canal serving Kern County farmers.
Rebuffed by an Arizona House panel, a Globe lawmaker convinced a Senate committee Tuesday that Pinal County farmers should get $20 million more to help drill new wells to replace Colorado River water they will give up. The 6-3 vote by the Senate Appropriations Committee came after Republican Rep. David Cook argued the farmers were promised the cash as part of the drought contingency plan enacted by in January.
A project offering to triple Santa Barbara County’s oil production continues stirring debate. Environmentalists believe a proposal to add dozens of oil wells in Cat Canyon could trigger the next oil spill and contaminate the Santa Maria Groundwater Basin, while supporters insist it would boost the local economy by adding jobs and tax revenue.
On March 6, the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) issued a public Environmental Assessment on the Operations Plan for the Klamath Irrigation Project. … It will definitely decide how many Chinook salmon people have for harvest for Tribal members and commercial fishermen. It could also return us to the days where 84-92 percent of the juvenile salmon died in the Klamath River and reignite the Klamath River water wars…
Sacramento law makers have shown little interest in helping the Valley solve its water problems yet the only path forward is to get them to take interest in the area that grows most of the state, and the nation’s food. A panel discussion last Wednesday at the Citrus Showcase, an industry conference for growers hosted by Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual (CCM), discussed the looming deadline for local governments to comply with the Groundwater Sustainability Management Act (SGMA).
Imperial Valley officials are reportedly close to finishing an important habitat restoration project at the Salton Sea. The remake of Red Hill Bay was supposed to be a model for a management plan around the shrinking lake, but the effort is two years overdue and still months away from completion. The Salton Sea needs a management plan because water is evaporating faster than it’s being replaced…
A system that transfers and diverts water from the Eel River basin has been in Pacific Gas and Electric’s control for over 35 years, but the utility’s bankruptcy filing in January — coupled with its interest in either selling or abandoning the project — has Humboldt County officials intent on closely following what happens next.
Bonds to continue the next phase of an improvement program are critical to the Tahoe Basin. That was the message delivered to the Nevada Assembly Government Affairs Committee on Tuesday. Assemblyman Mike Sprinkle, D-Sparks, said the $8 million in this biennium’s bonding package will cover Nevada’s share of the Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program for two years.
For the bulk of her career, Jayne Harkins has devoted her energy to issues associated with the management of the Colorado River, both with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and with the Colorado River Commission of Nevada.
Now her career is taking a different direction. Harkins, 58, was appointed by President Trump last August to take the helm of the United States section of the U.S.-Mexico agency that oversees myriad water matters between the two countries as they seek to sustainably manage the supply and water quality of the Colorado River, including its once-thriving Delta in Mexico, and other rivers the two countries share. She is the first woman to be named the U.S. Commissioner of the International Boundary and Water Commission for either the United States or Mexico in the commission’s 129-year history.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on Tuesday sealed California’s participation in a landmark Colorado River drought management plan, agreeing to shoulder more of the state’s future delivery cuts to prevent Lake Mead from falling to dangerously low levels. With California signed on, the plan can move to Congress, which must approve the multi-state agreement before it takes effect. The MWD board took the step over the objections of the Imperial Irrigation District, which holds senior rights to the biggest allocation of river water on the entire length of the Colorado.
It’s not often that communities in California and Louisiana face similar water challenges. California is better known for having too little water and Louisiana too much – both challenges exacerbated by climate change. But record-setting wet winter weather led both states last week to release significant amounts of water from reservoirs and rivers to prevent flooding, underscoring the need for new approaches to build climate-resilient communities across the country.
California’s Central Valley is already the bread basket for the nation. But now a new Oakdale company — in partnership with the University of California, Davis — wants to help make it the hemp capital of the country. The California Hemp Corporation was formed by Oakdale residents Jeff McPhee and Kent Kushar last year… “We want to grow hemp up and down the San Joaquin Valley, just like every other one of our crops,” McPhee said. “This crop will change California.”
California has faced an unprecedented series of mega-wildland fires over the past decade – some of the most destructive and deadly in American history. On Wednesday, a joint hearing of the Senate Governance and Finance Committee and the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee will review residential development in some of the Golden State’s most fire prone regions and how state and local governments can keep residents safe in communities that are within the Wildland Urban Interface.
A proposal to add 187 new steam-injected oil wells and a new natural gas pipeline in West Cat Canyon will be considered by the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission when it meets Wednesday in Santa Maria. Project opponents have said they intend to stage a demonstration outside and speak against the project that would have significant impacts on biological, surface water and groundwater resources and would increase noise, according to the environmental impact report.
California’s state water agency is set to appeal a federal determination that some of the Oroville Dam’s reconstruction costs are ineligible for reimbursement. The Federal Emergency Management Agency last week approved an additional $205 million for the project, on top of the $128.4 million it sent last year, according to the state Department of Water Resources. But FEMA officials told the state they likely won’t fund some portions of the 2-year, estimated $1.1 billion rebuilding effort that followed the Oroville Dam’s near-failure in February 2017.
Environmental groups Monday asked a federal appeals court to reconsider a ruling that struck down part of a high-profile removal plan for four dams on the Klamath River in California and Oregon, saying it set a precedent that would exempt dozens of dams nationwide from meeting water quality standards.
In the midst of the wet winter storms bringing rain and snow to California this year, you might not expect drought preparations to be among the state’s current priorities. And yet, they need to be. In this post, I’ll explore why to set the stage for a blog series that explores what the state can do to prepare for the more frequent and intense droughts we expect in California’s future. The series draws on work my colleagues and I did for California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment.
Santa Monica will experience more frequent droughts and coastal flooding, hotter temperatures and poorer air quality as the world’s climate changes throughout the next century. However, officials said the city’s geography and the City of Santa Monica’s Climate Action & Adaptation Plan (CAAP) will shield residents from some of the impacts of climate change. The plan, released last month, describes how the city will ensure residents have affordable water during droughts, contain sea level rise and deal with high heat days.
The sandy playa that used to be underwater is now being baked by the sun and blown around by the winds that frequently scour the desert floor here. The dust is tiny and can easily get airborne. That is a public health crisis for a region already suffering from some of California’s highest asthma rates.
California’s recent drought may have officially ended, but the state’s water data drought remains in full effect. Shockingly, we don’t always know the answers to basic questions such as how much water is available in our state, let alone where and when. That’s why improving California’s woefully deficient stream gage network should be a top priority for the state.
Rising temperatures, rising sea levels and a disappearing snowpack were part of a scary story told to SCV Water Agency officials recently as they learned the effects of climate change over the next 100 years. … The latest climate assessment was intended to advance “actionable science” that would serve the growing needs of state and local-level decision-makers from a variety of sectors.
A central tension for Paradise in the coming months is the health of the water system. … The fire, however, unleashed benzene and other volatile chemicals into the water system. The chemicals are not in the water coming from the treatment plant. They’re in the pipes beneath the town. The Paradise Irrigation District is the utility that serves Paradise. It’s trying to isolate the contamination in the system, but turning water on to returning residents makes that process even harder.
