Topic: Water Supply

Overview

Water Supply

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

By the Numbers:

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

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California tells Central Valley farmers to brace for water shortages

The seriousness of California’s drought is being driven home to thousands of farmers in the Central Valley. State regulators warned 6,600 farmers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed on Tuesday that they’re about to lose the right to pull water from the estuary’s rivers at some point this summer. The watershed covers a major swath of the Central Valley. 

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news CBS8.com

How San Diego County reservoirs levels look amid California drought

Reservoirs throughout the west are showing signs of the drought that really turned severe over the winter. There may be records set by the end of this summer as some reservoirs are down near half capacity already. But is it all bad news? News 8’s Steve Fiorina went in search of answers regarding the status of our San Diego County lakes and reservoirs. Many reservoirs across California are lower than preferred as we deal with the ongoing drought. In San Diego, so far there are no worries.

Related article:

Aquafornia news LA Daily News

Editorial: Water rationing is not the solution for our drought

Not long after former Gov. Jerry Brown announced the end of a grueling six-year drought in 2017, the Legislature passed two controversial water-efficiency laws designed to promote even more conservation – even though residents have done a remarkable job reducing their water usage. Those new laws required utilities to reduce daily water usage by an average of 55 gallons per person by 2023. 

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Verde River is losing water storage space. Can Arizona get it back?

Some estimates suggest that [Horseshoe Lake] has already lost a third of its capacity, with more sediment piling up each year we don’t act. If the climate grows hotter and drier – but punctuated by huge, short-lived floods – the last thing we need is a reservoir that can no longer hold the water it once did. We need every drop of storage we can get.
-Written by Joanna Allhands, Arizona Republic columnist.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun News

Editorial: Grounded leadership needed in region brimming with water tensions

As the Southwest prepares for what’s forecast to be another mercilessly hot and dry summer, tensions over water scarcity are rising like the mercury. Farmers are facing bleak growing seasons and the possibility of farm failures in several areas due to cutbacks in water allocations for irrigation, creating friction between the ag community and cities on the dwindling water supply in the region. Rural communities in Nevada and elsewhere, already wary of incursions by urban areas into their water supplies, are on high alert as the water crisis deepens.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Lower Russian River flows to be halved under state order to preserve stored supplies

The Sonoma County water agency received permission Monday to immediately cut stream flows in the lower Russian River by more than half in an effort to conserve water stored in Lake Sonoma. Instream flows in the upper river, above Dry Creek, which is fed by releases from Lake Sonoma, already are being maintained at a very low threshold to keep as much water as possible in Lake Mendocino, the smaller of the two reservoirs.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news The Planning Report

New MWD GM Adel Hagekhalil commits to “One Water” agenda

TPR is proud to share this timely interview with Metropolitan Water District’s newly confirmed General Manager, Adel Hagekhalil….In this VX Interview, Hagekhalil shares his One Water agenda for securing water resilience through integration, innovation, and inclusion and emphasizes his commitment to bringing all of Met’s member agencies and stakeholders to the table to enhance local supplies and deliver on Met’s mission to provide reliable, affordable water to the region. 

Aquafornia news WhoWhatWhy

Wall Street is thirsting for your water

While water in the West becomes scarcer and droughts more frequent and more severe — thanks in part to changing weather patterns and rising temperatures triggered by carbon emissions — Wall Street views water as an “asset class,” a commodity like stocks, bonds, and real-estate that can generate enormous returns for shareholders, even in severe droughts. Or maybe, especially in water shortages. Institutional investors like One Rock are snapping up water rights just like others are snapping up rental properties to lease back to Americans at a profit…

Related article: 

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: California must use budget surplus to fix water problems

As California plunges into another “historic” drought, people across the state are worried about water shortages. But the last drought never really ended for some Californians, like residents of East Porterville that still have emergency water storage tanks in their front yards. With the state’s current financial surplus, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fund drought preparedness and water safety in communities that have lived for decades with shallow and contaminated drinking water wells, inadequate water treatment, and other infrastructure failures…
-Written by Carolina Garcia, a resident of Tombstone Territory, and Sandra Chavez, a member of the Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) Advisory Group. 

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

U.S. water and power are shockingly vulnerable to cyberhacks

When the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power was hacked in 2018, it took a mere six hours. Early this year, an intruder lurked in hundreds of computers related to water systems across the U.S. In Portland, Oregon, burglars installed malicious computers onto a grid providing power to a chunk of the Northwest. … All three drive home a point long known but, until recently, little appreciated: the digital security of U.S. computer networks controlling the machines that produce and distribute water and power is woefully inadequate, a low priority for operators and regulators, posing a terrifying national threat.

Aquafornia news NBC News

‘Dying of thirst’: The Cucapá in Mexico fight against climate change and oblivion

Lucía Laguna carries her fate tattooed on her face — from the corner of her mouth to her chin, black lines surf across her coppery skin — the tribal art honoring her people will also serve an important function later on. … But under the merciless sun, Laguna, 51, worries about the fate of the river and its impact on the Cucapá, her Indigenous people. A searing drought is exacerbating the deadly heat in a region that long ago saw its river flow diminished, after almost a century of U.S. engineering projects, as well as a focus on water for agriculture.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Drought in Tulare County never ends

Severe drought is gripping most of California, but its misery isn’t spread equally. While most of the state compares today’s extreme conditions to previous droughts, people in Tulare County speak of drought — in the singular, as in a continuous state of being. … Tulare County’s never-ending drought brings dried up wells and plenty of misery The entire West is suffering from extreme dryness, heat and fire risk, and the small, rural towns of northern Tulare County, outside of Visalia, are caught in its vortex.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Final plan for water releases into Sacramento River could kill up to 88% of endangered salmon run

The California water board has approved a plan for water releases into the Sacramento River that could kill off an entire run of endangered chinook salmon and put at risk another population that is part of the commercial salmon fishery. … Because the [Bureau of Reclamation’s] plan involves releasing water to irrigation districts earlier in the season, the river will be lower and warmer during salmon spawning season and could result in killing as many as 88% of endangered winter-run chinook eggs and young fish.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: California drought sparks perpetual fight about water

California never has enough water to meet all demands and even when supplies are relatively robust there’s a triangular competition over their allocation. Farmers, municipal users and environmental advocates vie for shares of water that has been captured by California’s extensive network of dams and reservoirs. … When California experiences one of its periodic droughts and reservoirs shrink from scant rain and snowfall, its perpetual conflict becomes even sharper.
-Written by Dan Walters, a CalMatters columnist

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Drought: Quake risk forces Silicon Valley to cut water use

California is known for its history of natural disasters, and in the Silicon Valley, two potential calamities — drought and earthquake risk — are converging to dry up water supplies in the hub of the state’s tech economy. In a meeting on Wednesday, board members of the Santa Clara Valley Water District voted unanimously to declare a water shortage emergency — in part because a key county reservoir had to been drained to reduce earthquake risks highlighted by federal regulators. 

Aquafornia news Water Finance & Management

PFAS, emerging contaminants & how polluters are paying municipalities for water remediation costs

Toxic manmade chemicals, like per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and 1,2,3-Tricholoropropane (TCP), are showing up in water systems across the US. It’s not new, but it has become more common, as municipalities are now increasing mandatory testing due to new state and federal regulations. … TCP was tagged as a carcinogen in 1999 by the state of California which lead to the strictest state MCL level in the country at 5 ppt. One ppt is the equivalent of one drop of impurity in 21 million gallons of water – in other words, TCP is very toxic.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Shocking water news in Arizona, Tucson should lead to more action

The problem, as always, is that water keeps flowing from the tap. Every other indicator is telling us we should be in red alert right now about Arizona’s climate and water situation. But when we turn the valve, even on these blazing days, drinkable water flows. It’s a luxury in this season and this place. And it makes it easy to turn away from the news. But we shouldn’t. 
-Written by Tim Steller.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Oilfield disposal site in western Kern set to close

A large oilfield wastewater disposal pond near Buttonwillow will likely close this summer, and its operator and last remaining customer will together pay $645,000 in penalties and fees, under a recent court settlement that further restricts a decades-old practice that has become a focus of regional water quality regulators. The accord concludes a 2019 lawsuit that accused facility owner Valley Water Management Co. and Colorado-based oil producer Sentinel Peak Resources of dumping fluid containing harmful chemicals above a reservoir that provides local drinking and irrigation water.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Some Arizona golf courses oppose a state plan for cutting water use

Managers of some Arizona golf courses are fighting a plan that would cut water use at a time when the state is being forced to confront shrinking water supplies. A group representing golf courses has been pushing back against a proposal by state officials that would reduce overall water use on courses, instead offering a plan that would entail less conservation. Opposition to the state’s proposal for golf courses has emerged over the past several months, aired in sometimes-tense virtual meetings …

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

Lake Powell pipeline targets water promised to Utes in scheme the tribe sees as another racially based injustice

The water [that Utah] plans to tap for the Lake Powell pipeline was previously promised to the Ute Indian Tribe, which is now suing to get back its water and asserting that the misappropriation is one of a decades-long string of racially motivated schemes to deprive it of its rights and property.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Pasadena Star News

Opinion: Another water war washes over the MWD

In the final scene of “Chinatown,” the noir movie version of Los Angeles’s original water grab, anti-hero Jack Nicholson confronts the brutal triumph of the film’s “pillar of the establishment” villain. The cops don’t want to hear his story.  They invoke the racist trope that the law of the jungle rules in the ethnic enclave where the scene occurs: “Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.” The real life water wars continue, however, and it remains to be seen who will win the current power struggle at the Metropolitan Water District.
-Written by Rick Cole, former mayor of Pasadena, deputy mayor of Los Angeles and city manager of Azusa, Ventura and Santa Monica.​

Aquafornia news Calaveras Enterprise

Local JPA working to enlist private capital for forest restoration

While fuel reduction can play an important role in limiting the severity of wildfire, lack of funding often hinders forest management efforts. The Upper Mokelumne River Watershed Authority (UMRWA), a joint powers authority comprised of Alpine, Amador and Calaveras counties and six water districts, recently initiated a novel funding approach to improve forest resilience to wildfire and safeguard communities and water resources.

