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 Vice Magazine

‘Everyone Loses’: The government is rationing water at the California-Oregon Border

Along the Oregon-California border, the Klamath River Basin is a crucial water source for Indigenous tribes, endangered species, and farmers. This year, though, there is simply not enough to go around.  The Western US is enduring another major drought, and the Klamath River Basin is at a historic low. This resulted in different groups being forced to compete and make their case for why water, now precious and scarce, should be diverted to their needs. It’s a stark reminder of the tough, no-win decisions that citizens will continue to face amid the worsening climate crisis. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: What can help get us through this drought

Living in California means living with droughts – there’s no getting around it.  The devastating 2014-15 drought resulted in water shortages for our communities, farms and the environment, prompting California’s water leaders and decision-makers to implement early planning, improved collaboration, added conservation measures and new local supply projects to help balance the water needs of people and fish in preparing for the drought that is currently before us. … Let’s improve storage and conveyance so we can better manage our fluctuating and unpredictable climate. 
-Written by Chandra Chilmakuri, assistant general manager of the State Water Contractors.

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Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: How dry is California? What should we prepare for?

California is in the second year of a drought. Governor Newsom this week made his first drought declaration. Just how dry is this drought, so far?  What are some likely implications?  And what might State and local governments do about it?

Aquafornia news Prescott eNews

Blog: Arizona groundwater explained

News of drought and climate change impacts on Arizona’s water supplies has become more alarming with the release of each new study. To prepare for a drier future, Arizona will need an informed public. For help in understanding the state’s water management situation, a brief new reference work is now available from the University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center.

Aquafornia news ABC30 Fresno

Storm system brings snow to High Sierra, doesn’t make dent in rain deficit

A storm system is bringing rain to the Valley and snow to the High Sierra. Several inches of snow accumulation are expected by the time the storm is through. There was light snowfall in Shaver Lake Sunday evening, but not much was sticking.  … The National Weather Service in Hanford said even though this storm is bringing in snow in the High Sierra, it will not make a dent in the precipitation deficit we’ve been seeing.

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Aquafornia news KMTR

The fight for water around the Colorado River basin

The Colorado River cuts through the Grand Canyon, providing water for about 40 million people and 5 and a half million acres of farmland. To some, the water is as valuable as oil. In 1922, the seven U.S. states through which the river flows signed onto the Colorado River Compact, a water-sharing agreement that divvies up the river’s annual flow. The water must be shared equally between Upper Basin states: Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico; and the Lower Basin: California, Arizona and Nevada. There’s been infighting ever since.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Coastal Commission cosigns federal plan to kill native elk

On Earth Day, the California Coastal Commission conditionally approved a general management plan for a 28,700-acre federally owned park in the San Francisco Bay Area — a plan vehemently opposed by conservationists because it calls for killing native tule elk in an area where thousands of acres of federal land are leased to small dairy and cattle beef farmers. … Last year, an estimated one-third of one the tule elk herds died due to malnutrition, likely exacerbated by drought conditions which decimated the animals’ foraging habitat at Point Reyes. 

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Monday Top of the Scroll: ‘There’s just no water to waste:’ Sonoma and Mendocino counties brace for renewed restrictions as drought deepens

It has taken until the end of the second straight historically dry winter, but California and its vast network of urban and agricultural water suppliers, including those on the parched North Coast, are now ramping up to confront the drought that is tightening its grip on the state. Sonoma County supervisors are set on Tuesday to proclaim a drought emergency, becoming the first local government to take formal action on a burgeoning water crisis that Gov. Gavin Newsom highlighted Wednesday.

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Aquafornia news California Department of Fish and Wildlife

News release: Wildlife Conservation Board funds stream flow enhancement projects

The Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) has approved approximately $33.5 million in grants to help enhance flows in streams throughout California. A total of 30 stream flow enhancement projects were approved for funding at its April 22 meeting. The approved projects will provide or lead to a direct and measurable enhancement of the amount, timing and/or quality of water in streams for anadromous fish or special status, threatened, endangered or at-risk species, or to provide resilience to climate change.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: DWR awards $26 million in grants to support critically overdrafted groundwater basins

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today awarded $26 million in grant funding for capital project investments to improve water supply security, water quality and the reliability of domestic wells – advancing access to safe, affordable drinking water.   This funding provides important assistance for successful local implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which establishes a framework for managing the state’s groundwater resources and will help California be better prepared for longer, more severe droughts.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

As climate changes, researchers look to floods to save California from drought

California Governor Gavin Newsom declared drought in two counties Wednesday and predicted others would soon join. He bemoaned the prospect of another period of drought only a few years removed from a five-year drought that strained the state’s water resources.  A study published this week in Science Advances revealed one solution to the drought-like conditions and their increased frequency due to a changing climate is a counterintuitive one — floodwaters.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Poseidon water plant permit discussion continued to next week

Both proponents and opponents of the controversial Poseidon Water desalination plant in Huntington Beach made their voices heard Friday in an all-day virtual meeting that continued well into the night. In the end, however, a decision by the Santa Ana Regional Water Board on whether to permit Poseidon’s $1.4-billion project will have to wait until at least [this] week. Another meeting is scheduled for Thursday, with a third meeting on May 13, as necessary.

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Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Nestlé doesn’t have valid rights to water it’s been bottling, California officials say

California water officials on Friday issued a draft order telling Nestlé to ”cease and desist” taking much of the millions of gallons of water it pipes out of the San Bernardino National Forest to sell as Arrowhead brand bottled water. The order, which must be approved by the California Water Resources Control Board, caps years of regulatory probes and a public outcry over the company’s water pipeline in the San Bernardino Mountains, where opponents argue that siphoning away water harms spring-fed Strawberry Creek and the wildlife that depends on it.

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Aquafornia news Redlands Daily Facts

Can the Seven Oaks Dam near Highland increase San Bernardino Valley’s water supply?

The San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District is asking: Can an old dam learn new tricks? Specifically, the wholesale water district has its sights on the Seven Oaks Dam located near Highland that holds snowmelt and storm water runoff from the San Bernardino Mountains. As operators, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers typically releases the water in one flush, making it impossible for water agencies to capture any of the flow, explained Heather Dyer, CEO and general manager of Valley District. 

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Colorado River shortage looms amid scant snow and shrinking flows

The water level of Lake Mead, the country’s largest reservoir, has dropped more than 130 feet since the beginning of 2000, when the lake’s surface lapped at the spillway gates on Hoover Dam. Twenty-one years later, with the Colorado River consistently yielding less water as the climate has grown warmer and drier, the reservoir near Las Vegas sits at just 39% of capacity. … The river’s reservoirs are shrinking as the Southwest endures an especially severe bout of dryness within a two-decade drought intensified by climate change, one of the driest periods in centuries that shows no sign of letting up.

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Aquafornia news CBS News

Demand for water is rapidly increasing as supply dwindles

Limited access to clean water remains a struggle for millions of Americans. And lack of water access is expected to become an even greater problem in the coming years across the U.S. and around the world. … To help boost water supplies in Southern California, water and sanitation officials are working on plans for the largest recycled water project in the nation.

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Aquafornia news Engineering News-Record

Feds rev up push to fix widespread PFAS pollution

The Biden administration and Congress are stepping up efforts to control the release and cleanup of poly and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in drinking water sources and elsewhere, joining states that have expanded scrutiny of the chemicals, which are used widely in manufacturing and are extremely persistent in the environment. EPA’s current “advisory” limit on PFAS in drinking water is 70 parts per trillion, but some states have set or proposed required levels from 6.5 to 20 ppt, including California … 

Aquafornia news Voice of OC

Will desalination come to Huntington Beach? A water board hearing happens today

Questions have been raised over California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s political maneuvers to push a controversial seawater desalination plant proposed for the Huntington Beach coastline. Critics say their concerns about the actual need for the project and its potential environmental effects remain. The company pushing it, Poseidon Water, remains steadfast in its intent to build a plant that would suck in 100 million gallons of seawater daily and make half of it drinkable….[The Regional Water Quality Control] board’s next hearing is scheduled for [Friday] April 23. If the board approves the permits, the project then goes for a final say from the state Coastal Commission. 

Aquafornia news Oakdale Leader

Conditions foil proposed OID, SSJID water release

An unseasonably dry March and lack of sufficient water supplies have foiled a proposed water release by the Oakdale and South San Joaquin Irrigation Districts that would have boosted Stanislaus River flows beginning this past week for the benefit of out-migrating salmon, and also supplied water to farms and communities in the San Joaquin Valley most vulnerable to extreme drought conditions. The plan would have sent up to 100,000 acre-feet of water down the river between April 15 and May 15 in what are known as “pulse flows” to help young salmon navigate their way toward the Delta and, eventually, out to sea. 

Aquafornia news Business Wire

News release: Nautilus Data Technologies proves data centers do not have to waste drinking water and energy

Typical data centers guzzle local drinking water to keep systems cool. By one estimate, traditional evaporative air-cooling annually consumes up to eight million gallons of water for each megawatt (MW) of energy needed to run the facility. Silicon Valley alone is home to 411 MWs of data center capacity – with those estimates, it would be more than three billion gallons of water wasted per year in one of the most drought-stricken areas of the country.

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Aquafornia news Roseville Today

PCWA acquires facilities in Auburn Ravine

The Placer County Water Agency (PCWA) has acquired five new miles of canal and associated facilities from South Sutter Water District (SSWD) after an agreement between the two agencies was approved by the PCWA Board of Directors. Located in the Auburn Ravine, the newly acquired Moore and Pleasant Grove canals have long served PCWA’s agricultural customers west of the City of Lincoln, who primarily grow rice and provide habitat for waterfowl and other species.

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Chimney Hollow Dam near Loveland moving forward after settlement

A complex Front Range dam-building project that includes transferring water from the Colorado River will move forward this summer after Northern Water agreed to a settlement putting $15 million in trust for waterway improvements in Grand County.  Environmental opponents begrudgingly accepted the mediated settlement of their lawsuit against Northern Water’s Windy Gap Firming Project, which involves a menu of waterworks construction including Chimney Hollow dam near Loveland and rerouting the Colorado River around Windy Gap Dam near Granby.

Aquafornia news Fullerton Observer

Opinion: Why California’s first-in-world plan to monitor microplastics in drinking water matters

Given a growing body of evidence that many chemicals in plastics pose human health risks, Californians should welcome recently-passed legislation putting the state on path to be the first to track microplastics in tap water. Because plastics are highly resistant to biodegradation, instead fragmenting into ever smaller bits, eventually reaching micron and nanometer dimensions (there are 25.4 million nanometers in one inch)—they travel unseen in wind and waterways so that even the most remote regions of the globe, like the Arctic seabed and summit of Mount Everest, are contaminated with microplastics. 
-Written by Sarah Mosko. 

Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

Warm temperatures trigger unprecedented decline in Sierra snowpack’s water content

As extreme drought conditions continue to expand across the San Francisco Bay Area, a leading climate researcher issued a new warning Thursday of another sign that a water supply crisis is developing across the region. Dan McEvoy, a researcher with the Western Region Climate Center, told KPIX 5 he was startled to discover that several locations in Sierra had seen the biggest decline in snowpack’s water content on record for the time span covering the first three weeks of April…. [T]he snowpack in the central Sierra has declined significantly to just 37% of average. … Much of Northern California experienced temperatures 4-degrees above average for the period.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Storms to drench much of the Bay Area this weekend. Here’s what to expect

A burst of rain is expected to drench the Bay Area this weekend, bringing much-needed moisture to a parched region. The rains will likely be intense — but short-lived, tapering off to another stretch of warm, dry conditions by the middle of next week, meteorologists said. Showers were expected to start in the North Bay as early as Saturday evening, with steady rainfall pounding much of the Bay Area Sunday. Lingering showers were expected in the central coast through Sunday night, according to the National Weather Service.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Friday Top of the Scroll: Drought brings threat of dry wells in San Joaquin Valley

Thousands of wells that bring water to San Joaquin Valley homes are at risk of drying up this summer, leaving families without running water for drinking, cleaning and bathing. While no one knows the extent of the threat from this second year of drought conditions, Jonathan Nelson with the Community Water Center says “the alarm bells are sounding.” Homes, farms and entire communities that rely on shallow wells as their only source of water are vulnerable to declining groundwater levels from dry conditions and agricultural pumping.

