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 San Francisco Bay View

The lost shores of Yosemite Slough

Once upon a time, a rich wetland flourished, nurtured by the tidal waters of San Francisco Bay. Sunrise crowned the glistening shoreline of a pristine channel of water that came to be known as Yosemite Slough. The word Yosemite originates from the native Miwok word for grizzly bear. Yosemite Slough was a marshland, a nesting area for migrating birds along the Pacific Flyway and a sanctuary for endangered mammals. … Yosemite Slough originated in the lakes of McLaren Park streaming east through the Portola and Bayview Districts to enter San Francisco Bay. This is called a watershed.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Registration open for virtual journeys into key water regions this fall

Immerse yourself in California’s key water sources this fall with the Foundation’s schedule of engaging virtual tours.  Each tour event will run from 2:30-5:30 p.m. PT and includes: An overview presentation of the region’s critical topics; A guided video tour of key locations — farms, wetlands, dams and reservoirs, wildlife habitats — to gain a stronger understanding on a variety of water supply issues and the latest policy developments; Live Q&A with experts in chat rooms so participants can dive deeper into the topics, including the drought gripping California.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Long troubled Salton Sea may finally be getting what it most needs: action — and money

State work to improve wildlife habitat and tamp down dust at California’s ailing Salton Sea is finally moving forward. Now the sea may be on the verge of getting the vital ingredient needed to supercharge those restoration efforts – money. The shrinking desert lake has long been a trouble spot beset by rising salinity and unhealthy, lung-irritating dust blowing from its increasingly exposed bed. It shadows discussions of how to address the Colorado River’s two-decade-long drought because of its connection to the system.

Western Water Gary Pitzer California Water Map By Gary Pitzer

Long Troubled Salton Sea May Finally Be Getting What it Most Needs: Action — And Money
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: California's largest lake could see millions in potential funding to supercharge improvements to address long-delayed habitat and dust suppression needs

A sunset along the shoreline of California's Salton Sea.State work to improve wildlife habitat and tamp down dust at California’s ailing Salton Sea is finally moving forward. Now the sea may be on the verge of getting the vital ingredient needed to supercharge those restoration efforts – money.

The shrinking desert lake has long been a trouble spot beset by rising salinity and unhealthy, lung-irritating dust blowing from its increasingly exposed bed. It shadows discussions of how to address the Colorado River’s two-decade-long drought because of its connection to the system. The lake is a festering health hazard to nearby residents, many of them impoverished, who struggle with elevated asthma risk as dust rises from the sea’s receding shoreline. 

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

California’s water crisis comes for the birds

Empty wells. Salmon die-offs. Water thieves. The uncontrollable flames of monster wildfire.  In California, one of the worst droughts on record has touched off a kaleidoscopic range of emergencies, amplifying age-old resource conflicts as leaders call for conservation by cities, curtailments to farmers and coordination across the board. The interconnectedness of the state’s hydrology is especially apparent in one corner of the Sacramento Valley, where scarce water for farmers will also mean less for the migrating birds that make use of the same land. 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Seizing the moment – Preparing for next year with groundwater recharge opportunities

As water resources managers work hard this summer to deliver limited water supplies to cities, rural communities, farms, refuges and fisheries–while also providing essential hydropower for the state’s energy grid–there is increasing attention to prepare for the next water year. … As we think about water management opportunities for next year, there is an increasing focus on groundwater recharge … 

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Tour Nick Gray Jennifer Bowles

Bay-Delta Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - September 9

Join us as we guide you on a virtual journey deep into California’s most crucial water and ecological resource – the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The 720,000-acre network of islands and canals support the state’s two major water systems – the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project. The Delta and the connecting San Francisco Bay form the largest freshwater tidal estuary of its kind on the West coast.

Aquafornia news Daily Republic

Sustainable Solano walk looks at prospect of flooding in Suisun City

The third and final Flood Walk, sponsored by Sustainable Solano, took 12 participants on a journey through the marshlands, by the docks and through some residential areas in Suisun City. All are spots that could be affected by flooding. … Sustainable Solano is a grassroots movement to unite people in working toward a future that is ecologically regenerative, and economically and socially supportive of local communities. 

Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger

Blog: Court allows Trump Administration Waters of the U.S. rule to remain

A South Carolina federal judge issued an order late last week allowing the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, the Trump administration’s “waters of the United States” rule, to remain in place while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers work on rulemakings to revoke and replace it. The final rule was issued in April 2020, redefining “waters of the United States” and narrowing the scope of Clean Water Act jurisdiction.

Aquafornia news Pasadena Now

Arroyo Seco Canyon project back before Council

A public hearing on an environmental impact report (EIR) on a controversial project that local preservationists say threatens fish living in a local stream is scheduled to go before the City Council on Monday. The Pasadena Water and Power Department (PWP) 0is seeking two conditional use permits (CUPs) to repair and replace facilities within the Arroyo Seco Canyon area that were damaged or destroyed by the Station Fire-related events of 2009. Preservationists say the project threatens trout that are swimming in streams in the area.

Aquafornia news San Luis Obispo Tribune

Pollution from old Avila Beach tank farm is seeping into tide pools. What should be done?

For years, petroleum hydrocarbons have been seeping from the groundwater beneath the old oil tank farm property in Avila Beach into tide pools below.  Much of the source of the pollution has been cleaned up, but an unknown amount remains. The question now is, what should be done with it and could over-aggressive remediation cause more harm than good?  The trickle of hydrocarbons — comprised of a mixture of diluted, broken-down gas from the tank farm — was discovered in May 2012 …

Aquafornia news Malibu Times

Water redirected to refill Legacy Park pond

Residents, along with the local population of Mallard ducks, Canada geese and coots will soon get their Legacy Park nature preserve back. The pond, which is normally kept full most of the year with storm runoff water, totally dried up this spring in the middle of duckling season. The statewide drought took its toll. Meanwhile, the construction of a new office park and shopping center—the La Paz project—right across the street was running into difficulties with groundwater as workers excavated a future underground parking garage. 

Aquafornia news Outdoor Life

California’s drought is threatening salmon and waterfowl

Millions of waterfowl and other birds are going to have a tough year due to the ongoing drought in the West. Not only is there less water for ducks and geese, but the agriculture fields these migrating birds depend on for food will be significantly smaller, which means less waste grain. … That potentially can negatively impact Pacific Flyway waterfowl flights and hunting this year. Farmers report only 25 percent of the fields usually flooded in autumn will have water. With reduced water, ducks and geese are impacted. They concentrate more and diseases and bacteria can spread more readily, including bird botulism.

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Aquafornia news State Water Contractors

Report: SWC Annual Science Report

Science is about more than data and research, it’s about teamwork. Collaboration is key, and the State Water Contractors are committed to working together with our partners in academia, government, non-profit and the private sectors to invest in California’s water future. The SWC and Member Agencies participated in multiple interagency and stakeholder working groups tasked with determining how to implement permit requirements, including the Spring-Run Chinook Salmon Juvenile Production Estimate Core Team and Delta Coordination Group for summer-fall habitat actions for Delta Smelt.

Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

Waterfowl across Sacramento region threatened by California drought

The future of millions of waterfowl that visit the region each fall could be up in the air if dry conditions continue. Fourth-generation rice farmer Brian McKenzie farms about 4,000 acres and his fields are filled with wildlife. … This year’s drought has decreased the number of birds and the number of acres farmed. … And that has many worried about what will happen to what is known as the Pacific flyway this fall.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: In California, who owns water rights is a mystery

As we careen deeper into drought, California will face increasing impacts to urban and agricultural economies, rivers and forests, and wildlife. In response, government agencies will need to determine how to allocate water among competing needs. Water users will scramble to buy and sell water — if they can — or reduce their use. But the current lack of information hobbles the ability to make difficult decisions about water management. For California to cope with persistent shortages, water rights data need to be accessible to decision-makers and the public.
-Written by Michael Kiparsky, director of the Wheeler Water Institute in the Center for Law, Energy and the Environment at UC Berkeley School of Law.

Aquafornia news BBC Future

The beavers returning to the desert

Standing at the edge of a precipice, under a scorching sun in eastern Utah, you can see nothing but the state’s infamous red rocks and towering buttes for miles. … But if you happen to glance down at the dizzying depths of the canyon that lies at the bottom of the desert sandstone mountains, you’d see a lush oasis, blooming with green vegetation, the Price River snaking through the rock even on the hottest of summer days. And if you scrambled down, and watched patiently for long enough, you might even spot some beavers – the very architects of this thriving wetland landscape, smack bang in the middle of the desert.

