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.
The California Fish Passage Forum brings together public and
private groups and agencies working to remove barriers to fish
passage. We get a quick lesson in the projects and progress of
the Forum in an interview with Chair Bob Pagliuco and
Coordinator Alicia Marrs.
Desperate to complete a historic but complicated dam removal on
the California-Oregon border, Gov. Gavin Newsom has appealed to
one of the world’s wealthiest men to keep the project on track:
financier Warren Buffett. Newsom dispatched a letter to Buffett
and two of his executives Wednesday urging them to support
removal of four hydroelectric dams on the lower Klamath
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
Following the Imperial Irrigation District’s recent win on a
monumental water case in California’s appellate court against
Michael Abatti, the water district is back in court filing the
opening brief against the other large water district is
Southern California, the Metropolitan Water District.
In response to Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt and
Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman’s recent visit with
Klamath Basin ranchers, farmers, tribes and community
officials, Reclamation is launching a new science initiative to
inform Klamath Project operations.
Demonstrators in northern Mexico have burned several government
vehicles, blocked railway tracks and set afire a government
office and highway tollbooths to protest water payments to the
Forest-management actions such as mechanical thinning and
prescribed burns don’t just reduce the risk of severe wildfire
and promote forest health — these practices can also contribute
to significant increases in downstream water availability. New
research from UC Merced’s Sierra Nevada Research Institute
provides the tools to help estimate and verify those changes.
A Kern County water agency is facing a wall of opposition
against its plan to harvest up to 12,000 acre feet of water
from the South Fork of the Kern River above Lake Isabella and
bring it to valley farms and homeowners in northwest
A compilation of studies conducted between 1946 and 2018 show
that areas with high concentrations of lithium in public
drinking water had “correspondingly lower suicide rates,”
according to a news release. … The study was published Monday
in The British Journal of Psychiatry.
As schools prepare to reopen for in-person learning around the
country, the Water Quality Association offers general guidance
on bringing water treatment systems back online in buildings
that have been vacant or have seen little or no water use. The
guidelines are available on WQA’s website and were discussed in
detail during a May webinar.
Gov. Gavin Newsom released strategies Tuesday to improve
drinking water quality, revive a stalled multibillion-dollar
tunnel and build new dams. Newsom says the sweeping water
portfolio will help the Golden State prepare for global warming
by reinforcing outdated water infrastructure and reducing the
state’s reliance on groundwater during future droughts.
The coronavirus economic crash is tightening the financial vise
on utilities that supply water and sanitation across the
country, potentially putting water companies on the verge of
financial insolvency while millions of Americans struggle to
pay their utility bills.
While the city has suspended shutting off water accounts for
non-payment and has been working with its customers to set up
payment plans, more relief was needed. To help offset some of
the burdens of COVID-19, the Millbrae City Council voted
unanimously this month to defer the July 1, 2020, water rate
increase until January 1, 2021.
The U.S. National Science Foundation-funded study … found
that agrochemicals can increase transmission of the schistosome
worm in myriad ways: by directly affecting survival of the
waterborne parasite itself; by decimating aquatic predators
that feed on snails that carry the parasite; and by altering
the composition of algae in the water, which provides a major
food source for snails.
Nearly 230 wildlife species depend on Sacramento Valley rice
fields for food and a resting place, including the giant
gartersnake, a threatened species. Although it has “giant” in
its name, this creature is, at most, five-feet long. These
snakes are heavily dependent on rice fields for their survival;
having lost most of their earlier habitat – traditional
Each of the bills would provide funding for research and
development on PFAS remediation methods… But environmental
and public health advocates say the bills do not go far enough
to address PFAS contamination. They describe the measures as
lost opportunities to address PFAS pollution in a significant
Poseidon Water’s seawater desalination plant in Huntington
Beach, first proposed in 1998, could be getting closer to
beginning construction after more than two decades. The Santa
Ana Regional Water Board will hold online hearings this week
and decide whether to issue Poseidon a permit.
The community already beset by an environmental disaster is now
facing a pandemic of the worst proportions. Residents and
activists, who have long fought for more funding and pollution
mitigation, say the area was already at a steep disadvantage
for health care. Now the largely agrarian community has found
itself in the middle of a perfect storm of environmental
neglect, poverty, and the coronavirus.
Recharge is playing a growing role in maintaining groundwater
as an effective drought reserve and in slowing or reversing the
effects of years of unsustainable groundwater pumping. But
implementing recharge projects is not easy. Water managers face
a range of hurdles.
NEWS RELEASE: Governor Gavin Newsom today released a final
version of the Water Resilience Portfolio, the
Administration’s blueprint for equipping California to cope
with more extreme droughts and floods, rising
temperatures, declining fish populations, over-reliance on
groundwater and other challenges.
Some outside lawyers lauded the move for protecting against
excessive enforcement, while others warned that the policy
could let some polluters off easy. It’s the latest example of
the Trump administration setting new rules for federal
San Diego’s water utility is preparing to absorb a five percent
spike in rates this year despite cries from elected officials
to freeze costs during a global pandemic. Why? The blame often
gets passed up the proverbial pipeline.
Providing a reliable source of drinking water is a challenge
for many small water systems in the San Joaquin Valley, where
dropping groundwater levels, aging systems, and water quality
problems are acute. … We talked to Laura Ramos and Sarge
Green of Fresno State’s California Water Institute about this
On July 13, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gave the San
Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District a 30-year permit
to manage plans for the Upper Santa Ana River Wash, the final
step in the process. The plans cover an area of Redlands and
Highland generally west and south of Greenspot Road, east of
Alabama Street and north of the waterway’s bluffs.
