Topic: Wetlands

Overview

Wetlands

Wetlands are among the most important ecosystems in the world. They produce high levels of oxygen, filter toxic chemicals out of water, reduce flooding and erosion and recharge groundwater. They also serve as critical habitat for wildlife, including a large percentage of plants and animals on California’s endangered species list.

As the state has grown into one of the world’s leading economies, Californians have developed and transformed the state’s marshes, swamps and tidal flats, losing as much as 90 percent of the original wetlands acreage—a greater percentage of loss than any other state in the nation.

While the conversion of wetlands has slowed, the loss in California is significant and it affects a range of factors from water quality to quality of life.

Wetlands still remain in every part of the state, with the greatest concentration in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its watershed, which includes the Central Valley. The Delta wetlands are especially important because they are part of the vast complex of waterways that provide two-thirds of California’s drinking water.

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council

Blog: Will Calif. pass SB 1 to resist Trump’s environmental assault?

Earlier this week, the Trump Administration announced final regulations that would gut the Endangered Species Act nationwide, weakening protections for our most imperiled wildlife. … SB 1 is intended to help fill these gap to ensure no backsliding in protecting clean air, clean water, and endangered species.

Aquafornia news SouthTahoeNow.com

New channels planned for the Upper Truckee River in South Lake Tahoe

The California Tahoe Conservancy had planned to get started on their $9 million, multi-stage Upper Truckee River project to restore and enhance over 500 acres of floodplain this fall, but that has been postponed until 2020. They will be redirecting the Upper Truckee River flows to a historical network of channels through the current Marsh while creating new channels for the river in the vicinity of the Silverwood neighborhood.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Then and now: Photos of Irvine Lake show dramatic recovery from drought times

Irvine Lake looks a lot different today than it did a year ago. Last September the reservoir looked like a giant puddle at 13 percent of capacity, today, after a rainy winter, the water covers the area and is ready to greet the public on Saturday, Aug. 17. After a 3-year hiatus, Irvine Lake is reopening for shoreline fishing on Aug. 17.

Aquafornia news Forbes

Blog: Conservationists fight to save critically endangered amphibians as Trump guts Endangered Species Act

A dozen conservationists gathered eagerly around the edges of some shallow pools above a waterfall in the Angeles National Forrest. They watched with anticipation as about a thousand Southern mountain yellow-legged frog tadpoles and three adult frogs enjoyed their first few minutes of life in the wild.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

New mapping reveals lost West Coast estuary habitat

An unprecedented survey has revealed the loss of about 85 percent of historical tidal wetlands in California, Oregon, and Washington. The report, published today in PLOS ONE, also highlights forgotten estuary acreage that might now be targeted for restoration.

Aquafornia news Pew Charitable Trusts

Blog: Remarkable California lands and rivers would gain protection under U.S. bill

According to a 2017 report by the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation generated $92 billion in consumer spending in California and is directly responsible for 691,000 jobs in the state. That’s why local residents and elected leaders have sought additional safeguards to make sure that some of the more extraordinary lands and rivers within the national forest and monument receive permanent protection as wilderness and wild and scenic rivers.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: What water is covered by the Clean Water Act?

Waters covered by the Act, called “jurisdictional waters,” are determined by the language of the Act and by court decisions and administrative rulemakings interpreting that language. Ongoing rulemaking efforts by the Trump administration, coupled with several recent court decisions, make defining jurisdictional waters very difficult.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Secretary Crowfoot: Reactivating natural floodplains in Central Valley is a win-win

At his inaugural Speaker Series on July 15, California Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot led a discussion on restoring local wildlife species and habitats by reactivating floodplains. The Secretary’s Speaker Series provides a public discussion on emerging ideas and priorities in the natural resources arena.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Editorial: Latest plan to drain Hetch Hetchy water system doesn’t add up

There is hard reality that can’t be dodged in pursuing a dreamy idea that’s existed as long as the 100-year old water and power system. Pulling the plug on the watery expanse to expose the original valley is much more complicated than a sunny study commissioned by an anti-dam environmental group hoping to pump up its cause.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Nutria infestation has Central Valley Democrat declaring war

Rep. Josh Harder has focused much of his first year in office on local issues such as water storage and the effects of almond tariffs on Central Valley farmers. Now he is training his attention on the nutria, a semi-aquatic rodent that has drawn the ire of environmentalists, farmers and local officials alike.

Aquafornia news KQED News

CalEPA Secretary Jared Blumenfeld on California’s environmental priorities under the Trump administration

California’s Secretary of Environmental Protection Jared Blumenfeld joins Forum to discuss how the state is responding to the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks and what he sees as the state’s top priorities and challenges.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

San Joaquin County sues state water agency over drilling for tunnel project

San Joaquin County has filed a lawsuit in Superior Court asking the state Department of Water Resources to abide by local drilling permit requirements to protect wildlife and water quality in accordance with California law.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

On the edge of SF’s Presidio, restoring a watershed will benefit nature and humans

There was a glint in Michael Boland’s eyes as he watched cars zooming along the Presidio Parkway over an ugly panorama of broken asphalt, weeds and construction debris behind a chain-link fence next to Crissy Field. The chief of park development and visitor engagement for the Presidio Trust was excited as he envisioned what the vacant lot was about to become — a picturesque lagoon surrounded by walking trails, vivid greenery and a spectacular view.

Aquafornia news San Luis Obispo Tribune

Editorial: Sea level rise is not ‘climate fear porn’ — it’s a threat to all of California

If we stand by and do nothing, California’s transportation network will be disrupted, its economy will be jeopardized as tech, manufacturing, tourism and ag industries falter, sandy beaches lost, and coastal residents will be forced to relocate, putting a strain on resources in inland communities. Yet many Californians have been treating sea level rise as a distant worry…

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Vineyard of Silicon Valley investor hit with $3.7 million in penalties after bulldozing Mendocino County wetland

A Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur and winemaker has agreed to pay $3.76 million in penalties after his company bulldozed a protected wetland and filled in a stream bed to build a vineyard in Mendocino County, North Coast water regulators announced Friday.

Aquafornia news Merced Sun-Star

Nutria a danger to California agriculture. Will $7 million proposal help?

Massive invasive rodents are chewing up wetlands in Merced and other counties. Area leaders say the problem needs more money to eradicate the animals, before they are out of control.

Aquafornia news KPBS

Coastal cities wrestling with ‘managed retreat’ ramifications of rising sea levels

The California Coastal Commission has encouraged cities to include a strategy called “managed retreat” in plans to prepare for sea level rise. But the commission may be retreating from that position. Del Mar is a prime example of a city where an entire neighborhood is threatened by rising seas.

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Aquafornia news Cool Green Science

Blog: A biodiversity analysis in Los Angeles

Two of the most basic questions about biodiversity are “what is it?”, which is the focus of taxonomists, and “where is it?”, which is the realm of biogeographers. Understanding basic patterns in the biogeography of an urban area is the focus of a partnership between The Nature Conservancy and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. We call our project Biodiversity Analysis in Los Angeles (BAILA).

Aquafornia news The Point Reyes Light

County to start revising streamside ordinance

How do you assess and mitigate the cumulative environmental impacts of future development? That’s the question that Marin’s environmental planners and contracted scientists have been analyzing in the San Geronimo Valley over the past decade, particularly related to the area’s threatened fish populations.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Pair of GOP senators propose easing Obama water rule

Two Midwest Republican senators are pushing a bill to cement changes made by the Trump administration to an Obama-era rule designed to reduce water pollution, bringing a pet project of the Trump administration to Congress. The Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule has long been controversial within the agriculture community…

Aquafornia news KQED Science

Environmental group says stop killing beavers; Trump administration says OK

The Trump administration has feuded with California over the state’s sanctuary laws, its stricter standards on tailpipe emissions, and the president’s declaration of a national emergency at the border. But apparently there’s one dispute, involving a certain fur-bearing mammal, that the federal government apparently wants no part of.

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Aquafornia news Sierra Wave

Owens Lake, under a microscope

A caravan of scientists, staffers and water watchers wound its way through the maze of roads on Owens Lake last week in search of answers: Are the dust control measures working and will this project ever be done? The answers are yes and probably not, respectively.

Aquafornia news SCVNews.com

Efforts to save federally endangered frogs, tadpoles continue

Close to one thousand Los Angeles Zoo bred mountain yellow-legged frogs and tadpoles will be released into a tributary to Cooper Canyon, located in the Angeles National Forest. Representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Los Angeles Zoo, and Forest Service will release the tadpoles Aug. 14 …

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

The Yolo Bypass: It’s a floodplain! It’s farmland! It’s an ecosystem!

