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.
A beach closure that has been in place for months for the
southern part of the Imperial Beach was extended Sunday to
include the city’s entire shoreline. The San Diego County
Department of Environment Health issued the order to close the
coastline to swimmers as a result of sewage-contaminated runoff
in the Tijuana River.
Cadiz is using Three Valleys Municipal Water District in
eastern Los Angeles County and the Jurupa Community Services
District in Riverside County to co-sponsor what they’re calling
a “peer review” of its groundwater plan, written by four
The southernmost portion of Southeast Alaska, including
Ketchikan, Prince of Wales Island, Wrangell and Metlakatla, has
been in a drought for the last two years… Last week, though,
the drought was updated to a D3, or “extreme” drought, the
second-highest category the U.S. Drought Monitor measures. It’s
the first time those conditions have ever been recorded in
Alaska, according to the Drought Monitor.
For years, nonprofits, politicians, state agencies and the U.S.
Forest Service have pointed to the East Fork of the upper San
Gabriel River as one of the more polluted fresh water rivers in
the state. This week, Heal the Bay … rated the upper East
Fork and the portion adjacent to the Cattle Canyon picnic area
— exactly where thousands would recreate on summer weekends —
100 percent Green, the highest rating in its 2018 River Report
A public meeting erupted into an impassioned rally in San Luis
Obispo Wednesday night as activists and local residents took
turns bashing a federal plan to resume leasing public land in
Central California to new oil and gas drilling, including
The Center for Biological Diversity and San Francisco Baykeeper
sued the Trump administration to force the addition of the
longfin smelt, the Sierra Nevada red fox and six other species
to the Endangered Species List… According to the lawsuit, the
agency had previously found the species worthy of endangered
species protections under the Obama administration but
the Trump administration had slow-walked the process…
A facility designed to increase water supply reliability for
the Inland area was dedicated in a light rain at the foot of
the hulking Seven Oaks Dam near Highland on Thursday, May 23.
Officials used a new concrete diversion box to move water
rushing from the dam to a new sedimentation basin and beyond.
The water is intended to spread out and seep into a groundwater
basin, which officials have said is historically low due to a
It is hard to fathom how the fifth-largest economy in the world
can settle for letting public water systems serve up
contaminated water. How will our economy continue to grow and
how will we attract new businesses and new workers if the state
can’t provide a basic human need?
The chemicals, commonly abbreviated as PFAS, are used in items
ranging from food wrappers and Teflon pans to raincoats and
firefighting foam. … Members of Congress have introduced at
least 20 bills this session to address PFAS in some form, a
record number and a sign of the growing concern.
It’s hard to respond effectively to a crisis when you don’t
have clearly defined priorities. This is true for sudden-onset
crises, like floods and wildfires, and also for slow-onset
crises, like droughts.
University of Colorado Professor Emeritus Charles Wilkinson …
described the Western icon and one-armed Civil War veteran as a
complex character, a larger-than-life person and an early
visionary of wise water use in an arid West. Wilkinson spoke
recently with Western Water about Powell and his legacy, and
how Powell might view the Colorado River today.
Acting on “an abundance of caution,” SCV Water officials shut
down one of their wells last week, after routine testing
detected the presence of perchlorate, a suspected carcinogen
and long-standing concern in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Precipitation in California is highly variable from year to
year, and climate change is increasing this variability. … To
address this and other challenges, the state passed Assembly
Bill (AB) 1668 and Senate Bill (SB) 606 in June 2018. Known
jointly as the Water Conservation Legislation, these bills were
drafted in response of Governor Jerry Brown’s 2016 executive
order to “make water conservation a California way of life.”
There are six key components…
The “smart” sprinkler controller … uses the internet to
detect when rain is in the forecast and automatically delays
the system so the homeowner doesn’t even have to think about
it. In addition, the controller syncs to smartphones, allowing
the homeowner to easily adjust watering schedules manually as
U.S. Geological Survey researcher Greg Wetherbee collected rain
samples from eight sites along Colorado’s Front Range. … In
90 percent of the samples Wetherbee found a rainbow wheel of
plastics, mostly fibers and mostly colored blue. … The
plastics were tiny, needing magnification of 20 to 40 times to
be visible and they were not dense enough to be weighed. More
fibers were found in urban sites, but plastics were also
spotted in samples from a site at elevation 10,300 feet in
Rocky Mountain National Park.
Dentists and public-health advocates are speaking out against
the city of Santa Maria’s decision to stop adding fluoride to
local tap water, calling the supplement a vital step for good
oral health. After hearing pleas at the start of the meeting
Tuesday night, the City Council asked staff to include the
possible restoration of fluoride as part of budget
deliberations set for June 18.
The desalination plant would have seven wells sloping into the
ground and sucking up water underneath the dunes, removing the
salt, and sending it to cities on the Monterey Peninsula …
but not Marina. They wouldn’t get any of the desalinated water
because they’re not served by CalAm. Biala and other Marina
residents oppose the plant because they think it will cause
irreversible damage to their town’s ecosystems.
The majority of the dozens of commenters at the meeting spoke
out against the analysis and the prospect of increased fracking
in the region, expressing concerns about air pollution,
drinking water quality, and climate change. … Tempers at the
meeting also flared for what many attendees viewed as a lack of
accountability from the BLM. The agency did not record the
meeting, instead inviting attendees to submit written comments
online, electronically, and only in English.
The Bureau of Reclamation updated its 2019 allocation for the
Central Valley Project South-of-Delta, increasing the westside
water allocation to 70 percent of the contract total. Said
Mid-Pacific Regional Director Ernest Conant: “The late storms
provided an added boost to the already above average
precipitation for 2019. Snowpack throughout the state is still
about 150% of average for this time of year.”
There are more concerns over lake levels in Oroville as Butte
County leaders take initiative to explore alternative options
for safety measures. The Department of Water Resources (DWR), a
leg of the State Water Project, manages the Oroville Dam. On
Wednesday, DWR officials remained adamant in saying they have
no plans to release water from the Oroville Dam spillway.
Nevada ranchers, environmental groups and American Indian
tribes are sounding the alarm over legislation they say could
drain the water supply from rural areas throughout the state.
They’re worried about Assembly Bill 30 in the Nevada
Legislature after negotiations over arcane language in the bill
broke down in recent days.
Slow moving plumes of potentially toxic water are sitting
underneath homes, businesses and schools throughout Arizona.
… While some cities like Phoenix do not use groundwater for
drinking water, much of the state does.
The history of Traver, preserved in many books and archives, is
a study in land development, agriculture and irrigation. It
started when a civil engineer named Peter Y. Baker conceived a
plan to convert thousands acres of rangeland in northern Tulare
and southern Fresno counties into fields of wheat by diverting
water by canal from the Kings River.
