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 Ag Alert

Bleak water year ending, with hope for future elusive

Nearing the end of the water year on Sept. 30, California farmers and water officials are eager to turn the page to begin the next opportunity for the state to accrue snowpack and precipitation. However, with a La Niña atmospheric phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean, which generally signals drier, warmer conditions, water officials say they are preparing for a fourth dry year next year…. Farmers in Southern California, with senior water rights on the Colorado River, expressed concern that emergency water delivery cuts for more junior water users did not go far enough to keep the supply sustainable…. 

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Aquafornia news KALW - Bay Area

The Colorado River water shortage is forcing tough choices in 7 states

This summer, officials of the U.S. Interior Department gave seven states in the American West an ultimatum – either come up with a voluntary agreement to curtail their use of water from the Colorado River, or the federal government will impose mandatory restrictions. Lake Mead, the reservoir created by the Hoover Dam on the Colorado, is now at just 25% of its capacity. Our guest, ProPublica investigative reporter Abrahm Lustgarten, says the water shortage facing the 40 million people who rely on the Colorado is an emergency but not a surprise. For decades, it’s been clear the states were draining more from the Colorado than it could bear. And population growth and climate change have accelerated the problem.

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Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: DWR takes actions to support state’s future water supply strategy

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced new steps that, if approved, could save enough water to supply 4.7 million Californians annually while making conservation more affordable through financial assistance and tax exemptions. The actions improve long-term water conservation and reduce wasteful outdoor water use as California adapts to a hotter, drier future driven by climate change. … The new actions will build on California’s ongoing long-term efforts to make water conservation a way of life while advancing water efficiency efforts outlined in California’s Water Supply Strategy: Adapting to a Hotter, Drier Future. The plan, released by Governor Newsom this summer, sets a target of securing 500,000 acre-feet of additional water per year through increased efficiency and conservation.

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Aquafornia news Congressman Doug LaMalfa

News release: Congressman LaMalfa and California Republican delegation introduces sweeping water legislation

Today, Congressman Doug LaMalfa (CA-01) joined Congressman David G. Valadao (CA-21) and the entire California Republican delegation to introduce the Working to Advance Tangible and Effective Reforms (WATER) for California Act. This bill focuses on operational stability, infrastructure, and accountability to bring more water to the state. “For too long, farmers, ranchers, and municipalities have suffered from the gross mismanagement of California’s water by Washington and Sacramento. These unforced errors have led to drastic allocation cuts, fallow fields, perished livestock, tainted drinking water, and reduced water levels in reservoirs we rely on for fire suppression….” said Rep. Doug LaMalfa (CA-01).

Aquafornia news Brentwood Press

Oakley City Council opposes resurrected Delta tunnel proposal

Forty years before Donald Trump coined his “Stop the Steal” campaign, California’s voters used the phrase to oppose and defeat the proposed Peripheral Canal…. Newsom has now offered his version, which features a single tunnel called the Delta Conveyance Project, or Delta Tunnel. In a public joint meeting held this week at the Diablo Water District headquarters, members of the Oakley City Council, the Ironhouse Sanitary District and the water district met to hear an update on the Delta Tunnel….The Oakley Council members … took an informal 3-0 vote to oppose the tunnel proposal at the end of the public hearing. The sanitary district also opposes the project and the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors has voted to oppose it as well.

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Aquafornia news Stanford News

President of Portugal talks sustainability during visit to Stanford

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa visited Stanford Monday to meet with faculty experts and industry leaders to discuss shared climate challenges and ways that Portugal and California – and specifically Stanford – can potentially collaborate on solutions. … Due to its geography, Portugal is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Like California, it occupies a western coastline and experiences drought, forest fires, coastal erosion due to sea level rise, and other climate-related challenges.

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Aquafornia news KGET - Bakersfield

Old Kernville is reappearing in shriveling Lake Isabella due to California drought

With the ongoing drought, local lakes and rivers are facing the impacts of wildlife dying… and communities reemerging? Residents of the Kern County community of Kernville may have noticed a reemerging city as the drought soaks up Lake Isabella. According to Dianna Anderson, a Kern River Museum curator, pig styes and cedars of Murphy Ranch of Old Kernville are starting to reemerge from the lake in the Southern Sierra Nevada.

Aquafornia news Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

News release: State gives $130 million boost to projects essential to reliability of Southern California’s water supply

Several Metropolitan [Water District] projects critical to ensuring reliable water supplies for Southern California in the face of drought and climate change will receive $130 million in state funding, as a result of legislation signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Metropolitan’s Pure Water Southern California project – anticipated to be one of the world’s largest water recycling facilities when complete – will receive $80 million from the FY 2022/23 state budget…. In addition, $50 million has been provided to Metropolitan for a set of drought emergency mitigation projects to move locally stored water into parts of Southern California that depend on extremely limited supplies from the State Water Project from Northern California.

Aquafornia news NBC - Bay Area

Largest active Santa Clara Valley reservoir only at 39% capacity

The largest active reservoir in the Santa Clara Valley was only at 39% capacity Tuesday, and the water agency doesn’t expect things to improve for several years. The water level at Lexington Reservoir, near Los Gatos, is expected to stay low, even if there’s an abnormally high rainy season. Lexington currently is the largest reservoir in the valley with Anderson Reservoir offline for a years-long seismic retrofit. The other reservoirs in the county aren’t doing much better, with Guadalupe Reservoir at a startlingly low 18%, and the future doesn’t look so bright for that one either.

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Aquafornia news Sites Reservoir JPA

Blog: An update on the Sites Reservoir water right permit process

Sites Reservoir reached a critical milestone in May of this year when the Sites Project Authority submitted its water right application to the State Water Resources Control Board. A requirement for the Project to advance, the water right permit process is complex and sometimes iterative. It requires careful analysis and deliberate consideration. The Authority recently received a response letter from the State Board indicating they had accepted the application and determined that the Authority needed to supply additional information as part of the permitting process. It is fairly common for the State Board to request additional information from applicants. 

Aquafornia news The New York Times

California is expected to enter a fourth straight year of drought

California is most likely heading into a fourth consecutive year of drought. The state’s water year ends tomorrow, which has prompted predictions about what’s in store for the next 12 months. (California’s water year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, so that the winter rainy season falls within a single water year.) The forecasts tend to agree: The Golden State’s extreme drought, exacerbated by warming temperatures and increasingly unpredictable precipitation patterns, is expected to continue into the new year. Gov. Gavin Newsom warned on Wednesday that Californians must adjust to a hotter and drier world.

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Aquafornia news Herald and News

Central Oregon water-sharing program extended after bumpy start

A highly anticipated program designed to ease water shortages for Central Oregon farmers will continue for a second year. The Deschutes River Conservancy, Central Oregon Irrigation District and North Unit Irrigation District announced last week that they will extend their water bank pilot project, despite the challenges they faced in the program’s inaugural year. Organizers say the water bank could eventually include other irrigation districts in the Deschutes Basin. If successful, the program could become a model for other parts of the state struggling with water shortages.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Governor and Legislature provide relief for communities affected by drought in the Sacramento Valley

Governor Newsom signed a bill providing a new $75M drought relief grant program designed to help small businesses that support production agriculture. This includes dryers, mills, suppliers, service providers, aircraft, and trucking that supports agriculture, as well as small or socially disadvantaged farmers with 100 or fewer employees. We applaud this new program! With the unprecedented and devastating dry year in the Sacramento River watershed, we welcome this program and it should be very helpful to the small businesses throughout our region who are vital to our communities, farming, and the environment.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Meet us next Tuesday at the Capitol; sign up for our annual Water Summit, Water Leaders Alum Reunion and our last tour of 2022

The team at the Water Education Foundation is gearing up for a busy fall programming season. Check out the details below. We hope to see you at some point! …The Water Education Foundation will be among the nonprofits gathered at the west steps of the Capitol in Sacramento next Tuesday (Oct. 4) to kick off the Our Promise workplace giving campaign for state employees who work at  the California Department of Water Resources, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the State Water Resources Control Board and other state agencies. Stop by and meet some of our team during the event, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and learn more about how we carry out our mission. 

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Sun

‘It’s getting close’: As megadrought grinds on, Arizona working to meet water demands

NASA satellite photos show how drastically the water levels in Lake Powell and Lake Mead have receded in just the past few years. They demonstrate the severity of long-term drought and the challenges Arizona will face to conserve and enhance its precious water supply. Susanna Eden is the research program manager for the Water Resources Research Center at the University of Arizona. She has been with the center for 17 years and has researched water policy and management even longer. The NASA images are shocking, she said, and should concern Arizonans. … She also said people may have a false sense of security when it comes to tackling this issue.

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Aquafornia news Spectrum News 1

Climate summit presents range of climate change remedies

A climate change panel Wednesday told its small audience about policy changes Orange County has made and where local leadership has fallen short. Scientists, politicians and local first responders gathered at the Orange Coast College planetarium to share ways the county can improve and forthcoming dangers a warmer climate presents. … Drought has been another challenge, requiring customers to use less water, for management companies to invest in more efficient plumbing, and for homeowners to learn how to protect their properties. California’s extended drought, which forced Gov. Gavin Newsom to call for water rationing in the spring, has created dangerous wildfire problems.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California’s drought has brought back water shaming. Is that a good thing?

Amid a third painfully dry year, the Bay Area’s biggest water retailer began releasing the names of customers using “excessive” amounts of water this week, a practice that may soon tee up hundreds of households for humiliation and shame. The move, by the East Bay Municipal Utility District, harkens back to last decade’s drought when several of California’s rich and famous, including such beloved stars as Giant’s great Buster Posey, Olympic figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi and comedian Amy Poehler, were outed for their lack of restraint at the tap. … East Bay utility officials, who say they just want to save water this year, maintain that their intent in releasing customer identities is not to ridicule anyone.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Water Reuse Conference: Dr. David Sedlak lays out five challenges for expanding water reuse and desalination in California

Climate change and drought are forcing California to reimagine its water supply future.  One promising tool in the toolbox is water recycling, something California has been doing since the 1970s.  Recycled water can be used for agricultural and landscape irrigation, industrial and commercial uses, seawater intrusion barriers, and groundwater recharge.  More importantly, putting recycled water to use can free up potable water for other uses and provides a local source for water supplies. Governor Newsom’s water supply strategy calls for recycling and reusing at least 800,000 acre-feet of water per year by 2030 and 1.8 million acre-feet by 2040, with most of that additional recycling involving direct wastewater discharges that are now going to the ocean. 

Aquafornia news Turlock Journal

Turlock City Council candidates talk water

As drought conditions worsen in the area and the state enacts more conservation mandates, a project three decades in the making is nearly complete and is scheduled to deliver a reliable source of drinking water to Turlock residents by next year.  The Regional Surface Water Supply Project was formed in 2011 as the Cities of Turlock and Ceres, in cooperation with Turlock Irrigation District, to start the process of building a plant to deliver treated Tuolumne River water to residents. The City of Turlock has been working for 30 years to secure this alternate drinking source, as its current drinking water supply is 100% groundwater — and dwindling. 

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications

As water board fees escalate, solutions hit an impasse

Hopes dimmed last week for any options to ease a decade-long trend in rising compliance costs. Farmers are seeing yet another bump in water quality fees.

Aquafornia news Santa Barbara News-Press

Investigators say more than 70% of cannabis growers use illegal water

An investigation by Lynker Technologies LLC and the Law Office of Marc Chytilo has alleged that more than 70% of all cannabis operations in the Santa Ynez River Valley bottom illegally use surface water during California’s worst drought.  According to the investigation, more than 500 acre-feet of water per year are being diverted from the Santa Ynez River Alluvial Basin to cannabis grows. The investigation by Lynker and the law office says this usage violates California law, which prohibits use of surface water for cannabis cultivation between March 31 and Nov. 1.  

Aquafornia news KDRV - Medford

Three counties’ leaders propose collaboration to manage Klamath Watershed

Three counties across state lines are proposing that their counties and other stakeholders in the Klamath Watershed form a new alliance to address the broad needs of its limited water supply.  It also wants to coordinate watershed projects’ funding that it calls a “piecemeal approach (that) does not require results or require any accountability.” … The Klamath Basin Watershed is a water source for Native American tribal interests, private farms and ranches, endangered species, environmentalists and recreationists who rely on the water from more than 12,000 square miles in south central Oregon and northern California that supplies the Klamath River.