California’s biggest river—the Sacramento—needs a lot of room to spread in big water years. A floodplain project called the Yolo Bypass allows it to flood naturally, while also providing habitat for waterbirds, fish, and other aquatic species. We talked to Ted Sommer, lead scientist for the Department of Water Resources (DWR), about this versatile landscape.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Opinion: Kaufmann’s watercolor hope is for California’s watery future

Naturalist and artist Obi Kaufmann has made a specialty of pairing information-packed text with gorgeous art. … Kaufmann’s second book, “The State of Water: Understanding California’s Most Precious Resource,” has a narrower though still ambitious focus: California’s rivers, lakes and watersheds, their wildlife, and the ways in which we humans have altered them.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

How California has blocked Trump’s environmental rollbacks

More than halfway through his term, experts say, the president has had almost no lasting impact on California’s major environmental rules despite making broad promises and appointing former industry officials into top jobs. The reason: California, a quasi-country with 40 million people and the world’s fifth-largest economy, has been aggressively passing its own state laws, filing lawsuits against the federal government and cutting deals with other states and countries to go around the Trump White House.

Aquafornia news Petaluma Argus-Courier

Local group produces Petaluma wetlands field guide

When Marian Parker first began to consider creating a field guide for the Petaluma Wetlands, she had little way of knowing the project would open a whole watershed of opportunity for Petaluma’s wetland educational programs.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Woolsey fire burned habitats for California Red-Legged frogs

Katy Delaney pointed to an open patch of sediment at the base of the canyon. A year ago, pools of cool water gleamed under the sun and frogs basked on their banks. Now, a trickle of water lazed through the mud. And the California red-legged frog, whose fate had consumed eight years of Delaney’s life, was nowhere to be seen.

Aquafornia news San Francisco State University

Blog: SF State team tests surprising new tools for slowing climate change

This month, a group of researchers working out of San Francisco State University’s Sierra Nevada Field Campus received funding for a five-year study to determine if restoring degraded meadows to their former, more lush state could make these ecosystems more effective tools for slowing the pace of climate change.

Aquafornia news The Coast News

Agreement in place for Buena Vista Lagoon restoration

The decades-long battle to determine the appropriate method to rehabilitate the lagoon appears to have been settled between government agencies and property owners, said Keith Greer, a principal planner for the San Diego Association of Governments during its June 28 board meeting.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: Yolo Bypass fish passage project approved

The Department of Water Resources has secured final state and federal approval for a project that will expand a migration corridor for fish to the Yolo Bypass, the Sacramento Valley’s main floodplain. The project is part of the largest floodplain restoration action on the West Coast…

Aquafornia news Fox 26 News

Special report: The Central Valley’s trashed-out rivers

The Kings River is littered with trash, both in the water, and in the wooded areas surrounding the river. We all know people litter, and that can get caught in the River — but the Kings is also tarnished by shopping carts piled up high, countless tires stacked to form rubber walls, and even a truck, submerged in the same water people swim in.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Editorial: Coalition of agencies, environmentalists sees future for aging dam

While California contemplates new dams for its thirsty future, it’s also thinking about taking out old ones. Along with advancing plans to demolish three dams atop the Klamath River, there’s a movement to rethink and possibly take out a water and power dam in the Mendocino County back country.

Aquafornia news Crosscut

Drinking responsibly could now mean drinking ‘Salmon-Safe’ beer

An Oregon-based sustainable certification organization, Salmon Safe, encourages farms, vineyards, buildings and even golf courses throughout Washington, Oregon, California and British Columbia to mitigate their impacts on salmon habitat by doing things like reducing pollution-heavy stormwater runoff. For a brewery, that means getting its facilities certified or sourcing ingredients from farms that have restored salmon-inhabited streams and limited their use of water and pesticides.

Aquafornia news Glendale News-Press

L.A. River revitalization: Plan to connect Verdugo Mountains, San Rafael Hills unveiled

A plan to connect two ecologically rich areas in Glendale’s Verdugo Wash has been endorsed by officials tasked with revitalizing the upper part of the Los Angeles River.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Secretary Crowfoot talks about the water resilience portfolio, delta conveyance and more

Secretary of Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot discussed the Governor’s water resilience portfolio and reiterated the Newsom administration’s support for modernized conveyance in the Delta. That was followed by a robust discussion that included Delta conveyance, water storage, emerging contaminants and PFAS, among other things.

Aquafornia news MyNewsLA.com

L.A. mayor nominates longtime water expert to MWD board

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti Tuesday nominated a longtime water-resources expert for a seat on the Metropolitan Water District Board of Directors. Tracy Quinn serves as the California director of water efficiency for the Natural Resources Defense Council and has almost two decades of water policy experience.

Aquafornia news Legal Planet

Blog: The Trump administration’s latest efforts to hobble the Clean Water Act

Earlier this year, President Trump launched – by executive order, of course – a new process designed to circumscribe dramatically states’ longstanding authority to review applications for federal permits for any activity that may result in a discharge to a water body within a state’s boundaries. That proposal is fundamentally flawed, both on its merits and in the procedures USEPA is using to implement it.

Aquafornia news The Conversation

As flood risks increase across the US, it’s time to recognize the limits of levees

River towns can start by restricting floodplain development so that people and property will not be in harm’s way. This will create space for rivers to spill over in flood season, reducing risks downstream. Proposals to raise and improve levees should be required to take climate change and related flooding risks into account.

Aquafornia news Photographic Museum of Humanity

The illusion of limitless water

In black and white, John Trotter documents the use of water from the Colorado River, tackling the social, political, and environmental impact of the way it’s dealt with. Spanning over years and kilometres, his ongoing essay is a dire political outcry.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Humboldt Bay is retaking the land as the sea level rises

Between 1890 and 1910, almost 90% of Humboldt Bay’s salt marshes, about 8,100 acres, were diked and drained for agricultural uses or walled off from tidal inundation with the construction of the Northwest Pacific Railroad. Now … the earthen dikes are beginning to fail, both because they haven’t been maintained and because they aren’t tall enough to hold back the rising tides brought on by rising sea levels.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: California Senate Bill 1 a dangerous over-reaction

Proponents have said SB 1 will keep Trump from delivering more water to farms, thereby harming endangered fish. That sentiment is exactly what makes SB 1 so dangerous. It relies on the worn-out trope that California’s water issues boil down to “farms versus fish.”

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: California moves to block Trump from rolling back its environmental protections

There’s a new twist in the California-Trump brawl in the state Legislature. It’s aimed at overriding the president’s power to weaken environmental protections. Put simply, any federal protections President Trump tried to gut would immediately become state regulations in their original, strong form.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: Riverine Stewardship Program offers $48 million in competitive grants

The Department of Water Resources released the final guidelines for the Riverine Stewardship Program on July 1, 2019. The grant program supports planning and implementation of projects that restore streams, creeks, and rivers to enhance the environment for fish, wildlife, and people.

Aquafornia news Dredging Today

South San Francisco Bay project: Alviso shoreline works resume

Santa Clara Valley Water District (Valley Water) has resumed pre-construction activities in Alviso, California, delivering on a long-made promise to protect shoreline communities in Santa Clara County from devastating flooding.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: California needs to build Sites Reservoir. Here’s why

We need a broad portfolio of solutions that includes storage above and below ground, conservation, and other options such as traditional recycled and potable reuse to help ensure we can better manage this vital resource when the next inevitable drought comes along. … One part of that solution is the proposed Sites Reservoir.

Aquafornia news The Mountain Democrat

Sierra Nevada Conservancy awards $3 million for restoration projects

Each of the selected projects strike at the heart of the Sierra Nevada watershed improvement program, SNC’s large-scale restoration initiative designed to improve ecosystem and community resilience in the region.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Drought, fish, and water in California

With a big collective sigh of relief, Californians rejoiced that we have largely recovered from 2012-2016 drought. But this is not a time for complacency… This should thus be a time to develop new and better strategies for reducing impacts of severe drought on both natural and developed systems.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Governor and Legislature advance voluntary agreements in the state budget

The Newsom Administration and the State Legislature approved a commitment of $70 million in the 2019-2020 State Budget for a comprehensive series of innovative fish and wildlife habitat enhancement actions identified in the collaborative Bay-Delta Voluntary Agreement proposals. This is a significant, early investment in the success of the Voluntary Agreements.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Clean Water Rule: Court sides with WOTUS foes as legal fight gets messier

The Obama administration violated the law when it issued its embattled definition of “waters of the United States,” a federal court ruled yesterday. In a long-awaited decision, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas sided with three states and a coalition of agriculture and industry groups that have been trying to take down the joint EPA and Army Corps of Engineers rule since 2015.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: California’s growing demand for recycled water has ripple effects

Wastewater agencies produce highly treated water that is increasingly being reused as a water supply. While it’s still only a small portion of overall water use, the use of recycled water has nearly tripled since the 1980s―and is continuing to rise as water agencies seek to meet the demands of a growing population and improve the resilience of their water supplies.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

