Topic: Water Supply


Water Supply

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

By the Numbers:

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

Fallbrook CPG informed of Dec. 6 LAFCO hearing on MSR updates

San Diego County’s Local Agency Formation Commission will hold a Dec. 6 hearing on municipal service review updates for Fallbrook special districts, and LAFCO analyst Priscilla Allen provided a presentation on LAFCO, municipal service reviews, and the context of the hearing during the Nov. 15 Fallbrook Community Planning Group meeting….The municipal service review for Fallbrook will cover the North County Fire Protection District, the Fallbrook Public Utility District, and the Rainbow Municipal Water District.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Global freshwater supplies are under increasing threat

Delegates and activists from nearly 200 countries returned from the COP26 global environmental forum in Glasgow, Scotland, with a long list of climate-related promises and targets to discuss and implement. While many countries made a renewed commitment to climate-resilient and sustainable agricultural systems, some groups accused leaders at COP26 of not doing enough to improve water security globally.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

The West is suffering climate hell. But there’s still hope

Though climate continued to polarize Washington, D.C. … there were at least some encouraging signs west of the 100th meridian. Take the Colorado River and its tributaries… In August, federal officials declared the first-ever water shortage on the Colorado, triggering cutbacks in Arizona, Nevada and Mexico. The shortage declaration, while scary-sounding, was the result of a landmark pact in which Southwestern states agreed to forgo some of the water to which they’d otherwise be entitled, in an effort to keep Lake Mead from falling even farther and prompting a true emergency.

Aquafornia news The Center Square

Arizona, California, Nevada agree to new Colorado River agreement to conserve more water

Arizona’s water authorities are close to entering into a new pact with officials from Nevada and California they hope will restore water levels at Lake Mead and stave off future rationing requirements.  A Tier 1 Colorado River water shortage begins in 2022, triggering a mandatory 512,000 acre-foot reduction to Arizona. The emergency stems from the Lake Mead reservoir reaching water levels not seen since its construction….Central Arizona Project’s board is scheduled to consider the proposal Thursday. 

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Today on Giving Tuesday, support water education in California and the West

Today on Giving Tuesday, a global day of generosity, consider supporting the Water Education Foundation by making a donation. The Foundation, an impartial nonprofit that has garnered the highest level of recognition (platinum rating) by GuideStar, has been educating people about water issues in California and the West since 1977.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin water officials debate pipeline use standards

As Marin County water managers consider building a permanent $100 million water pipeline across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, a debate has arisen on how often it should actually be used. The Marin Municipal Water District is leaning toward only using the 8-mile pipeline if it faces a water shortage emergency and only using the water for indoor health and safety purposes, such as cooking and sanitation.

Aquafornia news KTLA

Why can’t we just move water to solve a drought?

[I]f there’s plenty of water in reservoirs to the East, why not just move around resources and share the goods as one big happy country? A candidate in California’s gubernatorial recall election recently suggested building a pipeline from the Mississippi River to the Golden State. We asked two drought experts. It turns out it would be stupidly complicated.

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Aquafornia news Business Wire

News release: New San Diego County water authority director joins Metropolitan board

Community leader and Vista Irrigation District board member Marty Miller has been seated as one of four delegates representing the San Diego County Water Authority on the board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Miller took his seat during a special board meeting last Tuesday (Nov. 23). He replaced outgoing director Michael Hogan, who served on Metropolitan’s 38-member board since 2013.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Drought has big impacts on California agriculture

As California experiences a second year of drought, with no end in sight, the effects on California’s largest-in-the-nation agricultural industry are profound and perhaps permanent. State and federal water agencies have cut deliveries to some farmers to zero while others, thanks to water rights dating back more than a century, still have access to water. Farmers are reacting to shortages in three, often intertwined ways — suspending cultivation of some fields or ripping up orchards for lack of water, drilling new wells to tap into diminishing aquifers, and buying water from those who have it.
-Written by Dan Walters, a CalMatters columnist.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Snowpack in California’s Sierra Nevada could disappear in just 25 years

As the climate continues to warm, more and more of the snow falling on California’s mountains will be replaced by rain. Already in recent decades, the snow season has shrunk by a month, according to one estimate, while snow levels have moved upward by 1,200 feet, according to another. Scientists and water managers say that at some point California’s snowpack could simply disappear. This would leave the state without the crucial spring and summer melt-off that fills rivers and streams, nourishes plants and animals, and provides a huge chunk of the water supply.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

New Kern River coalition; Grassroots or astroturf?

The main water district involved in several legal battles for Kern River water has launched a new coalition/messaging campaign it is calling Sustainable Kern River. Its website says the organization is a coalition and lists several members, but its creation and funding comes from North Kern Water Storage District, according to North Kern’s General Manager Dave Hampton. North Kern hired Los Angeles public relations firm Fiona Hutton & Associates to run the campaign.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Lake Curry reservoir sits unused amid drought in eastern Napa County

A drought-wary Napa County looking for ways to weather dry spells has a small-but-not-insubstantial reservoir sitting unused within its boundaries. Lake Curry, located in remote southeastern Napa County near Gordon Valley, seems to be the ugly duckling of the water world. Amid a state where water is precious, it is the reservoir that no community is using to slake its thirst.  The Solano County city of Vallejo created Lake Curry a century ago to hold 10,000-acre feet of water and the lake is permitted by the state to provide 3,750-acre feet annually.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Business Journal

Drought not drying up investor appetite for American States Water

One might think a severe drought would be bad news for a company whose main business is supplying water to residential and business customers. But — so far, at least — that hasn’t been the case for San Dimas-based American States Water Co., parent company of Golden State Water, a utility that provides water to customers in the Los Angeles basin and Central California. In fact, quite the opposite: Investors have sent American States Water share prices soaring to $96 as of Nov. 19, the highest level in more than five years.

Aquafornia news Esquire

Opinion: Your showerhead isn’t causing environmental collapse

If you’re truly interested in making a dent in the amount of water our civilization consumes, sad showers are not really the way. Flushing the toilet twice doesn’t make much of a difference in the context of global water consumption, either. (If there’s an acute drought in your local area, the calculus is different.) It’s a side dish in a king’s feast when it comes to confronting our aqua problems.
-Written by Jack Holmes, Politics Editor at Esquire. 

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Global freshwater supplies are under increasing threat

Delegates and activists from nearly 200 countries returned from the COP26 global environmental forum in Glasgow, Scotland, with a long list of climate-related promises and targets to discuss and implement. While many countries made a renewed commitment to climate-resilient and sustainable agricultural systems, some groups accused leaders at COP26 of not doing enough to improve water security globally …. California’s persistent droughts, for instance, give water conservation methods new urgency — as the state’s massive agricultural industry accounts for 80 percent of California’s water usage.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Arizona farmers must use less water. Here’s how they can do it

A profound reduction in the Colorado River water earmarked for Arizona’s crops has at last triggered the rationing that irrigation farmers have dreaded. The Tier 1 shortage will prompt a 512,000-acre-foot reduction in Arizona’s Colorado River deliveries. That amounts to about 30% of Central Arizona Project’s normal supply. … Farmers will need to expand their horizons and tighten down their faucets, even more than they have done over the last three decades, as they successfully cut average per-acre water use by a fifth.
-Written by Gary Paul Nabhan, the W.K., Kellogg endowed chair for food and water security at the University of Arizona. 

Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: SFPUC calls for 10% voluntary reduction in water use as it declares water emergency

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is urging nearly 3 million water customers throughout the Bay Area to cut water usage by 10%, as it declares a water shortage emergency due to the ongoing drought. … By declaring the emergency, the agency would be able to access water reserves and resources only available during emergencies, officials said. Under the measure, customers are urged to reduce water usage by 10% compared to 2019-2020 levels…. Along with providing water to San Francisco, the agency also has customers in portions of Alameda, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

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Aquafornia news KALW

Marin County developers could face new fees

Faced with the need to reduce the demand on water supplies, Marin County developers would have to pay thousands of dollars in new fees, according to a proposal by the Marin Municipal Water District. The Marin Independent Journal reported that the water district’s board is considering a new measure which would require future projects in its jurisdiction to have a net-zero demand on reservoirs.

Aquafornia news The Mendocino Voice

Mendocino County may have a standalone water agency by next summer

The recent rainfall has offered Mendocino County some respite from the drought, bringing many communities out of a crisis situation. But it’s still not clear for how long. Now communities throughout the county are using this breathing room to make their water systems more resilient to drought before next summer. That includes re-establishing a standalone county water agency.

Aquafornia news Mount Shasta News

U.S. Forest Service water management: Limited oversight of diversions

While the U.S. Forest Service pours resources into a runaway battle on wildfire, it is losing the war over water.  About half of Western water supply originates on national forest land. But before that water reaches the West’s major cities or great rivers, much of it has already been claimed. Thousands of farmers, ranchers, cities, housing developments and industrial users pump water from the ground, channel it away from streams into ditches or pipelines, and hold it back in ponds and reservoirs — all to use public water, often for private purposes. 

Aquafornia news LA Daily News

Castaic Dam project to ease quake concerns nears completion

Seismic work at Castaic Dam’s tower access bridge in Los Angeles County has reached a milestone, wrapping up a project on three bridge piers as its owner — the California Department of Water Resources — works on reducing risk of quake damage at its water facilities. … The 500-foot-long bridge provides access for operations and maintenance crews to the structure that allows releasing water from Castaic Lake. The bridge was built in 1974 and later retrofitted in 1998 following the Northridge Earthquake.

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Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: CA voter support for water infrastructure ballot measure may hang on the weather

Signature-gathering has begun to place an initiative on the 2022 ballot that would force the legislature to fund more water storage in California. But even supporters admit, the success of the measure may depend on the weather. With many reservoirs in the state drying up and no guarantee of a wet winter, some Central Valley farmers and Southern California water districts are pushing an initiative called the ‘Water Infrastructure Funding Act of 2022.’ 

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Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

Private water company’s woes leave Santa Cruz mountain community high and dry

A private water company in the Santa Cruz Mountains that residents are concerned has exposed them to unsafe drinking water in the last year has been fined $21,000 by the California State Water Resources Control Board Division of Drinking Water. … For the last year, nearly 500 of Big Basin Water Company’s customers have dealt with repeated water outages and boil advisories. During an outage, outside contaminants can make their way into a water system and boil advisories are typically issued until the utility company’s tests show the water is safe to drink again.

Aquafornia news Del Norte Triplicate

Past-due water fees could be waived

Crescent City’s water and sewer customers who didn’t pay for their water over a 15-month period during the pandemic will likely have those delinquent notices waived. From March 4, 2020 to June of this year, there were 334 accounts past due, for a total of $71,984.60. … On November 15, the city council authorized City Manager Eric Wier to apply for funding to pay off those bills. The funding will come from $985 million that the State of California received  under the American Rescue Plan Act passed by Congress in March.

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Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Editorial: It’s time to weigh a water plan minus Potter Valley plant

It’s getting hard to find the lake at Lake Mendocino. A bed of cracked, dry dirt grows steadily as the shoreline recedes, exposing abandoned homesteads that had been submerged for decades. State officials warn that the lake could go dry — a first for a major California reservoir. Lake Mendocino is a crucial link in the North Coast’s water supply chain, and even a drought-busting winter won’t ensure its recovery. 