Aquafornia news Bay City News

Baykeeper sues Santa Clara Valley Water alleging practices that are ‘fatal to fish’

Bay Area environmental watchdog San Francisco Baykeeper filed suit on Tuesday against the Santa Clara Valley Water District for allegedly violating the California Constitution and the Fish and Game Code through its water management practices. … According to Baykeeper, Valley Water is responsible for area creeks and rivers that support salmon, steelhead, longfin, smelt, riffle sculpin, rainbow trout and “many other public trust resources.”  Baykeeper alleges that Valley Water “routinely” causes temperatures in the creeks and rivers it manages to be too warm and at flow rates that are too low, something Baykeeper says is “fatal to fish.” Valley Water released a statement about the suit, saying that it “smacks environmental justice in the face” by increasing project costs, which “directly impacts” water rates.  

Aquafornia news KUNC - Greeley, Colorado/Inside Climate News

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Feds will spend billions to boost drought-stricken Colorado River system

As climate change tightens its grip on the Colorado River basin, the states that use its water are struggling to agree on terms that will reduce their demand. Now, the federal government is stepping in with a plan to use billions of dollars to incentivize conservation. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced new measures in response to the ongoing dry conditions, unveiling plans to use a chunk of the $4 billion it received as part of the recently-passed Inflation Reduction Act. That money will be used for what the agency refers to as “short-term conservation,” to remove water-intensive grass in cities and suburbs, and to upgrade aging canals.

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Aquafornia news Mojave Daily News

Reclamation awards $10.3 million to tribal drought response water projects

Twenty-six tribes in 12 states have been awarded $10.3 million through the U.S. Interior Department’s Native American Affairs Technical Assistance to Tribes Program through the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to prepare for and mitigate the impacts of drought. “This funding is part of the department’s continued commitment to partner with and uphold our trust responsibilities to Tribal nations,” said Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tanya Trujillo. … Reclamation’s Native American Affairs Technical Assistance Program provides technical assistance to Native American Tribes to develop, manage and protect their water and related resources.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Three homes have become the first in the Bay Area to be publicly named as using too much water

Three East Bay households this month became the first in the Bay Area to face fines for using too much water during the drought, a group that will probably swell to hundreds as bills with a novel “excessive use” charge continue to go out. The penalties, which are as high as about $120 over a two-month period, come as the East Bay Municipal Utility District launches one of the most aggressive — and punitive — conservation policies in the region in an effort to protect its water supplies. The policy sets a relatively high limit … of about 1,646 gallons per day over the billing cycle. … Under the policy, penalties are assessed, and the names of violators are made public, only after a warning is sent out and a 15-day appeal period has lapsed.

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Aquafornia news NPR

Listen: Amid climate change, water managers see promise in recycled wastewater

Las Vegas is prepared to pay Southern California $750 million to drink water recycled from sewage. It’s because of the southwestern megadrought.

Aquafornia news Long Beach Press Telegram

Elections 2022: Long Beach voters to decide whether to combine utility departments

Long Beach voters will soon decide whether the city should put its water and natural gas utilities under one manager, and have a semi-independent commission oversee the operation. Measure BB is a charter amendment that, if it passes during the Nov. 8 election, would move the natural gas operation under the Water Department, creating a Public Utilities Department. The existing Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners — mandated by the City Charter — would become the Board of Public Utility Commissioners, and would have responsibility for budget approval and other policies, with the City Council still able to override those decisions. 

Aquafornia news International Water Power

Hydro provides reliable electricity even during historic droughts says new study

A new study funded by the US Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) has found that hydropower has continued to provide reliable electricity even during times of historic droughts. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), with funding from WPTO, conducted a multi-regional study of drought’s impact on 21st century hydropower generation in the western US – with the report the described as the most comprehensive look into the effects of drought on hydropower generation in the US this century. … The PNNL study looked at eight climate sub-regions across 11 western states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Aquafornia news Summit Daily

Western Slope water advocates reflect on 2022 water year

As the 2022 water year comes to a close, experts on the Colorado River are reflecting on how drought has affected the river basin on the Western Slope in Colorado. The United States Geological Survey defines a water year as “the 12-month period Oct. 1 for any given year through September 30, of the following year.” Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, will designate the beginning of the 2023 water year. Brendon Langenhuizen, director of technical advocacy for the Colorado River District, said that this water year has been “fairly close to normal.” 

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

How New Mexico’s largest wildfire set off a drinking water crisis

Heavy monsoon rains would normally be cause for celebration in the drought-parched mountains of northeastern New Mexico, where the Rockies meet the Great Plains, especially after the largest wildfire in state history came within a mile of torching the region’s largest community this spring. But not this year, when fears of running out of fresh water forced officials to cancel an annual arts and crafts fair that draws thousands of visitors in Las Vegas, N.M. … Instead of replenishing reservoirs, the downpours are flooding a burn scar left by the blaze known as the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak fire, releasing contaminants into private wells and overwhelming Las Vegas’s main water supply with ashy sludge.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: The environmental benefits of the Water Storage Investment Program

In August, the Newsom administration announced its Water Supply Strategy. Storing water in wet years is central to this strategy, principally to cope with increasing drought intensity and the resulting water scarcity that will impact supplies for cities and farms. As part of our recent study, Storing Water for the Environment, we investigated current efforts to expand storage under the Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP)—a key component of a water bond passed by voters in 2014 (Proposition 1). WSIP put forth significant funding for storage—$2.7 billion—and it uses a novel approach. It requires that this funding go only to the public benefit portion of new storage, including new water for the environment.

Aquafornia news The Press

Antioch to get new desalination plant

Antioch is investing in its water supply future. A new $110 million desalination plant is being built in Antioch. With construction underway at an existing water treatment facility, the new desalination plant will service the needs of Antioch’s population of more than 115,000 people, as well as help to improve its water supply reliability, city officials say. … The primary reason for the need for the desalination plant is due to increased salinity in the water supply. The city of Antioch derives much of its water source from the San Joaquin River …

Aquafornia news San Diego County Water Authority

News release: Mel Katz elected Board Chair of San Diego County Water Authority

New officers for the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors were elected today, with Mel Katz starting his two-year term as Board chair on Oct. 1. Katz, vice chair of the Board for the past six months as a representative for the City of Del Mar, will serve with incoming Vice Chair Nick Serrano, a Board representative from the City of San Diego, and incoming Secretary Frank Hilliker. Katz will serve as the 27th board chair since the Water Authority’s founding in 1944.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Opinion: Memo to lawmakers – Our future demands good water infrastructure

Just as California is preparing its electrical grid to provide 90% clean energy by 2035, our state leaders must also look to future investments in water infrastructure. The need for a safe and reliable source of water will continue well into the future, underscoring the need for investing in a modern infrastructure system today. Much of California’s water infrastructure system was constructed decades ago, and while reliable, it is not infallible. On Sept. 6, the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California began emergency repairs on its Upper Feeder pipeline, requiring millions of Southern Californians to suspend outdoor watering for up to 15 days.
-Written by Jennifer Capitolo, executive director of the California Water Association, a leading trade association that represents more than 90 regulated water utilities across California serving more than 7 million customers.

Aquafornia news PBS NewsHour

Here’s how California’s canals could advance the state’s renewable energy goals

Last year, a study published in Nature Sustainability by researchers from University of California at Santa Cruz along with UC Merced found that it may be possible to tap into the network of public water delivery canals as a way to both conserve water and advance the state’s renewable energy efforts. The researchers studied the concept of “solar canals,” which includes assembling a canopy of solar panels to prevent evaporation while also generating electric energy. The idea is being put to the test in an experiment called Project Nexus.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Monday Top of the Scroll: Another La Niña could be more bad news for the Colorado River

Our third La Niña weather pattern in three years seems almost certain, and one climate expert says that could be bad news for the already overtapped Colorado River. … The Climate Prediction Center for the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration forecast a 91% chance of a La Niña weather pattern dominating the Northern Hemisphere from September through November, and a 54% chance from January through March of 2023. La Niña winters typically mean drier, warmer weather in the Southwest that can, although doesn’t always, spread as far north as Colorado’s southern Rockies, which would clearly drive down Colorado River flows. The last two to three years in particular have seen fairly low to very low river flows in the basin, at the same time La Niña conditions were present.

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Aquafornia news Mercury News

Drought, new dams, discord dominate election for Santa Clara Valley Water District

Over the past two years, Silicon Valley’s largest water provider, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, has had a long list of challenges and setbacks. In 2020, the federal government ordered its largest dam, Anderson, near Morgan Hill, drained for earthquake repairs. The price tag has since doubled to $1.2 billion. The district’s plan to build another big dam near Pacheco Pass also doubled in cost, and that $2.5 billion project has been hit with a lawsuit and funding shortfalls. As the drought worsened, the district has pushed for conservation and spent tens of millions of dollars to buy water from Sacramento Valley farmers at high prices.

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Aquafornia news Patch - Martinez

Last week of September declared Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Week

State Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, on Wednesday declared the last week of September as Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Week in recognition of the rivers playing a critical role in the state’s economy and environment. The proclaimed week will kick off Sunday and was established from Senate Concurrent Resolution 119. Dodd said the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy and Delta Protection Commission have both been vital in protecting the expanse formed by the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers.

Aquafornia news Colorado Politics

Federal ideas reflect little progress toward solving Colorado River crisis

The clock is ticking for the Colorado River, but solutions on how to save the river basin, which provides water to 40 million people in seven states and Mexico, still appears to be elusive, at least from the federal government. However, proposed solutions are starting to bubble up through Colorado agriculture’s community, including projects that received funding to address drought this week from the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Palos Verdes fault could unleash destructive L.A. earthquake

A fault system running nearly 70 miles along the coast of Los Angeles and Orange counties has the potential to trigger a magnitude 7.8 earthquake, according to a new study that is the latest to highlight the seismic threats facing Southern California. … A quake of that magnitude on the southern San Andreas fault, rupturing between the Salton Sea near the Mexico border and passing through Palm Springs and into Lake Hughes, north of Santa Clarita in L.A. County, could cause 1,800 deaths… Under the simulation’s scenario, freeways linking the region to Las Vegas and Phoenix could be destroyed, as could the aqueducts that bring in most of L.A. County’s water.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Proposed California surf park is rejected by city council

A developer’s proposal to build a surfing lagoon in the Coachella Valley desert has been rejected by the city of La Quinta after residents raised concerns about noise, lighting and the resort’s substantial water footprint in a time of severe drought. The City Council’s five members voted unanimously Wednesday night against a zoning change that would have allowed the developer to build the resort and surf park. … The wave basin would have stretched across 12 acres and required 18 million gallons to fill. … The uproar parallels a larger debate over how the Coachella Valley — with its 120 golf courses, artificial lakes and developments filled with thirsty grass — should adapt to worsening water scarcity. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California warns of ‘fourth dry year’ as drought continues

Yes, Northern California received some rain this week, dousing much of the Mosquito Fire and bringing a light coating of snow to the Sierra Nevada. But one of the worst droughts in recorded history remains an everyday reality, and the outlook for winter is for more of the same, a top official with the state Department of Water Resources said this week. … On the other hand, [John Yarbrough, the agency’s assistant deputy director] said the state will enter the upcoming winter in better shape than it did a year ago. The flurry of storms last October and December means California’s major reservoirs are holding more water than at the same time in 2021.

Aquafornia news ABC30 - Fresno

Valley farmer calling on state to increase water source

The devastating drought is continuing to ravage the Central Valley and is creating more of a water crisis for farmers. Right along the edge of West Fresno County sits miles and miles of uprooted almond trees. Farmer Joe Del Bosque says he’s never seen it like this. … Del Bosque says they’ve done everything to be efficient with their water. He says every orchard and field has water-saving technology. But that’s not enough. Now, he’s calling on lawmakers to increase their water storage to be able to save more water in the future.

Aquafornia news National Review

Opinion: Environmentalists push dam removal in American West

The great cities of the American southwest would not exist if it weren’t for dams. Without the massive federal and state projects to build dams, pumping stations, and aqueducts (most of them completed 50 to 100 years ago), more than 60 million Americans would be living somewhere else. Without dams to capture and store millions of acre-feet of rainfall every year, and aqueducts to transport that water to thirsty metropolitan customers, the land these cities sit upon would be uninhabitable desert.