Aquafornia news NewsChannel 3-12 - Santa Barbara

Central Coast farmers concerned over ‘extreme drought’ conditions happening throughout region

Farmers are concerned for their crops as dry conditions has worsen throughout the Central Coast. Earlier this year, it started off a major storm. Ever since, farmers have not seen much rainfall. According to the National Weather Service, the ‘extreme drought’ conditions has expanded throughout Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Healdsburg adopts mandatory 40% water conservation level

Residents of Healdsburg are under new orders to reduce their water use by 40% compared to a year ago — a challenging new threshold that doubles a mandatory 20% conservation level established in May that the city so far has been unable to meet.  In fact, May 2021 water consumption was 3% higher than in May 2020, though more recent usage figures demonstrate a rolling seven-day average reduction of 15%, according to a city staff report.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news NBC News

The West is the driest it’s been in 1,200 years – raising questions about a livable future

Water is increasingly scarce in the Western U.S. — where 72 percent of the region is in “severe” drought, 26 percent is in exceptional drought, and populations are booming. Insufficient monsoon rains last summer and low snowpacks over the winter left states like Arizona, Utah and Nevada without the typical amount of water they need, and forecasts for the rainy summer season don’t show promise. … The past two decades have been the driest or the second driest in the last 1,200 years in the West, posing existential questions about how to secure a livable future in the region.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Bills to fund canal repairs moving forward

Excessive groundwater pumping has collapsed the land beneath several key canals, crimping their ability to move water. Fixing them will be expensive. There are two bills moving through the state Legislature and Congress that could provide some funding. This is the second try for the state bill, Senate Bill 559 by Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger). … Representative Jim Costa (D-Hanford) and Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Ca.) introduced S. 1179, the Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration Act, on April 15.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Orange County Water District

News release: Orange County Water District receives $100,000 research grant to pilot test flow-reversal reverse osmosis technology

Building on its long history of innovation and research initiatives, the Orange County Water District (OCWD; the District) recently received a $100,000 grant from the Southern California Salinity Coalition (SCSC) to study ways to expand water reuse and further improve water quality. An 18-month pilot study will evaluate the feasibility of flow-reversal reverse osmosis (FR-RO) for municipal potable reuse at OCWD.

Aquafornia news Metropolitan Water District

News release: Metropolitan helps advance stormwater capture and recycling projects

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is helping advance two local supply projects that will further diversify and strengthen the region’s water reliability, under two agreements approved Tuesday by the district’s board of directors. The board approved an agreement with the Municipal Water District of Orange County and the Santa Margarita Water District to provide funding for a recycled water project. 

Aquafornia news Jfleck at Inkstain

Blog: Invest in farm water conservation to curtail buy and dry

The term buy-and-dry plays to the fears of farm and ranch communities. Wealthy urban water providers buy up water rights, dry out farms and ranches, encourage people to retire to Hawaii or other locales, and export the purchased water out of basin to growing cities. As more farmers and ranchers sell their water rights, local businesses—irrigation,  farm equipment, seed, and other agricultural firms—contract. Those contractions encourage more farmers and ranchers to sell their water rights and farms. And a negative feedback loop gains momentum and propels a tragedy where the commons—a functioning local agricultural community—disappears. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday Top of the Scroll: How dire is the drought? One of California’s biggest reservoirs could hit its lowest level ever

Normally at this time of year, workers at Lake Oroville’s two marinas are preparing for a deluge of visitors eager to spend the summer lazing on houseboats, zipping across the water on speed boats or cruising the sprawling lake’s rocky nooks and coves in search of salmon. But this spring, after two years of scant rainfall, they’ve pulled about 130 houseboats out of the shallower reaches of the marinas and are closing boat launch ramps as the lake recedes, likely to record-low levels by the fall…Three of the lake’s five boat launch ramps have already closed, a fourth may close Monday and the last is expected to be shut down in weeks…

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news CNN

A water war is brewing in Oregon after Klamath Basin shutdown

Tricia Hill tears up when she talks about the emotional toll the water shut-off in southern Oregon has had on her family. Amid historic, climate change-driven drought, the federal government in May shut down the water supply from the Upper Klamath Basin on the California-Oregon border to protect native fish species on the verge of extinction. As a result, Hill and other farmers like her in the region have been cut off from water they have used for decades.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Water prices going up for 1.4 million in the East Bay

Higher bills will soon be on the way for the roughly 1.4 million people who get their water from the East Bay Municipal Utility District, but at least for now they won’t be required to cut their water use despite the drought. Beginning July 1, the agency will charge customers 4% more for both water and sewer services. And a year later, on July 1, 2022, the rate will climb another 4%. The district’s board of directors unanimously approved the rate increases at its meeting Tuesday as part of the $2.25 billion budget it adopted for the next two fiscal years.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news SF Gate

Mandatory water rules hit Bay Area county: See the cutbacks in your area

One of the largest water districts in the San Francisco Bay Area announced mandatory restrictions Wednesday and declared a water shortage emergency, signaling the seriousness of drought conditions across the region and state after two consecutive dry winters.  The Board of Directors for Santa Clara Valley Water District, which serves 2 million customers, unanimously approved a resolution requiring customers to reduce water use by 15% compared with 2019 levels. The board is also urging Santa Clara County to proclaim a local emergency.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin officials: Bridge water pipeline could be permanent

Officials are raising the prospect of a permanent water pipeline over the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge as a potential drought-fighting strategy for Marin County. … [Ben] Horenstein, the general manager of the Marin Municipal Water District, was among the participants of a teleconference on drought and wildfires organized by Assemblyman Marc Levine on Wednesday. … For Marin, Horenstein said, the focus now is on promoting as much conservation as possible through mandatory water use restrictions and rebates for water-efficient appliances and landscaping.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Fort Bragg Advocate-News

Mendocino County Board of Supervisors create standalone water agency

During the budget hearings on June 8, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a proposal for a standalone water agency to combat water insecurity in Mendocino County. This water agency will immediately focus on the local drought emergency and work on other water-related projects, such as water curtailment and groundwater management, in the future.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Save 30% off maps, guides and more so we don’t have to move them!

We’re moving later this summer to new quarters closer to the Sacramento River, and we don’t want to haul all of our water maps, Layperson’s Guides, DVDs and more to the new home. So we’re making you a limited-time offer we hope you can’t refuse: Take 30 percent off the price of all of our maps, guides and more.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Seeking a balanced plan – Sacramento River operations for 2021

With the harshest dry year in recent memory, the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors (Settlement Contractors) are working closely with federal and state agencies, as well as our conservation partners, to continually improve our operations and serve water for multiple benefits, including water for cities and rural communities, farms, birds, fish, and recreation.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: New resource page keeps you up-to-date with drought gripping West

For anyone trying to keep up with the unfolding drought in California and the West, the Water Education Foundation has created a special resource page that offers links to real-time reservoir data and water supply forecasts, an ongoing newsfeed to help you stay up to date on the latest news and tips so you can help conserve the region’s most precious natural resource.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Farm groups seek $49 billion for Western water, forests

Even as a federal infrastructure bill teeters on the brink of failure, more than 200 Western farm and water organizations pushing for canal and reservoir repairs are proposing nearly $49 billion for projects improving water conveyance, dam safety and forest health. In a letter June 9 to Chairman Joe Manchin and Ranking Member John Barrasso of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, organizations ranging from Western Growers to the Idaho Potato Commission cited an “acute and critical need” magnified by another all-too-familiar drought.

Aquafornia news Senator Dianne Feinstein

News release: Feinstein secures Biden Administration commitment to request more drought funds

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) questioned Bureau of Reclamation Deputy Commissioner David Palumbo on the need to request additional funding to address the severe drought in the Western United States. Senator Feinstein has been pressing the bureau for months to request the ability to use funds for drought mitigation that Congress had initially set aside for other less urgently needed programs.

Aquafornia news Reuters

Hoover Dam reservoir hits record low, in sign of extreme western U.S. drought

The reservoir created by Hoover Dam, an engineering marvel that symbolized the American ascendance of the 20th Century, has sunk to its lowest level ever, underscoring the gravity of the extreme drought across the U.S. West. Lake Mead, formed in the 1930s from the damming of the Colorado River at the Nevada-Arizona border about 30 miles (50 km) east of Las Vegas, is the largest reservoir in the United States. It is crucial to the water supply of 25 million people including in the cities of Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson and Las Vegas.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Opinion: State water board choice is key to providing clean water for all

California’s drought highlights the importance of an appointment sitting on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk – filling the final seat on the State Water Resources Control Board.   This is a critical agency appointment at a critical time. The drought highlights many inequities in California water policy. Disadvantaged communities in Stockton face the prospect of a drought summer plagued by harmful algae blooms in Delta rivers.  Those algae outbreaks, which can harm children and kill pets, are caused by excessive nutrients and inadequate freshwater flow.  
-Written by Belinda Faustina, a strategic advisor with Los Angeles Waterkeeper, and Barbara Barrigan-Parilla, the executive director of Restore the Delta.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Drought – Mandatory water restrictions approved for 2 million residents of Santa Clara County

Santa Clara County on Wednesday became the most populous county in California to impose mandatory water restrictions, saying that the worsening drought poses a significant threat to the local groundwater supplies that provide nearly half the drinking water for 2 million residents. On a 7-0 vote, the Santa Clara Valley Water District board declared a water shortage emergency and set a target of reducing water use 33% countywide from 2013 levels, a year the state uses as baseline. 

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news South Tahoe Now

Whose water is it? Lake Tahoe water levels dropping quickly as demand increases

Those watching the level of Lake Tahoe know it is dropping quickly, and it’s not just because of a lack of snowfall this year and another year of drought. Understanding why the lake drops, and who causes it to drop (yes, there is a person – the watermaster), is key to knowing why the lake should be at its natural rim of 6,223 feet above sea level by the beginning of August. As of June 8 the lake is two feet above that rim. 

Aquafornia news Business Wire

Metropolitan board confirms Adel Hagekhalil as new general manager

Adel Hagekhalil, a national water and infrastructure leader, will take the helm of the nation’s largest drinking water provider – the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California – following a vote Tuesday evening by the agency’s board of directors. The 38-member board approved Hagekhalil’s contract, making him the 14th general manager in the district’s 93-year history.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news KCBX

San Luis Obispo reports safe water quality, no health standard violations; here’s what it means

San Luis Obispo’s 2020 Water Quality Report shows zero violations of health regulations. Jason Meeks is the supervisor of the city’s water treatment plant. He has been working in water and wastewater for nearly 22 years. Meeks said one of the most important things for city residents to know about the 2020 Water Quality Report is that it only shows substances that were detected in the water.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Stanford University-The Bill Lane Center for the American West

Blog: How ingenuity and desperate measures kept urban water flowing during the ‘77 drought

When a historic drought gripped California and the Bay Area, water managers came together to keep drinkable water in the homes of vulnerable areas in Marin and Contra Costa Counties. Two veterans of those efforts describe the dramatic process, and consider lessons it offers for today’s imminent drought.