The proposal is to increase both base and usage rates by
approximately 40% in the first year, and by about 70% of the
current rate by July of 2023. … The last set of rate
increases ended in 2016, yet system costs have been increasing
each year due to inflation and maintenance expenses associated
with an aging system…
It appears Solano County and Vallejo have avoided a potentially
costly state shift in the groundwater sustainability priority
for the Napa-Sonoma Lowlands. While the final decision by the
Department of Water Resources has not been made, the state
agency has for now backed off its proposal to increase the
priority status from very low to medium for the lowlands.
We have an unknown distance yet to run, an unknown river to explore. What falls there are, we know not; what rocks beset the channel, we know not; what walls ride over the river, we know not. Ah, well! We may conjecture many things.
~John Wesley Powell
Powell scrawled those words in his journal as he and his expedition paddled their way into the deep walls of the Grand Canyon on a stretch of the Colorado River in August 1869. Three months earlier, the 10-man group had set out on their exploration of the iconic Southwest river by hauling their wooden boats into a major tributary of the Colorado, the Green River in Wyoming, for their trip into the “great unknown,” as Powell described it.
By late spring, the Pacific jet stream is typically rushing
over the Northwest, but this year its trajectory never shifted
to the north and remains over California, hurling storms from
the Pacific Ocean onshore. Jon Gottschalck, chief of the
operational prediction branch at the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration, says the reason for the jet
stream’s wayward activity are complicated, but he and his
colleagues at NOAA think El Niño is definitely at play.
The session, “Navigating the Waters,” drew a crowd of about 150
farmers to the International Agri-Center in Tulare last week,
where attendees heard from water-agency leaders, state water
officials, farmers and others on a range of topics with the
goal of helping almond growers make informed water decisions.
The Senate voted 37-1 on Wednesday to approve a bill that would
create a fund dedicated to improving the state’s drinking
water. But the bill is clear the money could not come from a
new tax on water bills. Instead, Senate leaders have signaled
their intention to use $150 million of existing taxpayer money
Barbara Vlamis is smiling. Often, the executive director of the
Chico-based advocacy group AquAlliance wears a steely
expression, as her work involves David-versus-Goliath battles
against powerful interests—namely, government agencies and
water brokers. Now, she’s satisfied, even a bit celebratory.
As the focus on infrastructure retakes center stage in
Washington, we hope lawmakers don’t overlook a prime
opportunity to invest in Western water and irrigation systems.
Here in the West, our dams, irrigation systems, canals and
other infrastructure — much of it more than a century old — are
past due for modernization.
Legislation that would require the state to enhance its river
and stream gauging system has cleared the state Senate. … The
bill requires the Department of Water Resources and Water
Control Board to improve and enhance the monitoring system,
including filling those gaps that are found, as well as assess
a funding source to complete the work.
After 68 years of litigation and more than a half-century of
settlement talks, a dispute between the water district that
serves Fallbrook and Camp Pendleton has officially ended. The
agreement settles a lawsuit filed in 1951 and lays out how the
Fallbrook Public Utility District and Marine Corps Base Camp
Pendleton will share water rights to the Santa Margarita River.
Monterey Peninsula voters last year passed Measure J, which
requires that the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District
conduct a feasibility study to determine whether a public
buyout of California American Water is doable… Not only is
the MPWMD trying to keep the process behind the feasibility
study hidden, they’re doing it in such a Machiavellian way I’m
having a hard time wrapping my mind around it.
The Huntington Beach City Council on Monday voted to increase
local water rates for the next five years, despite receiving
691 protest letters from residents. Under the plan taking
effect July 1, most single-family households will pay $53.03 a
month — 70 cents more than now — in the first year of five
annual rate increases.
The California Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would require
additional environmental review for groundwater transfers that
would affect desert areas, which would put a major roadblock in
front of a controversial water project proposed in the Mojave
Desert by Cadiz Inc.
Last fall, a team of researchers at the Public Policy Institute
of California (PPIC) studied the state’s response to the
extreme drought conditions, distilling their findings down to
four essential reforms that will better prepare the state to
adapt to the impacts of climate change. At the Association of
Water Agencies of Ventura County’s Annual Symposium held in
April of 2019, Ellen Hanak, Director of Public Policy Institute
of California’s Water Policy Center gave this recap of their
A firm hired by the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority
is already in the initial phase to find sources of imported
water for the valley, according to a progress report delivered
at a Thursday board meeting. … Capitol Core Group, retained
in March, is looking at what water supply options are available
and how to secure funding to ultimately purchase and develop
infrastructure to deliver into the valley.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and his allies have
filed a lawsuit to stop Federal water users from participating
in the raising of Shasta Dam, a federal dam. … Plain and
simple, this is a lawsuit waged against Central Valley farmers.
CSUN students and faculty have long contributed to California’s
efforts to ensure access to clean drinking water, efforts that
have intensified during the recent multi-year drought. A group
of students in CSUN’s Department of Geography and Environmental
Studies is helping in these efforts.
On Tuesday, May 21, the Board of Directors of the Sonoma County
Water Agencyand the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved
a plan to offset a fee that is likely to be imposed on
groundwater users in the Santa Rosa Plain… Under the plan,
the County and Sonoma Water would contribute up to $240,000
annually for three years to the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater
The slower timeline for Huntington Beach resulted in it facing
new, stricter regulations and additional delays. The
controversial plant still needs two major permits, opponents
remain steadfast and a recent water-supply study raised
questions about the cost and need for the project.
The idea is simple, the task gargantuan: Remove 1.7 million
cubic yards of sediment to return the circa 1920 dam to full
functionality, protecting Pasadena, South Pasadena, Highland
Park and other northeast Los Angeles communities downstream —
including the Rose Bowl, Brookside Park and the Arroyo Seco
Parkway — from the potential flooding of a 100-year storm.
Could a drought in California be linked to a drought in the
Midwest? A recent Stanford-led study published in Geophysical
Research Letters finds that regions may fall victim to water
scarcity like dominos toppling down a line.
Our Headwaters Tour June 27-28 highlights the connection
between fire and water with an up-close look at the critical
role healthy Sierra forests play in water supply and quality
across California. We will also learn about a new initiative
between Yuba Water Agency, the California Department of Water
Resources and University of California, San Diego’s Scripps
Institution of Oceanography to study how atmospheric rivers
affect the location, duration and intensity of storms.
I ran down a quick summary this morning of the relevant data,
comparing recent use with the cuts mandated under the DCP. It
shows that, at this first tier of shortage, permitted use is
less than the voluntary cuts water users have been making since
2015. In other words, all of the states are already
using less water than contemplated in this first tier of DCP
As the city considers changes to its wastewater rates, its
consultant, Nebraska-based HDR Engineering Inc., suggests users
that send “high strength” wastewater to the city’s treatment
system pay more because of the additional treatment costs.
