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 Science

Opinion: Distorting science, putting water at risk

The Navigable Waters Protection Rule … has redefined “waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) to restrict federal protection of vulnerable waters. … Responding to this unprecedented distortion of science and rollback in water protections, which went into effect nationwide on 22 June, will require coordinated efforts among scientists, lawmakers, and resource managers.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

‘This land is all we have left’: Tribes on edge over giant dam proposal near Grand Canyon

If built, it would … pump groundwater into four new reservoirs … Tribal members and environmentalists say the project would flood several miles of canyons sacred to the Navajo; risk damaging cultural sites for several tribes; draw vast amounts of critical groundwater; potentially harm habitats for plants and animals, including some endangered species; and risk adverse effects for waterways leading into the Grand Canyon.

Aquafornia news Earthjustice

Blog: Is the water all right?

Like other environmental regulations, WOTUS was necessarily complex and grounded in science. But the reason for it was simple: keep U.S. waters clean. So what could be so bad about a law to stop water pollution that the Trump administration would decide to repeal it?

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Santa Clara Valley Water District seeks $682 million parcel tax

After years marked by a historic statewide drought and devastating floods around downtown San Jose, Santa Clara County’s largest water provider has decided to ask voters to approve a parcel tax to pay for a wide variety of projects, from flood control to creek restoration, along with some costs of rebuilding the county’s largest dam at Anderson Reservoir.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Former chiefs say ‘derailed’ EPA needs a reset after election

Six former Environmental Protection Agency chiefs  [who served under Republican and Democratic presidents] are calling for an agency reset after President Trump’s regulation-removing, industry-minded first term, backing a detailed plan by former EPA staffers that ranges from renouncing political influence in regulation to boosting climate-friendly electric vehicles.

Aquafornia news KCET

Groups challenge restoration plan for Ballona Wetlands

A group dedicated to protecting the Ballona Wetlands is among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit alleging millions of dollars in public funds have been misused for what they claim is a “deceptive” plan to bulldoze the ecological reserve under the guise of being a restoration effort.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Judge rejects conservative challenge to Trump WOTUS rule

A conservative legal challenge to President Trump’s definition of what waterways qualify for Clean Water Act protections was rejected Thursday by a federal judge.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Federal court dismisses Trump water rule challenge in Oregon

The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association sued the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in May for bringing non-navigable, small streams and wetlands under Clean Water Act protection in the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. Judge Michael W. Mosman, ruling from the bench on a preliminary injunction sought against the water rule, dismissed the claims without prejudice.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Pipeline plan could mean fewer stream protections, critics say

Under the Aug. 3 proposal, companies would no longer be required to notify the Army Corps if the pipelines they lay require clearing of forested wetlands, or building access roads longer than 500 feet with fill material dredged from streams or wetlands or with impervious materials.

Aquafornia news California Rangeland Trust

News release: Groundbreaking research into working landscapes

The study, conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, examined 306,718 acres of California Rangeland Trust’s conservation easements across the state to explore both the environmental and monetary value of preserving California’s open spaces.

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Aquafornia news Bay Area Monitor

Where’s the dirt? Scientists surveying sediment in salt marshes

When Brenda Goeden first started working on mud, silt, and sand in the San Francisco Bay two decades ago, dredgers and contractors couldn’t get rid of all the sediment they excavated fast enough. … But today sediment is a hot commodity, as restorationists and developers scramble to elevate salt marshes and building sites before rising tides claim them. Now, a new plan is in the works to optimize allocation of this critical resource.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Latest Trump proposal on endangered species could limit future habitat, critics say

When species are endangered, the Endangered Species Act requires the government to set aside habitat deemed critical for its recovery. But environmental groups say the new definition being proposed by the Fish and Wildlife Service will allow the agency to block setting aside any land that isn’t currently habitat but might be needed in the future, particularly as the climate changes.

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin judge rejects bid to halt San Geronimo creek work

A Marin County Superior Court judge rejected a petition filed by a group of San Geronimo residents and golfers to halt creek restoration work in the former San Geronimo Golf Course. The ten residents and golfers, known as the San Geronimo Heritage Alliance, filed the lawsuit in July alleging the creek restoration work is illegal.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Lawsuit challenges Trump’s overhaul of environmental-review law

A legal battle with far-reaching consequences for industry and ecosystems kicked off Wednesday with the filing of a federal lawsuit over the Trump administration’s revamp of a longstanding law that requires extensive environmental reviews for road, industry and building projects.

Aquafornia news National Law Review

Council on Environmental Quality issues NEPA regulation rule

On July 16, 2020, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) published its highly anticipated final rule to improve its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations. The update, which largely mirrors the proposed rule, is the first comprehensive amendment to the regulations since their original publication in 1978.

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Aquafornia news Ingrained

Audio: Giants in the rice fields

Nearly 230 wildlife species depend on Sacramento Valley rice fields for food and a resting place, including the giant gartersnake, a threatened species. Although it has “giant” in its name, this creature is, at most, five-feet long. These snakes are heavily dependent on rice fields for their survival; having lost most of their earlier habitat – traditional wetlands…

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Klamath water arrives, saving 50,000 ducklings from certain death

More than 50,000 ducklings and other newborn waterfowl and shorebirds were saved from certain deaths this week after an emergency delivery of water to the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

EPA must focus on environmental justice, Inspector General says

The issue is new to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General’s periodic list of top management challenges facing the agency, underscoring its emergence as a leading national concern. The OIG called on the agency to strengthen its federal leadership role, continue to build an environmental justice strategic plan, and consider the impact of “all activities on environmental justice communities in actions revoked and taken by the agency as a whole.”

Aquafornia news Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Blog: An early success story in the Delta

A century ago, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta was a massive wetland habitat. The construction of levees over the past 100 years has dried out these wetlands and converted them into farmland, eliminating 95 percent of this important aquatic habitat for fish. But scientists are finding out that given the right conditions, nature can reclaim itself.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: DWR environmental scientist Veronica Wunderlich discusses her work with reptiles and amphibians

Veronica Wunderlich is a Department of Water Resources senior environmental scientist with a focus in herpetology – the study of reptiles and amphibians. Below, Veronica discusses how she got started in herpetology –she even had snakes as pets as a kid, her current work, and how to translate a passion and interest in wildlife into a career – “If you really love the creatures you work with, you will never regret working with them.”

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: 21 state attorneys general sue over new Trump water rule

Attorneys general in 20 states [including California] and the District of Columbia sued the Trump administration on Tuesday, alleging that new federal rules undermine their ability to protect rivers, lakes and streams within their borders. They say that new final rules issued last week by the Environmental Protection Agency alter a practice dating back more than 30 years giving state governments the authority to review, block or put conditions on federally permitted water projects.

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Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Spring rains revealed fairy shrimp at Escondido preserve

Despite their brief existence … the pools, and the fairy shrimp they harbor are an important feature of the new preserve. The conservancy acquired Mountain Meadow Preserve, on hilltops off of Interstate 15, about two years ago. At that time, the 693-acre site was a deserted orchard, dotted with dilapidated agricultural sheds and withered avocado groves.

Long Criticized For Inaction At Salton Sea, California Says It’s All-In On Effort To Preserve State’s Largest Lake
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Dust suppression, habitat are key elements in long-term plan to aid sea, whose ills have been a sore point in Colorado River management

The Salton Sea is a major nesting, wintering and stopover site for about 400 bird species. Out of sight and out of mind to most people, the Salton Sea in California’s far southeast corner has challenged policymakers and local agencies alike to save the desert lake from becoming a fetid, hyper-saline water body inhospitable to wildlife and surrounded by clouds of choking dust.

The sea’s problems stretch beyond its boundaries in Imperial and Riverside counties and threaten to undermine multistate management of the Colorado River. A 2019 Drought Contingency Plan for the Lower Colorado River Basin was briefly stalled when the Imperial Irrigation District, holding the river’s largest water allocation, balked at participating in the plan because, the district said, it ignored the problems of the Salton Sea.  