Related article:

Aquafornia news CNN

Hoover Dam and Lake Mead to reach lowest levels in decades as drought grips the region

A crippling drought in the western US is dropping the water level at Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam to a historically low level, putting pressure on the region’s drinking water supply and the dam’s electric capacity. By Thursday, Lake Mead’s water level is expected to sink to the lowest it’s been since it began filling during construction of the Hoover Dam, according to Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman Patricia Aaron.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Pulling out trees, trucking water for cows: California farmers take drastic measures in drought

Normally, the biggest vegetable grower in Sonoma County, Humberto Castañeda Produce, grows heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, watermelons and other crops on 180 acres outside of Santa Rosa. But this year, Humberto Castañeda and his son, Gabriel, are farming only 17 acres after receiving a fraction of their normal allotment of water from the city of Santa Rosa. … The Castañedas are among countless farmers across the state taking drastic measures to deal with the drought…

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Southern California’s biggest water agency has new leader

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has hired Adel Hagekhalil as its next general manager, following a bitter power struggle over the future of an agency that delivers hundreds of billions of gallons each year from the Colorado River and Northern California to a region that otherwise wouldn’t have nearly enough water to support 19 million people.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Nevada Independent

With new law, Las Vegas water agency bets on ‘aggressive municipal water conservation measure’ to remove decorative turf, conserve Colorado River supply

With Lake Mead approaching critically-low levels, the Southern Nevada Water Authority recently turned to the Legislature to double-down on its existing strategy for using less water: turf removal. … [Southern Nevada Water Authority general manager John] Entsminger, in a recent interview, said the prohibition would result in significant water savings. The removal of an estimated 3,900 acres of decorative turf could save roughly 9.3 billion gallons of water annually — about 10 percent of the state’s entire Colorado River allotment.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Editorial: State funding is crucial for restoring San Francisco Bay

Five years ago Bay Area voters wisely approved Measure AA, a nine-county, 20-year, $12 per parcel annual tax to restore San Francisco Bay and guard against the threat of rising sea levels due to global warming. … An estimated 355,000 Bay Area residents live within a 100-year flood plain that includes 800 miles of roads and highways, 70 miles of critical rail lines, 46 wastewater plants, 35 schools and 15 hospitals.

Related article:

 

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Opinion: Water diversion for Napa County vineyards harm Napa city residents

Among the nearly one hundred development projects pending on the county of Napa Current Projects website comes a sleeper of a project likely to go unnoticed by Napa city residents and businesses who will be most negatively impacted. The remote vineyard development project, proposed deep in the headwaters above Lake Hennessey, seeks to clear 156.8 acres of existing vegetation including oak woodlands, foothill pine communities, and grasslands in order to construct a vineyard in the Conn Creek/Lake Hennessey watershed. 
-Written by Kellie Anderson, resident of Angwin.

Related article:

Aquafornia news California Land Use and Development

Blog: Water district rate increases violated Proposition 218

A court of appeal invalidated a water district’s adopted rate increases, concluding that the district failed to meet its burden under Proposition 218 of establishing that the increases did not exceed the cost of providing the water service. … Following a hearing, the Board of Directors of the Florin County Water District voted to increase its water rates by 50 percent. Data presented by staff at the hearing showed that revenues would exceed expenditures in each of the four years following the rate increase, culminating in a net profit of almost $1.4 million in the fourth year.

Aquafornia news Water Finance & Management

Blog: Low-income water assistance program formally launched

The White House last week announced the official launch of the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) housed at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). This program is the first of its kind designed to provide funding to help low-income households affected by the COVID-19 pandemic pay their water and wastewater bills. According to the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), the available federal funds, which total $1.138 billion, were secured as part of the federal COVID-19 relief spending in December 2020 and March 2021.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news KPBS

Rising water costs prompt two North County communities to look for alternatives

A water war is heating up in the North County. Rainbow Municipal Water District and Fallbrook Public Utility District want to leave the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) because of rising costs. They want to join the Eastern Municipal Water District in Riverside County, a move that could save their customers up to $5 million a year.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Drought – Mandatory water restrictions coming to Santa Clara County

In a major sign of California’s worsening drought, Santa Clara County’s largest water provider announced Monday that it is moving forward with plans to declare a water shortage emergency and to urge cities and water companies that serve 2 million residents in and around San Jose to impose mandatory water restrictions. The move will be the first time since the historic drought of 2012 to 2016 that Santa Clara County residents will face mandatory restrictions as the county becomes the most populous area in California to impose such severe measures.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: How water bonds plug spending holes

As California responds to yet another drought and prepares for a future of greater climate extremes, securing funding to boost the water system’s resilience is a top priority. One go-to funding source over the last two decades has been state general obligation bonds. In dollar terms, GO bonds play a relatively small role in water system spending, yet they punch above their weight when it comes to filling critical gaps. 

Aquafornia news Palo Alto Online

New water management plan ponders steep cutbacks

When the Palo Alto City Council publicly backed the Bay-Delta Plan in 2018, it was swimming against the political tide. The plan, formally known as the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary plan, sets limits on how much water agencies can siphon from the three tributaries of the San Joaquin River. While it aims to protect salmon, steelhead and other river species, it has also attracted intense opposition and litigation from water districts that claim that the new restrictions will undermine the reliability of their water supply.

Aquafornia news Lake County News

Why upcoming storms may do more harm than good in West

Storms from the Pacific set to swing into the rain-starved West Coast this week may end up turning detrimental, AccuWeather forecasters say, by whipping up gusty winds and heightening the risk of lightning-induced wildfires. With over 87% of the Western states in moderate to exceptional drought, the news of Pacific storms poised to sweep onshore may sound good on the surface. However, the pattern will be a double-edged sword. Each storm is expected to arrive with “very limited moisture,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. 

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Eureka Times Standard

Environmental advocates call for Klamath Basin water allocations

Tribes and environmental advocates fear flows along the Klamath River could be reduced to a trickle if the State Water Resources Control Board doesn’t take action on water use upstream on the Scott and Shasta rivers. Andy Marx, board president of Friends of the Shasta River, said the river “virtually dried up” over Memorial Day weekend as a result of excessive irrigation diversions.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news North Bay Business Journal

Drought calls for desperate measures from Northern California farmers

California has seen its share of droughts, but the one happening now is so severe that a longtime dairy farmer has called it quits. … Bob McClure, a 60-year-old fourth-generation rancher of McClure Dairy, which was founded in 1889 and remains on the Point Reyes Peninsula in Marin County, … was already thinking about when he would wrap up operations at the dairy, but his decision to close at the end of May was “truly, truly driven by the threat of running out of water,” he said. 

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Las Vegas’s new strategy for tackling drought – banning ‘useless grass’

In Sin City, one thing that will soon become unforgivable is useless grass. A new Nevada law will outlaw about 40% of the grass in the Las Vegas area in an effort to conserve water amid a drought that is drying up the region’s primary water source: the Colorado River. Other cities and states around the US have enacted temporary bans on lawns that must be watered, but legislation signed Friday by the state’s governor, Steve Sisolak, makes Nevada the first in the nation to enact a permanent ban on certain categories of grass.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

From Shasta to Folsom, shriveled reservoirs show depths of California’s drought disaster

Instead of being flush with newly melted snow, Folsom Lake is the driest it’s been in springtime since the epic drought of 1977. Water levels are so low that temporary pumps probably will be installed to help move water out of the stricken reservoir. Water levels at Lake Oroville have plunged to the point that its giant hydropower plant could be idled for the first time ever this summer …  [C]onditions are so bad that major cities are drawing up conservation plans, farmers have scaled back plantings and environmentalists are angrily warning of massive fish kills.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Press Telegram

Battle over Southern California water czar is clash between old vision and new, observers say

The most important thing to understand: If you’re reading this, you live in a desert. And you can live in this desert because politicians, scientists and engineers have moved mountains, almost literally, to bring you life-giving water. The latest brawl in Water World plays out on this backdrop, and what comes out of your tap may well depend on the result. Will it come from recycled waste water? Desalination plants? A giant tunnel or two under the Delta? The answers will, in large part, depend on who’s chosen to lead the gargantuan Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which provides water to 19 million people from Ventura County to the Mexican border. 

Aquafornia news Business Insider

Water shortage in California could send food prices higher

A megadrought in California is threatening to push food prices even higher. The state is already facing its worst water shortage in four years and the its driest season has only just begun, according to data from the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS). As water levels continue to fall, farmers and ranchers will be unable to maintain key crops and feed livestock. As of Tuesday, nearly 75% of California was classified as in “extreme drought,” meaning the land does not have adequate water supplies to sustain agriculture and wildlife, according to the NIDIS. 

Aquafornia news CBS News

“Mega-drought” takes dramatic toll on Colorado River system that provides water to 40 million people 

Drought is taking a dramatic toll on the Colorado River system that provides water to 40 million people in seven states – and may force the federal government to make a drastic and historic decision. For more than eight decades, the iconic Hoover Dam has relied on water from Nevada’s Lake Mead to cover up its backside. But now, at age 85, it finds itself uncomfortably exposed. Much of the water the dam is supposed to be holding back is gone.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

L.A.’s MWD wins best U.S. tap water at global tasting contest

In victories that make the state’s drought even crueler, two Southern California water districts have won the top prizes for best tap water in the U.S. at an international tasting contest. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California finished first and Santa Ana took second place for the nation’s Best Municipal Water on Saturday at the 31st annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting in West Virginia. Those two competitors finished first in the category in 2008 and 2018, respectively. Third place went to the Southwest Water Authority of Dickinson, in North Dakota.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Pinal farmers are facing water shortages. Shouldn’t they be growing less thirsty crops?

Why do Pinal County farmers keep growing alfalfa and cotton, two relatively water-intensive crops, particularly when their water supply is being so heavily cut?  It’s a common question. Most farmers know they need to grow more drought-adapted crops as their Colorado River water evaporates and growing seasons become even hotter and drier.  But farmers can’t plant lower water use crops that they can’t sell. Any crop they grow needs a market. And there are well-established markets for cotton and alfalfa – crops that produce higher yields in central Arizona than in most other places in the world.  
-Written by Joanna Allhands.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news ABC 10 News

$10 million effort to assess San Diego’s aging dams

The City of San Diego plans to spend $10 million to carefully assess the structural needs of its aging dams, which are among the oldest in California. San Diego has nine dams that play an important role in the city’s water supply. By 2022, four will have stood for a century or more. Only three of the nine dams are rated in “satisfactory” condition by the state. The comprehensive assessment will span five years, giving city officials an itemized forecast of future repair needs and costs.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

He’s celebrated deserts all his life. Now he sounds the alarm

Annual rainfall totals illustrate how the naturally harsh desert environment is becoming even more stressed. [Jim] Cornett, who meticulously studies weather data compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said less than 1 inch of rain has fallen at the Palm Springs airport since Nov. 1, well below averages of roughly 4.5 inches for the period over the last half-century, which were down from a 5.5-inch average before that.