Domestic septic tank/portable restroom discharges, industrial
laundry services and alcohol beverage manufacturers such as
breweries, wineries and distilleries could be affected…
Kern’s oil industry took a pass Tuesday on a public hearing
focused on the environmental impacts of fracking, handing the
day to dozens of anti-oil activists who convened in downtown
Bakersfield to rail against the technique and the threat of
climate change. … The event was one of three hearings the BLM
is hosting as part of its plan to reopen federal land in
California to oil production.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has declared a drought emergency
across nearly half the state. The drought declaration covers
the Olympic peninsula, the North Cascades, the eastern Cascades
and most of southwest Washington. It allows local governments
to tap into $2 million in state funding to respond to hardships
caused by the drought. … Snowpack is now at its fourth-lowest
level in the past 30 years.
In 2016, California became the first state to pass legislation
regulating dairy methane, requiring the farms to cut their
manure emissions 40% by 2030. … Enter Neil Black. Black’s
company builds multimillion-dollar projects at the state’s
largest dairies to capture the gas.
City water will be flowing to yet another community living in
county jurisdiction with the state forcing the City Council’s
Monday action to supply water service to the privately owned
Ceres West Mobile Home Park. … The park, which was approved
by the county in 1969, had limited options to supply drinking
water to its residents because water from an on-site well
exceeds state limits for arsenic and nitrates.
The organization best known for backing a public takeover of
Cal Am’s local [Monterey Peninsula] water system filed an
appeal of the Planning Commission’s narrow approval of a permit
for the 6.4-million-gallon-per-day desal plant north of Marina
and associated infrastructure. The appeal argues the desal
project proposal fails to properly address several key details,
including groundwater rights, and calls for the county to
require a supplemental environmental review before considering
Billions of gallons of treated wastewater is dumped into our
California coast each day, and with it, billions of resident
dollars are quite literally going to waste. Why aren’t we
utilizing available solutions to stop this sewage discharge and
capitalize on our people’s investment in clean drinking water?
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to
investigate becoming a stakeholder in the Potter Valley
project, a massive water development in the Eel and Russian
river basins. … The idea is to protect the Russian River’s
water supply for Potter Valley residents while mitigating the
effects of the Scott Dam on Eel River fish populations.
As part of efforts by Metropolitan Water District of Southern
California (MWD) to assess its 2014-2016 turf replacement
program during the California drought, we evaluated how yards
changed after converting a lawn through a MWD rebate in LA
County. We also evaluated trends in participation across
For more than a century, the zanja system, a series of
irrigation ditches that brought water from the Río de
Porciúncula (now the LA River) to the homes and fields of Los
Angeles, was the lifeblood of the region. At its height in
1888, 52 miles of zanjas, half open earth and half concrete,
ran within the city limits. An additional 40 miles of zanjas
ran outside the city proper. Controlled by the local
government, the water that flowed in these zanjas enabled life,
and occasionally death, to flourish in Los Angeles.
Members of Friends of the River and the Sierra Club are
planning a presentation on a controversial episode in Mother
Lode history, when activists unsuccessfully tried to prevent
flooding of a raftable section of the Stanislaus River by
rising water levels in New Melones Reservoir in the 1970s and
1980s. … The event is scheduled at 7 p.m. Wednesday this week
at Tuolumne County Library, 480 Greenley Road in Sonora.
An abandoned iron mine on the doorstep of Joshua Tree National
Park could be repurposed as a massive hydroelectric power plant
under a bill with bipartisan support in the state Legislature.
… The bill could jump-start a $2.5-billion hydropower project
that critics say would harm Joshua Tree National Park, draining
desert groundwater aquifers and sapping above-ground springs
that nourish wildlife in and around the park.
To Eastern Sierra residents, in most years, annual run-off
means the streams and canals rise and pasture lands start to
green-up. For Los Angeles Department of Water and Power,
run-off is the city’s life’s blood… So, how do they figure it
out? Eric Tillemans, LADWP engineer, gave the Inyo County Board
of Supervisors a beginner’s course in Run-Off 101 at a recent
The Bureau of Land Management Bakersfield office is set to hold
a meeting Tuesday over a White House proposal that would expand
oil drilling and fracking on more than a million acres of
public land across the state. … The proposal includes 40 new
wells over the next 10 years on roughly 400,000 acres of public
land and 1.2 million acres of federal mineral estate — land
where the surface is owned privately, but the mineral rights
beneath the ground are managed by the federal government.
A new bill introduced by State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson …
would effectively ban traditional cigarettes through its
prohibition on the sale of tobacco products that have
single-use filters. … Cigarette butts constitute about a
third of all the trash found on California’s beaches
Contaminated groundwater is an ongoing problem in some of the
state’s poorest rural communities, particularly in the San
Joaquin Valley. One big threat is nitrate, caused mainly by
many decades of crop fertilization with chemical fertilizers
and dairy manure. We talked to Anja Raudabaugh of Western
United Dairymen about what can be done to address these
For years fisheries experts have watched the number of
winter-run Chinook salmon dwindle as they suffered through
drought and adverse conditions in the Sacramento River. But
this year a small crop of the endangered salmon have made their
way back from the ocean to return Battle Creek in southern
Shasta County, something that hasn’t happened in some 25 years.
And officials hope the fish are the beginning of a new run of
salmon in the creek.
On our August Edge of Drought Tour, we’re venturing into the
Santa Barbara area to learn about the water challenges and the
steps being taken to boost supplies. The region’s local surface
and groundwater supplies are limited, and its hydrologic
recovery often has lagged behind much of the state despite the
recent lifting of a drought emergency declaration following
this winter’s storms.
Recently-appointed Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has
rescinded a letter of support that Obama-era Interior Secretary
Sally Jewell wrote in 2016. … Matt Cox is with the Klamath
River Renewal Corporation, the non-profit formed to implement
the dam removal agreement. He says rescinding Jewell’s letter
has no legal effect.
Two days of above-average spring rainfall in the North Bay have
forced Sonoma County officials to begin deflating the seasonal
dam across the Russian River, an about-face that comes less
than a week after the rubber dam was fully inflated to serve
the region’s drinking water system.
The West Marin ghost town of Jewell is set to be reclaimed by
nature this year with a $593,000 boost from the state. The
Olema-based Salmon Protection and Watershed Network, or SPAWN,
plans to use a grant to restore the historic floodplains on
Lagunitas Creek that once provided vital refuge for the now
dwindling populations of endangered coho salmon and other
Water is a currency in California, and the low-income
farmworkers who pick the Central Valley’s crops know it better
than anyone. They labor in the region’s endless orchards, made
possible by sophisticated irrigation systems, but at home their
faucets spew toxic water tainted by arsenic and fertilizer
Because of the pelting rains and accompanying windy conditions,
chardonnay and pinot noir grapes have the greatest chance to
suffer from shatter, the term used by vintners when a
grapevine’s delicate flowers don’t pollinate and develop into
Tulare County Supervisors will vote to approve a letter of
support for proposed legislation that will bring up to $3.5
billion for water infrastructure improvements. The money comes
at a cost to California’s biggest undertaking — high-speed
The planned improvements include replacing six of the lake
pumps and three booster pumps with four new, higher-powered
pumps capable of pumping water directly to the treatment plant
without the use of booster pumps.
