Topic: Water Supply

Overview

Water Supply

California’s climate, characterized by warm, dry summers and mild winters, makes the state’s water supply unpredictable. For instance, runoff and precipitation in California can be quite variable. The northwestern part of the state can receive more than 140 inches per year while the inland deserts bordering Mexico can receive less than 4 inches.

By the Numbers:

  • Precipitation averages about 193 million acre-feet per year.
  • In a normal precipitation year, about half of the state’s available surface water – 35 million acre-feet – is collected in local, state and federal reservoirs.
  • California is home to more than 1,300 reservoirs.
  • About two-thirds of annual runoff evaporates, percolates into the ground or is absorbed by plants, leaving about 71 million acre-feet in average annual runoff.
Aquafornia news Herald and News

Despite below-average snowpack, 2021 water year still a wild card

The Klamath Basin’s snowpack forecast isn’t looking so hot this month, but it’s still too early to tell whether water year 2021’s luck will change. The Natural Resources Conservation Service released its February outlook report last week, reporting below average precipitation and snowpack in river basins across Oregon. Though January did bring several winter storms to the region, warmer-than-normal temperatures caused them to dump more rain than snow on mountains, melting some of the powder that had already accumulated in some areas of the state.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Mountains, ice and climate change: A recipe for disasters

The flash flood that killed dozens of people and left hundreds missing in the Himalayas of India on Sunday was far from the first such disaster to occur among the world’s high-mountain glaciers. In a world with a changing climate, it won’t be the last. Shrinking and thinning of glaciers is one of the most documented signs of the effects of global warming caused by emissions of greenhouse gases … Over the long term, there are concerns about what the loss of glaciers will mean for billions of people around the world who rely on them at least in part for water for drinking, industry and agriculture.

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Citing support for a grand bargain, Water Board member calls it quits

State Water Board Member Tam Doduc believes the board will approve a Bay-Delta Plan that includes voluntary agreements with agricultural water interests.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Water systems in Fresno, Tulare counties in financial crisis

Unpaid water bills are piling up during the pandemic, as small water providers in the central San Joaquin Valley teeter toward a financial crisis that could affect drinking water quality and affordability. More than 76,000 customers in Madera, Fresno, Tulare and Kings counties are behind on their water bills for a total debt of more than $15 million — according to the results of a state survey of just a fraction of community water systems. In reality, the collective debt is much larger. Small community water systems, many already on shaky financial footing, may need a bailout to keep safe and drinkable water running at a price affordable to customers.

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Aquafornia news MarketScreener

Cal Water selects Evan Markey to temporarily lead Oroville District

California Water Service (Cal Water) has announced temporary leadership changes for its Oroville District. Evan Markey has been named Interim District Manager, while previous District Manager George Barber is serving as Interim Director of Field Operations for the utility’s northern California region. Tavis Beynon will continue to serve as the Interim District Manager for the Chico District.

Aquafornia news The New Republic

The Colorado River crisis is a national crisis

The Colorado River supports over 40 million people spread across seven southwestern states, 29 tribal nations, and Mexico. It’s responsible for the irrigation of roughly 5.5 million acres of land marked for agricultural use. Local and regional headlines show the river is in crisis. The nation mostly isn’t listening.

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Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Monterey won’t protect water district from legal action by the state

A concern over a potential lawsuit by state water officials against the Monterey Peninsula water district could threaten an affordable housing project in Monterey. In May, the board of directors of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District reversed a staff recommendation and approved sending roughly 5 acre-feet of additional water — some 1.7 million gallons — for one section of a Garden Road project that will be built out by developer Brad Slama. 

Aquafornia news The Salt Lake Tribune

Why hedge funds are eyeing Utah’s shrinking water supply

[T]he president of New York-based hedge fund Water Asset Management … has called water in the United States “a trillion-dollar market opportunity.” The hedge fund invested $300 million in farmland in Colorado, California, Arizona and Nevada as of 2020, including $16.6 million on 2,220 acres of farmland with senior water rights in Colorado’s Grand Valley just upstream from where the Colorado River crosses into Utah.

Aquafornia news Tucson.com

Colorado River outlook darkens dramatically in new study

In the gloomiest long-term forecast yet for the drought-stricken Colorado River, a new study warns that lower river basin states including Arizona may have to slash their take from the river up to 40% by the 2050s to keep reservoirs from falling too low. Such a cut would amount to about twice as much as the three Lower Basin states — Arizona, California and Nevada — agreed to absorb under the drought contingency plan they approved in early 2019. Overall, the study warned that managing the river sustainably will require substantially larger cuts in use by Lower Basin states than currently envisioned, along with curbs on future diversions by Upper Basin states.

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Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Water America’s crops challenge

Reclamation maintains and operates over 8,000 miles of water distribution systems that use, among other means, reservoirs and canals to store and deliver water. Water lost to seepage reduces the efficiency of the water delivery to the users and can cause undermining/erosion, subgrade soil migration, adverse vegetation growth, and even canal failure….This prize competition seeks innovative solutions that can reduce the costs and burdens associated with installation and maintenance of seepage reduction methods, and improve durability in a range of climatic conditions.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

San Diego’s infrastructure deficit is really a stormwater deficit

The infrastructure deficit that has hung over San Diego politics for years without meaningful intervention is perhaps better understood as a stormwater deficit. Eight years ago, Mayor Todd Gloria, then Council president, pledged to craft an infrastructure-focused ballot measure for the 2016 ballot, to address the city’s crumbling roads, sidewalks, pipes and drains. That never happened, and the problem has only gotten worse. But the city now appears to be serious about pursing a measure to fund a specific, and massive, piece of the city’s infrastructure failure: its stormwater system.

Aquafornia news UCLA

Study: The human right to water in poor communities of color: Southern Los Angeles County

Disadvantaged communities concentrated in southern Los Angeles County lack fair options when it comes to water supply. When served by public utilities, aging infrastructure, water quality problems, and other complications can translate into sacrifices in quality or reliability. When supplied by investor-owned utilities, they receive reliable water supply but pay more than affluent communities. This report examines the case study of Sativa County Water District, a cautionary tale of a failed water system in southern LA County. 

Aquafornia news NPR

Near coasts, rising seas could also push up long-buried toxic contamination

For many Bay Area residents who live near the water’s edge, little-publicized research indicates groundwater rising beneath their feet could start to manifest in 10-15 years, particularly in low-lying communities like Oakland. And that could resurface toxic substances that have lingered for years underground.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday Top of the Scroll: Can Newsom end California water wars now that Trump is gone?

Shortly after taking office two years ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom promised to deliver a massive compromise deal on the water rushing through California’s major rivers and the critically-important Delta — and bring lasting peace to the incessant water war between farmers, cities, anglers and environmentalists. … [C]oming to an agreement as promised will require Newsom’s most artful negotiating skills. He’ll have to get past decades of fighting and maneuvering, at the same time California is continuing to recover from the worst wildfire season in modern state history and a pandemic that has since killed more than 42,000 state residents.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Reporter notebook: San Diego’s water war with L.A. is almost a century old

I’ve written in the past about the San Diego County Water Authority’s efforts to divest from its parent agency the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. That includes the bad blood between the two agencies stemming from MWD’s water cutbacks to San Diego in 1991, and how local leaders felt they were mistreated. What I didn’t realize was just how far back the tension goes between San Diego leaders and MWD. All the way back to the Great Depression…

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Despite storms, San Joaquin County, Sierra still in drought

Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop may not see any more rain until March. The long-range forecast by Accuweather based off of National Weather Service modeling underscores the fact California isn’t out of the woods when it comes to the potential for 2021 being a drought year even with the recent heavy storms that dumped significant snow in the Sierra. The rest of the month is expected to see weather that has daily highs in the mid-60s to the low 40s with no rain anticipated until March 1.

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Aquafornia news Mountain Town News

A deep rethink of the Colorado River

Much has been said about a “new normal” in the Colorado River Basin. The phrase describes reduced flows in the 21st century as compared to those during much of the 20th century. Authors of a new study contemplate something beyond, what they call a “new abnormal.” The future, they say, might be far dryer than water managers have been planning for. … In the 133-page report, they identified a wide variety of alternative management ideas, not simple tweaks but “significant modifications or entirely new approaches.” 

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

‘Better days ahead’: Restoration deal signed to revive Klamath River after dam removal

The Klamath River Renewal Corporation last week signed an agreement with Resource Environmental Solutions, a Texas-based ecological restoration company, to provide restoration services following the removal of four dams on the Klamath River. The agreement with RES brings North Coast tribes one step closer to their decades-long goal of dam removal. 

Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

Proposed river authority would assert Utah’s claims to the Colorado’s dwindling water

Utah legislative leaders on Thursday unveiled plans for a new $9 million state agency to advance Utah’s claims to the Colorado River in hopes of wrangling more of the river’s diminishing flows, potentially at the expense of six neighboring states that also tap the river. Without any prior public involvement or notice, lawmakers assembled legislation to create a six-member entity called the Colorado River Authority of Utah, charged with implementing “a management plan to ensure that Utah can protect and develop the Colorado River system.”

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Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

In California, a warming climate will help a voracious pest—and hurt the state’s almonds, walnuts and pistachios

California almond farmers enjoyed record-breaking harvests over the last five years, after production dipped in the wake of 2014’s historic drought. That year a chorus of headlines vilified almonds for sucking up a gallon of water per nut, though irrigation efficiency has been improving.  Now, as global temperatures rise, a caterpillar barely the size of a paper clip may threaten California’s position as the world’s leading producer of almonds, walnuts and pistachios. 

Aquafornia news The Signal

Santa Clarita Valley Water to host meeting on hazardous materials in Saugus Aquifer

Santa Clarita Valley Water has scheduled a virtual public meeting for the community to learn more about how the agency is keeping its water safe for drinking by addressing the public health and environmental effects of hazardous substances that have been identified in the Saugus Formation Aquifer. Set for Feb. 11, the agency will provide an overview of project objectives and alternatives for removal of the hazardous substances.

Aquafornia news San Diego Union-Tribune

A $5 billion water project could drill through Anza-Borrego park. Is it a pipe dream?