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Join us May 6 for a fun virtual open house on Big Day of Giving

Join us May 6 for a virtual open house where you can test your water trivia knowledge, win prizes and meet the people behind our programs that foster a deeper understanding of California’s most precious natural resource – water. The Foundation’s open house runs from 4:30–5:30 p.m., when you will be able to bounce among chatrooms to catch up with old friends, meet new ones and join a fast and fun trivia contest hosted by our Programs Director Nick Gray.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Opinion: MID board should raise farm irrigation pricing

After two dry winters, the April 1 snowpack measurement, which is typically the deepest and highest in water concentration, is far below average at 59% according to the Department of Water Resources. … [T]o substantially decrease water demands the Central Valley needs to address agricultural water usage. The main problem with agricultural water use is pricing. … [It's] cheaper for farmers to use more water than it is for them to invest in water-efficient technologies. 
-Written by Caitlin Perkey, a masters of public administration student at California State University, Stanislaus in Turlock.

Aquafornia news Inverse

The primary source of water for 2.5 billion people is in danger

The Central Valley in California is a farming powerhouse, growing more than 250 crops and producing $17 billion of agricultural products every year to feed the world. The competing demands of both agriculture and a growing local population — along with droughts made worse by the climate crisis — have put a dramatic strain on the local wells supplying groundwater for both the farmers and rural residents. … In short: the wells are literally running dry. According to a new study, the same groundwater problem plaguing the Central Valley is occurring around the world, threatening the drinking water of billions of people.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: How solar panels over water could help fight climate change

Install photovoltaic panels atop canals, and avoid the land-use battles over habitat protection and rural community character that are a growing roadblock for the solar industry. Save water in a drought-prone state that can use every last drop. …But when I’d heard these ideas floated in the past, I’d also heard skepticism from the people who run California’s water systems…. Then a surprising thing happened….
-Written by Sammy Roth, a Los Angeles Times staff writer.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

White House steps up efforts to address prolonged drought in West

The Biden administration has launched a working group focused on addressing drought conditions in the West as the region continues to suffer from a long period of water scarcity. The group, which will be co-chaired by the departments of the Interior and Agriculture, will work with state, local and tribal governments on community needs in weathering drought, according to a news release from the Interior Department.

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Aquafornia news Santa Monica Observer

Opinion: California quietly slides into a drought while officials say to build for 1.34 million more thirsty residents

Los Angeles is currently at only 46% of average rainfall for the Water Year according to the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). … Drought is a condition to be expected a large percent of the time. So why did California’s State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) decide that the Southern California region should plan for an additional 1.34 million residents over the next nine years?
-Written by Alyssa Erdley.

Aquafornia news Turlock Journal

Program will provide clean water to Turlockers impacted by nitrate-laden wells

Turlock residents impacted by nitrate groundwater contamination will soon be supplied with safe drinking water as the state seeks out more permanent solutions. The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board is leading the charge on a program which will provide bottled water deliveries or bottle-filling kiosks to six geographic zones deemed to have the most-serious groundwater contamination issues. The Turlock Subbasin has been identified as a Priority 1 zone by the board and is one of the two largest zones included in the program. 

Aquafornia news Bay City News Service

EBMUD seeks public input on water supply plan

The East Bay Municipal Utility District is asking for public input from residents of Alameda and Contra Costa counties for an update of its water supply plan, which is updated every five years. The plan assesses water supplies against expected water needs for a 30-year planning horizon. A virtual public comment meeting will be held April 29 and a virtual public hearing on May 11, during the regularly scheduled EBMUD board of directors meeting.

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

Water board committee recommends advancing Pure Water Monterey expansion

A committee for the Monterey One Water Board has recommended final certification of an environmental report crucial to the expansion of Pure Water Monterey, signaling increased momentum for the recycled water project. The five-member Recycled Water Committee of the Monterey One Water Board of Directors voted 4-0-1 on April 15 to recommend the board of directors certify the completed supplemental environmental impact report, or SEIR, needed for the expansion.

Aquafornia news CBS News

Experts say climate change threatens America’s food supply. Can farmers in the Mississippi Delta save it?

If the Midwest is the breadbasket of America, then California is its produce section. Two-thirds of the nation’s fruits and nuts and more than one-third of its vegetables are produced in the Golden State. But California’s abundance is threatened by wildfires, extreme weather and chronic drought — the effects of climate change.

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Aquafornia news Grist

California’s water systems are in deep trouble

A new report is highlighting the gaps in California’s water infrastructure — and how much money the state will need to fix it. The report, published by the state’s Water Resources Control Board, found that 620 public water systems and 80,000 domestic wells are at risk of failing to provide affordable and uncontaminated water, a problem that California will need $4.7 billion of extra funding to solve. The report includes the first-ever analysis of the state’s domestic wells — a common water source for rural communities. Threats to these systems are often poorly understood due to lack of good data. 

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Aquafornia news The Weather Channel

Pattern change will bring much-needed rain to California, West Coast this weekend

A weather pattern change will bring much-needed rain and mountain snow to parts of the drought-stricken West, including California, into the weekend. So far this month, the jet stream has often taken a huge detour northward over the eastern Pacific Ocean, effectively blocking Pacific storms from reaching the West Coast.

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Aquafornia news Westlands Water District

News release: Westlands Water District Board of Directors appoints Ryan Ferguson as president

During its regularly scheduled meeting yesterday, the Westlands Water District Board of Directors elected Ryan Ferguson to serve as president of the District. Ferguson succeeds Daniel Errotabere, who will continue to serve on the Board.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: The Sacramento River – Ridgetop to river mouth multi-benefit water management

The dry year and reduced flows in the Sacramento River System are challenging the ability for water resources managers to serve water for cities and rural communities, farms, wildlife refuges, fish and recreation. Part of the challenge has been the inordinate focus on temperature management in the upper part of the river below Shasta Lake. As we have all seen countless times before, a focus on one species or in this case one aspect (temperature) of water management is not a path forward for the long-term, successful recovery of salmon…

Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger

Blog: Citing potential water waste, court sides with California dam operators

A federal court has ruled that Best Best & Krieger LLP client City of Santa Maria and others are correctly not releasing more water from a dam above the City, as doing so would be in conflict with the dam’s Congressional purpose. … The lawsuit claims the defendants are violating the Endangered Species Act by not releasing enough water from Twitchell Dam on the Cuyama River, thereby not providing sufficient water for federal law-protected Southern California Steelhead trout to spawn.

Aquafornia news Eastern Municipal Water District

News release: Joe Mouawad selected as EMWD general manager

Eastern Municipal Water District’s (EMWD) Board of Directors today selected Joe Mouawad as EMWD’s next General Manager following a nationwide search. Mouawad has served in various leadership roles with EMWD for the past 15 years, bringing a wealth of internal experience to his new responsibility of leading California’s sixth-largest retail water agency. Mouawad is the eighth General Manager in EMWD’s 71-year history.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Trump-era Clean Water Act rule takes effect in Colorado on April 23, 2021, while Colorado public officials renew efforts to craft a state-level dredge-and-fill permitting program

Following a temporary delay in Colorado federal court, the Trump administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) will now take effect in Colorado on April 23, 2021.  Under the NWPR, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers will no longer require permits for operations affecting certain categories of streams and wetland areas previously subject to the Clean Water Act.  

Aquafornia news Water in the West

New research: Using floodwaters to weather droughts

Floodwaters are not what most people consider a blessing. But they could help remedy California’s increasingly parched groundwater systems, according to a new Stanford-led study. The research, published in Science Advances, develops a framework to calculate future floodwater volumes under a changing climate and identifies areas where investments in California’s aging water infrastructure could amplify groundwater recharge. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Newsom declares drought emergency – but only for Sonoma and Mendocino counties

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday declared a drought emergency for Sonoma and Mendocino counties, but resisted calls to issue a statewide proclamation — at least for now. Newsom’s emergency order primarily affects communities and water districts in the Russian River watershed, which includes the cities of Santa Rosa, Ukiah and Sebastopol. Some 360,000 people live in the area. 

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Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Learn about infrastructure and environmental restoration during Lower Colorado River Tour

Visit key infrastructure and environmental restoration sites along the lower Colorado River during our online tour May 20 of the iconic river as it weaves through the Lower Basin states of California, Nevada and Arizona. Our Lower Colorado River Tour starts at Hoover Dam near Las Vegas and stops at major agricultural regions, tourist destinations and key wildlife areas such as the Salton Sea and a wildlife refuge in Yuma, Ariz. resulting from a tribal-city partnership.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

AQUAFORNIA BREAKING NEWS: Gavin Newsom declares drought emergency on California coast

Gov. Gavin Newsom officially declared a drought emergency Wednesday in one of the driest regions of California, the Russian River watershed in Northern California. While the governor stopped short of declaring a statewide drought, the move makes various forms of drought assistance available for Sonoma and Mendocino counties and could allow the state to take swifter action on curtailing farmers and others from pulling water from the river.

Aquafornia news Science Times

Freshwater salt pollution: Is it threatening people and wildlife?

[A] study, titled “Freshwater Salinization Syndrome on a Continental Scale,” found at least a third of U.S. streams and rivers have become saltier over the last 25 years. On December 3, freshwater scientist John Olson of California State University, Monterey Bay, conducted a modeling study that validated these results, indicating that the future looks briny as well. The study is titled “Predicting Combined Effects of Land Use and Climate Change On River and Stream Salinity.” Salinization levels will likely increase by at least 50% in half of U.S. streams by 2100 if salt use persists at its current pace, according to Olson’s party. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Blog: Virtual Water Summit – May 25

The Water Association of Kern County’s annual Water Summit is virtual this year but will still pack a punch of who’s who in the water world. The day kicks off with an update on water brought to the San Joaquin Valley via the federal Central Valley Project. The speaker will be Deputy Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton. Next will be an update on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and where the process is at this point. The speaker will be Steven Springhorn, Acting Deputy Director Groundwater Management Department of Water Resources.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Drought spreads water shortages throughout state​

The 2020-21 California drought has led to significant water cutbacks, compelling farmers to fallow ground and public officials to respond with legislation intended to address the state’s chronic water shortages. Farmers in more parts of the state have learned in recent days just how little water they will have available to them this summer, as water suppliers from the Oregon border to the North Coast to the San Joaquin Valley announced low allocations.

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Aquafornia news Vox

This stunning timelapse shows the megadrought’s toll on the West’s largest reservoir

Just how bad is the drought in the Western US? The shrinking of Lake Mead, the country’s largest reservoir, is a troubling indicator. The massive man-made lake, which straddles the border of Arizona and Nevada, is now only at 39 percent of its full capacity, down from 44 percent in April 2020. That’s equivalent to a 10-foot drop in the water level, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Reclamation. Which means mandatory restrictions on the amount of water surrounding states draw from Lake Mead could be triggered in the next few months.

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Aquafornia news VC Star

Ojai Valley water district to fill vacant board seat. Here’s how

Casitas Municipal Water District has set a May 3 deadline to apply for a vacant seat on its board. Former board member Angelo Spandrio resigned last month. Now, the rest of the board members plan to appoint someone to fill the seat for the remainder of his four-year term, set to expire in December 2022. Spandrio, of Ojai, announced his decision at a March 10 board meeting, saying he and his wife plan to move to Arizona.