Every spring, a group called the Pacific Fishery Management Council gets together and looks at the salmon forecasts from the Puget Sound all the way down to the Sacramento River in California….The Sacramento River runs are expected to rebound a bit, but the Klamath and Columbia River forecasts are lower than last year.
The Trump administration released its 2020 budget request on Monday, proposing major cuts to federal government spending. While the cuts are unlikely to become reality — Congress has rejected many of Trump’s previous requests — the budget is an important signal of the administration’s priorities and suggests a major funding fight in October.
A process is underway that’s extremely important, and likely to be way over most of our heads. The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act was passed in 2014, which set deadlines for local agencies to come up with plans to manage the water beneath them “… without causing undesirable results.”
This particular California winter has unfolded in good news/bad news fashion. Courtesy of a string of recurring atmospheric rivers, potent storms have caused flooding, power outages and canceled flights. But they have also lifted all but a thin slice of the state near the Oregon border completely out of drought.
On February 14, 2019, the California Office of the State Fire Marshall (“OSFM”) published long awaited draft regulations to reduce the volume of pipeline oil spills in coastal areas. The proposed regulations, which implement AB 864 (2015), will impose substantial and costly burdens on companies that own and operate pipelines within California near environmentally and ecologically sensitive areas
It started with the desert lilies in December. Since then a wave of wildflower blooms has been crescendoing across Southern California’s Anza-Borrego desert in a burst of color so vivid it can be seen from mountain tops thousands of feet above.
It’s a growing problem many say cannot be solved by firefighters alone. Enter the Cal Poly W.U.I. F.I.R.E Institute. It stands for the Wildland Urban Interface Fire Information Research and Education Institute. Turner is working with Cal Poly staff like forest management professor Chris Dicus to create a collaborative space for research, training, and outreach.
The Metropolitan Water District is positioning itself to shoulder California’s entire water contribution, with its board voting Tuesday on a proposal to essentially write out of the drought plan another agency that gets more Colorado River water than anyone else. That agency, the Imperial Irrigation District, has said it won’t approve the plan unless the federal government agrees to commit $200 million to address the Salton Sea.
Political disputes, interstate suspicion and funding concerns have long been a fact of life when it comes to the Colorado River. Those same factors now are delaying a final agreement on how to handle drought in the river basin. But, at least none of the states involved has called out its navy. Arizona did that 85 years ago to prevent completion of Parker Dam, the concrete structure on the Colorado River that backs up Lake Havasu on the border between California and Arizona.
When then-candidate Donald Trump swung through California in 2016, he promised Central Valley farmers he would send more water their way. Allocating water is always a fraught issue in a state plagued by drought, and where water is pumped hundreds of miles to make possible the country’s biggest agricultural economy. Now, President Trump is following through on his promise by speeding up a key decision about the state’s water supply. Critics say that acceleration threatens the integrity of the science behind the decision, and cuts the public out of the process.
Millions of Californians could end up with higher water bills after the Trump administration on Friday announced that federal emergency officials aren’t going to reimburse the state for $306 million in repairs to Oroville Dam stemming from the 2017 spillway crisis. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said federal taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for problems that existed prior to a massive hole forming in the dam’s concrete spillway in February 2017…
Rescues of unhealthy seals and sea lions have nearly tripled for this time of year in Orange County, according to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, which this week took in its 41st pinniped since the year began. … While the exact reason for the increase in the number of strandings this year is unknown, Higuchi said it could be tied to warmer ocean waters caused by an El Nino weather pattern or excess stormwater runoff from all of this winter’s rains.
California is now the lone holdout on an emergency drought plan for the Colorado River, and the other river states are turning up the heat to get the deal done. Representatives from Nevada and five other Western states sent a letter to California on Saturday urging water officials there to set aside their concerns and “and immediately and unconditionally approve” the so-called Drought Contingency Plan.
Oregon’s dam safety regulations are getting an overhaul, for the first time in nearly a century. A bill pending in the Legislature would rewrite the laws governing construction, inspections and enforcement authority for hundreds of state-regulated dams. The bill would increase the state’s power to force owners of aging, dangerous dams to do maintenance and make repairs. And it would require state approval and oversight of all new dam construction and removal of old dams.
It seems like a simple question: How many people can Southern Nevada support with the water it has now? But the answer is far from easy. The number can swing wildly depending on a host of variables, including the community’s rates of growth and conservation and the severity of drought on the Colorado River. (Last in the paper’s Water Question series.)
San Luis Obispo County supervisors are exploring what it’d take to bolster the county’s authority in issuing groundwater well permits. Following a report about groundwater conditions in the Adelaida region of the North County on Feb. 26, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to have its staff look at how it could increase the level of review and discretion the county has over approving or denying well applications.
The story behind the salmon success on the Mokelumne goes back to the 1970s when the Commercial Salmon Fishing Association petitioned the state to increase salmon production via a tax on the commercial fishermen. The idea was to assure a viable commercial fishery into the future and the commercial anglers would be willing to pay the cost of extra production. Their funds went into the hatchery system as well as habitat projects.
The San Joaquin Valley is in a time of great change. Decades of groundwater overuse have caused drinking water and irrigation wells to go dry, increased the amount of energy required to pump water, harmed ecosystems, and reduced the reserves available to cope with future droughts. Groundwater overdraft has also caused land to sink, damaging major regional infrastructure, including canals that deliver water across the state.
Months of record rain and snowfall has officially lifted the Central Valley — and much of the state — out of official drought conditions. Just 1 percent of California is experiencing moderate drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. That’s a far cry from 2014 when 54 percent of the state was in severe drought. With the drought declared dead in California, will Tulare County cities begin to ease restrictions on residential watering?
The Colorado River’s federal managers have projected that if dry conditions continue, they could be unable to deliver any water at all to downstream users (including Phoenix, Tucson, Los Angeles, and San Diego) within five years. That’s the doomsday scenario that has led the Colorado River’s water managers and users to the cusp of adopting the Drought Contingency Plan, a temporary yet broad agreement to reduce water use and ensure that the reservoirs continue to provide a reliable water supply.
Much of the United States could be gripped by significant water shortages in just five decades’ time, according to predictions made in a new study. … In the researchers’ projections, water supply is likely to be under threat in watersheds in the central and southern Great Plains, the Southwest and central Rocky Mountain States, California, and areas in the South (especially Florida) and the Midwest.
Bills introduced last week by Bakersfield Republicans in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., would redirect money from the state’s high-speed rail project toward reservoir projects, as well as repairs to Friant-Kern Canal. … The proposals by U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy and state Assemblyman Vince Fong seize upon a common frustration among many valley Republicans that billions of state and federal dollars dedicated to high-speed rail would be better spent on capturing water from wet years…
In this edition of In Depth we take on two water topics. First, there’s growing concern that a lot of the rainwater we’ve been getting is just going down the drain and out to sea. We plumb the depths of California’s water system to find out where it’s coming up short and what can be done to fix it. Then, new research suggests that the historical link between wet winters and less severe fire seasons has broken down. We discuss why even in the rainiest of years, we still can’t count out damaging wildfires.