Aquafornia news Gold Country Media

‘A Golden Spike moment’: PCWA pays homage to forefathers as pipeline project is completed

The Placer County Water Agency entertained dozens of guests Nov. 4 for tours of its Ophir Pump Station and, a short drive away, the Foothill Water Treatment Plant in Newcastle. There were pastries and beverages at the Ophir Station and gift bags at Foothill. Presentations were made, pictures taken, questions asked and speeches given – all with beaming smiles, and reason to celebrate. 

Aquafornia news Tehachapi News

Water district asks for hearing in city suit

The Tehachapi-Cummings County Water District has filed a request for a hearing in its lawsuit against the city of Tehachapi. But according to its general manager, Tom Neisler, the filing made in Kern County Superior Court on Nov. 9 is procedural and does not mean that a hearing is imminent. Challenging the city of Tehachapi’s Sept. 7 approval of the Sage Ranch project, the district filed suit on Sept. 16, claiming that the city violated multiple state laws in its approval of the planned development.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Garcetti expects L.A. to get billions in infrastructure funds

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is optimistic infrastructure projects in America’s second-biggest city will be big beneficiaries of the sweeping federal infrastructure bill – potentially receiving tens of billions of dollars. … [The bill] will allocate about $110 billion for roads and bridges, plus funds for rail, public transit, the power grid and drinking-water systems. Funds may also help the city speed up the completion of an important water project…

Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

If the Colorado River keeps drying up, a century-old agreement to share the water could be threatened. No one is sure what happens next.

The West could be facing a water shortage in the Colorado River that threatens a century-old agreement between states that share the dwindling resource. That possibility once felt far off, but could come earlier than expected. One prominent water and climate scientist is sounding the alarm that the Colorado River system could reach that crossroads in the next five years, possibly triggering an unpredictable chain-reaction of legal wrangling that could lead to some water users being cut off from the river. 

Aquafornia news Valley Water News

News release: Valley Water releases Draft Environmental Impact Report on the proposed Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project

[Valley Water] remains focused on preparing for future wet and dry years through a variety of projects and programs, including the proposed expansion of Pacheco Reservoir in Southern Santa Clara County. A partnership with the San Benito County Water District and Pacheco Pass Water District, the project would increase the reservoir’s capacity from 5,500 acre-feet to up to 140,000 acre-feet, enough water to supply up to 1.4 million residents for one year during an emergency.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Editorial: Pull the plug on proposed California water ballot measure

Say this for Central Valley Republicans and Big Ag backers: When it comes to proposing water projects that benefit Central Valley farmers at the expense of urban users and the state’s fragile environment, they are as persistent as an annoying, leaky faucet. The most glaring example is the ongoing and thus-far unsuccessful push for the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta tunnels … The latest scheme comes in the form of a proposed 2022 ballot measure that would require 2% of California’s general fund — about $4 billion a year — be set aside to fast-track water projects with limited environmental review.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin Municipal Water District weighs developer mandates

Developers in central and southern Marin County could be required to pay tens of thousands of dollars in new fees or add water-saving upgrades to their projects under a proposal to reduce demand on water supplies. After facing the potential of running out of water during the drought, the Marin Municipal Water District board is considering requiring future projects in its jurisdiction to have a net-zero demand on reservoirs.

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Aquafornia news Red Bluff Daily News

Public meetings announced for proposed Sites Reservoir

As part of a continuing effort to increase resiliency and operational flexibility throughout California, the Bureau of Reclamation and Sites Project Authority recently released the Sites Reservoir revised and supplemental draft environmental documents, beginning a 60-day public comment period for the proposed project. Also known as the North of Delta Offstream Storage project, the agencies have been investigating building a 1.3- to 1.5-million-acre-foot reservoir in rural Colusa and Glenn counties.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday Top of the Scroll: The drought is going to stick around for a third year in California, federal scientists project

California is likely to emerge from the winter with little relief from drought, federal climate experts said Thursday, setting the stage for a third year of dry weather and continuing water shortages. The monthly climate report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration projects that drought conditions will persist in almost all of California through February. With the next three months historically the state’s wettest, the opportunity for drought recovery is essentially lost.

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Aquafornia news ABC7 San Francisco

California Drought: Water conservation to be mandatory in several South Bay cities after state approves new restrictions

Despite recent rain, California is still in the depths of a drought. Conditions have improved, but barely. Most of the state is still in exceptional or extreme drought. In the South Bay, a million residents will soon be hit with the toughest water restrictions of any major urban area in California. Late Wednesday, the state PUC gave final approval to San Jose Water Company’s plan. Approval by state regulators means the call to cut water use is no longer voluntary for South Bay residents.

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Aquafornia news The Conversation

Opinion: As climate change parches the Southwest, here’s a better way to share water from the shrinking Colorado River

The Colorado River is a vital lifeline for the arid U.S. Southwest. … Southwestern states, tribes and Mexico share the Colorado’s water under the century-old 1922 Colorado Compact and updates to it. But today, because of climate change and rapid development, there is an enormous gap between the amount of water the compact allocates to parties and the amount that is actually in the river. With users facing unprecedented water shortages, the compact is hopelessly inadequate to deal with current and future realities.
-Written by Daniel Craig McCool, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Utah.

Aquafornia news PR Newswire

Report: Water desalination equipment market size worth $22.79 billion by 2028

The global water desalination equipment market size is expected to reach USD 22.79 billion by 2028, according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc. It is expected to expand at a CAGR of 7.1% from 2020 to 2028. Increasing water scarcity, depletion in freshwater reserves, and fast-paced advancements in desalination technologies are anticipated to have a positive impact on the market growth.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Federal funding to bolster current and emerging water infrastructure of the West

The recently enacted Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (Act) may help ease varied water concerns across the country, especially in the West in regard to its supply issues. … Most notably for those in the West, the Act allocates significant funds to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) to support and improve the critical water-related infrastructure on which millions of Americans rely. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Apply for California’s premier water leadership program by Dec. 7

Apply by Dec. 7 for our 2022 Water Leaders class and be part of the cohort that will mark the 25th anniversary of California’s pre-eminent water leadership program. The Water Leaders class, which started in 1997, is aimed at providing a deeper understanding of California water issues and building leadership skills by working with a mentor, studying a water-related topic in-depth and crafting policy recommendations on that topic with your cohort.

Aquafornia news Fresh Plaza

Drought and high temperatures in California drive down almond supplies

Almond production in California is expected to drop 10% to 1.3 million tons this year because of high temperatures and drought. Apart from this, the return of La Niña conditions could bring another weak crop next year. The crop shortfall threatens to drive almond prices sharply higher, with some growers expecting a price jump of 50% or more from last year’s $1.83 per pound.

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Aquafornia news Water and Wastes Digest

Protecting water utilities from cyber threats

Earlier this year, a hacker breached a California water treatment plant and removed programs used to clean water. In another incident that made national headlines, a hacker gained remote access to a Florida treatment plant and increased the amount of lye in the treatment process – a change that a plant employee fortunately noticed and quickly corrected. 

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

State addresses urgency to prepare roads, water systems for rising sea

Guidelines for how cities and local agencies should adapt roads, railways and water systems to accommodate rising seas were unanimously approved Wednesday by the state Coastal Commission. The 230-page document sets a controversial benchmark by urging communities to prepare for the Pacific Ocean to rise 10 feet by 2100, a projection so far beyond current calculations that climate scientists haven’t yet determined the probability of it occurring. … Ten of the 16 public speakers, including representatives of eight environmental groups, called on the commission to include desalination plants as among the “critical infrastructure” addressed, particularly since the guidance was designed to address water facilities.

Aquafornia news Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment

Blog: Improve or remove – Funding for U.S. dams

In the fall of 2020, amidst a global pandemic and one of the most divisive periods in American history, the hydropower and river conservation communities, traditionally at odds, reached an agreement to work together to address the nation’s more than 90,000 dams. The momentous agreement was the result of a two-and-a-half-year Uncommon Dialogue, an ongoing process organized by the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment that brings public and private sector leaders and researchers together to develop practical solutions to pressing sustainability challenges. 

Aquafornia news Mission Times Courier

Update on water project in Mission Trails

Construction continues in Mission Trails Regional Park to upgrade the San Diego County Water Authority’s untreated water supply system. The estimated completion of the project has been extended from mid-2022 to late 2022 due mostly to necessary design changes. The project will improve the delivery of a safe and reliable water supply to treatment plants serving the central and southern areas of San Diego County.

Aquafornia news Orange County Water Association

Blog: Tustin’s Simon Ranch Reservoir

There are times when the simplest solution to a tight situation is to simply buy your way out. It doesn’t often present that way in a public utility project, but when it does, the benefits can be overwhelmingly persuasive. Such was the case when Michael Grisso, City of Tustin’s Water Services Manager, joined OCWA for its October webinar to discuss the Simon Ranch Reservoir and Pump Station Replacement Project. Accompanied by Joseph C. Blum, Sr. Project Manager, Butier Engineering, Inc., the two discussed at length the unique circumstances they overcame while upgrading the aged infrastructure.

Aquafornia news GV Wire

$1 trillion bill brings billions to the Valley. What are the projects?

Two Fresno area Democrats who attended the signing of President Joe Biden’s $1 billion infrastructure bill into law on Monday say the package will improve the lives of Valley residents and strengthen the local economy. … Over the next five years, the package will provide: $1.15 billion to improve water storage in California and the San Joaquin Valley … ; $3.2 billion to repair aging California water infrastructure projects; $3.5 billion to improve California’s drinking water infrastructure; $1 billion for rural water projects; $500 million to repair aging dams and ensure safety, for projects like the San Luis Reservoir …

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Proposed California ballot measure would fast-track construction of dams, desalination plants and other water projects

California has not built enough new reservoirs, desalination plants and other water projects because there are too many delays, too many lawsuits and too much red tape. That’s the message from a growing coalition of Central Valley farmers and Southern California desalination supporters who have begun collecting signatures for a statewide ballot measure that would fast-track big water projects and provide billions of dollars to fund them — potentially setting up a major political showdown with environmentalists next year shaped by the state’s ongoing drought. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California, Arizona and Nevada in talks on new plan to save Colorado River water

Two and a half years after signing a deal aimed at averting a damaging crisis along the Colorado River, water officials from California, Arizona and Nevada are discussing plans to take even less water from the shrinking river and leave it in Lake Mead in an effort to prevent the reservoir from falling to dangerously low levels. … For California, the deal would mean participating in water reductions prior to Lake Mead reaching levels that would otherwise trigger mandatory cuts.

Aquafornia news Your Central Valley

Public comment period opens on proposed new reservoir in the Central Valley

A plan to create a new man-made lake for water storage is now another step closer to development. The United States Bureau of Reclamation is releasing their latest updated plans on the proposed Sites Reservoir north of the San Joaquin Delta. The proposed Sites Reservoir would hold up to 1,500,000 acre-feet of water.  That’s three times the size of Millerton Lake.