Cautiously, cautiously – that’s Napa County’s approach to
creating a watershed computer model that could someday
influence rural land use decisions in an effort to keep
contaminants out of city of Napa reservoirs. Given the stakes,
supervisors want stakeholders such as the wine industry and
environmentalists involved in various decisions.
The Colorado River just got a boost that’s likely to prevent
its depleted reservoirs from bottoming out, at least for the
next several years. Representatives of seven Western states and
the federal government signed a landmark deal on Monday laying
out potential cuts in water deliveries through 2026 to reduce
the risks of the river’s reservoirs hitting critically low
The combination of droughts and floods has given rise to a
process known as saltwater intrusion — what San Jose Mayor Sam
Liccardo refers to as his city’s greatest climate threat. …
In coastal regions like San Jose, overpumping allows seawater
to seep into the city’s aquifers, exposing local residents to
excess sodium in their drinking water. The problem is
compounded by sea level rise, which pushes seawater inland
toward the city’s filtration system.
Napa County’s latest watershed symposium came at a time when
tensions are high over how to protect trees and reservoirs in
the area’s mountains. Close to 200 people from various
backgrounds came to Copia on Thursday for an A-to-Z look at
what’s happening in the watersheds. Scientists, elected
officials, wine industry members and citizen activists all
Mark Arax’s new book, “The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust
Across California,” explores how the quest to find and move
water has always been essential to the California Dream. … He
sat down with California Report Magazine Host Sasha Khokha.
A presentation to the Madera City Council Wednesday evening
focused on current water usage, projected peak water demands
and highlighted the immediate need for a new 2.5 million-gallon
concrete water storage tank to meet the water needs of today’s
users and also to meet required fire-flow targets. The
estimated cost of the project is more than $18 million…
The idea was to count the reductions in water consumption
thanks to new irrigation sources, and count that water toward
the city’s water yearly water allowance. After that, the city
would make those excess water credits available for sale to the
residents and businesses that had languished on the city’s
water waiting list, sometimes for years.
The funding allows CalTrout to develop a broad team of agency
partners to restore a 950-acre tidal marsh estuary surrounding
Cannibal Island, adjacent to the mouth of the Eel River. …
The goal of restoration is to transform the monotypic landscape
of diked and drained land back to a mosaic of natural habitats
and pasture with reconnected tidal slough channels and access
for aquatic-dependent species.
It takes more than one wet year to not only refill reservoirs
but also recharge aquifers and return moisture in parched soils
to normal levels. … All this upstream snowpack and rain is
predicted to boost Powell to 47% of capacity by the end of the
year, another three or four feet, but there’ll still be plenty
of the “bathtub ring” visible. It’s been 36 years since Powell
was full. It’s not likely it’ll ever fill again.
A bill that could block a Los Angeles-based water supply
company from pumping water out of a Mojave Desert aquifer
passed through the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday,
extending the yearslong fight over whether the environmental
impact of groundwater extraction merits additional scrutiny.
Mission Springs Water District alleged that Desert Water
Agency, which also provides water to more than 100,000 Palm
Springs and Cathedral City residents, made a board decision
that violated a previous settlement between the two agencies.
… Last month, the issue over groundwater management in Desert
Hot Springs picked up steam when a study group
formed by Mission Springs published a 16-page report that
lambasted Desert Water Agency’s actions…
There is a unique partnership happening in Arizona between
farmers, those involved in the malting process, and brewers
that is saving thousands of gallons of water from being taken
from the Verde River.
Well, apparently we’re all about to die again. The internet
says so. And while the internet often says we’re all about to
die, and we don’t, for some reason people still unquestionably
believe the next scare to come down the information highway. So
it is with the latest local scare, involving the Oroville Dam
On March 28, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an Executive
Order to promote increased oil and gas development… Then, in
April 2019, in response to the President’s order, the US Bureau
of Land Management (BLM) proposed opening up more than 1
million acres of public land in California’s Central Valley and
southern Central Coast to oil and gas production.
Clean water is important, and there are a million people in the
Central Valley without access to it. But do we need a new tax
to pay for it? Maybe we don’t. Just last week, a state Senate
budget subcommittee eliminated Gov. Newsom’s recommendation for
a water tax and replaced it with a $150 million continuous
appropriation from the General Fund.
A data storage company wants to siphon water from the bay to
cool its equipment, a process it says is greener and more
sustainable than using traditional air cooling. But the idea is
not winning over some environmentalists, because the water will
warm slightly by the time it’s returned to the bay and they say
that could potentially damage marine wildlife.
We’re likely seeing the effects of a batch of runaway arctic
air slinking far enough south to energize and reinvigorate the
subtropical jet stream. If true, we can thank the “relentless
grind” of warmth in the Arctic this month for our unusually
rainy May here in the Bay Area.
This year 126 fish have been counted going over Los Padres Dam
on the Carmel River. The number may not sound high but it is up
from single digits in years past. Last year the count was 25
fish and during the peak of the drought, there were zero fish
years. “After five years of drought it’s really welcome news,”
said Brian Leneve with the Carmel River Steelhead Association.
The agency charged with monitoring water quality standards
throughout the Greater Los Angeles region found that local
cities have committed more than 2,000 water quality violations
within a five-year period, but the violators suffered little if
Aidee Guzman is focusing on these small farms to find out
whether, ecologically, this diversity has any positive effects
on soil health. Her work won’t be published for another two
years, but there is already a large body of research that
explains how large monocropping operations strip soils of their
nutrients and make them less capable of storing carbon… As
she works, she is documenting a potential alternative to the
industrial mega-farms of the valley and the West.
Many have gazed across its shimmering expanse and seen an idea
just as big to fix it. … So far, with the exception of
geothermal energy, none have seen the light of day.
But with new interest in Sacramento, the rough
outlines of immediate, medium range and long-term plans to
protect public health and restore wildlife are taking shape.
Inside the Capitol’s corridors and pro-development quarters
around the state, CEQA is increasingly disparaged as a villain
in the state’s housing crisis. … New Gov. Gavin Newsom, to
fulfill his hyper-ambitious quota of new housing construction,
has called for fast-tracking judicial CEQA review of housing,
similar to that granted sports teams building stadiums. But the
act’s environmentalist defenders are pushing back.
After months of tense, difficult negotiations, a plan to spread
the effects of anticipated cutbacks on the drought-stricken
Colorado River is nearing completion. On Monday,
representatives of the seven states that rely on the river will
gather for a formal signing ceremony at Hoover Dam, the real
and symbolic center of the Lower Basin Drought Contingency
The Colorado River — of which the Green is the biggest
tributary — is the main water source for 40 million people.
It’s already overallocated, and climate change is predicted to
shrink flows by up to 50 percent by the end of the century.