Aquafornia news Daily Democrat

Yolo County decides on vision for Tule Canal/Yolo Bypass through stakeholder workshop

On June 24, Yolo County released a report on a recent design charrette for the Tule Canal in the Yolo Bypass. The two-day virtual workshop included 71 participants from a wide swath of stakeholders — farmers, policy makers, landowners, hunters, conservation scientists, educators, engineers and ecologists. Led by consultants Robert Suarez and Teal Brown Zimring, with generous funding from the State Water Contractors and Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency, the executive summary and full report are now available on Yolo County’s Delta e-library:

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

A Delta in distress

Global warming has already left its mark on the backbone of California’s water supply, and represents a growing threat to its first developed agricultural region, state experts have warned in a new study. The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fuels California’s $3 trillion economy, including its $50 billion agricultural industry, sustains more than 750 plant and animal species and supplies 27 million people with drinking water.  But global warming is likely to destabilize the landscape that made the delta a biodiversity and agricultural hotspot …

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Aquafornia news The Denver Channel

‘The lifeline of the West’: The Colorado River’s 1,400-mile journey, explained

The Colorado River makes an impressive 1,400-mile journey from Colorado, all the way to the U.S.-Mexico border. It starts as snowpack in Rocky Mountain National Park in Northern Colorado and makes its way westward to Utah. The Utah portion of the river course starts on the Colorado Plateau before heading to Moab, where the water sweeps by Arches and Canyonlands national parks – both amazing landscapes eroded into canyons and mesas by the Colorado and Green rivers.

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Aquafornia news Stanford University Natural Capital Project

Sea-level rise solutions

Communities trying to fight sea-level rise could inadvertently make flooding worse for their neighbors, according to a new study from the Stanford Natural Capital Project. The research, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows how seawalls constructed along the San Francisco Bay shoreline could increase flooding and incur hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for communities throughout the region.

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Aquafornia news Engineering News-Record

California expands floodwater capacity

For more than 60 years, California officials and experts have discussed expanding the Sacramento River bypass and levee system. … In summer 2020, contractors broke ground on the first project to expand that capacity, the Lower Elkhorn Basin Levee Setback (LEBLS) project. The California Dept. of Water Resources is leading the design, construction and permitting of the $103-million project, which will widen the Sacramento Bypass and the east side of the Yolo Bypass. 

Aquafornia news Golden Gate University Environmental Law Journal

Law Review: “A Clean Water Act, if you can keep it”

The Clean Water Act has traveled a successful but tortuous path. From combustible beginnings on the Cuyahoga River; through the Lake St. Clair wetlands; to reservoirs near the Miccosukee; and eventually discharged (or “functionally” discharged) off the Maui coast. With each bend, the nearly fifty-year-old Act has proven to be not just resilient, but among our most successful environmental laws. Much of that success stems from an effective enforcement structure that focuses more on treating pollutant sources rather than just impaired waters.
–Written by Sean G. Herman, an attorney with Hanson Bridgett LLP and an adjunct professor at Golden Gate University School of Law.

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Bird count shows what happens when Colorado irrigators use less water

In the gray light of dawn, hundreds of swallows darted over a pool of standing water in an irrigated field along the Colorado River. The birds were attracted to the early-morning mosquitos swarming the saturated landscape. … Across the Western Slope, birds and other wildlife have come to depend on these artificially created wetlands, a result of flood irrigation. But as the state of Colorado grapples with whether to implement a demand-management program, which would pay irrigators to temporarily dry up fields in an effort to send more water downstream, there could be unintended consequences for the animals that use irrigated agriculture for their habitat.

Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

Tahoe’s natural filters: Preserving, restoring wetlands essential to lake clarity

Every spring, the snow begins to melt and make its way down the mountains, across marshes and meadows, and through the 63 tributaries flowing into Lake Tahoe. … [T]he route that the water takes before eventually ending up in the lake is crucial to maintaining Tahoe’s famed clarity. Why, you might ask? It’s all about those SEZs. Stream environment zones are a Tahoe-specific term, meaning “an area that owes its biological and physical characteristics to the presence of surface or groundwater,” according to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. Meadows, marshes, streams, streambanks, and beaches are all examples of SEZs…

Aquafornia news Bay Nature

State funding helps secure new properties on the Eel River

Yet despite its ecological richness, very little of the land on either side of the [Eel River] has been protected, as 90 percent of this land remains in private hands, and very little of it is currently accessible to the public. This could change soon, however, if two ambitious initiatives to protect this wild country bisected by the Eel and make it accessible to the public come to fruition. And both those initiatives received a boost from the new state budget just passed by the California Legislature (and, as of this writing, still awaiting Governor Newsom’s signature). 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: The collaborative steward

The rhythmic patter of hooves skimming the earth below was a sound Amy never tired of when she was young. Whether in the hot sweat-inducing summer or the bone-chill frost of winter in upstate New York, the sound was ever-present, because Amy was always riding. … Now as the Interim Director of the California Program at American Rivers, one of Amy’s central goals is to work with agricultural landowners to protect and improve habitat in wetlands and rivers.

Aquafornia news Yale E360

Once a rich desert river, the Gila struggles to keep flowing

The confluence of the tiny San Pedro River and the much larger Gila was once one of the richest locales in one of the most productive river ecosystems in the American Southwest, an incomparable oasis of biodiversity. The rivers frequently flooded their banks, a life-giving pulse … The confluence now is a very different place, its richness long diminished. A massive mountain of orange- and dun-colored smelter tailings, left from the days of copper and lead processing and riddled with arsenic, towers where the two rivers meet. Water rarely flows there, with an occasional summer downpour delivering an ephemeral trickle.

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Aquafornia news CBS Sacramento

Heat, drought conditions could bring more harmful algae to Sacramento waterways

Hot temperatures have many headed straight to local waterways to cool off, but experts say high heat and a bad drought this year can be ideal conditions for harmful algae. It’s an issue that’s not always top of mind. … According to state data, popular waterways in the immediate Sacramento area are safe. People headed to the American River or Folsom Lake for the Fourth of July are in the clear. But the state labels part of Discovery Bay near San Francisco as a danger area, with a warning not to swim or touch the scum on the water. 

Aquafornia news Malibu Times

The bureaucratic tangle behind getting water to Legacy Park

City officials are now working on a solution to the dry lake at Legacy Park. Many Malibu residents are bothered by the fact that the pond at Legacy Park has dried up in the drought, while at the same time a construction project for a new business park and shopping center across the street is unloading tens of thousands of gallons of water that is flowing into their construction site, channeling it into Malibu Creek…. That led Council Member Steve Uhring to the logical question: Why not put some of the water from the La Paz project into the pond across the street?

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Home is where the habitat is

The San Francisco Estuary (estuary) is sometimes called the most invaded estuary in the world, and for good reason. Through many avenues, hundreds, if not thousands, of species have been introduced to San Francisco Bay, the Delta, and their rivers. Some introductions were byproducts of human activity and include organisms that “hitchhiked” on the bottom of boats or as stowaways in ballast water carried by international shipping vessels. Others were deliberate and undertaken either legally by the government or illicitly by individuals for biocontrol, fisheries, or disposal of unwanted pets.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Investing in ecosystem restoration in the Sacramento Valley

Earlier posts here like this one by Grant Lundberg and this one by David Guy have done a great job of describing the virtues of floodplain restoration. The profound dedication of people like Julie Rentner and Jacob Katz inform and energize the work of the entire Floodplain Forward coalition that I’m proud to be part of.  But moving beyond plans to actually get work done on the ground is a task that needs broad support.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

U.S. Chamber official warned of climate danger in 1989

Twenty years before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce called for climate science to be put on trial, an official from the powerful pro-business lobby group crafted what would prove to be a prescient message on global warming. Harvey Alter, who ran the Chamber’s resources policy department at the time, said in 1989 there was “broad consensus” that human-made climate change would likely have a disastrous impact on coastal communities and farmers. … “Wetlands will flood, salt water will infuse fresh water supplies, and there will be changes in the distribution of tree and crop species and agricultural productivity,” Alter said. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Conservationists receive another $8-million boost from state legislators for Banning Ranch acquisition

Conservationists are now at the $72-million mark of their $97-million goal to acquire Banning Ranch, a 384-acre property at the mouth of the Santa Ana River, and turn the oil field into a public park. The Trust for Public Land announced Monday that state legislators allocated $8 million to be put toward the purchase of the property. Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach) said in a Facebook post that she was “thrilled” to have secured the allocation in this year’s upcoming state budget. The budget is now on its way to Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign prior to the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Proposed wetlands park along San Francisco Bay gets a setback

The effort to change a former military aircraft taxiway along San Francisco Bay into wetlands has gotten a setback after the City Council balked at setting aside money to create a master plan for the $14 million project. Known as “DePave,” the park is proposed for the former Alameda Naval Air Station. It’s expected to feature walking paths and overlooks, where people can watch birds and harbor seals resting on floating platforms. Last year, the city’s Recreation and Parks Commission unanimously endorsed a draft “vision plan” for the future 16-acre park. The council also has broadly supported it, at least vocally.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Drought makes conditions worse for California’s declining native fishes

California is home to 131 kinds of native fishes that require freshwater for some or all of their life-cycle. Most of these fishes are found only in California and most (81%) are in decline (Moyle et al. 2015, 2020). Thirty-two (24%) are already listed as threatened or endangered by state and/or federal governments. Declines are usually the result of fishes losing the competition with humans for California’s water and habitat (Leidy and Moyle 2021). This competition is heightened by the ongoing severe drought.