There’s still a lot scientists don’t know about the yin-yang interaction between fire and water. Of particular interest is better understanding how the heat intensity of wildfires changes the the water content of burned soil. The science behind such work is known as hydrology, which studies the properties, distribution and circulation of water on or below the earth’s surface.
When it opened in 1951, the Friant-Kern Canal carried at least 4,000 cubic feet of water per second along its route from Millerton Lake, north of Fresno, to Bakersfield. Then something unfortunate happened. A 25-mile stretch of land between Terra Bella and Pixley began to sink, and kept sinking, to the point that the canal’s gravity-powered water flow has slowed to about 1,700 cubic feet per second. … Federal and state officials would like to restore the canal to its original capacity, as would the seven municipalities and 18,000 family farms using the canal. But how? And where would money for repairs come from?
The Napa County Planning Commission is sending the controversial, draft Water Quality and Tree Protection Ordinance back to the Board of Supervisors with a few recommended changes, but no sea change in direction. Commissioners heard from about 50 speakers on Wednesday. Some warned that too many additional environmental restrictions will hurt farming. Some said that bold action is needed to protect drinking water and combat climate change.
Plenty of snow in the Sierra and lots of rain just about everywhere else in California have helped alleviate drought conditions across the state. But there’s also another positive byproduct of the wet winter — a likely boost in the amount of hydroelectricity in California’s energy mix.
Recycled water’s been such a good deal for Orange County, the water district is spending $140 million to expand its capacity to purify wastewater by 30 percent. It starts in Fountain Valley where the water district operates a 24-acre facility that takes sewage fom the sanitation plant next door and converts it into millions of gallons a day of pure H2O. OC Water District President Shawn Dewane said the cost is 30 percent cheaper than imported water.
When congress passed the CWA in 1972, they made it clear in documents accompanying the legislation that they supported “the broadest possible constitutional interpretation” of protected waters of the United States.
California farmer Brenton Kelly still remembers how the Cuyama Valley used to be. The valley, located in California’s Central Coast region, has long been home to an abundance of wildlife. Historically, the land has been used for cattle pastures, and featured “beautiful rolling grassy hill” and an “amazing wildflower show,” according to Kelly. These days, however, the land has been taken over by large commercial farms and vineyards, Kelly said. … Among some of the corporations that have expanded into the region in recent years is an unlikely investor — the Harvard Management Company. HMC, the University’s investment arm, oversees Harvard’s nearly $40 billion endowment.
Hundreds of Bakersfield agriculture, oil and political leaders came together Thursday to examine the challenges and opportunities associated with providing California residents and businesses with a secure, reliable supply of clean water. Lest the wet winter create a sense of complacency around one of the state’s most vital needs, specialists from various fields urged collective attention to the costly and increasingly complex problems that surround sourcing, storing and conveying water across the Golden State.
Environmentalists and rural water users expressed broad support last week for a bill that would create small water reserves in aquifers across Nevada. Senate Bill 140, sponsored by Republican Sen. Pete Goicoechea of Eureka, Nev., aims to prevent regulators from issuing more rights to water than there is water available, an issue already playing out in more than 100 groundwater basins.
Yes, it’s caused traffic jams, power outages and even some floods. But there’s a big ray of good news behind all the rain that California has been receiving this year. Soaked by relentless storms, California as of this week has less land area in drought status than at any time in the last seven years.
What better way to decompress from a stressful federal government job than by trekking 2,600 miles on foot from Mexico to Canada? That’s what Jared Blumenfeld, the new head of the California Environmental Protection Agency, did three years ago, setting out on the arduous and beloved Pacific Crest Trail that traces California’s searing deserts, rugged mountains and sparkling coastline.
The announcement by Mayor Eric Garcetti last month that Los Angeles will recycle all the wastewater produced at the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant by 2035 signals an end to the era of addressing water shortages by importing water from far-flung places and initiates a long-anticipated era of reusing locally available supplies. The shift will require L.A. residents to understand both the necessity of the plan and the technology that will produce safe water.
Recent plans to enlarge California’s Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet have raised concerns over possible cultural and ecological implications on wildlife among the Winnemem Wintu people and environmental groups alike. … The change in flood patterns would likely affect vital sacred sites for the Winnemen Wintu Puberty Ceremony for young women, according to the Winnemem Wintu website. The project would also relocate roads, railroads, bridges and marinas, according to a fact sheet from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
Henry Ford said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Rules enacted a decade ago that were intended to protect California’s iconic salmon and Delta smelt populations aren’t working and federal agencies are now in the process of modernizing them, this time using much better science.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved $205 million to reimburse California for the Oroville Dam spillway reconstruction costs, the state Department of Water Resources announced Thursday. … However, FEMA has notified DWR that it doesn’t think some of the reconstruction costs are eligible for reimbursement,
In November, a wall of flames fueled by dry forests and wooden structures tore through this Sierra foothill town like the dogs of Hell. … Beneath the blast furnace heat that incinerated buildings and vehicles above ground, an intricate network of drinking water pipes below the surface became so contaminated with toxic chemicals that many are unusable. The extent of the damage and exactly how the poisons accumulated in the pipes of Paradise and in the smaller, neighboring districts served by Del Oro Water Company is not known.
The question comes up with every dire media report or bleak new forecast about the Colorado River: How much longer can Nevada’s largest community continue to rely on a single source of water to power its prosperity? It’s an important question, maybe the most important. No Southwestern state gets less water from the river than Nevada. No major city depends on that water more than Las Vegas. But the Colorado is in trouble. (Part 1 of 8 in a series.)
Congressman Kevin McCarthy introduced legislation Thursday to repurpose federal funding for the high-speed rail project. The Repurposing Assets to Increase Long-term Water Availability and Yield (RAILWAY) Act would take funding from the high-speed rail project and use it for water infrastructure projects in California and the West… McCarthy’s proposed legislation is cosponsored by every Republican member of the California Congressional Delegation.
The Crossroads Open Space soccer field in Santa Maria is filled with water thanks to the most recent storm. Located on S. College Dr., the field also serves as a basin to collect storm runoff. The city says the water will soak into the ground, recharging the groundwater basin.
Local growers and others met Friday for a triple tour of Madera County water users and an on-farm groundwater recharge workshop Wednesday. Participants visited AgriLand Farming Company in Chowchilla, Galilee Missionary Baptist Church in Fairmead, and the Ellis Recharge Basin in northeast Madera. These include farmers struggling “to figure out how to farm” under the state’s 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which requires the formation of local agencies to manage underground water.
Deadly severe wildfires in California have scientists scrutinizing the underlying factors that could influence future extreme events. Using climate simulations and paleoclimate data dating back to the 16th century, a recent study looks closely at long-term upper-level wind and related moisture patterns to find clues.
Lawmakers in Colorado want the U.S. state to study the potential of blockchain technology in water rights management. Republican senator Jack Tate, along with representatives Jeni James Arndt (Democratic) and Marc Catlin (Republican), filed senate bill 184 on Tuesday, proposing that the Colorado Water Institute should be granted authority to study how blockchain technology can help improve its operations.
