The popular motorist pitstop town of Kettleman City has sealed
a deal to keep from running out of water. Kings County
officials finalized a deal with the Mojave Water Agency this
week to purchase 235 acre feet of water for Kettleman City from
the southern California water agency at a cost of $1,400 per
acre foot for a total of $329,000. … Kettleman City sits
next to the California Aqueduct, which transports water from
the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta south to farms and cities as
far away as Los Angeles through the State Water Project, which
is managed by the Department of Water Resources (DWR).
The proposed water pipeline across the Richmond-San Rafael
Bridge will undergo standard environmental review, losing its
emergency exemption after recent rains spared Marin County from
the harshest impacts of the drought and assuaged the urgency of
the project. Marin Water, which had planned to start
construction on the pipeline next month, will soon begin a
review of the project under the California Environmental
Quality Act. It says the project will give the county’s largely
self-contained water systems more flexibility in the long
After months of uncertainty as water supplies dwindled, Kings
County is set to resolve Kettleman City’s water crisis for the
next year – for a price. The Kings County Board of Supervisors
is scheduled to approve an agreement with the Mojave Water
Agency on Tuesday for the transfer of 235 acre-feet of water.
Kings County will pay $329,000 – $1,400 per acre-foot – as part
of the agreement, which will come from the Kettleman City
Community Services District Reserve Fund.
Major water projects have always been financed by the people
who use the water — farmers, homeowners, industrialists —
through monthly bills. The one exception is for so-called
public benefits, such as fish protection and recreation.
Everybody pays for that. Now, Republicans are proposing that
the state general fund pony up with money collected from all
taxpayers from Crescent City to Calexico. This previously
seemed like a bad idea to me. Why should taxpayers in Orange
County pay to irrigate excessive almond orchards in the arid
San Joaquin Valley, especially when much of the crop is
exported to Asia? -Written by LA Times columnist George Skelton.
With its reservoirs nearly refilled, the Marin Municipal Water
District is considering delaying a proposed $100 million
project to build an emergency water pipeline across the
Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. The district board was originally
set to vote on whether to construct the 8-mile pipeline as soon
as February. But now the district staff recommends the board
delay that decision by possibly more than a year in order to
conduct a full environmental analysis of the project.
The Colorado River is drying up — and it’s fair to say Phoenix,
Arizona, would be drastically different without it. To reach
residents in the city, water goes through a 190-mile journey
through a system of canals. But decades of drought, low
snowpack in the mountains and overuse have put tremendous
pressure on the reservoirs that supply water to 40 million
people in the Southwest.
As heavy rain swept across Southern California on Tuesday,
another rare water event was taking place. The Los
Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern
California agreed to buy thousands of acre-feet of water from
the San Diego County Water Authority. Usually, water sales go
in the other direction. The transaction is significant on a
number of fronts. The water should help some of MWD’s member
agencies that are in dire straights due to drought and severe
cutbacks from the State Water Project. -Written by UT columnist Michael Smolens.
The San Diego County Water Authority has stepped up to provide
additional water supplies to drought-ravaged areas in three
Southern California counties. Under an agreement with the
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, San Diego
will provide water from an underground storage facility in Kern
County to serve parts of northern Los Angeles County, Ventura
County and San Bernardino County.
The Marin Independent Journal reports the proposed plan would
deliver water from the Yuba River more than 100 miles before
pumping it over the bridge into Marin County. The operation
would also involve the cooperation of the East Bay Municipal
District and the Contra Costa Water District in transferring
and storing water destined for Marin. The proposed eight-mile
long pipeline would cost an estimated $100 million to
construct. There has been opposition to the pipeline from some
elected officials. Conservationists have filed suit to block
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
The sea’s problems stretch beyond its boundaries in Imperial and
Riverside counties and threaten to undermine multistate
management of the Colorado River. A 2019 Drought Contingency Plan for the
Lower Colorado River Basin was briefly stalled when the Imperial
Irrigation District, holding the river’s largest water
allocation, balked at participating in the plan because, the
district said, it ignored the problems of the Salton Sea.
High in the headwaters of the Colorado River, around the hamlet of Kremmling, Colorado, generations of families have made ranching and farming a way of life, their hay fields and cattle sustained by the river’s flow. But as more water was pulled from the river and sent over the Continental Divide to meet the needs of Denver and other cities on the Front Range, less was left behind to meet the needs of ranchers and fish.
“What used to be a very large river that inundated the land has really become a trickle,” said Mely Whiting, Colorado counsel for Trout Unlimited. “We estimate that 70 percent of the flow on an annual average goes across the Continental Divide and never comes back.”
Groundwater helped make Kern County
the king of California agricultural production, with a $7 billion
annual array of crops that help feed the nation. That success has
come at a price, however. Decades of unchecked groundwater
pumping in the county and elsewhere across the state have left
some aquifers severely depleted. Now, the county’s water managers
have less than a year left to devise a plan that manages and
protects groundwater for the long term, yet ensures that Kern
County’s economy can continue to thrive, even with less water.
