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.
Above-average temperatures in spring resulted in a paltry 57%
runoff, nowhere near enough water to refill the reservoirs that
remain half-empty. Based on these conditions, the U.S. Bureau
of Reclamation recently determined that 2021 will be a “tier
zero” year under the Lower Colorado River Basin Drought
Contingency Plan, with reduced water deliveries for Arizona,
Nevada, and Mexico.
While the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex deals
with one of its biggest botulism outbreaks in recent history,
emergency water deliveries from the Klamath Project have
prevented the situation from worsening. The waterborne
bacterial illness, which causes paralysis and often leads to
death, has impacted more than 15 percent of the molting birds
currently on Tule Lake’s main sump.
Simply updating costs to this latest estimate ($15.9 billion in
2020 dollars is equivalent to $15 billion in the 2017$) reduces
the benefit-cost ratio for State Water Project urban agencies
from 1.23 to 0.92, and for agricultural agencies from 1.17 to
0.87. That’s a bad investment, but it is actually much worse
Earlier this month, CSU-Fresno hosted the event “Funding Water
Infrastructure in the San Joaquin Valley.” The majority of the
event was focused on the so-called “Water Blueprint for the San
Joaquin Valley,” a high profile new investment plan for
irrigation water. At the event, the Blueprint rolled out a
proposed funding plan – the centerpiece of which is a proposed
0.5% special sales tax in the 8 counties of the San Joaquin
A main water pipeline in the San Lorenzo Valley was destroyed
by a wildfire burning in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties. The
San Lorenzo Valley Water District lost 4.5 million gallons of
water after this 5-mile long pipe melted from intense heat. The
district shut off its water supply throughout the Valley except
to Boulder Creek.
The San Diego County Water Authority announced Monday it is
partnering with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC
San Diego to better predict atmospheric rivers and improve
water management before, during and after those seasonal
storms. [The other affiliates are: Irvine Ranch Water District,
Orange County Water District, Sonoma Water, Turlock Irrigation
District, and Yuba Water Agency.]
A friend last week pointed out something remarkable. Arizona,
California, and Nevada are forecast this year to use just 6.8
million acre feet of their 7.5 million acre foot allocation of
water from the main stem of the Colorado River. And that’s not
just a one-off.
A new report issued today by the California Environmental
Protection Agency shows that at least half of California’s
landfill-bound food waste could be processed at the state’s
wastewater treatment plants and serve as an innovative power
Tunnel proponents say they do not expect to operate the tunnel
at capacity, and it would be in use mainly to draw from the
periodic storms that send more water through the Delta out to
San Francisco Bay. But how much would that be? The usual answer
is: we will leave that to the experts.
Brockovich’s new book … explores problems from
contaminated drinking water to water shortages due to climate
change. And as weighty as those issues may seem, she
also provides action steps for people concerned about
their own water and tells the empowering stories of many people
speaking up about water contamination in their communities.
There is some debate about what counts as water theft – or even
if it exists at all, as water is a natural resource that we all
have access to. But the team looked at three separate case
studies involving improper water use: growing marijuana in
California, strawberries in Spain, and cotton in Australia.
More than 100 people gathered in front of the Mayten Fire
Department in Montague Saturday morning to protest the trucking
of water from local wells, most likely to irrigate illegal
cannabis grows in the Big Springs and Mt. Shasta Vista areas.
Men and women from Native American tribes in Northern
California stood in a circle, alongside university students and
locals from around the town of Mariposa. … For the next two
days, the group would be carefully lighting fires in the
surrounding hills. Also sprinkled through the crowd were
officials from the state government, which a century ago had
largely prohibited California’s tribes from continuing their
ancient practice of controlled burns.
Most scientists in the field agree that sea levels should have
risen more than they did over most of the past century. In this
new effort, the researchers have taken another look at the
problem and suggest the reason for the discrepancies was water
being captured in reservoirs by dams.
California’s rivers and aquatic species are in trouble, but
restoration projects often get bogged down by lengthy
permitting processes. Sustainable Conservation has been at the
forefront of finding ways to speed up badly needed restoration
projects with improved permitting. We talked to Erika
Lovejoy—director of Sustainable Conservation’s Accelerating
Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge’s main open body of water,
Sump 1A, had been exceptionally low for weeks. The hot sun
baked the shallow water during the day, and warmer nighttime
temperatures ensured it stayed hot. Dormant bacteria awakened
on the lake’s fringe wetlands, carrying with them a paralyzing
and potentially fatal toxin. Beneath the cover of smoke began
the refuge’s worst botulism outbreak in years.
After months of relative quiet, Newsom’s administration
released a preliminary cost estimate for the scaled-back
project Friday: $15.9 billion for a single tunnel running
beneath the estuary just south of Sacramento. That’s nearly as
much as the old $16.7 billion price tag put on the larger,
Rick Aragon, assistant general manager of Rancho Water, said
that at the time of the first deferral, it was assumed that the
COVID-19 pandemic restrictions would be lessened by early fall
and that the board could reconsider rate increases. … Aragon
said the deferral would reduce the district’s revenue by more
than $858,000, but he said the district had a good fiscal year
Residents and small businesses in Visalia who were struggling,
even before the economic shut down of COVID-19 to make ends
meet, should be very concerned about a proposal the California
Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is considering that would
increase water bills for millions of Californians, including
low-income customers who use the least amount of water.