Aquafornia news Rep. John Garamendi

News release: Garamendi secures wins for Delta and Central Valley in Water Resources Development Act

“I secured provisions in this bill to authorize and expedite construction of flood protection and aquatic ecosystem restoration projects, address harmful algal blooms in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and give local agencies greater flexibility in using federal Army Corps funds to meet local needs.”

Aquafornia news Santa Clara Valley Water News

Blog: Are there plans to fill more of Valley Water’s percolation ponds in Santa Clara County this summer?

As more people enjoy local trails this summer, they may notice many of Valley Water’s percolation ponds in Santa Clara County are empty and dry. There’s no reason to be alarmed. In fact, the absence of water in many of the 100 percolation ponds owned by Valley Water is a sign that our underground water basins are mostly full and healthy.

Aquafornia news KESQ News

The state budget includes $47 million for the Salton Sea. Here’s how it will be spent

California’s state budget includes $47 million to help the Salton Sea. The new budget was signed by Governor Newsom last month. … News Channel 3’s Madison Weil spoke with Phil Rosentrater, the executive director of the Salton Sea Authority, to see how the new funds will be used. 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

EPA challenged on limiting state veto power under water act

The EPA is facing two separate challenges from environmental groups over its water rule that narrows the ability of states to veto energy infrastructure projects such as oil and gas pipelines if they adversely affect water quality.

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Aquafornia news The Hill

350 facilities skip reporting water pollution under temporary EPA rule

A total of 352 facilities, including fossil fuel companies, water treatment plants and schools, made use of the EPA’s relaxation of Clean Water Act requirements, according to a list the agency shared with The Hill. … Environmentalists are raising alarms over the number of facilities that aren’t monitoring their pollution levels, saying the damage could last well beyond the Aug. 31 expiration date of the temporary policy.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Threatened frog species released into California forest after successful breeding program

A group of wildlife biologists in Northern California took another step in the conservation effort of the threatened Foothill yellow-legged frogs on June 30, releasing 115 of the frogs into the Feather River in Plumas National Forest. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the release marks the first release of captive-reared, Foothill yellow-legged frogs into the wild.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Opinion: NEPA suspension, infrastructure bill put wetlands at risk

Rollbacks of the Clean Water Act and the executive order to suspend the National Environmental Policy Act are meant to save costs and cut red tape. However, Jeremy Schewe, professional wetland scientist, explains these efforts will ultimately lead to far greater expense to business, society, and the planet, especially when combined with the House proposed infrastructure stimulus package.

Aquafornia news Office of the Attorney General

News release: Attorney General Becerra criticizes Trump order instructing federal agencies to circumvent critical environmental review processes

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today led a multistate coalition in expressing opposition to President Trump’s recently signed executive order instructing federal agencies to use emergency authority to bypass critical environmental review and permitting processes for infrastructure projects.

Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

Report: Incorporating Multiple Benefits into Water Projects: A Guide for Water Managers

Adapting to climate change, coupled with the need to address aging infrastructure, population growth, and degraded ecosystems, requires significant investment in natural and built water systems. These investments present a significant opportunity to support not only water, but to provide economic, social, and environmental benefits.

Aquafornia news Earth.com

Restoration projects bring mountain meadows back to life

Degraded meadows and their streams can be rehabilitated using a “pond and plug” technique to restore the floodplain function. This strategy aims to elevate groundwater levels in the dry season by spreading large flows across the floodplain. The pond and plug treatment improves water quality, soil moisture, and wetland vegetation – improvements that are extremely beneficial to birds and other wildlife.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Lawsuit challenges Trump administration waterway protection rollback

The Environmental Protection Agency has again been sued over its rollback of Obama-era waterway protections. On Thursday, the Environmental Integrity Project, on behalf of four other environmental groups, sued the agency, claiming that the new rule conflicts with the Clean Water Act and “disregards” science “without any rational, let alone ‘reasonable,’ explanation.”

Aquafornia news The Press

Franks Tract project sponsors seek input

The project — managed jointly by California Division of Fish and Wildlife, the Department of Water Resources and the Department of Parks and Recreation — seeks to make changes in Franks Tract with the goal of improving water quality, providing enhanced recreational opportunities and improving the ecology for the benefit of native and desirable wildlife.

Aquafornia news Earth Island Journal

How protecting birds can save Western rivers

The American Southwest provides a last stronghold for the yellow-billed cuckoo, which was officially listed under the Endangered Species Act as threatened in 2014. This February, the US Fish and Wildlife Service published a list of proposed protected areas that trace the curls and curves of rivers and streams in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Texas, and Utah.

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Aquafornia news Associated Press

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California cities: Monsanto settlement to fund water cleanup

Major California cities say they’ll use their share of a $650 million settlement to clean up the now-banned chemical PCB from bays, lakes and other waterways polluted for decades. The giant chemical company Monsanto announced a tentative agreement Wednesday with government entities that had filed suit since 2015 over waterways and estuaries they say were polluted.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Tribes, environmentalists sue to stop rollback of Clean Water Act protections

A coalition of tribal governments, environmentalists and labor advocates has sued to stop implementation of a new federal rule that weakens protections for streams and wetlands. The Environmental Protection Agency’s new Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which which took effect on Monday, rolls back clean-water regulation of intermittent waterways, arroyos and washes.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Trump water rule halted in Colo., can take effect elsewhere

A federal Judge in California on Friday rejected a request for a nationwide injunction of the rule. Hours later, a federal Judge in Colorado agreed to freeze the federal rule within that state. The California court’s decision is a major blow to environmentalists and states that had hoped to block the Navigable Waters Protection Rule across the country before it takes effect Monday.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Filling Trump void, California steps in to protect birds, wetlands

California officials have parried federal moves with actions of their own — a state law enshrining protection for migratory birds and a new state regulation setting definitions that expand protection to smaller wetlands and seasonal waterways. California’s responses are yet another maneuver in the feud between Sacramento and Washington, D.C.

Aquafornia news Estuary Magazine

Sinking islands capture carbon credits

Encouraged by a recently vetted new method for creating carbon offsets from wetlands, a flurry of new climate adaptation projects on publicly owned islands strewn along the central Delta corridor aim to defend against sea-level rise, restore habitat, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Friday Top of the Scroll: California and EPA tussle over water quality protections

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg presided over a lengthy and combative hearing that featured attorneys from the state of California making the case that the Trump-era EPA acted contrary to its fundamental mission when it exempted ephemeral streams and wetlands from protections afforded by the Clean Water Act.

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Aquafornia news Lake County News

Lake County Land Trust completes acquisition of Wright wetland property

A smidge over 200 acres, the Wright Wetland Preserve is easily the largest in the trust’s portfolio. Its terrain ranges from lake to valley oak woodland with everything from native wetland, freshwater marsh and upland pasture included. The property is partially bordered by Manning Creek, an important breeding ground for an endemic and threatened fish species, the Clear Lake hitch.

Aquafornia news Santa Clara Valley Water News

Blog: Palo Alto Tide Gates, which prevent flooding in low-lying areas on Peninsula, to be replaced

Driving on Highway 101 from the South Bay, up the Peninsula, commuters zoom by nearly invisible infrastructure keeping the highway and nearby communities dry. Beyond the highway, at the edge of the San Francisco Bay, are levees and tide gates protecting roads and neighborhoods against high tides and storm flooding. Unless you visit the bay lands to walk the levee trails, you might never know these important structures exist.

Aquafornia news Public News Service

Californias estuaries go virtual this summer

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way families, educators and students can experience state parks — through expanded online programs. … Education coordinator Anne Marie Tipton says the Tijuana River National Estuarine Reserve’s virtual field trips teach classrooms around the state about the estuary’s role in the environment.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Environmentalists see regulatory, funding gaps amid Clean Water Act rollback

Although the Clean Water Act will still protect heavily used waterways in Nevada, including the Colorado River and the Truckee River, it excludes many wetlands and most seasonal streams. As a result, the rule has set off a flurry of legal challenges from environmental groups. And in recent months, several Democrat-led Western states, including Colorado, California and New Mexico, have sued the Trump administration to challenge the final rule. Nevada has not joined those suits.