Aquafornia news KLAS - Las Vegas

I-Team: ‘Colorado River Compact’ continues to limit how much water Nevada receives

Approximately 40 million people rely on the Colorado River for water, 5% of them, or 2 million are in Nevada. However, the state gets only 1.8% of the river’s water. How did this happen? In 1922, Nevada signed onto the Colorado River Compact. It divided the river between the upper basin (part of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming) and the lower basin (the rest of Arizona, California, Nevada, and New Mexico). … Nevada getting the least, while more than half of the water goes to two states: California and Colorado.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Consolidating small water systems is a springboard to water justice

As the state of California seeks to fix its crumbling water infrastructure, the State Water Board has embarked on an ambitious program to encourage struggling small water systems to join forces with larger, neighboring water systems. We spoke with the State Water Board’s Michelle Frederick and clean-water advocacy group Community Water Center’s Ryan Jensen about why consolidation is important, how efforts are going, and what could be improved.

Aquafornia news Cision

San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District recognizes President Melody Henriques-McDonald for her 30 years on the board

The San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District Board of Directors, staff, and community supporters gathered today to celebrate the many contributions of Board President Melody Henriques-McDonald, now in her 30th year of leadership on the Board. In 1991, the year she was first appointed to serve, California was in its fifth year of drought: the worst since the Dust Bowl. 

Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

News release: Amid drought conditions, DWR provides support to communities throughout the Central Valley

California and much of the Western United States is in the midst of an unprecedented drought intensified by climate change. The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is taking immediate action to support California’s small and rural communities now, while also preparing for the potential of a third dry year.

Aquafornia news Daily Republic

Environmental documents released for proposed Sites Reservoir project

Environmental documents for the Sites Reservoir Project in western Colusa County have been released, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Friday. Among the objectives of the $3.5 billion, 1.5 million-acre-foot reservoir and infrastructure is to provide water for Delta environmental concerns, including protection of the Delta smelt, project documents state.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Monday Top of the Scroll: $1 billion project to expand major Bay Area reservoir gains momentum

The rolling hills and ranchlands of eastern Contra Costa County are known for wineries, cattle ranches, wind turbines and growing subdivisions. But soon they may be known for something else: The biggest new water storage project in the Bay Area in years. And now, amid the current drought, nearly every major water agency in the region wants a piece of it. 

Aquafornia news Daily Republic

Solano Irrigation District expects less water for ag customers in 2022

The Solano Irrigation District is anticipating having less water – about 1 acre-foot per acre – to deliver to its agriculture customers in 2022. The SID directors on Tuesday will receive a presentation on the preliminary agriculture water allocation for the new season. … Part of the issue, the report states, is the district’s carryover supply is down, as well as delivery needs to Maine Prairie during this past season.

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Aquafornia news Antelope Valley Press

Palmdale Water District to extend its water-saving rebates

As it works to encourage water conservation during California’s drought, the Palmdale Water District is extending its water-saving rebate program from residential to commercial customers, as well. This is the first time the water provider has offered the rebate program to its commercial and industrial customers, according to a statement from the District. Seven types of rebates are available for businesses within the District. 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Advancing ridgetop to river mouth water management in California

As the Sacramento River Basin pursues ridgetop to river mouth water management, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) Water Policy Center has recently published its Priorities for California’s Water: Responding to the Changing Climate. The authors of the new brief have stated that: “the current drought and a changing climate are affecting California’s ability to manage water, offering a stark reminder that we must accelerate our response to the disruptive changes underway.

Aquafornia news ABC30 Fresno

California’s drought, heat waves causing lower citrus yield, smaller fruit

Don’t be surprised if the citrus you find at the grocery store this season is smaller than in years past. Growers say early navel varieties generally are running smaller this year, putting a premium on larger offerings. Matt Fisher, a Central California farmer who has citrus groves from Orange Cove to Bakersfield, said multiple factors come into play, including the state’s ongoing drought and triple-digit heat waves.

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Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Lake Mead water level to be bolstered by $100M plan

States in the lower Colorado River basin are developing a $100 million plan that will leave more water in Lake Mead over the next couple of years. The goal is to keep the lake from hitting a critical level that would leave the reservoir more vulnerable to rapid decline. … The negotiations between Nevada, Arizona, California and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for additional reductions in water use come just months after the federal government declared Lake Mead’s first water shortage.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday Top of the Scroll: In a disastrous drought, a grim milestone: California could see its first big reservoir run dry

Lake Mendocino, once a plentiful reservoir nourishing the vines and villas of Sonoma and Mendocino counties, today is little more than a large pond, cowering beneath the coastal hills. … State officials warn that Lake Mendocino could be the first major reservoir in modern times to go dry. While rain over the past few weeks has lifted the lake above its October low, the reservoir, a few miles northeast of Ukiah, remains at less than 20% capacity. Officials worry that the looming wet winter season won’t bring enough inflow to meet next year’s water demands.

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Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

Blog: The U.S. infrastructure plan – water components 

On November 5, 2021, the U.S. Congress passed President Biden’s major infrastructure bill, HR 3684, the $1.2 trillion ‘‘Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.” The President is expected to sign the bill into law. The bill is the largest single federal investment in infrastructure in a generation, with the funds to be expended over five years. It aims to rebuild and replace failing, aging, and outdated water, energy, transportation, and communications systems. 

Aquafornia news Fox KTVU 2

Richmond-San Rafael water pipeline to Marin moves forward

Despite a much improved water supply situation in the North Bay, the Marin Municipal Water District moved a bit closer to a new emergency pipeline across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge from the East Bay. Key question: will this proposed pipeline across this bridge be enough? Thanks to recent rains, the Phoenix Reservoir spillway is spilling, but there are no guarantees for the future for the Marin Municipal Water District’s 191,000 customers.

Aquafornia news Business Wire

New Los Angeles director joins Metropolitan board

Environmental sustainability leader and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power executive manager Nancy Sutley returned to her seat on the board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. … Appointed to the Metropolitan board by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Sutley previously served on the 38-member board from 2006 to 2009 before being named chair of President Barack Obama’s White House Council on Environmental Quality. 

Aquafornia news

Sacramento County water district accused of not reparing system

The Del Paso Manor Water District is under fire by the Sacramento County Grand Jury due to a wave of concerns ranging from water contamination to aging infrastructure and even not complying with California’s monitoring requirements. According to a Sacramento County’s news release, the formal complaint comes after a seven-month investigation into the water district. County officials say that the water district failed to complete $35 million in repairs and upgrades that could lead to potential failure for the entire water complex.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Metropolitan Water District declares drought emergency in Southern California

Southern California’s largest urban water district declared a drought emergency on Tuesday and called for local water suppliers to immediately cut the use of water from the State Water Project. The resolution passed by the board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California calls on people across the region to step up conservation efforts, but also focuses especially on six water agencies that rely heavily or entirely on the water-starved State Water Project.

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Aquafornia news UC Santa Barbara

New research: Managing water resources in a low-to-no-snow future

Mountain snowpacks around the world are in decline. And as the planet continues to warm, climate models forecast that snowpacks will shrink dramatically and possibly even disappear altogether on certain mountains, including in the western United States. A new study by researchers at several institutions, including UC Santa Barbara and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), analyzes the likely timing of a low-to-no-snow future, what it will mean for water management, and opportunities for investments now that could stave off catastrophic consequences.

Aquafornia news

$1T infrastructure bill benefits Valley ag and rural communities

The California Farm Bureau is applauding Congress for passing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, commending the benefits it extends to local agriculture and rural communities. The one trillion dollar plan passed by congress late Friday night is set to fund improvement projects across the country and projected to create some 2 million jobs. In the bill are benefits for local agriculture and rural communities like water storage and conveyance, road and highway improvements and broadband internet for areas currently without coverage.

Aquafornia news Nossaman

Webinar: Turning the tide on cybersecurity for the water sector

Cyberattacks on organizations worldwide surged 40% in 2021. September 2021 broke records for the number of weekly cyberattacks, topping all other months since January 2020. Currently, one out of every 61 organizations worldwide is impacted by ransomware attacks every week. Given this ever-increasing threat level, a national law requiring critical infrastructure organizations to report cybersecurity incidents to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is on the horizon. 

Aquafornia news WaterWorld

San Francisco utility enters five-year ASTERRA agreement

The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) has recently entered into a five-year agreement to use ASTERRA’s Recover and MasterPlan technologies, which will help the district anticipate leaks. EBMUD serves 1.4 million customers with over 4,200 miles of pipelines in the eastern portion of the San Francisco Bay area in northern California. Corrosion, ground movement, soil conditions, variations in water pressure, contract work, and other factors can affect their water pipelines and can lead to leaks. 

Aquafornia news ABC7 - Los Angeles

How safe is LA’s water? Environmental group says legal limits still pose health risks

You turn on the tap and expect clean water. But what exactly is in that water? Analysts at EWG, a nonprofit environmental group, found a number of chemicals that are known to cause cancer. … EWG has a new tap-water database. Analysis of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power water found the level of arsenic 430 times its own EWG recommendation. It also found chromium at 29 times recommended levels, and acids from disinfectants at 184 times.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: The current drought – time to hope for the best, prepare for the worst

Last month’s atmospheric river brought much-needed precipitation to California, which has been in the grip of the second-driest and third-warmest two-year period on record. It was a balm to the drought-stricken state, and more than 600,000 acre-feet have arrived in the state’s major reservoirs, but are our worries over? In a word, no. California remains in a historic drought.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

New Kern River Watermaster in the wings

It appears a new Kern River Watermaster will be chosen to replace Dana Munn, whose contract winds up at the end of this year. If he’s officially approved by all the voting members of the “river interests,” Mark Mulkay will likely become the fourth ever Kern River Watermaster. He said he’s discussed it with all the parties and let them know he wants the job. Other sources confirmed that the river interests, entities that hold rights to the Kern River, have unofficially agreed on Mulkay as incoming Watermaster.

Aquafornia news Colorado State University

Blog: Colorado State University Spur Water symposium shares scaleable solutions

One key takeaway: The situation around water is dire – more dire than it has ever been before. Yet, as the Fourth Annual CSU Spur Water in the West Symposium convened experts from across the country on Wednesday, the focus was on learning from one another’s successes and finding solutions at-scale to water issues. The Water in the West Symposium was launched in 2018 as an early offering of the CSU Spur campus, set to open its first public-facing building in Denver this January. 

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Lake Mead could get an extra 500,000 acre-feet from states each year

Arizona, California and Nevada are moving forward with a plan to save another 500,000 acre-feet of water in Lake Mead annually until 2026. We’re talking 500,000 acre-feet over and above the mandatory cuts that are spelled out in the 2019 Drought Contingency Plan (DCP). Each year. For five years. Just to keep the lake from tanking.
-Written by columnist Joanna Allhands.

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Aquafornia news Patch, Pleasanton

Pleasanton’s appeal of housing mandate to be decided this week

Pleasanton will officially learn Friday whether it will succeed in its efforts to lower the number of housing units it must plan for in the years to come. The odds do not appear to be in the city’s favor. Pleasanton was one of 27 local governments to appeal their Regional Housing Needs Allocation to the Association of Bay Area Governments, a planning agency that focuses on finding regional solutions to issues such as housing, water or environmental matters.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Tribes seek water-management role as Colorado River shrivels

In the mid-2000s, seven states, the federal government and Mexico negotiated critical rules for the Colorado River that established how to divvy up its water in a severe drought like it is now facing. Thirty Native American tribes — with rights to roughly a quarter of all the water in the river — were shut out of those talks. Tribes want to make sure that doesn’t happen again. The effort offers new challenges for the seven Colorado River basin states and the Biden administration, which has repeatedly pledged to be more inclusive in regulatory efforts that affect Native Americans.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Public can get in on the upcoming Kern River hearing, sort of

The public can weigh in on the Kern River at an upcoming hearing but the proceeding will be very narrowly focused, according to a ruling  released Wednesday. Too narrowly focused, according to one attorney representing several nonprofits hoping to bring water back to the river through town on a regular basis.