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: The Bay-Delta salmon crisis that didn’t have to be

The state and federal agencies tasked with protecting our fish, wildlife, and natural resources are once again scrambling to avoid wiping out this year’s cohort of chinook salmon that spawn below Shasta Dam. If this sounds familiar, it is because this scenario is a repeat of attempts to “manage” Shasta operations in 2014 and 2015, which resulted in over 75% of the eggs and fry of endangered winter run chinook salmon being destroyed in both of those years, solely from the lack of sufficient cold water being released from Shasta Dam …

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Aquafornia news Capital & Main

The good news about climate change: there’s still hope

More than 20 years ago, aquatic ecologist Michael Bogan interned with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in Bishop, east of the Sierra Nevadas. It was 1998, a wet year for California, and the idea of studying water in the desert lodged in his brain. Desert streams are approachable subjects, especially compared to, say, a massive and murky system like the Mississippi River, says Bogan, now a professor at the University of Arizona’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment: … For Bogan, studying those small systems over the past two decades has meant witnessing their decline.

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Rain forecast for this weekend — not a joke!

It won’t solve California’s drought problems, but it’s better than nothing. The first rain in a month could wet the Bay Area and much of Northern California this weekend, forecasters say, as a late-season storm from the Gulf of Alaska appears to be headed toward the region. Computer models show the rain will begin late Saturday in the North Bay, spreading across the wider Bay Area and Santa Cruz Mountains on Sunday. … The weekend system also could bring snow to the Sierra Nevada on Sunday.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Can dryland farming help California agriculture adapt to future water scarcity?

Large areas of California farmland, particularly in the San Joaquin Valley, face future restrictions on groundwater pumping to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. We talked to Caity Peterson—an adjunct fellow at the PPIC Water Policy Center and a consulting agroecologist—about a joint research project* on the potential for dryland farming to reduce the amount of land needed to be retired from production to balance water budgets.

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Aquafornia news ABC4 Utah

The history of Earth Day and how to celebrate it during a drought

With a drought affecting the Western part of the country, here are ten simple ways to conserve water this Earth Day: Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth; Fix leaky faucets; Only run a fully loaded dishwasher or wash a full load of laundry; Take a shorter shower; Consider installing a water-saving shower head; Use a broom to clean your driveway instead of hosing it down; Find a use for water instead of pouring it down the drain…

Aquafornia news Morgan Hill Times

Bill allows water district to select ‘best contractor’ for Anderson Dam retrofit

The state assembly on Monday unanimously approved a bill that would assist with the retrofitting of Anderson Dam in Morgan Hill. Assembly Bill 271, which was introduced and authored by Assemblymember Robert Rivas, passed in the assembly April 19 on a vote of 71-0, according to Rivas’ office. The bill now proceeds to the state senate. The legislation builds on Rivas’ previous efforts to expedite the construction of Anderson Dam, which has been deemed seismically unsafe and is currently undergoing a significant retrofit.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Marin to be first big Bay Area water agency to push ahead with water restrictions

As drought conditions worsen across Northern California, the Marin Municipal Water District is about to become the Bay Area’s first major water agency to make the leap to mandatory water restrictions. The utility is expected to adopt a plan Tuesday that would require nearly 200,000 residents of southern and central Marin County to limit outdoor watering to one day a week as well as to stop washing their cars, refilling their swimming pools and power-washing their homes, among other things. Offenders could face fines of up to $250…

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Aquafornia news Good Day Sacramento

Free bottled water coming to thousands of homes with contaminated water

People in some Stanislaus and Merced counties are being warned if their water comes from groundwater wells, it could be contaminated with harmful amounts of nitrate. Now those homes could be receiving free bottled water as a solution. Some have already been buying bottles for years, to avoid getting sick. … At his Salida home with a water fountain flowing in his front yard, Jose Olagues can’t drink from the faucet in his own home. … Bottled water keeps him from becoming sick.

Aquafornia news Village News

Rainbow MWD places $1.3M in reserves

The San Diego County Water Authority was successful in its rate lawsuit against the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and the SDCWA provided a check to the Rainbow Municipal Water District for Rainbow’s share of the settlement. On March 23, the Rainbow board voted 5-0 to place the money into the district’s reserves rather than to attempt to provide refunds to each individual ratepayer.

Aquafornia news Orange County Water Association

Report: The role of asset management in support of OC Sanitation’s mission

Publicly owned treatment works in California have been observing a trend of permit requirements issued by EPA Region 9 and the State to develop and utilize an Asset Management Program as part of their NPDES/Wastewater Discharge Order. In the case of OC San, an Asset Management Plan has already been in place; however, with many of its major assets aging, the development of a more robust AMP became a priority for the agency.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Thousand Oaks plans $111 million of infrastructure projects

Thousand Oaks plans to upgrade much of its aging infrastructure over the next two fiscal years, with help from President Joe Biden’s recently enacted American Rescue Plan. … The proposed $111 million budget contains 132 projects, mostly infrastructure improvements. The 10 most expensive projects are, in millions of dollars: $19.9 — Converting an irrigation well at the Los Robles Golf Course to a treated drinking water source for municipal supplies, lessening the city’s reliance on more expensive imported water. 

Aquafornia news Daily Democrat

Lawsuit filed over Woodland Flood Risk Management Project

The Yolo County Farm Bureau as well as two former Farm Bureau presidents have filed a lawsuit against the City of Woodland and the Woodland City Council over the Woodland Flood Risk Management Project. The suit — which was filed on March 25 — is a Verified Petition for a Writ of Mandate and Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief, or a way to get the judicial branch to reaffirm previous contracts. 

Aquafornia news The Sierra Nevada Ally

California’s McCloud River one of nation’s most imperiled

Last Tuesday, American Rivers released its annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers list for 2021. Because of a Trump-era proposal to raise Shasta Dam, the group named northern California’s McCloud River as the nation’s 7th most threatened river. Over the past century, California has engineered the structure of water capture and distribution in the state. … During the Trump administration, then Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt advanced plans to increase the height of Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet and to expand Shasta Lake by more than 200 billion gallons. 

Aquafornia news Red, Green, and Blue

Blog: Yurok and Karuk Tribes respond to Klamath Operations plan during severe drought

The Klamath River Basin is in a dire situation this year. The plan curtails irrigation diversions to less than 10% of demand while failing to meet the biological needs of salmon and other fisheries downstream. … Reclamation also announced $15 million in immediate aid to the Klamath Project through the Klamath Project Drought Relief Agency, an additional $3 million in technical assistance to Tribes for ecosystem activities in the basin, as well as funding for groundwater monitoring in the basin.

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Aquafornia news Daily Republic

Changes to Shasta water release designed to protect salmon

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will begin releasing warmer water from the upper layers of the Shasta Reservoir directly into the Sacramento River to maintain flows, while saving colder water for the winter-run Chinook salmon migration.

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Aquafornia news Jfleck at Inkstain

Blog: The April 2021 24-month study was a shocker, but is it too optimistic?

The release of last week’s Bureau of Reclamation 24-month study felt like very bad news for the Colorado River (See Tony Davis for details.). But a careful reading of the numbers, and an understanding of the process through which they are developed, suggests things are likely even worse than the top-line numbers in the study. The problem: the assumptions underlying the study do not fully capture the climate-change driven aridification of the Colorado River Basin.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Suisun Marsh fishes in 2020 – Persistence during the Pandemic

Suisun Marsh is central to the health of the San Francisco Estuary. Not only is it a huge (470 km2) tidal marsh in the center the northern estuary (Figure 1), but it is an extremely important nursery area for species such as splittail, striped bass, longfin smelt, and, formerly, delta smelt. Since January 1980, a team from The University of California, Davis, in partnership with the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), has systematically monitored the marsh’s fish populations. The team had been sampling the fish and invertebrates every month with trawls and beach seines, with a nearly unbroken record. Then Covid-19 restrictions settled in…

Aquafornia news KUNC

With first-ever Colorado River shortage almost certain, states stare down mandatory cutbacks

The Colorado River’s biggest reservoirs are likely to drop to historically low levels later this year, prompting mandatory conservation by some of the river’s heaviest users. The latest Bureau of Reclamation reservoir projections, which take into account river flows in a given year, show a likelihood that Lake Mead on the Arizona-Nevada stateline will dip below the critical threshold of 1,075 feet in elevation in May and remain below that level for the foreseeable future. A first-ever official shortage declaration from the Department of the Interior is almost certain later this year.

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation adjusts Sacramento River operations to benefit salmon amid drought conditions

Reclamation announced today that spring-time operations at Shasta Dam will adjust to benefit endangered winter-run Chinook salmon in the Sacramento River during this critically dry water year. … No additional water from Shasta Reservoir will be released during this temporary adjustment—only the withdrawal elevation and timing of water releases will change.

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Alameda County Water District names next general manager

The Alameda County Water District board has promoted Ed Stevenson to serve as the district’s new general manager. The district, which provides water to roughly 350,000 homes in Fremont, Newark and Union City, announced that  Stevenson, a 24-year district employee, will take over after current general manager Robert Shaver retires on July 1 following 30 years of service. 

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Where are the lead pipes? Finding them may prove tough for EPA

Incomplete local record-keeping may stymie EPA efforts to locate the nation’s lead pipes to meet President Joe Biden’s goal of replacing them and improving drinking water quality, authorities say. A better way to reduce lead contamination in the nation’s drinking water, a former Environmental Protection Agency water chief says, is by enforcing an existing rule requiring utilities to replace some of their lead pipes every year. The Biden administration’s infrastructure plan, released March 31, calls for replacing all lead drinking water pipes throughout the U.S. to avoid lead contamination drinking water …

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: Is California suffering a decades-long megadrought?

California has entered another drought. But depending on who you ask, the last one may have never really ended. Some researchers believe the region is actually more than two decades into an emerging “megadrought” — a hydrological event that is on par with the worst dry spells of the past millennium. Except this time, they say, human-caused climate change is driving its severity — and will make it that much harder to climb back out of.

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Aquafornia news Noozhawk

Water Authority fears Santa Barbara county at disadvantage by failing to approve amendments

Leaders of the Central Coast Water Authority fear that Santa Barbara County is at a disadvantage in obtaining state water because of the county’s failure to adopt an amendment to the State Water Project that allows local water districts to buy and sell water supplies outside the county. The CCWA is an umbrella organization for all of the State Water Project members in Santa Barbara County. 

Aquafornia news KRCR

Yurok Tribe: Klamath River salmon stock conditions dire, fishery canceled for 5th year

The Yurok Tribe said it’s sounding the alarm as culturally invaluable salmon edge closer to extinction. The Yurok also said it is canceling its commercial fishery for the fifth time this year. Tribal officials said past water management decisions and climate change have put Klamath river salmon stocks at risk. The tribe said it’s gravely concerned about the rapidly declining salmon stocks in the Klamath River Basin … Tribal officials said [Reclamation's] plan provides bare-minimum flows for imperiled Klamath salmon and sucker fish populations.

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Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Another bill introduced to fund repairs for Friant-Kern Canal

After years of neglect, numerous measures to make sure much needed and overdue repairs of the Friant-Kern Canal are fully funded continue to be introduced. Congressman Jim Costa and Senator Dianne Feinstein were the latest to introduce legislation on Thursday that would help fund repairs for the Friant-Kern Canal. Along with Congressman Josh Harder they introduced a bill that has bipartisan support, the Canal Conveyance Restoration Act that would provide more than $800 million for repairs to three San Joaquin Valley canals, including the Friant-Kern Canal, along with restoring salmon runs in the San Joaquin River. 