A recently completed study on the cost effectiveness and financial risk of proposals to meet water supply demands through 2050 concludes that the controversial Poseidon desalination project in Huntington Beach would produce more water than the Orange County basin needs and cost ratepayers far more than alternatives such as recycling and capturing rainwater.
Heavy rains this winter will help replenish groundwater aquifers and benefit projects that use excess surface water to recharge groundwater basins. At the California Department of Water Resources, planners focus on a voluntary strategy known as Flood-MAR, which stands for “managed aquifer recharge.” The strategy combines floodwater operations and groundwater management in an effort to benefit working landscapes, and could also aid local groundwater agencies as they implement the state Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
The Success Dam Enlargement Project, headed by the US Army Corps of Engineers, has been working its way towards construction since October 2018. … On Tuesday morning the timeline was published, and it reveals that construction on the Success Dam Enlargement Project will begin in mid 2020. Until then, plenty of work is scheduled to happen before construction starts.
The Trump Administration has ordered federal biologists to speed up critical decisions about whether to send more water from Northern California to farmers in the Central Valley, a move that critics say threatens the integrity of the science and cuts the public out of the process. The decisions will control irrigation for millions of acres of farmland in the country’s biggest agricultural economy, drinking water for two-thirds of Californians from Silicon Valley to San Diego, and the fate of endangered salmon and other fish.
The moment a lone duck was sucked into a 200ft-deep drain at a reservoir in northern California – and reportedly survived – has been captured on video. Known locally as the “Glory Hole”, the giant spillway is designed to capture excess water at Lake Berryessa reservoir in Napa County. Rick Fowler, the lake’s water resources manager, filmed the bird as it drifted towards the fast-swirling vortex and dropped down into the hole.
People interested in state-mandated plans to manage local groundwater can get an update Thursday evening in Chico. … The meeting 6-8 p.m Thursday at the Masonic Family Center, 1110 W. East Ave., is focused on a newly approved planning area that includes Chico and Durham, and stretches north and west to the Tehama County line and the Sacramento River, and south and east to Butte Valley and the northern border of the Western Canal District.
Water is starting to seep down the rebuilt Oroville Dam spillway. California Department of Water Resources officials said Wednesday this is common and will not affect the operation of the dam’s gates, which are not watertight. … Both spillways at the 770-foot earthen dam, the nation’s tallest, collapsed in February 2017, forcing nearly 200,000 people downstream to evacuate.
Former Interior Secretary and Arizona governor Bruce Babbitt will be the distinguished speaker at the 2019 Anne J. Schneider Memorial Lecture on April 3 at the Crocker Art Museum in downtown Sacramento. Babbitt’s talk is titled “Parting the Waters — Will It Take a Miracle?”
Swollen rivers and creeks fed by atmospheric-river storms caused flooding with both short-term and long-term impacts for California farmers. Mary Ann Renner, a dairy farmer in the Humboldt County town of Ferndale, said the flood from the Eel River was not the worst she’s seen—but was close.
Cleaning up and protecting U.S. drinking water from a class of toxic chemicals used in many household items could cost in the tens of billions of dollars nationally, witnesses testified Wednesday before a House panel urging the federal government to move more quickly on the cleanup. … The compounds, called perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, have been used for decades. Water sampling shows the contaminant … has seeped into many public water systems in the United States and globally, including around military bases and industries.
Residents of Allensworth, a historic town established by a former slave, have struggled with clean water access for decades. … The community’s water system comes from two blended wells, serving 521 residents with 156 connections. A chlorination process removes most harmful bacteria, but the water still tests high for arsenic, a known carcinogen that damages the kidneys.
For California’s salmon fishermen, the downstream effects of political decisions in Washington are too obvious to ignore. It’s not merely a question of profit for us. We are the stewards of the public fisheries resources who rely on their long-term health for our existence. The viability of our future can be challenged by who is in power in Washington, no matter who they are.
One of the key challenges facing newly formed local government agencies responsible for groundwater management is to establish and implement quantitative metrics for sustainability. To help local agencies do this, a new report from Water in the West examines how four special districts in California have used quantitative thresholds to adaptively manage groundwater. These case studies provide valuable insights on the development and implementation of performance metrics and will be important in guiding local agencies.
With another deadline missed Monday, the head of the Bureau of Reclamation is now looking for the governors in the states in the Colorado River basin to tell her what they think she should do to keep water levels from dropping even lower. But there’s just two weeks for them to do that.
Santa Rosa officials said Tuesday that managers at the city’s wastewater plant have been forced to release at least 250 million gallons of treated sewage into two creeks and the nearby Laguna de Santa Rosa amid record inflow to the facility that began in last week’s storm. The three-day deluge pushed more than five times the normal flow of wastewater and runoff into the city’s Laguna de Santa Rosa plant. It was the highest inflow ever recorded at the site, according to the city.
The state Department of Water Resources announced that releases from the powerplant were being increased from 1,750 cubic feet per second to 5,000 cfs. Ten-day projections show the lake reaching 835 feet on March 14, according to DWR. The department has said it does not anticipate that it will utilize the rebuilt Oroville Dam spillway anytime soon; however, crews have been making preparations in case its use becomes necessary. The spillway becomes usable once water reaches its gates at 813 feet, which should happen Tuesday morning.
Dam by dam, owners of smaller hydroelectric projects around the West look at them with a cold eye as relicensing looms. Created with optimism a century ago, dams are now seen as fish-killers and river-distorters. New energy sources are getting cheaper. After decades of operation, owners approach relicensing knowing that, if they are to continue generating a single watt of electricity, they must fix the problems.
In some California basins, sustainable groundwater management can mean the difference between whether a species goes extinct or a community’s drinking water becomes contaminated. The stakes are high. Felice Pace, an activist who works for the North Coast Stream Flow Coalition, talks to Clean Water Action about salmon, surface flows, and the importance of community involvement in the Smith and Scott River Groundwater Sustainability Plans.
During our three-day Central Valley Tour April 3-5, you will meet farmers who will explain how they prepare the fields, irrigate their crops and harvest the produce that helps feed the nation and beyond. We also will drive through hundreds of miles of farmland and visit the rivers, dams, reservoirs and groundwater wells that provide the water.
The dramatic shift from dry to wet this winter hints at what’s to come. Scientists predict that California’s total precipitation will remain close to constant in the future, but it will fall in a shorter window of time, with more of it as rain. The state will also experience greater variability—more very wet and more very dry years. These findings highlight the need to capture rainfall and improve aging infrastructure. Here’s what to expect from California’s wet seasons, now and in the future.
The big fear in the world of water management is that this big gulp of wet weather will lead some Californians to think that the drought is dead. … In a few weeks, the state’s Department of Water Resources will be sending out its new water-saving messages, and Niki Woodard, who is No. 2 in the department’s public affairs office, sizes up how her department can navigate around that waterlogged state of mind.
Gov. Gavin Newsom should immediately allow the thinning of vegetation on almost 94,000 acres of state land in a bid to keep more than 200 communities safe, California fire officials said Tuesday as they released a list of the state’s 35 most critical fuel-reduction projects.
The real-world implications of Gov. Newsom’s rejection of the twin tunnels project became more apparent last week as the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation requested and were granted a 60-day stay of hearings with the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB).
