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.
Because there are moral, aesthetic, and legal obligations to
provide fish with water in streams, biologists like me often
get asked the question “Just how much water do the fish need,
anyway?” This, of course, is the wrong question…
Removing the four aging hydroelectric dams from the river would
significantly improve ecological and geomorphic conditions
throughout the Klamath watershed and play a key role in
returning salmon to stable population levels.
The tropical Pacific Ocean probably won’t be particularly warm
or cool this winter, climatologists said Thursday, depriving
forecasters of their best clue to how much snow will pile up in
the Cascade Range and the rest of the Northwest.
Our fabricators recently constructed two custom weirs
commissioned by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Lahontan
National Fish Hatchery Complex… The weirs are part of a
reintroduction program to restore Lahontan cutthroat trout in
the Truckee River watershed on Glen Alpine Creek, a tributary
of Fallen Leaf Lake in El Dorado County, CA.
If we don’t manage groundwater pumping, levels of groundwater
as well as rivers and streams will decline, compromising the
wildlife, farms and cities that depend on them. By managing our
groundwater with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, we
are plugging leaks in the system.
The flood insurance program has been plagued for years by
outdated maps of at-risk flood zones and billions of dollars in
accumulating debt, compounded by rising sea levels and
increasingly powerful storms strengthened by warming oceans.
… The result is that insurance premiums fail to reflect the
true risks to properties…
In 2015, the Board of Supervisors gave initial approval to a
$58 million shoreline protection program to protect SFO from
sea-level rise. But on Wednesday, the board’s Budget and
Finance Committee approved an updated program that will now
cost $587.1 million. City officials attributed the increase to
new sea-level rise estimates and guidelines issued by the State
The Trump administration, under Interior Secretary David
Bernhardt, is finalizing plans to rip up restrictions on
diverting Northern California water to its friends in the
agricultural industry in the dry western San Joaquin
Valley. However, some of the state’s biggest water
districts oppose SB 1, hoping Trump administration efforts will
translate into increased water diversions.
The common reed, Phragmites australis, is one of the most
invasive plants in the world, and its numbers are widespread in
Suisun Marsh. … Phragmites can change ecosystem structure by
increasing tidal habitat elevations and reducing overall
habitat quality, including disturbing the food chain by driving
out native plants in the Delta that support wildlife such as
waterfowl and the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse.
The Trump administration rolled back a key provision of the
Clean Water Act on Thursday, doing away with protections for
many wetlands and streams across the country… The repeal of
the Waters of the United States rule, however, will not
directly affect landowners and businesses in California. State
regulators in April passed a sweeping wetlands policy that
secured state oversight of California’s waterways…
Volunteers are needed for the 11th annual Great Sierra River
Cleanup from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Sept. 21. Coordinated
by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy along with a variety of local
community groups, and in conjunction with the California
Coastal Cleanup Day, this event focuses on keeping Sierra
waterways clean and promoting community stewardship.
Farmers clearly appreciate the yields that fertilizers
facilitate, but many acknowledge that these chemicals are
tainting the land and water. Enter the Central Coast Wetlands
Group and the Coastal Conservation and Research, Inc. and their
new bioreactor designed to process agricultural runoff, turning
algae-bloom-triggering waste into benign nitrogen gas.
The new marine heatwave, which started spreading out from the
Gulf of Alaska in June and now covers much of the Pacific
Ocean, has not yet fully become The Blob 2, particularly in
California. Which means the effects, too, might not be as dire
as last time.
The agency … says it’s “open to the concept” of allowing the
public access to the park-like grounds with decorative lagoons,
waterfalls, palm trees and walking paths. But there are several
notable caveats, including that it won’t pay a dime for making
the property accessible and that such a development wouldn’t
interfere with operations.
The Colorado River Basin’s 20 years of drought and the dramatic
decline in water levels at the river’s key reservoirs have
pressed water managers to adapt to challenging conditions. But
even more extreme — albeit rare — droughts or floods that could
overwhelm water managers may lie ahead in the Basin as the
effects of climate change take hold, say a group of scientists.
The Exeter City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to scrap
plans to connect Exeter’s water system with Tooleville, a rural
community of about 80 households that has struggled for years
with dirty water.
Facing fierce lobbying from well-financed water districts, the
bill’s author, Senate President Toni Atkins, D-San Diego,
acknowledged Tuesday that the bill might get pulled from
consideration until next year.
Senate Bill 513, authored by Senator Melissa Hurtado
(D-Sanger), is headed towards Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk for
approval. The bill, which received bi-partisan support, will
provide relief for families without reliable access to water by
delivering a temporary alternative source of water supply.
Fresno County farmers and ranchers shattered the yearly record
for the value of what they produced by nearly a billion dollars
in 2018. Despite below-average surface water supplies, their
crops and livestock totaled $7.888 billion last year, according
to the Fresno County Department of Agriculture’s annual report
In 2012, California became the first state in the country to
declare that “Every human being has the right to safe, clean,
affordable and accessible water” when the state legislature
inserted that statement into its state water code. Now, a new
UCLA study finds, the state may be making progress on turning
that goal into a reality.
A California State University, Monterey Bay professor will
receive a substantial grant from the Defense Department to find
methods to harness fog. … The DoD is interested in the study
… which may be useful for military personnel in remote foggy
Although its target was narrow — it was designed to undercut
the capacity of Cadiz, Inc. to pump annually upwards of 16
billion gallons of groundwater in eastern San Bernardino County
and sell it to ever-thirsty Southern California — the
legislation may prove to be far-reaching in its consequences.