Aquafornia news Fresh Water News

Tribal breakthrough? Four states, six tribes announce first formal talks on Colorado River negotiating authority

Colorado and three other Upper Colorado River Basin states have, for the first time in history, embarked on a series of formal meetings to find a way to negotiate jointly with some of the largest owners of Colorado River water rights: tribal communities. The states, which include New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado, began meeting with six tribes several weeks ago, according to Rebecca Mitchell, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board who also represents Colorado on the Upper Colorado River Basin Commission.

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Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

No surface water for Ariz. farmers next year

Arizona farmers this year benefitted from mitigation water that otherwise would have cut their Central Arizona Project irrigation deliveries to zero. They won’t be so fortunate next year. When the Bureau of Reclamation issued its first-ever Tier 1 restriction of Colorado River water from Lake Mead, Arizona’s farmers faced the elimination of their surface water supplies from the Central Arizona Project (CAP) for 2022. That portion of CAP surface water, known as the “ag pool,” is part of a 512,000-acre-foot cut Arizona faced under the restrictions as part of the Drought Contingency Plan, an agreement designed to preserve water in the Colorado River system.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California should expect a ‘fourth dry year’ as drought persists

California’s reservoirs will enter fall in a slightly better position than last year, but the Golden State should prepare for more dryness, extreme weather events and water quality hazards in 2023, officials say. … [S]ome of the state’s biggest reservoirs, including Lake Oroville and Lake Shasta, are slightly more full than they were at the same time last year, but still remain well below average. Water managers are now preparing for a “fourth dry year,” as well as more unpredictable weather and wildfires associated with climate change, DWR Assistant Deputy Director John Yarbrough said during a meeting of the California Water Commission.

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Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications

Agriculture hails court victory, amid ‘slow erosion’ of water rights

A court ruling last week over senior water rights came as welcome news to agricultural interests that have long battled the State Water Resources Control Board over drought curtailments. Yet while the decision sets a limit on the board’s authority, the agency retains several regulatory tools for curtailing the diversions, and lawmakers could add more. California’s Sixth Appellate District Court of Appeal ruled the board lacks jurisdiction under the state water code “to curtail an entire class of pre-1914 appropriative water rights.” Farmers obtained them before California began regulating water rights in 1913 and have fought hard to preserve them ever since.

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Aquafornia news California Water Research

Blog: Delta Independent Science Board requests extension on Delta tunnel Draft EIR comments

On September 2, 2022, Lisa Wainger, the new Chair of the Delta Independent Science Board, sent a letter to the Department of Water Resources Director, Karla Nemeth, asking for a 30 day extension of time to comment on the Delta Conveyance Project Draft EIR. The DISB Chair’s letter gave the following reasons for asking for the extension: We have been actively working to review the document, but more time would be helpful for the following reasons. First, we are finding that the main chapters do not have sufficient information to judge the quality of methods and sources of uncertainty, and so we need more time to review the appendices and other supporting materials. 

Aquafornia news KSBW - Monterey

Marina Coast Water District plans to restart desalination plant dormant since 2003

The Marina Coast Water District (MCWD) announced at a meeting of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors that it is going to restart its long-dormant desalination plant. Remley Scherzinger, general manager for MCWD, told the supervisors that to augment their current water supply they’ll need to return to their already-built desal plant. The desal facility was built in 1997 and was operated until 2003.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Column: California’s water usage was built on a historic lie. The cost is now apparent

The compact — essentially an interstate treaty — set the rules for apportioning the waters of the river. It was a crucial step in construction of Hoover Dam, which could not have been built without the states’ assent. The compact stands as a landmark in the development of Los Angeles, San Diego, Denver, Phoenix and other Western metropolises. But it is also a symbol of the folly of unwarranted expectations. That’s because the compact was built on a lie about the capacity of the Colorado River to serve the interests of the Western states — a lie that Westerners will be grappling with for decades to come.
-Written by Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Video: The “intertie” marks the end of the line for the Kern River but it still has an important role in the law of the river

This is the fourth video in our series explaining how the Kern River operates, who owns it and where its waters go. In this video, we look at the “intertie,” which marks the end of the river as it meets the California Aqueduct west of Bakersfield. This highly unassuming looking piece of infrastructure was built to regulate the occasionally massive floods that barrel out of the Sierra Nevada mountains. And while it hasn’t been used since 2006, the intertie features prominently in ongoing state hearings over whether there’s available water on the Kern River.

Aquafornia news Water Finance & Management

New cyber incident reporting rules released

The Cybersecurity and Information Security Agency (CISA) has released a Request for Information (RFI) to inform the agency’s development of new critical infrastructure cyber incident reporting rules enacted by Congress earlier this year. Congress approved the Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act in March. The law directs CISA to develop rules requiring covered critical infrastructure owners and operators to report to CISA within 72 hours of a reasonable belief that they have experienced a cyberattack, or within 24 hours of making a cyber ransom payment. 

Aquafornia news Phys.org

A better understanding of crop yields under climate change

You don’t need a Ph.D. in agriculture to know that water is critical to crop production. But for years, people like Jonathan Proctor, who has a Ph.D. in Agriculture and Resource Economics from the University of California Berkeley, have been trying to explain why the importance of water isn’t showing up in statistical models of crop yield. … The research team had a hypothesis: What if the models were measuring the wrong type of water? Rather than measuring precipitation, as previous studies had done, the Harvard team used satellites to measure soil moisture around the root zone for maize, soybeans, millet, and sorghum growing around the world.

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Aquafornia news Forbes

Blog: Gavin Newsom can stop water projects from drowning in red tape

Earlier this month, the California Department of Water Resources announced a new round of funding for desalination projects in the state. Six million dollar grants will be made available for new projects that help expand the Golden State’s fresh water supply. The move comes on the heels of a new water initiative Governor Gavin Newsom has launched to address California’s historic drought. … A 2019 study estimated there are just under 16,000 desalination plants in operation worldwide, spread across 177 countries. It’s a rapidly growing industry, with reverse osmosis technology in particular behind much of the capacity growth in recent years. 

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Harder pushes bill that would stop tunnel

Congress could kill the Delta tunnel. Under legislation introduced by Congressman Josh Harder and co-sponsored by Congressman John Garamendi, the Army Corps of Engineering would be banned from issuing a required permit the state needs to build the $16 billion Delta Conveyance project known simply as the Delta Tunnel. The Corps has a pivotal role in the project given the water that would be diverted is stored behind Shasta Dam. Shasta Dam is part of the federally built and operated Central Valley Project whose water is sold to the Metropolitan  Water District in the Los Angeles Basin as well as large corporate farms in the western part of Kern County and several Bay Area cities.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Western reservoirs could run dry in 3 years, top official warns

A top Centennial State official warned Colorado River Basin states that the system’s federal reservoirs could effectively empty in a few short years barring aggressive reductions to water demands. Colorado River Water Conservation District General Manager Andy Mueller painted a bleak future for the basin’s seven states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — on Friday, during his organization’s annual conference in Grand Junction, Colo., on the river’s future. … More than two decades of drought have significantly diminished the Colorado River, which spans 1,450 miles and supplies water to some 40 million individuals.

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Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

Monday Top of the Scroll: The Colorado River is drying up — but basin states have ‘no plan’ on how to cut water use

One month after states missed a federal deadline to propose ways to drastically cut their use of water supplied by the Colorado River, water managers who met for a seminar in Grand Junction said they still didn’t have comprehensive solutions ready to help bolster the imperiled river system. Water leaders, agricultural producers, environmentalists and others from across the drought-stricken river basin met Friday for the Colorado River District’s annual water seminar to discuss the historic-low levels in the river’s biggest reservoirs — and the need to cut back usage from Wyoming to California. While the problems the basin faces were apparent in the day-long discussions about the state of the river, solutions were not.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Plan to build surf park in Coachella Valley sparks debate

In a part of the Coachella Valley where exclusive neighborhoods wrap around lush golf courses and ponds, a stretch of open desert could be transformed into a new sort of artificial oasis … a 12-acre pool where surfers could take off on sculpted lines of peeling waves. A group of residents has organized to fight the proposed wave pool, and one of their primary concerns is water. They argue that, with the Colorado River in a shortage and the Southwest getting hotter and drier with climate change, the area can’t afford to have millions of gallons of precious water filling the giant water feature.

Aquafornia news KCRA - Sacramento

Josh Harder to introduce legislation to prevent Delta Tunnel from gaining ground

The battle for California’s water supply is scheduled to take center stage at the nation’s capitol on Monday, as Central Valley Congressman Josh Harder is set to take the strongest step yet to stop the state’s proposed giant water tunnel from gaining ground. … The Delta, fed by the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, collects and moves water to more than 27 million Californians and is vital to 750,000 acres of farmland. A scaled-down single tunnel, which is supported by Gov. Gavin Newsom, would bypass the central Delta and funnel water south, which according to state officials, would modernize aging water infrastructure.

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Aquafornia news CNN

Opinion: The country that is showing the world how to save water

Scorching temperatures and reports of water scarcity are grabbing headlines, as drought caused by climate change creates long-term problems for farmers and communities in the United States and around the world. … As frightening and as insurmountable a challenge as chronic and growing water shortages may seem, there are solutions at hand that can save us from crisis. A small country in one of the driest regions in the world is among those that have developed policies and techniques to provide water in cities and farms alike. That country is Israel.
-Written by Seth M. Siegel, author of “Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World” and “Troubled Water: What’s Wrong with What We Drink.” He is currently the Chief Sustainability Officer of N-Drip, a company which developed water-saving technology for agricultural use.

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Aquafornia news Western Water

A Colorado River veteran moves upstream and plunges into the drought-stressed river’s mounting woes

With 25 years of experience working on the Colorado River, Chuck Cullom is used to responding to myriad challenges that arise on the vital lifeline that seven states, more than two dozen tribes and the country of Mexico depend on for water. But this summer problems on the drought-stressed river are piling up at a dizzying pace: Reservoirs plummeting to record low levels, whether Hoover Dam and Glen Canyon Dam can continue to release water and produce hydropower, unprecedented water cuts and predatory smallmouth bass threatening native fish species in the Grand Canyon.

A Colorado River Veteran Moves Upstream and Plunges into The Drought-Stressed River’s Mounting Woes
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Chuck Cullom, a longtime Arizona water manager, brings a dual-basin perspective as top staffer at the Upper Colorado River Commission

Chuck Cullom, executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission. With 25 years of experience working on the Colorado River, Chuck Cullom is used to responding to myriad challenges that arise on the vital lifeline that seven states, more than two dozen tribes and the country of Mexico depend on for water. But this summer problems on the drought-stressed river are piling up at a dizzying pace: Reservoirs plummeting to record low levels, whether Hoover Dam and Glen Canyon Dam can continue to release water and produce hydropower, unprecedented water cuts and predatory smallmouth bass threatening native fish species in the Grand Canyon. 

“Holy buckets, Batman!,” said Cullom, executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission. “I mean, it’s just on and on and on.”

Aquafornia news Santa Barbara Independent

Water war breaks out over cannabis cultivation in Santa Barbara County

The Coalition for Responsible Cannabis filed an administrative action that if successful could wreak havoc on 22 major cannabis cultivation sites that are now drawing water from wells that draw from the Santa Ynez River. According to legal papers attorney filed Tuesday, attorney Marc Chytilo is demanding the state’s Water Resources Control Board issue a cease-and-desist order to each of cannabis cultivators improperly drawing water from the river. He also requested the state water board join with Fish and Wildlife to initiate a comprehensive investigation of cannabis cultivation along the Santa Ynez River. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

L.A. conserving water at record levels, but it’s not enough as drought worsens

During a summer of soaring heat, shrinking supplies and mandatory drought restrictions, Los Angeles residents conserved water at an impressive pace in August, with that month’s usage dropping below a record low set during the previous drought. But it’s becoming clear that this alone is not going to be enough. The crisis on the Colorado River, a key source of water for Southern California, is expected to bring painful cuts to supplies in the coming months. And hopes of a wet winter are looking more unlikely with another year of dry La Niña in the forecast. Now, the pressure is on to not only increase savings, but also double-down on efforts to reduce reliance on imported supplies and to invest in long-term water solutions.