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Aquafornia news World Economic Forum

Blog: 9 ways to clean up plastic waste from the world’s rivers

The Clean Currents Coalition – a global network of local projects – is on a mission to clean up the world’s rivers, using scientific solutions to address the problem of plastic waste … Pollution doesn’t respect international boundaries, making plastic waste in the Tijuana River Estuary, which forms the border between the US and Mexico, everyone’s problem. As the river is the sole source of clean drinking water for many people, California and Mexico-based environmental non-profit WILDCOAST, has erected a “Brute Boom” across the Los Laureles Canyon to collect debris. 

Aquafornia news TreeHugger

Blog: California water use threatens biodiversity in the long term

The diversion of water from the San Francisco Bay Delta, for example, is one of the forces famously driving the delta smelt to extinction. Now, a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this month shows another counterintuitive way in which human water use in California is putting its unique riverside woodlands at risk.  By diverting water in ways it would not otherwise flow, human management is providing some stream-side, or riparian, ecosystems with excess water that gives them a short-term boost, but undermines their long-term sustainability. 

Aquafornia news California Trout

News release: CalTrout awarded $7M to reconnect habitat on Santa Margarita River

We are excited to announce that a CalTrout project to Reconnect Habitat is moving forward thanks to grant funding from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) voter-approved Proposition 1 Watershed Restoration Grant. This project is part of the South Coast Steelhead Coalition portfolio to recover this endangered trout from the brink of extinction.

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Aquafornia news Daily Mail Online

Stunning photos by Julian Lennon capture the eeriness of California’s landlocked Salton Sea

Competition for the title of most surreal location in America is hot, but the Salton Sea in California is undoubtedly a contender. And the eerie, post-apocalyptic feel of this bizarre body of water and the ghost-town settlements on its shoreline has been captured in a stunning newly released photo series by Julian Lennon, the son of Beatles legend John. The landlocked body of water is one of the world’s biggest inland seas and at 226ft (69m) below sea level one of the lowest places on earth.

Aquafornia news Coastal View

Opinion: We must work together to protect our water from agricultural waste

As science and policy director for Santa Barbara Channelkeeper and a 14-year resident of Carpinteria, I appreciated Bob Franco’s June 16 letter to the editor, “Don’t drink the water,” for its effectiveness in raising awareness about an important pollution issue impacting Carpinteria’s local waterways.  Channelkeeper is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the Santa Barbara Channel and its watersheds. 
-Written by Ben Pitterle, Channelkeeper’s interim executive director and science and policy director.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Conservationists edge closer to Banning Ranch acquisition with $8-million grant from state

The dream of turning a 384-acre oil field at the mouth of the Santa Ana River into a public park and nature preserve grows closer to a reality by another $8 million, thanks to a grant from the state’s fish and wildlife department announced earlier this month. The $8-million grant for the purchase of Banning Ranch, given to the Trust for Public Land, is one of 28 projects — and one of three acquisition projects — selected to receive a grant this year. 

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Aquafornia news The Independent

Mining halted at “Lake A” in the Chain of Lakes

The move to end mining in a Tri-Valley lake became official this week. Alameda County planning commissioners on Monday approved plans for restoring the Eliot Quarry, where more than a century of rock mining in the unincorporated area between Livermore and Pleasanton will eventually be turned into lakes surrounded by open fields and recreation trails. … [T]he project will include the planting of native trees and shrubs, creating passages for fish, and reducing the amount of groundwater lost to San Francisco Bay by deepening the lake so it can hold more water. 

Aquafornia news ABC7 San Francisco

Rep. Jackie Speier backed $125 million bill first step towards restoring San Francisco Bay

San Francisco Bay may be one of the most famous stretches of waterway in the world, but when it comes to federal spending, it’s recently been one of the most overlooked. Hundreds of millions of dollars flowed to other areas like Puget Sound and the Chesapeake Bay during the Trump years. … This week, Speier took a big step towards turning the tide. Pushing through a $125 million Bay Restoration bill in the House. The money would be spread out over five years, and target projects that could be key to the Bay’ survival.

Aquafornia news Mercury News

Kayak San Francisco Bay: How to spend an amazing day out on the water

I’ve spent my whole life near San Francisco Bay. But the amount of time that I’ve actually spent out on the water has been minimal — a few ferry rides, a dinner cruise or two, a trip to Alcatraz and back in grade school. That’s it. I like to blame my yacht-less friends, who have been amazingly inconsiderate over the decades and never bought fancy sailboats to take me out on the water. The real reason, of course, is that I’d never explored some relatively inexpensive ways to explore this area’s most famous feature. Turns out it’s pretty easy to do, especially if you like to paddle.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Watershed restoration is key to a climate-smart future 

California is in a megadrought, with its key reservoirs falling to their lowest points in history. Wildfire season is already here, and officials are bracing for yet another catastrophic year. Meanwhile, rural communities remain in desperate need of viable, sustainable economic futures. One climate-smart solution that addresses all these needs is watershed restoration.

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Aquafornia news The Revelator

Opinion: California’s opportunity to shape worldwide biodiversity policy

California, like the rest of the world, must wrestle with a hard truth: Our climate has changed. As we face another water-shortage crisis, we must acknowledge a sobering reality: We’re not in a drought. This is our new normal. And we need to adapt. It’s becoming increasingly clear that we can’t solve our drought, or the myriad other environmental crises, without protecting our ecosystems. And we can’t protect our ecosystems without acknowledging that this work is globally connected.
-Written by Assembly Member Laura Friedman, D-Glendale; LA-based environmental and social policy advisor Rosalind Helfand; and Mike Young, political and organizing director of the California League of Conservation Voters.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Water Audit California sues St. Helena over water management

Water Audit California sued the City of St. Helena this week over its management of water. The watchdog group says the city is violating its “public trust” responsibilities relating to the Napa River and its aquatic habitat. It cites the city’s policies on groundwater pumping, well permitting, and water consumption by vineyards and wineries.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: He’s watching L.A. homelessness destroy the Ballona Wetlands

We had been walking for only a few minutes when Scott Culbertson stopped in front of a field of twisted, blackened bark. “I haven’t been here since the fire,” the executive director of the Friends of Ballona Wetlands told me, scowling at the destruction from behind dark sunglasses. Three months ago, this spot in the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve in Playa del Rey had been a stand of native willow trees and other vegetation where endangered songbirds would nest. Then, one sunny afternoon, a brush fire broke out and scorched five acres before firefighters could put it out.
-Written by Erika Smith, LA Times columnist.

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Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News release: Court decision upholds $2.8 million fine, clears path for long-awaited restoration of Point Buckler Island

The California Supreme Court has denied review of the February appellate decisions in Sweeney v. Regional Water Board and Sweeney v. Bay Conservation and Development Commission, leaving in place key administrative orders against the Point Buckler Club for unauthorized levee construction and other environmentally harmful activities at Point Buckler Island. 

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Monterey County officials greenlight Carmel River restoration

Monterey County elected officials on Tuesday gave an enthusiastic thumbs up to a $45 million restoration project at the mouth of the Carmel River that will provide a host of environmental benefits, including natural flood control for an area that has historically been hit hard by river flooding. The Monterey County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution that will move the project, called the Carmel River Floodplain Restoration and Environmental Enhancement, forward with the nonprofit Big Sur Land Trust as its key partner. 

Aquafornia news California Department of Fish and Wildlife

News release: CDFW awards $39 million for ecosystem and watershed restoration, protection and scientific study projects statewide

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced the selection of 28 projects to receive funding for projects to restore and protect multi-benefit ecosystem restoration and protection projects under its Proposition 1 grant programs. The awards, totaling $39 million, were made under CDFW’s 2021 Proposition 1 Watershed Restoration Grant & Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program Proposal Solicitation Notice.

Aquafornia news Sierra Magazine

Blog: Can we save the San Joaquin’s salmon?

The intensive engineering of the river exacted a huge toll on its native ecosystems. No species suffered more than the Chinook salmon, whose epic migration from the Pacific Ocean to its spawning grounds in the High Sierra was cut short by numerous choke points, not the least of which was Friant’s impenetrable barrier of concrete. … Rife with compromises, [a 1988] settlement mandated that a mere half of the San Joaquin’s original flow be restored. The river’s many dams would remain, but alternative passages would be built and new spawning areas added in the lower river.

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Aquafornia news Grist

Living shorelines could help California coasts adapt to rising sea levels

[Scientists] are setting out to test an alternative path to protecting coastlines — one that involves using the ecosystems that already exist or once existed along the coast, instead of squeezing them out. [Katie] Nichols oversees Coastkeeper’s living shorelines program, a project in partnership with California State University, Long Beach, and California State University, Fullerton, that restores ecosystem structures like oyster beds and eelgrass meadows, which protect shorelines from waves, erosion, and sea-level rise.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California’s riparian woodlands at risk of decline

Riparian forests, those tree-filled regions running next to rivers and streams, host a breadth of important wildlife — but water management practices focused on meeting the needs of growing communities and agriculture may be putting their future in jeopardy. These woodlands serve to protect water quality and stream integrity, host wildlife and control flooding along water ways, but the ecosystems they support are in danger of failing in the coming decades.