Why do farmers pump the water under their land (which
California law clearly states belongs to them) in the first
place? Unfortunately, you’ll rarely read the answer to this
question in the press, but it is the most important part of the
On Thursday, the Trump administration plans to scrap the
Obama-era definition of what qualifies as “waters of the United
States” under the Clean Water Act, returning the country to
standards put in place in 1986. … EPA Administrator Andrew
Wheeler said the administration will finalize a new definition
for which water bodies deserve federal protection within a
matter of months…
The western pond turtle in Butte County is currently shaking in
its shell, due to habitat alteration and introduced species
that are killing off the local reptile. … The turtle is being
evaluated for listing as threatened or endangered, according to
California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials.
In March, newly-elected Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger)
proposed a $400 million windfall to finance repairs for the
canal under Senate Bill 559… But the bipartisan bill, much
like canal it was designed to fix, is sunk — for now. The bill
failed to reach the Senate floor for a vote before the Sept. 13
The Round Valley Indian Tribes announced this week that they
have signed an agreement to join with users of both the Eel
River and Russian River to seek a “Two-Basin Solution” for the
re-licensing of the Potter Valley Hydroelectric Project, which
diverts water from the Eel River into the Russian River.
Water managers across the state face new and more extreme
challenges as the climate warms—from balancing the sometimes
conflicting needs of urban, agricultural, and environmental
water users to reducing risks from fires, floods, and droughts.
We talked to Grant Davis, general manager of the Sonoma County
Water Agency, about how his agency is approaching these
challenges comprehensively, at the scale of the entire
Assemblyman Marc Levine’s bill to reform state energy
extraction regulation has been approved by the Legislature. The
legislation … would require state oil and gas extraction
regulators to put public health and the environment ahead of
increased industry development.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on
Tuesday, Sept. 10, approved $5 million for a stormwater pilot
project to determine the best and most efficient way to capture
the tens of billions of gallons of rainwater that flow off
roofs and pavement each year.
Members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee grilled
company representatives over what they say was decades of
awareness of the dangers of their products and their role
helping spread fluorochemicals known as PFAS.
An 11-month-old Santa Rosa dog died a “horrible death” Monday,
a day after she was in the water at a park where a city worker
subsequently found a small patch of algae responsible for
numerous public health warnings and two other dog deaths in
The Bureau of Reclamation, in coordination with the California
Department of Water Resources, today announced its decision to
move forward with a restoration project to improve fish passage
and increase floodplain fisheries-rearing habitat in the Yolo
The sixth annual Labor Day beach cleanup at Lake Tahoe did more
than just remove 168 pounds (76 kilograms) of trash from the
shoreline. It’s also apparently provided some clues to help
design new strategies to keep the cigarette butts and other
garbage from ending up there in the first place.
Residential graywater offers up a huge potential for our city
to offset potable water use. When the next drought rolls
around, and it will, we could be sitting pretty with healthy
trees and landscapes using less water from the Sierra than we
Despite new California regulations banning surface spills in
the state’s vast oil fields, at least eight spills connected to
Chevron have occurred in just one Kern County oil field since
the new rules took effect in April, state regulators say.
The ”surface expression” spills have spewed more than
1.26 million gallons of oil and wastewater in five
months, with some still not contained.
A major groundwater sustainability study was approved by the
Butte County Board of Supervisors which will look at different
aspects into future water allocations and conservation in Butte
County, including the possibility of building a pipeline from
Paradise to Chico.
Over the last two decades most urban creeks have been reverted
from straight, lifeless channels back to more naturalized
streams that still provide flood protection but are now
abundant with trees, grasses and wildlife. … Despite these
tremendous advances, the 150 creeks in the Russian River
watershed and the critters that live in them are vulnerable.
The mass of unusually warm water, known officially as the
Northeast Pacific Marine Heatwave of 2019, is the second
largest in 40 years. Experts say it is behaving in the same way
and is on a trajectory to be as strong as the infamous blob
that disrupted the entire West Coast ocean ecosystem from 2014
The state’s drought response was seen by some as an
overwhelming success and by others as an unprecedented, and
possibly illegal, invasion of local water suppliers’
management… Through analyzing the practical outcomes of the
state’s drought response, the overall experience can be
distilled into what worked and what didn’t.
When the next drought rolls around, and it will, we could be
sitting pretty with healthy trees and landscapes using less
water from the Sierra than we do now. How could we accomplish
this? The answer is graywater, defined in California as the
discharge from laundry wash water, showers, and bathroom sinks.
Of all the chicken-or-the-egg dilemmas that will determine
Paradise’s recovery from the Camp Fire, water may be the most
critical. To rebuild, the town needs water from the Paradise
Irrigation District. To survive, PID needs the town to rebuild.
One can’t happen without the other, and it’s been tough to
figure out how it’s going to work.
Today, the California Department of Water Resources began
assessment work on Pyramid Dam’s spillways in Los Angeles
County as part of a statewide effort to reduce seismic and
hydrologic risk to State Water Project facilities spanning 705
miles throughout California.
Forecasts of strong winds in Southern California this week have
heightened concerns that the state’s fire season, tame in its
early stages compared to the devastation of last year,
could swing into destructive, even deadly mode.