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Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

Desert farms in Utah flourish with water from Colorado River 

The second driest state in the country, Utah, doesn’t contribute much water to the Colorado River as it flows from Rocky Mountain headwaters through Canyonlands National Park to Lake Powell. Utah has a unique position in the middle of the river basin, geographically and politically, and it wields less influence than thirstier and more populous states like Colorado, California and Arizona. Its sprawling urban centers along the Wasatch Front, which are home to 80% of the state’s population, are outside of the Colorado River Basin and are less dependent on the river than cities like Phoenix or Las Vegas. Only 27% of the water used in Utah comes from the Colorado River, with the majority of the state’s water supply coming from other rivers that feed into the Great Salt Lake.

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Aquafornia news KTLA - Los Angeles

Venice water main break floods street near canals

A water main ruptured in Venice Thursday afternoon, leaving a street looking more like one of the nearby canals than a path for cars. The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to the 400 block of East Linnie Canal Court at about 3:45 p.m. as water began to flood the street. A Los Angeles Department of Water and Power spokesperson said a 6-inch water main ruptured, and they had to shut off water to 38 customers at about 7:15 p.m. It was unclear when water service was restored.

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Flaming Gorge loses water as drought felt higher up Colorado River

As a 20-year drought creeps ever farther up the Colorado River Basin and seven Western states vie for their fair share of water under the century-old Colorado River Compact, [Flaming Gorge Reservoir] on the Wyoming-Utah line is a new flashpoint. Nobody disputes the root of the problem: The agreement dates to a cooler, wetter time and is based on assumptions about precipitation that simply no longer apply, in part due to climate change. But as business owners like [Tony] Valdez are finding out firsthand, recreation is just one of many competing priorities while growing demand in the basin’s more populous downstream states — California, Nevada and Arizona — conflicts with dwindling supply from the more rural states upstream — Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming. 

Aquafornia news ABC 10 - Sacramento

California Drought: Is desalination the solution?

Desalination is a controversial topic, due to its environmental impacts, energy use and monetary cost. California currently has 12 desalination plants, but there could be many more in the future. DWR is offering $6 million in financial assistance to support desalination projects that will help develop new sources of local water supplies in California, according to a news release from DWR.  While desalination is a complex process, [Kris Tjernell, deputy director of the Integrated Watershed Management with the California Department of Water Resources] described it as “simply the removal of salts and other impurities from water, such that it becomes available for drinking water, agricultural irrigation and other potential uses.” 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Friday Top of the Scroll: September rain: Will looming storm fight the Mosquito Fire and the drought?

A tantalizing storm headed for California this weekend could help fight the Mosquito Fire — now the state’s largest wildfire of the year — while providing a brief respite from a years-long drought….Some meteorologists and climatologists believe the rains will deliver slight relief from a drought that’s parched the state, left acres of farmland barren and lowered reservoirs. Still, even the most optimistic observers warn that the benefits will be temporary, and the dry period is far from over.

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Aquafornia news KRON4 - San Francisco

How full are Bay Area reservoirs?

Rain may be returning to our forecast, but this storm won’t be enough to end the ongoing drought.  California hasn’t seen significant rainfall and months. The hope is that the rain forecast for this weekend will help the dry conditions and put some more water into our reservoirs. The latest map from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows that almost all of California is still experiencing severe to exceptional drought conditions. That includes the Bay Area. In Marin County on Thursday, Lagunitas Creek below Lake Lagunitas has been reduced to a series of stagnant pools of water, but it’s not all bad news.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

$5 million partnership with farmworkers could solve the Valley’s water woes

David Villarino-González envisions a day when rural communities finally have clean drinking water, and when crops on farmworker cooperatives thrive through droughts or wet seasons. His dream, which isn’t that far-fetched, could be a game changer in a parched San Joaquín Valley whose livelihood depends on water. Cadiz Ranch and the Farmworkers Institute of Education & Leadership Development (FIELD)_ announced Thursday a $5 million partnership to set up an innovative center to train farmworkers on state-of-the-art technology that produces clean water. The ranch has 45,000 acres in the Mojave Desert where it will teach people about water conservation, groundwater management and sustainable agriculture.

Aquafornia news E & E News

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California water pipeline hits legal setback

A controversial Southern California water pipeline project has hit another snag, with a federal judge’s ruling that allows the Bureau of Land Management to withdraw key approvals granted during the Trump administration. In the latest turn of a long-running and politically sensitive dispute, U.S. District Judge George Wu ruled yesterday that BLM acted properly when it remanded two rights of way that had been granted to Cadiz Inc. by the Trump administration.

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Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

The debate over Cal Am’s desalination plant returns to center stage

Although the debate over desalination as a water supply has been an ongoing fight across the Monterey Peninsula for the better part of the 21st century, the issue was pushed to the collective backburner over the last two years as other water-related issues began to heat up. … However, on Sept. 2, the desalination debate turned up to a boil. The California Coastal Commission deemed Cal Am’s project ready for a vote, nearly two years after Cal Am withdrew its application for a desal plant in November 2020 and a year after the Coastal Commission ruled that the utility’s follow-up application was incomplete.

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Aquafornia news KCRA - Sacramento

2022 a bad year for rice harvest in California; drought concerns

The Sacramento River Valley is one of the top producers of rice. Half of the crop is exported to Japan and Korea and much of the sushi rice eaten in the United States is grown here. But according to the California Rice Commission, of the 500,000 acres normally produced, only 250,000 will be harvested this year. His crop is ready for harvest in a couple of weeks. The California rice grower managed to squeak out about a quarter of what he normally yields.

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Aquafornia news Times of San Diego

Supervisors take 1st step to overhaul water, drought management strategies

The Board of Supervisors directed the chief administrative officer Wednesday to update the county’s water and drought-management strategies, including sustainability efforts, and deliver a final report within the next year. The overhaul, proposed by board Vice Chairwoman Nora Vargas, will incorporate the entire region, including local municipalities, Imperial County and bi-national cities.

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Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Stanislaus-area water suppliers are at center of court ruling

Water suppliers in and near Stanislaus County had a leading role in a ruling Monday limiting state cutbacks during drought. The 6th Appellate District Court found that the State Water Resources Control Board lacks the power to interfere with so-called “senior” water rights holders and curtail their diversions of water from rivers. The case stems from orders imposed by the state board in 2015, during the previous drought, when it halted farms and cities throughout the Central Valley from taking water from the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers. The Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts joined the suit to protect their rights to the Stanislaus River.

Aquafornia news San Luis Obispo Tribune

Judge: Cambria lot owners can’t build due to water shortage

A group of property owners in one San Luis Obispo County community can’t build homes on their lots due to a severe lack of water, a federal judge ruled recently. U.S. Central California District Court Judge Dale S. Fischer made her ruling on Sept. 6 — dismissing a 2019 lawsuit filed by five landowners who claimed the Cambria Community Services District and San Luis Obispo County ruined any economic benefits from their Cambria properties by effectively refusing to allow them to develop homes. The landowners — none of whom reside in California — alleged that the community services district and county wrongly deprived them access to water and sewer services, therefore denying their right to build on their properties.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Increasing pressures on Colorado River water in New Mexico

Colorado River tributaries in New Mexico bring water to the alfalfa fields in the Four Corners and the forested hills of the Gila wilderness in the southwestern part of the state. But Colorado River and reservoir management was designed during a much wetter period. And now, water officials are grappling with how to make do with less. State Engineer Mike Hamman, New Mexico’s top water manager, said the state “really feels the shortages” because it doesn’t have the big reservoirs of other states in the Colorado River Basin. … Nevada, Arizona and Mexico will all receive less water from the Colorado River next year because of rapidly-declining reservoirs, the Interior Department announced on Aug. 16.

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Aquafornia news Capital Press

Water shutoff leaves Klamath farmers scrambling to save crops

For Mike McKoen, a year of uncertainty farming in the Klamath Project has become a fight to the finish. With onion harvest fast approaching, McKoen had been counting on a steady supply of water from Upper Klamath Lake to irrigate his fields at a critical point in the growing season. Otherwise, he risks the crop dying in the ground and his investment turning to dust. Then came the Aug. 19 announcement from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The project had run out of water for the summer, despite farmers’ arguments to the contrary. All remaining water in the system was needed to protect endangered fish, according to the agency. 

Aquafornia news KTVU - Los Angeles

Serious drought damage to $5 billion California rice industry

Sean Doherty looks out on rice paddy land his family has been farming in Colusa County for five generations through Mother Nature-made booms and busts. Farmers on the western side of Colusa County, raise 65% of all the rice grown in California. In a normal year, Doherty raises as much as ten thousand acres of rice on his own and leased land. But in this third season of hard drought, he will plant nowhere near those 10,000 acres. … The reason: Shasta Reservoir, the state’s largest reservoir by far, is so starved for water as the drought progressed, his water allotment has been cut from 100%, to 75%, to 18%.

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin water supplier defends drought response in report

Marin Municipal Water District is pushing back on a Marin County Civil Grand Jury report asserting the agency nearly faced depleting its reservoirs this year because it had not taken past steps to build a more resilient water supply. The grand jury assessment lacked credibility, included factual errors and is now being used to incite more critique of the district’s handling of the drought last year, the district Board of Directors said. The grand jury report came after two winters of drought in 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 threatened to deplete local reservoirs as soon as mid-2022. 

Aquafornia news WaterWorld

Regional San recognized again as utility of the future today

For a third time, the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District (Regional San) has been recognized as a Utility of the Future Today by a partnership of water sector organizations. The Utility of the Future Today Recognition Program was launched in 2016 by a partnership of water sector organizations, including the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, the Water Environment Federation, the Water Research Foundation, and the WateReuse Association. Input was also provided from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The goal of the program is to guide utilities of all sizes toward smarter, more efficient operations and resource recovery.

Aquafornia news KRCR - Redding

Northstate rice farmers struggle to grow crops as drought persists

Dry, cracked rice fields can be seen driving along Interstate 5 in Glenn and Colusa counties. This year has been more than challenging for farmers as California continues its third consecutive year of extreme drought conditions. KRCR spoke to fourth generation farmer Chris Johnson on Monday about not being able to plant crop due to lower water allocation from the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District (GCID). Chris Johnson’s farms would only receive an allotment of 7% from the GCID with an agreement that the water might not even be enough to finish the year.

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Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California is negotiating up to 400,000 acre-feet in Colorado River water cuts amid drought

California water agencies that depend on Colorado River supply are quietly negotiating combined reductions of between 320,000 and 400,000 acre-feet from the fast-dwindling Lake Mead reservoir next year…. California has the largest and oldest rights to Colorado River water, totaling 4.4 million acre-feet per year, with the bulk of that piped to farmers served by the Imperial Irrigation District, at the state’s hot, dry southeastern end…. It’s unclear if the amounts being discussed would be enough to assuage harsh criticism from officials in other river basin states who are already being forced to make cuts under previous legal agreements, or more importantly, to satisfy federal officials who say 2 million to 4 million acre-feet in reduced use is needed from seven states in 2022 to keep the system and its huge, drought-ravaged reservoirs afloat. 

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Challenger for seat on powerful Kern water board “withdraws,” at least in spirit

Would-be challenger Eric Averett said he is “withdrawing” from the race for a seat on the powerful Kern County Water Agency board of directors. His name will still appear on the ballot, however. Averett said he couldn’t get his name off the ballot as the deadline to do so had already passed when he decided not want to run against Incumbent Phil Cerro. … With the drought and other issues, Averett said, the agency board needs to maintain “continuity” and he didn’t want an election battle to become a distraction. Three other agency board members are running unopposed. Those include Laura Cattani, Ted Page and Charles Wulff.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

‘Water is our most precious resource’: alfalfa farmers asked to give up crop amid megadrought in US south-west

On an early August morning in California’s Imperial Valley, tractors rumble across verdant fields of alfalfa, mowing down the tall grass and leaving it to dry in shaggy heaps under the hot sun. Here, in one of the oldest farming communities in the Colorado River basin, the forage crop is king. One out of every three farmed acres in the valley is dedicated to growing alfalfa … Now, with the basin on the brink of the most severe water cuts in history, the alfalfa industry has been propelled to the center of longstanding debates over sustainable water use and the future of farming in the west.