We’re finally coming to grips with those forecasts and
beginning to heed Powell’s century-and-a-half-old warnings. But
it’s taken drought and desperation to get us there, and we have
to do better.
When the federal government reduced how much arsenic it would
allow in drinking water in 2006, the water system in Jim
Maciel’s Central Valley community was suddenly considered
unsafe to drink. Bringing that arsenic content back down to a
safe level required a lot of work, as he explains to a few
colleagues at a water leadership institute in Visalia.
Federal engineers are raising alarms that a “significant flood
event” could breach the spillway of Southern California’s aging
Prado Dam and potentially inundate dozens of Orange County
communities from Disneyland to Newport Beach. After conducting
an assessment of the 78-year-old structure earlier this month,
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it was raising
the dam’s risk category from “moderate” to “high urgency.”
The Mountain View City Council approved the water district’s
18-foot-deep basin project in 2013 in exchange for the park
upgrades. Designed to accommodate a 100-year flood, the
McKelvey Park basin is one of two basin projects of the larger
Permanente Creek Flood Protection Project, which water district
officials claim will provide natural flood protection for
approximately 2,200 properties in Mountain View and Los Altos.
A well for the Vineyard Avenue Acres Mutual Water Co. tested as
having water with more than 10 milligrams of nitrates per
liter, the limit set by the California State Water Resources
Control Board, according to a letter sent to customers by the
utility under state orders. The utility serves a discrete area
of El Rio, so the problem does not affect other parts of the
Arizona relies on groundwater for about 40% of its water
supply, yet groundwater resources outside of the state’s
biggest urban areas are largely unprotected and unregulated…
HB 2467, a bill that passed in the Arizona House and currently
awaiting a final vote in the Senate, takes an important step
forward to address groundwater challenges in Mohave and La Paz
The Western-San Bernardino and Orange County judgments, signed
April 17, 1969, helped establish five watermasters and settle
water rights throughout the watershed that supplies the water
agencies within San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties.
The agreements settled decades of lawsuits over water rights…
Although they spend their lives hidden beneath the surface,
fish are directly affected by the weather happening outside
their aquatic world. This is particularly true of species that
rely on watersheds in regions like California, where the
availability of water changes dramatically with the seasons.
The Paradise Irrigation District said it plans on testing water
from lot-to-lot instead of in zoned areas. The process will
also give priority to people currently living in their homes or
in temporary housing on their properties in Paradise. Kevin
Phillips, the district’s director, said the majority of testing
they’ve done shows no contamination in the main lines, but
individual services lines are still showing volatile organic
compounds, like benzene.
Halting plans to remove four dams on the Klamath River was the
theme of a well-attended fundraising event hosted May 4 by the
Siskiyou County Water Users Association. Guest speakers,
including Congressman Doug LaMalfa, Siskiyou County Supervisor
Brandon Criss, former Klamath County Commissioner Tom Mallams
and Attorney James Buchal, author of “The Great Salmon Hoax”
discussed problems they foresee with dam removal which they
believe is far from a done deal.
Tens of thousands of people flooded into San Francisco in the
1850s looking for gold, but there wasn’t nearly enough drinking
water to quench the thirst of the boomtown. So speculators
looked south of the city to San Mateo County in hopes of
delivering clean water to San Francisco and big money to their
own pockets. And they weren’t going to let anything get in
In the ceaseless conflict over how to use the state’s available
water — and maybe then some — a varied group of water users and
lawmakers sang a refrain older than Nevada: “Everyone is going
to court in the end.” … The ghosts of litigation — past,
present and future — loomed over the Thursday Senate Natural
Resources Committee hearing that stretched until 8 p.m. and
offered insight into why it’s so difficult to update Nevada
A nearly four-year investigation into how a chemical known to
cause cancer showed up in more than a dozen rural wells by the
San Luis Obispo County Airport has finally concluded with an
alleged culprit. Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control
Board investigators say that Noll Inc., a machine shop on
Thread Lane, is responsible for the trichloroethylene (TCE)
California agencies have appealed to air pollution control
officials to change the rules after backup generators failed
and water stopped pumping as wildfires burned last year. They
said they need more time to test and maintain diesel-operated
generators that power water facilities during a fire. Because
of air pollution concerns, the agencies are limited to testing
the diesel-powered generators as little as 20 hours per year in
Insisting the state made a commitment, a central Arizona
lawmaker and farmers he represents are making a last-ditch
pitch for $20 million from taxpayers to drill new wells and
water delivery canals. Rep. David Cook, R-Globe, said Thursday
the farmers in Pinal County agreed to give up their right to
Colorado River water to help the state come up with a plan to
deal with the drought. In exchange they were given the right to
take additional water out of the ground.
When you hear news about ice loss from Greenland or Antarctica,
an aquifer in California that is getting depleted, or a new
explanation for a wobble in Earth’s rotation, you might not
realize that all these findings may rely on data from one
Poseidon Water, owner of the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad
Desalination Plant, has received an updated permit from the San
Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board (SDRWQCB) governing
the desalination plant’s discharges into the Pacific Ocean.
Additionally, the permit includes structural and operational
changes to provide greater protection for marine life and water
When asked about his priorities, California’s recently
appointed Natural Resources Secretary quickly rattles off a
range of topics: climate change; strengthening water supply
resilience; and building water capacity for communities,
agriculture, and the environment, among them.
This river provides water for one-third of Latinos in the
United States. Latinos make up the bulk of agricultural workers
harvesting the produce this river waters. We boat, fish, swim
and recreate along its banks. We hold baptisms in its waters.
Therefore, it is critical to engage the growing Latino
population on water-smart solutions.
The big conflicts are deeply interconnected and appear to be
reaching their climactic phases. How they are resolved over the
next few years will write an entirely new chapter in
California’s water history, changing priorities and perhaps
shifting water from agriculture to urban users and
A brackish water study conducted by consulting firm Aqualogic
has predicted three potential areas that can be tapped for
brackish water extraction in the Indian Wells Valley. … The
brackish water project has the potential to help expand local
supplies if the water is properly treated and brine removed.
Like everyone else in Santa Clara Valley who uses wells,
farmers will see their groundwater production charges go up 6.8
percent this year. But unlike the others, they’ll continue to
receive substantial subsidies. In approving the increased
charges for well users, the Santa Clara Valley Water District
board left intact for at least two years the current structure
that allows farmers to pay only 6 percent of the amount
residents and businesses pay.
Colorado is swimming in snowpack this year, with the state’s
southwest corner at 19.5 inches, 220% of the median for May 14
and 1.6 inches above the usual April 2 median peak, federal
data show. So reservoirs are filling, and the generous snowfall
has nearly eliminated a drought that hydrologists said in
January would take years for recovery.
A four-year long restriction for new water connections has
ended in many parts of Nipomo. Last week, the Nipomo Community
Services District Board of Directors voted to proceed with an
upgrade to the supplemental water pipeline it has with Santa
Maria. … The additional water allows the NCSD to now accept
applications for new connections.