It would be arguably the most ambitious public works project in San Diego history. The envisioned pipeline would carry Colorado River water more than 130 miles from the Imperial Valley — through the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, tunneling under the Cuyamaca Mountains, and passing through the Cleveland National Forest — to eventually connect with a water-treatment plant in San Marcos. An alternative route would run through the desert to the south, boring under Mt. Laguna before emptying into the San Vicente Reservoir in Lakeside. Estimated cost: roughly $5 billion. New water delivered: None.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Future of Monterey Peninsula water could be determined by new board appointees

Four new Monterey Peninsula representatives on key local water and wastewater agency boards could have a big say on the future of two Monterey Peninsula water issues — the proposed California American Water public takeover and the Pure Water Monterey expansion proposal. Last week, Monterey architect Safwat Malek was unanimously chosen to replace Molly Evans as Monterey Peninsula Water Management Agency Division 3 director …

Aquafornia news The (Santa Rosa) Press Democrat

Friday Top of the Scroll: High-tech forecasting model scores scientific win at Lake Mendocino, showing promise for Western reservoirs

Sandbars are spreading across rain-starved Lake Mendocino, the reservoir near Ukiah that is 35 feet lower than it was a year ago, a grim wintertime sight for the second major source of water for more than 655,000 people in Sonoma, Mendocino and Marin counties. But the situation would be considerably worse without the payoff from a six-year, $50 million project applying high-tech weather forecasting to management of the reservoir behind Coyote Valley Dam built on the East Fork of the Russian River in 1958. 

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Save the date for our virtual Water 101 workshop in April

Curious about water rights in California? Want to know more about how water is managed in the state, or learn about the State Water Project, Central Valley Project or other water infrastructure?  Mark your calendars now for our virtual Water 101 Workshop for the afternoons of April 22-23 to hear from experts on these topics and more.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

Southern Nevada can’t afford to get complacent about water conservation

For years, Southern Nevadans have watched the water level in Lake Mead inch downward and wondered how long we could avoid the federally mandated rationing that kicks in when the lake elevation hits certain thresholds. Now comes a forecast bearing worrisome news. For the second time since 2019, we may be in for a reduction. A study issued last month by the Bureau of Reclamation says the lake level could dip below 1,075 feet by the end of the year.

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Aquafornia news Yale Environment 360

Water warning: The looming threat of the world’s aging dams

Tens of thousands of large dams across the globe are reaching the end of their expected lifespans, leading to a dramatic rise in failures and collapses, a new UN study finds. These deteriorating structures pose a serious threat to hundreds of millions of people living downstream…. In 2017, a spillway collapsed at the 50-year-old Oroville Dam in California’s Sierra Nevada foothills. It caused the evacuation of around 180,000 people. The 770-foot dam is the highest in the U.S. and, after repairs to the spillway, remains critical to the state’s water supply.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Opinion: Advanced metering, desalination would bolster water supply amid construction mandates

If the natural water supply doesn’t meet the water needs of an increased population, Marin is going to have to revisit the idea of building a desalination plant. Currently, the largest U.S. desalination plant in San Diego produces 50 million gallons daily at a cost of one cent per gallon. That cost is kept low given the San Diego’s plant is adjacent to a power station. If Marin had to draw its power from MCE or Pacific Gas and Electric Co., the cost would rise to 1.33 cents per gallon or $10 per billing unit over and above normal water charges. 
-Written by Rick Johnson, who worked 40 years with the San Francisco Water Department as a senior inspector and revenue recovery project manager.

Aquafornia news The (Riverside) Press Enterprise

Water lawsuit settled with Redlands and 2 other cities in San Bernardino County

A lawsuit against several cities and the county of San Bernardino over failing to file water efficiency reports required by the state has been settled and the jurisdictions are now working on fulfilling the terms of the settlements. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimated 340 cities and counties in the state did not file one or more annual reports on permit programs for new irrigated landscapes, robbing the public of critical information regarding local conservation efforts.  

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Despite recent storms, California’s dismal snowpack raises worry of dry year ahead

State water surveyors who trekked into the Sierra Nevada on Wednesday found exactly what they expected: little snow and long odds of anything but a dismally dry year ahead. Despite last week’s pounding snowstorm, which hammered roads with days of whiteouts and delivered to ski slopes as much as 10 feet of fresh powder, this month’s statewide snowpack measured just 70% of average.

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Aquafornia news National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Report: Subseasonal and seasonal forecasting innovation: plans for the 21st century

This report outlines the current use of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) S2S products and services, and how NOAA plans to improve the usability and transference of data, information, and forecasts. It will serve as a guidepost for NOAA planning and execution, as well as to inform the public and NOAA’s stakeholders on its efforts on subseasonal and seasonal forecasting…. and recommends a western U.S. pilot project to support water management. 

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: Water infrastructure — the unmet needs of low-income communities

To meet the promise of its day one executive order on Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities, the Biden administration needs to provide low-income communities, communities of color and Indigenous people the same access to clean and safe water that the rest of our nation takes for granted. 
-Written by David F. Coursen, a former EPA attorney and a member of the Environmental Protection Network, a nonprofit organization of EPA alumni.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Updated analysis could alter Klamath water supplies

A detailed analysis released by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation could change its approach in operating the Klamath Project in compliance with the Endangered Species Act.

Aquafornia news NPR

Biden wants to move fast on climate change. Is it fast enough?

In a flurry of first-week executive orders, President Biden sent a definitive message that his administration would move faster on climate change than any before. Now, the question is whether it will be fast enough. Scientists warn that the coming decade will be critical for slowing heat-trapping emissions, potentially keeping average annual global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to the mid-19th century. Right now, the world is on track for an increase of 3 degrees Celsius, a level that ensures more destructive wildfires and hurricanes, devastation for coral reefs and rising seas flooding the coastlines.

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Aquafornia news The San Francisco Examiner

Opinion: Salmon dwindling while SFPUC fiddling

While wetter streets and a greener White House may offer San Franciscans some hope for the future, the situation remains dire for salmon in the Tuolumne River. … [I]t’s hard not to feel that the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s water policies are partially to blame. Californians are significantly reducing or eliminating dependence on river water. But the SFPUC continues to side with agricultural users to fight limitations on the water it takes from the Tuolumne. 
-Written by Robyn Purchia, an environmental attorney, blogger and activist

Aquafornia news Arizona Central

Opinion: SRP is helping thin Arizona forests. Our water supply depends on it

Over the last 10 years, we have watched as large wildfires ravaged the watershed in and around the Salt and Verde Rivers. The devastation proves one important fact that must be addressed now – our forests are unhealthy. SRP manages the water supply for much of the Valley – most of which comes from 8.3 million acres of land in northern Arizona. Snowfall and rain provide the water that travels through the watershed into SRP reservoirs, which is then delivered to homes and businesses via canals. The forested lands that harness this precious resource have been hit by devastating wildfires and are primed for more infernos like those that impacted California and Colorado. 
-Written by Elvy Barton, a forest health management principal who leads Salt River Project’s forest restoration partnerships, programs and policy analysis initiatives.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Rural Valley cities secure permanent water supply in deal with Feds

Three rural Valley cities finalized deals with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to cement permanent access to water from the Central Valley Project on Monday, the Federal bureau announced. The cities of Avenal, Coalinga, and Huron converted their water contracts with Federal water authorities along with Firebaugh-based Pacheco Water District and Panoche Water District, and Los Banos-based San Luis Water District.  

Aquafornia news Kingsburg Recorder

Valadao introduces critical California water legislation

U.S. Representative David G. Valadao introduced the Responsible, No-Cost Extension of Western Water Infrastructure Improvements, or RENEW WIIN, Act, a no-cost, clean extension of operations and storage provisions of the WIIN Act (P.L. 114-322). 

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Sierra snow grows, but Bay Area rain deficit is 3rd worst since 1849

California’s water picture is heading in two different directions. A major storm last week and a more modest system Tuesday continued to boost the Sierra Nevada snowpack, the source of one-third of the state’s water supply, in promising ways. But the Bay Area and most cities across Northern California remain stuck in one of the worst two-year rainfall deficits seen since the 1849 Gold Rush, increasing the risk of water restrictions and dry wildfire conditions locally next summer. 

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Aquafornia news Pagosa Daily Post

Opinion: Drain Lake Powell, not Colorado farms

Experts agree the amount of water in the Colorado River basin has declined because of drought and climate change, and that population growth is fueling demand for water higher and higher. One result is the level of Lake Powell in Arizona, behind Glen Canyon Dam, has steadily declined and is now at 43% of capacity. Further, just last week, the U.S. Dept of Interior sounded an alarm that they may have to start draining other reservoirs in Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming to try and “save” Lake Powell. 
-Written by Daniel P. Beard, former commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and Gary Wockner, director of Save The Colorado.

Aquafornia news Globe Newswire

News release: $2M seed funding round empowers AQUAOSO to further its water risk mitigation tool set for agricultural lenders and landholders

According to the U.S. Intelligence Community Assessment of Global Water Security, by 2030 humanity’s “annual global water requirements” will exceed “current sustainable water supplies” by 40%, highlighting the importance of building a water resilient future.

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

A surge from an atmospheric river drove California’s latest climate extremes

Flooding rains and record snow in California last week marked another extreme swing of the state’s climate pendulum. The widespread downpours triggered mudslides that damaged homes and roads near some of the huge fire scars from last summer, and also brought some of the water the state will need to end a months-long hot and dry streak and douse a record-setting wildfire season that extended into January. ….It could get worse. Stronger atmospheric rivers are part of California’s “whiplash” climate future…

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Aquafornia news AZ Central

Opinion: If Queen Creek gets more Colorado River now, brace for WW III

Comedian Ron White once joked that we should have two levels of national security warnings: Find a helmet and put on a helmet. If such a system were in place for controversies, Arizona’s water community would now be in the “put on a helmet” stage. Tensions were already high over a proposal to transfer Colorado River water from a farm in La Paz County to Queen Creek. And now that the recommendation has quietly changed, some folks in on-river communities view it as nothing less than the start of World War III. Heaven help us if it is. 
-Written by Joanna Allhands, a columnist for the Arizona Republic

Aquafornia news Pleasanton Weekly

Pleasanton City Council to revisit potable water project

The Pleasanton City Council will revisit the subject of potable water and the city’s regional efforts to study water supply alternatives at its Tuesday night online meeting, starting 7 p.m. In November, the council asked city staff to make recommendations on continuing “to participate with regional agencies on studies of water supply alternatives including potable reuse and $300,000 in funding from the city’s Capital Improvement program.”

Aquafornia news The Signal

SCV Water hosts meeting on water-shortage plan

In a year when California has only received approximately half its average rainfall, the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency hosted a virtual public meeting to inform residents of the Water Shortage Contingency Plan and gather community input Thursday. The large amount of rain and snow that fell in recent days were the result of the state’s first major atmospheric river this winter, changing drought predictions, according to Thomas Chesnutt, a consultant from A&N Technical Services. However, according to data released Jan. 19, drought conditions have returned to California, with much of Los Angeles County in moderate drought conditions. 