President Trump made two nominations to the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission Monday, bowing to pressure from
Democratic lawmakers who have pushed to maintain the bipartisan
split in the commission.
NOAA has issued a La Nina Watch, which means a dry winter and
longer fire season are possible this year for Southern
California. This stems from colder water along the equator in
the Pacific which has a domino effect on other parts of the
After more than 20 years of developing plans for a Huntington
Beach desalination plant and winding its way through a
seemingly endless bureaucratic approval process, Poseidon Water
comes to a key juncture as the Regional Water Quality Control
Board votes on whether to grant a permit after hearings this
When it was measured last year, the clarity of the lake was
about 80 feet. … But, consider this, about 20 years ago, the
clarity of lake was 100 feet. That’s the trend scientists are
trying to reverse.
Species such as salmon, trout and giant catfish are vital not
just to the rivers and lakes in which they breed or feed but to
entire ecosystems. By swimming upstream, they transport
nutrients from the oceans and provide food for many land
animals, including bears, wolves and birds of prey.
New state grants totaling about $8 million will enhance fish
habitat on the Tuolumne River, and better connect west Modesto
residents to the waterway. The grants will continue efforts to
restore spawning areas and floodplains for salmon, trout and
other fish between La Grange and Modesto.
Feinstein’s Restoration of Essential Conveyance Act would
authorize $800 million in federal funding to repair critical
canals in the San Joaquin Valley damaged by land sinking from
overpumping of groundwater, known as subsidence, and for
Black and Latino Americans are twice as likely as White
Americans to live without running water. Take East Orosi, a
mostly Latino community surrounded by the fertile orchards of
California’s Central Valley. To look around you’d think that
water is pretty plentiful … and it is, for big agriculture. But
in a neighborhood where most of those who work those fields
live, there’s no central water main.
WaterWorks Park in Redding opened on June 5 in violation of
California’s coronavirus rules and “repeated direction” not to
do so, according to the Shasta County Health and Human Services
Agency. It has continued to operate since then — sparking a
nearly two-months long battle with health officials.
There are just 12 parking spots near Yankee Jim’s, a sliver of
crystal clear water on the North Fork American River, about 35
miles west of Lake Tahoe, but last weekend California State
Parks and Placer County authorities counted more than 300
vehicles parked near the rugged roads surrounding a one-way
bridge overhead. … Authorities said the scenic area has
exploded in popularity thanks to social media postings.
A report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
may result in the listing of PFOA under California’s
Proposition 65 as a carcinogen. Here’s what that could mean for
the explosion of litigation related to the chemical substance
throughout the country.
Zone 7 Water Agency directors authorized General Manager
Valerie Pryor to negotiate an agreement with Napa County’s
water division to buy some of its surplus water this year — a
move that could open doors for similar deals in the future. A
need to meet local water demand for the next few years prompted
Zone 7 to act at its regular meeting July 16.
The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission stated
its support once again for the fishery releases proposed by the
Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts. The action reaffirmed
FERC findings in February 2019 that dismissed pleas from
environmental and sport-fishing groups for much higher flows.
S. Craig Tucker, consultant to the Karuk Tribe, and Mike
Belchik, senior water policy analyst with the Yurok Tribe,
joins Scott Greacen (Friends of the Eel) and Tom Wheeler (EPIC)
for a spirited discussion on the new news about the state of
Yuba Water Agency’s Board of Directors Thursday authorized
staff to move forward with a new design of an estimated $225
million secondary spillway at New Bullards Bar Dam, marking an
important step forward for the agency’s largest project to
reduce flood risk since the dam was built.
The Third Appellate District has ruled that the State Water
Resources Control Board has the authority to issue temporary
emergency regulations and curtailment orders which establish
minimum flow requirements, regulate unreasonable use of water,
and protect threatened fish species during drought conditions.
What was extraordinary was the unusually deep snow recorded in
the northern Sierra Nevada mountains before the storm event.
Subsequently, several records were set for how much snowmelt
occurred during the atmospheric river. The melt took place
because of unusually warm and wet conditions, and it increased
water available for runoff by 37 percent over rain alone,
straining the capacity of California’s second-largest
At a meeting this month where the State Water Resources Control
Board adopted its first spending plan for what was supposed to
be a $130 million-a-year investment for the next decade,
Chairman Joaquin Esquivel acknowledged that the economic
downturn could set California back.
In 1961, Placer County voters overwhelmingly approved the sale
of bonds to finance construction of the Middle Fork American
River Hydroelectric Project (MFP). Nearly 60 years later, with
the bonds fully paid and financial reserves fully funded, the
first-ever distribution of net revenue from the MFP has been
The state of California, long derided for its failure to act in
the past, says it is now moving full-bore to address the Salton
Sea’s problems, with ambitious plans for wildlife habitat
expansion and dust suppression.
An algal bloom at Pyramid Lake in Los Angeles County has the
Department of Water Resources (DWR) warning the public not to
swim or participate in any other water-contact recreation or
sporting activities due to potential adverse health effects.
However, DWR said boating at the lake is still allowed.
Saturday and Sunday, PG&E will raise the water level on the
North Fork of the Feather River, which goes from Quincy to
Oroville. … But this year, it seems the whitewater levels —
thanks to the coronavirus — aren’t raising excitement.
A century ago, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta was a massive
wetland habitat. The construction of levees over the past 100
years has dried out these wetlands and converted them into
farmland, eliminating 95 percent of this important aquatic
habitat for fish. But scientists are finding out that given the
right conditions, nature can reclaim itself.