SF Bay’s problems fester as regulator neglects responsibility, investigation finds

An investigation into the Bay Conservation and Development Commission found mismanagement and disorganization so rampant that the once-celebrated watchdog agency allegedly neglected its primary responsibility — to protect San Francisco Bay. A state audit of the regulatory agency known as the BCDC describes slow and inefficient enforcement, a huge backlog of cases and an inability to perform key duties.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Weakling or bully? The battle over CEQA, the state’s iconic environmental law

Inside the Capitol’s corridors and pro-development quarters around the state, CEQA is increasingly disparaged as a villain in the state’s housing crisis. … New Gov. Gavin Newsom, to fulfill his hyper-ambitious quota of new housing construction, has called for fast-tracking judicial CEQA review of housing, similar to that granted sports teams building stadiums. But the act’s environmentalist defenders are pushing back.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Golden Gate Bridge district releases environmental report on $2M marsh restoration project in Corte Madera

On a former tidal marsh in Corte Madera that’s blanketed with bay mud and overgrown with invasive grasses, Golden Gate Bridge officials are planning a $2 million restoration project that would bolster habitat for an endangered bird species displaced by the Larkspur Ferry Terminal. The district has released the results of an environmental study of the proposed project and is accepting comments on the report until May 26.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Audit blasts San Francisco Bay watchdog on inaction

The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission has “neglected its mission” to protect the bay and surrounding wetlands, the California state auditor reported Tuesday. The commission, which issues permits for activities like boating, dredging and dumping, has a backlog of 230 open enforcement cases, some decades old.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

$1 million grant for Elkhorn Slough to help restore wetlands

Elkhorn Slough has received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, which will be used to help restore approximately 63 acres—about 83 football fields—of tidal wetlands at the Slough. … Additional funds — equaling a $26.7 million — have been pledged by state and local governments, private landholders, and conservation groups.

Aquafornia news Western Water News

Friday Top of the Scroll: With drought plan in place, Colorado River stakeholders face even tougher talks ahead on river’s future

Set to expire in 2026, the current guidelines for water deliveries and shortage sharing, launched in 2007 amid a multiyear drought, were designed to prevent disputes that could provoke conflict. … But as the time for crafting a new set of rules draws near, some river veterans suggest the result will be nothing less than a dramatic re-imagining of how the overworked Colorado River is managed…

Aquafornia news The Log

Poseidon’s restoration obligations on deck at Coastal Commission meeting

Poseidon Water might be fighting for its desalination future in Huntington Beach, but the corporation’s representatives will be in front of the California Coastal Commission for an entirely different matter on May 9: the restoration and conversion of a 90.9-acre salt pond to tidal wetlands and 34.6-acrer Otay River floodplain site in San Diego.

Aquafornia news The Recorder

Opinion: California’s bold step forward into the contentious world of wetlands regulation

In April 2019, the California State Water Resources Control Board unanimously approved a comprehensive new legal framework for protecting California’s wetlands. California has lost approximately 90% of its historic wetland areas, which have important water quality, species habitat and other environmental and economic benefits. … California has never had its own comprehensive wetlands protection law.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

In Trump vs. California, the state is winning nearly all its environmental cases

California’s lawsuits have targeted the administration’s policies on immigration, healthcare and education. But nowhere has the legal battle had a greater impact than on Trump’s agenda of dismantling Obama-era environmental and public health regulations. In its rush to delay, repeal and rewrite rules it considers unduly burdensome to industry, the administration has experienced significant setbacks in court.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: The California water model: Resilience through failure

A review of 170 years of water-related successes in California suggests that most successes can be traced directly to past mistakes. California’s highly variable climate has made it a crucible for innovations in water technology and policy.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Finally, California and IID reach agreement on Salton Sea access and liability

The Imperial Irrigation District board of directors voted Tuesday to allow access across its lands for critically needed state wetlands projects at the Salton Sea, designed to tamp down dangerous dust storms and give threatened wildlife a boost. In exchange, California will shoulder the maintenance and operations of the projects, and the state’s taxpayers will cover the costs of any lawsuits or regulatory penalties…

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Aquafornia news The Wildlife Society

Blog: Unique partnership preserves unique California ecosystems

Before California’s Central Valley became known as an agricultural powerhouse, it contained one of the largest expanses of streamside forest and wetland habitat in North America. … Much of that landscape has been transformed into farmland and urban areas, but at the Cosumnes River Preserve, a unique partnership of nonprofits and state, federal and local governments has conserved over 50,000 acres that provide resources for a variety of wildlife.

Aquafornia news High Country News

See the captivating flux of Western alkaline waters

These saltwater landscapes of the West are in a constant flux, transforming from low salinity chartreuses and cyans to alkaline magenta, finally settling into evaporated salty white wastelands. Soaring in a small plane above the landscapes, photographer Aya Okawa captures these unique ecosystems at different stages of their progressions, as salt becomes more concentrated.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

The Napa-Sonoma marshes are rebounding with wildlife

Once one of most extensive wetland areas in North America, the edges of the San Francisco Bay have become covered with farms, industry, and urban areas, squeezing out the marches and their animal and plant occupants. But at the lower end of the Napa River, a remarkable effort is underway to undo a century and half of damage to the once-thriving marshes.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Hundreds of California species at risk of extinction, United Nations report says — in addition to millions globally

In California, there are around 300 species at risk and 346 species in California, Nevada and Southern Oregon combined. A handful of plants and animals have already disappeared from the state, such as the Santa Barbara song sparrow and the the California subspecies of the Grizzly Bear. … About a dozen species are currently at risk of extinction, according to Dan Applebee, an environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Changes were made to water flow out of Glen Canyon Dam. That led to more bugs in the Colorado River

Ted Kennedy sums up what he sees along the river in the Grand Canyon: “It’s buggy out there.” That is to say, an experiment to change the flow of water from a dam near the Arizona-Utah state line appeared to boost the number of aquatic insects that fish in the Colorado River eat. Scientists are hoping to better understand those results with a second bug flow experiment that started this month and will run through August.

Aquafornia news East Bay Times

Triumph as rare red-legged frogs return to Yosemite

With no parting glance at their devoted human caretakers, 142 rare red-legged frogs swam to freedom on Friday — one small jump for the frogs but a giant leap for the threatened species. Our official state amphibian, the frogs vanished from these pristine mountain meadows 50 years ago.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California water board faces lawsuit over new wetlands rules

With the Trump administration trudging ahead and re-writing another Obama-era environmental law, wary California regulators last month approved new protections for wetlands in the Golden State. … Hoping to freeze the new wetlands rules, a coalition consisting of several California water suppliers and the city of San Francisco sued the water board late Wednesday in state court. 

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Editorial: It’s OK to stop, take a deep breath with state water policy

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call on Monday for a new comprehensive water plan for California looks like a smart timeout on one of the state’s trickiest and most intractable battlefronts. As with many political hot potatoes, there is no way to make everyone happy when it comes to water management, because the sides have mutually exclusive goals…

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Oysters to defend San Francisco Bay from sea level rise? Marin research shows promising results

While oysters and sea grasses may not immediately stand out as defenders against sea level rise, a five-year test run using oyster reefs and eelgrass beds in the waters off of San Rafael has shown promising results. … Marshlands, reefs and other natural habitats have proven to buffer shorelines from erosion and powerful waves, but human development over the past two centuries has resulted in a substantial loss of these natural defenses.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Trump administration unveils plan to open up 1 million California acres to oil drilling

A 174-page environmental report released by the U.S. Interior Department will expedite new extraction on roughly 1 million acres of Central and Southern California, primarily in the historical oil fields around Bakersfield and the deep petroleum deposits near Santa Barbara but potentially in the Sierra Nevada as well.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Federal official blocks water for Walker Lake restoration, conservation group alleges

A federal official is attempting to “obstruct” the flow of water to restore habitat at Walker Lake, the conservancy responsible for administering federal restoration funds alleged in District Court last week. After years of litigation, lawyers for the Walker Basin Conservancy said that “at some point, the court must put a stop to the federal water master’s obstruction.” The receding desert lake outside of Hawthorne is fed by the Walker River, which rises in California and snakes through Western Nevada.

Aquafornia news KESQ

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Salton Sea pelican population declining at startling rate

A new report paints a grim future for birds that rely on the Salton Sea habitat. Audubon California-released report uses bird-monitoring data from several different sources to show just how the destruction of the Salton Sea ecological habitat has decimated the populations of both pelicans and cormorants endemic to the area.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Restoring California’s great estuary

For centuries, the Delta was a dynamic and rich ecosystem of tidal wetlands, riparian forests, and vast seasonal floodplains. But about 98 percent of the native habitat disappeared after the Gold Rush and a population boom across the Golden State.