Aquafornia news Sites Project

News release: Sites Reservoir receives $80 million in federal funding

In a demonstration of continued Congressional support for the Project, Congress recently provided Sites Reservoir with $80 million in federal funds. The funding was included in a short-term government funding bill that was signed into law late last week. … Sites Reservoir will increase California’s existing water supply by providing 1.5 million acre-feet of additional storage capacity to the state during times of drought to benefit the environment, agriculture and communities.

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Aquafornia news Valley News

Eastern Municipal Water District receives fed grant for drought relief

The Perris-based Eastern Municipal Water District received a six-figure federal allotment to bolster conservation efforts involving farmers and ranchers amid the worsening drought in California, it was announced Wednesday, Oct. 27. … The WaterSMART Initiative is part of a collaborative strategy by the NRCS’ parent agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture…

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Reevaluate water distribution before resorting to desalination

There’s no question that California needs to better manage our water supply for people and the environment. However, drastic technological “solutions” like desalination, which is energy intensive and harmful to marine wildlife and our climate, are not the answer. California is fortunate to have natural water supplies, but it has mismanaged this public good. 
-Written by Elizabeth Reid-Wainscoat, a campaigner for the Center for Biological Diversity.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Report: Priorities for California’s water

Water is central to how California adapts to a changing climate. To those of us steeped in the complexities of managing the state’s water resources, the current fast-moving drought—coming on the heels of the record-breaking 2012–16 drought—is a stark reminder that we must accelerate preparation for the disruptive changes underway.

Aquafornia news KRXI - Reno

How is every drop of the Truckee River managed? Some say the share may not be fair

The big storm that dumped rain and snow on northern Nevada did not relieve us from our severe drought. All that rain in Reno and Sparks quickly filled the Truckee River but most of it is just surface runoff. Every drop of that water in the Truckee is already spoken for, no matter how high or low the water levels. It all starts upstream at Lake Tahoe. … Jim Litchfield who is a former surface water hydrologist says not everyone getting a fair cut of the water.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday Top of the Scroll: The Colorado River poses stark example of climate crisis

As world leaders meet in Scotland this week to discuss efforts to address the climate crisis, experts are urging greater focus on adapting to fundamental shifts in the planet’s water supplies — and they’re pointing to the Colorado River as a prime example. The river, a vital water source for about 40 million people from Denver to Los Angeles, has continued to shrink and send reservoirs declining toward critically low levels after years of extremely dry conditions compounded by hotter temperatures. … [T]he river’s plight stands out as one of the world’s starkest cases of a major water source that is being ravaged by the altered climate…

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Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Spillway gravel launch ramp reopens as Lake Oroville rises

As the rain falls down in the watershed, Lake Oroville’s water level rises. Lake Oroville recovered some of its water over the last two weeks from a recent storm ending a long streak of low lake levels that has lasted since its record low on Aug. 4. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation announces public scoping for proposed Aquaterra Water Bank Project

The Bureau of Reclamation, in coordination with the McMullin Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency, invites the public and media to attend a virtual public scoping meeting on the proposed Aquaterra Water Bank Project on Nov. 10.  The project includes construction, operation, and maintenance by McMullin GSA of a 146,000 acre-foot per year dry-year return water bank in Fresno County. The project is anticipated to recharge up to 208,000 acre-feet of water during wet-year conditions once constructed. 

Aquafornia news SF Gate

Another atmospheric river enters San Francisco Bay Area forecast. This one is expected to be weak

The rain just keeps on coming. The second weak storm of the week is set to sweep the San Francisco Bay Area Wednesday; on Thursday night into Friday, another system may bring light showers to the North Bay. A break from the rain is expected through the weekend, but the dry conditions won’t last long. Long-term weather models show a weak atmospheric river diving into the region, bringing soaking rain Monday into Tuesday.

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Aquafornia news Green Matters

‘River’s End’ documentary is about water conservation in a warming world

In recent years, rising global temperatures and shifting weather patterns have created water scarcity in many places. In 2020 and 2021, for example, California has experienced record-breaking droughts and dry spells that have emptied river beds and forced people to make some hard choices about water usage. River’s End is a documentary that explores the root causes of California’s water problems and the influence of the agricultural industry in relation to them.

Aquafornia news CA Department of Water Resources

Blog: Wildfire and impacts to water

The impacts of California’s ongoing dry and warm years were seen this year with a historic wildfire season. Correspondingly, the risk of wildfire damage to water infrastructure is increasing, including risks of secondary impacts from burned area sediment entering waterbodies and affecting water treatment plant operations.

Aquafornia news AccuWeather

Series of wintry storms take aim at Northwest

Another series of storms is set to sweep through the Pacific Northwest and Northern California into next week and not only bring much-needed rain and mountain snow but also flooding concerns. A dip in the jet stream across the Bering Sea through the northern Pacific Ocean will push waves of energy toward the Canadian Rocky Mountains and Northwest this week, according to AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Senior Meteorologist Paul Pastelok, who added that temperatures will be near to below normal.

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Aquafornia news WaterWorld

Yucaipa Valley Water District signs 28-year energy contract with ENGIE

In southern Calif., the Yucaipa Valley Water District (YVWD) Board of Directors have approved a 28-year energy contract with ENGIE North America for a customized solar, storage and microgrid project. YVWD will prioritize the adoption of clean-powered energy to improve its water energy nexus at two of its most critical locations, the Yucaipa Valley Regional Water Filtration Facility and the Wochholz Regional Water Recycling Facility.

Aquafornia news Patch, Oceanside

City of Oceanside gets smart on water technology projects & plans

The City of Oceanside continues to be at the forefront of water management in San Diego county with projects like WaterSmart meters and Pure Water Oceanside that demonstrate the city’s commitment to deliver clean, safe and affordable water. A recent Voice of San Diego report showed Oceanside has among the lowest water rate increases in the county with an average 13.7% increase from 2017 to 2022. Compare that to the sizeable 38% increase in water rates for Del Mar during the same 5 year time period.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Sierra Nevada snow flights are booking fast

Demand for snow runoff forecasting is surging in the San Joaquin Valley, particularly after the past bone-dry year. Snow monitoring flights are already being tentatively scheduled by valley water districts ahead of winter. … One of the newer and more effective ways of monitoring is by flying imaging technology over watersheds to see and analyze snowpack. Airborne Snow Observatories (ASO) is the company behind this method. 

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Flows to increase; water districts cry foul

The Newsom administration has informed regional water districts that it will move forward with a plan to increase flows from San Joaquin River tributaries in an action that may create more water uncertainty for farmers. A notice from the California Natural Resources Agency and state Environmental Protection Agency represents a departure from the state’s earlier willingness to consider voluntary agreements with water districts, which includes aspects other than just flow increases.

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Aquafornia news Sonoma Index-Tribune

Sonoma catching up on water reduction goals

When the City of Sonoma required water customers to reduce their use, residents got off to a slow start, with just a 3.8% savings in July. But now, the city is catching up, with a 17.4% savings recorded from July to September, not to mention the wettest October in the last three years. … Which means despite the torrential rainfall over the past weeks, water users should resist the impulse to celebrate with a long hot shower or an overdue car wash.

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Aquafornia news Sacramento News & Review

Sacramento-area waterways see a rare legal win over SoCal special interests

On October 27, Fresno Superior Court Judge D. Tyler Tharpe tossed out the Westlands Water District’s proposed permanent federal water contract from the Central Valley Project that would have allocated roughly double the amount of water from Northern California that Los Angeles residents use in a year.  Tharpe found Westlands, the largest federal irrigation district in the nation, to have “misled the court and the public,” according to a statement from the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), one of the organizations that joined in the lawsuit against Westlands.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Commentary: Restore the California promise by securing our water future

California’s water history flows across my farm in the North State community of Oroville. A canal carved in the early 1990s passes beneath my olive groves. It was an extension of original conveyance systems inspired by gold seekers, who fashioned one of California’s earliest water delivery systems in the 1890s on the Feather River, near my home. … Now, as president of the California Farm Bureau, I am fighting to uphold and restore the promise of sustainable water delivery in my state. 
-Written by Jaime Johansson, president of the California Farm Bureau

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Water main break on Cahuenga Boulevard near Universal Studios

A nearly 90-year-old water main burst near Universal Studios Hollywood Monday afternoon, sending water careening down Cahuenga Boulevard, impacting businesses and traffic. Firefighters were first called to the scene around 2:30 p.m. for what initially was described as a broken fire hydrant, according to the department.

Aquafornia news Congressional Research Service

Report: Dam removal and the federal role

Dam owners sometimes consider dam removal as a policy option to address dam safety, ecosystem restoration, or other concerns. The National Inventory of Dams (NID) lists more than 90,000 dams in the United States, many of which function as part of the nation’s water infrastructure and provide benefits (e.g., flood control, hydroelectric power, recreation, navigation, and water supply). Stakeholders may consider the removal of a dam for various reasons—for example, if a certain dam requires major dam safety modifications or no longer provides its intended benefits.

Aquafornia news CNBC

Why water is the next net-zero environmental target

To date, the discussion around companies and governments moving to net-zero has mostly centered on greenhouse gas emissions goals. … But there is another environmental pledge that several companies are now taking, focused on water. Often called “water positive,” it centers on making water-intensive processes more efficient and putting more water back into a geographic area where a company operates than it takes out …

Aquafornia news Patch, San Rafael

MMWD prez disputes East Bay mayor’s rebuke of pipeline plan

The president of a Marin water agency that serves most of the North Bay county on Friday responded to harsh criticism from an East Bay mayor who publicly rebuked the agency for a proposed pipeline that he asserts would present quality-of-life issues for his city’s residents. Marin Municipal Water District Board President Cynthia Koehler in a statement to Patch said she disputes most of Richmond Mayor Tom Butt’s assertions but acknowledged that not all his concerns are without merit.

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Farm revenue could actually rise this year, say economists

In a new report by the University of California Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics, agricultural economists have found a few surprises with the drought. For one, farm revenues and prices this year may have only small impacts or even be higher than in 2020, due to global supply and demand conditions driving up prices. Feed grain and seed prices are higher in the Midwest, along with beef and milk prices. 