Aquafornia news Truthout

Blog: The Southwest offers blueprints for the future of wastewater reuse

No country is immune from water scarcity issues — not even the world’s wealthiest country, the United States. The southwestern states, in particular, have faced frequent and ongoing droughts over the past two decades, and traditional water supplies are failing. … Our existing water supplies must go further, and the technology exists to make this happen — by turning wastewater into drinking water. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Bakersfield children’s book takes a trip down the Kern River

The successful Bakersfield children’s book series “Indy, Oh Indy” has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund its sixth upcoming book, titled “The Mighty Kern River.” The book was inspired by a larger effort from the grassroots group Bring Back the Kern to raise awareness about Bakersfield’s mostly dry river and efforts to revive a more regular flow of water through town.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

OID and SSJID cancel large water sale to thirsty West Side

The worsening drought has canceled a large water sale to West Side farmers by the Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts. They announced Wednesday that their own customers will need the water, which had been declared surplus in early March. A revised forecast of Stanislaus River runoff scuttled the sale, which could have brought up to $25 million to the sellers.

Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

Releases on the Trinity River to significantly increase flow this week

Restoration flows will begin tomorrow, April 16, on the Trinity River to help improve conditions after another critically dry water year. A flow schedule based on the expected amount of water available to support salmon restoration efforts on the Trinity River is brought forward by the Trinity Management Council each year. This week’s two-day schedule is slated to increase daily average flows from 300 cubic feet per second to 1,300 cubic feet per second.

Aquafornia news The Brentwood Press

State and local groundwater sustainability efforts make progress

While high-profile surface-water initiatives like WaterFix and the Delta Conveyance Project grab most of the headlines pertaining to water management in the state, efforts to make significant changes to the way groundwater is utilized have been underway since 2014. Now, the state and the local water agencies are seeking public comment on documents related to the management of groundwater. In 2014, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed a three-bill legislative package collectively known as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) to better manage groundwater supplies over the long term.  

Aquafornia news The Signal

News release: SCV Water receives state PSPS grant

SCV Water, the Santa Clarita Valley’s water agency, received a nearly $250,000 California Special Districts Association Public Safety Power Shutoff program allocation from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). The allocation will be used to help fund the installation of a permanent generator at the Earl Schmidt Filtration Plant on Lake Hughes Road near Castaic. The addition of this second generator brings the facility up to 100% operational capacity in the event of a power outage.

Aquafornia news University of California

Blog: A path toward clean drinking water for all Californians

California was the first U.S. state to legally recognize access to safe, clean and affordable water as a human right. But substantial parts of the state lack access to drinking water that meets those criteria. A new study published by the California State Water Board and supported by UCLA research identifies a risk for failure among a significant portion of the state’s small and medium-sized public water systems. 

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Friday Top of the Scroll: Costa spearheads $800 million water infrastructure bill to restore key Valley canals

Congressman Jim Costa (D–Fresno) introduced a bill on Thursday that would provide over $800 million in funding to water projects in California. If the Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration Act is enacted, $653 million in Federal funds will go to restore the capacity of three canals in the Central Valley, and $180 million will be used to restore salmon runs on the San Joaquin River. 

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Aquafornia news The Santa Barbara Independent

New front in Santa Barbara County’s pot wars

Santa Barbara County’s most depleted water basin, the Cuyama Valley, is fast becoming the latest battleground in the fight over how — and whether — to address the negative impacts of the lucrative cannabis industry on farming and residential communities. The giant groundwater basin underlying this sparsely populated, heavily farmed, economically depressed valley is one of California’s 21 most critically over-drafted basins and the only one outside the Central Valley. 

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

Judge tells Monterey County to go back to the drawing board on Cal Am desal approval

Monterey County must rescind all approvals of California American Water’s proposed desalination project, per an order from a Monterey County Superior Court judge who earlier this year found the county violated the California Environmental Quality Act by approving the project without identifying a water source. The ruling was handed down April 3 by Judge Lydia Villarreal, who on Jan. 21 granted in part—and denied in part—a writ requested by the Marina Coast Water District regarding the 2019 approvals of the desal plant component of Cal Am’s Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project.

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Aquafornia news Capital Press

Klamath Project to receive historically low water allocation

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation delivered a gut-punch to Klamath Project irrigators Wednesday, announcing a historically low water allocation as the basin struggles with extreme drought. Farms and ranches in the Project will receive an initial allocation of just 33,000 acre-feet — the lowest total since the shutdown of 2001 and barely 8% of historical demand. That is dramatically lower than the bureau’s original estimate of 130,000 acre-feet based on hydrological conditions at the beginning of March.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Kern River Watermaster retires

Dana Munn, a fixture in the Kern County water world, has taken an early retirement from Shafter-Wasco Irrigation District due to medical issues, he announced Tuesday. Munn has also served in the crucial position of Kern River Watermaster since 2014. He was the river’s third watermaster since the position was created in 1955 as a liaison to the Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the Lake Isabella Dam.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Raising Shasta Dam threatens McCloud River, sacred tribal lands and salmon

Shasta Dam, which rises over 600 feet, flooded much of our tribe’s homeland and inundated dozens of our sacred sites. It stopped our salmon from reaching their spawning grounds. And by holding back water when it is needed by the river, Shasta Dam has driven our salmon to the brink of extinction. That threat continues in the proposal to raise Shasta Dam. That project would flood more of our sacred sites and further harm salmon. The Trump administration made that project their top priority water infrastructure project in the nation. 
-Written by Caleen Sisk, the spiritual leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe.

Aquafornia news Havasu News

Southern California leans on more Colorado River water to combat record dry season

Southern California, like most of the West, is in the middle of a record dry season. To combat it and keep the metropolitan area well-watered, they’re relying more heavily on the Colorado River, with water pumped directly from the south end of Lake Havasu. Last Wednesday, the Metropolitan Water District began pumping from Lake Havasu at full capacity for the first time in years, drawing water from the Whitsett Intake Pumping Plant located just north of the Parker Dam. The eight-pump flow is equivalent to about 3,000 acre feet of water being pumped per day, according to MWD Manager of Colorado River Resources Bill Hasencamp.

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Aquafornia news The Mercury News

‘A scary scenario’: Water bills in San Jose headed for costly, decade-long spike starting this summer

Residents across San Jose can expect to see their water bills increase in the coming months no matter what company they get their water from — a trend that could continue year after year for the next decade. Santa Clara Valley Water District, the region’s wholesale water provider, plans to raise its rates by up to 9.6% each year for the next eight years, followed by an 8.7% jump the following two years. The monthly rate increases would equate to an approximate $4.50 to $5.10 increase per month for customers, according to the water district.

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Epic drought means water crisis on Oregon-California border

Hundreds of farmers who rely on a massive irrigation project that spans the Oregon-California border learned Wednesday they will get a tiny fraction of the water they need amid the worst drought in decades, as federal regulators attempt to balance the needs of agriculture against federally threatened and endangered fish species that are central to the heritage of several tribes. Oregon’s governor said the prolonged drought in the region has the “full attention of our offices,” and she is working with congressional delegates, the White House and federal agencies to find relief for those affected.

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Aquafornia news Jacksonville Journal-Courier

Opinion: Why Wall Street investors’ trading California water futures is nothing to fear – and unlikely to work anyway

Water is one of the world’s most vital resources. So is there reason to freak out now that profit-hungry hedge funds and other investors can trade it like a barrel of oil or shares of Apple? That’s exactly what CME Group recently did in California when it launched the world’s first futures market for water in December 2020. Put simply, a futures market lets people place bets on the future price of water. 
-Written by Ellen Bruno, of University of California, Berkeley and Heidi Schweizer, of North Carolina State University.

Aquafornia news KSBW

Monterey County must rescind Cal-Am desal approvals

The Superior Court of California, County of Monterey has told Monterey County it must rescind all approvals for the Cal-Am desalination project. According to the court, the county violated the California Environmental Quality Act by approving the desal project with identifying a water source. The court ruling also means that the county can’t retroactively correct the issue.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Plan to ban California fracking falls short in Legislature

A far-reaching proposal to outlaw hydraulic fracturing and ban oil and gas wells from operating near homes, schools and healthcare facilities failed in the California Legislature on Tuesday, a major setback for progressive leaders who hail the state as the nation’s bellwether on environmental protection. Gov. Gavin Newsom in September called on state lawmakers to ban fracking and voiced his support for safety buffer zones around wells …

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California drinking water infrastructure at risk of failing

A new state analysis estimates a $4.6 billion funding gap for water system infrastructure needed to ensure Californians have access to safe and affordable drinking water. The State Water Resources Control Board this month released the first-ever drinking water needs assessment, showing that approximately 620 public water systems and 80,000 domestic wells are at-risk of failing to provide a sufficient amount of drinking water that meets basic health standards. 

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: The pillars for sustainable water management in the Sacramento River basin

On Wednesday, March 3rd, the Northern California Water Association (NCWA) Board of Directors officially adopted our 2021 Priorities. The water leaders in this region look forward to working with our many partners in 2021 to cultivate a shared vision for a vibrant way of life in the Sacramento River Basin. We will continue to re-imagine our water system in the Sacramento River Basin as we also work to harmonize our water priorities with state, federal, and other regions’ priorities to advance our collective goal of ensuring greater water and climate resilience throughout California for our communities, the economy, and the environment. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Department of the Interior

News release: White House announces several nominations to Interior leadership, including Tanya Trujillo as Assistant Secretary for Water and Science

The White House announced the intent to nominate several officials to serve at the Department of the Interior, including Tanya Trujillo as Assistant Secretary for Water and Science. Trujillo is a water lawyer with more than 20 years of experience working on complex natural resources management issues and interstate and transboundary water agreements. She most recently worked as a project director with the Colorado River Sustainability Campaign. Before then, she served as the Executive Director of the Colorado River Board of California.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Last chance to register for next week’s Water 101 workshop

There’s just one week left to register for our Water 101 Workshop, which offers a primer on the things you need to know to understand California water. One of our most popular events, this once-a-year workshop will be held as an engaging online event on the afternoons of Thursday, April 22 and Friday, April 23.

Aquafornia news Water World

Opinion: Keeping water affordable

California households face over $600 million in household water debt, with some 1.6 million homes — roughly 12 percent of all state residents — dealing with an average of $500 in arrears. The findings show clear racial inequities, with households of color bearing the brunt of this debt. More than 130 smaller utilities across the state will need federal help in the next six months if they are to survive. It is clear that we need a solution now. 
-Written by Michael Carlin, the acting general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Innovation needed to solve state’s water challenges

Earlier this month, camera crews once again gathered in the Sierra Nevada to watch a man plunge a pole through the snow. The pole was removed and, following a tense few moments, Californians learned we experienced another dry winter, and we are plunging further into drought. These snowpack surveys are quaint rituals, but they’re also a jarring reminder of how little technological innovation has occurred in California’s water sector. 
-Written by Danielle Blacet, deputy executive director at the California Municipal Utilities Association, and Adrian Covert, senior vice president of public policy at the Bay Area Council.

Aquafornia news Scientific American

Editorial: We are living in a climate emergency, and we’re going to say so

[C]onsider the following scenarios: A hurricane blasts Florida. A California dam bursts because floods have piled water high up behind it. A sudden, record-setting cold snap cuts power to the entire state of Texas. These are also emergencies that require immediate action. Multiply these situations worldwide, and you have the biggest environmental emergency to beset the earth in millennia: climate change. Given the circumstances, Scientific American has agreed with major news outlets worldwide to start using the term “climate emergency” in its coverage of climate change. 