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Aquafornia news Cronkite News

Monday Top of the Scroll: Angry at other states, Arizona towns, tribes rethink planned water cuts

Faced with deep cuts to the water supply, and angry that other states are not doing their share, tribes and local governments in Arizona are increasingly talking about backing off earlier offers to give up some water. The Gila River Indian Community said in August that it will begin storing water underground “rather than contributing them to system conservation programs for Lake Mead.” Officials in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tucson, Peoria and Glendale are considering following suit, asking to get their full allotment of water instead of financial compensation they might have received for reducing their take from the system…. But a spokesperson for the California Natural Resources Agency said the state has long been working for years to conserve Colorado River water and that it is continuing to do so. 

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Aquafornia news KUNC - Greeley, Colo.

Colorado River megadrought got you down? Lighten up, and feel some hope, with TikTok’s ‘WesternWaterGirl’

Teal Lehto honed her short, snappy explanations of the West’s complex water problems guiding rafting trips down the Animas River in her hometown of Durango. She often had lulls of a minute or less in between shouting paddle commands to the tourists in her boat — squeezing in a tidy explanation of how water rights work before yelling “all forward” to her boatmates to keep them from ramming into rocks. After running the same stretch of river a few times a day for months, the timing became second nature. … That same formula works on TikTok, just trade the tips for likes and followers. On the app, Lehto goes by “WesternWaterGirl,” and her clips regularly garner hundreds of thousands of views. Since joining the app in April, she’s amassed nearly 48,000 followers who tune in for her fast-paced, snarky and often profanity-laced takes on the West’s water crisis.

Aquafornia news Coastal View

Carpinteria planners approve groundwater wells easement

The Carpinteria Planning Commission was originally scheduled Tuesday to discuss the upcoming plans to turn the vacant The Palms restaurant and connected residential units into a brand-new hotel, but a last-minute adjustment forced a postponement, leaving the commission to focus instead on the first steps of planning a groundwater monitoring wells project at El Carro Park. The groundwater wells were also originally intended for a two-part hearing, which would have given the chance for the commission to approve both the easement allowing the city to use the land for water wells and the permits necessary for the actual construction.

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Aquafornia news KJZZ - Phoenix

AZ Republicans and Democrats sign letters on Colorado River water

Divvying up Colorado River water has been the subject of at least two letters this week from Republican and Democratic members of Arizona’s congressional delegation. One note was sent to the head of the U.S. Department of Interior and the other to the governor of California. A letter signed by Republicans Debbie Lesko, Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar calls on the Interior secretary to quickly help with negotiations between states that rely on the Colorado River. The lawmakers also want the feds to make California take water cuts proportional to its usage.

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Aquafornia news Contra Costa Water District

News release: Rachel Murphy to become the new general manager of CCWD

Following an extensive recruitment process, the Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) Board of Directors (Board) has selected Assistant General Manager Rachel Murphy to become the new General Manager (GM) following the retirement of Steve Welch. Murphy has over 26 years of experience and will become the first woman to lead CCWD in the GM role.

Aquafornia news Turlock Journal

TID moves closer to voluntary agreement with state water board

Turlock Irrigation District’s board of directors voted unanimously Tuesday to move toward a voluntary agreement that would supersede flow requirements within the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan.  That plan was first adopted in 2018, but the flow requirements never have been implemented. But since then, the plan has been the flashpoint for a debate — in simplest terms, think of it as fish vs. farms — that pits the environmental groups, such as the Tuolumne River Trust, against public utilities, such as the Turlock Irrigation District, Modesto Irrigation District and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. Those three agencies share the Tuolumne River’s water rights.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

How we mapped illegal cannabis farms in California

By 2013, illegal cannabis grows were such a destructive environmental force in California that state water regulators decided it time to go beyond their complaint-driven, piecemeal approach at enforcement. That required knowing how much cannabis there was statewide, and where. Nearly a decade later, the answer still eludes California. So the Los Angeles Times embarked on its own effort to map illegally grown cannabis, one that depended on a view from space. Cannabis operations are easy to spot in satellite imagery. Plastic-covered hoop houses and plots of individual dark-green plants are distinctive and hard to miss, even more so in clear-cut tracts of forest or vast expanses of desert.

Aquafornia news Farm Progress

Drought relief package to help service providers

The California rice industry is trumpeting a support program to help ag businesses suffering from drought. California Rice Commission CEO Tim Johnson said the $75 million drought grant program approved by the state legislature will help ag support businesses that directly serve farmers. … California rice growers planted about 250,000 acres of rice this year. This is about half of what the industry typically plants each year, Johnson said. 

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Editorial: Droughts fueled by climate change challenge governments from China to California

The world is parched. In California, a record heat wave has exacerbated the western US’s worst drought in centuries. Water levels in Europe’s Rhine River have been so low that at times over recent weeks this vital European waterway has been all but impassable to shipping. Asia’s longest river, the Yangtze, has struggled to feed farms and hydroelectric stations. Crops have wilted in the heat from India to the American Midwest. Scientists have long warned of the threats climate change poses to the stability of the global economic system. The severity of drought conditions this summer shows that the crisis is already here — and governments haven’t done nearly enough to prepare for it.

Aquafornia news Half Moon Bay Review

Opinion: Action on recycled water would ensure our future

The Coastside community is facing several problems today: traffic congestion, a housing shortage and the impact of droughts on our water supply. Of these three, only the future prospect of annual water shortages due to the increasing frequency of droughts is an existential threat to life here. Housing without a reliable safe potable water supply is uninhabitable. If we do not solve the water reserve problem created by droughts, some homes here will have to be abandoned.
-Written by Jim Larimer, a former member of the CCWD board. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

California approves microplastics testing of water sources

California water regulators [Wednesday] approved the world’s first requirements for testing microplastics in drinking water sources — a key step towards regulating tiny fragments that are ubiquitous in the environment. After years of research involving more than two-dozen laboratories, the State Water Resources Control Board unanimously approved a policy handbook for testing water supplies for microplastics over four years. Under the plan approved [Wednesday], up to 30 of the state’s largest water providers will be ordered to start quarterly testing for two years, beginning in the fall of 2023. 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

California’s wine industry faces climate tipping point

California’s wine country, including the famed Napa and Sonoma valleys, faces a climate crisis so dire that it’s posing an existential threat to the future of the state’s industry. Grapes have been hit with one extreme after another. This year’s season started out with a deep frost that iced over verdant green buds, nipping them right off the vine. For the crops that survived, the freeze quickly gave way to drought and heat. Just in the past week, record-breaking temperatures baked parched vineyards. Then there’s the ever-present threat of wildfires and smoke damage.

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Aquafornia news Associated Press

Water use drops 10% in July as California deals with drought

Californians stepped up their water conservation in July, using 10.4% less than two years ago as the state struggles with a years-long drought, state water officials said Wednesday. July marks the first full month that new conservation rules like a ban on watering decorative grass were in effect, which state water officials said helped make a difference. Water use started to trend down in June after a bump in April and May.

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Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: 2022 California legislative end of session highlights

In August 2022, the 2022 California legislative session closed with various relevant legislative measures either moving to the Governor’s desk for signature or failing in committee. Below is a small highlight of relevant legislation concerning water rights, agriculture, and local agency procedure. While certain bills passed the California Legislature, they must now be presented to Governor Newsom, who has until September 30th to sign any of the bills passed below. … Bills That Passed Out of the California Legislature: SB 1205 – Water Availability Analyses … AB 1757 – Carbon Sequestration … AB 2449 – Brown Act …

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Climate change is ravaging the Colorado River. There’s a model to avert the worst.

The water managers of the Yakima River basin in arid Central Washington know what it’s like to fight over water, just like their counterparts along the Colorado River are fighting now. … But a decade ago, the water managers of the Yakima Basin tried something different. Tired of spending more time in courtrooms than at conference tables, and faced with studies showing the situation would only get worse, they hashed out a plan to manage the Yakima River and its tributaries for the next 30 years to ensure a stable supply of water. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Drought in Europe 2022: California isn’t alone in the crisis

A withered Europe faces what scientists say could be its worst water shortage in the hundreds of years on record. Farms are going fallow, and vineyards are seared. Reservoirs and aquifers have been depleted. Rivers have dried up to reveal Roman-era artifacts and unexploded war munitions. Wildfires have raged across a dozen countries. Scores of small cities and towns are trucking in water because the taps have run dry. … Drought isn’t new to Europe — which has a wide variety of climates and rainfall patterns — and the current one started in 2018. But scientists say human-induced climate change is transforming the continent, raising the likelihood that it will experience more frequent and persistent drought, like the American West.

Aquafornia news SF Gate

Town hall looks at water shortages in Sonoma County and says drought could continue at least through November

Sonoma County held a drought town hall on Thursday which touched on all aspects of water– and the lack of it– in the county and state and how it will affect residents, fire risk, and the future. Sonoma County Supervisor Chris Coursey led the discussion, which involved representatives from the county, nonprofits, Sonoma Water and the National Weather Service. First up was an overview of where the county stands water-wise. On the state’s categories of drought severity, Sonoma County stands in the “middle,” according to Coursey, who said it is experiencing “severe” drought. The first seven months of this year have been the driest in 128 years, Coursey said, with rainfall 20 inches below normal.

Aquafornia news Restore the Delta

Blog: Delta flows - California surface waters are in peril, and all we got is this lousy tunnel

Despite knowing for some time that the Delta Conveyance Project (DCP) was advancing, when the Department of Water Resources (DWR) dropped the environmental impact report (EIR) for the project at the end of July, we, at Restore the Delta, felt like we were suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. The remnants of CalFed, the Chunnel, BDCP, CA WaterFix, and now the DCP – it is too much. There are so many other issues that need attention to restore the health of the Bay-Delta estuary and California’s rivers, including but not limited to harmful algal bloom research and mitigation, fishery health, habitat restoration, flood control, drought management, preparing for climate change impacts, managing invasive species, heat islands, fire threats, improving water quality for all its uses, and the Bay-Delta Plan. 

Aquafornia news Discover Magazine

5 ancient societies that collapsed when the water ran dry

Climate change has forced a number of states across the nation to face growing water shortages. From California to Colorado and everywhere in between, droughts combined with growing populations are causing communities to worry about having enough water in the near future. Countries across Africa, the Middle East and Asia are also particularly vulnerable to a growing drought crisis. But this isn’t the first time a lack of water has negatively impacted society. Throughout our history, societies have been built and then collapsed around water. These ancient societies fell when the water ran dry.

Aquafornia news Axios - Phoenix

Bureau of Reclamation green lights Phoenix suburb’s plan to buy Colorado River water

Queen Creek received a long-awaited green light from the Bureau of Reclamation to finalize a controversial plan to buy water directly from farmland along the Colorado River. Driving the news: The Bureau of Reclamation on Friday issued a document known as a Finding of No Significant Impact for Queen Creek’s plan. It clears the way for the town and the bureau to sign contracts and finalize several other agreements for the water, which Queen Creek could begin receiving as early as January, utility director Paul Gardner tells Axios. … Why it matters: The agreement will help ensure a water supply for Queen Creek as it continues its rapid growth. Its population went from 26,361 in 2010 to 59,519 a decade later.

Aquafornia news Forbes

Opinion: Governor Newsom’s water plan represents progress, but misses the power of markets

In mid-August, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced plans to tackle the state’s ongoing water crisis. California is in the midst of a drought, which some are now referring to as “the end of the dream.” Water shortages in the West are unfortunately becoming part of everyday life, thanks in large part to climate change. Newsom’s plan appears to be moving the state in the right direction by focusing on increasing the supply of water available for residents’ wide-ranging purposes. However, his administration should be doing more to leverage the power of markets and market pricing, strategies noticeably absent from new proposals.
-Written by James Broughel, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center.

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Aquafornia news Mountain Democrat

Storage ‘crucial’ for American River Basin

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has released a study on the American River Basin that shows how changing climate could affect future water supplies. The study projects increases in temperatures of 4-7 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the 21st century, depending on the season. Hydrologic impacts show an increase in runoff during fall and winter while spring and summer showed a decrease in runoff. Warmer temperatures are driving earlier snow melts in winter rather than summer and the lost volume of runoff will affect water operations, said U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Hydrologic Engineer Ian Ferguson during a virtual press conference last week. 