In the universe of California water, Tim Quinn is a professor emeritus. Quinn has seen — and been a key player in — a lot of major California water issues since he began his water career 40 years ago as a young economist with the Rand Corporation, then later as deputy general manager with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and finally as executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies. In December, the 66-year-old will retire from ACWA.
As the Colorado River Basin becomes
drier and shortage conditions loom, one great variable remains:
How much of the river’s water belongs to Native American tribes?
Native Americans already use water from the Colorado River and
its tributaries for a variety of purposes, including leasing it
to non-Indian users. But some tribes aren’t using their full
federal Indian reserved water right and others have water rights
claims that have yet to be resolved. Combined, tribes have rights
to more water than some states in the Colorado River Basin.
This 30-minute documentary-style DVD on the history and current
state of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program includes an
overview of the geography and history of the river, historical
and current water delivery and uses, the genesis and timeline of
the 1988 lawsuit, how the settlement was reached and what was
This 7-minute DVD is designed to teach children in grades 5-12
about where storm water goes – and why it is so important to
clean up trash, use pesticides and fertilizers wisely, and
prevent other chemicals from going down the storm drain. The
video’s teenage actors explain the water cycle and the difference
between sewer drains and storm drains, how storm drain water is
not treated prior to running into a river or other waterway. The
teens also offer a list of BMPs – best management practices that
homeowners can do to prevent storm water pollution.
This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, displays
the rivers, lakes and reservoirs, irrigated farmland, urban areas
and Indian reservations within the Klamath River Watershed. The
map text explains the many issues facing this vast,
15,000-square-mile watershed, including fish restoration;
agricultural water use; and wetlands. Also included are
descriptions of the separate, but linked, Klamath Basin
Restoration Agreement and the Klamath Hydroelectric Agreement,
and the next steps associated with those agreements. Development
of the map was funded by a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to
Water Rights Law, recognized as the most thorough explanation of
California water rights law available to non-lawyers, traces the
authority for water flowing in a stream or reservoir, from a
faucet or into an irrigation ditch through the complex web of
California water rights.
The 20-page Layperson’s Guide to Water Marketing provides
background information on water rights, types of transfers and
critical policy issues surrounding this topic. First published in
1996, the 2005 version offers expanded information on
groundwater banking and conjunctive use, Colorado River
transfers and the role of private companies in California’s
developing water market.
Order in bulk (25 or more copies of the same guide) for a reduced
fee. Contact the Foundation, 916-444-6240, for details.
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water
Management (IRWM) is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication
that provides background information on the principles of IRWM,
its funding history and how it differs from the traditional water
The Colorado River provides water to 40 million people and 4
million acres of farmland in a region encompassing some 246,000
square miles in the southwestern United States. The 32-page
Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River covers the history of the
river’s development; negotiations over division of its water; the
items that comprise the Law of the River; and a chronology of
significant Colorado River events.
The Yuba Accord is a landmark agreement that balances the
interests of environmental groups, agriculture, water agencies
and hydroelectric operators relying on water from the Yuba
River. A tributary of the Feather River, the Yuba is
located north of Sacramento.
Pieced together after two decades of lawsuits, the Yuba Accord
allows for fresh water flows to support native fish while also
providing water for hydropower, transfers and irrigation. The
Accord took effect in 2008 after two years as a pilot project.
As part of the historic Colorado River Delta, the Salton Sea
regularly filled and dried for thousands of years due to its
elevation of 237 feet below sea level.
The most recent version of the Salton Sea was formed in 1905 when
the Colorado River broke
through a series of dikes and flooded the seabed for two years,
creating California’s largest inland body of water. The
Salton Sea, which is saltier than the Pacific Ocean, includes 130
miles of shoreline and is larger than Lake Tahoe.
This printed issue of Western Water explores the
historic nature of some of the key agreements in recent years,
future challenges, and what leading state representatives
identify as potential “worst-case scenarios.” Much of the content
for this issue of Western Water came from the in-depth
panel discussions at the Colorado River Symposium. The Foundation
will publish the full proceedings of the Symposium in 2012.
This issue of Western Water examines the continuing practice of
smart water use in the urban sector and its many facets, from
improved consumer appliances to improved agency planning to the
improvements in water recycling and desalination. Many in the
water community say conserving water is not merely a response to
drought conditions, but a permanent ethic in an era in which
every drop of water is a valuable commodity not to be wasted.
This issue updates progress on crafting and implementing
California’s 4.4 plan to reduce its use of Colorado River water
by 800,000 acre-feet. The state has used as much as 5.2 million
acre-feet of Colorado River water annually, but under pressure
from Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and the other six states
that share this resource, California’s Colorado River parties
have been trying to close the gap between demand and supply.