Aquafornia news Utah Public Radio

The Colorado River basin’s worsening dryness in five numbers

Dry conditions are the worst they’ve been in almost 20 years across the Colorado River watershed, which acts as the drinking and irrigation water supply for 40 million people in the American Southwest. As the latest round of federal forecasts for the river’s flow shows, it’s plausible, maybe even likely, that the situation could get much worse this year. Understanding and explaining the depth of the dryness is up to climate scientists throughout the basin. We called several of them and asked for discrete numbers that capture the current state of the Colorado River basin. 

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Aquafornia news My Mother Lode

TUD schedules special water rights meeting

The Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD) Board of Directors is hosting a virtual information meeting to update local board members and agencies about the proposed purchase of water infrastructure and water rights contracts. As reported here in March last year, TUD and PG&E announced they were in exclusive negotiations about the potential transfer of the Phoenix Hydroelectric Project. The proposed agreement includes the Phoenix Powerhouse, the Main Tuolumne Canal, the pre and post 1914 water rights, the Lyons Dam and Reservoir, Strawberry Dam and Pinecrest Reservoir. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

After a snowy few days in Northern and Southern California, there’s more to come this week

After a particularly wet week, Californians shouldn’t hang up their snow shovels and raincoats just yet. Those in Southern California should expect 1 to 8 inches of snow to fall in the mountainous areas of Ventura and Los Angeles counties between late Tuesday and Wednesday night, said Kathy Hoxsie, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. Elsewhere in Los Angeles County, one-quarter to one-half of an inch of rain is forecast to fall, with 3/4 inches expected in the foothills, Hoxsie said. 

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Aquafornia news Aspen Times

Colorado officials crack down on ponds in Arkansas River basin

State engineers in the Arkansas River basin are beginning to crack down on more than 10,000 ponds without legal water rights, which they say are harming senior rights holders. Last month, Colorado’s Division of Water Resources in Division 2 rolled out a new pond-management plan, which they say will help relieve pressure in the over-appropriated basin by restoring water to senior rights holders. The first step was mailing on Jan. 14 informational brochures to 317 pond owners. Even though the ponds targeted in this effort may have existed for many decades, they don’t have a legal right on the books to divert and store the water.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Tensions spark after plan to sell Colorado River water in Arizona

Mayors and county supervisors in towns along the Colorado River were already upset five months ago when the state water agency endorsed an investment company’s plan to take water from farmland near the river and sell it to a growing Phoenix suburb. Now, they’re incensed that the agency, which initially suggested holding back a large portion of the water, changed its stance and will let the company sell most of the water to the town of Queen Creek. Elected leaders in communities along the river say they intend to continue trying to stop the proposed deal, which would need to be approved by the federal Bureau of Reclamation. 

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Aquafornia news ABC7 KRCR

State releases new information on water contamination after North Complex Fire

The California State Water Board released new information about water contamination testing after the North Complex fire devastated parts of Butte County and Plumas County during the summer of 2020. Testing of surface waters throughout the burn scar has revealed contaminant levels are elevated, but lower than anticipated. The State Water Board said the good news is they are not impacting drinking water treatment facilities or the quality of drinking water they deliver to their customers. The contaminants include E.Coli, aluminum, iron, manganese and other metals, most of which are naturally occurring and often found in runoff sediments.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Water markets in California can reduce the costs of drought

California’s increasingly volatile warming climate is making droughts more intense, and complicating water management. A just-launched commodity futures market for the state’s water provides a new tool for farmers, municipalities and other interested parties to ensure against water price shocks arising from drought-fueled shortages. Taking a Wall Street approach to an essential natural resource has prompted both fear and hype. Will California experience a new Gold Rush in water? Will speculation boost the cost of water? Perhaps both the fear and the hype are unwarranted.  
-Written by Ellen Hanak, economist and director of the Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles ends free water deal for Long Valley ranchers

Since the early 1920s, the Long Valley plains east of Yosemite have inspired comparison to a rustic Western paradise … Much of this great, green expansiveness, however, owes to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which aggressively purchased land and water rights here more than a century ago. The department’s routine annual deliveries of free surplus water to its tenants have helped sustain ranching operations and habitat for many decades. But that relationship is now at risk of ending, and could carry dire consequences for one of California’s most striking and violently formed landscapes.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: How does DWR manage water allocations to the state’s public water agencies?

The business of water allocations – simply put, who receives water from the State Water Project (SWP) and who gets to decide how much – is the subject of two new episodes in the Delta Conveyance Deep Dive video series.  In Part One, State Water Operations Chief Molly White explains the operations and regulations that govern the process of allocating water to the state’s 29 Public Water Agencies and addresses the question of how the proposed Delta Conveyance Project would affect that process. 

Aquafornia news Palo Alto Online

Going against the flow, City Council member draws rebukes for position on water plan

When Palo Alto officials adopted a position in 2018 in support of the Bay-Delta Plan, which aims to protect the Yosemite ecosystem by restricting how much water cities can draw from the San Joaquin River and its tributaries, they knew were swimming against the prevalent political tide. Prompted by water conservationists and environmentalists, the City Council went against recommendations from the city’s Utilities Department staff and its water supplier, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which relies on the Tuolumne River for much of its water. 

Aquafornia news Valley News

Pipeline replacement on Temecula Parkway continues

Rancho California Water District crews are continuing work to replace more than a mile of aging pipeline under westbound Temecula Parkway. The project began in November, and Rancho Water staff told the Temecula City Council in October that work was expected to continue through the middle of next year. The project will ultimately replace about 8,000 feet, or about a mile and a half, of aging recycled water pipeline between Bedford Court and Rancho Pueblo Road…

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

The Monterey Peninsula’s water shortage could be solved with flow from the Salinas River. Why isn’t it?

In the driest years for Monterey County, the water available in the Salinas River is not enough to supply a single household. In the wettest year of the past three decades, 1995, there were 100,000 acre-feet of water available, more than the total urban usage in the county. Although the flow fluctuates wildly, the average amount is far more than what is needed, for example, for thirsty coastal cities desperate for housing. The water has been available for decades – the right to use it is protected, encouraged and even required by state law – but it’s been flowing into the ocean, a casualty of Monterey County’s political deadlock.

Aquafornia news KUSI News

Water Authority Board to improve North County drinking water reliability in $11.4 million contract

The San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors approved an $11.4 million construction project to improve drinking water supply reliability in North County. The Hauck Mesa Storage Reservoir project will begin in February and includes demolition of an abandoned steel tank, building a 2.1 million-gallon storage reservoir connected to the Valley Center Pipeline, and construction of an isolation vault and an underground flow-control facility. 

Aquafornia news KSRO

California congressman appointed to Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee

California Congressman John Garamendi is being appointed by his congressional colleagues to the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, a responsibility he doesn’t take lightly. Garamendi will now oversee matters related to water resources development, conservation, infrastructure and hazardous waste cleanup. He says water conservation is “critical,” and wants storage and recycling of the state’s water supply to be key elements for his new policies.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Friday Top of the Scroll: California drought still looms despite latest ‘atmospheric river’

Six years ago, in the middle of a crippling drought, Californians were ordered to let their lawns turn yellow. They put buckets in their showers to conserve. Scofflaws had to attend “drought school.” Meanwhile, farmers throughout the Central Valley had to idle many of their fields. This week’s deluge left many Californians shoveling snow and splashing through puddles as an “atmospheric river” swept the state. More precipitation is in the forecast for next week. But experts worry that without repeated downpours over the next two months, the painful memories of the last drought could become reality again. 

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Aquafornia news CapRadio

Here’s what California lawmakers want to do to take action on climate change

Wildfires and smoke have ravaged large parts of California, sea level rise is threatening the golden coast’s viability and drought is looming in the future. … But for the first time in four years action on climate change is gaining momentum on the federal level — President Joe Biden signed multiple executive orders related to the crisis in his first week in office. Meanwhile California has held ground on climate policies as the Trump Administration rolled back environmental rules and regulations.  

Aquafornia news Bay Nature

Atmospheric rivers and the future of California

Ten days ago the state set new heat records and brush fires broke out. Burn areas in the Santa Cruz Mountains rekindled. Then, over the last three days, a 2,000-mile-long filament of water in the sky burst over the areas that last week sat brown and smoking. Snow fell on peaks and even some lower hills in the Bay Area. The California Department of Water Resources Central Sierra snow measurement station jumped from 42 percent of average to 62 percent of average.

Aquafornia news Eco-Business

Extreme drought and fire risk may double by 2060

As climate change threatens a doubling of the impact of extreme drought and fire within a generation, researchers are uncovering the influence of human activity on both these growing risks. One study has found that human numbers exposed to the hazard of extreme drought are likely to double in the decades to come, as global heating bakes away the groundwater and limits annual snowfall. 

Aquafornia news The Independent

State water agency seeks input from local groups on infrastructure projects

There is an adage in California that goes, “Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over.” But instead of fighting, the California Water Commission (CWC) is looking for opportunities to hear from local agencies on water infrastructure projects. The CWC recently wrapped up a series of public workshops intended to determine the opportunity for a state role in financing water conveyance projects that meet the challenges of a changing climate. 

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Water Year 2021 – How are we doing?

We are now past the halfway mark in California’s normally wettest winter months, and the wet season to date has been anything but. Most of the state has received less than half of its average annual precipitation to date. Coming after a very dry Water Year 2020 these conditions are concerning. More precipitation will certainly occur in February and March, but will it be enough to erase the state’s large deficit?  

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

San Diegans are drowning in water debt during COVID-19

More than 69,600 people in San Diego County are behind on their water bill right now, according to a report published last week by the California State Water Resources Control Board. The agency surveyed all of California’s water utilities in November to get a clearer picture of the financial hardship utilities have on residents at a time when more people are jobless and quarantining at home. Statewide, one in eight Californians has water debt, and the unpaid bill total has swelled to $1 billion, according to a CalMatters analysis of the data.

Aquafornia news KCRW

To understand food waste, follow a California strawberry along the supply chain

Nearly half of food grown in the United States gets thrown out. More food is tossed once it reaches a household fridge than at any other point in the supply chain. With every strawberry that doesn’t get eaten comes the wasted water to grow it, the wasted gas to transport it, the methane it emits while it rots, and crowded landfills.