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

As Lake Powell shrinks, new questions surface about its future

… Lake Mead’s own decline threatens to upend a vast irrigated agricultural empire in Southern California and southwestern Arizona, and to restrict or eventually cut off a significant source of hydroelectricity and household water for the urban Southwest. Powell once seemed Mead’s failsafe backup, a reservoir that, in a wet string of years, could accumulate far more than what the river delivers in a single year. During dry spells, it could pour its excess through Grand Canyon and into Mead, supplying users downstream. Now the excess was gone. … If the snows that melt to replenish the reservoir are lower than expected this winter, the dam’s managers warn, it’s possible that water will dip below Glen Canyon Dam’s hydropower intakes by the end of 2023.

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Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

News release: Council hires new deputy executive officer for science

The Delta Stewardship Council is pleased to name Henry DeBey deputy executive officer for science as of September 1, 2022. … Prior to being promoted to deputy executive officer for science from the Council’s collaborative science and peer review unit, Henry held positions at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. He has a Master of Science in environmental science from Yale University and a Bachelor of Science in geography and environmental studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. Henry is passionate about science communication and working with diverse stakeholders to tackle science governance challenges.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Facing ‘dead pool’ risk, California braces for painful water cuts from Colorado River

California water districts are under growing pressure to shoulder substantial water cutbacks as the federal government pushes for urgent solutions to prevent the Colorado River’s badly depleted reservoirs from reaching dangerously low levels. … Federal officials from the Interior Department and the Bureau of Reclamation have also laid out plans that could bring additional federal leverage to bear. Their plan to reexamine and possibly redefine what constitutes “beneficial use” of water in the three Lower Basin states — California, Arizona and Nevada — could open an avenue to a critical look at how water is used in farming areas and cities.

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Aquafornia news ZME Science

Could auctions help California make better use of its water? This leading economist believes so

California is in a megadrought. Like many other places across the world, climate heating and unsustainable water usage have brought California close to a potentially devastating water shortage. But some help may come from an unexpected place: economics. … Waste also means opportunity, and the opportunity Milgrom sees would be transferring water use from those who value it less to those who value it more (and are willing to pay more for it).

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Historic drought puts pressure on golf courses to cut water usage

In charge of 500 acres of irrigated turf at Sun City Palm Desert, including two 18-hole golf courses, parks and softball fields for the 50-and-over community of 5,000 homes, Tyler Truman is no stranger to concerns about how much water the courses and the surrounding areas are using.   … As the drought in the southwest deepens, with a first-ever Level 2a Shortage Condition declared for the Colorado River – a major source of water for the desert and all of Southern California — golf courses in the Coachella Valley are aware that golf is always a target for those looking at water usage.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: For his water plan to work, Newsom must marshal all key forces

At first glance, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new water supply strategy might suggest the projects he is proposing will create about 7 million acre-feet of new water, but a closer reading shows that’s not quite true. If every proposed storage facility is built, and the proposed water recycling and desalination projects are also eventually completed, Newsom’s water supply strategy will add about half that much. Even so, his plan is timely and much needed, but making it happen will require unprecedented compromises from California’s powerful environmentalist lobby.
-Written by Edward Ring, co-founder of the California Policy Center, a libertarian think tank, and the author of “The Abundance Choice – Our Fight for More Water in California.”​

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California’s water year is nearly over. Here’s where our reservoirs stand amid drought

With California about to experience perhaps the hottest and driest start to September in its modern history, 16 of the state’s 17 major reservoirs entered the month below their historic average levels — several of them well below average, in another daunting reminder of California’s extraordinary ongoing drought and water concerns. The state’s two largest reservoirs, Shasta Lake and Lake Oroville, were measured at a respective 58% and 64% of their averages for the end of August, according to data from the California Department of Water Resources. Folsom Lake, which had been above its average as recently as July 14, finished August at 82%.

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Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Rohnert Park company working on more efficient and earth-friendly ways to get the salt out of sea water

As the current drought stretches into its third year, demands to desalinate ocean water rise, especially in such places as Sonoma County and its more than 55 miles of coastline. But putting a desalination plant on the Sonoma County coast seems unlikely, especially after the California Coastal Commission in May rejected construction of a desalination plant in Huntington Beach that had been studied for more than 15 years, said entrepreneur John Webley. He should know. As CEO of Trevi Systems in Rohnert Park, he’s been experimenting with desalination for 12 years. 

Aquafornia news Estuary News Magazine

Drought plan means full lake, empty river

In the mountains and foothills of California, an enduring drought has depleted the state’s major reserves of water. … But in the central Sierra Nevada, a trio of artificial lakes remain flush with cold mountain water. The largest of them, Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, from which millions of Bay Area residents receive water, is more than 80 percent full. … But some environmental advocates are hardly cheering San Francisco’s water conservation success. Instead, they’re accusing the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission of hoarding its water through an excessively conservative management plan they say harms the environment and benefits almost no one – not even the city dwellers who use the water.

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Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Dissecting the use of water management plans in California

California uses plans as a primary tool for managing water throughout the state. Regulations like the Urban Water Management Planning Act of 1983, Regional Water Management Planning Act of 2002, Water Conservation Act of 2009, and Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 require local water agencies to write plans documenting their available water supplies and develop approaches to use water more sustainably and/or ensure a secure supply. This blog probes the goals California has in requiring local and regional water plans, and asks whether the plans are a good tool for achieving more sustainable water use.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Author highlighting new ways to think about water to be keynote speaker at Water Summit

A science journalist and author whose new book highlights efforts to reshape how we think about and work with water will provide the keynote address at the Foundation’s 2022 Water Summit on Oct. 27 in Sacramento. Author Erica Gies, whose new book is titled Water Always Wins: Thriving in an Age of Drought and Deluge, explores what she calls “Slow Water” innovations that can potentially offer resilience to the increasing severity of droughts and floods brought on by climate change.

Aquafornia news Axios

California is throwing some shade at its water crisis

An innovative plan to conserve water by covering aqueducts with solar panels is about to undergo testing in drought-stricken California. Why it matters: Water is becoming more precious by the day in the Golden State and the Western U.S. more broadly, in part due to climate change. … About 8,500 feet of solar panels will be installed above two portions of Turlock Irrigation District (TID) aqueducts in Central California in a $20 million state-funded effort dubbed Project Nexus. The idea is that the panels will shade the water running underneath, preventing loss due to evaporation. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Less snow and less water. Federal study paints bleak picture of American River’s future

Hotter weather, less snow and more water shortages. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation offered a bleak vision of the future of the American River watershed Wednesday, releasing an extensive report on how the basin that’s so vital to the Sacramento region’s water supplies will be affected by climate change in the coming decades. The bureau, which operates Folsom Lake, said the Sierra Nevada foothills east of Sacramento could eventually see shortfalls of as much as 78,000 acre-feet per year unless stronger conservation and water-storage projects are undertaken. … The heart of the problem is the warming climate. Average summer temperatures in the watershed are expected to increase by 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, the study said. Winter temperatures will climb 4.9 degrees.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Family

Additional water cuts could be coming to Yuma farmers, threatening supply of leafy greens

Could the lettuce you see on store shelves not only in Arizona but nationwide become harder and harder to find? That’s at risk of being the case with ongoing water woes and more potential water cuts in Yuma. It all comes down to if an agreement is reached and what that agreement looks like. The water cuts made by the Bureau of Reclamation to the Colorado River that will affect Pinal County farmers will not affect Yuma farmers. Still, the bureau said there needs to be millions more cuts to the water, and Yuma farmers may take the brunt of it. The big picture problem: Yuma provides 90% of the nation’s leafy greens like lettuce and spinach during the winter months, and now that could be at risk.

Aquafornia news Daily Republic

Supervisors, mayors awash in Solano water infrastructure, drought issues

The third year of drought has not been as difficult on Solano County as other areas of the state. The reason is Lake Berryessa, Chris Lee, assistant general manager of the Solano County Water Agency, told the Solano City-County Coordinating Council in a virtual meeting Wednesday night. He said Berryessa continues to provide stability for water supply, even through drier years. Moreover, the lake tends to fill back up quickly after drought years. The lake level on Friday was reported at 398.39 feet, about 42 feet below the Glory Hole level when the lake spills.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Newsom’s water strategy needs to go a step further

Two weeks ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom released his water supply strategy, which is designed to address California’s warming climate and increasing drought intensity. Central to this strategy is expanding storage to capture water during wet periods and to help urban and agricultural users make it through dry times. But why stop there? What about storing water for the environment? … We propose a change in course. Using a simple reservoir model, we demonstrate that ecosystem managers can achieve better environmental outcomes when they are granted a percentage of reservoir inflow along with a portion of storage capacity. Flexibly managed, this combination of inflow and storage leads to the most efficient use of environmental water.
-Written by Sarah Null, 2021–22 CalTrout Ecosystem Fellow at the PPIC Water Policy Center; and Jeffrey Mount, a geomorphologist, is a senior fellow at the PPIC Water Policy Center.

Aquafornia news CBS - San Francisco

‘It’s a scary time’; Life-long Central Valley farmer threatened by drought conditions

Cannon Michael and his family have deep roots farming the fertile fields of the Central Valley, but the worsening California drought has him on edge. …  He manages the Bowles Farming Company  — 11,000 acres of farmland located outside of Los Banos in Merced County and takes pride in his yearly harvest. … But like his contemporaries, the lack of rainfall has Michael casting a weary eye on the immediate future. This year, his farm saw a 25% cut in water supplies, and he knows there may be more. That’s why Michael is employing extraordinary measures to conserve water at all costs. His farm is primarily irrigated with river water imported from Northern California and every drop counts.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Why California’s largest reservoir in nearly 50 years may be derailed by water shortages

Deep in California’s farm country … about 70 miles north of Sacramento, a coalition of water agencies is setting out to build the first major reservoir in California in nearly half a century. The $4 billion plan calls for flooding miles of ranchlands with flows from the nearby Sacramento River and sending the water to cities and irrigation districts as far away as the Bay Area and Los Angeles. … But there’s a problem: There may not be enough water to fill the new reservoir. In a letter sent out by state regulators Friday, project officials were told that their application for a water right is incomplete because they failed to show that there’s sufficient flow to draw from in the Sacramento River. 

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Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Big Bear Lake not dry, but megadrought means challenges, big ideas

Look up, and lucky visitors to Big Bear Lake’s north shore this summer might be able to spot the mountain community’s famous trio of bald eagles. But in recent weeks, visitors have looked down and seen some less natural things along the lake’s rapidly expanding shoreline. There was a decaying torso from a mannequin that popped up overnight. There were shotgun shells, dock weights that looked to be decades old, and pull tabs from soda cans that have been banned since 1980. The vintage debris is not as shocking as the dead bodies that have emerged from a shrinking Lake Mead. But the sightings are a sign of just how low Big Bear Lake has become during this record-setting megadrought.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: You can’t always get what you want – A Mick Jagger theory of drought management

[This is a reposting of a CaliforniaWaterBlog.com post from February 2016, near the end of the previous drought. ...] The ongoing California drought has many lessons for water managers and policy-makers. Perhaps the greatest lesson is how unimportant a drought can be if we manage water well. For the last two years, California lost about 33% of its normal water supply due to drought, but from a statewide perspective saw statistically undetectable losses of jobs and economic production, despite often severe local effects. Agricultural production, about 2% of California’s economy, was harder hit, fallowing about 6% of irrigated land, and reducing net revenues by 3% and employment by 10,000 jobs from what it would have been without drought.

Aquafornia news Salon.com

What’s for dinner? Protein — and its large water footprint

When it comes to the question of “what’s for dinner?” protein is typically at the center of the meal. Production and consumption statistics show that, for a majority of people, protein generally means meat, but it also increasingly includes other non-animal proteins like beans and quinoa. … So why does it matter if we’re over-consuming protein? For starters, protein-rich foods tend to carry a larger foodprint than others. … While animal foods are more concentrated protein sources, those animals have to eat a lot of plants to grow. As a result, producing protein-rich foods can take a lot of resources, including one that’s often overlooked: water.