Aquafornia news FishBio

Blog: High-tech glimpse of restored wetlands

San Francisco Bay is the largest estuary on the West Coast, and in recent years much effort has been put into restoring tidal marsh habitat in the Bay. … FISHBIO was recently invited to tour one such project in the North Bay, where we had the opportunity to use our ARIS sonar camera to examine the fish community in the restored area.

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse

Understaffed and ‘struggling,’ Central Valley Water Board trims programs

While the budget for next year has yet to be passed, the Central Valley Water Quality Control Board is already taking drastic steps to prepare for a significant reduction in staffing. Farmers could face a potential fallout further down the road. “All told, the board is looking at around a 30 to 35% reduction in productivity,” said Patrick Pulupa, executive officer for the regional board, during a meeting Thursday.

Aquafornia news Scientific American

Green infrastructure can be cheaper, more effective than dams

Hundreds of studies on nature-based solutions to extreme events show that “green infrastructure” is often cheaper and more effective than engineered projects like dams, levees and sea walls, according to a new analysis. Experts say federal and state governments should heed those findings and increase funding for natural landscapes and systems to reduce climate disaster risk. Solutions include floodplain restoration and “living shorelines” along vulnerable coasts and rivers.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Managing freshwater ecosystems in a pandemic

To assess the range of pandemic-related issues confronting the sector, the PPIC Water Policy Center held a series of conversations with representatives from state and federal agencies, water utilities, environmental nonprofits, and businesses that specialize in restoration. The pandemic’s impact falls into three categories: disruption of monitoring and research programs, delays to restoration projects, and the threat posed by the economic downturn to funding for this work. Here are some key takeaways.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

EPA water rule won’t speed up new oil, gas pipeline projects

A new EPA water rule to curtail state vetoes won’t necessarily ease the path for new oil and gas interstate pipeline projects, energy analysts and lawyers say. They say this is partly due to the sharp decline in oil and gas linked to the coronavirus pandemic. But the hurdles also come from a federal court’s suspension of the Clean Water Act Nationwide Permit 12, or NWP 12, that would allow developers to dredge and fill wetlands and stream crossings in order to lay pipelines.

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Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

‘We are already in the outdoors’: Black birders week amplifies black voices

The group aims to counter the narrative that the outdoors aren’t for Black people, educate people about challenges people of color face, and to encourage diversity. “I think Black Birders Week shows that the Black experience is more than trauma, that it is about pride, is about joy. It is about resilience, strength and style,” says Tykee James, a Black Birders Week organizer and the National Audubon Society’s government affairs coordinator.

Aquafornia news National Law Review

WOTUS litigation: Considerations for the regulated community

The complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief in this litigation provides a road map for the legal and regulatory challenges ahead for the regulated community and agencies implementing Clean Water Act programs that rely on the definition for “Waters of the United States” aka WOTUS. The following provides insights as to how to support a strong Clean Water Act with the new WOTUS definition.

Aquafornia news E&E News

What Trump’s permit order means for NEPA, energy and race

Amid a public health crisis that has crashed the economy, President Trump last week ordered his administration to accelerate permitting for major projects — sparking blowback from critics who say it will inflict damage on communities of color he’s accused of ignoring as thousands protest across the country against police brutality and injustice.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Trump uses ‘emergency’ to speed up infrastructure projects

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday calling on federal agencies to use emergency powers to “accelerate” infrastructure projects on federal lands as a response to the coronavirus pandemic. The order urges the Interior, Agriculture, and Defense departments to use emergency powers under the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act to speed projects through the approval process.

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Aquafornia news East Bay Times

Public can weigh in on Franks Tract marshland proposal at upcoming webinar

Situated between Bethel Island and False River and accessible only by boat, Franks Tract is primarily used by fishermen, boaters and waterfowl hunters. But, over the past several years, the Department of Fish and Wildlife has been studying ways to restore part of the 3,523-acre underwater state park to its original marshland in the hopes of reducing saltwater intrusion into the Delta and more.

Aquafornia news E&E News

EPA makes ‘contorted’ legal argument for permit rule

EPA’s final rule that curtails states’ authority over Clean Water Act permitting of pipelines, hydroelectric dams and other energy projects could run afoul of a 1994 Supreme Court ruling that originally granted states that oversight power.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Conservative states defend water rule from California-led suit

Georgia, West Virginia, and 21 other states moved to intervene in litigation in order to help defeat challenges to the Navigable Waters Protection Rule—a joint regulation from the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers that narrows the types of wetlands and waterways subject to federal Clean Water Act restrictions.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Decades in the making, Buena Vista Lagoon restoration plan finally approved

A long-sought compromise has been approved that will open the stagnant, reed-filled Buena Vista Lagoon to the sea and restore its native coastal marine habitat, but years of work remain before the transformation begins.

Aquafornia news PR Newswire

News release: Longfin smelt return to Tule Red tidal restoration site

After only 6 months post-construction completion and levee breach at the Tule Red Tidal Restoration Project, longfin smelt have returned. The 420-acre restoration site converted wetlands managed primarily for waterfowl to tidal wetlands for the benefit of dwindling native fish populations including Delta smelt, longfin smelt, Chinook salmon and the food web that supports them.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

COVID-19 resources for water quality monitoring programs and watershed stewards

To assist monitoring programs in staying informed and learn how to adjust their programs, especially conducting field activities during this time of COVID-19, the State Water Board’s Clean Water Team has compiled this list of resources. Few clear guidelines exist for water quality monitors, but we can learn from other fields like wastewater management and keep everyone safe & healthy.

Aquafornia news The Grunion

Review begins for Los Cerritos Wetlands restoration’s environmental impact

Restoration of the 500-plus acres of wetlands has been a goal for literally decades of both city officials and environmental advocates. Since the discovery of oil there in 1926, combined with the channelization of the San Gabriel River, the once 2,400-acre wetlands complex has been landfilled, graded and activated as a working oil field. Much of the remaining wetlands is controlled by Beach Oil Minerals Partners (BOMP).

Aquafornia news Escalon Times

Environmental projects funded by Wildlife Conservation Board

At its May quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board approved approximately $36.2 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 31 approved projects will benefit fish and wildlife — including some endangered species — while others will provide public access to important natural resources.

Aquafornia news E&E News

States lead court fight against Trump. They’re winning

The Trump administration’s aggressive deregulatory agenda has run full-speed into a blockade set by Democratic attorneys general. Led by New York and California, the states have challenged virtually every effort by EPA and other agencies to walk back Obama-era rules like the Clean Power Plan and Clean Water Rule.

Aquafornia news Mendocino Beacon

Gualala River Estuary conservation effort takes a $2.1 million step toward success

Thursday, the Redwood Coast Land Conservancy announced that it has received three grants totaling over $2.1 million for the Gualala River Mill Bend Conservation Project that they are stewarding for the community.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: States seek to freeze Trump water rule as effective date looms

A 17-state coalition on Monday asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to block the Navigable Waters Protection Rule while they spar with government lawyers over its legality. The Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers published the rule in April, and it officially takes effect June 22, tightening the federal definition for the types of wetlands and waterways the Clean Water Act covers.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Carlsbad supports modified plan to restore Buena Vista Lagoon

The agreement between property owners, nonprofits and multiple governmental agencies outlines a plan to remove the weir, or low wooden dam at the mouth of the lagoon, and excavate the entire 220-acre preserve to restore tidal flushing. … Without intervention, the lagoon would continue to fill with sediment and vegetation until it eventually disappears.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Trump’s water jurisdiction rule: What’s all the fighting about?

The Trump administration’s long-anticipated water jurisdiction rule has already drawn a half-dozen legal challenges since its April release, with more on the way. The Navigable Waters Protection Rule narrows which types of wetlands and waterways trigger federal Clean Water Act oversight, replacing interpretations by Obama-era officials and earlier administrations. … Here’s a breakdown of key legal arguments:

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Drawing boundaries with DNA to improve conservation

Foothill Yellow-legged Frogs have begun to spawn, laying small snow-globe sized egg masses in streams and rivers. They are one of the few stream-breeding frogs endemic to California and Oregon. This species is a good indicator of stream health because they link aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and are strongly tied to natural seasonal cues associated with local hydrology.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: Communicating what’s at stake: The art of communicating science

Developed by The Economist based on research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, analysts created a chart to show the projected number of coronavirus cases with and without protective measures. This single image effectively conveys what’s at stake, and it inspired me to consider how we can modify communications about scientific findings related to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, especially as we adapt to limited in-person interactions during these extraordinary times.