We cannot advance the fight for environmental quality by
declaring that all science stopped on a specific date. If it’s
dumb for the President to close his eyes to science, it’s
dumber for us to follow him down that rabbit hole.
Removing one obsolete dam is an accomplishment. Removing more
than 30 in one year is unheard of. Yet, that’s exactly what
Cleveland National Forest did in 2018. They removed 33 dams,
which accounted for more than 40% of all dam removals in the
United States in 2018.
Presently, three (Los Angeles, Phoenix, and San Diego) of the
top ten most populous cities in the US–home to about 7 million
people–are within ‘extremely high’ water stress regions. …
Twenty years from now, another four cities (New York, Chicago,
San Antonio, and San Jose) may experience such conditions.
We applaud Gov. Gavin Newsom’s efforts in leading discussions
with the United States Department of the Interior, public water
agencies and environmental groups to craft voluntary agreements
that will restore the ecological health of the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta while providing California with clean, reliable
Wildfires in California leave behind acres of scorched land
that make snowpack formation easier and more water runoff
downstream from the Sierra Nevada to basins in the Central
Valley, increasing the amount of water stored underground.
That’s the finding from researchers at Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratory, who discovered that blazes in some parts
of the state could result in more water availability.
More than $670 million in water projects … are options under
a draft plan for helping get the Salinas Valley Basin to
sustainability by 2040. A draft Salinas Valley Basin
groundwater sustainability plan includes 13 projects ranging
from Salinas River invasive species eradication … to a
seawater intrusion barrier using a series of wells to head off
saltwater contamination …
When the salmon are healthy, the world is healthy. That means
the waters are clean and fast-running and the bottom gravel is
clean. It means the rivers … are pouring as they should into
our oceans, bringing nutrients and sediments into the salt- and
Valley farmers and water districts will be facing a new reality
of pumping less water and are worried about the land that will
be taken out of crop production. But the water and agriculture
industries are drafting a large-scale plan to fill the gap with
more dams and water deliveries from the Delta. Vic Bedoian
reports from Fresno.
The study, expected to be completed by early 2020, builds on
the last such fish survey conducted more than a decade ago.
“We’re hoping to find an improvement in the fishery,” Lake
Elsinore Mayor Steve Manos said, “and to identify ways in which
we can continue to improve the fishery.”
The board easily approved a cooperation agreement with Butte
County and the California Water Service Company on an Intertie
feasibility study. … The intertie helps Paradise Irrigation
District restore revenue lost when the Camp Fire destroyed
about 90 percent of its customers.
Utilities typically turn to groundwater to make up for surface
water depleted by drought. University of Arizona hydrology
professor Laura Condon is using computer models to predict what
climate change will do to the availability of groundwater. She
is exploring a series of “what if” scenarios on how to respond
to water shortages.
A recent analysis by ECONorthwest, an economic consulting firm
based in Portland, Ore., estimates that a restored Hetch Hetchy
Valley, drained of its water and offering recreation options
and infrastructure in the same vein as Yosemite Valley, could
attract orders of magnitude more visitors.
If you see something hopping around in Big Chico Creek, chances
are it could be the foothill yellow-legged frog. This frog is
currently being evaluated by the California Department of Fish
and Wildlife to possibly be placed on the state’s endangered
The water beneath a large swath of Phoenix isn’t fit to drink.
A plume of toxic chemicals has tainted the groundwater for
decades, and it’s now at the center of a bitter fight over how
the aquifer should be cleaned up and what should happen to the
water in the future.
To end a labor dispute that’s halted work on one of the largest
and most important water projects in San Diego history,
Assemblyman Todd Gloria rolled out a bill Friday to require
union-friendly terms for work on the project.
I’ve spent half a day tormented by a problem that has already
tormented me many times before in my career: Where can one find
a Colorado River Basin map that is accurate? It seems like such
a simple task, but as others have noted before, it is an
ongoing problem. The list of problem areas is long, and many
seem to have a strong political motivation.
Lomita has stopped using a 5 million-gallon emergency reservoir
that blends local groundwater and more expensive imported
water, another fallout from the discovery of cancer-causing
chemicals in the water supply…
According to a draft of the Utah Regional Water Conservation
Plan, the Lower Colorado River South region … is slated to
reduce water use 14%, to 262 gallons per capita by 2030 and
ultimately 22%, with 237 gallons per capita by 2065. … New
laws and ordinances may be passed to help enforce reduced water
Using dairy lagoon water to irrigate silage corn is standard
practice. Running the thick, nutrient-rich water through
subsurface drip systems could someday be just that as two
California dairy farms, an irrigation company, and an
environmental organization are working together to solve the
challenges involved in the water thrifty practice.
The city council approved paying Zenner USA … $1.6 million to
purchase automatic metering infrastructure, water meters,
communications equipment and software and hardware at its Aug.
27 meeting. The meters themselves will be made in Banning. …
The city is in the process of converting from manual meter
reading to relying instead on automatic meter reading…
The Friant-Kern Canal, which delivers water to farms and
communities on the east side of the Valley, is literally
sinking in some areas due to groundwater pumping. And with one
week to go before the California legislature wraps up its 2019
session, many hope the state will help fund the canal’s repair.