Aquafornia news San Diego Union-Tribune

California’s atmospheric river storms dropped 7,600,000,000,000 gallons of rain, but it was no drought buster

Federal forecasters estimate that the atmospheric river storms that hit parts of northern and central California from October 23-26 dropped 7.6 trillion gallons of rain — which can also be expressed as 7,600,000,000,000. … Comparatively little of the rain fell in greater San Diego, where the soil also is unusually dry. The atmospheric river fell apart as it moved south.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

How to save water during California drought

Even with the recent storm drenching Northern California, it’s important that residents conserve water, experts said. The storm — which included a ‘bomb cyclone’ — dropped more than five inches of rain on the capital city in 24 hours. But it won’t end the state’s drought. And next year could be dry, too. … The California Department of Water Resources recommends that residents calculate how much water they are using at home using the U.S. Geological Survey calculator. They said this serves as a starting point to indicate where you can save water.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

These small Fresno County farmers are struggling to get water from their wells amid the drought

June Moua started growing cherries, tomatoes and grapes in east Fresno County 10 years ago. Now she grows a few different types of crops. But her most profitable are the water-intensive Asian greens like mustard greens and bok choy. … She says she learned how to farm from her father when she was younger. Since then, she’s learned even more through trial and error. She enjoys bringing these Southeast Asian crops to farmers markets in Los Angeles, but the drought has put her in a tough position.

Aquafornia news The San Francisco Examiner

Opinion: Does the Bay Area have the water it needs to grow?

It seems as though the two things the Bay Area has the least of are housing and water. The region has a shortfall of 699,000 housing units, which has driven housing costs to astronomical heights, and pushed 35,000 of our neighbors into temporary housing or onto the streets. Our colleagues at San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR),a public policy think tank, have found that the region needs to build an astonishing 2.2 million homes by 2070 to meet future demand and make up for the present shortfall.
-Written by Laura Feinstein, sustainability and resilience policy director at SPUR, a Bay Area public policy think tank; and Anne Thebo, a senior researcher for Pacific Institute, a global water think tank. 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Global water crisis: Meet 6 people on the front lines

When Peter Gleick graduated from Yale in the late 1970s with an engineering degree, he knew one thing: he didn’t want to be an engineer. He was fascinated by big systems and big questions, and drawn to the nascent field of environmental science. … In the ‘80s, Gleick, in effect, created an applied academic discipline—fresh water management—and built a place to study it and offer solutions, the Pacific Institute [based in Oakland].

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Aquafornia news Financial Times

Water stress drives investor interest to address supply shortage

As heat and wildfires ravaged the US in the summer of 2020, Wall Street spotted an opportunity. In December last year, Nasdaq and the CME Group launched a new futures index that allowed farmers, hedge funds and municipalities to bet on the forward cost of water in California — and hedge against any price rises.

Aquafornia news AP News

Friday Top of the Scroll: Judge won’t validate water deal for California farm supplier

A California judge has declined to validate a contract granting permanent access to federally controlled water for the nation’s largest agricultural water supplier, a move that means the U.S. government is not bound by terms of the deal. Environmentalists had blasted the contract between the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Westlands Water District as a sweetheart arrangement designed to benefit corporate agricultural interests over environmental needs and taxpayers. It was crafted during the Trump administration under then-Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a former lobbyist for Westlands …

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Here is a plan to create more water for California

Re “California should create more water – much more“; Commentary, Oct. 28, 2021 There is an answer to Jim Wunderman’s position that “state and federal governments should commit to creating 1.75 million acre feet – about 25% of California’s current urban water use – of new water from desalination and wastewater recycling by the end of this decade”: the Water Infrastructure Funding Act of 2022, a constitutional initiative proposed for the November 2022 state ballot. 
-Written by Shawn Dewane, vice president of the Mesa Water District; Edward Ring, co-founder of the California Policy Center; Stephen Sheldon, president of the Orange County Water District; Geoffrey Vanden Heuvel, director of regulatory and economic affairs for the California Milk Producers Council; Wayne Western Jr., board director of the California Farm Water Coalition.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

U.S. Drought Monitor maps show how last week’s storm affected Northern California

An atmospheric river delivered record-breaking amounts of rain across Northern California last weekend. The precipitation helped bring some northern regions out of extreme and exceptional drought conditions. Before the rains, about 46% of California’s land was under “exceptional” drought — the most severe drought category … This week’s data released Thursday shows that figure has shrunk to about 39%.

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Aquafornia news

Eastern Municipal Water District receives fed grant for drought relief

The Perris-based Eastern Municipal Water District received a six-figure federal allotment to bolster conservation efforts involving farmers and ranchers amid the worsening drought in California, it was announced Wednesday. … The WaterSMART Initiative is part of a collaborative strategy by the NRCS’ parent agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of the Interior to improve water reclamation and other drought-busting measures by encouraging farmers and ranchers to work more closely with irrigation and water districts on coordinated conservation plans.

Aquafornia news Office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein

News release: Federal funding bills include $180 million in Feinstein requests for Southern California

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today announced the Senate versions of the fiscal year 2022 government funding bills include nearly $180 million in direct funding for Southern California projects that the senator requested from the Appropriations Committee. … [Feinstein:] “The bills include funding for projects to improve our water infrastructure, address homelessness, provide more education opportunities, reduce the threat of wildfires and expand mass transportation.”

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

These charts show how California’s top crops are changing

California’s top crops have changed as drought strains the state’s water resources and farmers’ ability to access them. But that does not necessarily mean farmers are choosing crops that consume less water. Drought pushes farmers to shift their scarce water resources to crops with higher payoffs, such as nuts and vegetables, said Daniel Sumner, an agricultural economics professor at the UC Agricultural Issues Center — a trend particularly noticeable this year with its uniquely severe drought.

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Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Analyst: Initiative could lower water bills, cause reduction in other programs

A analysis of an initiative that would set aside 2 percent of the state budget to meet the state’s water needs could lower water costs at the local level but also could cause reductions in other programs. That’s the conclusion of a report from the California Legislative Analysts on the Water Infrastructure Fundy Act of 2022. Proponents of the initiative are trying to gain enough support to place it on the November, 2022 ballot. The initiative would require the state set aside 2 percent of its budget to meet the state’s water needs. 

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Capturing water from atmospheric rivers will help build drought resilience in California. Here’s how

As scientists have been predicting, climate change is causing more dramatic extremes in weather — both wet and dry — and that pendulum swung very dramatically to the wet side over the weekend. Consequently, it’s critical we prepare now to capture and store water during these shorter, intense wet periods so that more water is available during the inevitable increasingly severe drought years ahead.

Aquafornia news BuzzFeed News

Colorado River shortage creates Arizona water crisis

Farmers in Pinal County, Arizona, knew they were taking a risk nearly two decades ago when they agreed to be among the first people to lose water from the Colorado River if there were a shortage. … But in the Southwest’s arid landscape, it is no longer certain how much people can rely on the Colorado River. A 22-year megadrought and growing demands across the Colorado River Basin have depleted the river, pushing Western reservoirs to historic lows and triggering the first-ever federally declared water shortages. For Western states, this means cuts.

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Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Storms bring pause for state drought orders in Modesto and beyond. They could return

The recent storms allowed California to suspend the drought curtailment orders that had been imposed during the summer. Cities and irrigation districts now are free to capture river runoff that had been unavailable because of the orders. Officials warned that they could fall back into place if the state gets another stretch of dry weather.

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Aquafornia news SJV Sun

Opinion: Water bonds failed bone-dry California. A 2022 initiative offers a different path

Over the past decades there have been many “Water” initiatives or propositions presented to California’s voters. Some of them have included such wet provisions as funding for large public soccer field complexes and most of them had more to do with conservation and urban needs than increased storage and infrastructure. They also relied heavily on bonds to fund themselves. Two recent water propositions have brought and dashed hope for Valley water needs: 2014’s Prop. 1 and 2018’s Prop. 3.
-Written by Don Wright, a contributor to The San Joaquin Valley Sun and the publisher of

Aquafornia news Stanford - Water in the West

Blog: Reasons for hope amid California’s drought

Despite the rain that drenched central and northern California recently, drought still casts a long shadow over the state. The consequences of a multi-year water shortage are dire: reservoirs that serve millions of people and massive swaths of farmland are disappearing, hydroelectric dams are in danger of losing power and wild salmon are facing mass die outs….Stanford water experts Newsha Ajami, Rosemary Knight, Felicia Marcus and Barton “Buzz” Thompson discuss lessons learned from previous droughts, imperatives for infrastructure investment and reasons for hope in this arid era.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Rain and snow refresh California reservoirs and mountains, ease drought

Between historic drought and a lively fire season, California has experienced a troublesome year. Now, the state may have received the first sign of major relief: 8 trillion gallons of rain. Like an epic fire hose, a long, narrow band of water vapor located in the lower atmosphere — known as an atmospheric river — doused California with record-setting rains Sunday and Monday. The event unloaded upward of 12 inches of rain on the northern Sierras, almost a quarter of the annual average precipitation for the region.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Lake Mead can’t wait to save water. Will Arizona’s $40 million help?

The projections for Lake Mead – the reservoir that provides nearly 40% of Arizona’s water supply – have been revised down again. According to the federal October 24-month study, the lake could be in a Tier 3 shortage – the worst for which we have a plan to handle – a few months earlier and a few feet deeper than was projected just last month. The minimal probable forecast (which isn’t the worst-case scenario; a few modeled outcomes are worse) now predicts that Lake Mead could hit a low of 1,023 feet in September 2023.
-Written by Joanna Allhands, Arizona Republic columnist. 

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin desalination prospects fade in favor of imports

The Marin Municipal Water District is moving away from plans to acquire temporary desalination plants and instead is exploring purchasing more water from Sonoma County during the winter months. … The district, which serves 191,000 residents in central and southern Marin, faces the potential of depleting local reservoir supplies as soon as next summer if this winter is as dry as the last. The recent storms have put the district in a better starting position, but district staff said reservoir levels are still well below average.

Aquafornia news Mother Jones

Opinion: It’s just nuts – big almond and pistachio will likely make a killing despite the epic drought

For farmers in California’s San Joaquin Valley—the Saudi Arabia of nuts—2021 brought many challenges. Scant snowfall in the Sierra Nevada mountain range delivered almost no irrigation water to the region’s vaunted complex of dams and aqueducts. Record-high temperatures baked farm fields. Before this past weekend’s furious storms, California endured its driest year in recorded history.  Yet the region’s ever-expanding and very thirsty almond and pistachio operations are thriving anyway.
-Written by Tom Philpott, food and ag correspondent for Mother Jones.

Aquafornia news Oakdale Leader

Rep. Harder reintroduces SAVE Water Resources Act

Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) has reintroduced the Securing Access for the Central Valley and Enhancing (SAVE) Water Resources Act. The bill provides a wraparound approach to addressing water issues facing the Central Valley by increasing storage opportunities, spurring innovation, and making “long-overdue investments in our aging water infrastructure,” said the congressman.

Aquafornia news PBS NewsHour

Drought-stricken California faces rise in water theft by illegal marijuana farms

As California faces what is predicted to be one of its worst droughts in recorded history, water managers are seeing record increases in water theft, leaving communities angry and police chasing water bandits constantly on the move. Byrhonda Lyons of CalMatters, the nonprofit news site, has the story of how water meant for residential use is flowing to illegal marijuana farms.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Charts show where California reservoir totals stand after the atmospheric river

This weekend’s atmospheric river brought record-breaking amounts of rain to drought-plagued California. But they didn’t give the state’s water supply much of a boost, data shows. The state Department of Water Resources compared the amount of water in select reservoirs across the state as of midnight Oct. 25 to the capacity of each reservoir and to historic levels for the same date. The data shows that, even after all of Sunday and Monday’s rainfall, many of California’s largest reservoirs are still holding less water than the historic level for this time of year.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

State gives more water to popular I-5 pitstop, but locals say it won’t be enough

Christmas travelers driving Interstate 5 this year may need to hunt up a different stopping point as Kettleman City could be shut down for lack of water. The state Department of Water Resources (DWR) has said it will give the tiny community in western Kings County a few more acre feet of water — but only enough for the personal taps of its 1,100 residents. The town’s gas stations and fast food joints that bring in droves of motorists on busy holidays could be left high and dry.