Aquafornia news Civil & Structural Engineer

Engineers and wetland scientists face challenges with regulatory changes to Clean Water Act

This year’s changes to the Clean Water Act have made the already-challenging work of scientists and engineers in water planning and management exponentially more difficult. Questions abound, from jurisdictional issues to definitions and classifications, as a result of the “Navigable Waters Protection Rule,” which, among other things, removes federal protections from ephemeral waterways.

Aquafornia news E&E News

EPA: Agency leans on 1870s ‘housekeeping’ law to block science

Critics say EPA’s justification for using the rule is legally flimsy, whether the housekeeping law applies to it or not. The agency’s gambit highlights the lengths to which the Trump administration will go, critics say, to cement the president’s anti-regulatory agenda ahead of a possible second term, or to try to tie the hands of subsequent administrations.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

The Trump administration is reversing nearly 100 environmental rules. Here’s the full list

Calling the rules unnecessary and burdensome to the fossil fuel industry and other businesses, his administration has weakened Obama-era limits on planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and from cars and trucks, and rolled back many more rules governing clean air, water and toxic chemicals.

Aquafornia news Bitterroot Magazine

It’s time to plan for drier western rivers

A strange thing happens during particularly wet winters in California: farmers flood their fields. … Aquifers are the last line of defense against drought conditions. By flooding their fields in January, farmers hope to fill these underground reservoirs with water they can use in August. If a trio of recent studies prove accurate, one can expect to see this method deployed more regularly.

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Conservation Service

News release: USDA announces $5 million in wetland mitigation banking program funds

The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service announced today the availability of up to $5 million for wetland mitigation banks. This funding through the Wetland Mitigation Banking Program is available to help conservation partners develop or establish mitigation banks to help agricultural producers maintain eligibility for USDA programs.

Aquafornia news Downey Brand

Blog: 22 environmental groups and 19 jurisdictions file suit in three district courts challenging the 2020 WOTUS rule

Last week, environmental groups, states, and cities filed three complaints in differing federal district court challenging The Navigable Waters Protection Rule: Definition of Waters of the United States, which was published in the Federal Register on April 21, 2020, and is currently scheduled to become effective on June 22, 2020.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Central Valley Flood Protection Board: Yolo Bypass salmonid habitat restoration and fish passage project

At the April meeting of the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, Board members heard an informational briefing on the Yolo Bypass Salmonid Habitat Restoration and Fish Passage Project being planned for the Fremont Weir. Referred to as the Big Notch, this project will construct a gated notch at Fremont Weir to create seasonal floodplain habitat for juvenile fish as well as to improve migration for adult fish.

Aquafornia news KSNV TV

Government begins water experiment along Colorado River

The U.S. Department of Interior started a water experiment along the Colorado Friday, May 1, at the Glen Canyon Dam, located near Page Arizona. The experiment is meant to improve the egg-laying conditions for insects that live at least some part of their lives in the water, which are the primary food source for endangered Colorado River fish as well as native fish.

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Aquafornia news Sierra Sun

Truckee accepts $2.31 million for Trout Creek restoration

The Truckee Town Council has approved a resolution to accept $2.31 million in funds from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for the restoration of Trout Creek The money will be used as part of the project extending Church Street, which is part of the larger Truckee Railyard Master Plan.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California, 15 other states sue over new rule diluting protections for nation’s waterways

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, accuses President Trump and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of illegally exposing waterways to pollution and development by rolling back a key provision of the Clean Water Act.

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Aquafornia news Fairfield Daily Republic

DWR to pay $750K for final phases of Cache Slough habitat plan

Solano County will receive $750,000 from the state Department of Water Resources for the development of a Cache Slough Habitat Conservation Plan. The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved the agreement with the state…

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Environmental groups sue EPA over Clean Water Act rollback

Two separate coalitions of environmental advocacy groups filed litigation on Wednesday against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers challenging the Trump Administration’s rollback of the Clean Water Act.

Aquafornia news South Tahoe Now

$11.5M project to restore the Upper Truckee Marsh now underway

The largest wetland restoration project in the history of the Lake Tahoe Basin is now underway in the Upper Truckee River Marsh. The major project to restore the marsh in South Lake Tahoe has been years in the making to fix the environmental damage done by the creation of the Tahoe Keys.

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Aquafornia news Sonoma Index Tribune

Work to protect Sonoma beaver lodge begins

To prevent flooding and manage water levels in a Sonoma creek, a pond leveler will be installed where a family of beavers is living, Sonoma County Water Agency officials said. The pond leveler will help water transfer through the beaver dam so that the pond doesn’t cause flooding. It will also assist with maintaining the habitat for the beavers…

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Aquafornia news NBC Bay Area

East Bay’s new rain gardens, an old-school pollution control

Just days before Covid-19 spurred a vast quarantine-at-home in California, a crew of workers in downtown Oakland was busily planting dozens of potted grasses, shrubs and trees in a newly sculpted garden bed in what had been a gutter and a row of parking stalls a block from City Hall.

Aquafornia news Patch.com

Nonprofit hopes to begin renovations of Pacheco Marsh

A fundraising campaign is underway for a salt marsh restoration effort near Martinez that a local nonprofit preservation group sees as both an educational opportunity and a small component in improving the ecology of the Contra Costa County shoreline.

Aquafornia news Downey Brand

Blog: After months of delay, the 2020 WOTUS Rule is finally published

Publication of the 2020 WOTUS Rule in the Federal Register is the final step in the Trump Administration’s repeal and replacement of the 2015 Waters of the United States Rule (“2015 WOTUS Rule”), issued under the Obama Administration.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Clean Water Act: Trump’s rewrite is finalized. What happens now?

Publication starts a 60-day clock before the rule goes into effect and waves a green flag for an onslaught of lawsuits likely to be filed around the country. The litigation will undoubtedly run beyond Election Day, so the future of the rule likely depends on whether Trump wins a second term.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

EPA finalizes rollback of water pollution safeguards

Pulling the plug on the eve of Earth Day, the Environmental Protection Agency eliminated critical pollution rules from the Obama era that had safeguarded at-risk ecosystems and drinking water across the country. The new Navigable Waters Protection Rule, in the works since President Donald Trump’s inauguration, was finalized Tuesday.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

How Mexico’s dry Colorado River Delta is being restored piece by piece

In the past decade, environmental groups have had success bringing back patches of life in parts of the river delta. In these green islands surrounded by the desert, water delivered by canals and pumps is helping to nourish wetlands and forests. Cottonwoods and willows have been growing rapidly. Birds have been coming back and are singing in the trees.

Aquafornia news Woodland Daily Democrat

Yolo Basin Foundation names new director

Yolo Basin Foundation’s Board of Directors announced this week that Chelsea Martinez has been named the Foundation’s new executive director. … Martinez joined the Foundation in 2017 as the Community Outreach & Volunteer Coordinator and has grown and sustained the Foundation’s volunteer base to over 200 volunteers as well as helped to increase community involvement in its programs.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California says it will fill gaps in lax EPA enforcement

California’s top environmental agency said it would “fill any enforcement gaps” left by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision last month to relax oversight in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Aquafornia news GVWire.com

Feds cut water to exchange contractors, wildlife refuges

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced a water allocation update Monday and it had disappointing news for some San Joaquin Valley farmers, as well as wildlife refuges. The San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors saw their allocation cut from February’s announced 100% to 75%, which is their contract minimum. Wildlife refuges likewise were reduced from 100% to 75%.

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Too big to dream? A landscape-scale approach to re-envision our floodplains in the Sacramento Valley for multiple benefits

How critical are Sacramento Valley floodplains for a vibrant fishery? A California Fish and Game Bulletin from 1930 gives us a clue. The report documents the Sacramento River commercial salmon catch declining from 6 million pounds in 1918 to less than 1 million pounds by 1927.