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Aquafornia news U.S. EPA

News release: EPA announces $6 million for tribes to support wetlands and healthy watersheds

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced selections under two Clean Water Act (CWA) grant programs to support leadership of Tribes in protecting and restoring water resources. The agency anticipates awarding approximately $3 million to 18 Tribal nations and one Intertribal organization under the Tribal Wetland Program Development Grant competition and an additional $3 million in CWA Section 319 Tribal Competitive Grants to 32 Tribal nations to support projects to manage nonpoint source pollution.

Aquafornia news NewsWise

New research: Biodiversity ‘hotspots’ imperiled along California’s streams

A study of woodland ecosystems that provide habitat for rare and endangered species along streams and rivers throughout California reveals that some of these ecologically important areas are inadvertently benefitting from water that humans are diverting for their own needs. Though it seems a short-term boon to these ecosystems, the artificial supply creates an unintended dependence on its bounty, threatens the long-term survival of natural communities and spotlights the need for changes in the way water is managed across the state.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Carmel River floodplain project goes before Monterey County Board of Supervisors

A $45 million project that will partially reshape the area around the mouth of the Carmel River promises to increase flood control and restore the biodiversity in the area. Called the “Carmel River Floodplain Restoration and Environmental Enhancement,” the nonprofit Big Sur Land Trust, Monterey County, the Monterey Regional Parks District and the state are collaborating to restore the historic floodplain of a portion of the Carmel River where it meets Highway 1. 

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Biologists, irrigators empty Tule Lake to improve habitat, fight disease

Once spanning 100,000 acres at the foot of the Medicine Lake Volcano, it’s unlikely that Tule Lake has been as low as it is now for millions of years. What used to be a massive network of open water and fringe wetlands is now essentially a giant mud puddle, spelling trouble for migratory birds that have used it as a rest stop for thousands of years. The solution, at least for now? Dry it up.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Clock is ticking on dreams of saving Salton Sea with water from Mexico’s Sea of Cortez

Coachella Valley-based architect Nikola Lakic knows how to fix the withering Salton Sea. Or, at least he says he does.  Lakic believes it’s possible to import water from Mexico’s Sea of Cortez — or, perhaps, from the Pacific Ocean off the California coast — through a multi-billion-dollar system of pipes. He would construct mangrove habitat for natural water filtration, send desalinated water to geothermal plants and, amid all this, restore California’s largest lake. … Lakic is the author of one of 11 formal proposals for a “sea-to-sea” solution that the state of California is currently evaluating.

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Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Ecosystem restoration and water management

Restoration implies returning to a prior state. A broken cup carefully glued, might appear nearly as whole as the original, but will always differ from the original.  Ecosystem restoration attempts to return an evolving web of interconnected species and physical processes to a prior state. This endeavor raises complex questions: what prior state should be the restoration target?

Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger

Blog: EPA and Army Corps to propose repealing and replacing the Navigable Waters Protection Rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers announced their intent to revise the reach of the federal Clean Water Act by changing the definition of “waters of the United States.” This move, announced yesterday, would reverse the Navigable Waters Protection Rule adopted during the Trump administration, which itself replaced a 2015 revision by the Obama administration.

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Biden moves to restore clean-water safeguards ended by Trump

The Biden administration began legal action Wednesday to repeal a Trump-era rule that ended federal protections for hundreds of thousands of small streams, wetlands and other waterways, leaving them more vulnerable to pollution from development, industry and farms. The rule — sometimes referred to as “waters of the United States” or WOTUS — narrowed the types of waterways that qualify for federal protection under the Clean Water Act. It was one of hundreds of rollbacks of environmental and public health regulations under President Donald Trump, who said the rules imposed unnecessary burdens on business.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Suisun Bay island owner must restore land he disturbed to make room for duck hunters

The state Supreme Court rejected the appeal Wednesday of the owner of an island in Suisun Bay who has been ordered to pay millions of dollars in penalties and restore landfill he discharged into marsh waters to make room for duck hunters and a kite-surfing club. John Sweeney purchased the 39-acre island, Point Buckler, on the eastern edge of Grizzly Bay in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in 2011. It had been used by duck hunters for many decades until the 1990s, but regulatory agencies said levee breaches and neglect of the site had turned it into a tidal marsh. 

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: How water bonds plug spending holes

As California responds to yet another drought and prepares for a future of greater climate extremes, securing funding to boost the water system’s resilience is a top priority. One go-to funding source over the last two decades has been state general obligation bonds. In dollar terms, GO bonds play a relatively small role in water system spending, yet they punch above their weight when it comes to filling critical gaps. 

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Opinion: Stop fighting over water long enough to agree on just this

California’s water wars are legendary, complex and ongoing. To avoid getting too far in the weeds, media often boil it down to a dispute over who should have priority to a limited supply of water — people or fish. The real beauty of aerial snow surveys is that it’s one thing that farmers and environmentalists can agree on. 
-Written by Garth Stapley, The Modesto Bee’s Opinions Page editor.

Aquafornia news Union Democrat

Federal officials seek input for Ackerson Meadow restoration

Yosemite National Park and the Stanislaus National Forest are seeking commentary from the public on their plan to restore wetlands in the Ackerson Meadow, which they said have been drained as a result of a century of domestic water diversion.  The plans include a complete fill of the gullies developed over the last century by ranchers and agriculturalists who utilized water flow, or the the installation of manmade beaver dams to partially restore the wetlands.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: The Habitat Creator – Mary Kimball

In the two decades since the SLEWS program began, high school students, farmers and conservation volunteers have planted 142 miles of riparian hedgerow habitat. That is the equivalent of driving from Sacramento to Reno. From the moment you left downtown until you pulled into the Biggest Little City in the World, accompanying you along the way would be a seemingly infinite line of native trees, grasses, shrubs, and flowering forbs all in a single row. 

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Ensuring high quality water for communities, ecosystems and farms

I am now working through my third drought as the Director of Water Quality for Northern California Water Association (NCWA), where I have learned the importance of broadening my perspective beyond my own tap in Roseville that brings delicious American River water into my home. A pillar in NCWA’s Strategic Plan and 2021 Priorities is to advance multi-benefit water management that supports nature-based solutions, which provide essential benefits for our economy, health and quality of life …

Aquafornia news Ingrained

Podcast/blog: Episode 22 – Nurturing Nature

The driest year California has experienced since the 1970s will have wide-ranging impacts in the West. In the Sacramento Valley, a reduced water supply will lead to about a 20 percent reduction in rice plantings. The loss of about 100,000 acres of rice fields has implications well beyond the farm level. The reduced plantings will impact rural communities that depend on agriculture as their foundation. It’s also a concern for wildlife, which greatly depend on rice fields for their habitat.

Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

Salton Sea: “Why is it so hard to get something built on the ground there?”

It was a question asked of panelists discussing the Salton Sea on Tuesday, May 25. State and local officials were asked a number of questions about the drying sea during a one-hour online forum. The Red Hill Bay project that stalled after breaking ground in 2015 was one of the topics panelists discussed. 

Aquafornia news NBC Bay Area

As sea level rise threat grows, SF officials don’t have public plan to save sewers

Because Bay Area low-lying sewage treatment plants remain vulnerable to rising sea levels, government regulators told sewage facility managers to “provide a written plan for coping with SLR by the fall of 2021 – or they will be given a plan.”  The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit reached out to 10 “at risk” sewage treatment plants to see those plans. All except one provided extensive documents of their proposals, the cost to address them, and even provided tours of completed work. San Francisco’s Public Utilities Commission replied to the Investigative Unit’s public records request that after a “diligent search for records…no records were found.”

Aquafornia news The (Vacaville) Reporter

Rockville Park serves as virtual link to water conservation lessons

Even in a year that has seen not much rainfall, students throughout Solano County have learned important lessons about their local waterways and the nature that surrounds them. Through its Watershed Explorers program, Solano Resource Conservation District has allowed elementary schoolers to connect virtually to their local watersheds and experience the sights and sounds of nature, all while making observations about what they have witnessed and receiving lessons from the program’s educators. 

Aquafornia news NOAA Fisheries

Blog: Restoring habitat to support coastal communities – A look back at the Recovery Act—part 1

Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, NOAA funded 125 habitat restoration projects in coastal areas throughout the country. … Through the Recovery Act, NOAA partnered with the [California Conservation Corps] to support more than 30 coastal habitat restoration projects. These projects benefitted threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead throughout coastal California. More than 200 corps members worked to open waterways to fish migration, stabilize stream banks, conduct project monitoring, and more.

Aquafornia news CA Department of Fish and Wildlife

News release: Wildlife Conservation Board funds environmental improvement and acquisition projects

At its May 20, 2021 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $23.5 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 35 approved projects will benefit fish and wildlife — including some endangered species — while others will provide public access to important natural resources. Several projects will also demonstrate the importance of protecting working landscapes that integrate economic, social and environmental stewardship practices beneficial to the environment, landowners and the local community.