A Senate budget subcommittee rejected Gov. Gavin Newsom’s water
tax plan on Wednesday, instead recommending finding $150
million elsewhere to finance a safe and affordable drinking
water fund. … The subcommittee’s decision to lock in funds
for future budget cycles could eliminate the challenge of
securing votes to pass another tax.
California Trout, Mendocino County Inland Water & Power
Commission, and Sonoma Water have officially put a foot forward
to explore a planning agreement for the project’s future. The
coalition is championing a “two-basin solution” that could
mitigate the effects of the Scott Dam on fish populations in
the Eel River while ensuring that the Russian River basin
doesn’t lose its water supply, which Potter Valley residents
have relied on for over 100 years.
The Yurok Tribal Council recently voted in favor of a
resolution to establish the Rights of the Klamath River.
According to the Yurok Tribe, the resolution “establishes the
Rights of the Klamath River to exist, flourish, and naturally
evolve; to have a clean and healthy environment free from
pollutants; to have a stable climate free from human-caused
climate change impacts; and to be free from contamination by
genetically engineered organisms.”
Over the short life of the Sustainable Groundwater Management
Act, Owens Valley has gone from medium to high and now low
priority. That prioritization would have had an impact three
years ago. Medium and high priority basins are required to form
an agency and sustainability plan; low basins are not.
At the 28th California Water Policy conference held in April of
2019, a panel discussed how tribal lands and tribal
representatives, as independent nations, can be integrated into
SGMA implementation, what some of the obstacles to doing so
are, and how those hurdles might be transcended.
Stakeholders throughout the Colorado River Basin just wrapped
up arduous negotiations on a drought plan. There’s little time
to rest, however. Stakeholders are expected to begin the even
more difficult task of hammering out sweeping new guidelines
for delivering water and sharing shortages that could
re-imagine how the overworked river is managed.
California must defend our scarce and sacred resources … The
legislation, authored by Sen. Richard Roth of Riverside,
authorizes state agencies to conduct independent review of the
Cadiz project, restoring safeguards eliminated at the federal
level and ensuring any pumping from underneath Mojave Trails
and protected desert lands is sustainable.
Atascadero residents will likely be paying more for wastewater
services starting in just a few months. The last time
wastewater rates were increased in Atascadero, President Bill
Clinton began began his first term in office and Seinfeld was
one of the most watched shows on television.
Researchers at the University of California, Davis, looked at
using a “free” resource — rain water stored in the soil — and
found that optimizing its use could go a long way to help meet
demand for five California perennial crops. Their findings
appear in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
Oregon Water Resources Department is in the process of
validating a call on Upper Klamath Lake tributaries, including
the Wood River, filed by senior water right holders — the
Klamath Tribes — on April 18. … Water users that irrigate can
call the watermaster’s office if they believe someone with a
junior water right to theirs is irrigating with water that
should be coming to them.
When it rains, it pours. And the Camp Fire just keeps on
pouring. The latest byproduct? Waterways testing positive for
heavy metals, from aluminum to selenium, as well as chemical
contaminants. And the most recent test results, released last
month, show unhealthy levels of both throughout the county,
primarily in Paradise and nearby creeks.
Last month there was an 8 percent increase in water compared to
April 2018. Meanwhile the population over the same time period
went up 2,759 residents or just over a 3 percent increase. …
Using a five-year yardstick with the city adding just over
9,000 residents since 2014, per capita water consumption is
down by more than 10 percent from April 2014 to April 2019.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officially added the
Copper Bluff Mine in Hoopa to the Superfund National Priorities
list, one of seven sites added across the county and the only
one in California. … In the meantime, the mine continues to
leak acid drainage. Anywhere from 3 to 500 gallons of
contaminants are leaked into the Trinity River per minute…
With the administration’s leadership, representatives of
farmers, cities and conservation groups are having productive
negotiations on a complex package of actions that would
increase river flows and improve fish habitats, collectively
called a “voluntary agreement.” A possible final agreement is
months away, but we are making progress.
In reality, the WaterFix could not increase water exports while
protecting the Delta ecosystem. That’s because California’s
snow and rainfall are highly variable, making it unlikely that
existing supplies can meet increasing water demands reliably
into the future. Plus, the science demonstrates that San
Francisco Bay’s fish and wildlife need more water, not less, to
flow from the Central Valley to the Bay.
Five years ago, Deb Fallows and I made the first of what became
many visits to the farming town of Winters, California. …
When we first visited five years ago, the main question for the
area’s nut-tree farmers, and for California’s agricultural
economy as a whole, was whether the state’s drought-ravaged
water supplies could support such commercially valuable but
Dig out that umbrella, and even the tire chains. It’s mid-May,
but a series of rare, winter-like storms will soak the Bay Area
and much of California through next week and bring up to 2 feet
of new snow to the Sierra Nevada.
The “backwash basins” were damaged during the flooding that
occurred because of the heavy rainfall in late February, and
they need to be repaired as soon as possible because they help
the city provide drinking water to its residents during the
peak demand months coming soon.
The district is considering a five-year series of rates
increases — up to 5% per year for sewer and up to 6% per year
for water. … As district staff have explained during public
meetings, much of STPUD’s infrastructure is outdated and in
need of repair or replacement. Additionally, more than 10% of
the STPUD’s water system lacks adequate water capacity to fight
a major fire.
The DCP … provides assurance against curtailments for water
stored behind Hoover Dam. This is especially important for the
Southern California water agencies, whose ability to store
water in Lake Mead is crucial for managing seasonal demands.
Some significant challenges must still be addressed, however.
What happens when there is not enough surface water to go
around in a watershed? California water rights law says that
certain water users must curtail their water diversions — in
other words, reduce the amount of water they divert or stop
diverting water altogether. … But following water right
priorities is not always straightforward, and other aspects of
state and federal law complicate the picture …
Because of the wet weather this winter, the district is
proposing to lower its Stage Two Drought Condition to a Stage
One Drought Condition, which would lift many mandatory drought
The U.S. Geological Survey studied the land and the water and,
in 2002 … concluded that the proposed pumping would far
exceed the rate of natural refill. The National Park Service
submitted comments in 2012 stating that Cadiz’s estimates are
“3 to 16 times too high.” The Geological Survey, in 2017,
reported that there was no information to lead it to change its
2002 conclusions. … And that ought to have been the end of
The lawsuit against the Fresno-based Westlands Water District
was filed in Shasta County Superior Court on Monday. State
officials have for years maintained that raising the height of
the dam would violate the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act because a
higher dam would further inundate the McCloud River, in
violation of state law.
California Trout, Mendocino County Inland Water & Power
Commission and Sonoma Water announced that they have entered
into a planning agreement to explore pathways to relicense the
Potter Valley Project in the wake of Pacific Gas and Electric’s
decision to withdraw from the Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission relicensing process for the project.