Kristen Averyt, PhD, is Nevada’s first State Climate Policy
Coordinator and offered a 42 minute presentation on climate
change and what it means for the environment and economics of
the Lake Tahoe Basin, region, and planet. On this edition of
the Wild Hare we take you on a tour of Dr. Averyt’s comments…
The basin replenishment fee was passed by the Indian Wells
Valley Groundwater Authority with a vote of four to one Friday
afternoon. IWV Water District Director Ron Kicinski was the
sole no vote. The IWVGA voted after the basin replenishment fee
protest hearing Friday failed. The IWVGA did not announce the
number of protest votes received…
The U.S. Geological Survey has operated mesocosm experiments in
Upper Klamath Lake each summer since 2014, placing groups of
juvenile suckers in netted cages dotted throughout the lake.
… The goal is to figure out what’s killing the young suckers
before they’re able to reach sexual maturity and support their
A statewide public effort to determine whether Coloradans
should engage in perhaps the biggest water conservation program
in state history — a Lake Powell drought contingency pool —
enters its second year of study this summer.
The harmful algal blooms at Big Bear Lake in San Bernardino
County and Lake Isabella in Kern County, which can appear to be
bright- to dull-green and sometimes looks like spilled paint,
can make people and animals sick. Water samples from both lakes
taken this month indicated the presence of algal organisms
With all permits in place, on Aug. 20 the Georgetown Divide
Public Utility District announced the State Water Resources
Control Board Division of Water Rights approved the temporary
transfer of up to 2,000 acre-feet of GDPUD’s water to the
Westlands Water District. The transfer of the water began Aug.
19 and is expected to continue until Sept. 23.
The California Public Utilities Commission assumed that
hydroelectric plants would provide as much as 8,000 megawatts
when demand peaked this summer. But that number appears to have
failed to take into account low water levels at many dams…
And those plants delivered only 5,514 megawatts last Friday,
according to the California Independent System Operator.
The snow along the mountains of Nevada’s Great Basin trickle
down when the spring turns into summer. This produces a flurry
of wildlife and natural resources in our area ponds, rivers,
and lakes. … Along the majestic Truckee River, fishermen
would collect thousands of trout from the late 1800’s to the
1900’s. Eventually, this would cause the near extinction of our
state’s native species, the Lahontan cutthroat trout.
Using Houston as a model, researchers at Rice’s Brown School of
Engineering have developed a plan that could reduce the need
for surface water (from rivers, reservoirs or wells) by 28% by
recycling wastewater to make it drinkable once again.
In the new study, researchers modeled the effects of rising sea
level along the entire California coastline. While results
varied with local topography, the study indicates rising sea
levels could push inland water tables higher, resulting in
damage to infrastructure and increased severity of flooding.
Nevada and Utah share more than borders. We share the coveted
and much-fought-over Colorado River. But it seems as if only
one state — Nevada — is doing the difficult work to protect our
most valuable resource
A single tunnel proposed to take water under the sensitive
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and deliver it to farms and cities
in the south could cost $15.9 billion, give or take, according
to an initial assessment discussed at the Delta Conveyance
Authority meeting on Thursday.
The National Ground Water Association (NGWA) has released two
new educational resources for private well owners concerning
per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). … Both resources
are available for a free download at NGWA.org/PFAS and
If Democrat Joe Biden wants to scrap the Trump administration’s
definition of which waters qualify for federal protection,
experts say he’ll face a heavy legal lift, lengthy rulemaking,
and an onslaught of opposition from industry, ranching and
California still hasn’t met habitat restoration and dust
suppression goals for the Salton Sea, the state’s largest lake
that has long been plagued by a shrinking coastline, rising
salinity numbers, insect infestations, and dying fish
populations. State Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot
acknowledged during a workshop Wednesday that “we’re coming
’The “Save Searles” campaign was launched Tuesday, three days
before the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority
public hearing on a controversial replenishment fee. The fee
would increase water costs for Searles Valley Minerals by
nearly $6 million a year, “pushing the company and the local
community towards extinction,” according to the campaign…
North Coast elected officials rang alarm bells Tuesday around
what the region’s congressional representative called a
“slow-walk” on the removal of four Klamath River dams that have
threatened fish populations and led to pollution.
The development of a groundwater sustainability plan has begun
and will help ensure we can manage the Carpinteria Groundwater
Basin sustainably, which is an important shared resource for
the Carpinteria Valley. In addition, the Carpinteria Advanced
Purification Project, now under development, will allow us to
diversify our water portfolio so that we can be resilient in
future periods of drought.
The proposed fee to be charged is $4.92 per acre foot of which
$1.61 would go to administration/overhead, $1.78 would go to
professional services, 65 cents would go to water accounting
and 88 cents would go to technical monitoring. The agency’s
budget for 2020-2021 is $1,519,210. The fee would fund $759,605
of the budget.
Last year, California passed a law establishing a fund for safe
and affordable drinking water. Using money from the state’s
cap-and-trade program, it allocates up to $130 million to
solutions each year for a decade.
The proposed replenishment fee is $2,130 per acre-foot of
extracted water. This represents a composite fee which covers
the estimated imported water purchase cost of $2,112 per
acre-foot extracted and $17.50 per acre-foot extracted for
estimated costs to mitigate shallow wells from overdraft
damage… This would work out to an estimated fee of $24 per
month for the average residential user…
The groundwater sustainability plans that were submitted to the
Department of Water Resources in January of 2020 were the first
of the groundwater sustainability plans to be completed. Public
review of these plans has revealed some important lessons to be
learned to be considered for those preparing the plans that
will be due in January of 2022.