Related article:

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Monday Top of the Scroll: 74% of California and 52% of the Western U.S. now in ‘exceptional’ drought

Drought conditions in California remain at record highs, with most of the state now classified in “extreme” or “exceptional” drought, reflecting conditions across the Southwest, according to a new report from climate scientists. Much of the Bay Area and the northern Central Valley have been included in the most severe “exceptional drought” zone, along with much of southeast California, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Senator Bill Dodd

News release: Senate approves Sen. Dodd’s water project bill

Facing a statewide drought that is rapidly draining reservoirs and agricultural supplies, the bipartisan California Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, to streamline improvements to the state’s outdated central water delivery system. … California’s 60-year-old water delivery system, known as the State Water Project, serves more than 27 million people and 750,000 acres of farmland through its 700 miles of aqueducts, canals and pipelines. It is the largest state-owned and operated water system in the world. 

Aquafornia news The Spectrum

How do Washington County residents feel about the Lake Powell Pipeline?

The WCWCD, along with the Utah Division of Water Resources, … started making plans [in the 1990s] to import Colorado River water from Lake Powell via a buried pipeline that would stretch 140 miles through rocky desert terrain, crossing some tribal lands and sensitive habitats. The project has inched its way forward over the decades since, finally advancing its federally-required Environmental Impact Statement through the public review process during the Trump administration, which identified the pipeline as one of its infrastructure priorities.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

San Joaquin River flows halted to protect salmon

Flows into the San Joaquin River under a program to bring back native salmon will be stopped now through early September to try and protect fish already upstream. The flow reduction being instituted by the San Joaquin Restoration Program is in reaction to rapidly dwindling runoff coming out of the Sierra Nevada mountains this year.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news The Press

Friday Top of the Scroll: State takes action on water exports from the Delta

Construction of a temporary salinity barrier on the False River is underway after an emergency request by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) was approved by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). The barrier, necessitated by worsening drought conditions, is intended to help preserve water quality in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta by reducing saltwater intrusion. The declaration of a drought emergency made by Gov. Gavin Newsom on May 10 suspended the requirement that a project of this nature complete a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) assessment.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Forbes

Scientists said the West was entering a megadrought. Now it’s twice as bad

Lake Powell is within just a few feet of its low level ever observed since it was first filled. Early season fires have already torched over 400,000 acres in Colorado and California’s reservoirs are 50 percent lower than they should be at this time of year before summer has even officially begun. A year after the skies over San Francisco glowed a hazy red as wildfires choked the Bay Area, 2021 is shaping up to be the year of real climate reckoning with drought in the western US at historic levels.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Sierra Sun Times

California State Senator Melissa Hurtado to California Water Commission: Keep water funds meant for the Central Valley in the Central Valley

On Thursday, Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) issued the following statement regarding a bi-partisan letter she sent that urges the California Water Commission to prioritize water storage projects in the Central Valley when assessing how to reallocate funds from Proposition 1: … California is currently in a state of emergency due to drought. As a result, the amount of water allocated to Central Valley farmers has been greatly reduced. 

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Napa County sued over care of Napa River

Water Audit California is suing to make Napa County increase oversight of groundwater pumping for vineyards, wineries, and other uses, claiming that the pumping affects the Napa River. The lawsuit said the county has a “public trust” duty to care for the river. The idea is that too much groundwater pumping from wells can keep groundwater from seeping into the river during dry months, to the detriment of fish and other aquatic life.

Aquafornia news The Desert Review

IID Board takes action to protect water rights and address Coachella Valley concerns

The Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors adopted a resolution Tuesday, June 1, to better serve IID’s Coachella Valley energy customers and better protect Imperial Valley’s water rights, according to a press release. The Board’s resolution seeks to provide a local alternative to AB 1021 by Assemblyman Chad Mayes (I-Yucca Valley) that would create a number of adverse consequences for the region, if passed into law, including giving Coachella Valley energy ratepayers a say over IID’s water rights and policy in Imperial Valley.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Drought losses mounting in Sonoma County agricultural sector

After farming squash, corn, melons, peppers and tomatoes by his father’s side since childhood, Gabriel Castañeda is stepping out largely on his own this year. With water in such short supply, his dad, Humberto, thought he might forgo raising summer fruits and vegetables this season and focus only on the 15 acres of wine grapes he grows near Fulton instead. But Gabe Castañeda, who had helped his father build Humberto Castañeda Produce into Sonoma County’s largest produce grower, wanted to see what he could do to keep the family’s 40-year farming tradition alive — even if on a very reduced scale.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news San Clemente Times

Opinion: SCWD continues push for self-reliant water sources, desalination

How long could you last if water supply was cut off in the event of an emergency? Our region is nearly entirely reliant on water that is imported from hundreds of miles away. In the event of a catastrophe that would prevent water delivery from outside sources, experts recommend that there be at least 60 days’ worth of water supply. As of now, South Coast Water District could provide roughly 11 days’ worth.
-Written by Lillian Boyd.

Aquafornia news San Diego Union-Tribune

San Diego launches $10M assessment of aging city dams

San Diego is launching a $10 million effort to complete risk assessments of all nine of the city’s aging dams — only three of which are considered in satisfactory condition. City officials say the assessments are expected to reveal problems that will require an estimated $1 billion in repairs and upgrades in coming decades — and possibly some replacement dams in extreme cases. San Diego’s dams are among the oldest in the state and the nation.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Kern County Water Summit: Two perspectives on the State Water Board report, recommendations for an effective water rights response to climate change

Earlier this year, the State Water Resources Control Board released a report, Recommendations for an Effective Water Rights Response to Climate Change, that considered how the State Wate Board could include climate change when considering new water right applications.  Since the report’s release, it has been the subject of much discussion and has sparked concerns amongst existing water right holders.  At the Kern County Water Summit, hosted by the Water Association of Kern County, a panel addressed the topic.  

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Amid dire Colorado River outlook, states plan to tap their Lake Mead savings accounts​

A complex and arcane water banking program in the lower Colorado River basin, adopted in 2007 and later amended, was designed to incentivize water conservation, prevent waste, and boost storage in a waning Lake Mead. The program has already proved its worth, lifting Lake Mead dozens of feet higher than it otherwise would have been…In the next two years, the program will be tested in another way, becoming a small but important source of water for Arizona and California even as the lake continues to fall to levels that haven’t been witnessed in several generations.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

California’s epic drought is parching reservoirs and worrying farmers

There is dry, and then there is desiccated. As any movie fan knows from the classic film Chinatown, California is an infamously thirsty place. But this year, even by its own standards, the state is shockingly, scarily parched. So far in 2021, the state has received half of its expected precipitation; that makes it the third driest year on record according to California’s Department of Water Resources.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Brown and Caldwell

News release: California Urban Water Agencies appoints new executive director

The California Urban Water Agencies (CUWA) today announces Brown and Caldwell’s Wendy Broley will assume the role of executive director effective July 1, replacing Cindy Paulson after 10 years in the role. CUWA is a non-profit corporation of 11 major urban water agencies responsible for serving drinking water to over two-thirds of California’s population. 

Aquafornia news Lompoc Record

Despite drought, Santa Barbara County water supplies adequate for short term

Having received just 48% of normal rainfall for the water year, which began Sept. 1 and will end Aug. 31, Santa Barbara County may be experiencing a bit of déjà vu, having been placed in the “severe drought” category again by the U.S. Drought Monitor. But despite a winter that brought less than half the normal rainfall, the county’s water supply is generally in good shape, and able to provide enough for drinking, firefighting and irrigation in the short term, city and county officials said.

Aquafornia news Bay Area Monitor

Bay Area builds regional drought resilience

It feels like California’s 2011-2016 drought, our worst on record, had barely ended when the next one began. This is our second dry year in a row and, according to the state Department of Water Resources, the past winter tied for the third-driest on record. … [UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain] calls this our second major drought within a decade and, if you’re like me, you’re wondering if we’ve done anything since the last one to help keep water flowing from our taps. The answer is yes.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Source Magazine

Yuba-Feather Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations: Reducing flood risk and refining water operations in Yuba County

Already one of the most productive watersheds in the state in terms of runoff per square mile, the Yuba River watershed is especially vulnerable to the impacts of atmospheric rivers and the heavy, prolonged rainfall they bring. … Recognizing the central role that atmospheric rivers play in both flood risk and water supply — two of Yuba Water’s core mission areas – the agency is investing in new research and tools to better understand, forecast and manage these powerful storms.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Mega-dairies, disappearing wells, and Arizona’s deepening water crisis

Cynthia Beltran moved to Sunizona with her seven-year-old son last autumn even though the area lacks functional drinking water wells, because it was all she could afford. She cannot afford the $15,000 cost of deepening her well, which dried up last year, and had been paying for a local firm to deliver water in a tanker. But at $100 a week it became too expensive, so now she will be relying on a friend to help her fetch water from her mother’s well. … Nearly 20 wells in Sunizona alone were deepened between 2015 and 2019, after they dried up. 

Aquafornia news KCRA

Farmers facing California drought impacts feel strain of low water supply

California farmers and ranchers are preparing for a difficult growing season as the state faces drought conditions. The California Board of Food and Agriculture met on Tuesday to discuss ways to help farmers and ranchers, as well as to discuss the proposed $5.1 billion included in the governor’s budget to address drought challenges and water infrastructure. After back-to-back dry years, the state’s water supply is strained, forcing farmers like Joe Martinez in Solano County to figure out ways to get the most out of their water.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Undark

U.S. Southwest, already parched, sees ‘virtual water’ drain abroad

Driving into Southern California’s Palo Verde Valley from the Arizona border, fields of vibrant green appear out of the desert like a mirage. Near the town of Blythe, water from the Colorado River turns the dry earth into verdant farmland, much of it to grow a single crop — alfalfa, a type of plant used mainly to feed dairy cows. For decades, a significant portion of alfalfa grown here and elsewhere in the western United States — as much as 17 percent in 2017 — has been loaded onto trucks, driven hundreds of miles to ports on the west coast, and shipped around the world, mainly to China, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. 

Aquafornia news Imperial Valley Press Online

Opinion: Coachella Valley – Should IID stay or should IID go?

On Tuesday, the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors will consider the future of IID in the Coachella Valley with a direct question — should IID stay or should IID go? In my short tenure on the IID Board, I personally have enjoyed working to improve our service, responsiveness and outreach to our Coachella Valley communities and customers. But Assembly Bill 1021 by Assemblyman Chad Mayes, I-La Quinta, threatens the continued presence of IID in the Coachella Valley … 
-Written by JB Hamby, vice president of the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors. 

Aquafornia news SCV Signal

Opinion: Balancing the costs of water

At SCV Water, we are committed to responsible water stewardship and providing service at a reasonable cost. As part of that responsibility, we regularly consider our rates, the cost of operations and the future health of the agency.  As such, SCV Water is considering new rates over the next five years to ensure revenue keeps pace with rising expenses. That isn’t the only reason the agency is considering changes, however.
-Written by Matt Stone, general manager of SCV Water.