The issue is new to the Environmental Protection Agency’s
Office of Inspector General’s periodic list of top management
challenges facing the agency, underscoring its emergence as a
leading national concern. The OIG called on the agency to
strengthen its federal leadership role, continue to build an
environmental justice strategic plan, and consider the impact
of “all activities on environmental justice communities in
actions revoked and taken by the agency as a whole.”
With state and federal administrations fighting in court about
delta water operations—and with a pandemic and election year
both underway—work has slowed on voluntary agreements meant to
avoid severe cuts to northern San Joaquin Valley water
supplies. At issue is the first phase of a State Water
Resources Control Board plan for the Sacramento-San Joaquin
At the Groundwater Resources Association’s 3rd annual GSA
Summit, a panel reviewed how the process went for the
groundwater sustainability plans that were submitted to the
Department of Water Resources earlier this year, focusing on
four of the six sustainable management criteria: water levels,
water quality, land subsidence, and interconnected surface
According to a release issued by the Nature Conservancy, the
program provides an opportunity for growers to receive
financial compensation for recharging groundwater during the
course of normal farming operations on a variety of crops while
also providing critical wetland habitat for waterbirds
migrating along the Pacific Flyway.
The grim report by the Water Foundation, a charitable
organization based in California that is focused on clean,
reliable water for people and nature, predicts the groundwater
sustainability plans written by the various districts in the
San Joaquin Valley will not achieve what SGMA purports to do –
that is, sustainably manage groundwater resources.
Editors Note: The Water Foundation is not affiliated
with the Water Education Foundation.
On Wednesday, the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control
Board issued a staff report recommending approval of a
tentative order making amendments to and renewing its operating
permit first issued in 2006 for the proposed Huntington Beach
Ceres Imaging, an Oakland-based startup company, is one of
several high-tech aerial monitoring companies helping
California farmers, including those in Kern County, increase
their production, while decreasing their demand for water. It
is a logical marriage between agriculture and innovators in
California’s Silicon Valley.
For the past five years, Monty Currier, a California Department
of Fish and Wildlife environmental scientist, has been working
to rebuild the fishery at Mountain Meadows Reservoir after
the PG&E impoundment went dry in 2015 from the
combined effects of maintenance work and the drought. The
unfortunate fish kill presented Currier with something of a
As part of a settlement reached with fishing and environmental
groups, the California State Water Resources Control Board says
it will increase transparency and conduct heightened
evaluations when deciding water quality standards and flow
limits for the state’s critical waterways. …
Environmentalists celebrated the deal as a “landmark
settlement” that stands to boost protections for fish by
improving water quality in the Sacramento River and the San
The City of Oceanside was picked from among small agencies
throughout California as Recycled Water Agency of the Year for
its significant water recycling efforts. The city was
recognized with an Award of Excellence at WateReuse
California’s virtual conference earlier this summer.
Public support for proposed desalination plants in Huntington
Beach and Dana Point appears strong in two recent polls,
although opponents call the surveys biased and say neither poll
addresses key obstacles facing these very different projects.
Veronica Wunderlich is a Department of Water Resources senior
environmental scientist with a focus in herpetology – the study
of reptiles and amphibians. Below, Veronica discusses how she
got started in herpetology –she even had snakes as pets as a
kid, her current work, and how to translate a passion and
interest in wildlife into a career – “If you really love the
creatures you work with, you will never regret working with
Despite their brief existence … the pools, and the fairy
shrimp they harbor are an important feature of the new
preserve. The conservancy acquired Mountain Meadow Preserve, on
hilltops off of Interstate 15, about two years ago. At that
time, the 693-acre site was a deserted orchard, dotted with
dilapidated agricultural sheds and withered avocado groves.
On appeal, the court held that the District’s water allocation
methodology in the “equitable distribution plan” was reasonable
and not an abuse of discretion, and that Abatti and the other
farmers in IID only hold an interest in, or right to, water
Attorneys general in 20 states [including California] and the
District of Columbia sued the Trump administration on Tuesday,
alleging that new federal rules undermine their ability to
protect rivers, lakes and streams within their borders. They
say that new final rules issued last week by the Environmental
Protection Agency alter a practice dating back more than 30
years giving state governments the authority to review, block
or put conditions on federally permitted water projects.
A Sebastopol-based environmental group’s lawsuit against the
city of Vacaville in connection with hexavalent chromium found
in groundwater has failed in federal court, city officials
announced Tuesday. On Monday, Chief United States District
Judge Kimberly Mueller issued an order rejecting California
River Watch’s lawsuit regarding the safety of Vacaville’s water
A potential harmful algal bloom (HAB) has been identified at
New Melones Reservoir downstream of the log jam and Camp Nine
bridge in Calaveras County. … This is the first HAB
identified in Calaveras County this year, based on the state
HAB Incident Reports Map.
A water main break has caused major flooding on part of
southbound Highway 99 at 12th Avenue in Sacramento, California
Highway Patrol officials confirmed Monday evening. … Tim
Swanson, a spokesperson for the City of Sacramento, said the
break started as a leak that was expected to be repaired in the
The California State Water Resources Control Board (Board) has
adopted a definition for “microplastics” that will be used in
testing of drinking water… While this development is
currently focused on the testing of drinking water in
California, the Board and others expect that it will form the
basis of future efforts to quantify and address microplastics
in the environment.
Pumped storage hydropower (PSH) is a pretty simple technology.
… The effect is not to create energy. In fact, these
facilities are net consumers of energy. But by making renewable
energy available when it is most needed, PSH helps renewables
better match demand, reducing the need for gas on the grid.