We know there are ways to actively manage our Western forests
to improve water quality, provide for jobs, reduce the cost of
firefighting and increase forest resiliency. Now we have new
tools to assess how proper management of watershed vegetation
can increase water yield.
A study led by scientists at USC Dornsife College of Letters,
Arts and Sciences found that Earth’s dynamic atmosphere is a
wild card that plays a much bigger role than sea surface
temperatures, yet defies predictability, in the wet and dry
cycles that whipsaw the western states. The study was published
Aug. 7 in Science Advances.
The two agencies inked a partnership last year to undergo the
study, which will collect and analyze data on the water supply,
land uses, and groundwater flow over the mostly rural region
west of Highway 101—north to Lake Nacimiento and south to
Long-term fixes for the ever-shrinking Salton Sea remain
stalled as California Natural Resources Agency officials on
Wednesday revealed they have been unable to find an analyst to
study proposed solutions to a nearly two decades-old problem.
The State Water Board and environmental conservationists have
filed lawsuits against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
at the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals to protect the
Yuba and Bear river watersheds…
North Coast Congressmember Jared Huffman hosted a forum of the
Water, Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee he chairs Tuesday
afternoon, orchestrating a two-hour panel discussion focused on
the stalled agreement to remove four hydroelectric dams from
the ailing Klamath River.
The latest forecast from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation,
released last week, predicts that by the end of 2020, Lake
Mead, which furnishes Central Arizona Project water, will be at
1,085 feet elevation. While that’s 5 feet lower than the lake
stood at the end of 2019, it’s still 10 feet higher than the
water level that would trigger the first major shortage,
slicing more than 520,000 acre feet of water, roughly one-third
of the state’s total supply.
You may have never heard of John Vidovich, but his impact on
the day-to-day life of the average southern San Joaquin Valley
farmer is difficult to be understated. Vidovich is the owner of
Sandridge Partners, LP – a farmland investment firm that has
undertaken more than 100,000 acres of Valley farmland.
The current heatwave broiling Californians like no event in
decades is also elevating the risk for another potential
disaster in the weeks ahead: wildfires. … As a result of
climate change, California sees more than twice as many fall
days with “fire weather” as it did a generation ago.
Sonoma Water Engineer Chris Delaney led development of a
forecast informed reservoir operations (FIRO) decision support
system for Lake Mendocino… Center For Western Weather And
Water Extremes… A proof-of-concept model was originally
developed by Chris in 2015 as a personal research project, and
has been refined over the past 5 years with research and
The San Diego fairy shrimp, a miniscule, puddle-dwelling
crustacean that provides food for migrating birds, is nearing
extinction as humans continue to encroach on its wetlands
habitat. But a new approach to tracking the shrimp’s population
numbers may give conservationists a boost in protecting the
With up to $4,058,220 available, the program provides economic
incentives to landowners or lessees who agree to manage their
properties in accordance with a management plan developed
through a consultation with biologists from California
Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Comprehensive Wetland Habitat
Program for a two-year period.
The hopes of seeing those dams removed, hopes that burned so
bright four years ago when hundreds gathered in Requa near the
river’s mouth to announce a new removal agreement, have dimmed
considerably since a July 16 ruling by the Federal Energy
The well-written and informative article concerning Upper
Klamath Lake elevations and sucker populations omits a harsh
reality: For nearly 30 years, Klamath Project irrigators have
been presumed guilty and punished, even though there is no
evidence their use of water has anything to do with endangered
Running water had been guaranteed to about two-thirds of
Americans as hundreds of utilities suspended disconnections
amid warnings from public health experts that good hygiene,
particularly hand-washing, was crucial to curtailing the spread
of the virus. But now at least 115 local moratoriums on water
disconnections … have expired. That leaves 46 million or so
people at risk of having their taps turned off… [Note: The
story makes no reference to California.]
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released projections Friday that
suggest Lake Powell and Lake Mead will dip 16 feet and 5 feet,
respectively, in January from levels recorded a year earlier.
Despite the dip, Lake Mead would stay above the threshold that
triggers severe water cuts to cities and farms, giving
officials throughout the Southwest more time to prepare for the
future when the flow will slow.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. announced it will no longer be
conducting higher water flows for whitewater recreation on the
Feather River during the weekend of Aug. 22-23, saying in a
press release the cancellation came as a result of the COVID-19
Valley Water biologists will be rescuing federally threatened
Central California Coast Steelhead and other sensitive fish
from Coyote Creek next week and relocating them to a more
suitable environment in the Coyote watershed.
Water is the lifeblood of our region and there are immense
challenges to providing and maintaining a reliable and
resilient water supply for both farms and communities in the
Central Valley. As your congressional representatives, we’ve
been working together to bring resources back home to address
our collective needs.
To keep California City looking green and beautiful in addition
to saving money, the City Council approved a temporary
acre-foot water rate change. … City Staff is working with
Quad Knopf, a civil engineering company, to extensively review
water rates and have a water rate study completed the next few
The Hoopa Valley Tribe has filed a federal lawsuit to block the
U.S. Department of Interior from signing a water delivery
contract with an agribusiness in the Central Valley, an
agreement which would divert water out of the Trinity River
basin 400 miles away.
North Coast Rep. Jared Huffman will lead a live-streamed forum
that will examine the impacts of the Klamath Dams on tribes,
fisheries, the environment and downstream stakeholders on
Tuesday, Aug. 18 at 2 p.m.
The California Supreme Court ruled that water rates and other
local utility charges are considered “taxes” for the purpose of
California Constitution Article II, Section 9 and therefore
exempt from the referendum process.