Aquafornia news The Colorado Sun

Colorado’s ornery, independent water guardians finally agree on one thing: Wall Street can look elsewhere

The calls came in shortly after the story in The New York Times announced Wall Street was on the prowl for “billions in the Colorado’s water.” …  The national story raised hackles across Colorado. It defined agriculture as a “wrong” use of Colorado River water and detailed a growing swarm of investors eager to inject Wall Street’s strategies into the West’s century-old water laws. The idea of private investment in public water has galvanized the state’s factious water guardians. 

Aquafornia news World Economic Forum

Opinion: To make progress on global challenges, start with water

Whether used for potable (drinking) or non-potable purposes, clean water is our most valuable and fundamental resource, and ultimately underpins the success or failure of every other challenge that we face. Yet we are perilously close to 2025, when it is predicted that half of the world’s population will not have reliable access to clean water…

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Farmers’ planting plans hinge on water, pandemic

As California farmers weigh decisions on what to plant and how much, lack of rainfall so far this winter has further clouded a 2021 crop outlook already complicated by market uncertainties created by the pandemic. With current precipitation levels looking even drier than the 2014-15 drought years, Kings County farmer Brian Medeiros said he’s already making decisions about what ground to fallow. 

Aquafornia news OutThere Colorado

Creating Colorado’s largest body of water meant destroying a thriving mountain town

The largest body of water in Colorado, Blue Mesa Reservoir is nothing to scoff at. Found in the southern portion of the state, Blue Mesa Reservoir is 20-miles-long, home to 96 miles of shoreline, and constrained by a 390-foot-tall dam. However, before this man-made reservoir and popular outdoor recreation spot existed, the area was home to a thriving mountain town that has since been wiped off the map. 

Aquafornia news Patch

Dublin-San Ramon Services District Board vacancy: 4 candidates to be interviewed soon

A new representative for the vacant Dublin San Ramon Services District Board Division 5 will be appointed at the Tuesday, Feb. 2 board meeting. Two members of the public applied for the position, which represents Dublin residents east of Hacienda Drive. Any applicants must live within the boundaries of the district and the board short-listed five candidates. Four finalists from that pool will be interviewed during the meeting, which is set to begin at 6 p.m. 

Aquafornia news Greenbiz

Blog: The future of corporate water action

The water crisis is one of the greatest human, environmental, economic and financial challenges of our time. No person or business, no matter the industry, can survive without clean water — and that supply is dwindling and in danger. Scientists predict by 2030, global water demand will more than double supply. This growing crisis is playing out here and now. The largest companies, in particular, have a critical role to play. It is also in their own interest to act as it has major financial implications on their bottom line. 

Aquafornia news Escalon Times

Plans call for raising Los Vaqueros Reservoir dam height

An expansion project [at Los Vaqueros Reservoir] started in 2010 and completed in 2012 raised the dam height 34 feet to 224 feet. It increased the storage capacity 60 percent to 160,000 square feet. It also expanded recreational uses and stepped up habitat protection. The surface covers 1,400 acres and has an elevation at capacity is 524 feet. Los Vaqueros is also where the next significant increase in California reservoir storage could be in place by 2028. The $915 million project will raise the dam 55 feet to 273 feet. It would increase storage from 160,000 acre feet to 275,000 acre feet.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Environment experts to Newsom: Now’s your moment

Back in September, while wildfires raged and the pandemic wore on, California Gov. Gavin Newsom held a virtual press conference to announce a bold new climate goal. By 2035, he said, all new cars and trucks sold in California would be zero-emission, in order to seriously curtail climate warming-emissions. … But while Newsom has grabbed attention for his clean car policy … environmental experts say he hasn’t moved boldly enough on ecological issues… Last summer, the governor issued a water resilience portfolio that outlines 142 state actions to help the state deal with water as the climate crisis worsens….

Aquafornia news Redlands Daily Facts

Opinion: California must change course to avoid water shortages

Californians have recently endured increasingly aggressive wildfires, rolling power outages, and smoke-filled air for days. Unless the state government changes course, we can add water shortages to this list. … However, the dirty little secret is that 50 percent of California’s water supply is used for environmental purposes and is ultimately flushed out into the Pacific Ocean, 40 percent goes to agriculture, and only 10 percent goes for residential, industrial, commercial, and governmental uses.
-Written by Daniel Kolkey, a former judge and former counsel to Governor Pete Wilson and board member of Pacific Research Institute.

Aquafornia news Lost Coast Outpost

Trinidad to consider joining feasibility study for a pipeline extension from Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District

The Trinidad City Council on Tuesday will consider whether to participate in a feasibility study for a project that would bring a steady flow of water to the city from the Mad River via a new pipeline. The Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District (HBMWD), which supplies water to Eureka, Arcata, McKinleyville, Blue Lake and other area communities, is in the early stages of researching the possibility of expanding its service area north via a waterline extension at least as far north as the Trinidad Rancheria…

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Backers of higher Tuolumne flows welcome latest ruling

A federal agency has ruled that the state can continue to seek higher flows on the Tuolumne River than planned by the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts. The Jan. 19 ruling drew cheers from environmental and fishing groups that have long sought larger releases from Don Pedro Reservoir into the lower river. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Opinion: San Francisco – Save the river you drink from

San Francisco rightly prides itself on being an environmental leader. Given this deep commitment to protecting the environment, the city’s water agency — the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission — should be a leader in smart, sustainable water policy. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. But Mayor London Breed now has a once-in-a-decade chance to turn the SFPUC in a new direction by appointing a progressive, visionary new general manager who reflects the city’s values. San Francisco’s Bay-Delta ecosystem and the Central Valley rivers that feed it are in steep decline…
-Written by John McManus, president of the Golden State Salmon Association, and Kate Poole, the water lead for the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: 2020 Water Leaders class releases policy recommendations for adapting California water management to climate change

Our 2020 Water Leaders class completed its year with a report outlining policy recommendations for adapting California water management to climate change. The class of 23 up-and-coming leaders from various stakeholder groups and backgrounds – engineers, attorneys, planners, farmers, environmentalists and scientists - had full editorial control to choose recommendations.

Aquafornia news Regional Water Authority

News release: Michelle Banonis selected as RWA manager of strategic affairs

The Regional Water Authority (RWA) is delighted to announce that Michelle Banonis has been selected as the organization’s new Manager of Strategic Affairs. Banonis has over two decades of experience in water, ecosystems, engineering, policy, and law, and most recently served as the Assistant Chief Deputy Director of the California Department of Water Resources where she worked on water-related issues of statewide significance with multiple interests.

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Monday Top of the Scroll: Atmospheric river – Biggest storm of the year heading for California

Winter weather is finally arriving in Northern California. And after weeks of dry, warm conditions and growing drought concerns, it’s coming in hard. Forecasters say a sizable storm — the first significant atmospheric river event to hit the greater Bay Area this winter season and likely the biggest storm in at least 12 months — will soak much of California starting Tuesday night, continuing Wednesday, and bringing wet roads, downed trees, power outages and the possibility of mudslides. 

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Aquafornia news The Colorado Sun

Record low Lake Powell and bad 2021 drought forecast sets stage for water cuts

The dry 2020 and the lack of snow this season has water managers in seven states preparing for the first time for cutbacks outlined in drought contingency plans drafted two years ago.  A sobering forecast released this week by the Bureau of Reclamation shows the federally owned Lake Mead and Lake Powell — the nation’s two largest reservoirs and critical storage for Colorado River water and its 40 million users — dipping near-record-low levels.

Aquafornia news The Pagosa Springs SUN

Opinion: When water dries up, it can be deadly

In Oregon, the Klamath Basin wildlife refuges have fallen into their winter silence now. The huge, clamorous flocks of geese that fill the sky during migration have moved south.  This summer, a different silence gripped the basin. A dead silence. The 90,000 acres of marshes and open water that make up the Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges are a small remnant of vast wetlands that once filled this region on the Oregon-California border.
-Written by Pepper Trail, a contributor to Writers on the Range and a conservation biologist in Ashland, Ore.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Marina Coast Water District under fire for rates, spending practices

Former U.S. Rep. Sam Farr is calling for the Marina Coast Water District to be investigated for fiscal mismanagement and merge with the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District, even as the district is involved in a lawsuit that has successfully challenged its water rates and could have implications for the entire Ord Community.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News Release: Reclamation releases water reliability in the West report

The Bureau of Reclamation released a summary report providing an assessment of climate change impacts to water uses in the West, including adding a new set of West-wide information based on paleohydrology. The Water Reliability in the West – 2021 SECURE Water Act Report discusses changes and innovative actions across the eight basins identified in the SECURE Water Act.

Aquafornia news CBS Denver

Concern for Colorado reservoir water levels as drought conditions persist

There are many ways to gauge the severity of a drought. This winter in Colorado, all you have to do is look around. “The stream flows across the state have been really, really, really down throughout the whole fall season, so that is an indicator,” said Karl Wetlaufer. Wetlaufer is a rafter, so he pays attention to stream flow. It’s also part of his job as a hydrologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service Snow Survey Program.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Biden faces tough climate balancing act on public lands

The Trump administration left President Biden a dilemma in the California desert: a plan to remove protections from millions of acres of public lands and open vast areas to solar and wind farms. Biden’s team could easily block the proposed changes, which were slammed by conservationists as a last-gasp effort by the outgoing administration to support private industry at the expense of wildlife habitat and treasured landscapes….There are also places to put solar and wind installations besides intact habitat, including Central Valley farmland with dwindling water supplies … 

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Aquafornia news CBS Denver

Pipeline dream: Ambitious proposal to bring Utah water to Colorado

A Fort Collins man is pressing forward with a proposed 325-mile-long pipeline which would transfer water from northeastern Utah into the northern part of Colorado’s Front Range. It could cost Aaron Million a billion and a half dollars to build. He claims to have sufficient support from private investors to make his pipeline dream a reality.

Aquafornia news KUNC

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Upper Colorado River drought plan triggered for first time

Increasingly bleak forecasts for the Colorado River have for the first time put into action elements of the 2019 upper basin drought contingency plan. The 24-month study released in January by the Bureau of Reclamation, which projects two years of operations at the river’s biggest reservoirs, showed Lake Powell possibly dipping below an elevation of 3,525 feet above sea level in 2022. That elevation was designated as a critical threshold in the agreement to preserve the ability to produce hydropower at Glen Canyon Dam. 