The extra water from Shasta Lake would raise the lake by an estimated 20 feet, inundating the McCloud River, which is protected by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. That piece of legislation was designed to protect the trout that heavily populate those waters. And it’s not just state law that speaks out. One of the provisions of the 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act is to protect fisheries up and down the state’s major rivers. Raising Shasta Dam now would only be possible by overturning those two laws.
Office of Emergency Management Director Robert Lewin recommended that the county Board of Supervisors terminate its proclamation of a local emergency due to drought conditions, which has been renewed every 60 days since January 2014. South Coast water agencies don’t like the messaging of ending the drought emergency, and said they have ongoing drought impacts, including water shortages, and will need customers to keep conserving water.
Working under a less-than-four-year deadline, Soquel Creek Water District is fine-tuning the ‘where’ of its planned water recycling plant construction. On Tuesday, district officials will recommend the board split the Pure Water Soquel project between two sites, with tertiary treatment at the city of Santa Cruz’s Wastewater Treatment Facility and advanced purification at the controversial new site in Live Oak.
A spectacular snowpack and a series of storms in the San Joaquin Valley are bringing smiles to valley farmers’ faces. On Friday, the Fresno Irrigation District started moving water to farms in the cities of Fresno, Clovis, and their surrounding ag land. While this isn’t an early start compared to typical years, the water is especially welcome after several drought years.
About half the Sycuan Indian tribe relies heavily on a single groundwater well for water. The whole tribe now wants access to the same water most San Diegans enjoy – Colorado River water, Northern California water and desalinated Pacific Ocean water. Most of San Diego’s state legislative delegation is pushing a bill that could make it happen.
Just months before the Woolsey Fire, Las Virgenes Mutual Water District had joined CalWARN, a mutual assistance system set up for water utilities. General manager Dave Pedersen had heard about it from a neighboring agency. Before dawn Nov. 9, the district requested emergency generators. Within a few hours, they had gotten a response.
If California is going to prevent further depletion of aquifers and survive droughts like the one that afflicted it from 2011 to 2017, the state will need to manage its groundwater usage. In the central valley, a group of organizations is working on a project that could stem the tide by combining two technologies: the internet of things (IoT) and Blockchain.
San Diego County remains one of the few parts of the state to still be labeled as abnormally dry, according to the drought monitor. While rainfall this winter has already exceeded average, the region is still recovering from a severe deficit in precipitation, and researchers say impacts to vegetation and reservoirs linger. Still, the San Diego region, which imports nearly 80 percent of its water, has more than adequate supplies to meet urban and agricultural demands.
The current dilemmas boil down to this: As the state punishes cannabis growers in the Emerald Triangle for environmental degradation, it is simultaneously pursuing an aqueduct project in the Central Valley that environmental groups claim will cause ecological harm of massive proportions. This project stands to benefit the “big ag” industry, which California’s newly legal cannabis companies are increasingly participating in.
Days after Imperial Irrigation District officials said there had been a breakthrough in negotiations with federal officials to commit to the restoration of the Salton Sea in a mammoth Colorado River drought plan, a top federal official offered a different assessment. … The Reclamation statement said it’s up to IID to decide when they want to join the drought plan, indicating a possible avenue for them to join later that would not stymie the entire agreement.
The announcement by Mayor Eric Garcetti last month that Los Angeles will recycle all the wastewater produced at the Hyperion plant by 2035 signals an end to the era of addressing water shortages by importing water from far-flung places and initiates a long-anticipated era of reusing locally available supplies. The shift will require L.A. residents to understand both the necessity of the plan and the technology that will produce safe water.
The problem started on Feb. 17, when Paonia’s water operators noted a loss of water in a 2 million gallon storage tank. A team went out looking for a leak, but could not locate it. As the leak continued, the town’s water system lost enough pressure that the state of Colorado imposed a boil order. In response, town officials declared a state of emergency.
Dr. Ellen Bruno is an Assistant Cooperative Extension Specialist in quantitative policy analysis at UC Berkeley. Her research evaluates the effectiveness of different policy instruments for improving the management of our increasingly scarce water resources.
Scientists found that wet winter weather, historically a predictor of more modest California fire seasons, is no longer linked to less damaging fires. The link between more rain and less fire fell apart thanks to modern fire management and accelerating climate change, the study said. “It’s going to be a problem for people, for firefighters, for society,” said study co-author Alan Taylor, a Pennsylvania State University geography professor.
Around 3,000 Santa Barbara County residents are being told to evacuate their homes once again this week. Rainstorms forecasted starting Tuesday are expected to be severe enough to potentially cause debris flows and mudslides, especially with already-saturated ground.
To make a real structural shift, utilities must engage a broader group of actors in the process, and that is where cap and trade comes into play, this time for water systems. … A smattering of cap-and-trade schemes already aim to address water pollution in various water bodies. Yet most such trading programmes have focused on water quality. Now their frameworks must be expanded to account for water quantity, encouraging efficiency, reinvestment, and supply diversification.
Oceanside announced it will receive a $2.6 million federal grant to build two more of the wells that the city has used for more than 20 years to supply a portion of its drinking water. The wells pump brackish water from what’s called the Mission Basin, an area near the airport, the old swap meet property and the San Luis Rey River. The city filters the water using the same reverse osmosis process used on a much larger scale in Carlsbad to desalinate seawater.
Climate change plus population growth are setting the stage for water shortages in parts of the U.S. long before the end of the century, according to a new study in the AGU journal Earth’s Future. Even efforts to use water more efficiently in municipal and industrial sectors won’t be enough to stave off shortages, say the authors of the new study. The results suggest reductions in agricultural water use will probably play the biggest role in limiting future water shortages.
One tunnel or two, neither idea adds a drop of the water to needs of the nearly 40 million people who call California home. The tunnels simply divert existing water supplies while putting in severe jeopardy the largest freshwater estuary west of the Mississippi River, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta that juts into the western edge of Stockton. Clearly, there must be better solutions. Three approaches leap to mind: storage, conservation and desalination.
The winter wonderland conditions are in stark contrast to what they were a year ago, when the outlook for California’s reservoirs looked bleak. Sierra snowpack was at 19 percent of historical levels and many parts of the state were experiencing drought conditions. “Right now we’re not concerned about drought at all,” Pete Fickenscher, a senior hydrologist at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Service, said.
Four new voting members, each appointed by representatives of the Delta region, would be added to the Delta Stewardship Council if a bill authored by Assemblyman Jim Frazier becomes law. … Frazier introduced Assembly Bill 1194 this week. It would increase the voting membership of the council to 11 members.
After three difficult years when Chinook salmon population numbers were down and fishing opportunities were limited, commercial fishermen are hoping the upcoming season will be better. “What we’re seeing is a better forecast of salmon in the ocean this year than we saw last year,” said Harry Morse, public information officer for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We’re cautiously optimistic.”
A trial date has been set for Apple Valley’s eminent domain lawsuit against Liberty Utilities, a case that will determine whether the town will win the right to take the company’s water system. … Liberty filed its CEQA suit a month after the Town Council voted to take the company’s water system by eminent domain. In court documents, the company alleged an “incomplete and misleading” environmental impact report prepared for acquisition.
Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Creek, working with Republican Doug LaMalfa of the First District, have introduced the Sites Reservoir Protection Act to support building the reservoir and other water infrastructure in the Central Valley. The act, also known as House Resolution 1453, would direct the Bureau of Reclamation to complete a feasibility study for the project in Colusa and Glenn counties.
Think California should build a lot more dams to catch these deluges? Forget it. … There’s one dam being planned north of Sacramento in Colusa County that makes sense: Sites. There are also some dam expansion projects that could work. But California is already dammed to the brim. Every river worth damming has been. And some that weren’t worth it were dammed anyway.
There is water here in the Mojave Desert. A lot of it. Whether to tap it on a commercial scale or leave it alone is a decades-old question the Trump administration has revived and the California legislature is visiting anew. … Soon after the 2016 election, the Trump transition team included Cadiz as No. 15 on its priority list of “emergency and national security” projects. Less than a year later, the administration exempted the project from a federal review that the Obama administration required because of the federal land involved in the pipeline construction.
California’s Salton Sea, the state’s largest inland body of water, formed when a dam broke. It stayed alive fed by agricultural water runoff. Today, it’s water supply is slowing, and the sea is drying up and losing its place as a fishing and recreation hotspot. But … the Salton Sea is finding new life as haven for artists.
Imperial Irrigation District officials announced at a special board meeting late Friday that the federal Bureau of Reclamation has agreed to their condition that the drought contingency plan package include restoration of the Salton Sea. They said federal officials will write a strong letter of support backing IID’s requests for $200 million in Farm Bill funding for wetlands projects around the shrinking sea, which is California’s largest inland water body.
It’s a treasure that is all too easy for Palo Alto to take for granted — an abundant supply of pristine water that flows from the Sierra Nevada snowpacks and passes through the Hetch Hetchy system before splashing out of local showers and faucets. Palo Alto is one of 25 cities that belong to the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency (BAWSCA), which manages the member cities’ supply agreement with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. … Even so, the cities don’t always know which projects they’re helping to fund.
California is drenched and its mountains are piled high with snow amid a still-unfolding winter of storms that was unimaginable just a few months ago. Drought conditions have almost been eliminated, hills blackened by huge wildfires are sporting lush coats of green, and snow has fallen in the usually temperate suburbs of Southern California. … The California Department of Water Resources reported Thursday that the Sierra snowpack is now 153 percent of average to date.
When California’s new governor announced during his February 12 State of the State address that he didn’t support WaterFix as a two-tunnel behemoth, he received a loud burst of applause. Yet, in the next breath, when Newsom added he supported a one-tunnel version, no applause followed. That’s partly because the one-tunnel announcement hasn’t alleviated fears of people living on the north side of the estuary. Hood, Clarksburg and Courtland property owners still face the very real possibility of being hit with eminent domain.
Complaints are mounting against Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt over allegations he used his position to help the interests of his former lobbying client, California’s powerful Westlands Water District. The nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint accusing Bernhardt of ethics violations by partaking in decisions directly related to his past lobbying work, resulting in rules that would free up more river water to Fresno-based Westlands and weakening protections for certain endangered fish populations.
Yuba Water Agency is presenting a collaborative framework to the State Water Resources Control Board today, a detailed plan to improve fish and wildlife habitat conditions in the San Francisco/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary watershed (Bay-Delta), including fisheries enhancement measures on the lower Yuba River.
The aging, leaking Combie Canal, a concrete flume located along a steep hillside above the Bear River, received the OK for a nearly $20 million replacement Wednesday. The canal is a “critical piece of infrastructure” that serves two water treatment plants, Nevada Irrigation District staff say, with more than half of the district’s flows for deliveries made through the nearly 50-year-old system.
Betting on water is a risky endeavor. Experts on water in Arizona say that while it’s easy to start speculating on water, cashing out is not. Would-be profiteers have to buy water or land with rights to it. They have to work within the thicket of laws and regulations governing water in Arizona and contend with the fraught politics of Western water. The ability to store water underground has also given rise to a market-like system in Arizona in which people talk about diverse portfolios and asset acquisitions.
Ventura’s water commission appealed to the City Council this week for help, citing a list of concerns ranging from stalled projects to a lack of financial information. In a four-page letter, the commission described a lack of progress on key Ventura Water priorities over the past year and a half, saying residents were left to pay the price for delays.
Plans to give Nevada’s top water official more flexibility to wade into water rights disputes got a rough reception in the state Legislature. Farmers, conservationists and American Indians from Nevada and Utah turned out in opposition to the proposals in two bills. No one spoke in support of measures critics say would direct more water toward urban and suburban development at the expense of farming, ranching and the environment in rural valleys.
Funding awarded for the new Temperance Flat Dam may have fallen short, but hopes for construction are still very much alive. Jason Phillips, Director of Friant Water Authority and alumni of the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority, has insight as to why those involved with the project are still optimistic.
We hope the move by MWD — which in 2016 had played hardball of its own by linking its support of the Colorado River drought plan to federal and state support of a Delta water project — doesn’t again sidetrack true federal involvement at the Salton Sea.
The results of testing 173 water samples were released at last week’s board meeting of the Paradise Irrigation District and revealed widespread contamination. Benzene, a known carcinogen, was found in 32 percent of those samples, with an average level of 27 parts per billion (the California drinking water standard is 1 ppb). In the 35 samples that tested for additional contaminants, over a dozen additional “volatile organic chemicals” were found.
Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano, introduced the Sites Reservoir Protection Act Thursday to provide federal support for the building of Sites Reservoir and other water infrastructures in the Central Valley. The act, also known as House Resolution 1453, would direct the Bureau of Reclamation to complete a feasibility study for the project Colusa and Glenn counties.
A long-simmering, multi-million dollar dispute among coastal Orange County water and sewage districts took a major step toward resolution Wednesday, when a Superior Court judge issued a tentative ruling that Moulton Niguel Water District is obligated to pay outstanding bills to the South Orange County Wastewater Authority.
Arizona state water regulators have confirmed that here may not be enough water underground for dozens of planned developments in Pinal County, new subdivisions that, if built, would bring more than 139,000 homes. That finding is based on data the Arizona Department of Water Resources has compiled that shows a long-term groundwater shortage in the area is possible. The data … raises red flags about growthand the water supply in one of the fastest growing parts of the state.
For years, firefighters and airfield crews trained to ward off flames by spraying thousands of gallons of foam fire suppressants, which eventually seeped into groundwater and could threaten to contaminate the Columbia River and a well field that supplies drinking water to the city of Portland. Recent testing uncovered high levels of an unregulated class of harmful chemicals at two different sites in Northeast Portland…
Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Thursday in Sonoma County, a day after disastrous flooding from the Russian River left numerous communities across Northern California inundated. The governor’s order, which included Lake, Amador, Glenn and Mendocino counties, allows Caltrans and local government agencies to request immediate assistance from the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief Program and the Office of Emergency Services.