Aquafornia news Roseville Today

$3.6 Million in PCWA grants for water purveyors

At the May 20 meeting of the Placer County Water Agency (“PCWA”) Board of Directors, the Board awarded 12 grants, totaling over $3.6 million, to seven public water purveyors in Placer County. The $3.6 million figure is the most ever granted by PCWA in a single year. This is also the first instance in which the grants were wholly funded with net revenues from PCWA’s Middle Fork American River Project (“Middle Fork Project”). 

Aquafornia news Ingrained

Podcast/blog: Episode 22 – Nurturing Nature

The driest year California has experienced since the 1970s will have wide-ranging impacts in the West. In the Sacramento Valley, a reduced water supply will lead to about a 20 percent reduction in rice plantings. The loss of about 100,000 acres of rice fields has implications well beyond the farm level. The reduced plantings will impact rural communities that depend on agriculture as their foundation. It’s also a concern for wildlife, which greatly depend on rice fields for their habitat.

Aquafornia news SF Gate

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: The numbers California’s drought manager wants you to see

With California’s rivers running low after two consecutive dry winters, state officials and local water agencies have pumped out a steady stream of drought declarations and calls for water conservation in recent weeks. It’s clear the Golden State is in a drought and it could escalate to a crisis, but, you may be wondering, just how bad is it?

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Senator Melissa Hurtado

News release: Hurtado releases statement after the State Water Resiliency Act passes Senate 34-1

Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) released the following statement after her bill, Senate Bill 559—The State Water Resiliency Act – passed the Senate 34-1 … The State Water Resiliency Act of 2021 will allocate $785 million to repairing vital water delivery systems that provide drinking water to communities throughout California and water to sustain the state’s leading agricultural economy. The funds would go to fixing the Friant-Kern Canal, the Delta-Mendota Canal and major portions of the California Aqueduct…

Aquafornia news Politico

Urban water districts consider mandatory conservation as drought deepens

Urban water agencies are planning to impose mandatory conservation orders after federal water managers slashed deliveries this week amid a rapidly deepening drought. The Bureau of Reclamation cut water deliveries from the Central Valley Project by about half. That has prompted the Santa Clara Valley Water District, which serves 2 million residents in the Silicon Valley region, to consider a potential conservation order at its board meeting next month.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Idaho Falls Post Register

Opinion: When will major push to desalinate water in American Southwest begin?

As reality plays out, I continue to read how the drought in the American West is causing levels in Lake’s Mead and Powell to plummet. I also continue to see no action or accountability to take bold action to resolve the issue as uncontrolled development continues in the greater Phoenix and Las Vegas areas. … There are 17 desalination plants operating in California and the one in Carlsbad — the Claude Bud Lewis Desalination Plant — is the largest in the U.S. 
-Written by R.B. Provencher, a former manager for the U.S. Department of Energy and retired in Idaho Falls.

Aquafornia news The Willits News

Haulers need permits if diverting water

According to a flyer put out by the California Water Boards, anyone who diverts water from a surface stream, lake or pond into a water hauling truck must have a valid water right and any unauthorized drafting or hauling of water is subject to prosecution and fines—up to $500 a day, as high as $1,000 a day during a drought year, and $2,500 per acre-foot of water diverted—by the State Water Boards and the Department of Fish & Wildlife.

Aquafornia news Reuters

‘Big risk’: California farmers hit by drought change planting plans

Joe Del Bosque is leaving a third of his 2,000-acre farm near Firebaugh, California, unseeded this year due to extreme drought. Yet, he hopes to access enough water to produce a marketable melon crop. Farmers across California say they expect to receive little water from state and federal agencies that regulate the state’s reservoirs and canals, leading many to leave fields barren, plant more drought-tolerant crops or seek new income sources all-together. … Stuart Woolf, who operates 30,000 acres, most of it in Western Fresno County … may fallow 30% of his land.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Zocalo

Opinion: California’s next water war is starting underground, in the Mojave Desert

Can California regions regulate groundwater without destroying their businesses and communities? That’s the question being posed as regions and localities implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), the historic 2014 state law that brought regulation to California’s diminishing groundwater supplies.
–Written by columnist Joe Matthews

Aquafornia news The Hill

The Colorado River is facing an alarming water shortage for the first time ever

Between Las Vegas and Arizona, Lake Mead, the body of water that is fed by the Colorado River, dropped below 1,075 feet on Tuesday. The low water marks are signaling what could be the first-ever water shortage on the Colorado River, CNN reports. The lake’s levels show a continuing decline, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR), and any hope of recovery won’t happen until at least the end of 2022.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

San Diego launches $10-million assessment of aging city dams

San Diego is launching a $10-million effort to complete risk assessments of all nine of the city’s aging dams — only three of which are considered in satisfactory condition. City officials say the assessments are expected to reveal problems that will require an estimated $1 billion in repairs and upgrades in coming decades — and possibly some replacement dams in extreme cases. San Diego’s dams are among the oldest in the state and the nation. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

News release: L.A. Board of Water and Power Commissioners approves renaming two landmark water facilities to honor late City Councilmember Tom LaBonge

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) Board of Commissioners approved the renaming of two historically significant facilities to honor the late 4th District Councilmember and longtime LADWP supporter, Tom LaBonge on Tuesday, May 25, 2021. The board authorized renaming the Los Angeles Aqueduct Centennial Garden and Headworks Water Complex to The Tom LaBonge Aqueduct Centennial Gardens and the Tom LaBonge Headworks Water Complex, respectively.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Epic drought tests Hoover Dam as water levels in Lake Mead plummet

Hoover Dam towers more than 700 feet above Black Canyon on the Arizona-Nevada state line, holding back the waters of the Colorado River. … Since 2000, the water level in the reservoir, which is the largest in the country, has dropped about 140 feet. Lake Mead is now just 37% full, headed for a first-ever official shortage and sinking toward its lowest levels since it was filled.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Drought spurs worry, opportunities for water solutions in California

[D]uring a panel discussion about water issues in the Golden State hosted by California state Senator Josh Becker… the discussion was surprisingly upbeat. “We can do this,” said Felicia Marcus, a fellow at Stanford’s Water in the West program and former chair of the State Water Resources Control Board. “We just have to build more efficient communities and use technology to track every drop.”

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

‘Worse-case’ CAP shortages threaten the Tucson aquifer’s delicate balance

Back in 1977, President Jimmy Carter wanted to put the Central Arizona Project on a hit list of 17 water projects he found too expensive and environmentally destructive. … [N]ow, as CAP’s first water shortages draw near, a more subtle, long-term threat to the Tucson area’s water future is emerging because of climate change.

Related article:

Aquafornia news KMPH

Local push to raise levels in two storm water reservoirs

Two large reservoirs in our backyard are capable of holding 40,000 acre feet of water to recharge the underground table. But federal rules prevent them from reaching capacity and it will take an act of Congress to change the rules. Big Dry Creek Reservoir in Clovis and Fancher Creek Reservoir east of Clovis together can hold 40,000 acre feet of storm water. That’s water that can eventually stream into the underground water table. 

Aquafornia news The Point Reyes Light

Commission punts NMWD well appeal

The appeal filed by Gordon Bennett of a proposed well outside of Point Reyes Station was rejected on Monday by planning commissioners, who said they did not have the expertise to evaluate it.  Mr. Bennett says he will now appeal the project to the Board of Supervisors, and will keep appealing until someone addresses his concerns about maintaining a minimum flow for endangered coho salmon in Lagunitas Creek. 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

News release: Regional water authority urges urban water providers to take action to help the lower American River

In response to the dry conditions in California, the Regional Water Authority (RWA) Board of Directors unanimously adopted a resolution on May 13 urging their urban water providers to take actions, such as asking customers to voluntary conserve and sustainably shifting to groundwater, to help the environment of the Lower American River. The RWA represents twenty (20) water providers serving two million people in the Sacramento region.

Aquafornia news KDRV

Siskiyou County water ordinances spark claims of racial profiling and discrimination

Following recent ordinances from Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors that prohibit the transfer of water along certain county roads without a permit, ripple effects have been seen throughout the community. The emergency ordinances were passed in an effort to crack down on illegal marijuana grow operations. … [The conflict] has fanned the flames of racism, saying they are seeing community members racially profile Asian Americans in the community because the Shasta Vista subdivision is known to have a large Asian American population.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Farmers buy land, make camp by shut Klamath irrigation canal

Two farmers with ties to anti-government activist Ammon Bundy have purchased land by a shut-off irrigation canal in Oregon that would normally deliver water to a massive federal irrigation project along the California-Oregon border and have set up a protest encampment there, Jefferson Public Radio reports. The move comes after federal regulators shut off all water deliveries from the project’s main “A Canal” due to extreme drought and the need to balance the water demands of farmers with threatened and endangered fish species …

Relate article:

Aquafornia news Valley Voice

Chris Mathys, GOP primary candidate, begins effort to declare Delta smelt extinct

The delta smelt could be declared endangered if Chris Mathys, a Republican primary challenger to David Valadao, gets his way. “Federal and state mandated rules related to the delta smelt in California are severely restricting the releases of surface water relied upon by California’s farmers and ranchers. Agriculture products are vital to California’s economy and farmers depend on an adequate water supply to grow nuts, fruits and vegetables that provide food for Americans and the rest of the world,” Mathys wrote in a statement.