Imperial Beach Mayor Pro Tem Paloma Aguirre joined Good Morning
San Diego to discuss a new report claiming that an audit done
by Baja California governor accuses big US companies of water
theft and contributed to raw sewage and hazardous pollutants
ending up in the Tijuana River.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Board
of Directors recently approved the East County Advanced Water
Purification Program for its Local Resources Program, providing
approximately $86 million in funding for this important water
A federal judge on Monday squashed environmentalists’ bid to
punish a Northern California city for delivering drinking water
tainted with the carcinogen that prompted the film “Erin
Brockovich.” The environmental group California River Watch
sued the city of Vacaville over its water supply in 2017,
claiming it was violating federal hazardous waste laws…
Legal scholars believe that the Lake Powell pipeline would
likely violate the 1922 Colorado River Compact as a
transfer of upper basin water (WY, UT, CO, NM) for lower basin
use (CA, NV, AZ). The lower basin has priority, and the compact
arguably prohibits transfers from the upper to lower basin
absent explicit congressional authorization
Four in five Americans served by a water utility (77 percent)
say the quality of their tap water is excellent or good,
although Black and Hispanic respondents report a lower level of
satisfaction, according to a survey conducted by Morning
Consult on behalf of the American Water Works Association
Looking at the water hyacinth’s lovely lavender flowers and
lush green leaves, it’s easy to see why it was brought here
from South America. But too much of a good thing can cause
trouble, and few things turn into “too much” as quickly as
water hyacinths (Eichhornia crassipes).
The muck, which resembles algae or another type of water
bacteria, has drawn the concern of a pond activist over the
potential effects a poisonous algal organism could have on the
animals that inhabit the pond in East Sacramento’s prized park.
Now the city of Sacramento and the California Water Board have
said they will examine the ominous algal globs.
The City of Lathrop wants to secure a permit that will allow
for the discharge of treated wastewater into the San Joaquin
River. And last week they agreed to spend more than $400,000 to
take steps towards achieving that longstanding goal.
The latest proposal would trim the budget by $2 billion and the
storage capacity by about 300,000 acre-feet, according to Jerry
Brown, the new executive director of the project. Sites would
use existing canals for conveyance rather than build new
pipelines. The plan also eliminates a pumped-storage system for
generating and storing energy during high flow events. He said
the business case for that element of the project “just didn’t
Local water users will pay higher groundwater extraction fees
to close the gap between estimated and actual costs associated
with the Groundwater Sustainability Plan required by
California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. The fee
increase was approved on Thursday by the Indian Wells Valley
Farmers once again clashed with Mexican military forces Sunday
to protest releases of water from a dam to repay a water debt
owed to the United States. … Under a 1944 treaty, Mexico owes
the United States about 415,000 acre-feet yearly that must be
paid by Oct. 24. Mexico has fallen badly behind in payments
from previous years and now has to quickly catch up on water
Four in five Americans served by a water utility (77%) say the
quality of their tap water is excellent or good, although Black
and Hispanic respondents report a lower level of satisfaction,
according to a survey conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of
the American Water Works Association (AWWA).
Out of sight and out of mind to most people, the Salton Sea in
California’s far southeast corner has challenged policymakers
and local agencies alike to save the desert lake from becoming
a fetid, hyper-saline water body inhospitable to wildlife and
surrounded by clouds of choking dust.
The Imperial Irrigation District and farmer Michael Abatti have
been locked in a years-long legal battle with as many twists as
the river over which it has been fought. The saga might finally
come to an end, though, after a California appellate court
handed down a ruling on Thursday that found IID is the rightful
manager of the portion of the Colorado River guaranteed to the
The country’s largest dam removal project was thrown into
question last week when federal regulators refused to let the
current owner fully transfer the impoundments to a nonprofit to
carry out the demolition.
“The people of Bakersfield need a flowing river — with water in
a thriving river parkway, quality of life in Bakersfield will
be significantly improved,” says the petition, posted recently
by local resident Jonathan Yates on Change.org.
While it’s fair to say that salmon and steelhead are dying the
death of a thousand cuts in the Eel River, Scott Dam is by far
the deepest and most damaging of these injuries. Dam removal
efforts from Maine to Washington State to here in California
have shown time and again that restoring access to historical
spawning grounds is key to rebounding fish populations.
After four years of review, FERC granted the transfer of the
license for the J.C. Boyle, Copco No. 1, Copco No. 2 and Iron
Gate dams (collectively known as the Lower Klamath Project) to
the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, a nonprofit that would
carry out the dam removal. But it requires PacifiCorp, the
utility that currently operates the dams, to remain on the
California stands on the cusp of getting critical SB 200 funds
flowing through communities that have waited too long for water
justice and are also among those hit hardest by COVID-19 and
the resulting economic loss and strain. Last week, the State
Water Board adopted its implementation plan for the fund, also
called the Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and
Resilience (SAFER) program.
On July 6, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency
that oversees the canal, finalized a feasibility report for
Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project.
Under section 4007 of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for
the Nation Act, the bureau’s report means up to 50% of the
total project costs can be requested from the U.S. Department
of the Interior and subsequently appropriated by Congress for
The owner of more than 2,000 idle oil wells in Southern
California declared bankruptcy this week, raising fears among
environmentalists that those wells might never be properly
sealed. … As those old wells sit idle and unsealed, they
present a potential pollution hazard to drinking water
underground and people living nearby.
Media coverage portrayed stakeholders as limited to major
economic interests, such as agriculture, the study found. And
while SGMA legislation requires disadvantaged communities to be
a stakeholder in all planning documents, such communities were
largely absent from newspaper reports.
The Anderson Reservoir in Morgan Hill held back by a 240-foot
dam built in 1950 could be rebuilt following the State
Assembly’s passage of AB 3005 in June. … The project would
cost about $576 million but still needs to pass through the
I look at Trinidad more like a watershed than simply a square
mile of streets, homes and businesses. We provide water to our
residents, to some customers in Westhaven, and need to be able
to consider new water requests holistically.