Aquafornia news California Water Commission

News release: First two projects meet continuing eligibility requirements, move forward in Water Storage Investment Program

Two projects in the Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP), the Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project and the Harvest Water Program, met the statutory deadline to ensure progress and remain eligible for WSIP funding. Proposition 1, the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014, requires all WSIP applicants to complete their feasibility studies, release a draft version of their environmental documents for public review, provide the DWR director documentation of commitments for at least 75 percent of the non-program funding, and have the California Water Commission find their project feasible no later than January 1, 2022.

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Climate research project may change how we forecast water in the West

Eight white shipping containers, instruments spouting from the tops of some and a generator humming away in another, sit in the East River valley, on the outskirts of this mountain town [Crested Butte], pulling data out of the air. The containers, a “mobile atmospheric observatory,” will gather bits of information over the next two years about the winds and clouds and rain and snow and heat and cold above the silvery and serpentine waterway as it slides past the gray granite dome of Gothic Mountain on its way to the Colorado River.

Aquafornia news KUNC

The West needs a lot of snow to escape drought. This year, that’s unlikely

Growers in the West have persisted through the ups and downs of dry years for a long time, but a two-decades-long trend of drought in the region is now entrenching itself with no clear end in sight. This year is unlikely to bring any major relief. Forecasters say this winter will be shaped by “La Niña,”…Its effects are hardly guaranteed, but typically mean a colder, wetter winter for the northwestern portion of the country, and a warmer, drier winter in the Southwest. The dividing line often falls in the middle of Colorado.

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Aquafornia news Berkeley Lab

New research: Managing water resources in a low-to-no-snow future

Mountain snowpacks around the world are on the decline, and if the planet continues to warm, climate models forecast that snowpacks could shrink dramatically and possibly even disappear altogether on certain mountains, including in the western United States, at some point in the next century. A new study led by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) analyzes the likely timing of a low-to-no-snow future, what it will mean for water management, and opportunities for investments now that could stave off catastrophic consequences.

Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

St. George not the blame for water shortages on Colorado River, Mitt Romney says

Even as California has declared a statewide drought emergency in response to a federal shortage declaration for the Colorado River, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, says blaming St. George for the strain on the water supply in the western U.S. is misguided. Romney was responding to a 60 Minutes documentary that aired Sunday night, which featured JB Hamby of the Imperial Irrigation District in California saying building the Lake Powell pipeline to support growth in St. George did not make sense.

Aquafornia news SJV Sun

New suit attempts to squash late-calendar water transfers to Valley during drought

Environmental advocates and a pair of Delta-centric water agencies launched a suit seeking to halt water transfers to San Joaquin Valley water users occurring in the late fall. It’s the latest in a half-decade of litigation aimed at stopping all water transfers – a key drought-era tool for parched Valley water users – from water users awash with water north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news Village News

Effort by local water districts to change water suppliers moves into next phase

The advisory committee, established by the San Diego County Local Agency Formation Commission to analyze applications from the Fallbrook and Rainbow water districts to change water suppliers, is expected to complete its work by the end of this year and forward its recommendation to the full commission. After enduring years of soaring water costs from the San Diego County Water Authority and having to pay for infrastructure projects that don’t serve the districts and that they don’t need, Fallbrook Public Utility District and Rainbow Municipal Water District are seeking to detach from the Water Authority and begin purchasing their water at a reduced rate from Eastern Municipal Water District.

Aquafornia news Mountain Democrat

Outingdale Dam done in one month

It took 30 days for a crew of seven El Dorado Irrigation District employees and the district’s dam safety engineer to totally rebuild key elements of the Outingdale Dam. The community of Outingdale gets its water from the dam, a diversion dam on the Middle Fork of the Cosumnes River. Water had to be trucked in when the leaking and deteriorating dam stopped spilling this summer.

Aquafornia news WaterWorld

Free platform tracks agricultural water across West

A new online platform launched yesterday that uses satellites to estimate water consumed by crops and evapotranspiration across the West. Called OpenET, the platform makes water management data available in 17 western states. Data on the amount of water used in agriculture has been fragmented and often expensive, keeping it out of the hands of many farmers and decision-makers. OpenET hopes to allow users to easily view and download important water data. 

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Aquafornia news Discover Magazine

Yes, people are now trading and investing in water as a commodity

Now California almond farmers and electric utilities, both of which use massive amounts of water, can bet against the future availability of water. And just last year, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange started the first-ever futures market for water, meaning farmers, as well as investors, municipalities and hedge funds, can buy a legal agreement known as a “futures contract” that locks in a predetermined price for water that will be used in the future. 

Aquafornia news 60 Minutes - CBS News

Southwest states facing tough choices about water as Colorado River diminishes

This past week, California declared a statewide drought emergency. It follows the first-ever federal shortage declaration on the Colorado River, triggering cuts to water supplies in the Southwest. The Colorado is the lifeblood of the region. It waters some of the country’s fastest-growing cities, nourishes some of our most fertile fields and powers $1.4 trillion in annual economic activity.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday Top of the Scroll: ‘Not a drought buster.’ Northern California rainstorm will help but not end water woes

The rainstorm pelting Sacramento and Northern California will help remedy the state’s woeful water situation. But it won’t be nearly enough to end the epic California drought. … The main problem is that the drought, coupled with climate change, has dried out the soils of Northern California — meaning that much of the rain and snow will simply disappear into the ground.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: California spending billions on water projects

State politicians have done something laudable, and it has gone unheralded. They haven’t even bragged about it themselves. So, here’s some heralding. They’ve authorized spending about $5 billion on drought-related water projects without charging it on the credit card. They’re going to pay cash. That will save taxpayers roughly twice the projects’ cost for tacked-on interest.
-Written by George Skelton, Los Angeles Times columnist.

Aquafornia news KPVI

Falling water levels could lead to higher utility bills in Western states

A rating agency is warning water shortages in western states reliant on the Colorado River could lead to rate hikes that would be unaffordable for some. S&P Global Ratings released a report examining the effect of climate change and population growth on utilities in California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and Colorado.  The report, which was released Monday, stressed water shortages across the region will persist and continued conservation will be crucial in staving off reductions and cost increases for consumers.

Aquafornia news MarketWatch

Opinion: Drought is among the biggest dangers to the U.S. New water technology is making its way across the country

If you’re having a salad for lunch today, chances are it comes from the “Salad Bowl of the World,” the lush farmland that stretches for some 90 miles across California’s Salinas Valley. Lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, strawberries, celery, cauliflower and more grow in abundance there, a source of pride and profits for farmers who work the land.  But none of it would be possible without water, and that’s the problem. 
-Written by Paul Brandus, a columnist for MarketWatch and the White House bureau chief for West Wing Reports.

Aquafornia news KHTS

‘Santa Clarita River Lake’ project not backed by city, water officials, despite mayoral endorsement

After the release of a video in which Santa Clarita Mayor Bill Miranda invites members of the community to share their input on a potential artificial rainwater reservoir project in the Santa Clara Riverbed, other officials have noted that the project is not backed by the city nor the local water agency. 

Aquafornia news The Press

Delta salinity barrier to stay in 2022

In response to continuing drought conditions, California’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced that it will keep the West False River salinity barrier in place until November 2022. Construction of the rock barrier was completed in June, and the emergency permit issued by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) originally required its removal by Nov. 30, 2021.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Drought a tough nut to crack for Newsom, California lawmakers

We just finished the second-driest water season on record in California. Worse, it was the driest two-year period. Only 1924 was drier, according to the state Department of Water Resources. And back then, California had a population of just 4.5 million. Now we have 39.5 million people gulping water — plus a lot of overplanted thirsty nut orchards in the arid San Joaquin Valley … So, what’s being done by the state government about this record drought?
-Written by George Skelton, LA Times columnist. 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Infrastructure bill seen as way to pay farmers to cut water use

Four states in the drought-wracked West considering whether to pay farmers to cut their water use see federal infrastructure legislation as a possible revenue source. The $550 billion bipartisan legislation approved in the Senate includes $25 million for the four states—Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming…. Paying people to cut water use is an option under a 2019 drought contingency plan the four upper division states signed with three states in the Lower Colorado River Basin — Arizona, California and Nevada.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Lack of water drying up new housing in rural communities

Water has become a major roadblock to desperately needed housing in rural communities throughout the San Joaquin Valley. Water scarcity and lack of infrastructure has scared off developers just when housing is most needed, according to officials and nonprofits that work on both water and housing. … For developers to build housing, they must obtain a “will serve” letter, official confirmation by the water provider in the area that the new development can receive water. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation releases updated projections of Colorado River system conditions

The Bureau of Reclamation has released its October 24-Month Study and 2-year projections of major reservoir levels within the Colorado River system….As a result of this update, the median water year 2022 inflow forecast into Lake Powell decreased by 800,000 acre-feet and Reclamation’s October projections show lower Lake Powell elevations compared to the September projections.

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Aquafornia news NOAA

New research: Researchers head to the mountains to improve weather and water forecasting tools

As aspen leaves blazed across the Colorado Rockies this fall, NOAA scientists were busy installing a state-of-the-art observing network in a remote basin near Crested Butte to study how precipitation forms in the complex, high-altitude terrain of the West Elk Mountains. Their goal: improving weather and river flow prediction in a watershed critical to the region’s water supply.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Opinion: For our water future, let’s fix Central Valley canals

Water is life for us here in the Central Valley. It impacts every facet of our day-to-day lives, from our jobs to sustaining our daily needs. This summer, a few communities in my district ran dry. One town —Teviston—was without running water for a full month. The families there were unable to turn their taps on to cook, bathe their children or even flush the toilet. Drought and water conservation is becoming a way of life for us across the state, but especially in the San Joaquin Valley. Fortunately, farmers and farmworkers are resilient and have found ways to cope.
-Written by Sen. Melissa Hurtado, D-Sanger, representing California’s 14th Senate District.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Drought: Marin Municipal Water District allots $23.2M for pipeline

The Marin Municipal Water District has allocated up to $23.2 million to buy equipment for a proposed emergency supply pipeline across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. The investment, approved by the district board on Tuesday, is the largest the agency has made since proposing the idea earlier this year. The 8-mile pipeline, estimated to cost up to $90 million, is the district’s main backup plan should it deplete its main reservoir supplies next summer in the event of another dry winter.

Tour Nick Gray Jennifer Bowles

Northern California Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - October 14

This tour guided participants on a virtual exploration of the Sacramento River and its tributaries and learn about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.

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

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

Bay-Delta Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - September 9

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

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

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

MWD’s Jeff Kightlinger Reflects On Building Big Things, Essential Partnerships and His Hopes For the Delta
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Veteran Water Boss, Retiring After 25 Years With SoCal Water Giant, Discusses ‘Permanent’ Drought, Conservation Gains & the Struggling Colorado River

Jeff Kightlinger, longtime general manager of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.When you oversee the largest supplier of treated water in the United States, you tend to think big.