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Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Imperial Valley water chief, writer and pianist Kevin Kelley dies

Kevin Kelley, the elegant, whip-smart and fierce former general manager of the Imperial Irrigation District, who fought to preserve the Salton Sea and his rural county’s water rights, died Tuesday at 61. He passed away at home, said his brother, Ryan Kelley, an Imperial County Supervisor. The cause of death is still being determined. As top executive from 2011 to January 2019 of the powerful but often overlooked IID, Kelley regularly took on state, federal and urban water officials to remind them of the valley’s importance. 

Aquafornia news Market Screener

California Water Service completes water infrastructure upgrade to support Stockton customers

California Water Service (Cal Water) has completed a multiphase infrastructure project in the Magnolia area of Stockton that will keep critical water infrastructure in the area safe and reliable. The upgrade will ensure customers, firefighters, and nearby medical facilities continue to have the water they need for their everyday and emergency needs.

Aquafornia news RNZ News

Analysis: Water becomes a commodity

For almost 230 years, agricultural commodities have been bought and sold in New York’s finance district. Now the NASDAQ stock exchange – which celebrates 50 years of activity next month - has put a price on our most vital substance: water contracts for five water districts in drought-prone California are being bought and sold. 

Aquafornia news California Farm Water Coalition

Blog: Delta smelt remain on the brink of extinction – We can change that

Recent fish surveys confirm what many biologists, ecologists, and water experts have known for some time – Delta smelt remain on the brink of extinction. Zero Delta smelt were found in the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s recent Fall Midwater Trawl Survey. Even the Enhanced Delta Smelt Monitoring Program, which is specifically designed to capture the tiny fish, only successfully caught two Delta smelt from September 8 to December 11, 2020.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: After COVID-19, drought threat still looms

California is enveloped in balmy weather that’s more like spring than mid-winter — and that’s not a good thing. We have seen only scant rain and snow this winter, indicating that the state may be experiencing one of its periodic droughts and adding another layer of crisis to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recession. The all-important Sierra snowpack, California’s primary source of water, is scarcely half of what is deemed a normal depth.
-Written by Dan Walters, CalMatters columnist.

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Water resources managers in the Sacramento Valley are preparing for a dry year

While they remain hopeful the rest of winter will provide much more rain and snow, water resources managers in the Sacramento Valley are preparing for the potential for a dry year. While the prospect of a dry year is always jarring and challenging, we have confidence in the experience and knowledge that our water resources managers gained in 2014-15, and the strategies this region has implemented since that time to prepare for a dry year.

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

Blog: Gearing up for long-term water use efficiency

If 2020 taught us anything, it is that ACWA member agencies are highly skilled at delivering essential services to their customers even during the most unexpected and unprecedented times. As we gear up for the new year, our members continue to impress with their collaborative and coordinated efforts on vital issues affecting California water management, including the implementation of additional long-term water use efficiency strategies to increase resiliency in dry years. 

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Coalition seeks water funding in infrastructure bill

Describing federal investment in Western water management as “essential,” a coalition of more than 200 organizations has urged the incoming Biden administration and the new Congress to include water facilities in any future infrastructure or economic-recovery package. The coalition, including a number of national and regional organizations plus farm groups and water districts from 15 states, sent separate letters last week to President-elect Biden and the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate. The letter included specific recommendations for the types of water investments the coalition said could have the greatest impact.

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Sonoma County flirts with drought as reservoirs recede in water-poor winter

About a mile of bare, cracked earth now lies like a desertscape between the boat ramp at the north end of Lake Mendocino and the water’s edge of a diminished reservoir that helps provide water for 600,000 Sonoma and Marin County residents. The human-made lake near Ukiah is about 30 feet lower than it was at this time last year, and Nick Malasavage, an Army Corps of Engineers official who oversees operations at the reservoir, said the scene is “pretty jarring.” 

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Aquafornia news The Daily Sentinel

Opinion: Lasting Colorado River solutions come from Main Street, not Wall Street

Sensational headlines, like those speculating that Wall Street will make billions off the Colorado River or that West Slope farmers should pack it in now, certainly attracts readers. Unfortunately, these articles wholly fail to convey the reality of the water challenges facing the Colorado River Basin. … The Colorado River is certainly in bad shape. Last year was marked by extremely hot temperatures, low flows and massive fires.

Written by Dan Keppen, executive director of Family Farm Alliance; Scott Yates, director of Trout Unlimited’s Western Water & Habitat Program; and Taylor Hawes, Colorado River Program director for The Nature Conservancy.

Aquafornia news The Michigan Daily

Opinion: It’s time to say goodbye to golf

California is home to over 1,000 golf courses, so when there was a lack of water and public officials had to decide where to allocate the water, the choice should have been obvious. California should have shut down the golf courses and made sure that every resident had access to clean drinking water.  However, this was not the case. As many as two-thirds of Californian golf courses stayed open and the average 18-hole course continued to use 90 million gallons of water each day.

Written by Alex Noble, a columnist for the newspaper

Aquafornia news Siskiyou Daily News

If dams are removed, will there be water for firefighting?

A plan to ensure there will be adequate water with which to fight wildfires if four Klamath dams are removed was unveiled Friday by the Klamath River Renewal Corporation. According to a KRRC press release, California and Oregon fire protection agencies have “signaled support” for the draft plan and the organization plans to submit it to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission late next month, along with “several other management documents.” One of the main arguments for keeping the dams is that firefighters use water from the dam’s resultant reservoirs to fight fires.

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Aquafornia news Valley News

US EPA selects Rancho Water to continue in WIFIA funding selection process

Rancho California Water District’s Vail Dam Seismic and Hydrologic Remediation Project was selected to apply for funding as part of approximately $5.1 billion in Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). WIFIA loans provide financing assistance to help pay for water infrastructure projects in the United States.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Managing groundwater overdraft – combining crop and water decisions (without salinity)

California’s Central Valley produces much of the nation’s food, including about 40% of the country’s fruits and nuts and has the nation’s second most pumped aquifer system. Its drier southern portion, the San Joaquin Valley, has decreasing surface water supply reliability due to frequent and prolonged droughts, stricter environmental regulations, and growing competition among water users. Many farmers pump groundwater to provide their unsupplied water demand. The resulting groundwater overdraft has numerous impacts on the Valley’s agriculture and residents.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Secret Kern River talks underway

It’s hard to say what spurred “confidential mediation” over the Kern River that began last week. Could it be the relentless “Bring Back the Kern!” campaign by a group of young, Bakersfield residents? Could it be a sentence in a recent letter from the State Water Resources Control Board that said, in part, it “will schedule a hearing in the near future to address water availability with respect to the Kern River…”? Could it be both? No one involved in the mediation would say.

Aquafornia news Craig Daily Press

Rio Blanco secures water right for dam-and-reservoir project

Six years after the application was filed, a judge has granted a water conservancy district in northwest Colorado a water right for a new dam-and-reservoir project that top state engineers had opposed. Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District now has a 66,720 acre-foot conditional water right to build a dam and reservoir between Rangely and Meeker, known as the White River storage project or the Wolf Creek project. The conservancy district is proposing an off-channel reservoir with a dam 110 feet tall and 3,800 feet long, with water that will be pumped from the White River. 

Aquafornia news Greeley Tribune

Opinion: We need to collaborate to protect the Colorado River from drought, speculation

Colorado is headwaters to a hardworking river that provides for 40 million people. The importance of the Colorado River to the state and the nation cannot be overstated, and its recent hydrology serves as a reminder that we must continue to find workable solutions that will sustain the river. History shows that we are up to the challenge. … Colorado and the other Basin states face big challenges. Drier hydrology, competing demands on the river, and those who seek to profit from such circumstances, impact the types of tools available to address these challenges. 
Written by Rebecca Mitchell, who serves as the state of Colorado’s Colorado River Commissioner as well as director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board. 

Aquafornia news France 24

Global population hit by extreme drought set to double

Available freshwater is on track to decline sharply across two-thirds of Earth’s land surface toward the end of the century mostly due to climate change, with the number of people exposed to extreme drought doubling, researchers have reported. Even under a scenario of moderate decline in greenhouse gas emissions, land area scorched by extreme to exceptional drought conditions increases from three to seven percent … Mexico City is currently facing a water crisis, and California has been coping with a lack of rain for most of the last decade. 

Aquafornia news The Weather Channel

Here’s how much snow is typical during the second half of winter

The halfway point of meteorological winter is Friday, Jan. 15, and while that might seem like the light at the end of the tunnel for those tired of snow and cold, many cities still average more than half their season’s snowfall after this date. Winter in meteorological record-keeping is from Dec. 1 to Feb. 28. But for some parts of the nation, snowy conditions are still possible deep into March and even April. 

Aquafornia news Arizona State University

Blog: New research director for Kyl Center focused on equity in water access

Arizona depends heavily on the Colorado River, and it is over-allocated, meaning, we collectively take more water from the system than nature puts in. To make matters worse, the Colorado River basin has been experiencing a prolonged drought of more than 20 years. When you take the longer term view, a lot of communities in Arizona are heavily dependent on fossil groundwater supplies. Once you pump them out, they’re gone forever. There are real problems looming when it comes to groundwater management and the Colorado River.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Farm groups prod Biden, Congress on Western water

More than 200 farm and water organizations from 15 states are urging President-elect Joe Biden and congressional leaders to address aging Western water infrastructure in any economic recovery package. Groups including state Farm Bureaus, the Family Farm Alliance and Western Growers issued letters to Biden and lawmakers Wednesday saying existing canals and reservoirs were built more than 50 years ago and are in desperate need of rehabilitation. 

Aquafornia news Sourcing Journal

Experts dispel popular cotton statistics, say more context is needed

Throughout his research, Simon Ferrigno has seen the statistic range from 2,000 to 20,000 liters of water needed to make a T-shirt. Instead of numbers, Ferrigno said the focus should be on whether or not the water that’s used in the process can be cleaned and repurposed for other needs. 

Aquafornia news Axios

Thursday Top of the Scroll: A “forever” drought takes shape in the West

The Southwest U.S. is mired in an ever-worsening drought, one that has left deer starving in Hawaii, turned parts of the Rio Grande into a wading pool, and set a record in Colorado for the most days of “exceptional drought.” Why it matters: These conditions may be the new normal rather than an exception, water experts say, as climate change runs its course. And worsening drought will intensify political and legal battles over water — with dire consequences for poor communities.