A five-year battle over plans to log in the remote Gualala
River flood plain has taken a big step up with a powerhouse
environmental group’s declaration to take the case to federal
court, alleging the commercial tree harvest would harm
protected fish, frogs and birds.
In separate actions Tuesday, Metropolitan’s Board of Directors
voted to provide $115 million to the San Diego County Water
Authority and its project partners for water produced by the
East County Advanced Water Purification Project in Santee and
the Escondido Filtration Reverse Osmosis Facility.
Earlier this year, the California Almond Board released a
report regarding the acreage of almond trees that have reached
bearing age and another with totals including young trees.
These reports paint a stark picture of an unsustainable
industry that threatens the Bay-Delta ecosystem and
California’s salmon fishing jobs.
As more people enjoy local trails this summer, they may notice
many of Valley Water’s percolation ponds in Santa Clara County
are empty and dry. There’s no reason to be alarmed. In fact,
the absence of water in many of the 100 percolation ponds owned
by Valley Water is a sign that our underground water basins are
mostly full and healthy.
An underground water-line leak that affected service to 23,000
Redlands residents has been stopped, with service restoration
possible for Thursday after repairs and tests are done.
Meanwhile, water pressure was at “acceptable” levels on
Wednesday, July 15, a city spokesman said.
Inserted where the meter connects to the service line, the
device cuts the flow of water into the home to a trickle.
Phoenix, which began using the devices in early March, only to
remove them a few weeks later once the pandemic happened,
believes it is the first U.S. utility to use flow restrictors
instead of shutting off water to households that are behind on
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman says
she’d like to see more cooperation from California officials as
talks aim to resolve a legal dispute over competing biological
opinions governing the management of their respective water
The Karuk Tribe is set to hold its World Renewal Ceremonies in
Six Rivers and Klamath national forests from July through late
September. In honor of these long-standing tribal traditions,
outsiders will be prohibited from entering the water or
launching watercraft during the ceremonies, the U.S. Forest
Service has announced in a press release.
Thousands of Redlands residents are being urged to cut their
water consumption and fill tubs and other containers for
emergency use as crews work to repair a major leak in the
city’s system, officials said Tuesday. The leak, which was
reported Monday and occurred in a 16-inch transmission line at
a pumping station near Ford Park, could spill as much as 5
million gallons of water a day…
Sustainability plans developed by groundwater sustainability
agencies outline how water users can restore depleted water
sources. But fights have arisen and disputes about the
reliability of those water sources have come to light.
The most apparent observation I had after developing the
comments was the substantial amount of work that has been
undertaken in the Sacramento Valley to complete habitat
projects and advance science for Chinook salmon recovery in the
last 5 years.
California’s state budget includes $47 million to help the
Salton Sea. The new budget was signed by Governor Newsom last
month. … News Channel 3’s Madison Weil spoke with Phil
Rosentrater, the executive director of the Salton Sea
Authority, to see how the new funds will be used.
Nearly 300 national, state and local organizations sent a
letter to Senate leaders Monday calling for the rejection of a
controversial bill that would coerce struggling communities
into selling off vital public water resources.
The “Guardians of the Reservoir” challenge seeks ideas to
remove or transport the amount of sediment building up in the
reservoirs, replacing available space for water storage, that
provide critical water supplies for the country. There will be
up to a total of $550,000 in cash prizes available for the
three-phase the competition.
To live in Colorado is to know drought. Since 2000, there has
been only one month-plus-long period (from late May to mid July
of 2019) when no drought has been desiccating the earth here.
Other than that, at least one part of the state has been in a
perpetual state of crisp.
The Imperial Irrigation District has filed its opening brief in
a case against the Metropolitan Water District of Southern
California that it launched last year in an attempt to halt the
implementation of the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan for
the Colorado River. IID wants to see it paused until the Salton
Sea is also considered.
The cost of buying cases of bottled water for cooking and
drinking is adding up for residents of Earlimart, where a
contaminated well became the main source of tap water for more
than 8,000 people there in late May. The State Water Resources
Control Board that is responsible for drinking water has a
program to provide financial assistance for bottled water to
help communities in crisis. It has not been available in
Earlimart — and it is unclear why.
Overtime pay at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
(LADWP) hit a record-high $258 million last year, up 90 percent
from 2013. … The average LADWP worker made $136,045 last
year, with a record-high 320 employees receiving overtime pay
of at least $100,000. That number is up over 1,000% from 2013
To those who opposed the dam, Glen Canyon Dam’s history reads
like an obituary about the loss of an incomparable sandstone
and water wonderland… Those on the other side of the issue
feel the dam has improved Glen Canyon – now providing greater
access to its breathtaking contrast of towering crimson
sandstone walls and vast expanses of crystal blue water.
The large and rapid variations in rainfall recorded in the LSC
stalagmites demonstrate that climate in Northern California is
sensitive to changes happening elsewhere in the world, and that
rainfall in this area may be capable of increasing or
decreasing in response to relatively small changes in global
For the past two decades, dams have been falling across the
United States in a bid to reverse a legacy of destruction of
fish and their habitat. … But in southwestern Washington, a
local flood control district is going against the flow by
proposing a major new dam on the Chehalis River. … The
Chehalis is a critical salmon stream and the largest river
system fully contained within the state’s boundaries.
The public last week had its first opportunity to pepper
officials with questions about the Lake Powell Pipeline’s
recently-released draft environmental impact statement, a
313-page document from the Bureau of Reclamation examining how
the controversial project could impact a myriad of resources in
To begin, what is arsenic? It is one of the basic chemical
elements found in the periodic table that shows its
relationship to other elements. Arsenic is dissolved from rocks
by water in areas that have groundwater pools. If you have
significant levels of arsenic in your water, it can cause
cancer, heart disease, diarrhea and affect your skin.