Sea levels on the California coast could rise as much as seven
feet by 2100 and put tens of thousands of vulnerable San
Franciscans at risk of daily flooding, according to a new
report from the California State Legislative Analyst’s office.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies
have reached a $56.6 million settlement to assist in cleanup at
the Dual Site Groundwater Operable Unit of the Montrose
Chemical Corp. and Del Amo superfund sites.
As California continues to draw enormous amount of water from
the Colorado River, water utilities in California must begin to
consider the implications that media-driven fear over PFAS will
have on their liability if they continue to utilize water from
the Colorado River as a reserve resource.
Arizona, Nevada and Mexico will again receive less water from
the Colorado River next year under a set of agreements intended
to help boost the level of Lake Mead… The federal Bureau of
Reclamation released projections Friday showing that Lake Mead,
the nation’s largest reservoir, will be at levels next year
that continue to trigger moderate cutbacks in the two U.S.
states and Mexico.
A correct analysis of the state’s water supply is always
important, but especially during drought years. A new bill
introduced by Rep. Josh Harder and Sen. Dianne Feinstein on
Friday hopes to improve the state’s water management by
establishing an airborne snowpack observation program.
At the July meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council,
councilmembers heard briefings on the activities of the Delta
Protection Commission and the Delta Conservancy, and an update
on the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is expected to release
projections Friday that suggest Lake Powell and Lake Mead will
dip slightly in 2021. … Despite the dip, Lake Mead’s levels
are expected to stay above the threshold that triggers
mandatory water cuts to Arizona and Nevada, giving officials
throughout the Southwest more time to prepare for a future when
the flow will slow.
East Bay Municipal Utility District crews and first-responders
were at the scene of at least sixteen separate water main
breaks in two cities Wednesday night, affecting several hundred
customers, authorities said.
In what some have described as a cynical attempt by a U.S.
government agency to avoid a long-promised cleanup of toxic and
radioactive contaminants, NASA has nominated the Santa Susana
Field Laboratory for official listing as a traditional cultural
The new tool is a light fixture called an array mounted under a
working barge, which trolls the marina dousing the plants on
the bottom with UV-C light, a short-wave electromagnetic
radiation light that damages the DNA and cellular structure of
As the United States moves into the last weeks of
climatological summer, one- third of the country is
experiencing at least a moderate level of drought. Much of the
West is approaching severe drought, and New England has been
unusually dry and hot. An estimated 53 million people are
living in drought-affected areas.
The Ironhouse Sanitary District has released a video of how
residents of the City of Oakley and Bethel Island can utilize
the Recycled Water Fill Station. The station is open on
Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Recycled
water can be used for the irrigation of lawns, plants, trees,
and vegetable gardens.
A new report warns Kern County agriculture will face tough
challenges in the decades ahead as climate change makes
irrigation water scarcer and weather conditions more variable
and intense. The study concludes these hurdles “ultimately
challenge the ability to maximize production while ensuring
County staff took a sample of the water on Monday and shared it
with the state, whose biologist determined that insufficient
oxygen in the water resulted in an overnight event that killed
masses of non-native fish, said Ken Paglia, a Fish and Wildlife
The Navigable Waters Protection Rule … has redefined “waters
of the U.S.” (WOTUS) to restrict federal protection of
vulnerable waters. … Responding to this unprecedented
distortion of science and rollback in water protections, which
went into effect nationwide on 22 June, will require
coordinated efforts among scientists, lawmakers, and resource
The short answer is, the replenishment fee is a per-acre-foot
extraction fee proposed by the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater
Authority to pay for mitigation of registered shallow wells
damaged by continuing overdraft, as well as to begin importing
water necessary to balance the groundwater basin. A public
hearing regarding the fee is scheduled for 10 a.m. Aug. 21 at
If passed, the new program would promote water conservation and
make water bills more affordable and transparent for millions
of residents, benefitting both low-income customers and those
who use less water.
On Tuesday, the Bureau of Reclamation submitted the B.F. Sisk
Dam Safety of Dams Modification Report to Congress. This is
Reclamation’s largest project under the 1978 Safety of Dams
Act, and when complete, will modernize the structure to reduce
risk to water supply and downstream communities in an
After years marked by a historic statewide drought and
devastating floods around downtown San Jose, Santa Clara
County’s largest water provider has decided to ask voters to
approve a parcel tax to pay for a wide variety of projects,
from flood control to creek restoration, along with some costs
of rebuilding the county’s largest dam at Anderson Reservoir.
If built, it would … pump groundwater into four new
reservoirs … Tribal members and environmentalists say the
project would flood several miles of canyons sacred to the
Navajo; risk damaging cultural sites for several tribes; draw
vast amounts of critical groundwater; potentially harm habitats
for plants and animals, including some endangered species; and
risk adverse effects for waterways leading into the Grand
A National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit has
been granted to the city by the San Diego Regional Water
Quality Control Board to add purified water to Miramar
Reservoir for Phase 1 of the program.
Water-efficient succulents and nitrogen-fixing tree legumes may
take five to 12 years to produce their first nutritional
harvests. Nevertheless, they can produce more edible biomass
over a decade with far less water than that used by
conventional annual crops, while sequestering carbon into the
soil to mitigate climate change…
The California Advisory Committee on Salmon and Steelhead Trout
was re-established by the Legislature in 1983 in response to
public concern about declining populations of salmon and
steelhead. … At the July meeting, committee members received
an update on the Klamath dams, Matilija Dam, and the Potter
Valley Project dam removal projects.