Aquafornia news Record Searchlight

Shasta Dam raise threatens McCloud River, group says

While the federal government sees the prospect of raising the height of Shasta Dam as a way to increase water storage for a thirsty California, the Winnemem Wintu of Shasta County see it as a threat to their culture. It was a theme picked up this week by American Rivers, a conservation group that named the McCloud River one of America’s 10 most endangered rivers because of the proposal to raise the height of Shasta Dam. … Raising the height of the dam would raise the level of the lake about 20 feet when full. It would also further inundate about a third of a mile of the McCloud River … 

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Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Controversial project is becoming a pipeline in the sand for local water agencies

The San Diego County Water Authority is no stranger to conflict – virtually all of its dealings over the past decade have been shaped by its feud with the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Now that feud is fueling fights within the agency itself.

Aquafornia news Arizona Public Media

Podcast: Updating the status for water from the Colorado River

The Colorado River is one of the most highly developed surface water systems in the world, but demand for the river’s water continues to exceed supply. University of Arizona geosciences professor Connie Woodhouse discusses the impact of a warming climate on the Colorado River. She is the featured speaker for the annual College of Science lecture series April 15. Connie Woodhouse spoke with Leslie Tolbert, Regent’s professor emerita in Neuroscience at the University of Arizona.

Aquafornia news Northcoast Environmental Center

News release: NEC sues Humboldt County over Rolling Meadow Ranch cannabis project

CITIZENS for a SUSTAINABLE HUMBOLDT (CSH) and the NORTHCOAST ENVIRONMENTAL CENTER (NEC) have filed a lawsuit in the Humboldt County Superior Court, with claims under the California Environmental Quality, the State Planning and Zoning Law, and other laws, challenging the environmental review and permits approved by the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Despite second dry year, Newsom resists declaring a drought emergency

Despite bipartisan calls to declare a state of emergency over California’s deepening drought, Gov. Gavin Newsom sidestepped questions Tuesday about when he may issue a proclamation. The governor said his administration is talking with federal officials daily about the status of the state’s water supply after two years of minimal rainfall that have dried out much of California.

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Aquafornia news AgAlert

Opinion: Failure to prepare deepens the pain from dry years

It’s that time of year, when we find out it’s that kind of year. We appear at the doorstep of a “critically dry year,” and most reservoir levels are significantly below average. Those conditions bring painfully to mind the awful drought years of 2014 and 2015, and threaten water supplies for California farms and cities, and for the protected fish species that must also get by in these lean years.
-Written by Danny Merkley, director of water resources, and Chris Scheuring, senior counsel for the California Farm Bureau.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Southern California water agency looking to buy water during drought

With California in the throes of a second year of drought conditions, the mega-water agency of Southern California served notice Tuesday that it’s prepared to spend up to $44 million to buy water from Northern California to shore up its supplies. The board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves 19 million urban residents, authorized its staff to begin negotiating deals with water agencies north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, where supplies are generally more plentiful.

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Aquafornia news Poseidon Water

News release: California Court of Appeal upholds state lands commission approval of Huntington Beach seawater desalination plant

Poseidon Water announced that the Third District California Court of Appeal issued a decision denying the petition by seawater desalination opponents to overturn the Sacramento County Superior Court’s 2019 ruling upholding the California State Lands Commission’s 2017 approval of an amended lease for the proposed Huntington Beach Desalination Project (“Project”). The Court of Appeal decision reaffirms that the State Lands Commission correctly analyzed the Project under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and that the Project protects the state’s Public Trust resources.

Aquafornia news KOLD News 13

Extreme conditions now sparking drought contingency plan for first time

Extreme drought conditions throughout the West are lowering levels in the crucial water reservoir, Lake Mead. Scars of long years of low precipitation are hard to go unnoticed at Lake Mead, and the hot, dry summers have been felt for the last several years in Arizona. 2020 was especially dry, with little monsoon. Now, the West is in uncharted territory. Lake Mead is projected to drop by several feet this year, from elevation 1,083 to about 1,068, according to officials with the Central Arizona Project. The lake is hovering around 39 percent of its full capacity.

Aquafornia news New Mexico In Depth

A century of federal indifference left generations of Navajo homes without running water

[T]he 800 to 900 people in Tohatchi, and another 600 to 800 in Mexican Springs, eight miles to the west, all depend on a single well and single pump. If the pump running it fails, or if the water level in it drops — both issues that have troubled nearby Gallup this year — water will cut out for the homes, the head-start center, the schools, the clinic, the senior center, five churches, and the convenience store and gas station. … [T]he Navajo Nation has waited more than a century for pipes and water treatment plants that would bring drinking water to all of its people while watching nearby off-reservation cities and farms grow, swallowing up water from the Colorado River Basin that the tribe has a claim to.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Marina Coast water storage upgrade starts up, district adds new GM

A new $15 million Marina Coast Water District water storage project designed to increase water storage by more than 3 million gallons and replace a septuagenarian Army water tank and other aging infrastructure is moving forward as the district brings on a new general manager.

Aquafornia news Green Matters

Here’s how climate change has affected human health

Climate change affects our weather patterns, sea levels, wildlife populations, and global temperatures, but very few people understand the ramifications it’s had on the human population. Believe it or not, our food, water, and air quality have all been seriously affected by climate change, and as a result, climate change has affected human health in a number of dangerous and potentially deadly ways. … [D]roughts cause wildfires, which are contributing to air quality problems. We’ve already seen what the immense plumes of smoke created by wildfires can do to air quality in California and Australia. 

Aquafornia news KQED

California could phase out fracking, other oil drilling under bill headed for first test in legislature

Legislation that would gradually phase out fracking and other extraction methods that account for most of California’s petroleum production faces its first big test in Sacramento on Tuesday. The nine-member Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee is set to vote on a proposal, Senate Bill 467, that would bar new permits for hydraulic fracturing, cyclic steaming, steam flooding and water flooding. The legislation would begin taking effect in 2023 and also prohibit renewing existing permits for fracking and the other targeted methods, which a committee bill analysis says accounts for an estimated 80% to 95% of the state’s oil production.

Aquafornia news GV Wire

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Biden administration declares California drought disaster. What is Newsom waiting for?

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack designated 50 California counties as natural disaster areas last month because of the drought. And, over the weekend, Fresno Congressman Jim Costa said on KSEE-24’s Sunday Morning Matters program that Gov. Newsom should declare a statewide emergency because of the dangerously dry conditions. …Yet, Newsom… last week rejected a request from a bipartisan coalition of state lawmakers from the Valley to declare a statewide drought emergency. 

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Aquafornia news ABC7 San Francisco

Advocates protest at Point Reyes National Seashore after deaths of rare tule elk, demand removal of fence

Dozens of people gathered at Point Reyes National Seashore Saturday to protest after the deaths of more than 100 rare tule elk. Last week, the National Park Service announced 152 elk in a fenced preserve died in 2020 because of overpopulation and drought conditions. The drought has reduced the amount of water in the area, leading to limited access and malnutrition.

Aquafornia news Brookings

Opinion: Pot, water theft, and environmental harms in the US and Mexico

The government of Mexico is on the verge of legalizing cannabis for industrial, medical, and recreational purposes, legislation that would make Mexico only the third country to legalize all aspects of cannabis production and all types of the plant’s use. … Water theft in California is alleged to be frequently associated with legal and illegal cultivation of cannabis. It equally pervades legal and illegal cannabis cultivation in Oregon and Colorado. 
-Written by Vanda Felbob-Brown.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Join us for virtual open house May 6 on Big Day of Giving

Join us in early May for a virtual open house and happy hour event to meet our staff, learn how we pivoted last year amid the coronavirus pandemic and find out what we have planned for later this year to foster understanding of California’s most precious natural resource – water. During the May 6 open house from 4:30 to 6 p.m., you will be able to enter chatrooms and speak to our executive director and staff about our water tours, conferences, maps, publications and training programs for teachers and up-and-coming community leaders involved in water. You’ll also be able to learn more about how you can support our work.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Tensions rise in water battle along Oregon-California line

One of the worst droughts in memory in a massive agricultural region straddling the California-Oregon border could mean steep cuts to irrigation water for hundreds of farmers this summer to sustain endangered fish species critical to local tribes. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees water allocations in the federally owned Klamath Project, is expected to announce this week how the season’s water will be divvied up after delaying the decision a month.

Aquafornia news Sacramento News & Review

Delta tunnel authority changes leaders as Newsom fights the recall by turning to billionaire champions of the project

The little-known Joint Powers Authority charged with getting the embattled Delta tunnel across its finish line recently changed executive directors, marking an exit for Kathryn Mallon, who had stirred controversy for her exorbitant pay and alleged pressuring of a citizens advisory committee to work through the most dangerous part of the pandemic. Meanwhile, as California Governor Gavin Newsom begins campaigning against the effort to remove him from office, he’s soliciting huge donations from the same south-state barons of agriculture who have promoted the environmentally fraught tunnel concept for years.

Aquafornia news Forbes

Blog: Southern California water price jumps 48% in 3 weeks as rainy season disappoints

Californians received a double dose of not so happy water news last month; cutbacks were made to water allocations and a key water price index surged higher. … The state’s Department of Water Resources has wasted no time in sounding alarm bells; officials have already announced 50 percent cutbacks from December 2020’s projected water allotments to State Water Project allocations for the 2021 water year. California residents were warned “to plan for the impacts of limited water supplies this summer for agriculture as well as urban and rural water users.”

Aquafornia news CBS News

Monday Top of the Scroll: Western U.S. may be entering its most severe drought in modern history

[S]ome scientists [are] saying the region is on the precipice of permanent drought. That’s because in 2000, the Western U.S. entered the beginning of what scientists call a megadrought — the second worst in 1,200 years — triggered by a combination of a natural dry cycle and human-caused climate change. In the past 20 years, the two worst stretches of drought came in 2003 and 2013 — but what is happening right now appears to be the beginning stages of something even more severe. And as we head into the summer dry season, the stage is set for an escalation of extreme dry conditions, with widespread water restrictions expected and yet another dangerous fire season ahead.

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Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News release: Report offers first in-depth picture of California water systems struggling to provide safe drinking water

The State Water Resources Control Board announced the completion of its first-ever comprehensive look at California water systems that are struggling to provide safe drinking water to communities and how to help them. With criteria for the state’s Human Right to Water list recently expanded, the assessment identifies both failing water systems and those at risk of failing, offering the most indepth view of long-term drinking water safety the state has ever had.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation announces 2021 spring flow releases on the Trinity River as part of restoration program

The Bureau of Reclamation announced today that this year’s restoration flow schedule for the Trinity River will begin on April 16. Each year, the Trinity Management Council advances a flow schedule based on the expected amount of water available to support salmon restoration efforts on the Trinity River. Due to lack of precipitation and snowpack in the Trinity Mountains this winter, the flow schedule for 2021 is scaled to a critically dry water year. Critically dry is one of five water year types used by the Trinity River Restoration Program to decide how much reservoir water will be released in support of the program’s goals to improve habitat for anadromous fish—fish that migrate to fresh water from salt water to spawn—like salmon and steelhead.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Increasing groundwater salinity changes water and crop management over long timescales

Salinity has often become a major limit for irrigated agriculture in semi-arid regions, from ancient Mesopotamia to parts of California today. A previous blog post showed that conjunctive use with more saline groundwater can differ fundamentally from freshwater aquifers. Higher salinity limits groundwater use for irrigation during dry years, when less surface water is available to dilute groundwater salinity, and increases aquifer pumping in wetter years to avoid water-logging. Brackish groundwater can no longer serves as drought storage, but becomes a supplemental water supply in all years, limited by availability of fresh surface water for diluting salts. This greatly reduces groundwater’s ability to support permanent crops and increases variability in annual crop acreage across different water years, thus reducing profit.