Sixty percent of California’s
developed water supply originates high in the Sierra Nevada,
making the state’s water supply largely dependent on the health
of Sierra forests. But those forests are suffering from ecosystem
degradation, drought, wildfires and widespread tree mortality.
On our Headwaters Tour
June 27-28, we will visit Eldorado and Tahoe national forests to
learn about new forest management practices, including efforts to
both prevent wildfires and recover from them.
We have learned over the last six years that the water need for
Santa Cruz to meet its own annual demand is 1.1 billion gallons
less than thought in 2014, when the two districts were pursuing
the desalination plant.
People who live along the southern border all say the same
thing: When it rains, it stinks. The reason is a failing, aging
network of pipes that run from Mexico to wastewater treatment
plants in the U.S. When heavy rains fall, the pipes often break
and spill raw sewage on both sides of the border, causing not
only a putrid odor but public health and environmental
The 1,700-acre off-the-grid health retreat, where clothing is
optional in the pools, went up for sale quietly last year for
$10 million. Now, the property near Williams (Colusa County) is
officially listed with Sotheby’s International Real Estate.
Coastal Commission staff on Monday reiterated to The Herald
that Cal Am can appeal the city’s denial under the state’s
Coastal Act because the city charges an appeal fee. They called
the city’s own rules “internally inconsistent” and noted the
Coastal Act’s regulations supercede local ones.
Nearly every country in the world has agreed upon a legally
binding framework to reduce the pollution from plastic waste
except for the United States, U.N. environmental officials say.
… Even the few countries that did not sign it, like the
United States, could be affected by the accord when they ship
plastic waste to countries that are on board with the deal.
A jury in Oakland, Calif., ordered Monsanto on Monday to pay a
couple more than $2 billion in damages after finding that its
Roundup weed killer caused their cancer — the third jury to
conclude that the company failed to warn consumers of its
flagship product’s dangers. Thousands of additional lawsuits
against Monsanto, which Bayer acquired last year, are queued up
in state and federal courts.
California struggles to deliver safe drinking water to millions
of residents. The challenges – often complex issues at the
interface of human, legislative, technical, and geological
dimensions – resist easy answers. Stanford experts explored
possible ways forward at a recent panel discussion in
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has turned two
big lakes into a monster battery capable of storing enough
energy to power tens of thousands of homes. It involves using
the excess wind and solar power L.A.’s renewable energy sites
produce during the day to pump water from Castaic Lake uphill
7.5 miles to Pyramid Lake.
The new rates would increase the Distribution and Customer
Charge, for all customers, by 5.7%, to generate annual revenue
of $3.4 million, effective August 1, 2019. The new rates would
also increase the Distribution and Customer Charge for all
customers in July 2020 by 5.8%, to generate annual revenue of
$3.7 million; and also increase the Commodity Charge,
increasing the system average by 0.7%, to generate annual
revenue of $0.5 million in July 2020.
In his February State of the State address, Gov. Gavin Newsom
called the safe drinking water crisis — which is centered in
lower-income communities ranging from the coasts to the Central
Valley — “a moral disgrace and a medical emergency.” He’s
Estimates vary, and can change as the water year progresses,
but the Kern River basin, the rivers and streams that collect
the water that flows into Isabella Lake and downstream toward
Bakersfield, is estimated to be at 172 percent of normal,
possibly more. And all that ice and snow is starting to melt,
big time. Are local water managers ready?
More than 725,000 acres of Central Coast land could be opened
up for oil and gas extraction under a new plan led by the Trump
administration. But due to local regulations — and economic
realities — Santa Cruz County land appears unlikely to be
affected even if the plan is approved.
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors last week voted
unanimously to move ahead with a $7.5 million improvement
project for the park’s two popular lakes. … Lindo Lake is
thought to be the only natural freshwater lake in San Diego
County, according to the Lakeside Historical Society.
Rivers may seem especially appealing as the weather becomes
warmer in the spring and summer, but experts and local
officials warn that the waters may not be as welcoming as they
seem. The snowpack that accumulated during a wet and cold
winter is beginning to melt into rivers, making for extremely
cold water and fast currents. “It’s a very dangerous
combination,” said Chris Orrock, a spokesman for the state’s
Department of Water Resources.
In Ukiah Thursday, at least two dozen people who depend on the
Potter Valley Project for their farming operations gathered at
the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds to hear an update on the
facility’s future. “New information to come shortly, and a lot
of work still to do,” said Janet Pauli, chairwoman of the
Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission, a Joint
Powers Authority that is exploring the possibility of acquiring
the facility that Pacific Gas and Electric owns, but has
According to an engineering investigation released by the San
Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District on March 7, the
Bunker Hill Basin, which stores the groundwater used by the San
Bernardino Valley, remains 570,718 acre-feet below full water
storage following the 2017-18 water year. … The water year
brought a reported 56 percent of average annual precipitation
and 161,708 acre-feet of groundwater production.
Three hundred and sixty miles. That’s how much pipe it takes
for the City of Napa to distribute water throughout the valley.
The public had a chance to learn all about where its water
comes from at the city’s second annual Tap Water Day open house
on Saturday at the scenic Edward I. Barwick Jamieson Canyon
Water Treatment Plant in American Canyon.
The water that irrigates Santa Clara Valley’s last farms comes
dirt cheap for growers who pump it out of the ground. They pay
just a fraction — 6 percent — of the amount residents and
businesses in the valley must pony up for their well water. The
rest of the cost for farmers’ water is subsidized, mostly from
revenue the Santa Clara Valley Water District receives through
The West is still in the midst of a long-term water shortage in
Lake Powell and Lake Mead, primary reservoirs that serve 40
million people. For that reason, the Upper Basin states —
Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico — have to also come up
with their own drought contingency plans. That means Colorado
might be heading into choppy waters as one of the requirements
of a drought contingency plan — demand management — could pit
communities and regions against each other …
There’s three roads that go up to the hill. Because of flooding
and mudslides, all three of them were blocked. So here we were,
an island. There was no way to get supplies. No way to get
medication. No way to get propane deliveries for heat. People
who work on and off the hill couldn’t go to their jobs. The
whole town was impacted, especially the businesses and
restaurants who depend on the tourism.
For rural communities in the central coast region of
California, the name “Harvard” does not connote excellence. For
these communities, where water is scarce and becoming scarcer,
it evokes greed and exploitation. As California takes its first
steps to regulate groundwater in the midst of a worsening water
crisis, Harvard’s endowment fund is investing millions into
vineyards that pump inordinate amounts of water from
California’s critically overdrafted groundwater basins.