Although Santa Monica may be the most aggressive Southern California water provider to wean itself from imported supplies, it is hardly the only one looking to remake its water portfolio.
In Los Angeles, a city of about 4 million people, efforts are underway to dramatically slash purchases of imported water while boosting the amount from recycling, stormwater capture, groundwater cleanup and conservation. Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2014 announced a plan to reduce the city’s purchase of imported water from Metropolitan Water District by one-half by 2025 and to provide one-half of the city’s supply from local sources by 2035. (The city considers its Eastern Sierra supplies as imported water.)
State Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) said Senate Bill 559, will “help secure California’s water supply by investing $400 million toward restoring lost (delivery) capacity on the Friant-Kern Canal, one of the San Joaquin Valley’s most critical water delivery facilities.” … The $400 million would be appropriated from the state general fund to the Department of Water Resources to administer the repairs.
California has been blessed with a wet winter this year. That’s been good news for the California plants, animals, and humans that rely on water to survive and recreate. But lots of precipitation now doesn’t necessarily mean that California will have lots of water when it needs it. That’s because what matters is not only how much water we get, but when and how we get it.
With a Monday deadline looming, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has offered to break an impasse on a seven-state Colorado River drought contingency package by contributing necessary water from its own reserves on behalf of the Imperial Irrigation District. It’s not help that IID is seeking, but Metropolitan general manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said he had no choice.
Winter storms have blanketed the mountains on the upper Colorado River with snow. But even this year’s above-average snowpack won’t be nearly enough to make up for the river’s chronic overallocation, compounded by 19 years of drought and the worsening effects of climate change.
More rain this winter and an improved water outlook promise California farmers more flexibility in what annual crops to grow, even if sluggish commodity prices limit their crop choices. For example, California cotton acreage is expected to increase this year to 287,000, according to a planting-intentions survey by the National Cotton Council. Citing expected water availability, the council reported California farmers intend to plant 230,000 acres of pima cotton and 57,000 acres of upland cotton. That’s up 9.7 percent and 14.4 percent, respectively, from last year.
Local groundwater regulatory agencies set up under 2014 legislation in California are discussing future rationing schemes with irrigators as they scramble to submit long-term aquifer sustainability plans to the state by a deadline of early next year. Local regulators are discussing a combination of new supplies and land-use conversions, says David Orth, a principal at the Fresno-based New Current Water and Land, LLC, a strategic planning firm.
What a difference a winter can make. On Jan. 1, three-quarters of California was in drought. Just eight weeks later, however, a succession of storms have washed drought conditions away from all but a splotch at the far north edge of the state, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Imported water from the Sierra Nevada and the Colorado River built Southern California. Yet as drought, climate change and environmental concerns render those supplies increasingly at risk, the Southland’s cities have ramped up their efforts to rely more on local sources and less on imported water.
Far and away the most ambitious goal has been set by the city of Santa Monica, which in 2014 embarked on a course to be virtually water independent through local sources by 2023. In the 1990s, Santa Monica was completely dependent on imported water. Now, it derives more than 70 percent of its water locally.
A wide-ranging bill that revives a popular conservation program, adds 1.3 million acres of new wilderness, expands several national parks and creates five new national monuments has won congressional approval. … The bill would permanently reauthorize the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which supports conservation and outdoor recreation projects across the country. The program expired last fall after Congress could not agree on language to extend it.
Follow along on our water tour of the Lower Colorado River – and keep up with any of our tours and events – through our social media channels. We’ll post updates on our Twitter account @WaterEdFdn about people, issues and places as we travel along the Lower Colorado River from Hoover Dam to the Coachella Valley Feb. 27 through March 1.
The Yolo Bypass is central, both geographically and in importance, to California’s water supply and flood protection system, according to Bontadelli. However, proposed modifications to the Bypass to enhance habitat for out-migrating endangered winter and spring-run young salmon means the it will be key to the continued pumping of water south for agriculture and urban users.
Mono County hasn’t won the war, but it did win the first battle in its lawsuit against the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s decision to withdraw water allotments to its Long Valley area grazing leases. Last Friday, the Alameda County civil court indicated LADWP’s request to dismiss the suit was overruled.
The Imperial Irrigation District wants $200 million for the Salton Sea, a massive, briny lake in the desert southeast of Los Angeles created when the Colorado River breached a dike in 1905 and flooded a dry lake bed. The district says if the federal government doesn’t commit to giving California the money, it won’t sign off on a multistate plan to preserve the river’s two largest reservoirs amid a prolonged drought.
The water gushed from a valve near the base of the Loveland Reservoir’s dam at 146,300 gallons per minute, cascading into the Sweetwater River below. The impressive sight near Alpine … marked the start of an ongoing transfer of water from the Loveland Reservoir to the Sweetwater Reservoir, where the water will be treated by the Sweetwater Authority and later supplied to the water agency’s customers in National City, Chula Vista and Bonita.
The San Joaquin Valley—California’s largest agricultural region and an important contributor to the nation’s food supply—is in a time of great change. The valley produces more than half of the state’s agricultural output. Irrigated farming is the region’s main economic driver and predominant water user. Stress on the valley’s water system is growing. Local water supplies are limited, particularly in the southern half of the region.
The most eco-friendly wastewater treatment plant in the Northern San Joaquin Valley will be Manteca’s by the time 2020 rolls around. Not only is the treated water returned to the San Joaquin River meeting the latest standards established by the state for water quality, but within six months or so methane gas — a major byproduct of the treatment process that typically has to be burned — will no longer contribute to valley air quality issues.
For the next 75 days, Cindy Berglund will be traveling around Southern California in her motor home, lugging rain barrels with her. Last weekend, her company, Rain Barrels International, joined with the city’s Office of Sustainability to offer a free class on rainwater harvesting. More than 80 people signed up in advance for the class at Recreation Park but the presentation ended up being to a standing room only crowd.
The new House of Representatives is rolling out its game plan and strategies for the next two years, and it’s clear which state holds the most clout: California. … California now has more Democrats in the lower chamber than the entire congressional delegations of Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Washington combined. The state’s power to shape the agenda goes beyond leadership. In the environment and energy fields, 12 Californians are subcommittee chairs and vice chairs.
The wildfire that swept through Northern California this past November was one of the deadliest and most destructive in the state’s history. … While it may take a long time for these communities to rebuild after these natural disasters, what is often missed is how the forest will rebuild itself. It turns out forests are struggling to come back, and climate change might have something to do with it.
A comprehensive bill addressing ocean concerns will call for improving the quality of ocean water and wetlands, better salmon habitats, and rules that would protect whales from being hit by ships. … Other potential legislation ranges from a move to end the practice of pumping treated sewage into the ocean to a law that would eliminate most paper shopping receipts to a smoking ban on all California state beaches.
A second water tower in a Yuba County foothills subdivision has residents gushing. Gold Village, which was plagued for years with water and sewer problems, has been largely remedied for the more than 80 homes off Hammonton-Smartsvile Road northeast of Beale Air Force Base. “The county took care of it and everything is fine now,” said resident Daryl Davis.