Aquafornia news Daily Republic

Group urges continued access to Liberty Island Ecological Reserve

The state plans to break [a levee at Shag Slough] in nine locations to create 3,000 acres of tidal wetlands. It has asked the county to vacate that section of Liberty Island Road that runs atop the levee. Taylor Dahlke, the leader of a group fighting to maintain land access to Shag Slough, the Liberty Island Ecological Reserve and the region in general told the Delta Stewardship Council on Thursday night that the state proposal violates the Delta Plan.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy gets $10,000 grant from REI

The nonprofit San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy received a $10,000 grant for its Next to Nature program (N2N) from the REI Co-op. The program shows residents how to create sustainable landscapes that are beneficial for the environment. To show people how to develop eco-beneficial areas around their homes or businesses, the conservancy is working with locally based production company Condor Visual Media to put out six free webinars focusing on Landscape Site Design, Sustainable Gardening, Urban Green Infrastructure, Wildfire Risk Reduction, Water Management …

Aquafornia news KMPH

Will the nutria ever be wiped out in the Valley?

The swamp rat population in Central California is beginning to diminish. But a state biologist says elimination is still a few years away. FOX26 reporter Rich Rodriguez updates us on the nutria… one of Valley agriculture’s biggest enemies. The State Department of Fish and Wildlife has spent more than three years trying to round up and euthanize nutria.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Clean Water Act: EPA digs into WOTUS talks with enviros, ag

EPA’s Office of Water is kicking off quarterly meetings with agricultural and environmental groups to discuss the thorny issue of which waterways and wetlands qualify for federal protections.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Managing for fish and wildlife during a dry year in the Sacramento Valley

With the driest year in memory, the water resources managers and landowners in the Sacramento Valley are working hard to serve multiple benefits throughout the region with limited water supplies. This has required all hands-on deck and creative management within the region as all surface water supplies have been significantly reduced, with hundreds of thousands of farmland acres idled throughout the region, urban suppliers working with their citizens to implement various conservation measures to reduce water use and there will undoubtedly be challenges for domestic groundwater wells.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday Top of the Scroll: State plans $30 million wall to stop saltwater intrusion into delta – drought fallout

In the latest chapter of California’s unfolding drought, state officials are planning to build a giant rock wall across a river in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to save the vital freshwater estuary from San Francisco Bay’s saltwater. The emergency measure is a page from last decade’s drought when the delta, a maze of sloughs and man-made channels east of the Bay Area, was at risk of becoming too salty to provide water to the nearly 30 million Californians who depend on it. As in 2015, the freshwater rivers that feed the 1,100-square-mile delta have gotten so low that they no longer counter the brackish flows that push in from the bay. 

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Field note – The importance of partnerships with Andrew Braugh

The Shasta-Klamath Region organizes work around protecting California source water and volcanic aquifers, working with family farms to improve water management, and protecting legacy fly-fishing waters like the McCloud River, Hat Creek, and Fall River. In 2021, we are heavily invested in conservation projects in the Shasta and Scott watersheds. These key Klamath tributaries will be critical for recovering salmon populations in the Mid-Klamath Basin after dam removal.

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Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Climate change impact increasingly felt in California

More wildfires. Hotter days. Drought. Sea-level rise. Those conditions are an increasing reality in California, which is steadily becoming an altered state. But if the grimmest predictions of experts about our state and climate change become true, the conditions will become far worse.

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Aquafornia news Herald and News

Silent no more: Klamath Tribes gather to protect fish, homelands

A group of protesters gathered at Sugarman’s Corner in downtown Klamath Falls on Saturday, preparing to welcome a 25-car caravan of mostly Klamath Tribal members calling for solutions to the Klamath Basin’s water crisis. A man walked by the demonstrators, eyeing their signs with statements like “Peace and Healing in the Klamath Basin,” “Water Justice is Social Justice” and “Undam the Klamath.” 

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Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Floodplain restoration helps both fish and people where Tuolumne and San Joaquin meet

Out where the Tuolumne River joins the San Joaquin, an intriguing way of managing water is taking hold. Dos Rios Ranch is nine years into its restoration, a $45 million-plus effort across nearly 2,400 acres. It seeks to enhance flood protection, wildlife habitat and water supplies in one grand vision. Crews have reshaped former farm fields to mimic the floodplains that spread across much of the Central Valley in the time before dams and levees.

Aquafornia news PNAS

New research: Core Concept – Often driven by human activity, subsidence is a problem worldwide

Earth’s surface is ever changing. Sinkholes swallow neighborhoods, river deltas slowly slide beneath the waves, and fertile fields lose elevation as farmers draw large amounts of water for irrigation from underlying aquifers. [T]hese phenomena are known as subsidence … Building heavy structures such as homes, skyscrapers, and even entire cities also can trigger subsidence, explains Tom Parsons, a geophysicist at the US Geological Survey in Moffett Field, CA. Recently, he used computer simulations to estimate the effect of San Francisco and its metropolitan area—where he and 7.75 million other people reside—on Earth’s crust. 

Aquafornia news Audubon

Blog: Reconnecting the Colorado River to the Sea

The Colorado River is flowing again in its delta. This is a big deal for a river that has not flowed through its delta in most years since the 1960s, resulting in an ecosystem that is severely desiccated and devastated. Thanks to commitments from the United States and Mexico in the Colorado River binational agreement—Minute 323 –  35,000 acre-feet of water (11.4 billion gallons) dedicated to create environmental benefits will be delivered to the river from May 1 to October 11. The expectation is that this will create and support habitat for birds like the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Yuma Ridgway’s Rail, and Vermilion Flycatcher, and give life to the many plants and animals in this ribbon oasis of green in the midst of the Sonoran Desert.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

States ask Biden to trash Trump-era Clean Water Act change

With shrinking reservoir levels and a summer of water shortages impending, drought-ridden California on Wednesday pressed the Biden administration for more control over future infrastructure projects planned in the Golden State. California and a collection of states urged the federal government to drop a Trump-era rule that reduced states’ authority to deny permitting and licensing for things like new water infrastructure, oil pipelines, wastewater plants or development projects in wetland areas. The states claim the rule gives them little say over projects that could ultimately harm water quality and the environment.  

Aquafornia news McGill University

New research: Which animals will survive climate change?

Climate change is exacerbating problems like habitat loss and temperatures swings that have already pushed many animal species to the brink. But can scientists predict which animals will be able to adapt and survive? Using genome sequencing, researchers from McGill University show that some fish, like the threespine stickleback, can adapt very rapidly to extreme seasonal changes. … Stickleback found in different estuaries along coastal California provide a rare opportunity to study natural selection in real-time.

Aquafornia news NBC Palm Springs

Advocates warn about toxic fumes that could be emerging from the Salton Sea

The Salton Sea continues to be a big talker when it comes to lithium, but a long problem remains in and around the sea when it comes to toxic air. During our extensive coverage of the Salton Sea, we learned that toxic air is not only coming from dried-up parts of the sea, but other parts of the sea are now contributing to the toxicity. “It is not just the toxic elements that have been trapped by the water and now exposed as the sea recedes,” explained Frank Ruiz, Salton Sea Director with Audubon California. Ruiz has been working with researchers who have been studying the toxic levels at the Salton Sea.

Aquafornia news NOAA Fisheries

Blog: Celebrating 50 years of internationally important wetlands

May is American Wetlands Month and this year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. This intergovernmental treaty is focused on the conservation and wise use of important wetlands and their resources. … Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve … provides habitat for a diversity of wildlife species, including more than 100 species of fish, 500 species of invertebrates, and the region’s iconic southern sea otters. … Tomales Bay is a marine-coastal wetland consisting of estuaries, eelgrass beds, sand dune systems, and tidal marshes. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Last chance to register for next week’s Lower Colorado River Tour

Only one week remains to register for our May 20 virtual Lower Colorado River Tour where you can hear directly from experts offering a range of perspectives on the most contested and meticulously managed river in the United States. Practically every drop of water in the Colorado River is already allocated, but pressure on the hard-working river continues to grow from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat and climate change.

Aquafornia news High Country News

The Gila River Indian Community innovates for a drought-ridden future

A riverbed that has been parched since the end of the 19th century — a portion of the historic lifeblood of the Gila River Indian Community — is now coursing again with water, luring things like cattails and birds back to its shores. … The revival of this small segment of the 649-mile (1045-kilometer) Gila River, which has served the tribes that make up the Gila River Indian Community — the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and the Pee-Posh (Maricopa) — for roughly 2,000 years, was an added benefit of a grassroots infrastructure overhaul, known as “managed aquifer recharge,” or MAR, which aimed to restore the local groundwater basin. 

Aquafornia news Press Telegram

3 environmental groups take 3 positions on Poseidon desalination plant

Among attributes of the controversial Poseidon desalination plant proposed for Huntington Beach is the $1.5 million or so it would spend annually to keep the tidal inlet open at the Bolsa Chica wetlands, five miles up the coast from the project site. But as much as the money is needed there, the three non-profit groups dedicated to the wetlands’ preservation clash when it comes to support for the desalter plant. The state spent $151 million to create the inlet in 2006, restoring the estuary’s interaction with the ocean and revitalizing the wildlife habitat. The work has been a particular boon to the population and variety of birds.

Aquafornia news Imperial Valley Press

County officials applaud new Salton Sea funding

Newly announced state funding for the Salton Sea is expected to maximize habitat outcomes and provide immediate economic relief to the community. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $5.1 billion water infrastructure, drought response and climate resilience proposal, which he announced Monday as part of his $100 billion “California Comeback Plan,” includes $220 million for the Salton Sea. At Tuesday’s Imperial County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, District 1 Supervisor Jesus Eduardo Escobar wanted to know what is meant by providing immediate economic relief to the community and how this would occur. 

Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

Newsom Proposes $220M for Salton Sea

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $5.1 billion water infrastructure, drought response, and climate resilience proposal includes $220 million for the Salton Sea, and Assembly member Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, applauded the announcement. Garcia, chair of the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife, stated in a press release from his office that the funding would maximize habitat outcomes and provide immediate economic relief to the community.

Aquafornia news NRDC

Blog: Voluntary agreements are a bad deal for California’s fish and wildlife

On Friday, a coalition of conservation groups, fishing organizations, stakeholders in the Delta, and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe sent this letter to the Biden Administration, urging the Administration not to endorse the so-called “Voluntary Agreements” for the Bay-Delta watershed. Unfortunately, the State of California continues to negotiate backroom deals with the biggest water users in the State that fail to protect and restore water quality in the Bay-Delta, threatening thousands of fishing jobs, farms and communities in the Delta, and the health of this watershed and its native fish and wildlife. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Could this $36 million Central Valley river restoration project help with California’s droughts?

As California enters what could be a record-breaking drought, a just-completed nine-year floodplain restoration project at the confluence of the San Joaquin and Tuolumne rivers offers an ambitious attempt at one mitigation solution. At a 1,600-acre former dairy ranch called Dos Rios, the conservation organization River Partners removed berms that farmers had originally constructed to protect their alfalfa and wheat crops from the river. It turned fields into seasonal pools where endangered baby salmon and migratory birds can rest, and water can trickle down to refill aquifers.

Aquafornia news The Daily Californian

The Salton Sea: The worst lake you’ve never heard of

In 2020, the Salton Sea was described by Palm Springs Life Magazine as “the biggest environmental disaster in California history.” With the largest lake in California holding such a bleak title, it’s amazing how obscure its legacy is. Over spring break, we decided to go on a road trip to visit an eccentric settlement in the middle of the lower Colorado desert, known as a Slab City. This settlement is most well known for being a site of post-apocalyptic garbage art and a home for colorful nomads. Due to its libertarian ethos, it is billed as the “last free place in America.” 

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

In California’s farm country, climate change is likely to trigger more pesticide use, fouling waterways

Every spring, California farmers brace themselves for signs of wriggling organisms destined to launch multigenerational attacks on their crops. Many insect species survive the winter as eggs or larvae and then emerge in early spring as the first generation to feed and breed on millions of acres of California vineyards, orchards and row crops. Climate change will complicate farmers’ efforts to control these pests in complex and unpredictable ways. The most alarming consequence is apt to be ramping up pesticide applications, with broad implications for the safety of California’s waterways—just as the state gears up for a future filled with drought.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: River flows helps CA Delta estuary, fish — not wasted water

It’s that time of drought again. During one of the driest years on record, once again curtailing water deliveries to local farms, Fresno-area lawmakers wasted little time trotting out one of their favorite falsehoods. That every year, including the parched ones like 2021, California “wastes” millions of gallons of water by “flushing it to the ocean.” Central San Joaquin Valley residents have heard this declaration so often and for so long, from the mouths of politicians and parroted on talk radio, that many of us believe it’s true. 

-Written by Marek Warszawski

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Aquafornia news KESQ

Troubled waters: The Salton Sea Project, part 1 – Paradise lost

Just a short drive south of Palm Springs, you’ll find California’s largest lake. The drive along the circumference of the Salton Sea reveals surprising, majestic views unlike anything you’d expect to find in the desert. But for its impressive sights and size, the Salton Sea is not a household name, least of all in the very state it’s found. These days, if you travel along the increasingly shrinking shorelines, you’ll see suffering communities dotted with abandoned homes and lined with silent streets.

Aquafornia news KQED

The next big business in a warming world? Mud

In a hotter climate, dirt is a hot commodity. With sea levels expected to rise 3 to 6 feet by the end of the century, coastal communities are moving fast to construct major shoreline projects to protect themselves. As the size of these projects expands, the primary building materials — dirt and mud — are getting scarce. … [Parts of San Francisco Bay were] once used for industrial salt making, and giant evaporation ponds were built here more than a century ago. Now, its marsh habitat is being restored as part of the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve. The old salt pond levees still stand between the bay and hundreds of thousands of people on the shoreline. But waves and weather have eaten away at them.

Aquafornia news U.C. Santa Cruz

New research: Long-term monitoring shows successful restoration of mining-polluted streams

Many miles of streams and rivers in the United States and elsewhere are polluted by toxic metals in acidic runoff draining from abandoned mining sites, and major investments have been made to clean up acid mine drainage at some sites. A new study based on long-term monitoring data from four sites in the western United States shows that cleanup efforts can allow affected streams to recover to near natural conditions within 10 to 15 years after the start of abatement work. The four mining-impacted watersheds—located in mountain mining regions of California, Colorado, Idaho, and Montana—were all designated as Superfund sites …

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Garden Highway Mutual Water Company completes fish screen project

In our latest effort to ensure that our water management and farming practices both protect and enhance environmental benefits in our area, Garden Highway Mutual Water Company (Garden Highway) recently completed a project to screen its diversion on the Feather River. This project allows us to protect Chinook salmon and other fish species from entrainment while diverting water year-round to irrigate crops and to provide Pacific Flyway habitat during the fall and winter months. The project was a cooperative effort between Garden Highway, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Bureau of Reclamation U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Family Water Alliance.

Aquafornia news Comstock's magazine

Regenerating our soil

Regenerative farming practices integrate the entire ecosystem — building upon the relationships of the natural world — to simultaneously produce healthier, more abundant crops and restore the Earth’s natural resources. …  And restoring soil health and fertility produces more abundant, nutrient-dense crops that better resist pests and disease. It increases soil’s ability to filter and store water, reduce erosion and sequester carbon. And it builds a diversity and abundance of microbes that drive every function of soil.

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Aquafornia news Sierra Club

Beavers are firefighters who work for free

The beaver does more to shape its environment than nearly any other animal on Earth. They can cause incredible amounts of destruction to infrastructure; downing power lines, and blocking and rerouting waterways. But their dam-building also can improve water quality, reduce flood risk, and create the conditions for complex wetland habitats to form —providing refuge for wildlife and storing carbon in the process. 

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Opinion: California is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. Here’s why we are losing our biodiversity at an alarming rate.

California is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, and the San Diego region is one of the most diverse in California, but we are losing our biodiversity at an alarming rate. The coming summer months and dry conditions are going to further hurt that richness of life here. Conserving our water resources directly and indirectly benefits our wildlife and is consistent with the overall conservation ethic in San Diego, which is why we need to prepare in case drought conditions worsen.

-Written by Chuck Bonham, director of the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California could get 600,000 acres of new federally protected wilderness

California could get 600,000 new acres of federally protected wilderness under legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate recently. The designation would ensure the lands remain free of development, vehicles and commercial activity. … It would also designate more than 583 miles of river — including 45 miles of San Gabriel River tributaries, as well as Little Rock Creek — as “wild and scenic rivers,” a protection that prohibits dams or new mining.

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Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Do largemouth bass like droughts?

As we rapidly enter another drought, long-standing questions on ecological impacts of increased temperatures, reduced water levels and flows re-emerge. This reality recently reminded me of some of my own previous work looking at growth rate variations of largemouth bass in response to droughts in the southeastern USA (Rypel et al. 2009). Results from this work may be useful/interesting for biologists and managers in California considering similar questions.

Aquafornia news The Argonaut Newsweekly

In the weeds of controversy

Disagreement over restoring the Ballona Wetlands still remains high. Walter Lamb, president of the Ballona Wetlands Land Trust, recently held a webinar to discuss why the current restoration plans are inadequate. The Land Trust disagrees with the assertions of organizations such as Friends of Ballona Wetlands, as they aren’t supported by available facts. Lamb based his talking points around Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order made on October 7, 2020, of protecting biodiversity and an announcement phasing out fossil fuels from September 23, 2020. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: How to save coastlines from climate change disasters

The frequency of natural disasters has soared in recent decades. Total damage topped $210 billion worldwide in 2020. With climate change, the costs attributed to coastal storms will increase dramatically. At the same time, coastal habitats such as wetlands and reefs are being lost rapidly. Some 20% of the world’s mangroves were lost over the last four decades. More than half of the Great Barrier Reef was degraded by bleaching in 2020 alone. In California, we have lost more than 90% of our coastal marshes.
-Written by Michael W. Beck, a research professor in the Institute of Marine Sciences at UC Santa Cruz.​

Aquafornia news Water Foundation

Blog: Looming California Drought

This weekend’s rain in Northern California, while welcome, did little to address the dry conditions across our state. As the state’s recent dismal snow survey showed, we are in for tough times ahead. Less snow means lower reservoirs, less water in our rivers and streams, and more groundwater pumping. And that spells trouble, particularly for disadvantaged communities and sensitive ecosystems, which have historically borne the brunt of California drought in consequences like dry wells and salmon die-offs.