Aquafornia news Big Think

Interstate water system: a national pipeline for water

California’s water woes are severe and worsening. A second dry year in a row has diminished the state’s water supply, and almost three-quarters of the state is in “extreme” or “exceptional” drought, the two highest categories. With the rainy season over and a hot, dry summer ahead, water shortages and brushfires are imminent. …

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

Friday Top of the Scroll: As California’s drought worsens, the Biden Administration cuts water supplies and farmers struggle to compensate

The impacts of California’s deepening drought hit home for Central Valley farmers earlier this week, when federal officials announced they didn’t have enough water to supply many of their agricultural customers. Urban users south of San Francisco in Santa Clara County saw their normal water deliveries cut in half. California ships water to cities and farms through a combination of state and federal programs that oversee a complex network of hundreds of miles of dams, reservoirs and aqueducts throughout the state.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

‘Ammon Bundy coming.’ Water cutoffs ignite rebellion in CA

In the summer of 2001, local farmers and other activists armed with saws and blowtorches breached a chain-link fence and opened the headgates of a federal canal that supplies farmland in Oregon and far Northern California. Local farmer Grant Knoll was among the activists there that year. The protesters forced the gates open three times but were eventually blocked by U.S. marshals. Now, with a drought just as severe as two decades ago — and with farmers’ water again cut off — he’s prepared to fight again.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news USDA

Blog: ARS scientists tackle California climate woes

A team of USDA agricultural scientists in the Golden State are helping farmers make the most out of a natural resource that is becoming ever more precious – water. California produces two-thirds of the nation’s fruits and nuts and one-third of its vegetables, but above average temperatures and long-term drought have put a strain on the water resources it takes to grow these crops. Most of California’s precipitation falls during the winter, which means summertime irrigation is required to produce many of the state’s crops. Higher temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns increase water demand and reduce supply.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Paying for California’s water system

The state’s extensive water system supplies cities and farms; prevents pollution of lakes, rivers, and coastlines; protects against floods; and supports freshwater ecosystems and the forested headwaters that are a major source of water supply. Many local, state, and federal agencies oversee this system and raise revenues from a variety of sources. California spends about $37 billion annually, with the lion’s share (84%) coming from local water bills and taxes. The balance comes from state (13%) and federal (3%) contributions.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Mississippi River pipeline won’t save Arizona. But these ideas might

Every time I write about water, I get a similar email from different folks. It argues that if we can build pipelines to move oil, we should be able to capture and pipe enough floodwater from the Mississippi, the Missouri, the Snake or (insert your river here) to resolve shortages on the Colorado River. I appreciate the big thinking. But I wish we could move past this idea. Because we’ve studied this before, in multiple iterations. Each solution has been projected to cost multiple billions of dollars. Most would not produce enough water to fix our problems. And trust me, someone’s going to fight several hundred miles of pipe being laid across their land to make this happen. 
-Written by Joanna Allhands, an Arizona Republic columnist.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

Editorial: With plan to quench its thirst for vanity, Utah thumbs its nose at dry neighbors

On the federal government’s drought map, the hardest-hit areas — the driest of the dry — are shaded in crimson red. Looking at the current map, the coloring makes it appear that someone plunged a knife into Southern Nevada, and blood flowed to portions of California, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and even Texas. One glance at this map and any reasonable person would understand that the region needs to take its water conservation efforts up several notches.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California drought worsens. What’s ahead for fish, farms, cities

In just a few weeks, California’s water conditions have gone from bad to terrible. Sacramento residents have been asked to cut water usage 10%. Their counterparts on the Russian River are being told to reduce their consumption 20%. Farmers across the Central Valley are letting fields lie fallow and dismantling their orchards. Government agencies are warning of massive fish kills on the Sacramento River. After a warm spring dried up practically the entire Sierra Nevada snowpack — and robbed California of enough water to fill most of Folsom Lake — state and federal officials have been forced to dramatically ramp up their drought response plans.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Bakersfield.com

As water flowed through the Kern River, court finds Bakersfield violated agreement

Who has the right to water in the Kern River? It has been the subject of fierce legal battles throughout Bakersfield’s history, and on Friday, the Ventura County Superior Court tried to answer a part of that question. In a court ruling, Judge Kevin DeNoce found the city of Bakersfield must supply the North Kern Water Storage District with 20,000 acre feet of water it owed the district in 2020 and pay the district $2.8 million to reimburse groundwater pumping costs the district incurred last year. It’s the latest court decision in a long-running dispute, and it threatens to limit the city’s ability to use water from the Kern River.

Aquafornia news Pacifica Tribune

New county agency takes on flooding, sea level rise

A new local district aimed at combating the effects of sea level rise and flooding is making waves this year starting with a series of public meetings as it works to define its budget and priorities. The San Mateo County Flood and Sea Level Rise Resiliency District, known as OneShoreline, was founded in early 2020 by the California Legislature to work to prevent and to address the effects of flooding and sea level rise throughout the county and on its shores, both on the Bayside and the Coastside.

Related article:

Aquafornia news My Mother Lode

Major grant touted to ‘transform Twain Harte’

A new grant will help Twain Harte turn stormwater into a resource, say community leaders. The $3.75 million in funding was awarded to the Twain Harte Community Services District through the State Water Resources Control Board’s Stormwater Grant Program. It will be used to construct the Twain Harte Community Stormwater Enhancement Project. The district called it an “amazing win” for the community in a press release. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California drought prompts delivery cutback from federal government

California’s water supply got cut again Wednesday, with the federal government reducing allocations to cities and farms as the drought intensified. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced that municipal water agencies that rely on the Central Valley Project will have this year’s allocations slashed from 55% down to 25% — a level not seen since the drought of 2015. That could put additional pressure on the municipalities around greater Sacramento that depend on supplies from Folsom Lake, whose water levels have sunk dramatically this spring. The reservoir is at 46% of its usual capacity for late May.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Central Valley communities lost water in last drought. Are small water systems ready this time?

Poplar is one of hundreds of small community water systems in the central San Joaquin Valley facing severe challenges in the task of providing residents with safe and reliable drinking water, particularly during drought. Some 360,000 people are at risk, according to a drought-risk analysis by DWR. Water systems were caught off guard in the last drought, leaving tens of thousands of people at risk of imminent water shortages.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Triplicate

Crescent City looking at water, sewer rates

The Crescent City Council is moving forward with a study on water and sewer rates, which may result in increased rates for residents. After receiving a grant from the California State Water Resources Control Board totaling about $80,000, the city is pressing on with the overdue rate studies. Typically, rate studies for water and sewer are completed every five years, however, the last water rate study came in 2013 and the last update to wastewater came in 2015, said City Manager Eric Wier. Wier said these projects are the first-step in maintaining the overall health of both systems.

Aquafornia news Santa Monica Daily Press

City considers revenue bonds to close funding gap for water self-sufficiency projects

The City of Santa Monica could issue revenue bonds that will allow officials to continue a number of water sustainability projects in the wake of an $84 million funding gap. In 2018, Santa Monica City Council approved a Sustainable Water Master Plan (SWMP) Update in an effort to establish a diverse, sustainable and drought-resilient local water supply. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Asian cannabis growers in CA face water cuts, sheriff raids

Day after day, sheriff’s deputies drive up and down the road outside Steve Griset’s 600-acre farm, pulling over anyone who appears to be hauling water for the thousands of marijuana greenhouses that have taken over the countryside here. Griset has become a target, even though he grows alfalfa. Last year, investigators with the Siskiyou County District Attorney’s Office raided Griset’s house with a search warrant looking for his business records, and the DA followed up with a lawsuit in civil court. Griset’s alleged transgressions? He was selling water from his well to his pot-farming neighbors, immigrants of Hmong descent …

Aquafornia news The San Francisco Examiner

Opinion: SF’s water supply could use leadership, not litigation

California is dry. Bay Area counties have declared drought emergencies and imposed restrictions. State and federal officials are trucking baby salmon to the ocean. But San Franciscans are still using their primary water source, the Tuolumne River, which feeds the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park. Last week, City Attorney Dennis Herrera — who Mayor London Breed recently tapped to head San Francisco’s water agency — filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s efforts to protect salmon and the overall health of the river.
-Written by Robyn Purchia, an environmental attorney, environmental blogger and environmental activist. 

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Tensions erupt at Metropolitan Water District amid drought

Southern California’s biggest water supplier has chosen a new general manager — but the selection isn’t yet final, and the fiercely contested vote is exposing deep disagreements within the powerful agency as a severe drought grips the region. The Metropolitan Water District’s board of directors voted this month to select Adel Hagekhalil to lead the agency, The Times has learned, replacing longtime head honcho Jeff Kightlinger, who is retiring. Hagekhalil runs L.A.’s Bureau of Street Services and was previously second-in-command at the city’s sanitation department.

Aquafornia news Aspen Journalism

Basin roundtables push back on Colorado Water Conservation Board’s proposed code of conduct

The [Colorado] state water board is encouraging all nine basin roundtables to adopt a code of conduct requiring members to communicate in a professional, respectful, truthful and courteous way. But some Western Slope roundtables are pushing back. Over roughly the last month, Colorado Water Conservation Board Director Rebecca Mitchell has been visiting the remote roundtable meetings on Zoom, answering questions about the code of conduct and urging the roundtables to adopt it. The goal of the document is to make sure everyone feels comfortable speaking up in meetings. 

Aquafornia news VC Star

What we know about the newly appointed member of an Ojai Valley board

An Ojai Valley board facing water shortages and severe drought has appointed a former two-term member to fill an open seat. Members of the Casitas Municipal Water District board unanimously appointed Mary Bergen to fill the position left vacant when Angelo Spandrio resigned in March. Spandrio, who successfully challenged Bergen in 2018, said he and his wife planned a move to Arizona.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

West Marin water supply project survives challenge

The Marin County Planning Commission voted on Monday to reject an environmental group’s petition to block a West Marin water supply project over potential impacts to Lagunitas Creek flows and endangered wildlife. The decision allows the North Marin Water District to build a new well that it says is necessary to ensure its West Marin customers have adequate water supply in the face of the worsening saltwater contamination at some of its existing wells.

Aquafornia news Imperial Irrigation District

News release: IID Director J.B. Hamby appointed to Colorado River Board of California

California Governor Gavin Newsom’s office, by way of written communication, has notified Imperial Irrigation District Board Vice President J.B. Hamby of his appointment to the state’s Colorado River Board. … For the past 75 years the Colorado River Board of California’s mission has been to protect the interests and rights of the State of California, its agencies and citizens, in the water and power resources of the Colorado River system.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Some experts welcome alarm bells about Arizona groundwater

Anew report warning Arizona’s urban area aquifers remain at risk from groundwater pumping is drawing praise from several water experts, including some who once worked for the state agency that enforces the law regulating pumping.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: Lack of water efficiency funding undercuts fight against drought

With the current drought already impacting over 90 million people in the U.S. and with water scarcity likely to get worse because of population growth and climate change, there is an urgent need to invest in water efficiency. This threat goes well beyond the arid west. Thirty-three states have been hit by drought since 2000, including ones located in the Great Plains, Midwest, Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. And scientists warn that most of the country is on pace to experience water shortages if we don’t manage water better.
-Written by Ron Burke, president and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency, and Mary Ann Dickinson, founding president and CEO of AWE. 

Aquafornia news Patch

Opinion: The case for investing in our water infrastructure

Infrastructure is rightly enjoying its spot in the national limelight these days, with the Biden Administration busily unveiling its plans. However, being well intentioned is as important as being pragmatic. After all, the warning signs have been there for all to see when it comes to lack of investment in infrastructure—impacting communities from Los Gatos to Washington, D.C.
-Written by Andy Gere, president and chief operating officer of San Jose Water.

Aquafornia news Data Center Dynamics

Huge data center moves forward in Mesa despite Arizona water concerns

A massive new data center is set to be built in Mesa, Arizona, after the City Council voted in favor of a controversial development agreement. Critics noted that the huge facility would consume millions of gallons of water as the city and state struggle with dwindling supplies. The company behind the project has hidden its identity, operating via the pseudonym Redale LLC. 

Aquafornia news KJZZ

Bureau of Reclamation has already studied Mississippi pipeline

The Arizona Legislature wants to look into the feasibility of pumping water from the Mississippi River to Arizona. But the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has already studied the idea, and weighed in on the project in 2012. The agency studied factors such as cost, legal issues, power use and the amount of time the project would take. A report estimated the project could cost up to $14 billion; the timetable was around 30 years. 