This delivery, on top of water already being provided, comes at
a critical time for fall waterfowl migration, and has become
available through extensive coordination and efforts by Klamath
The city of Ukiah made its first delivery of recycled water
through its extensive Purple Pipe system this week, putting
about 2 million gallons of water reclaimed from local sinks,
showers and toilets into an irrigation pond just south of the
Ukiah Valley Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Senate Bill 1 has strong support from some of California’s most
influential environmental and labor organizations, including
some that helped get Gov. Gavin Newsom elected. But several of
California’s water suppliers and agricultural interests …
oppose the measure. This includes the Metropolitan Water
District of Southern California, which has made SB 1 a top
DWR is currently overseeing five habitat restoration projects
in Suisun Marsh. In October 2019, one of these projects, the
Tule Red Tidal Habitat Restoration Project – which converts
approximately 600 acres of existing managed wetland into tidal
habitat – is expected to finish construction.
A 10-acre island in Isleton, an hour south of Sacramento in the
California Delta’s fresh-water Seven Mile Slough, is changing
hands for $1.195 million. (SF’s median condo price is about
$1.25 million.) The buyer is Thai Tran, who owns a mini-chain
of Vietnamese pho restaurants in Sacramento, and listing agent
Tony Wood of KW Commercial says Tran and his family plan to
transform the property into a destination.
Tucson’s below average rainfall for August, which is typically
the wettest month during monsoon season, might mean it’s time
to face the music and prepare for a potential short-term
drought, according to local weather experts.
However, this is brackish water. For a few months we will see
it in the Colorado below Morelos Dam, reminding us of the river
that once flowed there. It is agricultural drainage that comes
from farms in southwestern Arizona that use the Colorado River
to irrigate in the desert.
A team of scientists has successfully teased out the influence
of human-caused climate change on wintertime precipitation over
the last century, showing that the warming climate altered
wintertime rainfall and snowfall across the Northern
Groundwater in Ventura County had a severe talk about
reductions as the Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency held
its fourth workshop about the future. The proposed new plan
will commence in 2020 and will start slow but will ramp up and
reduce groundwater pumping in the area significantly.
There’s a lot of confusion and concern about what will happen
once the city of Ventura no longer discharges millions of
gallons of water into the Santa Clara River Estuary. … To
help residents get a better understanding of how Ventura’s
wastewater operations work, and to help answer those questions,
city officials opened up its facility to the public last week.
An idea to pipe water from Paradise to Chico took its first
step Wednesday, when the Paradise Irrigation District board
signed off on a feasibility study for the proposal. The plan
might seem far-fetched at first glance, but it would solve a
couple of problems.
Construction has begun on the first phase of a five-year, $180
million flood control protection project for the historic Upper
Llagas Creek watershed, from Gilroy to north Morgan Hill. …
Funds for the project are from Measure B, the Safe, Clean Water
and Natural Flood Protection Program, as well as other state
and federal sources.
Over the past 200 years, California has lost 97% of its wetland
habitat. The Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve, part of the UC’s
Natural Reserve System, represents about 3% of what remains of
California’s coastal wetlands. Due to a century of draining for
land use and land development, the marsh has dwindled to 230
Recently, the Sacramento Press Club hosted a panel discussion
on the future of California water featuring Secretary Wade
Crowfoot, Metropolitan General Manager Jeff Kightlinger, and
State Water Contractors General Manager Jennifer Pierre.
According to a Customs and Border Protection spokesperson,
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument has identified existing
groundwater wells construction contractors can use. In
addition, the contractor has proposed drilling new wells along
the border for the wall project. Currently, the construction
contractor estimates needing about 84,000 gallons of water per
day for the project.
At its Aug. 5 meeting, the Visalia City Council unanimously
approved a letter of support for California Water Service’s
effort to eliminate water suppliers’ liability due to
wildfires. California Water Service, which operates Visalia and
22 other municipal water systems throughout the state, says the
threat of legal action against water suppliers is “arcane”
legal reasoning and could actually put water users at risk.
Passed by voters in November 2018, Measure W—the Safe, Clean
Water Program—imposed a 2.5 cent/sq. ft. parcel tax on
impermeable surface construction in LA County and is set to
provide upwards of $300 million annually to support stormwater
and clean water infrastructure projects. TPR spoke with Katy
Young Yaroslavsky, on the Board of Supervisors’ recent approval
of the Measure W Implementation Ordinance…
As the old saying goes, if you can’t go through something, go
around it. And at an estimated cost of $357 million, the Friant
Water Authority is contemplating a 30-mile parallel canal to
circumvent the portion of the Friant Kern Canal that has been
negatively affected by subsidence.
As a region, Humboldt County has the “highest rate of relative
sea level rise” on the United States’ West Coast, according to
data compiled by the county’s planning and building department.
The data indicate that even one meter of sea level rise would
top nearly 60% of the structures protecting Humboldt Bay’s
It was only a little dam, a couple feet high, but it blocked
juvenile salmon from swimming the upper 2 miles of Ashland
Creek. On Tuesday, a powerful excavator tore it out with one
bite and soon the stream will be restored to its ancient look,
feel and flow.
Now, some are arguing that the bill should be stripped of its
longstanding provision applying the State’s own Endangered
Species Act to the operations of the federal Central Valley
Project. Here’s why that’s a terrible idea.
A quarter-cent sales tax raising $100 million annually for
water and wastewater projects will remain in place indefinitely
following a decision Tuesday by the Clark County Commission.