Aquafornia news Audubon

Blog: Putting wetlands to work for disaster recovery

No one will forget the intense challenges that 2020 brought us, from record-breaking hurricanes and wildfires to a global pandemic that devastated our economy and public health. As Congress and the Biden administration look to help our country rebuild and recover from these compounding crises, investing in nature presents an opportunity to deliver multiple benefits for communities, birds, and other wildlife. Audubon presents a new suite of policy recommendations for making our communities and wildlife more resilient to climate change, by putting our wetlands, barrier islands, and other ecosystems to work.

Aquafornia news U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Blog: Revitalizing California’s floodplains benefits people and wildlife

Throughout California’s history, rivers have been diverted, rerouted and contained by concrete. While these actions have brought agriculture and communities to arid land, and reduced large-scale flooding, it has also eliminated some of the natural benefits provided by untamed rivers. Today, efforts are underway to restore some of the natural riparian areas to the benefit of both humans and wildlife.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: Oroville Wildlife Area promotes migratory and native bird habitat

The nearly 12,000-acre Oroville Wildlife Area (OWA) in Butte County is a popular stopping place on the Pacific Flyway for migrating and native birds. After the Oroville Dam was completed in 1968, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) contracted with the then California Department of Fish and Game to operate the Oroville Wildlife Area for the preservation of fish and wildlife habitat. The OWA also includes DWR’s Thermalito Afterbay reservoir, a prime habitat for migrating waterfowl as well as several different Endangered Species.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

News release: Virginia Madueño appointed to the Delta Stewardship Council

California Governor Gavin Newsom has appointed Virginia Madueño to serve as a member of the Delta Stewardship Council (Council) effective April 14, 2021. The compensation for this position is $50,497.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Trump-era Clean Water Act rule takes effect in Colorado on April 23, 2021, while Colorado public officials renew efforts to craft a state-level dredge-and-fill permitting program

Following a temporary delay in Colorado federal court, the Trump administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) will now take effect in Colorado on April 23, 2021.  Under the NWPR, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers will no longer require permits for operations affecting certain categories of streams and wetland areas previously subject to the Clean Water Act.  

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: California law needs to catch up to sea level rise

[A]s massive a challenge as wildfire presents … a different climate crisis could rival it as a destroyer of the California dream: sea level rise. … AB 67 addresses state infrastructure. It would ensure that state agencies incorporate sea level rise estimates in the development of roads, ports, airports, water-treatment, desalination and power plants. In particular, it seeks to advance “natural infrastructure” such as restored estuaries, wetlands, dunes and sea grasses that could generate thousands of new “blue” jobs while reducing the impact of rising water at a lower cost than hardened structures such as seawalls. 
-Written by David Helvarg, an author and founder of Blue Frontier, an ocean conservation group.

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Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

Battle lines set over proposal to drill for natural gas in Suisun Marsh

A new proposal to drill for natural gas in the East Bay has environmentalists up in arms, and not just because it’s a polluting fossil fuel. It’s the location that has people really upset. That’s because it’s in the Suisun Marsh, the largest marshland on the West Coast, a highly protected natural habitat for migratory birds, fish and wildlife. … A dozen environmental and community groups have submitted a letter opposing a plan by Brentwood-based Sunset Explorations to build an acre pad on private property in the marsh and drill an exploratory gas well there.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Editorial: How the federal government is wasting the Bay Area’s mud

We’ve come a long way on stewardship of San Francisco Bay since 1955, when the local head of the Army Corps of Engineers enthusiastically told The Chronicle, “We’ve been nibbling at bay tidelands for a long time, but before long we can attack acres and acres, building new land.”  Unfortunately, we haven’t come far enough. It’s good to have moved past the idea that shallow waters exist only to be filled. But if we want to nurture the marshes and mudflats that remain while restoring former wetlands — steps that can help protect our shorelines from climate change — then all branches of government need to work together, and soon.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Suisun Marsh fishes in 2020 – Persistence during the Pandemic

Suisun Marsh is central to the health of the San Francisco Estuary. Not only is it a huge (470 km2) tidal marsh in the center the northern estuary (Figure 1), but it is an extremely important nursery area for species such as splittail, striped bass, longfin smelt, and, formerly, delta smelt. Since January 1980, a team from The University of California, Davis, in partnership with the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), has systematically monitored the marsh’s fish populations. The team had been sampling the fish and invertebrates every month with trawls and beach seines, with a nearly unbroken record. Then Covid-19 restrictions settled in…

Aquafornia news The Record

Fifth annual H2O Hackathon returns as students solve algal bloom problem

After a year hiatus because of COVID-19, the H2O Hackathon returned to San Joaquin County on Saturday with middle school, high school and college students tackling a virtual challenge to help solve California’s water problems. … The challenge for this year’s event was to protect the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary from harmful algal blooms, bacteria that live in freshwater, estuarine and marine environments that grow out of control and produce toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals and birds.

Aquafornia news Holtville Tribune

Air district dings IID over Red Hill Bay

In what one board member called a hearing that isn’t going to be topped, the Imperial County Air Pollution Control District Hearing Board voted 4-0 to issue an order of abatement against the Imperial Irrigation District over the Red Hill Bay project site at the Salton Sea. … The Red Hill Bay project is aimed at creating hundreds of acres of shallow marine wetlands to provide aquatic bird habitat and reduce airborne dust from playa exposed due to a shrinking Salton Sea. 

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Richardson Bay agency considers eelgrass protection anchorage

The Richardson’s Bay Regional Agency is exploring a plan that would create a designated anchoring zone to protect eelgrass beds. Rebecca Schwartz Lesberg, a biologist with Coastal Policy Solutions consulting firm, presented a draft eelgrass protection and management plan to the agency board on April 8. Schwartz Lesberg said the plan would not change the 72-hour anchor limit. It would create a designated anchoring zone in deeper water, closer to Belvedere and the mouth of Richardson Bay, where eelgrass does not grow.

Aquafornia news ABC7 San Francisco

Bay mud could help wetlands survive sea level rise, new study shows

It’s a growing threat that sneaks in with the tide. Sea levels here in the Bay Area are expected to rise by a foot or more over the next several decades, potentially overwhelming levees and seawalls around the Bay. But now an environmental group says one of the most powerful weapons we have to fight back, is being literally, thrown away. … [T]ons of sediment that are dredged out of the Bay every year and barged out sea, or dumped in deep water … could be the perfect solution to bolster the wetlands that surround the Bay.

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Aquafornia news San Mateo Daily Journal

Bay environmental groups hail Redwood City salt ponds decision

Bay Area environmental groups are celebrating a decision by an affiliate of Cargill to withdraw its appeal of a federal judge’s finding that Redwood City salt ponds are protected by the Clean Water Act. While the withdrawal does not mean development is prohibited it does make it more difficult, as the federal act requires permits be issued before any dredging or filling of the salt ponds, a 1,365-acre area adjacent to the San Francisco Bay filled with tidal pools, marshland and commercial salt mining operations.

Aquafornia news California Natural Resources Agency

News release: CNRA launches website public input questionnaire

The California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) today launched  California Nature to engage Californians in advancing the State’s commitment to conserving 30 percent of lands and coastal waters by 2030 (30×30) and enlisting nature-based solutions to combat climate change. The website and a new online questionnaire are aimed at gathering input from a broad cross-section of Californians.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

West Marin water contamination prompts ranch inspections

The state plans to inspect three dairy ranches in the Point Reyes National Seashore after independent water quality tests conducted in nearby creeks and lagoons earlier this year found E. coli bacteria concentrations up to 40 times higher than state health standards. The San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board plans to inspect Kehoe Dairy, McClure Dairy and R&J McClelland Dairy, which are located near Kehoe Creek and waterways that flow into Abbotts Lagoon in the northern region of the national seashore. 

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Harmful algal blooms in the Delta (and elsewhere)

Harmful algal blooms (or HABs) occur when colonies of algae, under the right conditions, grow out of control and produce toxic or harmful effects on people, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, and birds. Every U.S. coastal and Great Lakes state experiences harmful algal blooms. In California, reports of harmful algal blooms have increased from 91 in 2016 to 241 in 2019. In 2020, Stockton experienced a severe harmful algal bloom; it marked the first year that algal blooms spread into the San Joaquin and Calaveras Rivers so early in the summer and fall months. Drought and heat are factors that increase harmful algal blooms …

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: The pillars for sustainable water management in the Sacramento River basin

On Wednesday, March 3rd, the Northern California Water Association (NCWA) Board of Directors officially adopted our 2021 Priorities. The water leaders in this region look forward to working with our many partners in 2021 to cultivate a shared vision for a vibrant way of life in the Sacramento River Basin. We will continue to re-imagine our water system in the Sacramento River Basin as we also work to harmonize our water priorities with state, federal, and other regions’ priorities to advance our collective goal of ensuring greater water and climate resilience throughout California for our communities, the economy, and the environment. 

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Creating a place for nature in the San Joaquin Valley

The San Joaquin Valley’s quest for groundwater sustainability will result in large amounts of irrigated agricultural lands being retired. A new book explores how some of these lands could be restored to natural areas that bring multiple benefits. We talked to Scott Butterfield, a senior scientist at The Nature Conservancy and one of the book’s editors, about this vision.