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Aquafornia news Fisheries Podcast

Audio: New rule defines Waters of the United States

Our guests discuss what the WOTUS rule is and how it was developed, what was formerly protected under the Obama era rule and what water bodies and ecosystem services have lost federal protection under the new rule. They also discuss whether state level protections are sufficient and whether science backs the new rule (it doesn’t).

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Research tests how rice fields can benefit fish

Winter-flooded rice fields already provide essential habitat for migratory birds, but could they also provide benefits to help the state’s salmon populations? Scientists at the University of California, Davis, are finalizing their fieldwork on an experiment to find out what management practices farmers might adopt in their fields to maximize fish survival.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: How water managers can build recharge basins to boost resilience for farmers and birds alike

Recharge basins are becoming increasingly popular in overdrafted regions in California, where water managers are seeking solutions to balance groundwater supply and demand to comply with the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

Aquafornia news San Mateo Daily Journal

Opinion: Time for Cargill to join the 21st century

Let’s be clear, the Redwood City salt ponds are simply the wrong place for development. This is an open space tidal plain that’s part of the Bay and was a thriving wetland for centuries.

Aquafornia news U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Blog: From “extinct” to “prolific”

“’Listen to the land’ is my mantra,” said Susan Sorrells, a 4th generation resident and owner of Shoshone, California. … Integrating nature with community became a part of Sorrells’ and her husband Robby Haines’ vision for stewarding the land. As a gateway to Death Valley National Park, ecotourism became their economic engine.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

South Bay salt pond restoration: Science and adaptive management in action

The South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project is the largest tidal wetland restoration project on the West Coast. When complete, the Project will restore 15,100 acres of industrial salt ponds to a rich mosaic of tidal wetlands and other habitats. The Project is intended to restore and enhance wetlands in South San Francisco Bay while providing for flood management, wildlife-oriented public access, and recreation.

Aquafornia news Chico News & Review

‘They’re failing us’

The preserve [inside the Neal Road Recycling and Waste Facility near Chico]—which is overseen by California Open Lands, a local nonprofit land trust—also has been a focus of the State Water Resources Control Board’s Office of Enforcement, which is investigating the landfill for allegedly discharging last winter about 24 million gallons of waste-contaminated stormwater into the preserve and a neighboring watershed.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Is the Sacramento splittail an endangered species?

The Sacramento splittail is a lovely, silvery-white fish that lives primarily in Suisun Marsh, the north Delta and other parts of the San Francisco Estuary (SFE; Moyle et al. 2004). The name comes from its unusual tail, in which the upper lobe is larger than the lower lobe. It is a distinctive endemic species that for decades has fascinated those of us who work in Suisun Marsh.

Aquafornia news E&E News

LWCF, parks bills head to Senate floor after Trump tweet

One day after President Trump tweeted his support, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is expected to take steps today to bring to the floor legislation that would permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and address the national parks maintenance backlog, senators said. … Trump’s tweet was an election-year about-face from his latest budget proposal, which recommended virtually eliminating the popular, bipartisan program.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Metropolitan Bay-Delta Committee: Update on habitat and fish projects in the Yolo Bypass

At the January meeting of Metropolitan’s Bay Delta Committee, Program Manager Randall Neudeck updated the committee on some of the projects and activities happening underway the Yolo Bypass.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin group joins fight over Clean Water Act changes

Joining 12 other conservation groups from throughout the country, the Olema-based Turtle Island Restoration Network alleges the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not attempt to weigh the potential impacts to endangered species when it removed millions of acres of waterways and habitat from Clean Water Act protections in January.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

What remains in high court’s environmental lineup

By this summer, the justices will have decided a case that could more clearly establish the scope of the Clean Water Act and a challenge that could more firmly define states’ role in federal Superfund cleanups. The court has so far been slow to issue opinions while Chief Justice John Roberts was spending half of his days at impeachment trial proceedings across the street on Capitol Hill.

Aquafornia news The Revelator

Blog: Trump administration’s clean water rollback will hit some states hard

But the effects of removing this “environmental safety net” won’t be felt equally. States with fewer local protections and resources will suffer the most — as will their people and wildlife.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Green groups plan to sue over Trump rollback of Obama waterway protections

A coalition of environmental groups informed the Trump administration Tuesday that it would sue over a major rollback of water protections designed to replace the Obama-era Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

The Wetlands Regional Monitoring Program: A regional vision for coordinated monitoring

Luisa Valiela is an Environmental Protection Specialist in the watershed division of US EPA Region 9. Xavier Fernandez is the Chief of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Board’s Planning and TMDL division. At the 2019 State of the Estuary conference, Ms. Valiela and Mr. Fernandez gave a joint presentation covering the goals and objectives of the Wetlands Regional Monitoring Program, the development process, and the Program Plan that will be released in early 2020.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Trump’s regional EPA chief in California is suddenly removed

The Environmental Protection Agency’s top official in California was abruptly removed from office Wednesday. No reason has yet been given for Mike Stoker’s dismissal. … Stoker’s tenure was mired in controversy. In 2018, a few months after he was appointed regional administrator, a “hotline” complaint was filed with the EPA’s inspector general regarding his infrequent visits to the region’s main office, in San Francisco.

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Western Water Water Education Foundation

ON THE ROAD: Cosumnes River Preserve Offers Visitors a Peek at What the Central Valley Once Looked Like
Preserve at the edge of Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta includes valley oak forests and wintering grounds for cranes

Sandhill cranes gather at the Cosumnes River Preserve south of Sacramento.Deep, throaty cadenced calls — sounding like an off-key bassoon — echo over the grasslands, farmers’ fields and wetlands starting in late September of each year. They mark the annual return of sandhill cranes to the Cosumnes River Preserve, 46,000 acres located 20 miles south of Sacramento on the edge of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news National Law Review

WOTUS litigation may follow clarified clean water jurisdiction

the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finalized a long-awaited new rule redefining the term “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The Agencies state that their so-called Navigable Waters Protection Rule will improve and streamline the regulatory definition of WOTUS.

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: The role of estuaries

Current research shows 11 of the remaining 21 anadromous salmonids in California are at critical risk of extinction in the next 50 years under present trends. Estuaries are especially important to the survival of juvenile salmonids given their important role, helping to increase the number of adult salmonids that survive to adulthood and return to spawn.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Bill Summary: H.R. 1132, San Francisco Bay Restoration

A San Francisco Bay Program Office would be established at the Environmental Protection Agency to make grants for estuary conservation and other water-related initiatives under a modified version of H.R. 1132. The bill would authorize $25 million annually for the office for fiscal 2021 through 2025.

Aquafornia news KQED Science

On the environment, Trump is getting trounced in the courts. At least, so far…

California’s win rate shows that lawyers in its attorney general’s office are bringing strong cases, says legal scholar Buzz Thompson, founding director of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Editorial: Whose water is being carried by Trump’s latest environmental rollback?

When a Healdsburg winery leaked thousands of gallons of Cabernet into the Russian River last week, the jokes flowed, too. … But the spill coincided with a more sobering blow to clean water, coming to light the day the Trump administration announced it was ripping up expanded protections for streams, wetlands and groundwater adopted by the Obama administration.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Trump administration eyes changes to environmental enforcement

The White House issued a notice [Thursday] seeking input on efforts to “reform enforcement” — a potential boon for the energy industry. … [Thursday's] memo, which appears in the Federal Register, states that federal enforcement has ballooned in recent decades but protections for defendants has not.

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Aquafornia news KQED Science

On the environment, Trump is getting trounced in the courts. At least, so far…

California’s win rate shows that lawyers in its attorney general’s office are bringing strong cases, says legal scholar Buzz Thompson, founding director of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.