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Aquafornia news Denver Post

Opinion: Collaboration will protect the Colorado River from drought and speculation alike

Colorado is headwaters to a hardworking river that provides for 40 million people. The importance of the Colorado River to the state and the nation cannot be overstated, and its recent hydrology serves as a reminder that we must continue to find workable solutions that will sustain the river. History shows that we are up to the challenge. As Colorado’s commissioner and lead negotiator on Colorado River issues, it is my job to protect Colorado’s interests in the river.
-Written by Rebecca Mitchell, Colorado’s current Colorado River Commissioner and director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board.  

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Turkey drought: Istanbul could run out of water in 45 days

Major cities across Turkey face running out of water in the next few months, with warnings Istanbul has less than 45 days of water left. Poor rainfall has led to the country’s most severe drought in a decade and left the megacity of 17 million people with critically low levels of water … and farmers in wheat-producing areas such as the Konya plain and Edirne province on the border with Greece and Bulgaria are warning of crop failure.

Aquafornia news News 18

Two-third of Earth might face severe drought by the end of this century

Available freshwater is on track to decline sharply across two-thirds of Earth’s land surface toward the end of the century mostly due to climate change, with the number of people exposed to extreme drought doubling, researchers have reported. Even under a scenario of moderate decline in greenhouse gas emissions, land area scorched by extreme to exceptional drought conditions increases from three to seven percent, while the population at risk jumps from 230 million to about 500 million … Mexico City is currently facing a water crisis, and California has been coping with a lack of rain for most of the last decade.

Aquafornia news Magic Valley

Opinion: Writers on the Range – Who calls the shots on the Colorado River?

If there’s a dominant force in the Colorado River Basin these days, it’s the Walton Family Foundation, flush with close to $5 billion to give away. Run by the heirs of Walmart founder Sam Walton, the foundation donates $25 million a year to nonprofits concerned about the Colorado River. It’s clear the foundation cares deeply about the river in this time of excruciating drought, and some of its money goes to river restoration or more efficient irrigation. Yet its main interest is promoting “demand management,” the water marketing scheme that seeks to add 500,000 acre-feet of water to declining Lake Powell by paying rural farmers to temporarily stop irrigating.

Aquafornia news Patch.com

‘Water is Life’ student art contest opens for Redondo Beach kids

West Basin Municipal Water District announced its 2021 “Water Is Life” art contest is now open for Redondo Beach student submissions. The annual art contest from West Basin recognizes student creativity and innovation throughout its service area. Student artists help inspire their communities to support water conservation as a way of life by creating thought-provoking water-smart pieces of art. Submissions are due via regular mail or email by March 19.

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Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: $2.5 billion Pacheco Dam plan moves ahead, despite cost increase

Leaders of the largest water district in Silicon Valley decided Tuesday to move forward with a plan to build a $2.5 billion dam near Pacheco Pass in Southern Santa Clara County — in what would be the largest new reservoir in the Bay Area in 20 years — despite learning that the cost has doubled due to unstable geology on the site. Although several board members of the Santa Clara Valley Water District expressed concerns during their meeting about the growing price tag, others said the proposed project’s water storage is needed for the future…

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Valley groundwater may get (small) slice of state’s $15 billion surplus

The Governor’s proposal for how to spend California’s $15 billion surplus includes $60 million in direct grants to help replenish groundwater in the valley’s most depleted basins. The measure specifies the money is to be used in “critically over-drafted basins,” which lie mostly in the San Joaquin Valley. Water managers were pleasantly surprised, but not overwhelmed, by the amount.

Aquafornia news NBC 7 San Diego

Valve opening sends billions of gallons of water from Loveland to Sweetwater Reservoir

A valve at the base of the Loveland Dam near Alpine was opened Monday, allowing billions of gallons of water to thunder down the valley toward Sweetwater Reservoir in Spring Valley. “It’s a spectacle that is hard to forget,” said Hector Martinez, Chairman of the Sweetwater Authority “Very powerful! I almost feel the ground shaking when the water is being released.” The gushing valve is a sight to behold, and thanks to the massive transfer, South Bay water customers might be looking at their water bills with similar amazement.

Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

STPUD seeks input on groundwater management plan

The South Tahoe Public Utility District is seeking input as they update the groundwater management plan for the greater South Lake Tahoe area. Groundwater is the primary source of drinking water for more than 90% of the public and private water systems located throughout this area. Seeking input from beneficial uses and users of groundwater ensures the region’s Groundwater Management Plan assess current groundwater conditions, reflects local groundwater concerns and offers an appropriate long-term management plan to ensure our community has a sustainable source of clean water supply.

Aquafornia news PV Magazine USA

Water use in the West can hurt…or help…the energy sector, report says

A team of researchers have developed a framework to evaluate complex connections between water and energy, and options for adaptations in response to an evolving climate. Their study, “Evaluating cross-sectoral impacts of climate change and adaptations on the energy-water nexus: A framework and California case study,” was published in the open-access journal Environmental Research Letters.

Aquafornia news The Conversation

Research: Two-thirds of Earth’s land is on pace to lose water as the climate warms

The world watched with a sense of dread in 2018 as Cape Town, South Africa, counted down the days until the city would run out of water. The region’s surface reservoirs were going dry amid its worst drought on record, and the public countdown was a plea for help. … California also faced severe water restrictions during its recent multiyear drought. And Mexico City is now facing water restrictions after a year with little rain. There are growing concerns that many regions of the world will face water crises like these in the coming decades as rising temperatures exacerbate drought conditions.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Opinion: Ventura’s water security requires investment now

Did you know Ventura is one of the largest cities in Southern California to rely solely on local water supplies? Rainfall feeds the Ventura River, Lake Casitas, and local groundwater basins to meet all the water needs of our community. Water is at the core of our identity and the future of its security is in jeopardy. Although our community’s conservation efforts have reduced water use by 20%, Ventura’s rain-dependent water supplies remain vulnerable to future droughts.  

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Monday Top of the Scroll: Dry conditions to persist for weeks as window to make up for arid winter starts closing

In recent weeks, meteorological models gave the Bay Area a glimmer of hope that some much-needed precipitation was on its way, bringing a bit of relief to a parched region. But those hopes — like much of California itself — have dried up. The Bay Area and most of the Golden State are bracing for several more rain-free weeks, adding to what has already been an abnormally dry rainy season, meteorologists said.

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Aquafornia news S&P Global Market Intelligence

Desert pipeline tests Colorado River’s future

Utah officials want to build a 140-mile-long pipeline to bring precious Colorado River water west to the thriving town of St. George, in the state’s far southwestern corner. In an era of perennial drought, when the future of the Colorado River watershed, the lifeline of the U.S. Southwest, is the subject of fierce debate in state capitols across the region, the idea of bringing more than 26 billion gallons of water a year to a community of fewer than 200,000 people on the edge of the Mojave Desert strikes many as folly. To officials in Washington County, of which St. George is the county seat, though, it is a critical resource for the future.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Worsening US drought conditions are a major 2021 weather story

Drought is an insidious climate threat — by the time it has a hold of a region, impacts on ecosystems and water supplies can be locked in. It may not grab extreme weather headlines like the disrupted polar vortex or record hurricane season, but drought during 2020 and heading into 2021 is a looming story likely to grow in importance….In the Southwest, population growth and years of drought conditions are putting the region on a collision course with drastic water management decisions. On Wall Street, traders can now bet on California water futures on commodity markets, enabling them to hedge against future scarcity…

Aquafornia news Science Alert

New discovery could lead to cheaper and more efficient water desalination

Removing salt from seawater to make it safe to drink means overcoming a number of scientific challenges, including optimising the membrane used for the desalination process – and new research into these membranes promises to make the whole operation cheaper and more accessible in the future. Scientists have figured out a way of potentially making membranes 30-40 percent more efficient in terms of the energy required to filter water. 

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Monterey looks at 2021 top priorities

While nearly everyone agrees the city should pursue programs to help provide more housing, any enthusiasm is tempered by the elephant in the room: water. “We’re in a double bind,” Monterey Councilman Alan Haffa said. “The state is telling us to build more housing but when we want to convert commercial to residential the state says that might not be acceptable. We’ve dramatically reduced the amount of water we are using but the state seems to be saying it’s not a new water (source) so it doesn’t count. I’ve got a real problem with that.”

Aquafornia news The San Jose Mercury News

Price tag nearly doubles for huge new Bay Area dam to $2.5 billion

In a major and potentially fatal setback for plans to build the largest dam in the Bay Area in more than 20 years, the price tag to construct a new reservoir in southern Santa Clara County near Pacheco Pass has nearly doubled, from $1.3 billion to $2.5 billion.

Aquafornia news The Grunion

Water Replenishment District’s next leader in limbo

A cloud of uncertainty hangs over the Water Replenishment District as staff, board members and the district’s attorneys try to navigate a legal minefield created by controversial attempts to hire former Carson Mayor Albert Robles as the agency’s new general manager.

Aquafornia news Torrance Daily Breeze

Opinion: Water markets critical to managing scarcity

As COVID started to spread, farmers and large cities in Southern California were hit with another blindside last March. Fires, drought, and the planting season drove up the price of California’s water market, over 220 percent in just three months. Crops failed and pastures were lost. In September, CME Group Inc vowed to create a new  market to help with the risk of these price swings. Last month, the first contract connected to the future price of California’s $1.1 billion water market was inked.
-Written by Will Rinehart, a senior research fellow at the Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University.

Aquafornia news Nevada Irrigation District

News release: Nevada Irrigation District turns 100 years old

Nevada Irrigation District (NID) is celebrating a milestone in 2021, as the District enters its 100th year of operation.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Video: DWR Director Gianelli’s Legacy to the State Water Project

Known as an engineering expert, water community leader, and champion of the State Water Project (SWP), former Department of Water Resources Director William Gianelli served as DWRs third director from 1967 to 1973 and dedicated more than 30 years to public service in both the state and federal government. (Gianelli also was one of the founders of the Water Education Foundation, its second president and the namesake of the Foundation’s Water Leaders Program.) 

Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News release: Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board appoints Mike Plaziak to executive officer

Michael Raymond Plaziak, a water program expert and geologist with a wide range of experience in water issues in both the military and public sector, has been appointed executive officer of the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board. Plaziak, who has been serving as acting executive officer at the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, stepped into his new role Dec. 14. He replaces former long-time executive officer Patty Kouyoumdjian, who retired Aug. 21.

Aquafornia news San Luis Obispo Tribune

2020 weather: Year of record heat, fire, smoke

As far as the weather was concerned, 2020 will go down as one of the most challenging years our state has ever endured, with record-breaking temperatures, below-average rain and snow, and numerous wildfires covering California with a thick blanket of diabolical smoke.