The Bureau of Reclamation announced Wednesday a 30-day public
comment period for a 35-year contract renewal of the transfer
of operation, maintenance and replacement activities related to
Friant-Kern Canal and other associated works to the Friant
Like other environmental regulations, WOTUS was necessarily
complex and grounded in science. But the reason for it was
simple: keep U.S. waters clean. So what could be so bad about a
law to stop water pollution that the Trump administration would
decide to repeal it?
Every day Hyperion Water Treatment Plant discharges enough
treated wastewater into the ocean to fill the Rose Bowl 2.5
times over. Now a court has instructed state water officials to
analyze whether it is “wasteful” and “unreasonable” to dump
billions of gallons of wastewater into the sea.
A new proposal from the Department of Energy would change the
definition of a showerhead, essentially allowing different
components within the device to count as individual fixtures,
sidestepping requirements that allow no more than 2.5 gallons
to flow through per minute.
By the 2070s, climate change will reduce snowpack and increase
extreme rainfall in the Sierra Nevada and California’s
reservoirs will likely be overwhelmed. That’s according to a
new study by UCLA climate scientists, who predict that run-off
during so-called atmospheric rivers will increase by nearly 50
percent, leading to widespread flooding across the state.
A win for state water rights came earlier this month after the
Marion County Circuit Court ruled that the Bureau of
Reclamation cannot release water from Upper Klamath Lake for
flows down the Klamath River.
Supporters of an initiative to reduce plastic waste today
submitted more than 870,000 voter signatures to qualify the
Plastics Free California initiative for the ballot –
significantly more than the 623,212 signatures required.
The Los Angeles Superior Court issued a historic ruling, in
favor of Los Angeles Waterkeeper, that compels the State Water
Resources Control Board to analyze whether it is “wasteful” and
“unreasonable” to dump billions of gallons of wastewater
uselessly into the sea, when it could instead be used
productively to ensure the sustainability of California’s water
After timber harvest or fuel reduction thinning operations,
sediment delivery to nearby streams and waterways can increase,
potentially affecting water quality, drinking water supplies,
habitat, and recreational opportunities. To effectively reduce
these adverse effects of harvest, foresters first need to know
the precise causes of sediment increases.
In his Aug. 2 Herald commentary, Grant Leonard claimed that Cal
Am’s proposed Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project would be
a win-win for both Castroville, a disadvantaged community, and
Carmel, which is on the other side of the economic spectrum.
Some things challenge that claim.
Regional San’s landmark recycled water program—previously known
as the South County Ag Program—has been rebranded. Now known as
Harvest Water, the program will be one of the largest water
recycling projects in California and will deliver up to
50,000-acre feet per year of tertiary-treated recycled water to
an estimated 16,000 acres of farm and habitat lands in southern
Recent conditions across California over the past 3-5 weeks
have been pretty typical by mid-summer standards. …
California’s boon, however, has been Arizona’s misfortune: a
near-total failure of the North American Monsoon…
At the San Juan Bautista City Council meeting on July 14, City
Manager Don Reynolds presented a report on possible solutions
for water and waste treatment plant issues. For the first time
in 12 years, San Juan is nearing a resolution, though long
delays in approaching the problem have driven up costs.
A Lompoc religious nonprofit is accusing a Wyoming-based
organic farm and cannabis company of stealing water it uses to
grow food and blocking access to a well on a neighboring
parcel, despite a decades-old legal agreement allowing them to
do so, according to a lawsuit filed in Santa Barbara County
The loss in hydroelectric generation during the 2012-16 drought
cost PG&E and other California utilities about $5.5
billion, a new study says. As California’s climate becomes more
prone to severe droughts, the findings point to future costs
that utilities — and ultimately ratepayers — will likely be
forced to bear.
Completion of groundwater sustainability plans for California’s
most over-pumped basins was a major step toward bringing basins
into long-term balance, as mandated by the Sustainable
Groundwater Management Act. We talked to Trevor Joseph—the
first SGMA employee at the Department of Water Resources, and
now a member of a groundwater sustainability agency in the
Sacramento Valley—about next steps and possible pitfalls.
By the 2070s, global warming will increase extreme rainfall and
reduce snowfall in the Sierra Nevada, delivering a double
whammy that will likely overwhelm California’s reservoirs and
heighten the risk of flooding in much of the state, according
to a new study by UCLA climate scientists.
This cluster of counties on Colorado’s Western Slope — along
with three counties just across the border in eastern Utah —
has warmed more than 2 degrees Celsius, double the global
average. Spanning more than 30,000 square miles, it is the
largest 2C hot spot in the Lower 48, a Washington Post analysis
found. … The average flow of the Colorado River has declined
nearly 20 percent over the past century, half of which is
because of warming temperatures, scientists say.
The Regional Water Quality Control Board concluded three days
of hearings on the project’s next permit by telling Poseidon it
must return with a more robust, more detailed mitigation plan
to offset the environmental damage the project will cause.
Contaminated water has long plagued California’s Southern
Central Valley, a region home to many farmworkers. SB 974, a
bill by Senator Melissa Hurtado, seeks to provide safe drinking
water by exempting small disadvantaged communities from certain
FERC concluded that the nonprofit that was going to take
ownership of the dams didn’t have the experience or expertise
to oversee such a complicated project. PacifiCorp therefore
needed to stay on as co-licensee. But if PacifiCorp couldn’t
walk away clean, it lost a huge incentive for removing the dams
at all. It might just as well stick with the status quo.