Imperial Irrigation District made the first notable follow-up
to its petition to hit the brakes on the Lower Basin Drought
Contingency Plan for the Colorado River with an opening brief
For most Californians, handwashing is a matter of turning on
their home faucet. And while it is no substitute for other
guidelines, handwashing is a surprisingly effective measure
against the coronavirus. Unfortunately, not everyone can
implement this public health guidance. The state’s homeless
population has difficulties, and so do residents with
Baja California’s new governor, Jaime Bonilla, says he is
battling to clean up widespread corruption that for years ate
away at the state’s water agency. Even Bonilla’s critics
acknowledge the corruption and the failing water system, which
results in frequent sewage spills that foul Tijuana and San
Reps. Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA-32) and Linda T. Sánchez
(D-CA-38) announced that the FY2021 Energy and Water
Appropriations bill is providing $384,900,000 as part of the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Dam Safety and Seepage Program.
While farmers lauded Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and
Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman’s historic
joint visit to the Klamath Basin on Thursday, area tribes
expressed concern that their perspective on water issues had
not been adequately heard.
With support from EDF, four UC Santa Barbara graduate students
have developed a new mapping tool for California’s Central
Valley to identify the best locations for groundwater recharge
to secure these bonus benefits. The tool, called Recharge for
Resilience, is available online and also can be downloaded by
users with more technical expertise.
A California environmental advocacy group urged the state’s air
pollution regulator and agriculture department to do more for
minority communities in an annual report card it published last
week. That report card, compiled by the California
Environmental Justice Alliance, issued environmental justice
grades to eight agencies, with a statewide C average.
Fadji Maina and Erica Siirila-Woodburn from Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratory explored how a watershed could be impacted
by wildfires. Specifically, the scientists investigated the
Cosumnes River watershed in California.
Researchers in the Grand Canyon now spend weeks at a time,
several times a year, monitoring humpback chub, which has
become central to an ecosystem science program with
implications for millions of westerners who rely on Colorado
The California Department of Water Resources has awarded more
than $15 million in grant funds to advance several regional
water projects in San Diego County, ranging from water
recycling and reuse to water conservation.
The Fremont Weir Adult Fish Passage Modification Project, which
began modified operations in January of 2019, successfully
allowed thousands of migrating fish to pass between the
Sacramento River and Yolo Bypass in its first year of
An independent audit of Baja California’s water agency alleges
that former employees of the utility colluded with
international corporations to defraud the state out of at least
$49.4 million… Local and international corporations —
including such well-known U.S. names as Coca-Cola, FedEx and
Walmart — for years took water for their Mexican factories,
retail stores and distribution centers without fully paying for
U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Bureau of
Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman promised to seek a
resolution to the decades-long water conflicts in the basin
after meeting with growers, local water officials and other
Pasadena conservationist groups secured a major victory on
Tuesday when the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
approved a settlement agreement, ending a protracted legal
battle centered on the removal of 1.7 million cubic yards of
sediment from the Devil’s Gate Dam and its potential
At the Groundwater Resources Association Third Annual
Groundwater Sustainability Agency Summit held online in June, a
panel of managers from four of the critically overdrafted
basins reflected on the hard work of developing and adopting a
groundwater sustainability plan.
Rollbacks of the Clean Water Act and the executive order to
suspend the National Environmental Policy Act are meant to save
costs and cut red tape. However, Jeremy Schewe, professional
wetland scientist, explains these efforts will ultimately lead
to far greater expense to business, society, and the planet,
especially when combined with the House proposed infrastructure
The streams and creeks that supply West Marin are running low
after the extraordinarily dry winter, and local water system
managers are sounding the alarm. The Bolinas Community Public
Utility District and North Marin Water District have already
imposed water-use reductions, and the Inverness Public Utility
District may do so later this month.
Don’t drink the water in the Del Monte area of Monterey, the
Monterey County Health Department and California American Water
announced this morning, Wednesday, July 8. A water main break
on Aguajito Road on Tuesday evening is the culprit, according
to notifications from Monterey County and California American
Residents in Earlimart, California, lost water service when a
50-year-old well on Mary Ann Avenue failed in late May. When it
came back on, the main source of drinking water for more than
8,000 residents became a well contaminated with a chemical from
banned pesticides. And most residents didn’t know. The Tulare
County town’s water system is failing, in a lot of ways.
South San Joaquin Valley farmers have a reason to celebrate
this week: Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives
appropriated $200 million to fix the Friant-Kern Canal. The
bill also includes funding to repair the Delta-Mendota Canal
and for two Northern California reservoirs.
A total of $83.9 million grant funding has been issued to
communities in San Diego, San Joaquin, Sacramento, Sierra and
Central Coast regions. The funding is aimed at supporting
projects to address infrastructure needs, depleted groundwater
levels, flood control issues, and other water issues of
U.S. District Court Judge Dale Drozd of the Eastern District of
California, who is based in Fresno, denied environmental
groups’ request for an injunction that would have required the
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the CVP, to reduce
water allocations as needed to manage water temperatures in the
Sacramento River below Shasta Dam. The groups sought more cold
water for spring- and winter-run chinook salmon.
Here at 12,000 feet on the Continental Divide, only vestiges of
the winter snowpack remain, scattered white patches that have
yet to melt and feed the upper Colorado River, 50 miles away.
That’s normal for mid-June in the Rockies. What’s unusual this
year is the speed at which the snow went. And with it went
hopes for a drought-free year in the Southwest.