Aquafornia news Santa Barbara News-Press

Goleta Water District to discuss partnership with Tesla

The Goleta Water District on Tuesday will discuss a resolution to enroll the district in an initiative program and to execute agreements with Tesla, Inc., for battery systems at the Corona Del Mar Water Treatment Plant and Ellwood Reservoir. Under the proposed agreement, Tesla would design, furnish, install, operate and maintain the battery systems through the California Public Utilities Commission Self-Generation Incentive Program. … The two battery systems, estimated to be currently worth approximately $1 million, will be owned by the district and provide emergency backup power during electrical outages and PSPS events, including approximately seven hours for Ellwood Reservoir and 8.3 hours for CDMWTP.

Aquafornia news KTLA

Las Vegas pushes to become first to ban ornamental grass in water conservation move

A desert city built on a reputation for excess and indulgence wants to become a model for restraint and conservation with a first-in-the-nation policy banning grass that nobody walks on. Las Vegas-area water officials have spent two decades trying to get people to replace thirsty greenery with desert plants, and now they’re asking the Nevada Legislature to outlaw roughly 40% of the turf that’s left. The Southern Nevada Water Authority estimates there are almost 8 square miles (21 square kilometers) of “nonfunctional turf” in the metro area — grass that no one ever walks on or otherwise uses in street medians, housing developments and office parks.

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Aquafornia news NBC 7 San Diego

The massive 5-million-gallon water tank you will never see

San Diego hiking enthusiasts might have to share part of their favorite trail with a cement mixer for the next year. The San Diego County Water Authority is building a massive 5-million-gallon concrete water storage tank, called a flow regulatory structure. You will never see it once it’s completed. One of the hiking trails in the northwest corner of Mission Trails Regional Park is closed and there are trail detours on other parts. … Construction began in February as the pandemic took over California. It’s expected to take another year to complete. As of Friday, more than a dozen concrete pillars were sticking up out of the ground like a building straight out of Ancient Rome.

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies

News release: ACWA testifies in support of climate resilience bond proposal with amendments

ACWA staff testified with a support-if-amended position on AB 1500 (E.Garcia) during an Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee hearing on April 8. The bill is one of two climate resilience bond proposals that are currently advancing through the state Legislature and could be headed for the June 2022 ballot. AB 1500 would create a $6.7 billion bond measure. ACWA, with input from the State Legislative Committee’s Bond Working Group, is requesting amendments to the bills to add funding for water-related climate resilience projects that help provide a reliable water supply during drought and flood. The amendments propose the bill include funding for conveyance, dam safety, groundwater protection and sustainable groundwater management, flood management, integrated regional water management and safe drinking water for disadvantaged communities, as well as water quality and water reuse and recycling.

Aquafornia news USC Viterbi School Of Engineering

Blog: Saving clean drinking water…with math!

Nearly every resident of California has experienced an earthquake. Even the youngest schoolchildren have the safety procedure drilled into them: duck under a table, hold on, and pray that it’s only a small one. Barring a truly catastrophic quake, the situation usually ends there. You go on with your day as if nothing had happened, the near catastrophe completely forgotten. Most people assume that the danger ends after the last remnants of the tremor share the ground. But there is a much more sinister side effect of earthquakes that affects daily life around California and much of the rest of the world: contaminating the groundwater supply. 

Aquafornia news UC San Diego News Center

New research: Scientists map “pulse” of groundwater flow through California’s Central Valley

Groundwater is a key resource for water users in California’s Central Valley, a major agricultural hub with an economic output of tens of billions of dollars annually. Surface deformation in the Central Valley has long been linked to changes in groundwater storage, but the timing and movement of water flow beneath the surface has been poorly understood due to a lack of reliable data. Now, for the first time, scientists at the University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and School of Global Policy and Strategy, as well as the U.S. Geological Survey are using advanced satellite data to map the “pulse” of groundwater flow through the San Joaquin Valley, the southern portion of the Central Valley.

Aquafornia news ABC10 

California slips further into drought status

The state is slipping further into more serious levels of drought as it enters the second year for dry conditions and the records the third driest rainy season on record. The US Drought Monitor has downgraded areas in far Northern California, the Central Coast, and Southern California to reflect recent drought data. The top level “Exceptional” (D4) drought remains at 5% in the Owens Valley and Mohave Desert. Extreme (D3) drought now covers 35% of the state, an increase from 32% last week. Most of the direct impacts from various stages of more severe drought impact agriculture and grazing areas. Many areas have only seen 50% of normal rain or less. Areas that receive snow have seen well below average snowpack levels.

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Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

In the West, signs in the snow warn that a 20-year drought will persist and intensify

Lack of monsoon rainfall last summer and spotty snowfall this winter combined to worsen the Western drought dramatically in the past year, and spring snowmelt won’t bring much relief. Critical April 1 measurements of snow accumulations from mountain ranges across the region show that most streams and rivers will once again flow well below average levels this year, stressing ecosystems and farms and depleting key reservoirs that are already at dangerously low levels.  As the climate warms, it’s likely that drought conditions will worsen and persist across much of the West. Dry spells between downpours and blizzards are getting longer, and snowpack in the mountains is starting to melt during winter, new research shows. 

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Aquafornia news Valley News

Rancho Water receives $3.5M grant for Vail Dam rehabilitation 

The Rancho California Water District received a nearly $3.5 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency which will fund up to 75% of Phase 1 of the Vail Dam Hazard Mitigation Project. Phase 1 has already begun and includes pre-construction activities such as design, environmental compliance and permitting to upgrade the dam at Vail Lake, located east of Temecula. Vail Lake, a reservoir with water storage capacity of approximately 45,000 acre-feet or 14.7 billion gallons of water, was acquired by Rancho Water in 1978 and is an component of Rancho’s diversified water supply portfolio for providing water supplies to over 150,000 urban and agricultural water users in the cities of Temecula and Murrieta, and the surrounding areas. 

Aquafornia news Patch

City of St. Helena fails drinking water standard

The city of St. Helena’s water system recently failed a drinking water standard, city officials said Thursday evening. … The city routinely monitors its distribution system for the presence of drinking water contaminants. Testing results received for Nov. 10, 2020, and March 9, 2021, showed the system exceeded the standard or maximum contaminant level —MCL — for haloacetic acids, or HAA, [Jo Ann Burkman, acting chief operator for the city's water division] said. The standard MCL for haloacetic acids is 60 ug/L; the running annual average for the LSWTP Distribution System in the fourth quarter of 2020 measured 68 ug/L…

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Updated Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project hot off the press

Our Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project has just been updated to reflect the latest developments affecting California’s largest surface water delivery system. The 24-page guide explores the history of the Central Valley Project, from its roots as a state water project that stalled amid the Great Depression to its development as a federal project that stretches from Shasta Dam in far Northern California to Bakersfield in the southern San Joaquin Valley. 

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Markets, water availability prove key in land values

Despite market unknowns created by the pandemic and lower commodity prices, California agricultural land values remained largely stable, an indication buyers have confidence in the long-term land market in the state: This was a key takeaway from a virtual business conference held by the California Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. The conference also discussed impacts of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act on California land values. Even though record supplies of the state’s highest-value crops led to lower prices for farmers last year, appraisers said the softer prices also helped move those products. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: California needs comprehensive groundwater management

While California’s landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act promised comprehensive protection of the state’s groundwater, significant gaps remain in its coverage.  The Department of Water Resources now has an opportunity to reduce or eliminate those gaps and should seize the moment. We know all Californians will experience another year of water shortages and warmer, drier conditions that will require conservation and which are likely to fuel destructive wildfires in our forests and around our communities. We are all in this together. Groundwater is critical for California, particularly in dry years when it provides up to 60% of the water supply for farms and people. 
-Written by Jeanette Howard, director of The Nature Conservancy’s freshwater science team; Melissa M. Rohde, a groundwater scientist at The Nature Conservancy; and Barton H. Thompson, senior fellow of the Woods Institute for the Environment, and faculty director of Water in the West at Stanford University.

Aquafornia news BBC News

The water fight over the shrinking Colorado River

Scientists have been predicting for years that the Colorado River would continue to deplete due to global warming and increased water demands, but according to new studies it’s looking worse than they thought. That worries rancher Marsha Daughenbaugh, 68, of Steamboat Springs, who relies on the water from the Colorado River to grow feed for her cattle. … Recent reports show that the river’s water flows were down 20% in 2000 and by 2050 that number is estimated to more than double.

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Aquafornia news ABC30 Action News

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California legislators want Gov. Newsom to declare state of emergency over water ‘crisis’

California’s hottest commodity could become even more scarce as state and federal officials announce water cutbacks on the brink of another drought. Now, state legislators are banding together to ask Governor Newsom to declare a state of emergency amid what they call a water crisis. … [State Senator Andreas] Borgeas authored a letter alongside the Assembly agriculture committee chair and several other state lawmakers to send to the governor. This comes after the California Department of Water Resources announced a 5% allocation to farmers and growers in late March.

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Aquafornia news Cal Coast News

SLO County supervisors open the door to water banking

A barely-noticed action early in March by the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors likely has placed greater control of the region’s water supply in the hands of a few individuals and private water agencies. On a split 3-2, north-south vote, supervisors on March 3 approved an amendment to the county’s contract with the state of California for deliveries from the State Water Project (SWP). An approval that creates the opportunity, some say, for a controversial practice called “water banking.”

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Santa Cruz Water Department completes major water pipeline replacement

The City of Santa Cruz Water Department announced Tuesday the replacement of a major water pipeline, that diverts water from North Coast streams, has been completed. Less than a year after the $5 million project began, 520 feet of 1960s era steel water lines have been replaced by new ductile iron pipeline. Majors, Laguna, and Liddell creeks feed into the newly-upgraded line. Water from those streams are then delivered to the the Graham Hill Water Treatment Plant, before arriving at customers’ taps. … For a length of 220 feet, the water pipeline runs beneath the San Lorenzo River. That made the project technically challenging.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Q/A with Delta Conveyance Project Executive Director Tony Meyers

In the first episode in the Delta Conveyance Team Spotlight video series, [DWR] spoke with the project’s Executive Director Tony Meyers about his long and eventful career in engineering, including work on some of DWR’s most ambitious and significant infrastructure projects. In this excerpt, he reflects on the appeal of large-scale engineering projects and speaks about the importance of the Delta Conveyance Project in protecting the security of California’s water supply.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

SSJID, OID still waiting for federal approval of plan to help threatened fish & stressed farmers

OID and SSJID … have invested considerable money into improving salmon habitat on the Stanislaus River and as well as conservation measures aimed at reducing growers’ use of water — have proposed pushing the spring pulse flow from an anticipated 1,400 cfs at Vernalis to almost 3,000 cfs. … The SSJID and OID have also worked with the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority and State Water Contractors that may get only 5 percent of the water they need from the Bureau this year to purchase the [water] by diverting it once it enters the Delta.  

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Study: Climate change has made rainstorms more erratic, droughts much longer in U.S. West

Rainstorms grew more erratic and droughts much longer across most of the U.S. West over the past half-century as climate change warmed the planet, according to a sweeping government study released Tuesday that concludes the situation is worsening. The most dramatic changes were recorded in the desert Southwest, where the average dry period between rainstorms grew from about 30 days in the 1970s to 45 days between storms now, said Joel Biederman, a research hydrologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Southwest Watershed Research Center in Tucson, Arizona.