Aquafornia news KABC Los Angeles

Lincoln Heights park’s green design helps improve LA’s water quality

Ten-acre Albion Riverside Park can get a lot done. The green infrastructure built into the park can clean the stormwater that goes through it, capture pollutants and release it into groundwater basins. The price tag on the park is about $40 million. The new park sits on the old Downey Recreational Center and the Swiss Dairy site, bringing new athletic fields and more to the community.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

How much hip can the desert absorb?

Should the state of California honor a commitment made in 2003 to restore the Salton Sea, despite moving water away from the area to thirsty coastal cities? Or should this artificial, long-festering sea be left alone to dry up entirely? While politicians have dithered, Bombay Beach’s atmospheric decay has drawn filmmakers, novelists and other artists who marvel at the thriving community hidden inside seemingly derelict properties.

Aquafornia news JD Supra

Blog: Rising waters of the state and receding waters of the U.S.

While you may have heard about the Trump administration’s attempts to narrow the scope of Waters of the United States (WOTUS), California is expanding its regulations, including broadening the definition of wetlands subject to permitting requirements. … Projects impacting California surface waters and wetlands that are outside federal jurisdiction will now need state authorization under new and more expansive rules. 

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Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Endangered wetlands offer vital wildlife habitat and, often, a reason to fight about coastal development

In Orange and Los Angeles counties, more than 90 percent of the estuaries, lagoons and other coastal waters that existed in the 19th century have been lost to roads, buildings and other development. But what remains provides a crucial habitat for resident animals and migrating birds, including several endangered species.

Aquafornia news The Confluence

Blog: Headwaters

I am standing where stream flow begins, in a nameless tributary of the Russian River to the east of Hopland, California. This particular spot and location has been a grazing livestock ranch, primarily sheep, going back more than 100 years. This is one of thousands of spots in the watershed where water comes to the surface, joins in a channel, and starts its path downstream.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Clean Water Act: EPA won’t regulate pollution that moves through groundwater

EPA won’t regulate any pollution to surface waters that passes through groundwater. … If pollution travels through groundwater, EPA says, it “breaks the causal chain” between a source of pollution and surface waters. That could affect regulation of pollution from a variety of sources, including seepage from coal ash and manure management ponds, sewage collection systems, septic system discharges, and accidental spills and releases.

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Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Fifteen AGs slam Trump move to limit federal authority under Clean Water Act

Attorneys general from 14 states and the District of Columbia on Tuesday vehemently opposed the Trump administration’s proposal to roll back a regulation known as Waters of the United States, a move they said would end federal oversight of 15 percent of streams and more than half of the nation’s wetlands.

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Aquafornia news Reuters

U.S. presidential candidate Warren wants drilling, mining banned on federal lands

U.S. presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said on Monday she would ban all fossil fuel extraction on federal land and in coastal waters, setting herself apart from a crowded field of Democratic hopefuls who have made climate change a central campaign issue but have yet to outline specific policies.

Aquafornia news KQED News

‘There’s so much here that’s still alive’: Young filmmakers document a dying Salton Sea

Massive fish-die offs. Dead birds. A toxic stench. Bryan Mendez and Olivia Rodriguez are dissatisfied that those sad facts are the only things most Californians ever hear about the Salton Sea, one of the largest inland seas in the world.  

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Removing the plants that clog the Salinas River

The tall, bamboo-like plants clustered in dense thickets along sections of the Salinas River in the Salinas Valley have long attracted the attention of those who have strolled in that area. Green and stately with long, sword-like leaves, they belong to a species known as Arundo donax, or more commonly, giant cane. … But the plant is a nuisance and local officials have decided to do something about it.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Environmentalists, lawmakers find compromise on water pipeline bill

Environmental groups have dropped their opposition to a bill they had originally blasted as a way for the state to green-light a controversial plan to pipe water from eastern Nevada to Las Vegas after the bill was amended last week. … But AB30 was altered significantly enough on Wednesday to allow those groups to feel comfortable enough to now say they are neutral on the bill.

Aquafornia news National Geographic

This toad’s sex life hinges on finding the perfect pool

The Yosemite toad is considered endangered, and its numbers are falling. Scientists say the amphibian chytrid fungus is one reason, but climate change also may contribute to some pools drying up before tadpoles mature.

Aquafornia news Lake County News

The Living Landscape: The western pond turtle

All along the lazy Lake County shorelines of creeks, ponds and lakes you may be able to sneak up on Western pond turtles to observe their slow-motion antics. … Besides watery places of residence, however, they require a terrestrial habitat to thrive. For instance, if the turtles’ resident pond or marsh dries up seasonally or in a drought, they might end up living outside of their aquatic environment for two-thirds of a year.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Interior: Bernhardt faces hefty to-do list

Bernhardt has a roster to fill, with gaping vacancies in key positions. He’s got, by his own account, a departmental ethics program to fix and an ambitious reorganization scheme that critics decry or simply dismiss. He’ll have to cope with a multibillion-dollar national parks maintenance backlog and thread the needle with an offshore drilling plan. And as he’s already discovered during his short stint as acting secretary, he faces opposition from Democratic lawmakers in control of the House.

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Aquafornia news Associated Press

Los Angeles’ water supply in good shape for the year

The Eastern Sierra snowpack that feeds the Los Angeles Aqueduct was measured this month at 171% of normal and is expected to meet 70 percent of the city’s annual water needs. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said Friday the aqueduct will flow at or near full capacity for much of the next 12 months, providing about 119 billion gallons (450.4 billion liters).

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Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Opinion: Garbage in, garbage out: Sacramento’s Salton Sea restoration plan

At its core, the ill-advised attempt to “restore” the Salton Sea is nothing short of environmental malpractice. It will inevitably fail at a very high cost to both wildlife and taxpayers, succeeding only in perpetuating a hazardous condition.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

David Bernhardt confirmed as Interior secretary despite ethics concerns

David Bernhardt, President Trump’s pick to the lead the Interior Department, was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday amid persistent ethical concerns and doubts about his independence from the energy and water industry groups he long represented as a lobbyist.

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Aquafornia news Ag Alert

State wetlands policy returns to original intent

More than a decade in the making, a new state definition of wetlands will likely take effect early next year—as will procedures intended to protect them from dredge-and-fill activities. The State Water Resources Control Board adopted final amendments to the state wetland policy last week, after including changes that moved it closer to its original intent of limiting its application to agriculture.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

California Water Commission: Using flood water for managed aquifer recharge

“Flood-MAR” is a resource management strategy that uses flood water for managed aquifer recharge (MAR) on agricultural lands, working landscapes, and managed natural landscapes. At the March meeting of the California Water Commission, a panel discussed Flood MAR with a focus on using agricultural lands for groundwater recharge.

Aquafornia news KUNC

Five years later, effects of Colorado River pulse flow still linger

All this reliance on an overallocated river has left its final hundred miles as the ultimate collateral damage. Since the early 1960s, when Glen Canyon Dam impounded the river near Page, Arizona, it has rarely reached the Pacific Ocean. The thread is frayed beyond recognition, leaving no water for the river itself.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Editorial: SB307 goes against California’s water needs

Senate Bill 307 prohibits water transfers unless two agencies agree that the transfers do not harm state and federal desert lands. But it’s really about one thing: stopping the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project. … The Cadiz project has been thoroughly vetted and meets an important need. It’s time legislators let it proceed.

Aquafornia news KUNC

As the Colorado River Basin dries, can an accidental oasis survive?

The wetland is fed by a concrete canal that removes drainage water from American farms across the border in Arizona. … But there’s a problem. As the Colorado River basin heats up and dries out like climate projections predict, Juan Butrón-Méndez is concerned people will stop thinking of the water that flows to the wetland as waste, find a way to use it and, in turn, harm the Ciénega.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

For long-term water supply, U.S. officials look to Mexico

An increasing number of solutions to California and Arizona’s long-term water problems now involve Mexico. Some of the ideas are seemingly far-fetched, like a pipeline to bring water from the Gulf of California to the Salton Sea in Imperial County. Some are already happening, like Mexico agreeing to reduce its water use in the event of a Colorado River shortage. … That stands in contrast not only to recent threats by President Donald Trump to shut down the border, but some existing water projects.

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Aquafornia news KPBS

Western bird species are struggling in face of rapidly changing climate

New research finds that climate change is putting stress on wetlands in the West’s Great Basin and that is putting pressure on bird populations navigating the Pacific Flyway. Changing water conditions linked to climate change are impacting the wetland habitats that waterbirds rely on. The basin includes most of Nevada and parts of Utah, Arizona, Oregon and the eastern edge of California.