Aquafornia news AgNet West

California unlikely to benefit from new Navigable Waters Protection Rule

It is doubtful that the new Navigable Waters Protection Rule will provide any benefits to California’s farmers and ranchers. Because of rules that the State Water Board established last year, California is unlikely to be affected by the recent federal regulation that replaces the Waters of the U.S. rule.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Farmers welcome new federal rule on water quality

Farmers and ranchers expressed support for a new federal rule to protect navigable waters under the Clean Water Act, saying the rule should offer certainty, transparency and a common-sense approach about how the rule would apply on the farm.

Aquafornia news U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Blog: Reversing history in the San Francisco Bay

Since the 19th century, close to 90 percent of the marshland that historically ringed San Francisco Bay has been lost to development. The effects include diminished wildlife habitat, increased flood risk, degraded water quality, and far fewer opportunities for nature-based recreation. In 2016, more than two-thirds of voters across nine counties supported ballot Measure AA, a $12 per year parcel tax over 20 years to provide $500 million in restoration funding to reverse some of those effects.

Aquafornia news Environmental Health News

Opinion: EPA’s new water rule is a mockery of science and the Clean Water Act

If the Trump administration’s own scientific advisory board, a host of biological societies, and scores of former government agency officials are disappointed, the rest of America should be fearful and angry.

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Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Science for you: What’s in store for Arcata’s marsh?

One of the things that we humans have struggled with for centuries, and some countries continue to do so, is how to dispose of sewage and wastewater. People whose sewage is treated in Arcata have a big advantage that has been copied many thousands of times across the world. The Arcata wastewater treatment center and the marsh are the result of science and engineering that is currently under review.

Aquafornia news The Coast News

City hears ideas for Loma Alta Slough from community

After hearing from community members back in August and on Jan. 16, Oceanside city staff are working with consultants to design the Loma Alta Slough Wetland Enhancement Project.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Trump’s latest water policy exposes sharp divides

Democrats and environmental groups on Thursday admonished the Trump administration for issuing a rule they say sets protections for waterways back decades; however, it’s shaping up to be a huge win in GOP-leaning rural America as the Trump campaign eagerly courts farm country ahead of the 2020 election.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

Court battles, 2020 election loom over Trump WOTUS rule

Trump administration officials took a victory lap after they unveiled their final revisions to Clean Water Act protections for waterways and wetlands. But the Waters of the U.S., or WOTUS, replacement rule that EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers completed yesterday must now survive a possible Democratic win in the 2020 presidential election and an expected inundation of challenges in the courts.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California will be hit hard as Trump administration weakens clean water protections

Defying environmentalists and public health advocates, the Trump administration on Thursday will announce the replacement of Obama-era water protections with a significantly weaker set of regulations that lifts limits on how much pollution can be dumped into small streams and wetlands.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Reactivating our floodplains: A new way forward

At a panel discussion hosted by California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot, the panelists discussed how by spreading out and slowing down water across the landscape can provide multiple benefits year-round by allowing farmers to cultivate the land during the spring and summer, and provide habitat for fish and wildlife in the fall and winter months.

Aquafornia news Highland Community News

Santa Ana River Wash Plan aims to protect land and species

The conservation district is a special governmental entity that has been recharging the local groundwater aquifers for 100 years. The Wash Plan will implement water conservation, supply infrastructure, transportation and aggregate production while protecting threatened species.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Trump hails WOTUS overhaul as critics call for investigation

President Trump yesterday touted his repeal of key Clean Water Act regulations as more than three dozen current and former government officials called for an investigation into the scientific basis of his forthcoming replacement rule.

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Aquafornia news Mad River Union

McKinleyville Town Center limits loosened to allow wetlands relocation, development

The committee voted to recommend a less stringent definition of wetlands for the Town Center area. The committee also recommended a policy that would allow the wetlands located on a vacant lot behind the McKinleyville Shopping Center to be reconfigured or even relocated. The recommendations have the potential to open up the property to more development…

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

First look: San Diego State University’s $54M plan for a Mission Valley river park

SDSU, with the help of its landscape architect Schmidt Design Group, hopes to engineer ties to the oft-overlooked San Diego River, which runs behind the Mission Valley property currently home to SDCCU Stadium. Although park-goers won’t be able to access the river — a landscaped buffer will be used to keep people away from the natural habitat — they should get a river-like feel from the park.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Delta Stewardship Council: Briefing on the 2019 update to the State of the Estuary Report

At the December meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council, Caitlin Sweeney, Director of the San Francisco Estuary Partnership, briefed the Council on the 2019 update to the State of the Estuary report. She began with some background on the Partnership.

Aquafornia news Vacaville Reporter

Restoring the marsh for future generations in Solano County

Slogging through thick mud may not be everybody’s idea of a rewarding morning, but for a handful of dedicated volunteers, it meant helping Mother Nature thrive. The Solano Land Trust’s “Citizen Science Volunteer” program was at Rush Ranch Friday to plant native plants around an area that has undergone major tidal marsh restoration project…

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Monday Top of the Scroll: The Delta’s sinking islands: A way of life hangs in the balance

The courtroom battle over 9,000-acre Staten Island is the latest conflict in the Delta over farming, wetlands and aging levees that, besides preventing flooding, preserve a way of life on the man-made islands. The suit, filed in 2018 by a group called Wetlands Preservation Foundation, accuses the California Department of Water Resources and the Nature Conservancy of failing to adequately protect wildlife or employ sustainable agricultural practices on the property…The stakes are high because the channels, islands and marshes that make up the Delta are a catch basin for most of California’s drinking water.

Aquafornia news Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory

Blog: Polluted wastewater in the forecast? Try a solar umbrella

Evaporation ponds, which are commonly used in many industries to manage wastewater, can span acres, occupying a large footprint and often posing risks to birds and other wildlife. … Now researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have demonstrated a way to double the rate of evaporation by using solar energy and taking advantage of water’s inherent properties.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Rapid changes in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta both diminish scientific certainty and increase science’s value

These changes will be substantial, multi-faceted, and often rapid. Some changes will be irreversible. Many changes are inevitable. Some will say today’s Delta is doomed. It will be important for California to develop a scientific program that can help guide difficult policy and management discussions and decision-making through these challenges.

Aquafornia news Klamath Falls Herald & News

Opinion: Creating a safe harbor on the ranch

In the shadow of Mount Shasta lies the Butte Creek Ranch, its alpine meadows carpeted in grass sprinkled with wildflowers and bordered by forest. … For over 160 years, this summer scene has played out for six generations of the Hart family. … Recently, the Harts guaranteed the continuation of this legacy by working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a plan that balances their land use with conserving the rich natural resources of Butte Creek.

Aquafornia news Laguna Beach Independent

Aliso Creek estuary restoration closer to reality

The mission to restore the Aliso Creek estuary, spearheaded by Laguna Ocean Foundation two years ago, received a second gift from the California Coastal Conservancy this holiday season, a $400,000 grant to implement the plan’s next phase.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles wants to store water under lake in Owens Valley

Quick shifts in climate have prompted Los Angeles to consider an unlikely place to bank some of its Sierra Nevada snowmelt: beneath dry Owens Lake, which the city drained starting in 1913 to fill the L.A. Aqueduct and supply a thirsty metropolis.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Panel discussion: The building blocks of success in the Delta

Despite efforts over decades, the Delta’s delicate ecosystem and species continue to decline. … At the 2019 ACWA Fall Conference, Vice Chair of the State Water Board DeDe D’Adamo, Department of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth, and Delta Stewardship Council Susan Tatayon gave their thoughts on moving forward in the Delta in this panel discussion moderated by the Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Director Ellen Hanak.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Panel discussion: The building blocks of success in the Delta

Despite efforts over decades, the Delta’s delicate ecosystem and species continue to decline. … At the 2019 ACWA Fall Conference, Vice Chair of the State Water Board DeDe D’Adamo, Department of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth, and Delta Stewardship Council Susan Tatayon gave their thoughts on moving forward in the Delta in this panel discussion moderated by the Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Director Ellen Hanak.

Aquafornia news Fairfield Daily Republic

State awards $5.5M for Hill Slough wetland restoration, research project

Ducks Unlimited has received nearly $5.58 million to restore 603 acres of managed seasonal wetlands to tidal wetlands in the Hill Slough Wildlife Area of the Suisun Marsh. The grant also will fund research on greenhouse gasses in the wetlands.