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Managing water for multiple benefits – Why spring diversions on the Sacramento River are important

As we begin spring in the Sacramento Valley, the region illuminates – we see the brown landscape turn verdant, and the Valley bustles with activity as people share the hope of a new year and collectively cultivate a shared vision in the region for a vibrant way of life. With the dry year in Northern California, the water resource managers are working overtime to carefully manage our precious water systems including rivers, streams, reservoirs and diversions to serve multiple benefits. To effectively do this, water resources must be managed in an efficient manner, with the same block of water often used to achieve several beneficial uses as it moves through the region’s waterways. 

Aquafornia news US Department of the Interior

News release: Robert Anderson nominated as solicitor of the Department of the Interior

Robert (Bob) Anderson’s nomination as Solicitor of the Department of the Interior was formally transmitted by the White House to the United States Senate today. Bob has served as Interior’s Principal Deputy Solicitor since January 20, 2021. … For 20 years, Bob was a law professor at the University of Washington and directed its Native American Law Center. He has been the Oneida Indian Nation Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School for the past twelve years. He is a co-author and editor of the leading federal Indian Law treatise, Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law, and is a co-author of a leading textbook on American Indian Law. He has extensive expertise and has published many articles in the fields of natural resources law, water law, and American Indian law.   

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Opinion – Are water wars about to boil?

Not counting long and ugly court battles, the two most likely solutions to California water wars are voluntary agreements or involuntary edicts. Our Modesto Bee Editorial Board long has favored voluntary agreements, or compromises negotiated mainly between local irrigation districts (representing our farmers) and state and federal officials. The other side, chiefly represented by environmental and fishing interests, would prefer that the California State Water Board simply take huge amounts of water from our Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers, mostly to benefit fish — what could be called involuntary edicts. 
-Written by Garth Stapley, The Modesto Bee’s opinion editor.

Aquafornia news Havasu News

Colorado River Indian Tribes will get $209K to stop water loss from irrigation canals

The Colorado River Indian Tribes will receive $209,000 for irrigation canal projects, Congressman Paul Gosar announced Tuesday. The federal funds were awarded by the U.S. Department of the Interior to help CRIT pay for canal lining. The project is intended to help stop water seepage from the canal. CRIT relies on the Colorado River as its primary source of water, and water conserved with help the Tribes meet existing demand during times of drought, Gosar said. The project will line nearly 4,000 feet of the earthen canal with a membrane covered in sprayed concrete. The stretch of canal has been identified as having the most significant seepage rate of all 232 miles of canals in the Colorado River Irrigation Project, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.

Aquafornia news Colorado State University

New research: Trees have unexpected impacts on water use in northern Colorado

Colorado’s water supply is under threat from climate change and population growth. Limiting outdoor use is an increasingly popular approach to conserving water, yet to implement effective conservation policies, utilities managers need a better understanding of local outdoor water consumption. … [Colorado State University’s Melissa McHale] said trees can provide long-term benefits even if they need to be watered directly when they are first planted. … The research team found that residential properties with a higher ratio of vegetation cover to lot size tended toward less water consumption. 

Aquafornia news The Hill

Third-driest year reported in California

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has marked 2021 as the third-driest water year, a period marked from October to March, on record for the Golden State, potentially setting up another deadly wildfire season after last year’s record setting blazes. The department’s annual snow survey released this month recorded precipitation levels at 50 percent the annual average for the water year.  The dry conditions can also be seen in the state’s water supply, with the department reporting that California’s major reservoirs are at just 50 percent of overall capacity.

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Aquafornia news Ingrained

Podcast: Moving forward in a dry year

Tractors are working ground in the Sacramento Valley, as the 2021 rice season is underway. Whether it’s farmers, those in cities or for the environment, this year will pose challenges due to less than ideal rain and snowfall during the fall and winter. Jon Munger At Montna Farms near Yuba City, Vice President of Operations Jon Munger said they expect to plant about one-third less rice this year, based on water cutbacks. As water is always a precious resource in this state, rice growers work hard to be as efficient as they can. Fields are precisely leveled and will be flooded with just five-inches of water during the growing season. Rice is grown in heavy clay soils, which act like a bathtub to hold water in place. High-tech planting and harvest equipment also help California rice farms and mills operate at peak efficiency.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

CA Water Commission: Ensuring the reliability of the State Water Project, Part 1: Strategic Priorities and Programs

One of the California Water Commission’s statutory responsibilities is to conduct an annual review of the construction and operation of the State Water Project and make a report on its findings to the Department of Water Resources and the Legislature, with any recommendations it may have.  Having just finished the 2020 State Water Project review, the Commission has launched its 2021 State Water Project review with a theme focused on creating a resilient State Water Project by addressing climate change and aging infrastructure to provide multiple benefits for California. 

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Vegas water agency asks lawmakers to ban ornamental grass

Las Vegas water officials want state lawmakers to require the removal of thirsty grass landscaping that isn’t used for recreation. Southern Nevada Water Authority lobbyist Andy Belanger told lawmakers Monday that climate change and growth in the Las Vegas area would require communities to take more significant measures to conserve water. The agency estimates that more than 5,000 acres of “nonfunctional turf” — grass not used for recreational activities like golf, youth sports or dog-walking — is spread throughout the region.

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Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

More water spending sought for West in infrastructure bill

As drought worsens in the West, a coalition of more than 200 farm and water organizations from 15 states that has been pushing to fix the region’s crumbling canals and reservoirs is complaining that President Joe Biden’s new infrastructure proposal doesn’t provide enough funding for above- or below-ground storage.

Aquafornia news University of Colorado Boulder

New research: Increased winter snowmelt threatens western water resources

More snow is melting during winter across the West, a concerning trend that could impact everything from ski conditions to fire danger and agriculture, according to a new CU Boulder analysis of 40 years of data. Researchers found that since the late 1970s, winter’s boundary with spring has been slowly disappearing, with one-third of 1,065 snow measurement stations from the Mexican border to the Alaskan Arctic recording increasing winter snowmelt…. Their new findings, published in Nature Climate Change, have important implications for water resource planning…

Aquafornia news Antelope Valley Press

LaMoreaux tapped for Palmdale Water District Authority

The general manager for a local water utility company joined the Board for the Delta Conveyance Design Authority. Palmdale Water District announced on Monday that Dennis LaMoreaux has been appointed as an alternate director for the Authority.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

As Colorado River drought deepens, Arizona prepares for water cutbacks

Unrelenting drought and years of rising temperatures due to climate change are pushing the long-overallocated Colorado River into new territory, setting the stage for the largest mandatory water cutbacks to date. Lake Mead, the biggest reservoir on the river, has declined dramatically over the past two decades and now stands at just 40% of its full capacity. This summer, it’s projected to fall to the lowest levels since it was filled in the 1930s following the construction of Hoover Dam. The reservoir near Las Vegas is approaching a threshold that is expected to trigger a first-ever shortage declaration by the federal government for next year, leading to substantial cuts in water deliveries to Arizona, Nevada and Mexico.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Kamala Harris visits Oakland to tout federal jobs plan

For the first time since her historic ascension as the nation’s first woman vice president, Kamala Harris returned to her native Oakland on Monday to promote the Biden administration’s ambitious proposal to rebuild the country’s infrastructure and create jobs…. Harris toured the East Bay Municipal Utility District’s water treatment plant, speaking to employees and touting the district as the kind of operation that should be emulated. …. Harris highlighted the water portion of the [Biden] plan, saying the goal is to invest in jobs that can build up, replace and modernize water infrastructure — all with the goal of getting clean drinking water to everyone.

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Nevada farmers and conservationists balk at “water banking,” an idea also being weighed in Colorado

Rural water users are panicking over a proposal to create a market for the sale and purchase of water rights in Nevada, unconvinced by arguments that the concept would encourage conservation. Lawmakers on Monday weighed whether so-called “water banking” would be preferable to prevailing water law doctrines that govern surface and groundwater rights disputes in the driest state in the U.S. A legislative hearing about two proposals to allow water rights holders to sell their entitlements pitted state water bureaucrats against a coalition of farmers, conservationists and rural officials. 

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California is on the brink of drought – again. Is it ready?

California is at the edge of another protracted drought, just a few years after one of the worst dry spells in state history left poor and rural communities without well water, triggered major water restrictions in cities, forced farmers to idle their fields, killed millions of trees, and fueled devastating megafires. … Just four years since the state’s last drought emergency, experts and advocates say the state isn’t ready to cope with what could be months and possibly years of drought to come.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

A battle over water comes to a sweet end

Nearly five years ago we brought you the story of a little town an hour south of the Oregon border that was doing battle with a big timber company over who owned the rights to a pristine spring that gurgles in the shadows of Mount Shasta, the majestic snow-capped dormant volcano. After $1.5 million in legal fees and countless hours of argument and activism, the City Council of that town, Weed, Calif., recently approved a deal securing use of the water in perpetuity. It was a David-over-Goliath victory for Weed, population 2,700. 

Aquafornia news The Daily Beast

The next time you’re out West, you might see clouds on steroids

The idea of cloud seeding and weather modification has been around since 1940. There were federally funded programs in the 1960s—one named Project Skywater that ultimately had mixed results. In the 1970s and 1980s, the US government began experimenting on how weather modification could be used as a war tool. But outside of ski resorts like Vail, where the technology is used to help increase snow during snowstorms, interest in cloud seeding largely dropped off. … According to the North American Weather Modification Council, there are currently several projects being run in California, Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, Utah, among other states with a project here or there.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Podcast: Jeff Kightlinger

In this episode John Howard and Tim Foster welcomed the longtime but soon-to-be-retired Metropolitan Water District of Southern California head honcho Jeff Kightlinger for a wide-ranging discussion that covered the status of the Delta Tunnel Project, climate change and the snow survey, the drought, working from home, jukeboxes, his punk rock roots and Dan Walters‘ connection to the Zasu Pitts Memorial Orchestra. 

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation releases technical reports and interactive web tool supporting the 2021 SECURE water act report

The Bureau of Reclamation today released final technical reports supporting the Water Reliability in the West – 2021 SECURE Water Act Report. Reclamation—s 2021 West-Wide Climate and Hydrology Assessment and seven individual basin reports provide detailed information on climate change impacts and adaptation strategies to increase water supply reliability in the West. A new 2021 SECURE Report Web Portal is also available to provide a user-friendly, web-based format for delivery of information in the reports. 

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Newsom California fracking ban vision exceeds original scope

When Gov. Gavin Newsom voiced his support last year for a ban on hydraulic fracturing by oil and gas companies, an effort long fought by the industry and trade unions alike, he gave Democrats a green light to send him legislation to achieve that goal as they saw fit. But the crackdown on oil and gas production under consideration by the California Legislature is much wider in scope than the plan requested by the governor, who may get more than he bargained for as he shoulders the pressures of carrying out the state’s COVID-19 pandemic response while battling a looming recall election. The ambitious proposal would outlaw hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and a series of other oil extraction methods reviled by environmental activists. 

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: How California stands to benefit from Biden infrastructure proposal

Perhaps more than any other part of the country, California stands to benefit from the $2.2 trillion proposal introduced last week by President Biden…. the sweeping plan would inject huge sums of money into wider roads, faster internet, high-speed trains, charging stations for electric cars, airport terminals, upgraded water pipes and much more. … The infusion is being seen not only as the path to a long-overdue upgrade of the freeways, dams and aqueducts that have long been California’s hallmark but also as a way to scale up and export the state’s ambitious climate policies.

Aquafornia news The Weather Network

Another California drought in 2021 is possible, along with more wildfires

It was in 2016 that the state of California declared a four-year drought had finally come to an end. Now, in 2021, it could be entering another very dry season. It is in the winter season that folks on the West Coast welcome dreary days packed with cloud and rain. California usually sees the most rain and snow in the month of February. This year, however, was different: It was quite dry all of the winter season, and we can blame La Niña for this pattern. … Thirty per cent of California’s water supply comes from the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountain ranges and only 57 per cent of normal precipitation has fallen this season. This, coupled with lower than average snowpack for 2020 as well, could spell trouble down the road when it comes to water supply.