American children whose homes rely on private wells for
drinking water are 25% more likely to have high lead levels in
their blood than those with access to regulated community water
services, according to new research.
California has just adopted an energy code specification for
grid-friendly and super-efficient water heaters that will help
decarbonize buildings and the electric grid while saving
Californians money on their utility bills.
After seven years of water restrictions over the Paso Robles
Groundwater Basin, San Luis Obispo County is redrawing the
basin’s boundaries, which will subject hundreds of new property
owners to a moratorium on irrigating and other rules.
A group of wildlife biologists in Northern California took
another step in the conservation effort of the threatened
Foothill yellow-legged frogs on June 30, releasing 115 of the
frogs into the Feather River in Plumas National Forest.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the release
marks the first release of captive-reared, Foothill
yellow-legged frogs into the wild.
In the ongoing struggle over management of water supplies in
the Sacramento-San Joaquin river system, farmers who rely on
deliveries from the federal Central Valley Project have earned
an initial victory from a federal judge, pending further legal
action later this year.
Global water consumption has increased almost fourfold in the
past 100 years, and many regions can only meet their water
demand thanks to essential contributions from mountain regions.
In 30 years, almost a quarter of the world’s lowland population
will strongly depend on runoff from the mountains.
Headwater forests are critical to California’s water supply, a
fact made plain by recent state funding
decisions…California’s water storage is concentrated in the
alpine snowpack that accumulates during the wet season and
releases water during the dry months. That snowpack is in
Before the end of 2026, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior will
develop new guidelines for the long-term management of
the Colorado River system. The seven Colorado River Basin
States are expected to play a leading role in the process to
develop those new guidelines. The process will take many
years and require multiple levels of discussion, negotiation
and coordination within Arizona and among the Basin states.
The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed massive health and economic
burdens on communities around the world, and no sector of
society is going untouched, including the vitally important
water sector. The full extent of impacts of the coronavirus
pandemic on the water sector are still emerging, but one area
that has come to the fore is the effect on municipal water
If you want to know what climate change means for California’s
water supply, consider the last two Februaries. In 126 years of
statewide record-keeping, you can’t find a drier February than
the one we just experienced. But February 2019 was the third
wettest on record. The extremes underscore how global warming
is exaggerating the year-to-year swings in California
precipitation, which is naturally the most variable in the
California American Water officials are defending the company’s
proposed desalination project in response to the Monterey
Peninsula Water Management District’s move last month to
formally oppose it at the Coastal Commission in favor of a
proposed recycled water expansion.
Signing off on a historic deal with its wealthiest — and
thirstiest — neighbor, the Santa Barbara City Council voted 6-0
to ship a supply of the city’s drinking water to Montecito
every year for the next 50 years, rain or shine.
Members of Oregon’s Congressional delegation announced that the
U.S. Senate has passed a “critically needed fix” to existing
law intended to provide drought relief for farmers and ranchers
in the Klamath Basin.
A recent analysis published in Nature found cattle to be one of
the major drivers of water shortages. Notably, it is because of
water used to grow crops that are fed to cows such as alfalfa
and hay. Across the US, cattle-feed crops, which end up as beef
and dairy products, account for 23% of all water consumption,
according to the report. In the Colorado River Basin, it is
More federal funds may be flowing to fix the Friant-Kern Canal.
On June 22, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) sent a
letter to Congress requesting $134 million for water storage
projects be funded through the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. More
than half of the funding, $71 million, was requested for
preconstruction and construction of the Friant-Kern Canal
Capacity Correction project.
“We are extremely alarmed by this proposal, especially during
this period of economic crisis,” wrote Carolyn Larson in a
letter to the Goleta Water District, protesting the rate hikes
voted in on June 23. Public outcry against the water rate
increase proposed by the district reached a fever pitch, but
ultimately too few protested to rescind the proposal
Get ready… here comes the true California water cycle: It
begins with headlines and quotes warning of pending disaster
based on what could, might, maybe, or possibly happen over the
state’s water infrastructure.
A major water source for the Valley is considerably more
drought resistant than previously thought. New research shows
the water that flows into the Salt and Verde rivers is four
times less sensitive to climate change than the Colorado River.
The amount and location of available terrestrial water is
changing worldwide. An international research team led by ETH
Zurich has now proved for the first time that human-induced
climate change is responsible for the changes observed in
available terrestrial water.
Experts are predicting another serious drought for California
and the western United States this summer, going as far to
portend a rare “megadrought.” Diminishing snow cover and an
extremely dry winter in the north are stoking fears and leaving
policymakers, farmers, businesses and residents looking for
urgent solutions. On the other side of the globe, Chile is in
the midst of its own 11-year megadrought.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on California agriculture
was severe, unprecedented, and will continue to affect the
industry in the coming months and years. That’s the
sobering news from an economic study released last
week by Davis-based ERA Economics. [The report also
noted] Groundwater Sustainability Plan implementation
started earlier this year for critically overdrafted
groundwater sub-basins across the state and 2020 water supply
deliveries for ag are reduced, resulting in higher water costs.
A vote Monday was the final approval for a Tuolumne River
treatment plant serving Turlock and Ceres. The $202 million
project, discussed off and on since the 1980s, will reduce the
cities’ dependence on groundwater. Both have already approved
the sizable rate increases that will cover most of the cost.
The Orange County Water District has been awarded a $3.6
million grant from the California Department of Water Resources
Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) grant program for
use toward the construction of its Groundwater Replenishment
System (GWRS) Final Expansion project. Operational since 2008,
the GWRS is undergoing its second and final expansion.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Maryland Attorney
General Brian Frosh, and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura
Healey today led a multistate coalition in expressing
opposition to President Trump’s recently signed executive order
instructing federal agencies to use emergency authority to
bypass critical environmental review and permitting processes
for infrastructure projects.