Jeff Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California for the last 15 years, has focused on diversifying his agency’s water supply and building security through investment. That means looking beyond MWD’s borders to ensure the reliable delivery of water to two-thirds of California’s population.

Pandemic Lockdown Exposes the Vulnerability Some Californians Face Keeping Up With Water Bills
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Growing mountain of water bills spotlights affordability and hurdles to implementing a statewide assistance program

Single-family residential customers who are behind on their water bills in San Diego County's Helix Water District can get a one-time credit on their bill through a rate assistance program funded with money from surplus land sales.As California slowly emerges from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, one remnant left behind by the statewide lockdown offers a sobering reminder of the economic challenges still ahead for millions of the state’s residents and the water agencies that serve them – a mountain of water debt.

Water affordability concerns, long an issue in a state where millions of people struggle to make ends meet, jumped into overdrive last year as the pandemic wrenched the economy. Jobs were lost and household finances were upended. Even with federal stimulus aid and unemployment checks, bills fell by the wayside.

Western Water Layperson's Guide to Water Rights Law By Gary Pitzer

California Weighs Changes for New Water Rights Permits in Response to a Warmer and Drier Climate
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: State Water Board report recommends aligning new water rights to an upended hydrology

The American River in Sacramento in 2014 shows the effects of the 2012-2016 drought. Climate change is expected to result in more frequent and intense droughts and floods. As California’s seasons become warmer and drier, state officials are pondering whether the water rights permitting system needs revising to better reflect the reality of climate change’s effect on the timing and volume of the state’s water supply.

A report by the State Water Resources Control Board recommends that new water rights permits be tailored to California’s increasingly volatile hydrology and be adaptable enough to ensure water exists to meet an applicant’s demand. And it warns that the increasingly whiplash nature of California’s changing climate could require existing rights holders to curtail diversions more often and in more watersheds — or open opportunities to grab more water in climate-induced floods.

Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Map
Published March 2021

Delta Map for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

This beautifully illustrated 24×36-inch poster, suitable for framing and display in any office or classroom, highlights the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, its place as a center of farming, its importance as an ecological resource and its vital role in California’s water supply system. 

The text, photos and graphics explain issues related to land subsidence, levees and flooding, urbanization, farming, fish and wildlife protection. An inset map illustrates the tidal action that increases the salinity of the Delta’s waterways. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Red alert sounding on California drought, as farmers get less water

A government agency that controls much of California’s water supply released its initial allocation for 2021, and the numbers reinforced fears that the state is falling into another drought. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said Tuesday that most of the water agencies that rely on the Central Valley Project will get just 5% of their contract supply, a dismally low number. Although the figure could grow if California gets more rain and snow, the allocation comes amid fresh weather forecasts suggesting the dry winter is continuing. The National Weather Service says the Sacramento Valley will be warm and windy the next few days, with no rain in the forecast.

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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.

Western Water Colorado River Bundle By Gary Pitzer

Milestone Colorado River Management Plan Mostly Worked Amid Epic Drought, Review Finds
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: Draft assessment of 2007 Interim Guidelines expected to provide a guide as talks begin on new river operating rules for the iconic Southwestern river

At full pool, Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States by volume. but two decades of drought have dramatically dropped the water level behind Hoover Dam.Twenty years ago, the Colorado River Basin’s hydrology began tumbling into a historically bad stretch. The weather turned persistently dry. Water levels in the system’s anchor reservoirs of Lake Powell and Lake Mead plummeted. A river system relied upon by nearly 40 million people, farms and ecosystems across the West was in trouble. And there was no guide on how to respond.

Western Water Layperson's Guide to the Delta By Gary Pitzer

Is Ecosystem Change in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Outpacing the Ability of Science to Keep Up?
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Science panel argues for a new approach to make research nimbler and more forward-looking to improve management in the ailing Delta

Floating vegetation such as water hyacinth has expanded in the Delta in recent years, choking waterways like the one in the bottom of this photo.Radically transformed from its ancient origin as a vast tidal-influenced freshwater marsh, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem is in constant flux, influenced by factors within the estuary itself and the massive watersheds that drain though it into the Pacific Ocean.

Lately, however, scientists say the rate of change has kicked into overdrive, fueled in part by climate change, and is limiting the ability of science and Delta water managers to keep up. The rapid pace of upheaval demands a new way of conducting science and managing water in the troubled estuary.

A Key Player On Colorado River Issues Seeks To Balance Competing Water Demands In The River’s Upper Basin
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Colorado’s water chief Becky Mitchell, now the state’s point person on the Upper Colorado River Commission, brings decades of water know-how to state, interstate assignments

Becky Mitchell, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board since 2017 and the state’s representative to the Upper Colorado River Commission.Colorado is home to the headwaters of the Colorado River and the water policy decisions made in the Centennial State reverberate throughout the river’s sprawling basin that stretches south to Mexico. The stakes are huge in a basin that serves 40 million people, and responding to the water needs of the economy, productive agriculture, a robust recreational industry and environmental protection takes expertise, leadership and a steady hand.

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map Gary Pitzer

Questions Simmer About Lake Powell’s Future As Drought, Climate Change Point To A Drier Colorado River Basin
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: A key reservoir for Colorado River storage program, Powell faces demands from stakeholders in Upper and Lower Basins with different water needs as runoff is forecast to decline

Persistent drought in the Colorado River Basin combined with the coordinated operations with Lake Mead has left Lake Powell consistently about half-full. Sprawled across a desert expanse along the Utah-Arizona border, Lake Powell’s nearly 100-foot high bathtub ring etched on its sandstone walls belie the challenges of a major Colorado River reservoir at less than half-full. How those challenges play out as demand grows for the river’s water amid a changing climate is fueling simmering questions about Powell’s future.

Western Water Gary Pitzer

Framework for Agreements to Aid Health of Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is a Starting Point With An Uncertain End
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Voluntary agreement discussions continue despite court fights, state-federal conflicts and skepticism among some water users and environmental groups

Aerial image of the Sacramento-San Joaquin DeltaVoluntary agreements in California have been touted as an innovative and flexible way to improve environmental conditions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the rivers that feed it. The goal is to provide river flows and habitat for fish while still allowing enough water to be diverted for farms and cities in a way that satisfies state regulators.

Lower Colorado River Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - May 20

This event explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour. 

Foundation Event

Water 101 Workshop: The Basics and Beyond
Virtual Workshop Occurred Afternoons of April 22-23

Our Water 101 Workshop, one of our most popular events, offered attendees the opportunity to deepen their understanding of California’s water history, laws, geography and politics.

Taught by some of the leading policy and legal experts in the state, the workshop was held as an engaging online event on the afternoons of Thursday, April 22 and Friday, April 23.

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map Gary Pitzer

Can a Grand Vision Solve the Colorado River’s Challenges? Or Will Incremental Change Offer Best Hope for Success?
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: With talks looming on a new operating agreement for the river, a debate has emerged over the best approach to address its challenges

Photo of Lake Mead and Hoover DamThe Colorado River is arguably one of the hardest working rivers on the planet, supplying water to 40 million people and a large agricultural economy in the West. But it’s under duress from two decades of drought and decisions made about its management will have exceptional ramifications for the future, especially as impacts from climate change are felt.

Western Water Jennifer Bowles Jennifer Bowles

Exploring Different Approaches for Solving the Colorado River’s Myriad Challenges
EDITOR’S NOTE: We examine a debate that emerged from our Colorado River Symposium over whether incrementalism or grand vision is the best path forward

Jenn Bowles, Water Education Foundation Executive DirectorEvery other year we hold an invitation-only Colorado River Symposium attended by various stakeholders from across the seven Western states and Mexico that rely on the iconic river. We host this three-day event in Santa Fe, N.M., where the 1922 Colorado River Compact was signed, as part of our mission to catalyze critical conversations to build bridges and inform collaborative decision-making.


2019 Class Report

Members of the 2019 Water Leaders class examined the emerging issue of wildfire impacts on California’s water supply and quality. Read their policy recommendations in the class report, Fire and Water: An Emerging Nexus in California, to learn more.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

Can a New Approach to Managing California Reservoirs Save Water and Still Protect Against Floods?
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Pilot Projects Testing Viability of Using Improved Forecasting to Guide Reservoir Operations

Bullards Bar Dam spills water during 2017 atmospheric river storms.Many of California’s watersheds are notoriously flashy – swerving from below-average flows to jarring flood conditions in quick order. The state needs all the water it can get from storms, but current flood management guidelines are strict and unyielding, requiring reservoirs to dump water each winter to make space for flood flows that may not come.

However, new tools and operating methods are emerging that could lead the way to a redefined system that improves both water supply and flood protection capabilities.

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Layperson's Guide to Climate Change and Water Resources Gary PitzerDouglas E. Beeman

As Wildfires Grow More Intense, California Water Managers Are Learning To Rewrite Their Emergency Playbook
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Agencies share lessons learned as they recover from fires that destroyed facilities, contaminated supplies and devastated their customers

Debris from the Camp Fire that swept through the Sierra foothills town of Paradise  in November 2018.

By Gary Pitzer and Douglas E. Beeman

It’s been a year since two devastating wildfires on opposite ends of California underscored the harsh new realities facing water districts and cities serving communities in or adjacent to the state’s fire-prone wildlands. Fire doesn’t just level homes, it can contaminate water, scorch watersheds, damage delivery systems and upend an agency’s finances.

Western Water Gary Pitzer

Lessons From the Flames: Advice From Water Managers Who Have Lived Through Disaster

California water managers who have lived through a devastating wildfire and its aftermath have shared key lessons from their experiences.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

Understanding Streamflow Is Vital to Water Management in California, But Gaps In Data Exist
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: A new law aims to reactivate dormant stream gauges to aid in flood protection, water forecasting

Stream gauges gather important metrics such as  depth, flow (described as cubic feet per second) and temperature.  This gauge near downtown Sacramento measures water depth.California is chock full of rivers and creeks, yet the state’s network of stream gauges has significant gaps that limit real-time tracking of how much water is flowing downstream, information that is vital for flood protection, forecasting water supplies and knowing what the future might bring.

That network of stream gauges got a big boost Sept. 30 with the signing of SB 19. Authored by Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa), the law requires the state to develop a stream gauge deployment plan, focusing on reactivating existing gauges that have been offline for lack of funding and other reasons. Nearly half of California’s stream gauges are dormant.

Foundation Event University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law Jennifer Bowles Nick Gray

Water 101 Workshop: The Basics and Beyond

The Water Education Foundation’s Water 101 Workshop, one of our most popular events, offered attendees the opportunity to deepen their understanding of California’s water history, laws, geography and politics.

Taught by some of the leading policy and legal experts in the state, the one-day workshop held on Feb. 20, 2020 covered the latest on the most compelling issues in California water. 

McGeorge School of Law
3327 5th Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95817
Western Water California Groundwater Map Gary Pitzer

Recharging Depleted Aquifers No Easy Task, But It’s Key To California’s Water Supply Future
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: A UC Berkeley symposium explores approaches and challenges to managed aquifer recharge around the West

A water recharge basin in Southern California's Coachella Valley. To survive the next drought and meet the looming demands of the state’s groundwater sustainability law, California is going to have to put more water back in the ground. But as other Western states have found, recharging overpumped aquifers is no easy task.