Aquafornia news Highland Community News

Opinion: Rain, like a tax refund, should be banked for the future

Our predecessors settled in a valley bordered by mountains that increase the rainfall and help store water as melted snow underground. They also experienced drought and, in response, they thoughtfully set aside thousands of acres of land needed to capture and replenish the primary source of the water they needed, underground.

Aquafornia news Downey Brand

Blog: After years of handwringing and negotiations, California Water Board adopts state wetland definition and procedures for discharges

Among other ramifications, the new procedures largely duplicate (and in some respects are inconsistent with) federal procedures, but add a significant new layer to the already byzantine regulatory process for permitting projects that involve fill of federal and state waters and wetlands.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

New recreational amenities, restored marshland proposed for Fiesta Island

San Diego officials are proposing a variety of upgrades to Mission Bay Park’s Fiesta Island including new parks, playgrounds, volleyball courts, marsh areas and habitat preserves. The proposed master plan for the mostly undeveloped 470-acre island is envisioned as a balance between improving the island and retaining its rural ambiance, city officials said.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: Protect the state’s environmental legacy from Trump’s onslaughts

His departments and agencies have moved to weaken or eliminate dozens of protections, and the rollbacks are coming so fast it’s not always possible for the state to keep up. It’s not for lack of trying. On Tuesday, the State Water Resources Control Board approved new standards to protect California’s wetlands and seasonal streams and ponds that are slated to lose their current federal protection under the Clean Water Act as part of the Trump administration’s rollbacks.

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Editorial: Preserving protection for California’s vital wetlands

Under the Clean Water Act, states are allowed to enforce rules more stringent than federal standards. On Tuesday, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted rules that largely mirror the federal regulations the Trump administration plans to repeal. California’s new rules had been in the works since 2008, but the process took on added urgency when the Trump administration announced its intention to relax federal wetlands protections.

Aquafornia news Legal Planet

Blog: California adopts new, welcome wetlands protection rules

This week California’s State Water Resources Control Board adopted important new rules to protect the state’s remaining wetlands resources. Enacted after over a decade of Board hearings, workshops and deliberation, those rules are overdue, welcome and critically necessary. Their adoption is particularly timely now, given the Trump Administration’s wholesale assault on and erosion of federal programs designed to protect our nation’s wetlands under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA).

Aquafornia news East Bay Times

Fremont’s protected vernal pools wriggle with life

Our soggy spring has been a big boost to these so-called “vernal ponds,” ephemeral bodies of water which play a critical role in preservation of threatened and endangered creatures… The team found larvae of the threatened California tiger salamander in 28 of the 58 pools they monitor. The endangered vernal pool tadpole shrimp was found in 49 of these pools. That’s the third-highest tally in recent years.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Mexico-US talks focus on fixes for failing sewer systems on the border

Mexican and American officials met in Mexico City this week to talk about fixing a costly set of problems that have sprung up along the border: failing sewer systems that send raw sewage spilling into rivers. … Roberto Salmón, Mexico’s commissioner of the International Boundary and Water Commission, said border cities from Tijuana to Matamoros need a total of about 10 billion pesos, or $520 million, “just to bring the sanitary systems up to speed, to correct the problems.”

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Aquafornia news Capital Press

Opinion: Now is the time to weigh in on proposed Clean Water Rule

Now EPA and the Corps want to hear directly from members of the public — including farmers, ranchers, landowners and others who may be subject to regulation — to make sure the new Clean Water Rule provides clear and easily understood guidelines. But with the comment period on the proposed new rule closing on April 15, there’s no time to lose.

Aquafornia news The Planning Report

Blog: CalEPA Secretary Blumenfeld on Governor Newsom’s water & climate priorities

As Secretary, Jared Blumenfeld oversees the state’s efforts to fight climate change, protect air and water quality, regulate pesticides and toxic substances, achieve the state’s recycling and waste reduction goals, and advance environmental justice. … Blumenfeld joined TPR for an exclusive interview to discuss the administration’s priorities…

Aquafornia news Bay Area Monitor

Restoring mountain meadows to benefit water supply

To prepare for the dry years that will come again as well as an uncertain future, healthy mountain watersheds will be key to our water supply. While the importance of forests to these watersheds is well known, new research suggests that meadows are valuable too. Meadows are like sponges, soaking up snowmelt in the spring and releasing it through the dry season.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Salton Sea gains protections, IID board president says

Excluded from a Southwestern drought pact, the Imperial Irrigation District won a small victory on Tuesday when federal legislators included protections for the Salton Sea that were left out of previous drafts of the agreement.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California adopts new wetlands rules to protect them from Trump rollbacks

California regulators voted Tuesday to strengthen state safeguards for thousands of wetlands and streams that are about to lose federal protections in a Trump administration rollback of the Clean Water Act. … The new state rules will insulate California from Washington’s efforts to drop regulations that prevent the destruction of isolated wetlands and seasonal streams.

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Aquafornia news SFGate.com

Bombay Beach Biennale focuses artists’ energy in effort to save Salton Sea

The use of public art to bring about social change created the interactive art event called the “Bombay Beach Biennale” on the shores of the Salton Sea. Organizers hope to bring attention to the long-ignored environmental issue facing the region, once one of the premier tourist destinations in Southern California.

Aquafornia news Western City Magazine

California’s public trust doctrine draws attention in the courts

Modern interpretations of the public trust are said to have originated from a sixth-century Roman law that asserted, “[b]y the law of nature these things are common to mankind — the air, running water, the sea and consequently the shores of the sea.”

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Vernal pools: Rains bring to life mini-ecosystem

Alongside auto wrecking yards and shipping centers off state Route 905, a pop-up world has emerged with some of the strangest creatures to swim in six inches of water. Here aquatic plants grow next to cacti, and animals that have waited for decades in the dust come to life. In this Otay Mesa preserve are some of San Diego’s vernal pools, fleeting water bodies that appear and vanish over the course of a season.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Opinion: Water Resources Control Board must act to protect wetlands

In 1972, Congress enacted the Clean Water Act, which included a program designed to preserve the nation’s dwindling wetlands. This federal program has never been wholly successful in achieving that goal. … California has the ability to fill this alarming regulatory gap, at least here in the Golden State.

Aquafornia news The Eastsider

New Lincoln Heights park provides green space and cleans water, too

On Saturday officials held a grand opening ceremony for the $44-million Albion Riverside Park — the city’s newest greenspace. The triangular six-acre site next to the L.A. River at Spring Street includes playing fields, walking trails, restrooms, playgrounds, parking and an outdoor fitness center. But the park will also do double-duty as a giant filter to clean storm drain water before it flows in the adjacent L.A. River.

Aquafornia news Long Beach Press Telegram

Fight against invasive plants at Bolsa Chica Wetlands expands to nearby state beach

Conservationists and weekend volunteers have toiled in the Bolsa Chica Wetlands for years, weeding out invasive plants and replanting native vegetation squeezed out by the invaders. … Now, these wildlife custodians are expanding their botanical battle across Pacific Coast Highway to the sand dunes of Bolsa Chica State Beach. After all, no matter how many enemy plants are removed from the wetlands, ocean winds will carry more seeds from  non-native plants growing in the dunes.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Farmers who disputed frog-focused habitat lose suit

Nearly 2 million acres designated as critical habitat for three imperiled frog species survived a court challenge Wednesday by California farmers. The Fish and Wildlife Service had designated the land in 2016 under the Endangered Species Act to protect two high-altitude species — the mountain yellow-legged frog and the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog — as well as Yosemite toads.

Aquafornia news The Planning Report

Blog: Martha Davis: Using sustainable landscapes to address climate change & drought

TPR interviewed Martha Davis, a co-author on the Sustainable Landscapes on Commercial and Industrial Properties in the Santa Ana River Watershed report, about the potential for landscaping changes to capture stormwater, reduce flooding, and improve water quality. … Davis also comments on California water policies under the new Governor Newsom administration. A brief excerpt of the report follows the interview.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

A nemesis of California environmentalists gains new powers, but also new foes

Democrats and their allies are moving to push back against a former lobbyist and frequent foe of California environmentalists who is on his way to becoming the next secretary of the Interior Department. They don’t have the power to block Trump nominee David Bernhardt, but they do have far more ability to oppose his agenda than they had for the last two years, when he served as the powerful deputy secretary of the department.