… The 6-1 vote removes a sunset clause that would have made
the tax expire in 2025.
Keyes’ problems with unacceptable high levels of arsenic arose
in late 2006 when the district was issued a Notice of
Non-Compliance from the California Department of Public Health.
… The quality of Keyes’ drinking water had not deteriorated
but the Environmental Protection Agency had lowered the maximum
allowable contaminant level for arsenic from 50 parts per
billion to 10 parts per billion. Three of four Keyes wells were
testing at 12 to 14 parts per billion.
Nevada and Arizona, concerned that a 20-year drought has dried
up much of the river, are trying to rein in water use in an
effort to save the disappearing river. The river’s water levels
next year are projected to be just below the threshold of 1,090
feet laid out in the Drought Contingency Plan that was signed
earlier this year…
As a high-level government auditor, Beth Kennedy has
investigated or reviewed the spending of many city of Los
Angeles departments without serious incident, she says. But
now, Kennedy … is alleging she was warned not to delve too
deeply into controversial contracts awarded by the Department
of Water of Power, according to a legal claim she filed against
the city last month.
The rules specifically would restrict these non-federal
governments’ authority to review the water quality impacts of
projects that require a federal permit or license. These
projects range from pipelines to hydropower facilities to
dredging — any development that result in “discharge” into U.S.
Much of the so-called microplastic was carried into the ocean
by storm runoff or in the flow from wastewater treatment
plants, and became embedded in sea floor sediment, said
Jennifer Brandon, a Scripps biologist who specializes in
In the Sacramento River near Redding this spring, water
districts, government agencies and others collaborated to
construct the Market Street Gravel Project to benefit fish. …
Reclamation District 108 Deputy Manager William Vanderwaal said
that to complete the $429,000 project, 12,000 tons of gravel
were placed into the river and developed as new spawning
habitat for chinook salmon and steelhead trout.
The only bi-national financial institution dedicated to funding
environmental infrastructure projects along the border unveiled
six possible solutions to slowing down the cross-border sewage
spills that routinely shut down southern San Diego’s beaches.
With every passing week, California American Water clears more
hurdles as it sets out to build a desalination plant near
Marina. The most recent victory for the proponents of the $329
million project came on Aug. 28 at the California Supreme
The Bonneville Power Administration, the independent federal
agency that sells the electricity produced by the dams, is
careening toward a financial cliff. BPA is $15 billion in debt,
facing a rapidly changing energy market increasingly dominated
by wind and solar and a desperate need to maintain aging
infrastructure that’s expected to cost $300 million to maintain
and upgrade by 2023.
Crowfoot oversees a sprawling agency of 19,000 employees
engaged in the stewardship of the state’s forests and natural
lands, rivers and waterways, coast and ocean, fish and wildlife
and energy development. Now in its 36th year, the Water Summit
features a variety of policymakers, experts and stakeholders
discussing important topics in water across California and the
Our leaders in Washington filled me with so much hope earlier
this year when they approved permanent reauthorization of
the Land and Water Conservation Fund. , securing the near-term
future of one of our country’s oldest and most important
conservation tools. But we can’t truly call this a victory
until Congress takes that final step: permanent program
When Omar Yaghi was growing up in Jordan, outside of Amman, his
neighborhood received water for only about 5 hours once every 2
weeks. … At a meeting last week here, in another area
thirsting for freshwater, Yaghi, a chemist at the University of
California, Berkeley, reported that he and his colleagues have
created a solar-powered device that could provide water for
millions in water-stressed regions.
A new study by scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National
Laboratory uses a numerical model of an important watershed in
California to shed light on how wildfires can affect
large-scale hydrological processes, such as stream flow,
groundwater levels, and snowpack and snowmelt. The team found
that post-wildfire conditions resulted in greater winter
snowpack and subsequently greater summer runoff as well as
increased groundwater storage.
A few years ago, Paul Kehmeier did something unusual: He
decided not to water about 60% of his fields. He was one of a
few dozen farmers and landowners in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah,
and New Mexico who volunteered for a pilot program meant to
test out a new water-conservation strategy: Paying farmers to
temporarily leave their fields dry, to save the Colorado River.
Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed an executive order to develop
a comprehensive strategy for making the state’s water system
climate-resilient. … In a related study
published earlier this year, Stanford researchers
Newsha Ajami and Patricia (Gonzales) Whitby examined
effective strategies to rising water scarcity concerns.
The county of San Diego says beachgoers should “feel more
confident” that water quality is being closely watched
throughout the region, especially along South Bay shorelines
where sewage pollution from Tijuana regularly fouls beaches.
Those with wells within the Antelope Valley who pump more
groundwater than is allowed under a 2015 court settlement will
be required to pay between $415 per acre-foot and $948 per
acre-foot to replace the additional water, based on assessments
approved Wednesday by the Antelope Valley Watermaster Board.
Roughly 33,000 residents of foothill communities will see an
increase in their water bills beginning Sept. 1, when a pair of
recently approved rate hikes are set to go into effect. On
Tuesday, Crescenta Valley Water District board members voted
4-1 to go forward with a 7% increase in water rates and a 4%
hike in sewer rates.
California’s 2018 Camp Fire was the deadliest blaze in state
history. … From all that destruction, a mysterious threat has
emerged for those who appeared to have gotten by unscathed:
household water supplies with concentrations of toxic
benzene—including one sample that had 923 times what the state
considers safe. More than nine months after the fire, the
Paradise Irrigation District still has a “do not drink” order
unless individual parcels have been cleared.