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Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

Colorado’s snowpack was almost normal this winter, but it may not be enough water for the year

The blizzard that dumped snow along the Front Range in March helped Colorado nearly reach its average snowpack for the winter, federal data shows. But last year’s historically dry weather means that streams are likely to run lower than normal, potentially restricting the amount of water some consumers can use, experts said… Areas east of the Continental Divide had above average snowpack, but the Colorado River Basin on the west was below average….

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Pure Water Monterey expansion SEIR revision work approved

A $230,000 revision of the Pure Water Monterey expansion project’s environmental review document will move forward after the Monterey One Water board approved the work earlier this week. At the same time, board members backing the study revision made it clear they wouldn’t support approving the recycled water expansion proposal itself until an outside funding source is available. On Monday, the Monterey One Water board voted 7-3 to approve the work needed to update a supplemental environmental impact report for the expansion proposal, including consultant contracts and a cost-sharing agreement with the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District whose board agreed last month to cover most of the revision’s cost. 

Aquafornia news Colorado Politics

Judge tosses challenge from environmental groups to halt Denver Water reservoir expansion

A federal judge has thrown out a legal action from multiple environmental organizations seeking to halt the expansion of a key Denver Water storage facility, citing no legal authority to address the challenge. … The expansion of Gross Reservoir in Boulder County is intended to provide additional water storage and safeguard against future shortfalls during droughts. The utility currently serves customers in Denver, Jefferson, Arapahoe, Douglas and Adams counties. In July 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave its approval for the design and construction of the reservoir’s expansion. The project would add 77,000 acre-feet of water storage and 131 feet to the dam’s height for the utility’s “North System” of water delivery.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Agencies: Arizona farmers should expect less water in 2022

State officials are putting farmers in south-central Arizona on notice that the continuing drought means a “substantial cut” in deliveries of Colorado River water is expected next year. A joint statement issued Friday by the state Department of Water Resources and the Central Arizona Project said an expected shortage declaration “will result in a substantial cut to Arizona’s share of the river, with reductions falling largely to central Arizona agricultural users.” The Central Arizona Project is an aqueduct system that delivers Colorado River water to users in central Arizona and southern Arizona, including farmers, cities and tribes.

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Aquafornia news ABC7 San Francisco

California Dreaming: Farmers, scientists sustainably getting by with less water

Water covers 71% of the earth’s surface, but only about 3% percent of it is fresh water, making it the planet’s most precious resource. But what do you do when water is in danger of going dry? California’s Central Valley is no stranger to drought, and because of that, farmers and scientists are joining forces to figure out how to get by with less.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Fact sheet: Access to safe drinking water

Although most residents have safe drinking water, more than 250 water systems serving 900,000 people were out of compliance with drinking water standards in 2020. This is a chronic issue for some systems; more than 170 have been out of compliance for three or more years. More than half of these noncompliant systems are in the San Joaquin Valley—California’s largest farming region and home to a third of the state’s low-income communities. Some tribal water systems face similar challenges. Data are lacking on water quality provided by roughly 1,500 very small, county-regulated water systems and more than 350,000 domestic wells, but some of these supplies may have chronic issues as well.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

UC Merced study imagines solar panels atop irrigation canals

Placing solar panels atop Central Valley canals could get the state halfway to its goal for climate-friendly power by 2030, a new study suggests. And the panels could reduce enough evaporation from the canals to irrigate about 50,000 acres, the researchers said. They are from the Merced and Santa Cruz campuses of the University of California.  The idea has already drawn interest from the Turlock Irrigation District, as one of several options for boosting the solar part of its electricity supply.

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Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Deal to help fish threatened by federal agencies

Water releases designed to benefit the critical outmigration of juvenile salmon on the Stanislaus River as well as assist farms and communities along the west side of the San Joaquin Valley already starting to suffer the effects of two consecutive dry years is languishing in the federal bureaucracy. Up to 100,000 acre feet is proposed to be released that belongs to the South San Joaquin and Oakdale irrigation districts that would provide a critical impulse flow from April 15 to May 15. That water based on measurements at Vernalis south of Manteca where the Stanislaus River joins the San Joaquin River would significantly improve the survivability of the threatened salmon.

Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

Blog: Biden infrastructure plan – Water components

President Biden announced the first components of his proposed $2 trillion national infrastructure plan to rebuild failing, aging, and outdated water, energy, transportation, and communications systems. While the current information provides only the broadest outlines of his proposals, and the details will have to be worked out in specific legislation to be debated in Congress, it is clearly the most ambitious plan to have been put forward in many years.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Orange County Water District works to clean polluted groundwater from decades of manufacturing

Underneath Orange County is a hidden arterial highway that groundwater moves through before eventually finding its way into homes. More than 70% of the water served in Orange County is from groundwater. But some of that water has become contaminated from industrial manufacturing when harmful chemicals that weren’t properly disposed of seeped down into the ground. … The Orange County Water District is tasked with determining the extent of the pollution, and containing it before more drinking water wells need to be shut down and contaminants spread to the principal aquifer, which is directly pumped by production wells for drinking water.

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Aquafornia news The Times-Independent

State: Moab could safely use more water

Preliminary estimates from Utah’s Division of Water Rights show that the Spanish Valley Watershed, which includes Moab, can safely withdraw 50-100% more water than it currently uses each year. The range of uncertainty in part has to do with the difficulties that come with accounting for groundwater and in part from the range of possibilities in how much climate change affects water availability in the valley. State Engineer Teresa Wilhelmsen praised research by the U.S. Geological Survey that she said “provides a wealth of information on movement of water between the various components of the aquifer system” in Moab.

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Aquafornia news National Review

Opinion: Reform California’s water policies

As California emerged from a historically tough five-year drought in 2017, then-governor Jerry Brown signed two new laws that required local water agencies to limit water use to 55 gallons per person per day, with water-use allotments dropping to 50 gallons by 2030. Despite some misreporting to the contrary, these limits on individuals were not enforceable. Instead, the state imposed fines on districts that failed to meet the new targets. It was pretty clear what direction the state was taking: Since then, California has gone all in for extreme conservation measures that could eventually lead to rationing as water-use allotments drop. Unless something changes, it may be only a matter of time before such policies lead to personal restrictions on lawn-watering, car-washing, and even showering.
-Written by Steven Greenhut, the western-region director for the R Street Institute and a columnist for the Southern California News Group.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Delta lead scientist report: California’s rainy season is becoming shorter and sharper

At the March meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council, Dr. Laurel Larsen discussed a new research paper on the changing timing of precipitation during California’s wet season. … She began by noting that precipitation totals for this water year are now hovering at just around 50% of typical cumulative precipitation received by this time of year, and drought has become the main topic of discussion. … [T]he models used to project these future scenarios also suggest that even during normal years when the wet season delivers an average amount of precipitation, that precipitation will fall during a shorter amount of time, such that the rainy season is shorter and sharper.

Aquafornia news Galt Herald

Groundwater status, plan discussed at meeting

Seven agencies that have been working together to sustain the groundwater in the Cosumnes Subbasin, which includes the communities of Galt, Herald, Wilton and Rancho Murieta South, held a workshop March 24. The presentation was intended to help residents understand how groundwater will be used in the next two decades in the Cosumnes Subbasin. The group has until Jan. 31, 2022 to submit its plan to the state on how it intends to meet its target of replacing 20,000-acre feet per year (AFY) in underground basins called aquifers to sustain the groundwater. One of the takeaways from meeting is the plan will cost $2.25 million in the early years. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: Drought is back. But Southern California faces less pain than Northern California

Drought is returning to California as a second, consecutive parched winter draws to a close in the usually wet north, leaving the state’s major reservoirs half empty. But this latest period of prolonged dryness will probably play out very differently across this vast state. In Northern California, areas dependent on local supplies, such as Sonoma County, could be the hardest-hit. Central Valley growers have been told of steep cuts to upcoming water deliveries. Environmentalists too are warning of grave harm to native fish. Yet, hundreds of miles to the south, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California reports record amounts of reserves — enough to carry the state’s most populous region through this year and even next.

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Aquafornia news UC Irvine

Podcast: How drought and climate change threaten California’s water

Rain is scarce in much of California, and most of California’s people live in water-starved regions. And yet the state is, by some measures, the fifth largest economy in the world. How? Because during the last century, California has built a complex network of dams, pumps and canals to transport water from where it falls naturally to where people live. But climate change threatens to upend the delicate system that keeps farm fields green and household taps flowing. In this episode of the UCI Podcast, Nicola Ulibarri, an assistant professor of urban planning and public policy who is an expert on water resource management, discusses how droughts and floods have shaped California’s approach to water…

Aquafornia news Stanford University and The Nature Conservancy

Report: Mind the Gaps: The case for truly comprehensive sustainable groundwater management

On its face, SGMA appears to promise comprehensive groundwater management. The legislature sought to “provide for the sustainable management of groundwater basins”. SGMA therefore “applies to all groundwater basins in the state”…. DWR has ranked only 18 percent (94 out of 515) of Bulletin 118 groundwater basins as medium or high priority, although these basins account for virtually all of current groundwater pumping in the state. The result is a fragmented regulatory system that leaves significant gaps in the sustainable management of California’s groundwater.

Aquafornia news Mammoth Times

County scores win to keep Long Valley green – for now

The huge, lush green meadows that stretch between the S.R. 203 junction with U.S. 395 and Crowley Lake may seem like they have been there forever but in reality, their existence has been under threat for several years after the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power threatened to withdraw much of the water from the meadowlands a few years ago, stating it needed the water for its own uses. If implemented, the proposed ‘de-watering’ of much of the massive meadows would have turned them into sage and dust, destroying wildlife habitat, historic cattle grazing leases, the fishing habitat along Hot Creek and the Upper Owens River and much more. 

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Ag land values rely heavily on water availability

California agricultural land values that are rising and falling the most are doing so under the perception of water availability – no surprise there. This is putting farmland in the Fresno Irrigation District (FID) in a positive light as that agency has done a good job over the years managing conjunctive use of irrigation water.

Aquafornia news Latham & Watkins

Blog: California water law – Legal challenges of water supply assessments

Mark Twain is often credited with saying, “Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over.” This remains true in California, where drought conditions, climate change, and population growth throughout the state’s history have made water an increasingly valuable and regulated resource. The legal landscape involves complex questions related to water quality, water sustainability, and competing claims to water rights. One notable area of controversy involves the adequacy of water supply for new development projects.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

AQUAFORNIA BREAKING NEWS: Statewide snowpack well below normal as wet season winds down

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today conducted the fourth snow survey at the Phillips Station snow course. The manual survey recorded 49.5 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent (SWE) of 21 inches, which is 83 percent of average for this location. The SWE measures the amount of water contained in the snowpack and is a key component of DWR’s water supply forecast. Measurements from DWR’s electronic snow survey stations indicate that statewide the snowpack’s SWE is 16.5 inches, or 59 percent of average for the date. April 1 is typically when California’s snowpack is the deepest and has the highest SWE.

Aquafornia news Your Central Valley.com

Explaining California’s complex water system with emotion and storytelling

California has one of the most complex and complicated water systems in the nation. There are hundreds of water districts, different reservoirs and rivers and canals controlled by different jurisdictions, and lots of politically charged legislation.   Understanding this system is a difficult undertaking, but those at the Modesto Irrigation District believe they’re up to the task.   Through emotional storytelling and strong characters, the MID set out to explain how the rivers in their district nourish communities by talking to the men and women who depend on them. The interviews and stories eventually turned into a feature-length documentary called Until the Last Drop.