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Opinion: Facing multiple droughts, California agriculture needs consumers to step up

Governor Newsom’s recent emergency declaration confirms what California’s agriculture industry has known for months. Drought has returned to California, in what has become a recurring theme of growing food in our state. Farmers and ranchers accept the risks that come with their way of life and have fought hard to be productive in one of the most heavily regulated industries in the state. Agriculture continues to adapt to meet evolving challenges and now more than ever consumers need to buy California grown produce.
-Written by Ian LeMay, president of the California Fresh Fruit Association.

Related article:

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Could California’s drought crisis block Bay Area housing construction?

The Marin Municipal Water District is considering banning new water service hookups to homes in response to worsening drought conditions. But the move could hurt future housing development in an area already in dire need of more homes. The move would come amid historic drought conditions in the area, with county officials declaring a local drought emergency last week in light of a “grim and deteriorating” situation. The National Drought Mitigation Center’s drought monitor recently deemed most of the Bay Area as extreme drought zones for the first time since 2015.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Fresno Bee

Fresno-area candidate for Congress wants to declare the Delta smelt extinct

A hopeful for a Fresno-area seat in Congress has initiated a petition to have the embattled Delta smelt declared extinct. Chris Mathys said Monday he took the first step toward that petition, which is a letter of intent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state of California 30 days before filing the formal petition. The petition is similar to a court document in that it needs to lay out the argument and back it up with facts and science, Mathys said.

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Replacement of Lake Wohlford dam is ’shovel ready’

The city of Escondido is moving forward with plans to replace the Lake Wohlford dam, a structure built of earth and rock that has stood at its present location since 1895. Lake Wohlford is about 5 miles northeast of downtown Escondido, just beyond city limits in the unincorporated area of San Diego County, and the dam is owned by the city. The lake has long served the city both as a recreational asset for boaters and fishing enthusiasts and as an emergency storage reservoir to supply drinking water in case of a drought.

Aquafornia news The Willits News

Farm Bureau: Off stream ponds help in drought conditions

The Mendocino County Farm Bureau encourages local, state and federal leadership to focus current drought relief measures on multi-purpose projects that address agricultural, municipal, environmental, recreational and fire suppression water needs. … On-stream ponds are created by damning a water course and off- stream ponds are created by diverting from a river, a well or a flood control contract. 

Aquafornia news E&E News

Cybersecurity: Colonial hack reveals major threats to water sector

When hackers penetrated a small water utility in North Carolina three years ago that debilitated its IT systems, operators there refused to “bow” to hackers and fork over ransom money to make the assault stop. That 2018 cyberattack was part of what experts say is a fast-growing and evolving threat in the water sector and a glaring example of the type of attack — ransomware — that earlier this month shut down the East Coast’s largest fuel supplier, the Colonial pipeline… EPA is in the process of collecting data from water utilities on their cyberdefenses to assess hacking risks.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Dollars and drought – Windfalls for innovation or entrenchment?

California’s Governor Newsom recently declared a drought emergency throughout much of California and announced over $5 billion in new water program investments.  These twin emergency and funding announcements are a classic “bad-news creates good news story” (and potentially vice versa) for California’s water problems. They are opportunities for innovation and making long-term improvements for California’s water problems.  They also can reward and entrench less effective programs and approaches.

Aquafornia news U.S. Congressman Jared Huffman

News release: Huffman introduces water infrastructure bill to improve drought preparedness and water supply reliability

[On May 20, 2021] Representative Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) reintroduced his FUTURE Western Water Infrastructure and Drought Resiliency Act (FUTURE Act), an ambitious water infrastructure proposal that is the culmination of months of public vetting and legislative development. This bill would develop more resilient water infrastructure, expand the use of modern water management tools and technologies, and assist underserved areas in meeting their drinking water needs.

Aquafornia news Sierra Nevada Ally

Opinion: Is the non-functional turf ban coming to northern Nevada

The 2021 legislative session is an anomaly. Notwithstanding COVID, the bad water bills died early and the good ones pressed on. That is not the norm. But it appears that more folks are beginning to believe these are not normal times.  Indeed, this year is different. Long-time foes are singing kumbaya in praise of AB356.  The legislation, which passed both chambers, saves 10 billion gallons of water annually in Southern Nevada –– defending the dwindling supply of Colorado River water by mandating the removal of all non-functional turf by 2027 in Southern Nevada.
-Written by Kyle Roerink, executive director of the Great Basin Water Network.  

Aquafornia news Santa Clara Valley Water District

News release: Valley Water delegation participates in successful virtual advocacy visits with federal leaders

The seven members of the Board of Directors led a Valley Water delegation in a series of successful virtual meetings with federal leaders on April 19-21 to advocate for Santa Clara County’s priorities. The Valley Water group focused on federal funding, water supply and flood protection projects in Santa Clara County with members of the Presidential Administration and Congress. Among the priorities discussed were the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project and the South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Project.

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Monday Top of the Scroll: What’s causing California’s drought?

California’s new drought is worsening. After two severely dry winters, reservoirs are shrinking, fire danger is rising and water supplies are looking more tenuous. The past two years have been the driest in nearly half a century, since 1976-77. How did the state find itself in a new crisis just as the COVID pandemic is fading? Scientists say California’s parched plight largely comes down to two words: “atmospheric river.” An increasing body of research is showing that the state’s water supply each year depends almost entirely on a handful of big make-or-break storms. And the last two winters, too few arrived.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: California must prevent another devastating drought

When Sierra snow seeps into the ground or evaporates before it can flow downstream into reservoirs, you know California is facing a severe drought. It’s happening this spring up and down the mountain range that is a primary water source for the state. Water from snowmelt that hydrologists had expected only a few weeks ago to replenish foothill reservoirs is vanishing. It’s being absorbed by the parched soil or dissipating into the thin mountain air.
-Written by George Skelton, a Los Angeles Times columnist.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Failing water infrastructure disproportionately hurts disadvantaged communities

The infrastructure Californians rely on to move water throughout the state is aging, deteriorating and in desperate need of repair. The cost of doing nothing will be borne by all water users — cities, towns, businesses, farms and the environment. However, the negative impacts from further neglect will land disproportionately on already disadvantaged communities.
-Written by Ian LeMay, president of the California Fresh Fruit Association. 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

News release: Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District names Kristin Sicke as new general manager

Yolo County Flood Control & Water Conservation District is pleased to announce that Kristin Sicke has been selected to become the new general manager of the irrigation district.  The District’s primary mission is to provide surface water for agricultural purposes in western Yolo County, and is integral to monitoring and maintaining sustainable groundwater supplies within the county.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Drought intensifies and expands in the American West

The scale of the drought hitting the American West is beginning to crystallize as Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona experienced their driest year in terms of precipitation on record, according to the National Center for Environmental Information. In Utah and California, it was the second-driest winter on record. For Wyoming, it was the third-driest ever. For Colorado, only three winters were ever drier in the 127-year history of record-keeping at the center.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news KUNC

Declining Lake Powell levels prompt Colorado River states to form new plan

Declining levels at the second-largest reservoir in the U.S. have spurred officials in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico to search for ways to prop it up. Lake Powell on the Colorado River is dropping rapidly amid one of the southwestern watershed’s driest years on record. It’s currently forecast to be at 29% of capacity by the end of September — the lowest level since the reservoir first started filling in 1963. Its sister reservoir downstream on the Colorado River, Lake Mead, is also approaching a record low this year.

Related article:

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.

Aquafornia news Wall Street Journal

Drought imperils economy in California’s farm country

Sitting in a pickup truck on his almond farm 100 miles north of San Francisco, Tom Butler pointed to a withered grove he has been planning to bulldoze in order to save his little remaining water for younger trees. … California is gripped in severe drought just four years after emerging from the last one, forcing many farmers to scramble to find enough water. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has cut the water allocations for many to zero this year. Last year, when the latest dry spell began, the same farmers were allocated 20% of what they are contracted to receive annually.

Related articles: 

 

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

CA Water Commission: Governance and collaboration

The California Water Commission is in the process of completing the task assigned to them in the Water Resilience Portfolio of examining the state’s role in funding conveyance projects.  At the April meeting, the last two speakers on the panel discussed governance issues and collaboration.  First, Sharon Farrell … discussed how to build and sustain integrated regional networks and how they can help advance state priorities, such as resilient conveyance and water management.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Water in shorter supply than ever, Calif. reps takes aim at state’s poor policies on Capitol Hill

With communities on the West Coast once again threatened by extreme drought, Republicans on the House Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing on Wednesday to discuss the issue. Central Valley representatives Kevin McCarthy (R–Bakersfield), Devin Nunes (R–Tulare) and David Valadao (R–Hanford) joined the committee to address the drought.  The message was clear from all of the representatives and witnesses: The drought is a product of poor policies over the last several decades.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Paso Robles Daily News

Water district funding 30 new groundwater level monitoring wells

The Estrella-El Pomar-Creston Water District (EPCWD) has begun creating a groundwater level monitoring network. Initially, the district has begun work to add 30 new groundwater level monitoring sites, using existing wells, throughout the 37,000-acre district. The campaign marks a significant effort in the basin to move toward groundwater sustainability in the Paso Robles Subbasin, according to the EPCWD.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

State proposes to add funding for water goals

As more of California sinks into extreme drought, Gov. Gavin Newsom has asked the Legislature to appropriate billions of dollars to address critical water needs. In the “May revise”—an update to the budget proposal he initially submitted to the Legislature in January—Newsom proposes to spend nearly $3.5 billion on water supply and resilience projects, with total investment reaching $5.1 billion over multiple years. 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Managing for fish and wildlife during a dry year in the Sacramento Valley

With the driest year in memory, the water resources managers and landowners in the Sacramento Valley are working hard to serve multiple benefits throughout the region with limited water supplies. This has required all hands-on deck and creative management within the region as all surface water supplies have been significantly reduced, with hundreds of thousands of farmland acres idled throughout the region, urban suppliers working with their citizens to implement various conservation measures to reduce water use and there will undoubtedly be challenges for domestic groundwater wells.