Forecasts are calling for a stretch of wet weather across the
Western United States, especially in Northern California, so
meteorologists and emergency officials are keeping watchful
eyes on river gauges and radar reports. All it takes is one
thunderstorm parked over a snow-covered area to wreak havoc
After sunshine and pleasant weather grace California early this
week, a powerful storm system will barrel into the state during
the middle to latter part of the week. … By the time the
storm moves into the Four Corners region later on Friday, the
foothills of the Sierra Nevada and parts of Northern and
coastal California will receive between 1 to 3 inches of rain.
The hardest-hit locations may receive as much as 4 or 5 inches
When people think of natural disasters in California, they
usually think of earthquakes, drought or wildfire. But the
worst disaster to ever hit the Golden State was the Great Flood
of 1862. When people of European descent first arrived in
California, the native people told them tales of great deluges
in which the rivers overran their banks and large areas of land
were inundated. The newcomers paid little heed to these
stories, and often settled in low-lying areas with easy access
to water sources.
Various parties have recently claimed that the Klamath River
Compact Commission has authority over the proposal to remove
four dams in the Klamath Hydroelectric Project. … This
argument, while creative, is wrong. The Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission (or FERC) will decide whether the
proposed dam removal is in the public interest.
The plan by PG&E Corp. comes after the bankrupt utility
said a transmission line that snapped in windy weather probably
started last year’s Camp Fire, the deadliest in state history.
While the plan may end one problem, it creates another as
Californians seek ways to deal with what some fear could be
days and days of blackouts.
State officials tasked with debris cleanup say they have been
directed not to enter an estimated 800 burned Butte County home
sites within 100 feet of a waterway. They’ve been told to wait
for representatives of several state and federal agencies to
reach an agreement on environmental assessment guidelines.
To get access to Colorado River water, the tribe is hoping its
federal water settlement will finally become law. Earlier this
month, Arizona’s congressional delegation sponsored another
settlement bill after similar efforts in 2017 and 2016. If a
water rights settlement became law, the Hualapai Tribe would
get 4,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water each year.
Up a remote canyon in the towering eastern Sierra, a Southern
California company has an ambitious plan to dam the area’s
cold, rushing waters and build one of the state’s first big
hydroelectric facilities in decades. The project, southeast of
Yosemite near the town of Bishop (Inyo County), faces long
regulatory odds as well as daunting costs. But residents of the
Owens Valley downstream and state environmentalists are not
taking it lightly.
Armed with test tubes and trash bags, a team of environmental
advocates are looking at homeless camps in Riverside as part of
a broad effort to clean up the 2,840-square-mile Santa Ana
River Watershed. The long-term goal is to protect the water and
revive enjoyment of a 96-mile river that once was a center of
life in Southern California.
Counter-intuitively, the same environmental groups that have
championed the state’s climate goals want to kill all pumped
storage instead of evaluating each project on its own merits.
… Come hell or high water, there is no way that we can get to
100% renewable resources, which, by nature, are intermittent
and unreliable, without adequate storage.
The California Energy Commission is offering the city of San
Luis Obispo a $3 million loan to build a 261-kilowatt solar
photovoltaic system as well as a 264-kilowatt hydroelectric
generation system — both located at the city water treatment
plant on Stenner Creek Road behind Cal Poly. By generating its
own power at the treatment facility, SLO could earn savings of
$266,863 annually compared to its current power bill.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has made repairing hundreds of failing
drinking-water systems in California a big priority since
taking office, giving fresh momentum to an entrenched problem
the state’s leaders have long struggled to resolve. But his
proposed solution — a $140 million yearly tax raised in part
through fees on urban water districts — has raised eyebrows in
a state where residents already feel overtaxed.
State water regulators gave local sanitation officials three
more years to carry out their plan to reduce the amount of
chloride that ends up in the Santa Clara River. … The
sanitation district … was mandated to reduce the amount of
chloride, or salt, that discharges from wastewater treatment
plants into the Santa Clara River, largely due to concerns by
downstream farmers that chloride was damaging salt-sensitive
crops such as strawberries and avocados.
Volunteers and government employees hauled water to two tanks
for desert bighorn sheep in the Old Dad Peak area of Mojave
National Preserve April 30. … Four groups of storage tanks
with drinker boxes in the Old Dad Peak area support close to
100 desert bighorn sheep, according to the NPS. There are no
springs or natural water sources in the area, so the sheep
depend on humans who provide water.
People are interested in California water problems, and they
ask reasonable questions. Here is a first installment of short
science-based answers to some reasonable questions often heard
at public and private discussions of water in California.
In California, treated wastewater also is a critical source of
water for the environment, and, increasingly, a source for
recycled water. Climate change is worsening water scarcity and
flood risks. Advancements in engineering and technology can
help prepare wastewater agencies for a changing climate. But
significant shifts in policy and planning are needed to address
Set to expire in 2026, the current guidelines for water
deliveries and shortage sharing, launched in 2007 amid a
multiyear drought, were designed to prevent disputes that could
provoke conflict. … But as the time for crafting a new set of
rules draws near, some river veterans suggest the result will
be nothing less than a dramatic re-imagining of how the
overworked Colorado River is managed…
A new category of El Niño has become far more prevalent in the
last few decades than at any time in the past four centuries.
Over the same period, traditional El Niño events have become
more intense. This new finding will arguably alter our
understanding of the El Niño phenomenon. Changes to El Niño
will influence patterns of precipitation and temperature
extremes in Australia, Southeast Asia and the Americas.
Following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to withdraw permits for
the proposed Twin Tunnels project in favor of a smaller single
tunnel, Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano, issued a letter to the
governor expressing support for the decision while also
outlining alternative water plans.
Locking in a $3.2 million sale price, the Soquel Creek Water
District board will enter an initial five-month “option to
purchase” agreement to buy a nearly 2-acre parcel in Live Oak.
The purchase option period … is designed to give district
officials time to survey the 2505 Chanticleer Ave. land,
assessing its ability to serve as home to the proposed Pure
Water Soquel plant.
A more than five-year moratorium on leasing land in California
for oil and gas development will be coming to an end with a May
9 Interior Department plan to open up about 725,000 acres
across the state’s Central Coast and the Bay Area for drilling.
The decision comes just two weeks after the Trump
administration released its plan to reopen more than 1 million
acres of public land and federal mineral estate in eight
counties in Central California to fracking.
A Q&A with Valerie Olson, assistant professor, and Emily
Brooks, post-doctoral researcher — both environmental
anthropologists at UC Irvine. They have a new project aimed at
getting a better understanding of how communities, particularly
the underserved, think about and use their water, and how the
agencies that provide water can better serve them.
The new funding includes about $250 million for climate-related
programs, thanks to the state’s cap-and-trade program, and $75
million to fund an assessment of wildfire protection plans. …
Newsom also defended a controversial tax on water bills that
would fund programs to rebuild broken or degraded drinking
water infrastructure in some of the state’s poorest
When it rains in California, it pours. But when it doesn’t,
California’s drought years can have a devastating impact on the
state. California’s water experts are looking for ways to
better store water during rainy years like 2019 so the state
can have it during years when the rain and snow inevitably dry