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is researching how cannabis cultivators who divert water from Mattole River streams might be impacting the river’s fish and insect populations… By fall 2019, the researchers will publish findings on the full environmental effects of cannabis grows. While the research is intended to “support efforts to establish” sustainable cultivation levels, the study’s main focus is analysis, said department representative Janice Mackey.
The Pismo Beach City Council wants to build a $28 million facility that will purify Pismo Beach and South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District wastewater and inject it into the Santa Maria groundwater basin. If completed, it will prevent salt water from seeping into one of South County’s water sources and provide more water to South County residents.
Most of the active volcanoes lie in Northern California. The report warns a future eruption would have far-reaching adverse impacts on natural resources and infrastructure vital to the state’s water, power, natural gas, ground and air transportation and telecommunication systems.
An international team of biologists is setting out into some of the roughest waters in the North Pacific Ocean in the middle of winter to try to solve the fundamental mystery of Pacific salmon: What determines whether they live or die? Perhaps the most critical, but least known, part of the salmon life cycle is the few years the fish spend on the high seas, gaining energy to return to their home rivers and spawn.
On their to-do list is determining how to spread costs from wildfires in “an equitable manner” and considering whether the state should create a special find to cover wildfire costs. They face a tricky task with an array of competing interests, chief among them how to balance wildfire costs between utilities, their shareholders and their customers.
All eyes have been on the Colorado River recently with headlines across the west announcing the progress – or lack thereof – of the efforts of the seven basin states to reach agreement on the Drought Contingency Plan. So is the Colorado River in crisis? At the 2019 California Irrigation Institute conference, Dr. Brad Udall’s keynote presentation focused on answering that question.
Hundreds of thousands of threatened red coho and hook-jawed Chinook salmon used to swim here, nearly 200 miles from where the Klamath River meets the Pacific Ocean. … But by the 2000s, their numbers had dwindled to just a few dozen adults each year. Since size largely determines whether juvenile fish survive, conservation organizations have been interested in this particular property, which includes the entire 2.2-mile length of the Big Springs Creek and 7.5-miles of the Shasta River, for decades.
California’s cities have almost all met or exceeded their average rainfall for the year, meaning the state is unlikely to slip back into drought conditions this year. But starting Sunday, residents of five Inland Empire cities will be asked to cut back on water usage anyway. The Water Facilities Authority will be shutting down the Agua de Lejos Treatment Plant for repairs on Sunday.
With stepped-up stormwater capture programs, the Pacific Institute said in a 2014 study, Southern California and the Bay Area could boost the state’s water supply by 420,000 acre-feet annually. That’s enough water to meet the needs of 300,000-400,000 people.
Asparagus was a signature crop of the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta from the turn of the twentieth century through the 1970s. Delta asparagus was known for its great quality and flavor. … By the mid-1980s the local asparagus crop had declined due to competition from growers in low-wage countries, such as Peru and Mexico. Californians in the know argue that imported asparagus doesn’t come close to the flavorful fresh Delta asparagus that is increasing hard to find in the Bay-Delta region….
Last July, career EPA officials were set to unveil their plan to complete a long-awaited health review of the toxic metal hexavalent chromium, but more than half a year later, the plan is still under wraps … The setback — revealed in emails obtained by E&E News — was part of a broader slowdown of chemical reviews ordered by EPA leadership, according to an agency source.
The Board of Commissioners for the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District passed a motion to declare a countywide state of emergency in light of shoaling, or increased sedimentation, on Humboldt Bay near the channel entrance — conditions that could persist for months, officials said. … The shoaling stems from recent winter storms and has brought activity on the bay to a halt…
This is among the hottest of Napa County’s hot potatoes. That’s because it strikes such nerves as possible, further constraints on new vineyard development in local hills and a perceived need in some quarters to do more to protect water quality in local reservoirs.
Every day, millions of gallons of water loaded with arsenic, lead and other toxic metals flow from some of the most contaminated mining sites in the U.S. and into surrounding streams and ponds without being treated, The Associated Press has found. That torrent is poisoning aquatic life and tainting drinking water sources in Colorado, Montana, California, Oklahoma and at least five other states.
The cheering is for a governor who has brought attention to a problem that’s almost unfathomable in wealthy urban regions. No Californian in 2019 should have to endure third-world drinking-water conditions. But there’s ample reason to give the governor the raspberries, too. That’s because Newsom’s solution comes right out of former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “you never want a serious crisis go to waste” playbook.
Dated Feb. 20, 2019, and addressed to the Indian Wells Valley Ground Water Authority Board of Directors, the letter states that it is intended as a formal communication that “Commander Navy Region Southwest (CNRSW), in consultation with U.S. Navy commands located within the Indian Wells Valley, deems groundwater resources as the number one encroachment concern/issue which has the potential to impact missions enabled on and around Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake.”
Since 2006, California has been releasing periodic reports on how the state should adapt to the potential impacts of climate change. The most recent report is unique in that it also looks at key climate risks from a regional perspective. Our news director Alice Daniel recently spoke with Joshua Viers, a watershed scientist at UC Merced and one of the authors of the San Joaquin Valley assessment.
After concluding Greka Energy improperly stored hazardous waste at its facility near Santa Maria, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday ordered the company to conduct sampling to determine whether its operations resulted in contaminated local soil and groundwater.
Arizona’s efforts to finish a Colorado River drought plan are moving forward after leaders of the Gila River Indian Community announced that they will proceed with their piece of the deal. … The Gila River Indian Community’s involvement is key because the community is entitled to about a fourth of the water that passes through the Central Arizona Project Canal, and it has offered to kick in some water to make the drought agreement work.
Now stripped of its once vast wetlands and nearly sucked dry from the overpumping of groundwater during the West’s increasingly common droughts, the fertile valley is in need of a reboot: Its aquifers have shrunk and the remaining water is often contaminated with nitrate and salts. Citing a new water law that will have major effects on water suppliers and farmers, experts are calling for an “all hands on deck” approach to fixing the valley’s water woes.
Lake Tahoe is the place to be this winter. It holds the best snowpack in the western United States and the crowds are flocking to the world-class slopes. Traffic has been insane, infuriating and downright miserable at times — all while the snow continues to fly.
Three property owners in Shasta County face thousands of dollars in fines due to violations involving cannabis grows. The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board issued the fines over water quality violations at two properties one in Ono, the other near Cottonwood Creek.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s references to water in his first State of the State address were brief and a bit patchy, but they were enough to make fiercely competing factions each believe the new governor had their backs. But water policy in California is never that easy.
The San Diego County Water Authority’s General Manager notified the region’s water board on Wednesday that she is retiring. Maureen Stapleton has held the top job at the agency for more than two decades. She led the Water Authority through the complicated settlement negotiations surrounding the Colorado River. Stapleton also encouraged projects like the Carlsbad Desalination plant as a way to diversify the region’s water supply.
This year, the water agency plans to inform farmers and the community about not only the amount of water the Tuolumne River Watershed has received so far this year, but also will provide information regarding the final license application for Don Pedro, which first began eight years ago, and the ongoing legal battle surrounding the State Water Resources Control Board’s decision to implement 40 percent unimpaired flows along the San Joaquin River and its tributaries for the betterment of fish.