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Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Trump administration advances plan to increase San Luis Reservoir water storage

The Bureau of Reclamation sent Congress the final feasibility report for the B.F. Sisk Dam Raise and Reservoir Expansion Project. This marks an important step forward in returning water supply reliability to south-of-Delta farmers, local communities, and wildlife refuges.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Doheny desalination plan met with caution, delays

As it enters its 20th year of planning and preparation, a desalination plant proposed near Doheny State Beach continues to be met with delays and uncertainty. In mid-2018, officials were predicting that the operation could be turning ocean water into drinking water as soon as 2021. Now, the project will be doing well to simply win all required permits by the end of next year.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Bernhardt’s ‘plan for 1,461 days’ and one remarkable year

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt started off 2020 empowering his most controversial public lands deputy, a move that a federal judge later deemed “unlawful.” He’s ending the year in quarantine, having tested positive for COVID-19. In between these bleak-sounding bookends, the 51-year-old Bernhardt rewrote how the Interior Department works. While the results get mixed reviews, and in some cases may get erased by the incoming Biden administration, 2020 was undeniably consequential for the department.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

December storms can’t overcome dry fall in California

The first snow survey in California was ambiguous.  While it showed the mountains just southeast of Lake Tahoe contains a snowpack that is approximately average for this point of the winter, the automatic snow sensor network shows an impoverished snowpack throughout the Sierra, particularly in the southern reach of the range. 

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Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Visalia to tighten water restrictions in March

The Visalia City Council’s last meeting was a fitting end to 2020 bringing news of an impending drought and the possibility the city’s groundwater reaching a new low. At the Dec. 21 meeting, Visalia’s water resource manager Andrew Munn told the council he was recommending the city move into Stage 2 of its water conservation ordinance on March 1, 2021 and to move into Stage 3 if the aquifer drops to a historic low. 

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Water authority and GSA to settle on sagging Friant-Kern Canal resolution

The Friant Water Authority cleaned up some of the most important work in the last month of the year hashing out a legal settlement with farmers in southern Tulare County. Represented by the Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) farmers agreed to contribute at least $125 million to repair the significant subsidence-caused sag in the gravity-fed canal that has cut water deliveries by 60%.

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Aquafornia news Colorado Springs Gazette

Monday Top of the Scroll: Colorado River management may change under Biden administration

The new Biden administration could take action on the Colorado River that would go well beyond the president-elect’s term in office. The week of Dec. 14, the seven states that are part of the Colorado River Compact began the first step for renegotiating guidelines that will decide how much water the three lower basin states and Mexico will get from Lake Mead, on the Arizona-Nevada border, and from Mead’s source, the Colorado River.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Wall Street eyes billions in the Colorado River’s water

There is a myth about water in the Western United States, which is that there is not enough of it. But those who deal closely with water will tell you this is false. There is plenty. It is just in the wrong places…Transferring water from agricultural communities to cities, though often contentious, is not a new practice. Much of the West, including Los Angeles and Las Vegas, was made by moving water. What is new is for private investors — in this case an investment fund in Phoenix, with owners on the East Coast — to exert that power.

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Aquafornia news Torrance Daily Breeze

In abrupt shift, water board rejects $275,000 GM contract for former Carson mayor

The board of the Water Replenishment District rejected a controversial proposal to hire former Carson Mayor Albert Robles as its interim general manager in a stunning turn when one of his supporters, and then another, left the meeting without explanation.

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

Cal Am lawsuit targets public buyout process, alleging violations by water district

The latest hurdle in the effort to bring the Monterey Peninsula’s water system under public control is a lawsuit by the utility that currently owns it, California American Water… Cal Am accused the government agency charged with acquiring the system of violating the law by failing to fully analyze how a public takeover would impact the environment. The Monterey Peninsula Water Management District certified its environmental analysis on Oct. 29, finding no significant impacts.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Drought, climate change and groundwater sustainability – Western Water news year in review

The ability of science to improve water management decisions and keep up with the accelerating pace of climate change. The impact to precious water resources from persistent drought in the Colorado River Basin. Building resilience and sustainability across California. And finding hope at the Salton Sea. These were among the issues Western Water explored in 2020. In case you missed them, they are still worth taking a look at.

Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation and San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority finalize plan to increase water storage in San Luis Reservoir

The Bureau of Reclamation and San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority finalized the B.F. Sisk Dam Raise and Reservoir Expansion Project’s Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report. This joint proposed project would create an additional 130,000 acre-feet of storage space in San Luis Reservoir, producing additional water supply for 2 million people, over 1 million acres of farmland and 200,000 acres of Pacific Flyway wetlands. 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Picture this research – a photo blog from the Center for Watershed Sciences

Holidays are a natural time of introspection on who we are, what we do, and why. Towards a bit of our own self-reflection, some researchers from UC Davis’ Center for Watershed Sciences (CWS) have each contributed a photo and short description of their work. We hope you enjoy reading about us and learning even more about us. It is hopefully a soft bookend to a wild 2020!

Aquafornia news Fresno Bee

Monday Top of the Scroll: Temperance Flat reservoir: Is Fresno-area dam project dead?

Backers of a $3 billion project to construct the tallest dam in California swear the project isn’t dead, despite the Temperance Flat Reservoir Authority returning money and canceling applications. After it became clear that the reservoir project on the San Joaquin River west of Auberry would not reach upcoming deadlines for studies and funding, Temperance Flat Reservoir Authority declined $171 million designated by the California Water Commission and withdrew its application for additional funding, according to a resolution signed by the Authority on Oct. 30.

Aquafornia news KSUT Public Radio

Colorado River Basin winter forecast signals dry times ahead

All signs are pointing to a dry start to 2021 across much of the Colorado River watershed, which provides water to about 40 million people in the Western U.S. A lack of precipitation from April to October made this spring, summer and fall one of the region’s driest six-month periods on record. And with a dry start to winter, river forecasters feel more pessimistic about the chances for a drought recovery in the early part of 2021.

Aquafornia news Water Forum

News release: Water Forum names Jessica Law as executive director

The Water Forum is pleased to announce the selection of Jessica Law as its new Executive Director. The Water Forum is a diverse group of local governments, environmentalists, water managers, businesses and others working together to balance the coequal goals of providing reliable water supplies for the Sacramento region and preserving the environment of the Lower American River.

Aquafornia news Civil Eats

Is farming with reclaimed water the solution to a drier future?

Most California farmers get their water from the same sources as towns and cities—aquifers, rivers, reservoirs, and snowpack—putting population and food production in competition with each other. Wastewater reclamation could be a way to alleviate some of that pressure and is already common practice elsewhere in the state, mostly as a way to recharge aquifers in Orange County and prevent saltwater intrusion in coastal cities. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Savor the last drops — Bay Area rains not expected again until 2021

If Bay Area residents didn’t take time to appreciate Wednesday’s overnight dousing, it seems it’s too late. It’s all we’re going to get until 2021, forecasters say. Following the much-needed downpour that led to Thursday morning’s soaked roadways, an unusually dry holiday season lies ahead.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Our blessings in the Sacramento Valley: water + land + sunlight

 As we reflect on this tumultuous year, we have much to be thankful and a lot to learn. Along with the truly special people that grace our lives, we are all thankful for the Sacramento Valley’s unique combination of water, land and sun–the essential ingredients for bountiful life and the amazing biodiversity of our region.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Native American tribe’s suit targets Westlands without suing the district. Here’s why.

In August, the Hoopa Valley Tribe filed a lawsuit in a Eureka-based Federal court against the U.S. Department of Interior to block execution of a permanent repayment contracts for Central Valley Project users. What’s at stake? Stable water resources secured by a bevy of other water agencies across the Golden State by converting short-term water service contracts into permanent repayment contracts with the United States Bureau of Reclamation. The suit almost exclusively targets the powerful Westlands Water District. The problem? The nation’s largest water district isn’t even a party to the suit, nor is it the only player involved in contract conversions.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Cal Am sues water management district over public takeover report

California American Water has sued the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District challenging the environmental review of the district’s potential public takeover bid of the company’s local water system. At the same time, Cal Am’s oft-delayed desalination project suffered another setback when California Coastal Commission staff declared a revised application submitted last month is incomplete, asking a series of questions and for additional information that could delay the proposal by several more months.

Aquafornia news The Business Journal

Crop reports reveal new, old trends in valley agriculture

While farm receipts from 2018 to 2019 show an almost unchanging total, beneath the surface, shifts in dominant crops have begun to occur as growers face labor shortages and higher water demand.Cumulatively, ag commissioners across Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Madera counties report gross values in 2019 equaling $19.41 billion, down from $19.45 billion in 2018.

Aquafornia news AgriPulse

Climate change calls for better breeding, conservation and water resilience, says soil scientist

A UC Davis soil scientist says the increasing scarcity of water under projected climate scenarios will require crops that are less water-intensive and for farmers to reduce the amount of irrigated acres and adopt innovative approaches to capturing runoff. Ranchers could incorporate forage crops with shorter growing seasons.

Aquafornia news State Water Contractors

Blog: It is not a question of a Delta tunnel or local supply projects: Both are necessary for a secure water future

The Delta Conveyance Project is a necessary upgrade to ensure that our aging 1960-era State Water Project (SWP) infrastructure will continue to function into the future …  An emerging narrative that we have seen from project opponents is the false choice between either supporting the Delta Conveyance Project or supporting more local and regional projects to develop alternative or expanded water supply sources. These are not alternatives to each other. We can and must do both.
-Written by Jennifer Pierre, general manager of the State Water Contractors

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Blog: Quest for water in the Kern River continues

The steady drumbeat of support to get more water flowing in the Kern River through Bakersfield continued Tuesday at the State Water Resources Control Board. During the public comment portion of the meeting three speakers from Bakersfield and Kern County’s political realm urged board members to finally hear — and grant — a decade-old petition by the City of Bakersfield to appropriate water on the river to run through the heart of town.

Aquafornia news TBNewsWatch.com

California city finds early success solving its pinhole water leak problem

The city of Folsom has experienced a significant decrease in pinhole leaks in copper water pipes in local residences since adding orthophosphate to the water system. This past summer, Folsom experienced what residents dubbed “a pinhole leak apocalypse.” Water leaks in homes developed nearly 1,400 times. On the recommendation of consultants, the city started adding orthophosphate to the water treatment system in October. Folsom’s environmental and water resources director, Marcus Yasutake, says it’s had the desired effect.

Aquafornia news AgNet West

Will water supply momentum pick back up with new administration?