Aquafornia news Spectrum News 1

Scientists from UC campuses study floods

We’ve heard this about earthquakes – it’s not a matter of if but when the big one will hit. Well, some researchers also say it’s a pretty similar situation for a major flood in the area. A research project currently being undertaken at SoCal and NorCal UC campuses is looking at how flooding could impact the area, including socioeconomic issues.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Editorial: Salmon’s return marks proud day in push for creek restorations

Salmon are swimming back into the Lagunitas Creek watershed. Not only is that a natural phenomena, but it is a sign that hard work at restoring habitat and promoting greater public awareness are paying off.

Aquafornia news Curbed LA

Landscape designer Mia Lehrer and the LA River Revitalization Plan

At 65, Lehrer has become Los Angeles’s doyenne of landscape design and a leading advocate for green urbanism… But the main project that Lehrer has been tenaciously, tirelessly working on for most of her career is the Los Angeles River.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Amid the wasteland of the Salton Sea, a miraculous but challenging oasis is born

It came as a bittersweet surprise to biologists and government agencies monitoring the steadily shrinking Salton Sea’s slide toward death by choking dust storms and salt. Thousands of acres of exposed lake bed have become, of all things, the unintended beneficiaries of lush marshlands that are homes for endangered birds and fish at the outlets of agricultural and urban runoff that used to flow directly into the Salton Sea.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Standing too close to the elephant: addressing scales in restoration and fisheries conservation

Dr. Rachel Johnson is a research biologist with the NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service and UC Davis with over 15 years’ experience working on various aspects of conservation and fisheries biology. In this presentation from the 2019 State of the Estuary conference, Dr. Johnson discussed the importance of developing a holistic framework among aquatic ecosystems and management authorities.

Aquafornia news The Point Reyes Light

Rains make way for Lagunitas Creek coho return

After a dry fall, the first storms of the winter kicked off the annual migration of coho salmon from the Pacific Ocean to the streams where they spawn. Over 10 inches of rain fell on Lake Lagunitas last week… Streamflows are now high enough to allow endangered central California coast coho to migrate.

Aquafornia news Reuters

Most U.S. states have cut environmental budgets and staffing since 2008: study

The report by the Environmental Integrity Project released on Thursday showed some 30 states have reduced funding for pollution control programs, 16 of them by more than 20%. Forty states, meanwhile, have cut staffing at environmental agencies, half of them by at least 10%, the report showed.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Friday Top of the Scroll: California urged to rethink 40 years of ‘piecemeal’ freshwater protections

The bitter drought validated scientists’ warnings that despite longstanding endangered species protections, the state’s outdated and overtaxed water management plans are failing in the face of climate change. … A report released Thursday by the Public Policy Institute of California recommends the state stop prioritizing individual species recovery plans and adopt holistic management methods that improve entire freshwater ecosystems.

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Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

Tahoe Conservancy receives $2.98 million in funding for Upper Truckee Marsh

The California Wildlife Conservation Board has awarded $2.98 million to the California Tahoe Conservancy to help restore the Upper Truckee Marsh, the largest wetland in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Presidio at 25: Time moves backward as restoration sites regain their original habitat

Over the past three decades, a shoreline lagoon and a historic, natural lake have been restored. Hundreds of thousands of native plants — some of them endangered — have been planted. Indigenous wildlife has returned, and an ancient creek ecosystem was freed from underground pipes, exposing hidden streams and ponds that once quenched the thirst of American Indians.

Aquafornia news Curbed LA

Giant water wheel will churn L.A. River water just like the 1860s

Called Bending the River Back Into the City, the project will churn with water from the river, siphoning a fraction of it out of the waterway, cleaning that water via “an artificial treatment wetland” … and then piping it to Los Angeles State Historic Park and the recently opened Albion Riverside Park and Downey Recreation Center so it can water plants and other landscaping there.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Hideous, shameful, grotesque: Rains push mountains of L.A. trash into Ballona Creek

For as far as I could see, east and west, the banks were littered with plastic cups, fast-food containers, spray paint cans and chip wrappers. It had rained a smidgen the day before, the first wet weather of the season, and this was what had washed downstream from the area west of downtown Los Angeles.

Aquafornia news KPBS

Oysters to serve as biological sensors in San Diego estuaries

San Diego researchers will wade into a couple of local estuaries to deliver biological sentinels — oysters equipped with sensors that will monitor the bodies of water. The scientists are looking for insight into a habitat that can undergo dramatic changes in a matter of hours.

Aquafornia news Roll Call

California Democrats seek EPA watchdog help amid Trump threats

A group of California Democrats on Monday pressed the EPA’s internal watchdog to investigate whether the agency has retaliated against their state for political reasons, including by threatening to withhold federal funds for multiple transportation projects.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

EPA sued over oil waste dumping in aquifer near Pismo Beach, California

The Center for Biological Diversity on Thursday sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, alleging the agency wrongly allowed oil waste to be dumped into a San Luis Obispo aquifer and ignored impacts to the California red-legged frog and other endangered species.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: Newsom administration sends mixed signals on Delta endangered species protections

California officials sent mixed signals Thursday when they said they will sue to block a Trump administration rollback of endangered species protections for imperiled fish — while also proposing new water operations that mimic parts of the Trump plan. The state moves reflect political pressure the Newsom administration has been under as it confronts one of California’s most intractable environmental conflicts — the battle over the ailing Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta…

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Editorial: Bel Marin Keys restoration an important move

The start of work on the restoration of the Bel Marin Keys wetlands is another example of efforts to bring back the miles of wetlands that, over the past century, have been lost to development, other encroachments and years of sedimentation buildup.

Aquafornia news Bay City Beacon

Presidio’s new Tunnel Tops Park will connect ancient springs to SF Bay

Lew Stringer is leading a tour of the massive renovation of the entire watershed on the Presidio’s waterfront. The next string of pearls to be unearthed is Quartermaster Reach, a 7-acre salt marsh on the south side of Mason Street. … The $118 million park project, opening in late Spring of 2020, is part of a wetlands restoration movement across the Bay Area that will benefit all species – including us – facing the uncertain future of climate change.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Arcata city officials say they want to use the wetlands for wastewater treatment for as long as possible

The treatment plant isn’t only at risk from rising sea levels … but also from rising groundwater and tectonic forces causing the land to sink, according to the 2018 assessment compiled by local sea level rise expert Alderon Laird. Laird has said to expect .9 feet of sea level rising by 2030, 1.9 feet by 2050 and 3.2 feet by 2070. … Arcata city officials are discussing moving the treatment … but that’s too expensive to do right now.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Living shorelines: Linking estuary habitats and building capacity to adapt to rising seas

A living shoreline is an alternative to ‘hard’ shoreline stabilization methods like rip rap or seawalls, and can provide numerous benefits such as nutrient pollution remediation, habitat, and buffering of shorelines from storm erosion and sea level rise. … At the 2019 State of the Estuary conference, Marilyn Latta from the Coastal Consevancy and Katharyn Boyer from San Francisco State University gave a presentation on living shoreline projects in the San Francisco Bay.

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Aquafornia news Environmental Health News

The water is cleaner but the politics are messier: A look back at the Clean Water Act movement after 50 years

Today, the quality of river water has improved markedly since the early 1970s, though critics say the red tape imposed through the Clean Water Act has become burdensome. The Clean Water Act has not been altered much over the past 50 years, though how we interpret the act has recently changed dramatically.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Opinion: Save Newark’s wetlands, while we still can

Even today, with all we know about the challenges posed by climate change and sea-level rise, some cities seem determined to continue to fill and develop their shorelines. One of the most flagrant examples is taking place in the city of Newark…

Aquafornia news Bay Nature Magazine

Housing project pits regional goals against city plans

On Thursday, the East Bay city of Newark will consider approving 469 single family homes and 2,739 parking spaces at the edge of the San Francisco Bay shoreline, on a 430-acre parcel where conservation groups and state and federal agencies have for decades hoped to restore wetlands. … The proposal illustrates one way even straightforward and widely agreed-upon regional climate solutions can fall apart at the local level…

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Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Napa River project wins prestigious environmental award

Napa County and its partners have been presented with the 2019 Outstanding Environmental Project Award by the Friends of the San Francisco Estuary for ongoing efforts to restore riparian and floodplain habitat along an important segment of the Napa River

Aquafornia news National Public Radio

Wildlife and water in U.S. forests are being poisoned by illegal pot operations

An unlikely coalition in California — including environmentalists, law enforcement agents, politicians, wildlife ecologists and representatives of the legal cannabis industry — have joined forces to try to reduce these illegal operations and the environmental threat they pose.