Aquafornia news East Bay Express

Beat cops of the Bay: How the nonprofit group Baykeeper monitors polluters in Bay Area waters

This may be the bleakest shoreline in the Bay Area, and it isn’t just the industrial infrastructure that gives character to this place. Floating trash has collected along the docks, and the waters are contaminated by the loading and unloading of vast amounts of fossil fuels. A sign posted to a piling warns fishers not to eat anything they catch here.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Environmentalists and winemakers square off in Napa Valley

“The community is miserably divided,” said Napa County Supervisor Diane Dillon during a meeting on Tuesday. Dillon and her four fellow board members were tasked with crafting and approving the Water Quality and Tree Protection Ordinance, a controversial new law that seeks to conserve trees and forested areas while improving water quality for the many creeks that feed the Napa River.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Rising seas bring rising water management challenges

Major new efforts to manage runoff and protect existing homes and businesses will be needed. Sea level rise will also affect water management in other ways. One area is wastewater treatment. Throughout coastal California and particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area, wastewater and stormwater treatment takes place in facilities that are currently at or near sea level. Water supply will also be affected. Many coastal aquifers will see increases in salinity …

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Aquarium of the Pacific CEO drives bold vision in climate change-focused expansion

In California, [Jerry] Schubel saw an opportunity to turn the energy, food and water issues facing the state into a sustainable model showing how people can live in harmony with the Earth and the ocean, and thrive. That model required deep collaboration, a commitment to educational resources for the public and an aquarium willing to take a risk.

Aquafornia news Paradise Post

New flood plain near Hamilton City gets first test when river rises

As the Sacramento River rose in late February and early March due to a series of storms, it spilled over and flooded several hundred acres of recently planted fields south of Hamilton City. Just the way it was planned. The river poured through a gap that had been opened in the old J Levee and flooded a habitat restoration project between the riverbank and a new levee that had been built, set back from the river a mile or so.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

How California is defying Trump’s environmental rollbacks

State officials are throwing up legal barriers to some high-stakes attacks. … They are refusing to issue permits the federal government needs to build a controversial dam project… And they can use state water quality standards to limit Washington’s ability to boost irrigation supplies for Central Valley agriculture by relaxing federal safeguards for endangered fish.

Aquafornia news Sierra Sun Times

UC Santa Cruz biologist finds climate change and drought threaten small mountain streams in the Sierra

Small mountain streams and the vibrant ecosystems they support were hit hard by the historic California drought of 2012 to 2015. Researchers monitoring aquatic life in Sierra Nevada streams observed significant declines in the numbers of aquatic insects and other bottom-dwelling invertebrates during the drought.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

As Trump tries to roll back clean water rules, California seeks stronger protections

The Trump administration and California are at odds over what water bodies should be protected from new development. Each is pursuing its own regulatory policy.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

California works to head off another season of deadly fires

It’s inevitable. Every year, big swaths of California will burn. The question now that spring is here is how bad it will be. If recent history is any guide, this year’s wildfire season could be grim, despite a new push by state officials to keep flames at bay. For all of its lush redwood forests and snow-capped peaks, most of the Golden State is semi-arid… And a shifting climate has been delivering ever hotter summer weather.

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Aquafornia news Aspen Journalism

Colorado water officials start studying statewide program to reduce water use

The directors of the Colorado Water Conservation Board voted Thursday to start exploring the feasibility of a demand-management program as part of a larger effort to manage falling water levels in Lake Powell and Lake Mead and avoid violating the Colorado River Compact.

Aquafornia news KQED

Opinion: The Creek

Water gives us life, and water does not come easily to California. It made sense to invite it to stay a while and help nurture our Gravensteins, our white figs and pear. So I’ve spent months cutting back bramble and digging out blackberry. The creek has become my workout video. I spend mornings contemplating the flow of water and noticing what mushrooms grow in the leaf litter, what animal prints inscribe the mud.

Aquafornia news UC Santa Cruz

Blog: Climate change and drought threaten small mountain streams in the Sierra Nevada

Small mountain streams and the vibrant ecosystems they support were hit hard by the historic California drought of 2012 to 2015. Researchers monitoring aquatic life in Sierra Nevada streams observed significant declines in the numbers of aquatic insects and other bottom-dwelling invertebrates during the drought.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Opinion: Government meddling in groundwater creates more problems

Move over global warming or cooling, California has a new environmental disaster called groundwater. And where there’s an emergency, we have ambulance-chasing regulators and lawmakers with bureaucratic fixes. Why are we having groundwater problems? It’s plain and simple: Groundwater is replacing surface water.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Residents see zero progress at Salton Sea, but new officials say it’s time to turn the page

Another group of top state officials visited the Salton Sea this week to promise that this time, things will be different and progress will be made to restore the fast-drying water body. … Newly appointed water board chairman E. Joaquin Esquivel, who grew up in nearby La Quinta and fished in the lake as a boy, said he shares residents’ and longtime experts’ frustrations, and feels personally accountable to family members who still live in the area, as well as the communities around the lake.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Water managers decry blind eye for shrinking Salton Sea

Residents and officials who packed a yacht club on the north shore of the Salton Sea on Tuesday vented their anger about what they perceive as unnecessary delays and obfuscations about the environmental and public health disaster unfolding here. The California Water Resources Control Board held the workshop at the North Shore Yacht and Beach Club to both inform the public and garner opinions of residents living in proximity to the sea, which is rapidly vanishing into the desert.

Aquafornia news KQED Science

Once again in Redwood City, a battle brews over Cargill’s land

A move by the Environmental Protection Agency could revive the contentious plan to develop 1,400 acres of Redwood City shoreline owned by Cargill Salt, which operates an industrial plant there. The EPA removed one barrier to development earlier this month by ruling that the area is not subject to restrictions in the federal Clean Water Act. That puts the EPA at loggerheads with environmentalists, who want to convert the land back to tidal wetlands.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Climate change alters habitat for migratory birds in California, Idaho

Every year, millions of waterbirds migrating from Alaska to Patagonia take a break from that epic journey to rest, eat and breed in a stretch of wetlands spanning six Western states called the Great Basin. A warming climate has made that migration more challenging by altering how mountain snowmelt flows into the network of lakes and rivers stretching from the Sierra Nevada to the Rockies, according to a new study.

Aquafornia news KQED Science

One increasingly popular way to control floods: Let the water come

When a wild river floods, water and sediment spills over its banks onto adjacent land, it builds up a natural floodplain. Floodplains allow a river’s high flows to spread out and slow down, forming temporary reservoirs that pool over the rainy season. That means more water percolating down into underlying aquifers … and less floodwaters barreling toward cities.

Aquafornia news Martinez News-Gazette

Building a better view of Moorhen Marsh

Otters, birds, and turtles might be the last animals you would expect to find living next door to the Interstate 680 toll-plaza. But, tucked between the freeway, an oil refinery and a wastewater facility hides an oasis on the mend. … The 21-acre constructed wetland is in the middle of an industrial zone and is part of the Mt. View Sanitary District Wastewater Treatment Plant. “It’s the very first wetland on the west coast to use treated wastewater to create wetlands,” explained district biologist Kelly Davidson.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Opinion: Now is California’s chance to save the Salton Sea

On Tuesday, March 19, the California Water Resources Control Board will hold a session on the North Shore to hear from state officials about their progress addressing the many issues related to the Salton Sea. This is a good opportunity for these officials to break through the remaining obstacles to progress at the Salton Sea and find a productive way forward.

Aquafornia news UC Merced News

Blog: Climate change is negatively affecting waterbirds in the American West

Climate change is having a profound effect on the millions of migrating birds that rely on annual stops along the Pacific Flyway as they head from Alaska to Patagonia each year. They are finding less food, saltier water and fewer places to breed and rest on their long journeys, according to a new paper in Nature’s Scientific Reports.

Aquafornia news Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico water planning package stalls in Senate

The chances for passage this year of legislation to jump-start serious water planning in New Mexico, including by pumping millions of dollars into the effort, evaporated last week when a Senate committee tabled a key bill.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Trump’s EPA opens the door for massive San Francisco Bay development

A sprawling stretch of salt ponds on the western edge of San Francisco Bay, once eyed for the creation of a virtual mini-city, is back at the center of debate over regional development after the Trump administration this month exempted the site from the Clean Water Act.

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Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Opinion: Poseidon is a bad deal for Orange County

Poseidon is a bad deal for ratepayers. The study by the experts at MWDOC ranked Poseidon dead last among local water projects based on cost. Even after demanding a $400 million subsidy financed by Southern California water users, Poseidon’s water is still overpriced, costing twice per gallon as much as some of the conservation, recycling and rainwater projects already in development around our region.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Colorado River: Reclamation drought plan would nix environmental reviews

As the Trump administration moves toward a drought contingency plan for the Colorado River, the Bureau of Reclamation is pushing legislation that would exempt its work from environmental reviews. That includes potential impacts on what has emerged as a major sticking point in the drought negotiations: Southern California’s Salton Sea, a public health and ecological disaster.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Bill aims to protect waterways, addresses ocean acidification

A bill introduced by a state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) that will address ocean acidification and water quality issues has been introduced and it’s being supported by a wide variety of stakeholders. Senate Bill 69, authored by Wiener, is aimed at reducing land-based sources of pollutants, the restoration of wetlands and the sequestration of greenhouse gases and to protect wildlife and keystone species.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: The challenges of changing land use in the San Joaquin Valley

Implementing the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act—which requires overdrafted groundwater basins to achieve balance between supply and demand by the 2040s—could require taking at least 500,000 acres of irrigated cropland out of production in the San Joaquin Valley. … We talked to Soapy Mulholland, president and CEO of Sequoia Riverlands Trust, about this impending challenge.