Successfully recharging aquifers could bring multiple benefits for farms and wildlife and help restore the vital interconnection between groundwater and rivers or streams. As local areas around California draft their groundwater sustainability plans, though, landowners in the hardest hit regions of the state know they will have to reduce pumping to address the chronic overdraft in which millions of acre-feet more are withdrawn than are naturally recharged.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

Often Short of Water, California’s Southern Central Coast Builds Toward A Drought-Proof Supply
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Water agencies in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo counties look to seawater, recycled water to protect against water shortages

The spillway at Lake Cachuma in central Santa Barbara County. Drought in 2016 plunged its storage to about 8 percent of capacity.The southern part of California’s Central Coast from San Luis Obispo County to Ventura County, home to about 1.5 million people, is blessed with a pleasing Mediterranean climate and a picturesque terrain. Yet while its unique geography abounds in beauty, the area perpetually struggles with drought.

Indeed, while the rest of California breathed a sigh of relief with the return of wet weather after the severe drought of 2012–2016, places such as Santa Barbara still grappled with dry conditions.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

How Private Capital is Speeding up Sierra Nevada Forest Restoration in a Way that Benefits Water
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: A bond fund that fronts the money is expediting a headwaters restoration project to improve forest health, water quality and supply

District Ranger Lon Henderson with Tahoe National Forest points toward an overgrown section of forest within the Blue Forest project area. The majestic beauty of the Sierra Nevada forest is awe-inspiring, but beneath the dazzling blue sky, there is a problem: A century of fire suppression and logging practices have left trees too close together. Millions of trees have died, stricken by drought and beetle infestation. Combined with a forest floor cluttered with dry brush and debris, it’s a wildfire waiting to happen.

Fires devastate the Sierra watersheds upon which millions of Californians depend — scorching the ground, unleashing a battering ram of debris and turning hillsides into gelatinous, stream-choking mudflows. 

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map Gary Pitzer

A Rancher-Led Group Is Boosting the Health of the Colorado River Near Its Headwaters
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: A Colorado partnership is engaged in a river restoration effort to aid farms and fish habitat that could serve as a model across the West

Strategic placement of rocks promotes a more natural streamflow that benefits ranchers and fish. High in the headwaters of the Colorado River, around the hamlet of Kremmling, Colorado, generations of families have made ranching and farming a way of life, their hay fields and cattle sustained by the river’s flow. But as more water was pulled from the river and sent over the Continental Divide to meet the needs of Denver and other cities on the Front Range, less was left behind to meet the needs of ranchers and fish.

“What used to be a very large river that inundated the land has really become a trickle,” said Mely Whiting, Colorado counsel for Trout Unlimited. “We estimate that 70 percent of the flow on an annual average goes across the Continental Divide and never comes back.”


Registration Now Open for the 36th Annual Water Summit; Take Advantage of Early Bird Discount by Registering Today
Join us Oct. 30 for key conversations on water in California and the West

Registration opens today for the Water Education Foundation’s 36th annual Water Summit, set for Oct. 30 in Sacramento. This year’s theme, Water Year 2020: A Year of Reckoning, reflects fast-approaching deadlines for the State Groundwater Management Act as well as the pressing need for new approaches to water management as California and the West weather intensified flooding, fire and drought. To register for this can’t-miss event, visit our Water Summit event page.

Registration includes a full day of discussions by leading stakeholders and policymakers on key issues, as well as coffee, materials, gourmet lunch and an outdoor reception by the Sacramento River that will offer the opportunity to network with speakers and other attendees. The summit also features a silent auction to benefit our Water Leaders program featuring items up for bid such as kayaking trips, hotel stays and lunches with key people in the water world.

Western Water California Water Map

Your Don’t-Miss Roundup of Summer Reading From Western Water

Dear Western Water reader, 

Clockwise, from top: Lake Powell, on a drought-stressed Colorado River; Subsidence-affected bridge over the Friant-Kern Canal in the San Joaquin Valley;  A homeless camp along the Sacramento River near Old Town Sacramento; Water from a desalination plant in Southern California.Summer is a good time to take a break, relax and enjoy some of the great beaches, waterways and watersheds around California and the West. We hope you’re getting a chance to do plenty of that this July.

But in the weekly sprint through work, it’s easy to miss some interesting nuggets you might want to read. So while we’re taking a publishing break to work on other water articles planned for later this year, we want to help you catch up on Western Water stories from the first half of this year that you might have missed. 


2019 Water Summit Theme Announced – Water Year 2020: A Year of Reckoning
Join us October 30 in Sacramento for our premier annual event

Sacramento RiverOur 36th annual Water Summit, happening Oct. 30 in Sacramento, will feature the theme “Water Year 2020: A Year of Reckoning,” reflecting upcoming regulatory deadlines and efforts to improve water management and policy in the face of natural disasters.

The Summit will feature top policymakers and leading stakeholders providing the latest information and a variety of viewpoints on issues affecting water across California and the West.


Explore a Scenic But Challenged California Landscape on Our Edge of Drought Tour
August 27-29 Tour Examines Santa Barbara Region Prone to Drought, Mudslides and Wildfire

Pyramid LakeNew to this year’s slate of water tours, our Edge of Drought Tour Aug. 27-29 will venture into the Santa Barbara area to learn about the challenges of limited local surface and groundwater supplies and the solutions being implemented to address them.

Despite Santa Barbara County’s decision to lift a drought emergency declaration after this winter’s storms replenished local reservoirs, the region’s hydrologic recovery often has lagged behind much of the rest of the state.

Western Water Layperson's Guide to California Wastewater Gary Pitzer

As Californians Save More Water, Their Sewers Get Less and That’s a Problem
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Lower flows damage equipment, concentrate waste and stink up neighborhoods; should water conservation focus shift outdoors?

Corrosion is evident in this wastewater pipe from Los Angeles County.Californians have been doing an exceptional job reducing their indoor water use, helping the state survive the most recent drought when water districts were required to meet conservation targets. With more droughts inevitable, Californians are likely to face even greater calls to save water in the future.

Western Water Colorado River Bundle Gary Pitzer

150 Years After John Wesley Powell Ventured Down the Colorado River, How Should We Assess His Legacy in the West?
WESTERN WATER Q&A: University of Colorado’s Charles Wilkinson on Powell, Water and the American West

We have an unknown distance yet to run, an unknown river to explore. What falls there are, we know not; what rocks beset the channel, we know not; what walls ride over the river, we know not. Ah, well! We may conjecture many things.

~John Wesley Powell

Explorer John Wesley Powell and Paiute Chief Tau-Gu looking over the Virgin River in 1873.Powell scrawled those words in his journal as he and his expedition paddled their way into the deep walls of the Grand Canyon on a stretch of the Colorado River in August 1869. Three months earlier, the 10-man group had set out on their exploration of the iconic Southwest river by hauling their wooden boats into a major tributary of the Colorado, the Green River in Wyoming, for their trip into the “great unknown,” as Powell described it.


Headwaters Tour Explores the Role of Forest Management in Watershed Health From Research to Application
June 27-28 tour will include stops at forest research station and a pilot project aimed at forest restoration

Sixty percent of California’s developed water supply originates high in the Sierra Nevada, making the state’s water supply largely dependent on the health of Sierra forests. But those forests are suffering from ecosystem degradation, drought, wildfires and widespread tree mortality.

On our Headwaters Tour June 27-28, we will visit Eldorado and Tahoe national forests to learn about new forest management practices, including efforts to both prevent wildfires and recover from them.

With Drought Plan in Place, Colorado River Stakeholders Face Even Tougher Talks Ahead On The River’s Future
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Talks are about to begin on a potentially sweeping agreement that could reimagine how the Colorado River is managed

Lake Mead, behind Hoover Dam, shows the effects of nearly two decades of drought. Even as stakeholders in the Colorado River Basin celebrate the recent completion of an unprecedented drought plan intended to stave off a crashing Lake Mead, there is little time to rest. An even larger hurdle lies ahead as they prepare to hammer out the next set of rules that could vastly reshape the river’s future.

Set to expire in 2026, the current guidelines for water deliveries and shortage sharing, launched in 2007 amid a multiyear drought, were designed to prevent disputes that could provoke conflict.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

California’s New Natural Resources Secretary Takes on Challenge of Implementing Gov. Newsom’s Ambitious Water Agenda
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Wade Crowfoot addresses Delta tunnel shift, Salton Sea plan and managing water amid a legacy of conflict

Wade Crowfoot, California Natural Resources Secretary.One of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first actions after taking office was to appoint Wade Crowfoot as Natural Resources Agency secretary. Then, within weeks, the governor laid out an ambitious water agenda that Crowfoot, 45, is now charged with executing.

That agenda includes the governor’s desire for a “fresh approach” on water, scaling back the conveyance plan in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and calling for more water recycling, expanded floodplains in the Central Valley and more groundwater recharge.

Western Water Gary Pitzer

Bruce Babbitt Urges Creation of Bay-Delta Compact as Way to End ‘Culture of Conflict’ in California’s Key Water Hub
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Former Interior secretary says Colorado River Compact is a model for achieving peace and addressing environmental and water needs in the Delta

Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt gives the Anne J. Schneider Lecture April 3 at Sacramento's Crocker Art Museum.  Bruce Babbitt, the former Arizona governor and secretary of the Interior, has been a thoughtful, provocative and sometimes forceful voice in some of the most high-profile water conflicts over the last 40 years, including groundwater management in Arizona and the reduction of California’s take of the Colorado River. In 2016, former California Gov. Jerry Brown named Babbitt as a special adviser to work on matters relating to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the Delta tunnels plan.

Western Water California Groundwater Map Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Gary Pitzer

As Deadline Looms for California’s Badly Overdrafted Groundwater Basins, Kern County Seeks a Balance to Keep Farms Thriving
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: Sustainability plans required by the state’s groundwater law could cap Kern County pumping, alter what's grown and how land is used

Water sprinklers irrigate a field in the southern region of the San Joaquin Valley in Kern County.Groundwater helped make Kern County the king of California agricultural production, with a $7 billion annual array of crops that help feed the nation. That success has come at a price, however. Decades of unchecked groundwater pumping in the county and elsewhere across the state have left some aquifers severely depleted. Now, the county’s water managers have less than a year left to devise a plan that manages and protects groundwater for the long term, yet ensures that Kern County’s economy can continue to thrive, even with less water.

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map Gary Pitzer

‘Mission-Oriented’ Colorado River Veteran Takes the Helm as the US Commissioner of IBWC
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Jayne Harkins’ duties include collaboration with Mexico on Colorado River supply, water quality issues

Jayne Harkins, the U.S. Commissioner of the International Boundary and Water Commission.For the bulk of her career, Jayne Harkins has devoted her energy to issues associated with the management of the Colorado River, both with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and with the Colorado River Commission of Nevada.

Now her career is taking a different direction. Harkins, 58, was appointed by President Trump last August to take the helm of the United States section of the U.S.-Mexico agency that oversees myriad water matters between the two countries as they seek to sustainably manage the supply and water quality of the Colorado River, including its once-thriving Delta in Mexico, and other rivers the two countries share. She is the first woman to be named the U.S. Commissioner of the International Boundary and Water Commission for either the United States or Mexico in the commission’s 129-year history.