Related article:

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Emergency water urged for rural Latino communities before California drought worsens

California lawmakers should take prompt action before drought conditions worsen by sending emergency drinking water to vulnerable communities in parched regions of the state, legislative advisers say. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office released a report last week providing recommendations on how to address increasingly dry conditions throughout the state. Based on an analysis of the state’s previous efforts for the last major drought, from 2012 to 2016, analysts said lawmakers should start sending emergency water supplies to vulnerable communities in the San Joaquin Valley region… 

Aquafornia news BBC Future

Why Peru is reviving a pre-Incan technology for water

Today, modern Peruvians are redeploying that ancient knowledge and protecting natural ecosystems such as high-altitude wetlands to help the country adapt to climate change. It’s one of the world’s first efforts to integrate nature into water management on a national scale. … Several years ago, desperate for water security, the country’s leaders did something radical: they passed a series of national laws requiring water utilities to invest a percentage of their customers’ bills in “natural infrastructure”.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: State plans $30 million wall to stop saltwater intrusion into delta – drought fallout

In the latest chapter of California’s unfolding drought, state officials are planning to build a giant rock wall across a river in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to save the vital freshwater estuary from San Francisco Bay’s saltwater. The emergency measure is a page from last decade’s drought when the delta, a maze of sloughs and man-made channels east of the Bay Area, was at risk of becoming too salty to provide water to the nearly 30 million Californians who depend on it. As in 2015, the freshwater rivers that feed the 1,100-square-mile delta have gotten so low that they no longer counter the brackish flows that push in from the bay. 

Aquafornia news Fox KTVU 2

The drought’s assault on California’s $50 billion farm industry

A growing number of drought stricken California farmers are making the painful decision not to plant as much or anything at all for fear of losing it all. It costs a lot of money to put seeds or seedlings into the ground. But if a farmer cannot be reasonably sure of a crop, why do it?

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Where’s the water? Drought threatens California’s lifeline

Even as California moves toward a full reopening from pandemic restrictions next month, many counties are still in danger. From drought. Earlier this month, Gov. Gavin Newsom extended emergency drought orders to 41 counties across the state. … All eyes are on a critical resource that can help fight the effects of another dry summer: water. 

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news CalTech

News release: New material could harvest water all day long

Tiny structures inspired by the shape of cactus spines allow a newly created material to gather drinkable water from the air both day and night, combining two water-harvesting technologies into one. The material, a micro-architected hydrogel membrane (more on that later), can produce water through both solar steam-water generation and fog collection—two independent processes that typically require two separate devices. A paper about the material was published in Nature Communications on May 14.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Opinion: Bluetech workforce, desal could solve California water crises

Facing extended drought, diminishing snowpack, and depleted aquifers, California water managers face a harsh reality: our 20th century water systems – essentially linear designs in which fresh water is extracted, centrally treated, distributed to users, returned as wastewater, and finally treated and discarded – are breaking down. Although this approach has served us well for decades, we can no longer sustain ourselves with a paradigm that uses water once and throws it away.
-Written by Peter Fiske, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and executive director of the Department of Energy’s National Alliance for Water Innovation.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

ACWA conference: The decade of water resilience – Developing solutions for our water future

Last week, the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) held their spring conference virtually.  Keynote speakers included Wade Crowfoot, Secretary of Natural Resources, and Karla Nemeth, Director of the Department of Water Resources.  In his speech, [Crowfoot] discussed the Newsom Administration’s priorities, calling this the ‘decade of resilience’, and giving three principles for going forward.  He also discussed the Voluntary Agreements.  Director Karla Nemeth gave the Thursday morning keynote speech, touching on the Department’s response to drought, SGMA implementation, the Delta Conveyance Project, and the water use efficiency regulations.

Aquafornia news Arizona News

Arizona Legislature proposes pumping Mississippi River water to help with drought

Arizona’s drought has lawmakers looking into drawing water from the Mississippi River to be used here in the desert. “This kind of project would be looking 20 years down the road,” said Republican Rep. Tim Dunn from Yuma. Dunn sponsored House Concurrent Memorial 2004, which got bipartisan support in the Arizona legislature, and urges Congress to study a plan for a pipeline that would take water out of the Mississippi River near Davenport, Iowa. 

Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

After years of protests, Crystal Geyser abandons bottling facility plans in Siskiyou County

Crystal Geyser bought the nearly 145,000 square foot bottling plant in 2013. Since then, it’s been the target of protests by local activists and members of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. Opponents say if it ever started operating, it would draw down too much water, and cause air and noise pollution. … They are in the midst of suing the beverage company in an effort to get a new environmental impact report. 

Aquafornia news Capital Press

Zero water allocation pushes Klamath Project farms to the brink

What was already forecasted to be a historically bleak water year in the Klamath Project has quickly become a living nightmare for farms and ranches fighting for survival in the drought-stricken basin. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation shut down the Project’s A Canal for the entire irrigation season May 12 in response to worsening conditions — allotting zero surface water from Upper Klamath Lake for thirsty crops and livestock. It is the first time in more than a century the A Canal will deliver no water. Meanwhile, irrigators are left to wonder how they will pay the bills as fields turn to dust.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news ABC10.com

May storm bringing snow to the Sierra

Updated timing on this late spring storm shows snow arriving in the Tahoe Basin around noon Thursday. The chance of snow will continue through Saturday with overnight snow levels dropping as low as 4,500 feet in some areas. The heaviest accumulation will be on Thursday with lighter showers Friday and Saturday. Totals will range from 1-6 inches on the passes.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Severe drought, worsened by climate change, ravages the American West

Severe drought — largely connected to climate change — is ravaging … the entire Western half of the United States, from the Pacific Coast, across the Great Basin and desert Southwest, and up through the Rockies to the Northern Plains. In California, wells are drying up, forcing some homeowners to drill new ones that are deeper and costlier. Lake Mead, on the border of Arizona and Nevada, is so drained of Colorado River water that the two states are facing the eventual possibility of cuts in their supply.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Climate change impact increasingly felt in California

More wildfires. Hotter days. Drought. Sea-level rise. Those conditions are an increasing reality in California, which is steadily becoming an altered state. But if the grimmest predictions of experts about our state and climate change become true, the conditions will become far worse.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

SF sues state board over proposed Tuolumne River flows

San Francisco has sued a state agency over proposed Tuolumne River flows that it claims would be “devastating” to Bay Area water users. The Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts joined in the lawsuit as “real parties in interest,” due to similar concerns about their customers not getting enough water. The suit is one more twist in the decades-long battle over how much water to provide for salmon and other fish downstream from Don Pedro Reservoir.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Irrigation districts look to transfers as water dwindles

With very little water to spare this drought year, water districts struggling with limited or no supplies look to their counterparts in other districts to negotiate water transfers to add whatever flexibility they can. Districts on the west side of the Central Valley, both north and south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, face the prospect of receiving no water from the Central Valley Project.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Toilet waste to tap water: Welcome to the future of recycled sewage

Suffering through a prolonged dry period, utilities are increasingly relying on sewage to generate the state’s water needs. Known in industry parlance as “recycled wastewater” and in lay terms as “toilet to tap,” this water source understandably triggers a gag reflex in some consumers — but it shouldn’t.  Recycled wastewater is quickly becoming the single most important element of a drought-proof water supply in the climate-change era, and it happens to be as pure and delicious as anything you might buy bottled from the Swiss Alps.

Aquafornia news Record Searchlight

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Lake Shasta is facing its worst season in 44 years. Here’s what that means for those who rely on it.

Lake Shasta this summer is facing possibly its lowest level in at least 44 years, and that could be bad news for the people who rely on it for drinking and irrigation water, as well as endangered salmon that depend on it to survive. Dam operators have to go all the way back to 1977 to compare how bad this year’s water situation is shaping up to be, said Don Bader, area manager for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which manages the dam. 

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news California Water Research

Blog: Delta Stewardship Council guts independent peer review in the Delta Science Program

The seven members of the Delta Stewardship Council were seated in 2010. The Council appointed ten prominent scientists to the Delta ISB. Over the next decade, the Delta ISB produced over 30 scientific reviews, averaging over 3,000 hours of work per year. But in 2020, the work of the Delta ISB stalled. The Delta Stewardship Council reduced funding for the Delta ISB by over 90%. 

Aquafornia news ABC 15

Arizona’s continuing population growth puts pressure on water supply

Millions of people are betting on Arizona. They’re buying homes, starting businesses, and families. The future of how we use our water resources may dictate the future of their success. … That question was addressed four decades earlier with the Groundwater Management Act of 1980. The idea was the law would ensure when water was taken out, just as much was put back in, creating what they called a safe yield goal by 2025. Unfortunately, a new study released by ASU researchers with the Kyl Center shows the law is not living up to its promise as deep, thousands of years old aquifers continue to be over-pumped.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Victorville Daily Press

A closer look: Why Liberty Utilities’ arguments were favored in Apple Valley’s eminent domain lawsuit

When lawyers for the Town of Apple Valley first presented their arguments in a lawsuit for taking over the water system owned by Liberty Utilities, they leveled a serious charge. According to Kendall MacVey, an attorney with Best Best & Krieger, the firm’s expert who had conducted a three-day inspection of the system discovered nine out of 10 water reservoir tanks to be “seismically unsafe.” Some were perched above homes with no concrete foundation, MacVey said in an October 2019 court hearing.

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Silent no more: Klamath Tribes gather to protect fish, homelands

A group of protesters gathered at Sugarman’s Corner in downtown Klamath Falls on Saturday, preparing to welcome a 25-car caravan of mostly Klamath Tribal members calling for solutions to the Klamath Basin’s water crisis. A man walked by the demonstrators, eyeing their signs with statements like “Peace and Healing in the Klamath Basin,” “Water Justice is Social Justice” and “Undam the Klamath.” 

Related articles: 

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Floodplain restoration helps both fish and people where Tuolumne and San Joaquin meet

Out where the Tuolumne River joins the San Joaquin, an intriguing way of managing water is taking hold. Dos Rios Ranch is nine years into its restoration, a $45 million-plus effort across nearly 2,400 acres. It seeks to enhance flood protection, wildlife habitat and water supplies in one grand vision. Crews have reshaped former farm fields to mimic the floodplains that spread across much of the Central Valley in the time before dams and levees.

Aquafornia news Daily Kos

Gov. Newsom’s May budget revision allocates $200 million to plug abandoned and orphaned oil wells

California Governor Gavin Newsom on May 14 unveiled his May budget revision that allocates $200 million to plug abandoned and orphaned oil and gas wells, many located near low-income residential areas where the majority of residents are Latino and Black. In January 2020, a report by the California Council on Science & Technology revealed that California taxpayers could be on the hook for more than $500 million to plug thousands of “orphan” wells drilled and abandoned by oil and gas companies. .. Plugging all 107,000 oil and wells in California when they become idle would cost more than $9 billion, the report also found.

Aquafornia news The Confluence

Blog: Landscape water conservation

As California enters another dry summer, the supply and use of water are once again becoming topics of immediate concern. Statewide, agriculture dominates use of developed water — meaning water which is moved through pipes at some point.  In urban areas, about half of developed water is used outdoors, and of that fraction about half is used for landscape irrigation. That half is an important fraction in Los Angeles and other urban areas. Across the state, homeowners may be interested in saving money on water bills, improving plant health, limiting weeds, and being ecologically responsible while still having an attractive, low-maintenance landscape.