Aquafornia news Wild Rivers Outpost

Salem company looks to bring weather modification technology to Curry, Klamath counties

Alexander Jenkins III says his company has the technology to make it rain and he wants to share it with Curry and Klamath counties for free for three years. Jenkins, chief strategic and scientific officer for Salem-based Oannes Research and Development Corporation, says his company’s Aquaelicium device can desalinate ocean water to create clouds, fog, mist, direct-to-pipe water and even snow. He proposes to install devices in either Brookings or Gold Beach and in Klamath County. At the end of three years, he says, the coastal communities will have three years’ worth of water, salt and rare earth minerals such as cobalt and lithium to use how they see fit.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

‘Monsoons’ don’t really help: Friant won’t get extra 5 percent

It seems strange to say monsoons during a drought were hoped to provide at least a little bit of a respite from the extremely dry conditions, but that really wasn’t the case. Even in drought conditions it’s not uncommon for California to receive monsoonal rains in early August and that again happened this year. But while the monsoonal rains provided a brief improvement in overall water conditions, they really didn’t have an impact on overall water availability. The Friant Water Authority, which governs the Friant-Kern Canal and serves the Friant Division in the Southeast San Joaquin Valley, stated the monsoonal rains were good enough to increase the federal Bureau of Reclamation’s water allocation from 30 to 35 percent of normal. 

Aquafornia news WRAL TechWire - Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

Opinion: Doomsday or nuts: The H2O case for banning almond trees in California

In California, with a population of 39 million people, the problem has the potential of becoming especially dire. The governor, Gavin Newsom, recently announced a $8 billion spending package which attacks California’s water scarcity problems from four different angles … The federal government is also adding billions of dollars more through spending in the Inflation Reduction Act. It is an enormous amount of money to spend on California’s water scarcity problem. But what if all of these billions of dollars are ignoring the elephant in the room? What if there are several easy solutions that could save trillions of gallons of water per year?
-Written by Marshall Brain,  a writer and contributor to WRAL TechWire.

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Aquafornia news ABC 10 - Sacramento

Drought monitor unchanged but groundwater issues grow

Nearly 17% of the state remains in exceptional drought conditions with the majority being in the San Joaquin Valley. The weekly drought monitor showed no changes to conditions in California.  The past month’s monsoonal moisture improved conditions in portions of the Sierra Nevada and desert regions, but the majority of the state slipped further into drought. As the drought drags into its third year, many look to reservoir and river levels to gauge the severity of the drought. However, California’s groundwater, our water “bank account,” is the true measure of water security in California according to supervisory hydrologist Claudia Faunt of the United States Geological Service …

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Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Opinion: Now’s the time: Fair access to water, reliable supply, good jobs

California is flush with cash and staring down a thirsty future. According to the EPA Needs Survey and Assessment, our state needs $50 billion in infrastructure improvements to ensure safe drinking water for everyone. Our unprecedented state budget surplus and drought-induced water use restrictions make it clear: Now is our chance to modernize our water systems, and we must act with urgency. Gov. Newsom acknowledged the need to act quickly to secure our state’s water supplies in his recent announcement of a plan for how to address the state’s drier future.
-Written by Bruce Reznik, executive director of LA Waterkeeper.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Amid drought, Tijuana is paying California for Colorado River water

Tijuana is paying California for more water than it has in recent years as the city faces a growing population coupled with blistering drought that’s gripping the entire West. Northern Baja is entitled by treaty to 1.5-million-acre feet of Colorado River water per year, which is Tijuana’s primary water source. But for years the amount that goes to Tijuana hasn’t been enough to quench demand. That’s been the case since at least 1972 when the U.S. and Mexico first let Tijuana pay for water from California during a serious drought, before it had an aqueduct to carry river water through the Mexicali Valley.

Aquafornia news Yale Climate Connections

How climate change spurs megadroughts

On an afternoon in late June, the San Luis Reservoir – a nine-mile lake about an hour southeast of San Jose, California – shimmered in 102-degree heat. A dusty, winding trail led down into flatlands newly created by the shrinking waterline. … That day, the reservoir, California’s sixth-largest and a source of water for millions of people, was just 40% full. … Depending on how you look at it, California – and most of the American West – has either entered its third catastrophic drought of the past 10 years, or has been in a constant, unyielding “megadrought” since 2000. Reservoirs are emptying; lawns are turning brown; swaths of farmland that have coaxed lettuce, almonds, and alfalfa out of the dry ground for decades are going fallow.

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Aquafornia news Nevada Independent

‘We built a house of cards:’ Deal or not, Colorado River states stare down major cuts

Major Colorado River cuts must be made, one way or another. The only looming questions are when and on what terms, with negotiators scheduled to resume interstate meetings this week. The Colorado River remains in an unfolding and worsening crisis. Demand far exceeds supply. Long-term drought, worsened by climate change, has meant less water refilling the river’s large reservoirs as water users have continued to overtap them. … Although all seven states are expected to be at the meeting, the focus is likely to zero in on reaching a deal among the three states that comprise the Lower Colorado River Basin: Arizona, California and Nevada. 

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Aquafornia news E&E News

Arid West starts dreaming about piping in water from afar

Even in the decades before the West plunged into a 22-year drought, the proposals to shift water from wetter states to more arid locations have never been in short supply. There was the submarine pipeline from Alaska to California. Towing Antarctic icebergs to make up for shortfalls in drinking water supplies. A pipeline from Lake Superior to Wyoming. And that one plan that more or less required an invasion of Canada. Earlier this year, Utah legislators approved a study of using the Pacific Ocean to refill the dwindling Great Salt Lake via pipeline. Dempsey likewise pointed to suggestions last year by an Idaho radio host who said the state should use its political influence to “borrow the Great Lakes.”

Aquafornia news Reuters

California to cover canal with solar panels in experiment to fight drought, climate change

California is about to launch an experiment to cover aqueducts with solar panels, a plan that if scaled up might save billions of gallons of otherwise evaporated water while powering millions of homes. Project Nexus in the Turlock Irrigation District launches in mid-October amid Western North America’s worst drought in 1,200 years and as human-influenced climate change exacerbates the dry spell. The $20 million project, funded by the state, is due to break ground in two locations. One is a 500-foot (152-meter or about 0.3-mile) span along a curved portion of the canal in the town of Hickman, about 100 miles (160 km) inland from San Francisco. The other is a mile-long (1.6-km long) straightaway in nearby Ceres.

Aquafornia news KUNC - Greeley, Colo.

Thursday Top of the Scroll: City utilities in the Colorado River basin want to conserve more water. Can that make a difference?

Some utilities that draw water from the Colorado River said they will start conserving more in light of the region’s shrinking supply. A group of seven water authorities that serve cities in Colorado, Nevada, and California outlined their plans in a letter to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation on Wednesday. Cities in the Colorado River basin often tout their ability to reduce per capita water use, as many have been forced to stretch a finite quantity of water across rapidly growing populations. However, conservation in cities is unlikely to make a substantial change to the region’s supply-demand imbalance, because the agricultural sector still uses nearly 80% of the river’s supply. 

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Aquafornia news Grist

How Colorado River Basin tribes are managing water amid historic drought

Amid historic drought in the Colorado River Basin, the Gila River Indian Community is taking a drastic step to protect their own water resources. In a statement last week, Governor Stephen Roe Lewis announced the tribe—located just south of Phoenix—would stop voluntarily contributing water to an important state reservoir. “We cannot continue to put the interests of all others above our own when no other parties seem committed to the common goal of a cooperative basin-wide agreement,” the statement reads. 

Aquafornia news ProPublica

What the Colorado River water shortage means for the U.S.

The western United States is, famously, in the grips of its worst megadrought in a millennium. The Colorado River, which supplies water to more than 40 million Americans and supports food production for the rest of the country, is in imminent peril. … The Bureau of Reclamation, which governs lakes Mead and Powell and water distribution for the southern end of the river, has issued an ultimatum: The seven states that draw from the Colorado must find ways to cut their consumption — by as much as 40% — or the federal government will do it for them. Last week those states failed to agree on new conservation measures by deadline.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Most Californians view state’s water shortage as extremely serious, poll finds

Most Californians agree the state’s drought situation is very serious, but only a minority of voters say they and their families have been significantly affected by the current water shortage, according to a new poll. The survey of more than 9,000 voters statewide found that 71% said the state’s water shortage is “extremely serious,” while 23% described it as somewhat serious. Far fewer of those voters indicated they are directly feeling the effects of the drought, according to the poll by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, which was co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times. 

Aquafornia news Sacramento News & Review

Blog: State unveils latest environmental documents meant to push controversial Delta Tunnel ahead

The California Department of Water Resources, or DWR, has released the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the embattled Delta Tunnel, beginning the 90-day public comment period from July 27 to October 27 for what conservationists describe as an “environmentally destructive project.” According to project opponents, different versions of this same gigantic and wasteful public works project — the Peripheral Canal, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, the California Water Fix and now the single Delta Conveyance — have cast a dark, toxic shadow over California water policy since it was first decisively rejected by California voters in November 1982 as the Peripheral Canal.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Standard

Is SF hoarding water? One environmental group wants the city to get real about its planning 

An environmental group is arguing that the city’s water agency is taking too much water from the Sierra Nevadas, and that its drought planning will wind up hoarding water unnecessarily and hurting vulnerable river ecosystems.  The group, Tuolomne River Trust, says its pleadings have fallen on deaf ears up until now. But with the state mulling the Bay Delta Water Quality Control Plan, a plan that would reduce the city’s rights to water from the Tuolomne River, the question of whether San Francisco controls more than its fair share of water is back up for discussion and spilled over into a meeting of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday. 

Aquafornia news Colorado Politics

Colorado U.S. Senate Candidates Bennet, O’Dea insist California, Arizona, Nevada must ’step up’ amidst Colorado River crisis

Joe O’Dea, the GOP contender for the U.S. Senate, insisted that the Upper Basin states, which include Colorado, shouldn’t be “held responsible” for drastic reductions in water use and that California, Nevada and Arizona should “step up,” arguing the latter have been overusing their allotment from the Colorado River. Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, who hopes to keep his seat, emphasized his work to bring fiscal resources to Colorado and the rest of the West, which face a decades-long drought condition compelling them to explore potentially drastic solutions to their water woes. 

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Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: 15 California communities to receive drought funding amid extreme conditions

As part of ongoing efforts to help small communities address water supply challenges amid extreme drought and build water resilience for the future, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced its eighth round of funding through the Small Community Drought Relief Program. In coordination with the State Water Resources Control Board, the program will provide $40 million to 15 projects in Butte, Humboldt, Lake, Madera, Mariposa, Placer, San Luis Obispo, Riverside, Sierra, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Ventura and Yolo counties. Of the selected projects, 12 will directly benefit disadvantaged communities to implement long-term solutions such as pipeline replacement, well installation, and infrastructure upgrades to improve water resilience and water quality.

Aquafornia news Times of San Diego

Pure Water Oceanside awarded $9.9 million federal grant

Pure Water Oceanside has been awarded a $9.9 million grant following a recommendation by the office of U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, it was announced Tuesday. The funding will be awarded via the Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART: Title XVI WIIN Water Reclamation and Reuse Projects funding, a statement from the city read. Oceanside is one of 25 applicants named for this funding.

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Northern California ranchers told to stop diverting water, defying rules amid drought

California has warned a group of farmers and ranchers near the Oregon state line to stop diverting water from an area already wracked by extreme drought and a wildfire that killed tens of thousands of fish. The State Water Resources Control Board issued a draft cease-and-desist order Friday to the Shasta Water Assn., warning it to stop taking water from the Shasta River watershed. The association has 20 days to request a hearing or the order becomes final and could subject the organization to fines of up to $10,000 a day, according to the state water agency. The diversions were continuing as of Tuesday, said Ailene Voisin, a state water board information officer.