We deserve complete, dependable information and accurate cost
data including well-reasoned analysis that demonstrates the
need and economic viability of the pipeline. Instead, studies
by the Utah Division of Water Resources and the Washington
County Water Conservancy District are biased, incomplete and do
not fairly consider feasible, much less costly alternatives.
Although only five of 41 groundwater sustainability plans
submitted to the Department of Water Resources for review in
January mention the human right to water, and only one of those
affirmed it as a consideration in their plan, these two
policies are closely related.
Due to local population growth and rising peak summer usage,
the West Valley Water District announced that it will expand
treatment capacity for the region by 16 million gallons per day
through the Oliver P. Roemer Water Filtration Facility
The decades-long battle over an effort to raise the height of
Shasta Dam took another turn Thursday when the Trump
Administration released a new environmental report on the plan,
just five years after completing a similar study.
Most Americans give little thought to water bills, paying them
on time and in full. But for a subset of homeowners and
renters, water debt is constant and menacing. The burden is an
extension of two notable national trends: the rising cost of
water service and the general precarity of those at the bottom
of the economic pecking order. A missed bill or faulty plumbing
can spell financial doom… Sophia Skoda, the chief
financial officer for East Bay Municipal Utility District, in
California, said that Congress needs “to step up to its
responsibility” to ensure that water and sewer service is
affordable for all people.
The City of Bakersfield is poised to ink a deal with Buena
Vista Water Storage District that will provide at least some
water in the riverbed through the main part of the city between
April and June — even in drier years.
The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association sued the EPA and the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers in May for bringing non-navigable,
small streams and wetlands under Clean Water Act protection in
the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. Judge Michael W. Mosman,
ruling from the bench on a preliminary injunction sought
against the water rule, dismissed the claims without prejudice.
Thousands of families who rent or own homes with private wells
are at risk of losing their drinking water in Madera, Fresno,
Tulare and Kings counties — and some already have. The Fresno
Bee is investigating the risks to private wells and proposed
solutions, and we need to hear your stories and your questions
to guide our reporting.
A California appellate court on Wednesday denied Imperial
Valley farmer Michael Abatti’s request for a rehearing in his
long-running legal fight with the Imperial Irrigation District
over control of Colorado River water. The decision could likely
spell the end to his legal challenges.
The Santa Barbara City Council unanimously passed a motion
Tuesday to introduce and subsequently adopt an ordinance
authorizing a grant funding agreement with the State Department
of Water Resources in the amount of $10 million for
reactivation of the Charles E. Meyer Desalination Plant.
The COVID-109 pandemic isn’t slowing work aimed at moving
arguably the most cantankerous water project ever proposed in
California since voters overwhelmingly rejected the Peripheral
Canal in 1982 — the Delta Tunnel Project. … The State
Department of Water Resources is currently preparing an
environmental impact report on the project. At the same time
they are also seeking all required state and federal approvals.
Last week at the Lindsay City Council’s July 28 meeting, city
services and planning director Michael Camarena presented a
feasibility study. He noted that the city’s water system has
been out of compliance with the Stage 2 disinfection byproduct
rule for total trihalomethanes and five haloacetic acid maximum
Crops require water to grow. By importing water-intensive
crops, countries essentially bring in a natural resource in the
form of virtual water. Agricultural virtual water is the amount
of water needed to grow a particular crop in a given region.
Now research led by scientists at PNNL has projected that the
volume of virtual water traded globally could triple by the end
of the century.
The study, conducted by the University of California, Berkeley,
examined 306,718 acres of California Rangeland Trust’s
conservation easements across the state to explore both the
environmental and monetary value of preserving California’s
Some have found fishing the L.A. River to be a peaceful respite
from COVID-19, political and social turmoil and malaise of all
flavors. Even those who have been fishing the river for years
say it’s a new experience amid the new normal.
The Emergency Assistance for Rural Water Systems Act allows
USDA Rural Development to provide affordable and sustainable
financial options for rural utilities impacted by COVID-19.
Assistance includes grants, zero percent loans, one percent
loans, principal and interest reduction, loan modifications and
direct operational assistance…
As early as Aug. 6, the California Public Utilities Commission
could vote to adopt a proposal that would eliminate a
best-practice regulatory tool – known as decoupling – that
currently removes the incentive of water suppliers to sell more
water. This significant change has the potential to hamper
water conservation efforts in California and raise rates for
millions of customers without providing them any corresponding
As Poseidon Water pursues the final government approvals needed
to build one of the country’s biggest seawater desalination
plants, the company still cannot definitively say who will buy
the 50 million gallons a day of drinking water it wants to
produce on the Orange County coast. That’s one of several
questions that continue to dog the $1-billion Huntington Beach
Failure to account for the long-term trend of declining per
capita water demand has led to routine overestimation of future
water demand. This can lead to unnecessary and costly
investment in unneeded infrastructure and new sources of
supply, higher costs, and adverse environmental impacts.
Funding for much needed repairs at least in the short-term for
the Friant-Kern Canal continues to move closer to becoming
reality. The House of Representatives last week passed H.R.
7617… Included in that minibus is $71 million for repairs to
the Friant-Kern Canal during the next fiscal year.
The Santa Barbara City Council voted 7-0 on Tuesday to accept a
$10 million grant — with the understanding that it will run the
plant at full capacity for at least 36 out of the next 40
years. Some environmentalists objected to the council’s
decision, citing environmental concerns.
As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb, guidance
around how to control the virus’s spread has become a steady
drumbeat: Wash your hands, wipe down surfaces, and stay home.