Aquafornia news KPBS

Salton Sea management effort lags as water continues to recede

Imperial Valley officials are reportedly close to finishing an important habitat restoration project at the Salton Sea. The remake of Red Hill Bay was supposed to be a model for a management plan around the shrinking lake, but the effort is two years overdue and still months away from completion. The Salton Sea needs a management plan because water is evaporating faster than it’s being replaced…

Aquafornia news The Delano Record

Hundreds wade into complex, challenging world of California water

Hundreds of Bakersfield agriculture, oil and political leaders came together March 7 to examine the challenges and opportunities associated with providing California residents and businesses with a secure, reliable supply of clean water. Lest the wet winter create a sense of complacency around one of the state’s most vital needs, specialists from various fields urged collective attention to the costly and increasingly complex problems that surround sourcing, storing and conveying water.

Western Water Gary Pitzer Colorado River Basin Map Gary Pitzer

‘Mission-Oriented’ Colorado River Veteran Takes the Helm as the US Commissioner of IBWC
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Jayne Harkins’ duties include collaboration with Mexico on Colorado River supply, water quality issues

Jayne Harkins, the U.S. Commissioner of the International Boundary and Water Commission.For the bulk of her career, Jayne Harkins has devoted her energy to issues associated with the management of the Colorado River, both with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and with the Colorado River Commission of Nevada.

Now her career is taking a different direction. Harkins, 58, was appointed by President Trump last August to take the helm of the United States section of the U.S.-Mexico agency that oversees myriad water matters between the two countries as they seek to sustainably manage the supply and water quality of the Colorado River, including its once-thriving Delta in Mexico, and other rivers the two countries share. She is the first woman to be named the U.S. Commissioner of the International Boundary and Water Commission for either the United States or Mexico in the commission’s 129-year history.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Extreme wet weather in Louisiana and California highlights urgent need for newer, smarter strategies

It’s not often that communities in California and Louisiana face similar water challenges. California is better known for having too little water and Louisiana too much – both challenges exacerbated by climate change. But record-setting wet winter weather led both states last week to release significant amounts of water from reservoirs and rivers to prevent flooding, underscoring the need for new approaches to build climate-resilient communities across the country.

Aquafornia news ScienceAlert.com

A large lake has just appeared in the driest place in North America

Death Valley, the hottest and driest place in North America, isn’t exactly known for record rainfall or pop-up lakes stretching as far as the eye can see. But after a massive storm lashed the desert with rain and brought chilly temperatures through Southern California, that’s exactly what happened, according to photographer Elliott McGucken. He was trying to get to Badwater Basin, where he thought there could be flooding, when he saw the giant lake.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Rosemont copper mine approval casts aside EPA fears over water

The federal government issued the final permit Friday allowing the Rosemont Mine to be built despite written EPA warnings that the mine will pollute surface water and shrink, if not dry up, two nationally important streams. … The EPA’s regional office also warned that the mine’s cutoff of stormwater flows into neighboring streams and its groundwater pumping will significantly degrade federally regulated water bodies.

Aquafornia news Downey Brand

Blog: California’s proposed requirements to reduce pipeline spills present new challenges for industry

On February 14, 2019, the California Office of the State Fire Marshall (“OSFM”) published long awaited draft regulations to reduce the volume of pipeline oil spills in coastal areas. The proposed regulations, which implement AB 864 (2015), will impose substantial and costly burdens on companies that own and operate pipelines within California near environmentally and ecologically sensitive areas

Aquafornia news KCBS

What’s ahead for California following waterlogged winter?

In this edition of In Depth we take on two water topics. First, there’s growing concern that a lot of the rainwater we’ve been getting is just going down the drain and out to sea. We plumb the depths of California’s water system to find out where it’s coming up short and what can be done to fix it. Then, new research suggests that the historical link between wet winters and less severe fire seasons has broken down. We discuss why even in the rainiest of years, we still can’t count out damaging wildfires.

Aquafornia news The Daily Journal

EPA sets stage for Cargill plans in Redwood City

A long battle over development of the Cargill salt ponds in Redwood City may soon return after the EPA declared the site exempt from the federal Clean Water Act — causing concern by environmentalists and the city’s mayor. The Environmental Protection Agency announced its decision earlier this month, effectively removing one of several barriers to development of the 1,400-acre Bayside property.

Aquafornia news Soundings Magazine

Collecting stories of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

For a region so crucial to the growth of California as we know it today, you might think there would be libraries full of books about the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. And yet, as UC Merced scholar Gregg Camfield wrote several years ago, the most obvious thing about the literature of the Delta “is how little there is.” Advocates of the largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas are trying to collect those scattered bits and pieces in a new anthology of the Delta.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: Trump would take clean water enforcement back to the bad old days

When congress passed the CWA in 1972, they made it clear in documents accompanying the legislation that they supported “the broadest possible constitutional interpretation” of protected waters of the United States.

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

SLO County eyes new rules on well drilling

San Luis Obispo County supervisors are exploring what it’d take to bolster the county’s authority in issuing groundwater well permits. Following a report about groundwater conditions in the Adelaida region of the North County on Feb. 26, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to have its staff look at how it could increase the level of review and discretion the county has over approving or denying well applications.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Meet California’s new environment czar, who walked the state to ‘reset’

What better way to decompress from a stressful federal government job than by trekking 2,600 miles on foot from Mexico to Canada? That’s what Jared Blumenfeld, the new head of the California Environmental Protection Agency, did three years ago, setting out on the arduous and beloved Pacific Crest Trail that traces California’s searing deserts, rugged mountains and sparkling coastline.

Aquafornia news The Harvard Crimson

After local outcry, a Harvard-owned vineyard project faces environmental review

California farmer Brenton Kelly still remembers how the Cuyama Valley used to be. The valley, located in California’s Central Coast region, has long been home to an abundance of wildlife. Historically, the land has been used for cattle pastures, and featured “beautiful rolling grassy hill” and an “amazing wildflower show,” according to Kelly. These days, however, the land has been taken over by large commercial farms and vineyards, Kelly said. … Among some of the corporations that have expanded into the region in recent years is an unlikely investor — the Harvard Management Company. HMC, the University’s investment arm, oversees Harvard’s nearly $40 billion endowment.

Aquafornia news Victorville Daily Press

‘A sea of wildflowers’

Conditions are right for spectacular blooms throughout the California desert this year, experts say. The benefits of rain are endless, especially in Southern California, where drought-like conditions often persist for months on end. Thanks to this year’s significant rainfall, the annual wildflower blooms are set to be quite spectacular, according to Jorge Moreno, information officer for California State Parks.

Aquafornia news KSBY

Rain fills up soccer field basins in Santa Maria, will recharge groundwater

The Crossroads Open Space soccer field in Santa Maria is filled with water thanks to the most recent storm. Located on S. College Dr., the field also serves as a basin to collect storm runoff. The city says the water will soak into the ground, recharging the groundwater basin.

Aquafornia news The Ukiah Daily Journal

Opinion: Russian River environment: Our invisible but critical water source

You can’t see them. You can’t swim in them. But groundwater aquifers are one of the most important sources of water in the North Coast. Aquifers are water-rich underground areas. They aren’t like lakes or pools but are composed of water-filled areas between rocks, sands, and gravels. Plants and animals benefit from groundwater when it’s near the surface, and feeds creeks and streams. Humans tap into aquifers through wells used for drinking, irrigating crops and operating businesses.

Aquafornia news KPBS

Change at the Salton Sea is affecting bird populations

California’s largest lake has long attracted visitors. Many go there year-round to see thousands of birds congregating around the lake and its nearby habitats, but the lake is changing and that’s changing bird populations.

Aquafornia news Stanford Bill Lane Center for the American West

Blog: As relicensing looms, aging dams face a reckoning

Dam by dam, owners of smaller hydroelectric projects around the West look at them with a cold eye as relicensing looms. Created with optimism a century ago, dams are now seen as fish-killers and river-distorters. New energy sources are getting cheaper. After decades of operation, owners approach relicensing knowing that, if they are to continue generating a single watt of electricity, they must fix the problems.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Study: California winter rains no longer predict less severe fire

Scientists found that wet winter weather, historically a predictor of more modest California fire seasons, is no longer linked to less damaging fires. The link between more rain and less fire fell apart thanks to modern fire management and accelerating climate change, the study said. “It’s going to be a problem for people, for firefighters, for society,” said study co-author Alan Taylor, a Pennsylvania State University geography professor.