At the beginning of 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced some framework for voluntary agreements on pumping water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. In February, the Trump administration signed their own water legislation for California that relaxed biological opinions providing additional water to flow through the Delta. California promptly sued the administration’s actions under the direction of Newsom which put a halt to the federal decision and paused the voluntary agreements momentum. Does all of that change now that a Democratic party is transitioning into leadership? 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

California water futures: UN warns of speculative bubble in new commodity

The United Nations said Wall Street’s new water futures risk an essential public good being treated like gold and oil, leaving the market vulnerable to a speculative bubble.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Monday Top of the Scroll: Feds defend permanent water contracts to benefit agriculture

Defending the decision to give farm irrigation districts permanent access to low-cost, federally pumped water in California, a Justice Department lawyer urged a federal judge to flush a Native American tribe’s lawsuit against the endless entitlements. The Hoopa Valley Tribe sued the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in August, claiming the Trump administration’s conversion of 14 time-limited contracts for Central Valley Project water into permanent deals violated a host of federal laws. 

Post

2020 Class Report

Members of the 2020 Water Leaders class examined how to adapt water management to climate change. Read their policy recommendations in the class report, Adapting California Water Management to Climate Change: Charting a Path Forward, to learn more.

Aquafornia news The Colorado Sun

Opinion: Colorado’s intensifying drought conditions call for urgent collaboration

The entire Colorado River Basin within Colorado is experiencing “extreme” or “exceptional” drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.  The next few months are predicted to be warmer and drier than normal, which will further reduce snowpack runoff into our reservoirs even with a normal snowpack this winter. Unfortunately, 2020 is not an anomaly; rather, it is a harbinger of a future to which we must adapt. 

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Arizona tribe proposes federal law to lease its water rights

The Colorado River Indian Tribes near Parker is proposing a federal law to allow it to lease water rights in Arizona, a move that could aid the state’s response to the drought. The tribe said in public hearings on Dec. 7 and Dec. 10 that it would use the money raised from leasing Colorado River water to bolster services to its members, including for health care, education, elder programs and law enforcement.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Sunday storms will give way to dry conditions, then more rain, national weather service says

The Bay Area awoke to the pitter-patter sound and pleasant smell of rain Sunday as the first significant storm system of the season moved through the area, bringing much-needed moisture to a largely dry region. …The National Weather Service said that the rain system that passed through the Bay Area over the weekend will give way to dry conditions for Monday and Tuesday before an even wetter system could come through Wednesday into Thursday.

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Aquafornia news Chamber Business News

Blog: ASU study reveals groundwater generates 43 percent of state GDP

A new study highlights the tremendous impact groundwater has on Arizona’s economy and underscores the need to make sure every community has tools to protect and manage it far into the future, said Todd Reeve, director of Business for Water Stewardship (BWS), which commissioned the report. 

Aquafornia news Grand Junction Sentinel

Bureau of Reclamation looks to possible end of Paradox desalination project

A highly effective but problematic Colorado River desalination project in western Montrose County’s Paradox Valley could come to an end due to the federal Bureau of Reclamation’s difficulty finding an acceptable means of continuing it.

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Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Editorial: Biden election offers hope for preserving the Delta

The forthcoming Biden administration is California’s best — and perhaps only — hope for solving vexing water issues that have largely been put on hold for more than a decade. It should be clear that state leadership is incapable of crafting a comprehensive water strategy. The California Department of Water Resources continues to push for pumping additional water from the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta at the expense of its immediate and long-term health.
-Written by the editorial board of the San Jose Mercury News

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

A California water fight pits pistachio growers against the U.S. Navy

A legal dispute over water rights in California’s Mojave desert has growers for The Wonderful Co. on one side and a town reliant on a sprawling naval base on the other. The case offers a glimpse of the coming water wars in California, as the state’s all-powerful agriculture interests increasingly square off against thirsty communities over a dwindling supply of fresh water.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: Poseidon would bring jobs and water to Orange County

Since 2012 we haven’t moved the state’s water policy too far forward. We now have a desalination plant successfully online in San Diego County and have instituted water-saving methods throughout the state. However, we are still facing a crisis with the ever-evaporating snowpack, a continuously warming climate and the reframing of the Delta tunnel project. And this might make for a good long political debate, but the reality of the situation is that most Californians do not have the luxury of time for a political debate — they have real-world needs, including the need to be able to provide water for their children to drink.
Written by Gloria Alvarado, executive director of the Orange County Labor Federation. 

Aquafornia news Comstock's Magazine

Opinion: California needs a new integrated approach to water planning

Water supply and effective water management have been crucial economic tools in California for centuries. Our state’s agricultural sector is an over $50 billion industry that can only thrive with reliable water. Farmers and ranchers in the Central Valley, food processing plants and distribution companies throughout the state, and more locally, the vineyards, farms, orchards and ranches in the Capital Region contribute to an agricultural economy that currently employs more than 1.1 million people throughout the state.
-Written by El Dorado County Supervisor Brian K. Veerkamp and Kenneth V. Payne, general manager of the El Dorado Water Agency.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California’s water wars have created a dilemma in the Delta: fishing or fresh water?

Bass fishing is a pillar of the delta. But, as with many things in this vast estuary at the edge of the Bay Area, the sport and its cottage industry of marinas, bait shops, boat showrooms and bars are threatened by converging forces: climate change, drought, development and California’s escalating water wars. The fishing community — alongside farming, boating, tourism and other livelihoods in these rural lowlands — is caught up in the unsparing effort to boost the delta’s freshwater exports.

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Aquafornia news ABC10.com

Atmospheric rivers: How California is trying to understand them

California weather is rarely average. Historically, the state has well above or well below average rain and snow. One of the keys to prepare for these wild swings is a better understanding of atmospheric rivers.  The Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes or CW3E is studying these large water transport systems in the Pacific. Atmospheric rivers can hold more than twice the water as the Amazon. At times, they can be the most hazardous storms for the West Coast, but they can also be largely beneficial, delivering about 50% of California’s rain and snow.

Aquafornia news Water News Network

Blog: Miramar Reservoir marks 60 years of service

For 60 years, Miramar Reservoir has been an integral part of the City of San Diego’s drinking water system … Now, the reservoir is being called into service to play a vital part in San Diego’s future Pure Water system to sustain a reliable water supply.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Advancing water supplies for Gray Lodge Wildlife Area

The Biggs-West Gridley Water District, Ducks Unlimited and the Bureau of Reclamation recently announced the completion of Phase II (of five total phases) of the water supply project for the world-renowned Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California’s $16 billion climate-hardy water tunnel moves ahead

California’s plans to build a new tunnel to move water from the northern Delta to the thirsty, populous south of the state advanced a step Tuesday, when a key partner agreed to help fund some of the effort.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

With drought and pumping, Hopi natural springs are drying up

The Hopi have lived for thousands of years on the mesas of the Colorado Plateau. Flowing springs and seeps have sustained them, providing sources where they have collected drinking water, grown corn and beans, and maintained a spiritual connection to life-giving water.   But the springs are dwindling. Some are completely dry.  

Aquafornia news The Mendocino Voice

Lake Mendocino is low, but no water shortages forecast thanks to new tech

Lake Mendocino currently sits at 712 ft above sea level… That’s very low. But despite years of dry conditions … it’s not the lowest the lake has ever been. Thanks to a new set of satellite technologies and water management techniques dubbed FIRO, or Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations (pronounced FEE-roh), the lake is still more than a dozen feet above its record low.

Aquafornia news California Water Blog

Is California heading for a multi-year drought?

Yes, California will have another multi-year drought. California has immense hydrologic variability, with more droughts and floods per average year than any other part of the country.  California’s water users, managers, and regulators should always be prepared for droughts (and floods). Eventually, California will have a multi-year drought worse than any we have ever seen.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Monday Top of the Scroll: Water futures to start trading amid growing fears of scarcity

Farmers, hedge funds and municipalities alike will be able to hedge against — or bet on — potential water scarcity starting this week, when CME Group Inc. launches contracts linked to the $1.1 billion California spot water market. The contracts, a first of their kind in the U.S., were announced in September as heat and wildfires ravaged the U.S. West Coast. They are meant to serve both as a hedge for California’s biggest water consumers against skyrocketing prices and a scarcity gauge for investors worldwide.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

As fires rage, California center aims to better understand atmospheric rivers

At the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes, researchers feel the urgency as they examine connections between West Coast precipitation and a devastating wildfire season, which has yet to conclude.

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Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

Templeton will take a deeper look at its water policies

The Templeton Community Services District recently looked at a set of potential water policy priorities … It includes an incentive program for property owners who want to sell back or “relinquish” their water units, the ability to transfer water units between properties owned by the same individual, a landscape retrofit program, and updating the way the district calculates single-family dwelling unit equivalent water demand.

Aquafornia news Westside Connect

Work progressing on Newman water project

Work is proceeding on construction of a new well, booster pump station and million-gallon storage tank on the western reaches of Jensen Road north of the city [of Newman]. The $10 million project to upgrade Newman’s municipal water system has been in the works for about a decade.

Aquafornia news Daily Breeze

Water district moves to hire ousted Carson mayor as general manager during bizarre meeting

The Water Replenishment District of Southern California’s board of directors moved Thursday to hire a former board member forced out of office by the district attorney as its new general manager, despite concerns about his lack of qualifications and the rushed hiring process. Board members voted 3-2 to select former Carson Mayor Albert Robles as the new general manager, then went into closed session to discuss it further. 

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Friday Top of the Scroll: Water managers urge patience after initial 10% allocation from State Water Project

The rainy season is still young, but that’s about the only consolation to be found in California’s initial estimate this week that farmers who get water from the State Water Project will only get 10 percent of their requested allocations next year. This marks the third consecutive year the initial estimate has been that low.

Aquafornia news ABC7 Los Angeles

Recent data suggests SoCal will have a dry La Niña winter

Amid California’s worst fire season in history, climate experts are predicting hot and dry conditions this winter. “On average there will be less moisture than we would normally receive here in California,” says Dr. Lowell Stott, a professor of earth sciences at the University of Southern California. After studying the recent data, Stott says Southern California will unfortunately be visited by the rain-averse La Niña weather pattern.

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Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Cathedral City Mayor John Aguilar to join CVWD board

The Coachella Valley Water District on Wednesday appointed Cathedral City Mayor John Aguilar to fill the vacancy left on its board of directors when former Director G. Patrick O’Dowd resigned in November to helm the Salton Sea Authority.