The small channel island near Brannan Island can be found about
one hour south of Sacramento in the Delta’s fresh-water Seven
Mile Slough, in Sacramento County. The marina and resort have
been in operation for more than 60 years.
Senate Bill 1 is seen as a pre-emptive strike by California
lawmakers before the Trump administration ushers in new
biological opinions to alter water deliveries through the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Woodland is sitting atop what is essentially an underground
reservoir containing millions of gallons of freshwater. And for
much of the past three years, the city has been banking excess
water during the winter months to use during the summer when it
isn’t allowed to make withdrawals from the Sacramento River.
While there’s no court action yet, the Water Authority is
gearing up for what in the water world amounts to a rare change
in relationship status. After decades buying water from the
Water Authority, Rainbow and Fallbrook want a divorce.
Water users in the Colorado River Basin have survived the
drought through a combination of water storage infrastructure
and voluntary actions to protect reservoir storage and water
supply. Adoption of drought contingency plans this summer,
developed over years of collaborative negotiation, takes the
next step by implementing mandatory action to reduce risk and
protect limited water supplies.
While researching the impacts of industrial site restoration on
aquatic ecosystems in the Coyote Creek watershed, a major
tributary in the southern San Francisco Estuary, scientists
with the University of California, Davis, observed surprisingly
high densities of reproductive adult smelt in the marshlands,
which were not previously known to be heavily exploited by the
A new method to measure pore structure and water flow is
described in a study published in the journal Water Resources
Research. With it, scientists should be able to more accurately
determine how fast water, contaminants, nutrients and other
liquids move through the soil — and where they go.
A jury has ordered Shell Oil Company to pay the City of Atwater
a total of $63 million in damages in a groundwater pollution
suit. The decision, reached Friday after a four-month trial in
Merced County Superior Court, awarded Atwater $53 million in
compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages,
according to a news release from the city.
Last fall, the district began construction on a project to
remove sediment from the Littlerock Dam reservoir to increase
its storage capacity, but the winter rain flooded the
construction site and halted work for more than six months.
Wednesday, the EPA issued an emergency order saying the water
for nearly 2,000 residents was contaminated with dangerously
high levels of arsenic, a cancer-causing compound occurring
naturally in groundwater. The contamination is causing concern
of children in the community getting sick with symptoms that
match those of arsenic poisoning.
Increasingly, California’s water will come from transforming
the water we flush down our toilets, sinks, and washing
machines into sparkling, pure water. Indeed, potable water
reuse seems like a no-brainer. So why don’t we do it? In some
places, we already do, and those places have lessons for the
rest of the state and beyond.
A state court of appeal has upheld a Shasta County Superior
Court decision to stop a Fresno-based water district from doing
an analysis of the effects of raising the height of Shasta Dam.
The Westlands Water District had asked the California Third
District Court of Appeal to overturn the lower court’s
preliminary injunction that ordered the district to stop work
on an environmental impact report.
The City Council agreed to allow rate increases for California
Water Service customers of roughly 13 percent each of the next
three years. … For the average family paying $71.43 per month
on a water bill, the cost would increase by $9.31 the first
year, $9.25 the second year and $10.35 the third year, based on
a projection by Cal Water officials.
Finding a river in the West that still behaves like a Western
river — one that rises and falls with the annual rush of
melting snow — is tough. … But one major Western waterway
has achieved almost mythical status for its wildness: the Yampa
in northwestern Colorado.
There are a lot of reasons our watershed is unique. It’s a high
elevation terminal watershed, what could be more special? Well,
another contributing factor is that the terminus of the Truckee
River watershed exists on the largest Native American
Reservation in Nevada.
The Paso Robles groundwater basin is one of three basins in the
state chosen to participate in a Stanford University study that
will deploy state-of-the-art aerial electromagnetic technology
to better understand its characteristics.
Water deliveries in the Fresno Irrigation District typically
end in September, but they could last until November this year.
The extra deliveries will allow growers to not only irrigate
but also to bank some water for future use.
What Public Works Director Mark Houghton touts as “Manteca’s
own refinery” is now converting methane gas generated at the
wastewater treatment plant along with food waste to produce
compressed liquefied gas. And in doing so, Manteca is well on
its way to effectively wiping out all CO2 impacts the
wastewater treatment process creates and then some.
Critics say the plan, out for public comment through Sept. 25
before final adoption by the Utah Division of Water Resources,
goes too easy on the surging St. George metro area, where daily
per-capita water use exceeds 300 gallons — a high number some
officials say is deceiving. The plan looks for a 16% reduction
averaged across the state by 2030 and up to 20% in much of
When California voters legalized cannabis in 2016, supporters
of Proposition 64 hoped it would significantly reduce the
scourge of black market weed cultivation, particularly on
public lands. Yet nearly two years later, illegal marijuana
grows are still rampant across wide swaths of the national
forests in California, leaving behind a trail of garbage, human
waste, dead animals and caustic chemicals.