Implicit in these recommendations is the assumption that
households have safe and clean running water and indoor
Earlier this year, Reclamation released water from Upper
Klamath Lake — impounded by the Link River Dam in Klamath Falls
— to boost streamflows for coho salmon in the lower Klamath
River. But the Klamath Irrigation District sued, claiming the
bureau does not have an established right from the Oregon Water
Resources Department to use the stored water.
A rash of Folsom residents have reported tiny, pinhole-size
leaks appearing in their copper pipes in recent weeks, causing
in some cases thousands of dollars worth of water damage. City
officials and Sacramento-area plumbers are aware of the surge
in complaints, but are still trying to uncover the cause…
Deep beneath the surface of the Salton Sea, a shallow lake in
California’s Imperial County, sits an immense reserve of
critical metals that, if unlocked, could power the state’s
green economy for years to come. These naturally occurring
metals are dissolved in geothermal brine, a byproduct of
geothermal energy production.
Nearly 200,000 people were evacuated when the spillways failed
at Oroville Dam in 2017, an infrastructure disaster that cost
around a billion dollars to repair. Three years later
scientists say events that partially led to the incident could
become more frequent. It comes down to how and when snow and
The city of Bellflower wants to sell its aging water system to
a big for-profit water company that is better able to manage
it. But the deal could fall through. That’s because state
regulators say the price is so high, it could hurt water
customers across Southern California.
Through three governors, California has set a path to tear down
four aging dams on the Klamath River astride the Oregon border.
It would be the biggest such removal project in the nation,
done in the name of fish preservation, clean water flows and
political consensus. But the undertaking is hitting a snag, one
that Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to undo.
Toxic algal blooms have resulted in a “danger” advisory not to
go in the water at Prado Regional Park Lake and not to eat fish
from the lake. A similar advisory at part of Big Bear Lake has
been posted since last month.
In September 2018, Estela Escoto sat down with a team of
lawyers and community organizers and weighed her options.
Escoto’s town—Arvin, California—had just granted an oil
drilling and well-servicing company, Petro-Lud, a permit to
drill four new wells near a neighborhood densely packed with
young families and a park where children played soccer.
Environmental engineers at the University of California, Irvine
have developed a new framework for characterizing snow droughts
around the world. Using this tool to analyze conditions from
1980 to 2018, the researchers found a 28-percent increase in
the length of intensified snow-water deficits in the Western
United States during the second half of the study period.
The state is peppered with failing small water systems, many
serving low-income communities without the resources to repair
them. … That’s where the new Safe and Affordable Funding for
Equity and Resilience (SAFER) program comes in.
The grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of
Reclamation will be used for the desalter plant that will treat
brackish groundwater from the nearby Pleasant Valley
Groundwater Basin. The filtered water will account for 40% of
the city’s overall water supply once the facility is finished.
Regional water board member Kris Murray is on track later this
week to vote on a controversial desalination plant sponsored by
a company and interest groups she took money from during past
Among the projects, the bureau promises to update a 20-year-old
assessment of streamflows in the lower Klamath River for Coho
salmon and re-evaluate how water levels in Upper Klamath Lake
are affecting the survival of endangered sucker fish. Farmers
in the Klamath Project have long argued that flawed or outdated
science is chipping away at the amount of water they receive
each year to irrigate crops.
A nonprofit that developed low-cost handwashing stations for
the homeless population in California is teaming up with
community nonprofit Red Feather to bring this potentially
life-saving infrastructure to Native American communities.
Poseidon Resources wants to build a $1.4 billion desalination
plant near a power plant that is about to be shut down. They
say it could produce 50 million gallons of water per day,
enough for about 100,000 Orange County homes. Friday marked the
second day of hearings before the Santa Ana Regional Water
Quality Control Board. Its approval is needed for the plant to
discharge salty brine left over from the treated water.
Both the Tubbs and Camp fires destroyed fire hydrants, water
pipes and meter boxes. Water leaks and ruptured hydrants were
common. … After the fires passed, testing ultimately revealed
widespread hazardous drinking water contamination. Evidence
suggests that the toxic chemicals originated from a combination
of burning vegetation, structures and plastic materials.
Droughts are common in California. The drought of 2012-2016 had
no less precipitation and was no longer than previous
historical droughts, but came with record high temperatures and
low snowpack, which worsened many drought impacts.
After hearings this week for one of two remaining major permits
needed for the project, several members of the Regional Water
Quality Control Board indicated they were dissatisfied with the
proposed mitigation for the larvae and other small marine life
that would die as a result of the plant’s ocean intake pipes.
The district’s spring groundwater monitoring program, using 55
public and private wells, found that the levels rose 3-to-18
feet in each storage area of the basin since last year. That’s
progress, but still far below historic wet weather levels,
groundwater specialist Nick Kunstek said.
With a new water supply delayed by state regulatory agencies
and political infighting, the Monterey Peninsula Water
Management District board has asked the state water board not
to impose Carmel River water reductions due to an inevitable
violation of an approaching river cutback order milestone…
The water level at Folsom Lake is dropping by nearly half a
foot each day, and soon boaters who rent a slip at Folsom Lake
Marina will have pull their boats out. Marina managers told the
tenants they should plan on removing their boats from the water
by around Aug. 16…
Four years after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers upgraded the
flood risk for the Whittier Narrows Dam from high urgency to
very high urgency, the U,S. House of Representatives on Friday
approved a budget package that included nearly $385 million to
fix the dam.
The newly passed Drought Contingency Plan spurred additional
conservation and left more water in the lake. An unusually wet
year also helped, because it allowed states to fall back on
other supplies. But the fundamental problem remains: The river
still isn’t producing the amount of water we use in a typical
year. We’re still draining the mighty Colorado.