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Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

New report: Storing water for the environment

Large reservoirs like those that rim the Central Valley are essential for managing water in California’s highly variable climate. They provide multiple benefits including water supply, hydropower, flood management, and recreation. … California needs a new approach for managing environmental water in its large reservoirs, particularly as the climate warms and droughts become more intense.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

San Diego’s ‘drought proof’ water is proving ever more expensive

San Diegans arguably have more water than they know what to do with. So much, in fact, officials have been exploring a deal with the federal government to store excess supplies in imperiled Lake Mead. … While Northern California and much of the Southwest grapple with dry, rapidly warming temperatures, San Diegans have heard relatively little from local leaders this summer about turning off sprinklers, taking shorter showers or ripping out lawns. 

Aquafornia news Phys.org

‘We needed a deal yesterday’: Deadline passes without deal to save Colorado River. What now?

Legal experts and water managers say that despite Reclamation’s posturing earlier this summer, federal officials likely don’t want to take control of the complicated situation [on the Colorado River] any more than the states want to abdicate their own position. Informal negotiations on how to save more water are underway but Becky Mitchell, who is negotiating on Colorado’s behalf as director of the state’s Water Conservation Board, said there’s no time to waste in starting a more formal process. She expects the states to officially convene before the end of the year. The sooner the better, experts agree, because the current impasse comes at a time when the path forward is narrowing quickly.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

As water supply shrinks, MWD guards against earthquake leaks

As drought, global warming and chronic overuse push the Colorado River to perilous new lows, water officials are hoping to prevent an earthquake from severing a critical Depression-era aqueduct that now connects millions of Southern Californians to the shrinking river. Recently, officials from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California celebrated as crews lowered a section of earthquake-resistant pipeline into a portion of the Colorado River aqueduct — the 242-mile system of pumps, tunnels, pipelines and open canals that carry water from Lake Havasu to Southern California…. But experts say the project also underscores the plethora of potential catastrophes the state’s water managers must consider on a near-daily basis as the system grows older and more vulnerable to rapid change.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

NM city, victim of government burn, now faces water shortage

In the foothills of the Rocky Mountains … [t]he clock is ticking for Las Vegas, a college town and economic hub for ranchers and farmers who have called this rural expanse of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range home for generations. It has less than 30 days of drinking water left. Events have been canceled in an effort to discourage more people from coming to town. Residents are showering with buckets in hopes of salvaging extra water for other uses. Restaurants are worried they may have to cut back on serving their signature red and green chile dishes. The three universities that call Las Vegas home are coming up with conservation plans as the school year kicks off.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Foundation journalism team highlights water issues in California and the West with newsfeed, articles and more

As our programs team at the Water Education Foundation is busy this summer putting together fall events such as tours, our annual Water Summit and our Water Leader alum reunion, our journalism team is helping to raise water awareness every day. You can access our newsfeed each morning of the top articles on water issues in California and the West and even get it sent to your inbox. You can also find interactive maps showing reservoir levels, water-savings tips and more on our special online drought resource page. And we just published our latest Western Water article focused on a pilot program in the Salinas Valley that is run remotely out of Los Angeles.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California drought leaving more farmland unplanted, data shows

The years-long drought and dwindling water supply are estimated to have left more than 531,000 acres of California farmlands unplanted without harvest this year — a 36% increase since August of last year. The new estimates on acres farmed from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reflect the struggles of some California farmers to procure water to irrigate their crops as major government water projects supplying their water remain thirsty as drought continues for a third year. … The crops that are likely most affected by water shortages are water-intensive field crops, such as rice and cotton, which have been declining in the state.

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Sen. Padilla tours almond plant, says US help against drought on way

Sen. Alex Padilla didn’t bring extra water with him when he toured the Superior Almond Hulling facility on Wednesday, but he did point out that the recently signed Inflation Reduction Act provides $4 billion for drought resiliency. “California’s agricultural sector produces over one-third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts, but the climate crisis – including rising temperatures and historic drought – are compounding the challenges caused by supply chain disruptions and record consumer demand,” said Padilla following the tour of the facility that operates 24 hours a daily for five months during the almond harvest season. The 16-year-old plant, which processes more than 120 million tons of almonds annually, shut down for Padilla’s 20-minute tour.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Monday Top of the Scroll: ‘There’s simply not enough water’ – Colorado River cutbacks ripple across Arizona

The Bureau of Reclamation had given states and tribes an Aug. 15 deadline to find ways to conserve 2 to 4 million more acre-feet of [Colorado River] water to stabilize the drought-stricken river and its two largest reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell. Without such a plan, the bureau said, it would act.The deadline passed with no agreement in place…. Few people were entirely satisfied with the government’s announcement, but one stakeholder went further than the others in expressing disappointment, introducing a new wrinkle in talks among the river’s water users. The Gila River Indian Community said it would no longer voluntarily leave part of its Colorado River allocation in Lake Mead, an arrangement that helped Arizona meet the requirements of a regional agreement last year.

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Aquafornia news Sierra Club Magazine

Inherit the dust: The Colorado River is running out of water. No place will be more affected than the arid metropolis of Phoenix

No one knows exactly why, in the 14th century, the Hohokam abandoned Pueblo Grande and other settlements across the Salt River Valley. Two hypotheses (perhaps not mutually exclusive) are that the Hohokam were laid low by prolonged drought and that hundreds of years of relentless irrigation salinized the soil, which in turn led to a collapse in agriculture. … Today, Pueblo Grande lies at the heart of a sprawling 15,000-square-mile megalopolis with some 4.9 million residents, which for the better part of half a century has been among the fastest-growing metropolitan regions in the United States. Like the previous civilization over which it is built, Phoenix must rely on maintaining control of that most precious and fleeting of desert resources: water. 

Aquafornia news Mercury News

California drought: Does the Bay Area have enough water for new housing?

When Contra Costa County supervisors last summer signed off on 125 new homes slated for 30 acres of grazing land in the oak-dotted Tassajara Valley, they were warned water was going to be an issue. Officials with the East Bay Municipal Utility District made clear they opposed extending the agency’s service boundary to send water to the proposed single-family subdivision just east of Danville, especially given the ongoing drought. Supervisors pushed ahead anyway, and the utility district promptly sued to halt development plans. … The fight over Tassajara Parks illustrates the challenges the Bay Area faces in its push to build many more homes to ease its housing affordability crisis, at the same time local water systems are under strain by a warming climate and years of drought. 

Could Virtual Networks Solve Drinking Water Woes for California’s Isolated, Disadvantaged Communities?
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: UCLA pilot project uses high-tech gear in LA to remotely run clean-water systems for small communities in Central California's Salinas Valley

UCLA’s remote water treatment systems are providing safe tap water to three disadvantaged communities in the Salinas Valley. A pilot program in the Salinas Valley run remotely out of Los Angeles is offering a test case for how California could provide clean drinking water for isolated rural communities plagued by contaminated groundwater that lack the financial means or expertise to connect to a larger water system.

A Colorado River Tribal Leader Seeks A Voice In the River’s Future–And Freedom to Profit From Its Water
WESTERN WATER Q&A: CRIT Chair Amelia Flores Says Allowing Tribe to Lease Or Store Water Off Reservation Could Aid Broader Colorado River Drought Response and Fund Irrigation Repairs

Amelia Flores, chairwoman of the Colorado River Indian Tribes.As water interests in the Colorado River Basin prepare to negotiate a new set of operating guidelines for the drought-stressed river, Amelia Flores wants her Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT) to be involved in the discussion. And she wants CRIT seated at the negotiating table with something invaluable to offer on a river facing steep cuts in use: its surplus water.

CRIT, whose reservation lands in California and Arizona are bisected by the Colorado River, has some of the most senior water rights on the river. But a federal law enacted in the late 1700s, decades before any southwestern state was established, prevents most tribes from sending any of its water off its reservation. The restrictions mean CRIT, which holds the rights to nearly a quarter of the entire state of Arizona’s yearly allotment of river water, is missing out on financial gain and the chance to help its river partners.

As New Deadline Looms, Groundwater Managers Rework ‘Incomplete’ Plans to Meet California’s Sustainability Goals
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: More than half of the most critically overdrawn basins, mainly in the San Joaquin Valley, are racing against a July deadline to retool their plans and avoid state intervention

A field in Kern County is irrigated by sprinkler.Managers of California’s most overdrawn aquifers were given a monumental task under the state’s landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: Craft viable, detailed plans on a 20-year timeline to bring their beleaguered basins into balance. It was a task that required more than 250 newly formed local groundwater agencies – many of them in the drought-stressed San Joaquin Valley – to set up shop, gather data, hear from the public and collaborate with neighbors on multiple complex plans, often covering just portions of a groundwater basin.

Northern California Tour 2022
Field Trip - October 12-14

SOLD OUT – Join the Waitlist!

Explore the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape while learning about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.

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

Water Education Foundation
2151 River Plaza Drive, Suite 205
Sacramento, CA 95833
Tour Nick Gray

San Joaquin River Restoration Tour 2022
Field Trip - November 2-3

ALMOST SOLD OUT – Grab your ticket now!

Travel along the San Joaquin River to learn firsthand about one of the nation’s largest and most expensive river restoration projects.

The San Joaquin River was the focus of one of the most contentious legal battles in California water history, ending in a 2006 settlement between the federal government, Friant Water Users Authority and a coalition of environmental groups.

Click here to register!

Hampton Inn & Suites Fresno
327 E Fir Ave
Fresno, CA 93720

As Drought Shrinks the Colorado River, A SoCal Giant Seeks Help from River Partners to Fortify its Local Supply
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Metropolitan Water District's wastewater recycling project draws support from Arizona and Nevada, which hope to gain a share of Metropolitan's river supply

Metropolitan Water District's advanced water treatment demonstration plant in Carson. Momentum is building for a unique interstate deal that aims to transform wastewater from Southern California homes and business into relief for the stressed Colorado River. The collaborative effort to add resiliency to a river suffering from overuse, drought and climate change is being shaped across state lines by some of the West’s largest water agencies.  

Central Valley Tour 2022
Field Trip - April 20-22

Central Valley Tour participants at a dam.This tour ventured through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country.

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Colorado River Basin Map By Douglas E. Beeman

As the Colorado River Shrinks, Can the Basin Find an Equitable Solution in Sharing the River’s Waters?
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Drought and climate change are raising concerns that a century-old Compact that divided the river’s waters could force unwelcome cuts in use for the upper watershed

Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell, a key Colorado River reservoir that has seen its water level plummet after two decades of drought. Climate scientist Brad Udall calls himself the skunk in the room when it comes to the Colorado River. Armed with a deck of PowerPoint slides and charts that highlight the Colorado River’s worsening math, the Colorado State University scientist offers a grim assessment of the river’s future: Runoff from the river’s headwaters is declining, less water is flowing into Lake Powell – the key reservoir near the Arizona-Utah border – and at the same time, more water is being released from the reservoir than it can sustainably provide.

Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2022
Field Trip - March 16-18

The lower Colorado River has virtually every drop allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states, 30 tribal nations and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour.

Hyatt Place Las Vegas At Silverton Village
8380 Dean Martin Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89139

A Colorado River Veteran Takes on the Top Water & Science Post at Interior Department
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Tanya Trujillo brings two decades of experience on Colorado River issues as she takes on the challenges of a river basin stressed by climate change

Tanya Trujillo, Assistant Interior Secretary for Water and Science For more than 20 years, Tanya Trujillo has been immersed in the many challenges of the Colorado River, the drought-stressed lifeline for 40 million people from Denver to Los Angeles and the source of irrigation water for more than 5 million acres of winter lettuce, supermarket melons and other crops.

Trujillo has experience working in both the Upper and Lower Basins of the Colorado River, basins that split the river’s water evenly but are sometimes at odds with each other. She was a lawyer for the state of New Mexico, one of four states in the Upper Colorado River Basin, when key operating guidelines for sharing shortages on the river were negotiated in 2007. She later worked as executive director for the Colorado River Board of California, exposing her to the different perspectives and challenges facing California and the other states in the river’s Lower Basin.

Tour Nick Gray Jenn Bowles

Northern California Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - October 14

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

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

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

Bay-Delta Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - September 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Map
Published March 2021

Delta Map for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

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

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

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

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

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

Related articles: 

Post

2020 Class Report

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

Western Water Colorado River Bundle By Gary Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

Western Water Gary Pitzer

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

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

Lower Colorado River Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - May 20

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

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

Foundation Event

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

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

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

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

Western Water Jenn Bowles Jennifer Bowles

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

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

Post

2019 Class Report

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

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

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

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

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