At the 2019 California Water Law Symposium, Professor Dave Owen
from UC Hastings gave the following overview presentation of
California water rights, including types of water rights,
governing agencies, and sources of regulatory authority, as
well as a brief overview of the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater
Under the plan, Seaside’s Bayonet & Black Horse golf course
would stop pumping the 450 acre-feet of drinking water it draws
every year from the area’s underground basin. Instead, the
greens would get irrigated using recycled water produced by
Pure Water Monterey, the advanced sewage treatment facility in
Marina that is slated to open this fall. The water that stays
in the basin would be made available to developers who want to
build in Seaside.
Residents of the Larkfield Estates neighborhood north of Santa
Rosa who lost their homes in the October 2017 Tubbs Fire are
asking a builder to help them build a new sewer system this
year that is as affordable as possible.
Escondido is moving forward on a reverse osmosis treatment
facility that will reduce the city’s wastewater and also
provide more recycled water for agricultural use. The project
will divert millions of gallons of water from the discharge
pipeline, and turn it into highly treated irrigation water.
It’s expected to begin construction in early 2020…
The Fallbrook Public Utility District has been part of the San
Diego County Water Authority since it was formed in 1944, but
FPUD is now investigating the possibility of detaching from the
water authority and becoming part of the Eastern Municipal
The California State Board of Food and Agriculture will host a
public comment session on California’s Water Future on
Thursday, September 5, 2019 in Fresno. … State agencies are
asking Californians to help shape a roadmap for meeting future
water needs and ensuring environmental and economic resilience
The state passed a law a few years ago that required public
schools built before 2010 to test for lead in their drinking
fountains before July 2019. Nearly 80% of schools have reported
some testing. Of those, one in five school sites found lead
levels of more than five parts per billion.
Known to locals as “Long Beach,” it’s part of the San Leandro
Shoreline Marshlands and once stretched at least 23 miles. The
most recent official estimate done back in 2008 put the beach
at seven miles amid development and rising sea levels.
Los Angeles County residents will see a new charge on their
property tax bills this fall. Measure W, which was approved by
county residents last November, will implement a parcel tax
that is intended to increase stormwater capture. The intent is
to increase local water supply, improve water quality and
invest in community projects.
Friant Water Authority is conducting geotechnical
investigations this summer along the outer banks of the
Friant-Kern Canal in southern Tulare County to determine if the
soil may support construction of a second canal running
parallel to the first. The reason for the research is the
capacity of this key, eastside Valley canal has been reduced
60% due to land subsidence caused by years of vigorous
groundwater pumping …
A new class action lawsuit accuses the Coachella Valley Water
District of illegally taxing customers to benefit large
agricultural companies. … Under the Burns-Porter Act, a local
water district’s revenue can only be used for a few specific,
voter-approved purposes. According to the suit, using tax
dollars to fund aquifer replenishment and subsidizing
agricultural water use are not appropriate uses.
ASU Now spoke to Sarah Porter, director of the Kyl Center for
Water Policy at ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy,
about the cutbacks and what they will mean for Arizona’s
agriculture and the state’s roughly 7 million residents.
Michelle Newcomer is a research scientist in Berkeley Lab’s
Earth & Environmental Sciences Area with expertise in
hydrological and biogeochemical aspects of environmental
issues, especially in watersheds and river environments. Now
she is turning her expertise to algal blooms…
The intent of the Salton Sea restoration is to mitigate losses
of habitat for wildlife as the Salton Sea shrinks. However,
mitigating lost habitat by replacing it with something harmful
does not result in any benefits to wildlife; in fact, it makes
things worse by creating a new exposure pathway that subjects
wildlife to contaminants.
Environmental groups are calling for increased scrutiny of
California’s oil and gas industry after learning that more than
50 million gallons of crude oil flowed out of the ground in an
uncontrolled release near a Chevron facility in Kern County
over the last 16 years.
With water scarcity a growing problem worldwide, University of
California, Berkeley, researchers are close to producing a
microwave-sized water harvester that will allow you to pull all
the water you need directly from the air — even in the hot,
The Department of Water Resources is continuing to work on the
environmental planning and permitting to modernize State Water
Project infrastructure in the Delta. This effort is consistent
with Governor Newsom’s direction and support for a
single-tunnel project to ensure a climate resilient water
Here we provide an updated account of Suisun Marsh fishes to
show why the marsh is so important for conserving fishes in the
upper San Francisco Estuary in general…and why we continue to
be enthusiastic about working there.
The California State Water Resources Control Board has
strengthened notification requirements for a potential
carcinogen found in wells across the state, including Santa
Clarita, officials said Monday. The state water board updated
guidelines for local water agencies … to follow in detecting
and reporting perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and
perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) in drinking water.
Shares of water resource specialist Cadiz (NASDAQ:CDZI) have
jumped 19.5% this month through Aug. 23, while the S&P 500,
including dividends, is down 4.3%. … The catalyst for Cadiz
stock’s August pop was the company’s announcement that it has
entered the U.S. hemp market.
State oil and gas regulators say they’re launching an
investigation of operations in a Kern County oil field after a
series of large, uncontrolled crude petroleum releases near
Chevron wells — including one that has continued on and off for
more than 16 years and may have spewed out more than 50 million
gallons of crude oil.
The Colorado is the most significant water supply source in the
West, but it carries an annual salt load of nine to 10 million
tons, said Don Barnett, executive director of the Colorado
River Basin Salinity Control Forum. … For the past 40 years,
the the forum has been “silently working away” at improving
water quality and lowering salt content on the Colorado, which
supplies water to 40 million people in seven states and Mexico.