Groundwater recharge projects already play an important role in
California. That role is about to expand rapidly, as local
groundwater managers begin to take more concrete actions to
meet their responsibilities under California’s landmark
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
You may have noticed them on trips down the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta, small buildings, just 10 feet by 12 feet,
sticking up out of the water. Resembling sheds that you
typically see in a backyard; these buildings provide protection
for something slightly more important than the family gardening
tools and lawnmower.
Some Bakersfield residents’ water bills will be fundamentally
restructured, with big cost implications, if the California
Public Utilities Commission votes Thursday to end an experiment
that 12 years ago erased a financial incentive to sell people
In the midst of a hot July after late rains this season, the
outlook for reforesting on the ridge will depend on the efforts
of private landowners, local forest scientists say. With this
help, residents of the ridge could see a new type of forest
replace what was lost in the Camp Fire.
Summer energy demands driven higher as the COVID-19 pandemic
keeps more people at home could lead to more water flowing from
Glen Canyon Dam into the Colorado River. That could mean
rapidly changing conditions for rafters, anglers, hikers or
others on the river in Glen Canyon or the Grand Canyon,
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a final rule
to reduce lead in plumbing materials used in public water
systems, homes, schools and other facilities. This action marks
a significant milestone in implementing the Trump
Administration’s Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead
Exposures and Associated Health Impacts.
A Marin County Superior Court judge rejected a petition filed
by a group of San Geronimo residents and golfers to halt creek
restoration work in the former San Geronimo Golf Course. The
ten residents and golfers, known as the San Geronimo Heritage
Alliance, filed the lawsuit in July alleging the creek
restoration work is illegal.
The average annual flow of the Colorado River has decreased 19
percent compared to its 20th century average. Models predict
that by 2100, the river flow could fall as much as 55 percent.
The Colorado River, and the people it sustains, are in serious
Much needed work at Schafer Dam at Success Lake is finally set
to begin. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District
will begin construction to realign Avenue 146 and widen the
existing Tule River Spillway at Success Lake in Porterville on
For us, dam removal is absolutely necessary to restore our
struggling fisheries, maintain cultural practices, and provide
tribal members who struggle to make ends meet access to
traditional subsistence foods.
As part of Valley Water’s mission to provide flood protection
for our communities, we are continuously preparing for the
possibility of flooding. We must regularly keep our streams and
creeks well maintained to handle the rainy season and protect
the many species of wildlife that live there.
A 1997 guidance document from the White House Council on
Environmental Quality lays out best practices for FERC and
other agencies to address environmental justice as part of
reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act. The agency
isn’t legally required to act on its findings.
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today introduced the Border
Water Quality Restoration and Protection Act, a bill to reduce
pollution along the U.S.-Mexico border and improve the water
quality of the Tijuana and New rivers.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has appealed directly to investor Warren
Buffett to support demolishing four hydroelectric dams on a
river along the Oregon-California border to save salmon
populations that have dwindled to almost nothing.
The 20-year battle between seawater desalters and Orange County
environmentalists and community activists neared a turning
point Thursday, the first in a series of final public hearings
around a Huntington Beach desalination plant proposal before
local regulators. Hearings and public comments at the state
regional water board started Thursday, are continuing today…
The Bishop Paiute Tribe is experiencing low water pressure
reservation wide due to high water usage and minimal storage
and pumping capacity. … With temperatures rising, and more
community members staying home due to the COVID-19 pandemic,
water usage has gone up significantly.
The Environmental Justice for All Act would amend the Civil
Rights Act to … require federal agencies to consider health
effects that might compound over time when making permitting
decisions under the federal Clean Air and Clean Water acts.
The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s notice of an
upcoming public hearing on a basin replenishment fee has
attracted a lot of attention from water users in the valley,
but not everyone understands what the IWVGA is.
In a place like California’s San Joaquin Valley (SJV), Latinos
account for 70 percent of COVID-19 cases, even though they
represent 42 percent of the population. Improving access to
clean and affordable water even as the pandemic grows more
urgent, is critical to reducing the types of burdens worsened
by the COVID-19 crisis.
Long Beach’s financial future has been thrust into uncertainty
by the COVID-19 pandemic, but existing litigation over its
practice of charging city-run utilities to access rights of
ways could blow a nearly $20 million hole in future budgets if
the city loses a court appeal.
A legal battle with far-reaching consequences for industry and
ecosystems kicked off Wednesday with the filing of a federal
lawsuit over the Trump administration’s revamp of a
longstanding law that requires extensive environmental reviews
for road, industry and building projects.
All the static and dynamic forces from the land and rock above
start adding up and eventually that now-dry soil starts
compacting down and down. While this may not seem like a big
deal on a small scale, what we’ve seen in California (and other
parts of the world too) is the dropping of the surface
elevation over a period of years, often by hundreds of feet or
Studies by reliable independent organizations prove the
pipeline is unnecessary, risky and cost prohibitive. To counter
these fact-based findings, pipeline proponents rely on
misleading arguments, skewed data and fear in an attempt to
“sell” the pipeline to taxpayers and water users who are
unaware of the facts and place undue trust in government
The Delta Plan Interagency Implementation Committee is
comprised of high-ranking members of 18 state, federal, and
regional agencies… At the July 2020 committee meeting,
members heard presentations on the Central Valley Project
Improvement Act and the state’s new Incidental Take Permit and
how those programs utilize principles of ecosystem-based