We are preparing now for the tougher negotiations that lie
ahead to develop new operating rules for the Colorado River.
Last week, Arizona’s water community began work preparing our
state’s vision of what Colorado River management should look
like after the current set of rules expire in a little more
than six years.
After years of crunching the numbers and looking at options for
reliable water supplies, the Montectio Water District is
connecting to nearby Santa Barbara as part of its
“drought-proof” plan. It involves a multi-phased agreement to
insure an adequate supply of water for Montecito which, like
other South Coast communities, saw its storage and delivery
options dry up a few years ago after a prolonged period of
little or now rain.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday signed into law key provisions of a
new state budget, a spending plan that seeks to erase a
historic deficit while preserving service levels for schools,
healthcare and social services. … Elsewhere, the budget adds
four more years of additional CalFresh benefits for those who
live in communities without reliable access to safe drinking
The historic lighthouse at Rubicon Point was born out of
organized advocacy work in the early 1900s. The Lake Tahoe
Protective Association formed in response to a proposal to cut
the rim of Lake Tahoe at the Truckee River. The proposal was
floated by the Truckee River General Electric Company in 1912
as a means to keep water flowing out of Tahoe even when the
lake level dipped too low.
The June 17 meeting of the Eastern Municipal Water District
included approving the purchase of groundwater monitoring
equipment for the West San Jacinto Basin, approving a
consultant contract for the final design of the Hemet Water
Filtration Plant sodium hypochlorite tank replacement, and
awarding Pacific Hydrotech Corporation a contract to replace
the booster engines at the Pat Road facility.
On June 24, 2020, the United States District Court for the
Eastern District of California denied the preliminary
injunctive relief requested by a coalition of fishery and
environmental groups regarding the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s
operations of Shasta Dam and Reservoir, and related temperature
management actions on the upper Sacramento River.
Mostly, the people didn’t know their groundwater was polluted..
And they didn’t know the contaminated portions shut down by
federal authorities in many instances were finally being
restored. Kenneth “Ken” Manning, 69, a fixture in ground-water
restoration in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, a
pioneer in water recycling and a master at public-private
partnerships, knew. And on June 30, Manning will retire from
his most recent job, as executive director of the San Gabriel
Basin Water Quality Authority.
Degraded meadows and their streams can be rehabilitated using a
“pond and plug” technique to restore the floodplain function.
This strategy aims to elevate groundwater levels in the dry
season by spreading large flows across the floodplain. The pond
and plug treatment improves water quality, soil moisture, and
wetland vegetation – improvements that are extremely beneficial
to birds and other wildlife.
The Water Replenishment District has received a $844,240 grant
from the California State Water Resources Control Board to
remove inactive water wells from production. This grant was
made possible by California’s Proposition 1 which authorized
$7.545 billion in funds for water supply infrastructure
projects and was approved by voters in 2014.
The summer’s high temperatures have contributed to an algal
bloom that’s impacting Clear Lake, with recent testing of 30
sites on the lake finding concerning levels of cyanotoxin. On
Thursday, Lake County Water Resources reported on the lake-wide
After almost 32 years with the Los Angeles Department of Water
and Power (LADWP) Clarence Martin will be stepping down as
Aqueduct Manager. Deputy Aqueduct Manager Adam Perez will be
taking over, come July 1.
The Trump administration has decided a chemical with a
notorious legacy in Nevada will not be regulated in drinking
water, but state officials say the reversal of the Obama-era
policy shouldn’t result in any decline in drinking water
standards across the state.
Monte Vista Water District was awarded a $3.4 million grant
from the Department of Water Resources that will partially fund
a treatment project necessary to meet stricter water quality
regulations. The water district provides retail and wholesale
water supply services to a population of about 140,000 in the
communities of Montclair, Chino Hills and portions of Chino.
Local and state leaders are sounding the alarm to get the green
light to clear the Salinas Riverbed of dry brush and
vegetation. … This comes after a fire Monday in Paso Robles
which started in the riverbed and quickly moved into a
neighborhood destroying two homes and badly damaging nine
All but one of these photographs of California by Jesse White
come from California Exposures, a book that he and I, his
father, did together. … They are part of a conversation, and
they are as apt to ask questions as give answers. The
photographs of California Exposures tell a history of
California, but not in the conventional sense.
San Francisco’s water department, known for sourcing some of
the best supplies in the West, is building its first nature
center to commemorate its watersheds. The $27 million facility,
which broke ground this spring, is taking shape on city-owned
land in Alameda County, near the town of Sunol. The center is
designed to extend the tribute paid by the Sunol Water Temple,
a 110-year-old monument honoring local creeks…
The Environmental Protection Agency has again been sued over
its rollback of Obama-era waterway protections. On Thursday,
the Environmental Integrity Project, on behalf of four other
environmental groups, sued the agency, claiming that the new
rule conflicts with the Clean Water Act and “disregards”
science “without any rational, let alone ‘reasonable,’
There can be little argument that many of the more than 90,000
dams in this country are in need of immediate attention. The
catastrophic failure of two dams in Michigan last month
following an extraordinary amount of rain in a relatively short
period, highlights a number of issues:
Groundwater provides nearly 40% of the water used by
California’s farms and cities, and significantly more in dry
years. But what is groundwater? In this post based on the first
segment of the UC Davis shortcourse on groundwater, Dr. Thomas
Harter provides a basic understanding of groundwater – what it
is, how much groundwater is out there, how fast groundwater
moves, and where it comes from and where it goes.