The researchers — many of whom have been active in the
program’s rule making and have challenged the agency before —
argue in the working paper that the emissions reductions in
California’s offset program are inherently uncertain. In some
cases, they wrote, the rules create “perverse incentives”
toward increasing planet-warming gases.
Managing a river is no easy feat. Consider the needs for water
released at Shasta Dam into the Sacramento River: salmon need
cold water, sturgeon need warm water, and irrigators just need
water. Recent research shows that all three needs can be met in
all but the most drought-stricken years. How?
The latest assault on the Delta, which supplies roughly
one-third of the Bay Area’s water, is the Trump
administration’s efforts to gut the federal Endangered Species
Act. Removing protections in existence for nearly 50 years
threatens not only the Delta’s wildlife but also the quality of
its fresh water.
Preliminary analyses of water samples collected by researchers
at the Desert Research Institute in Reno revealed the presence
of particles of synthetic fiber and bits of red and blue
plastic no bigger than the head of a pin. “On one level, we’re
heartbroken and disappointed by this discovery,” said Monica
Arienzo, an assistant research professor at the institute and
leader of the investigation.
Environmental groups are raising concerns over a provision in
draft legislation they believe could exempt the Las Vegas
pipeline — a proposal to pump eastern Nevada groundwater about
300 miles to Southern Nevada — from further litigation and
federal environmental review.
While the guidelines are the strictest, most-health protective
levels proposed in the nation for these two PFAS chemicals, we
are deeply disappointed by the Water Board’s decision to focus
on just two of the many PFAS that have been detected in
California drinking water.
Local and professional foresters say they support a new
proposal by the U.S. Forest Service that would speed up logging
and cut some environmental review processes. The Forest Service
is proposing a sweeping amendment of The National Environmental
The iconic image of Lake Tahoe is of a clear, blue lake
surrounded by stunning snow-capped mountains. But that
picturesque sight could look very different by the end of the
century due to climate change. Those snowy mountains we’re used
to seeing could lose their white tips. And this would mean a
major transformation for life in Tahoe and beyond.
Minimal restrictions, ample land and a strong farming tradition
have made Kern the state’s No. 1 hemp-growing county in the
four months since California began registering growers of the
non-psychoactive form of cannabis.
South County gets most of its water from groundwater, so this
project, part of the Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood
Protection Program that was overwhelmingly approved by voters
in 2012, is vital to ensuring a reliable water supply for the
Rocky Mountain water managers worried about climate-driven
depletion across the Colorado River Basin are mulling a “grand
bargain” that would overhaul obligations among seven
southwestern states for sharing the river’s water. This
reflects rising concerns that dry times could turn disastrous.
Fifth graders now have a space to learn everything about water,
from conservation to careers in the water industry. The Hydro
Station is an initiative of the Chula Vista Elementary School
District (CVESD), the Otay Water District and Sweetwater
Authority. This facility consists of a classroom right next to
the Richard A. Reynolds desalination plant, which is estimated
to receive about 4,500 students every school year.
Nutria, a giant invasive rodent originally from South America,
might be the size of a beagle, but unlike a beagle you can’t
keep them in your home. The California Fish and Game Commission
is looking to correct a gap in the law that restricts what pets
may lawfully be owned by including nutria among the list.
We don’t get to see Castor canadensis, the 60-pound North
American beaver, in Sonoma County very often, so I jumped at
the invitation to see one up close at the Sonoma County
Wildlife Rescue. An orphaned young kit, little more than a year
old, is there for care and rehab before release to back to the
Moderator Kathleen Schock spoke with advocates on both sides of
the issue, John Harris of Harris Farms and Kim Delfino with
Defenders of Wildlife. Dr. Lisa Bryant, Assistant Professor of
Political Science at Fresno State also joined the conversation.
Many wild southern sea otters in California are infected with
the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, yet the infection is
fatal for only a fraction of sea otters, which has long puzzled
the scientific community. A study from the University of
California, Davis, identifies the parasite’s specific strains
that are killing southern sea otters, tracing them back to a
bobcat and feral domestic cats from nearby watersheds.
Most people pass by storm drains day in and day out, giving
little thought to them as conduits to local waterways — and
ultimately, the Russian River in much of Sonoma County. An
alliance of local cities, special districts and the county
wants to change that. The coalition has launched a regional
campaign to raise public awareness about the link between
surface streets and local creeks…
Restoration of nearly 1,600 acres of wetlands near Bel Marin
Keys is set to begin this year after the approval of $20
million in funding on Thursday. The state Coastal Conservancy
voted unanimously during its meeting in Sausalito on Thursday
to allocate the money to begin the first phase of
If you’re planning on visiting Big Bear Lake, avoid the water,
the state warned Friday. State and regional water quality
boards both urged dog owners, fishers and everyone else to
avoid direct water contact while visiting areas of Big Bear
Lake due to a harmful algae bloom.
Oxnard Assistant Public Works Director Tien Ng presented the
item and said the city wants to integrate the water, wastewater
recycled water and stormwater while looking for opportunities
to align projects on the same street. They want to do them at
the same time. Doing this enhances the schedule and cost for
Farmers, experts and lawmakers are working to find more
sustainable ways to droughtproof farms and address the vexed
issue of water allocation. And it turns out many farmers and
water experts in California are looking to Australia for
answers as they face up to the biggest water reforms in the
history of the US.