Aquafornia news Sierra Club

Blog: Newark luxury development would pave over restorable wetlands, increasing risk from sea level rise

Instead of pushing efforts to restore wetlands and wildlife habitat to help our region become more climate resilient, developers and city leaders are pushing to advance plans to fill in Newark’s Bay shoreline. The proposed “Sanctuary West Residential Project,” would build 469 luxury units along the City of Newark’s shoreline on a 559-acre site…

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Arizona prepares to lose federal water protections

The vast majority of Arizona waters now regulated by the state under the federal Clean Water Act could be excluded from protection under the Trump administration’s narrowed definitions of federal waters, according to state environmental officials.

Aquafornia news Bitterroot Magazine

Dust kicked up from the West’s drying lakes is a looming health hazard

Matt Dessert does not want to sue San Diego, nor does he want to start a legal battle with the state of California. But the growing threat to Imperial County’s air quality may leave Dessert, an officer with the county Air Pollution Control District, with little choice.

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Massive Bel Marin Keys marsh restoration begins

While breaking this levee would seem like a catastrophe, state and federal agencies intend to do just that. The purpose is not to unleash some biblical, punishing flood, but rather to allow nature to reclaim nearly 1,600 acres of wetland habitat.

Aquafornia news UC Merced News

Researchers look to wetlands to increase Delta water quality

By looking at how to manage levels of salt, mercury and nutrients heading into the San Joaquin River, researchers are aiming to boost water quality and reduce impacts on fish and other aquatic life in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. … The project will examine wetlands — about 40 miles southwest of UC Merced’s campus — that drain into the San Joaquin River.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Putting the ‘flood’ in Flood-MAR: reducing flood risk while replenishing aquifers

Flood-MAR is recognized as an emerging water management strategy that can provide broad benefits for Californians and the ecosystems of the state, including water supply reliability, flood risk reduction, drought preparedness, aquifer replenishment, water quality improvement, and climate change adaption.

Aquafornia news FishBio

Blog: Bustin’ berms: The restoration of Tule Red

On October 15th, an excavator trundled out onto the narrow isthmus of land separating the freshwater Tule Red pond from Suisun Bay and began digging. As the salty water from Grizzly Bay began to pour through the breach, the 460-acre pond felt the push and pull of the tides for the first time in a century, beginning its transition back into marsh habitat.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

The disconnect between groundwater legal systems and groundwater hydrology

The Groundwater Resources Association’s 2019 Western Groundwater Congress featured David Sandino, Senior Staff Counsel at the Department of Water Resources, who spoke about the disconnect between legal groundwater systems and how the system actually works; and Maurice Hall, Associate Vice President of Ecosystems-Water at the Environmental Defense Fund, who spoke of how more holistic and inclusive groundwater management can increase the resilience of our water supply…

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Supreme Court leans toward expanding Clean Water Act to protect oceans from wastewater

Supreme Court justices, both conservative and liberal, appeared skeptical Wednesday of a Trump administration argument that the federal Clean Water Act should not apply to sewage plant wastewater that flows into the ground and eventually seeps into federally protected waters, such as rivers or oceans. The case from Hawaii has emerged as a major test of the federal anti-pollution law’s scope …

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Aquafornia news E&E News

Clean Water Act: 5 things to know about today’s Supreme Court face-off

By next summer, the court will make a decision on a key question: Are pollutants that flow through groundwater from a single, identifiable source on their way to navigable waters subject to federal permitting requirements?

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Water officials work to assist recharge projects

Flood-managed aquifer recharge involves moving floodwater from surface streams onto land where it could percolate into a groundwater basin. Though the concept sounds simple, it brings complications that include managing the floodwater, finding appropriate land to accept it and establishing rights to the water involved.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California seizes $1.5 billion-plus in black market marijuana

Authorities seized more than $1.5 billion worth of illegally grown marijuana plants in California this year — an amount an industry expert said is roughly equal to the state’s entire legal market — as part of an annual eradication program, officials said Monday. … Law enforcement raids often find illegal farms that have dammed or diverted public streams and dumped dangerous pesticides including carbofuran, methyl parathion and aluminum phosphate…

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Restoring a San Mateo County creek to keep new generations of fish thriving

The executive director of the San Mateo Resource Conservation District was admiring the restoration of 8,000 feet of the Butano Creek stream channel, the largest and most ambitious of a series of projects the district is spearheading to stop chronic flooding, bring back endangered fish and restore 28 acres of degraded wetlands at Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Clean Water Act: Economic analysis could undermine Trump rule repeal

When the Trump administration finalized its repeal of the Obama-era Clean Water Rule last month, it also quietly updated an economic analysis of the repeal’s costs and benefits. The 195-page final analysis is nearly 10 times longer … and estimates different costs and benefits of repealing the regulation.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Navigating California’s new regulations for wetlands and state waters

California regulations protecting wetlands and state waters were approved by the State Water Resources Control Board and will take effect on May 28, 2020. These new rules create a more expansive and complex permitting scheme for developers, public agencies and others with projects that may impact waters and wetlands.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Environmental prosecutions drop to lowest level in decades

Prosecutions of environmental crimes dropped to historic lows under the Trump administration last fiscal year and one legal expert believes that could endanger public health. “There’s a risk that unenforced violations could lead to fires, leaks, spills, and contamination,” said Ethan Elkind, climate program director at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.

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Aquafornia news Fairfield Daily Republic

Garamendi bill for extended life of Clean Water permit passes

A bill that will extend the life of water pollutant regulatory permits from five years to 10 years for local wastewater treatment and water recycling infrastructure projects has passed a key House of Representatives committee.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Clean Water Act: WOTUS lawsuits start long, muddy legal battle

Get ready for a surge of lawsuits over the Trump administration’s decision to walk back Obama-era protections for wetlands and streams. … The cases add a new dimension to what could soon be a complicated legal quagmire over the Obama administration’s WOTUS rule and the Trump administration’s efforts to both erase and replace the regulation.

Aquafornia news Sierra Club

Blog: Santa Fe Dam: A hidden jewel of Southern California

Santa Fe Dam is an element of the Los Angeles County Drainage Area (LACDA) flood control system. Watersheds are more than just drainage areas in and around our communities. They are necessary to support habitat for plants and animals, and they provide drinking water for people and wildlife.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Environmental groups sue over Trump rollback of waters rule

The National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, and nine other groups sued Oct. 23 in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, accusing the federal government of breaking the law in its rollback of the 2015 Clean Water Rule.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

‘It’s where we come from’: The River People in Mexico left without a river

It was on the Colorado River that González, now 82, taught her children, just like her parents and grandparents taught her, to fish with canoes and traps made from willow trees which flourished on the riverbanks. Now, the river stops at the US-Mexico border and the lakes are dry and native vegetation is confined to reforestation projects.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Trump team weakens Delta protections for California smelt, salmon

In a move that would boost water deliveries to San Joaquin Valley agriculture and Southern California cities, federal fishery agencies are weakening decade-old endangered species protections for some of the state’s most imperiled native fish populations.

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

San Francisco Estuary health report offers mixed review

The health of North America’s largest estuary, the San Francisco Estuary, is showing some signs of improvement, but much of the historic damage caused to the massive watershed has either not improved or worsened, according to a new report.

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Aquafornia news Capital Press

New market would pay farmers for conservation practices

The initiative to establish an ecosystem marketplace began in 2017 with the Noble Research Institute, which started working on developing protocols to verify carbon sequestration and improved water quality…

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