Aquafornia news PBS NewsHour Weekend

Artists fill the void left by California’s dying Salton Sea

California’s Salton Sea, the state’s largest inland body of water, formed when a dam broke. It stayed alive fed by agricultural water runoff. Today, it’s water supply is slowing, and the sea is drying up and losing its place as a fishing and recreation hotspot. But … the Salton Sea is finding new life as haven for artists.

Aquafornia news New York Times

Andrew Wheeler, who continued environmental rollbacks, is confirmed to lead EPA

The Senate on Thursday confirmed Andrew R. Wheeler to be the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, giving oversight of the nation’s air and water to a former coal lobbyist and seasoned Washington insider. … The vote, 52-47, went mostly along party lines and underscored partisan divisions over the Trump administration’s continued commitment to repealing environmental regulations under Mr. Wheeler.

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Aquafornia news Associated Press

Congress approves major public lands, conservation bill

A wide-ranging bill that revives a popular conservation program, adds 1.3 million acres of new wilderness, expands several national parks and creates five new national monuments has won congressional approval. … The bill would permanently reauthorize the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which supports conservation and outdoor recreation projects across the country. The program expired last fall after Congress could not agree on language to extend it.

Aquafornia news OurValleyVoice.com

Water and the future of the San Joaquin Valley overview

The San Joaquin Valley—California’s largest agricultural region and an important contributor to the nation’s food supply—is in a time of great change. The valley produces more than half of the state’s agricultural output. Irrigated farming is the region’s main economic driver and predominant water user. Stress on the valley’s water system is growing. Local water supplies are limited, particularly in the southern half of the region.

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Newark wetlands dumper sentenced to prison

A judge sentenced a self-described “dirt broker” convicted last week of illegal dumping in federally protected San Francisco Bay wetlands to thirty months in prison, a U.S. Justice Department spokesman said Monday. On Thursday, a jury convicted Carmel resident James Lucero on three counts of unpermitted filling of wetlands and tributaries, violating the Federal Clean Water Act.

Aquafornia news Daily Democrat

Yolo Bypass a key link in state’s water and flood future

The Yolo Bypass is central, both geographically and in importance, to California’s water supply and flood protection system, according to Bontadelli. However, proposed modifications to the Bypass to enhance habitat for out-migrating endangered winter and spring-run young salmon means the it will be key to the continued pumping of water south for agriculture and urban users.

Aquafornia news The Press-Democrat

Editorial: California needs to save more of its rainwater

With stepped-up stormwater capture programs, the Pacific Institute said in a 2014 study, Southern California and the Bay Area could boost the state’s water supply by 420,000 acre-feet annually. That’s enough water to meet the needs of 300,000-400,000 people.

Aquafornia news SFGate

Atmospheric river poised to slam Bay Area Tuesday: Here’s what you need to know

Meteorologists say the storm appears moderate in strength, but it’s slow moving and the steady rainfall across three days could amount to significant rainfall totals.

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Aquafornia news Associated Press

Arsenic, lead in water pouring out of former U.S. mine sites

Every day,  millions of gallons of water loaded with arsenic, lead and other toxic metals flow from some of the most contaminated mining sites in the U.S. and into surrounding streams and ponds without being treated, The Associated Press has found. That torrent is poisoning aquatic life and tainting drinking water sources in Colorado, Montana, California, Oklahoma and at least five other states.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Bay Area forecast: ‘Atmospheric river’ storm may hit next week

One week after an atmospheric river storm pounded Northern California, causing flooding, mudslides and traffic headaches, another one appears to be forming in the Pacific and is set to arrive early next week. Computer models show the storm hitting Monday or Tuesday, with the North Bay and parts of California farther north taking the brunt, although that could change, experts say.

Aquafornia news San Bernardino Sun

Bill reintroduced to subject the Cadiz water project to further review

State Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside and Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale last week introduced SB 307, which seeks to ensure “that any future water transfers from groundwater basins underlying desert lands do not adversely affect the California desert’s natural or cultural resources,” according to a bill fact sheet.

Aquafornia news The Press-Enterprise

Revived by rain, Mystic Lake is back near Moreno Valley, San Jacinto

In another sign Southern California is having its wettest winter in years, Mystic Lake has risen again in the rural, agricultural valley between Moreno Valley and San Jacinto. The ephemeral body of water was largely absent the past decade

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Wet February almost eliminates drought in California

February storms have almost eliminated drought conditions from California. The U.S. Drought Monitor said Thursday that just over 67 percent of the state is totally free of any level of dryness. Just under 30 percent is classified as abnormally dry, and less than 4 percent remains in either moderate or severe drought.

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Aquafornia news Christian Science Monitor

Has the EPA lost its teeth? House to investigate dwindling enforcement

Earlier this month the Environmental Protection Agency released its enforcement data for fiscal year 2018, and in many key areas data continued to show a downward trend in the civil and criminal punitive measures meted out to large polluters. And on Tuesday the House Committee on Energy and Commerce announced it will hold a hearing next week to investigate the Trump EPA’s “troubling enforcement record.”

Aquafornia news Victorville Daily Press

Mojave River flows through Barstow for first time since 2011

Recent rains allowed surface water in the Mojave River to flow through the city for the first time in eight years, signaling good news for recharge in regional aquifers, according to Mojave Water Agency officials. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Why California should turn down Trump’s offer to raise Shasta Dam

If the Trump administration wanted to increase California’s water supply by the most cost-effective means possible, it would immediately drop its attempt to raise Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet. It would instead put $1.5 billion — the cost of the proposed Shasta enlargement, in 2019 dollars — toward a completely different approach to water supply: watershed and forest restoration.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: The sociology of science in environmental management: Reflections on “Fields and Streams”

We mostly blunder through sociological thinking on environmental management.  The book highlights the costs of this blundering in terms of environmental efficacy, distraction and waste of human time and resources, and expansions of controversy for already-hard environmental problems.

Aquafornia news CALMatters

Opinion: How to lead California on water

Too often, entrenched conflicts that pit water user against water user block efforts to secure a sustainable, equitable, and democratic water future in California. Striking a balance involves art and science, compassion and flexibility, and adherence to science and the law. Felicia Marcus is a public servant unknown to many Californians. But as she concludes her tenure as chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, we owe her a debt of gratitude for consistently reaching for that balance.

Aquafornia news Appeal-Democrat

Fish in the fields

At the end of 2017, several local rice farmers teamed up with researchers for a pilot program known as “Fish in the Fields” through the Resource Renewal Institute, a nonprofit research and natural resource policy group, to see what would happen when fish were introduced to flooded rice fields. Now in its second year of experiments, researchers have concluded that it works, with methane – a climate-changing byproduct of rice agriculture much more detrimental than carbon dioxide – being reduced by about two-thirds, or 65 percent, in flooded fields that had fish in them.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Trump’s WOTUS: Clear as mud, scientists say

The Trump administration’s proposal might seem simpler to follow on wetlands because it wouldn’t protect those that are dry most of the time and don’t connect to larger downstream waters. But navigating the definition could be confusing when it comes to wetlands that do connect to streams that are dry during parts of the year.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Less talk, more action: It’s time to get serious about floodplain management

Many no longer recall the Great Midwest Flood despite its record-breaking precipitation, flooding and $13 billion price tag. Sure, 1993 seems like a long time ago, but I believe the reason the flood has left most people’s memory is because, over the last 25 years, the nation has experienced one devastating, record-breaking flood after another. Our memories are diluted by the frequency of such events.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Colorado River drought: Dispute puts Arizona piece of deal in jeopardy

Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis of the Gila River Indian Community said in a statement Thursday that a decision by House Speaker Rusty Bowers to move forward with a contentious water bill threatens the community’s plan to support the drought agreement. The Gila River Indian Community’s involvement is key because it’s entitled to about a fourth of the Colorado River water that passes through the Central Arizona Project’s canal.

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Aquafornia news Yale Environment 360

Restoring the Colorado: Bringing new life to a stressed river

The Colorado River has been dammed, diverted, and slowed by reservoirs, strangling the life out of a once-thriving ecosystem. But in the U.S. and Mexico, efforts are underway to revive sections of the river and restore vital riparian habitat for native plants, fish, and wildlife. Last in a series.

Aquafornia news San Diego Union-Tribune

Banned pesticides and industrial chemicals found flowing from Tijuana into San Diego

There may be more in the sewage-tainted water that regularly spills over the border from Tijuana than many San Diegans realize. The cross-border pollution also contains potentially dangerous industrial and agricultural chemicals, according to a draft report compiled by U.S. Customs and Border Protection that was circulated to officials throughout the region on Wednesday.

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