Aquafornia news Patch

Ballona wetlands activists plan Earth Day protest

Ballona Wetlands activists and Westside residents are planning an Earth Day protest, calling on local leaders to shut down the Playa del Rey oil field and pushing back against what they call a disguised restoration project meant to restore the gas company’s infrastructure below the ecological reserve.

Aquafornia news Northcoast Environmental Center

News release: NEC sues Humboldt County over Rolling Meadow Ranch cannabis project

CITIZENS for a SUSTAINABLE HUMBOLDT (CSH) and the NORTHCOAST ENVIRONMENTAL CENTER (NEC) have filed a lawsuit in the Humboldt County Superior Court, with claims under the California Environmental Quality, the State Planning and Zoning Law, and other laws, challenging the environmental review and permits approved by the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

The simple local solution to sea level rise? Mud from the bottom of San Francisco Bay

Protecting the Bay Area from sea level rise may all come down to mud. That’s the finding of a new report from San Francisco Estuary Institute that tries to address a two-part problem related to the looming threat of sea level rise: the lack of natural sediment coming into the bay and the need to reinforce its shorelines to protect the region from rising seas. There’s a fairly straightforward solution, the nonprofit research organization proposes: Take the sediment that’s dredged from the bay’s shipping channels and barged out to sea or to deep parts of the bay — 2½ to 3 million cubic yards of mud a year — and use it to restore wetlands on the perimeter. 

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Aquafornia news KQED

California could phase out fracking, other oil drilling under bill headed for first test in legislature

Legislation that would gradually phase out fracking and other extraction methods that account for most of California’s petroleum production faces its first big test in Sacramento on Tuesday. The nine-member Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee is set to vote on a proposal, Senate Bill 467, that would bar new permits for hydraulic fracturing, cyclic steaming, steam flooding and water flooding. The legislation would begin taking effect in 2023 and also prohibit renewing existing permits for fracking and the other targeted methods, which a committee bill analysis says accounts for an estimated 80% to 95% of the state’s oil production.

Aquafornia news Patch

Ballona Wetlands fire: The ecological story

The Patch reports the Fire Department investigation found the source of the March 23rd brush fire in the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve to be a homeless encampment in the area of origin. The fire was accelerated by strong winds. While the causes of these incidents are always concerning, there is another important part of the story: an ecological and historical one. Why did an intense brush fire burn at all in a wetland? After all, wetlands are supposed to be wet.

Aquafornia news The Mercury News

Suisun Marsh drilling plan re-evaluated after backlash

The Suisun Marsh — known as the largest swath of contiguous wetlands on the West Coast and a haven for thousands of migrating waterfowl — has become the Bay Area’s latest battleground between fossil fuel producers and environmentalists hellbent on fighting climate change. A Brentwood company, Sunset Exploration Inc., announced in January it wants to explore for natural gas by drilling a section of the 116,000-acre marshland about 9 miles southwest of Suisun City in an area known as Hunter’s Point, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Aquafornia news State Water Resources Control Board

News release: Water Board leverages EPA support to protect water quality in seven counties

The California State Water Resources Control Board (the State Board) will use $4.4 million of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant to fund projects in seven counties around the state. EPA’s Nonpoint Source Program grant assists the State Board in implementing programs to address pollution caused by runoff moving over the ground, known as nonpoint source pollution. The Marin Resource Conservation District was awarded over $700,000 by the State Board for its Conserving Our Watersheds Program. This project helps ranchers within the Point Reyes National Seashore prevent nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment, and bacteria from livestock operations from running off into Tomales Bay. Tomales Bay supports oyster production and recreational activities including kayaking and fishing.

Aquafornia news Outdoor Life

California waterfowl threatened by dry refuges, botulism

With a salmonella outbreak in eight states already under investigation by the Centers for Disease Control, officials are watching in California for another disease that impacts waterfowl. Botulism killed thousands of waterfowl and other birds last year on two national wildlife refuges near the border of California and Oregon. Some estimates were as high as 60,000 dead birds. The Lower Klamath Basin and Tule Lake national wildlife refuges were among the first created more than 100 years ago. Millions of waterfowl and shore birds, along with songbirds, migrated along the Pacific Flyway into the two refuges and beyond. Today, between severe restrictions on water flowing into and out of the refuges and a crippling drought that shows no sign of letting up, the refuge marshes are going dry. 

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Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: SWRCB adopts resolution approving state wetland definition and dredge and fill procedures

On April 6, 2021, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) approved the application of the State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Fill Material to Waters of the State (Procedures) as a water quality control policy, carefully avoiding the scope of a recent court order.  This resolution will allow the Board to directly apply the water Procedures to waters of the State as an exercise of its policy-making authority rather than the water quality control planning process.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

SF Baykeeper sues Biden administration to list local longfin smelt as endangered species

A tiny silver fish few people in the Bay Area have heard of could be a new symbol of the state’s continuing battle over water resources. San Francisco Baykeeper sued the Biden administration on Thursday to list the local population of longfin smelt as an endangered species. The environmental group’s legal action comes nine years after the federal government first declared that the fish warranted that status. Once an important source of food for marine mammals, birds and chinook salmon, the local population of the longfin smelt has dropped by 99.9% since the 1980s. Scientists and environmentalists say that reduction is a direct result of too much water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin river system being diverted to farms and other water users rather than flowing through the bay to the Pacific.

Aquafornia news Storm Water Solutions

Blog: California is ramping up its efforts to address sources of pyrethroid concentrations in its watersheds

In June 2017, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Central Valley Region adopted a Basin Plan Amendment for the Sacramento River and San Joaquin River Basins for the control of pyrethroid pesticide discharges. The amendment establishes controls for pyrethroid discharges, including prohibition of discharges of pyrethroid pesticides above certain concentrations, total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) for pyrethroid pesticides, recommendations for agency regulation of pyrethroids and potential monitoring requirements. Synthetic pyrethroids are the most common forms of commercially available urban pesticides for ants, termites and flying insects…

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

California appoints analyst to study Salton Sea water importation

California remains far behind its targets for addressing exposed playa around the Salton Sea, according to data released in the 2021 Salton Sea Management Program annual report. But state officials expressed optimism in a public workshop that they are finally beginning to catch up to those goals. The state was supposed to implement dust suppression projects or build wetlands habitat across 3,500 acres of exposed playa by the end of 2020 to tamp down dust that’s imbued with a century’s worth of salts, pesticides and other agricultural runoff. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Blog: How I got beyond the concrete and learned to love Ballona Creek

A year ago, when stay-at-home orders were a newly disorienting fact of life, I started taking long walks through my neighborhood on L.A.’s Westside. Wandering south from Palms into Culver City, I realized I live near a huge concrete channel — a creek, trapped in place — with a bike path along the water, and a view of oil pumpjacks rising and falling atop the Baldwin Hills. There were beautiful murals, too, showing a healthy, thriving waterway. They were hashtagged #KnowYourWatershed. And the more I admired them, the more I realized that I did not, in fact, know my watershed, despite growing up not far from here. 
-Written by Sammy Roth, a Los Angeles Times staff writer.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Managing water for multiple benefits – Why spring diversions on the Sacramento River are important

As we begin spring in the Sacramento Valley, the region illuminates – we see the brown landscape turn verdant, and the Valley bustles with activity as people share the hope of a new year and collectively cultivate a shared vision in the region for a vibrant way of life. With the dry year in Northern California, the water resource managers are working overtime to carefully manage our precious water systems including rivers, streams, reservoirs and diversions to serve multiple benefits. To effectively do this, water resources must be managed in an efficient manner, with the same block of water often used to achieve several beneficial uses as it moves through the region’s waterways. 

Aquafornia news Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: After court ruling, Water Board updates California’s version of WOTUS

The State Water Board on Tuesday approved an update to dredge and fill procedures for wetlands considered waters of the state. According to staff, the new resolution simply reflects a recent court decision that the board cannot centralize all of its water plans and policies under one regulatory umbrella. For water interests, however, the resolution raised significant concerns and could create conflicts with regulations that directly impact agriculture. Valerie Kincaid, an attorney representing a coalition of valley water agencies, contended the new resolution fails to comply with the judgement and threatens to compromise the board’s integrity.

Aquafornia news Restore the Delta

Blog: The dam problem for the Bay-Delta estuary

The dams that are built in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River Watershed protect thousands of people and billions of dollar’s worth of agriculture but they are far too old and far too many of them need repair. Some unnecessary dams are drying rivers and putting business in front of the environment.

Aquafornia news Ingrained

Podcast: Moving forward in a dry year

Tractors are working ground in the Sacramento Valley, as the 2021 rice season is underway. Whether it’s farmers, those in cities or for the environment, this year will pose challenges due to less than ideal rain and snowfall during the fall and winter. Jon Munger At Montna Farms near Yuba City, Vice President of Operations Jon Munger said they expect to plant about one-third less rice this year, based on water cutbacks. As water is always a precious resource in this state, rice growers work hard to be as efficient as they can. Fields are precisely leveled and will be flooded with just five-inches of water during the growing season. Rice is grown in heavy clay soils, which act like a bathtub to hold water in place. High-tech planting and harvest equipment also help California rice farms and mills operate at peak efficiency.

Aquafornia news California Department of Justice

News release: California Department of Justice expresses concern over proposal to allow exploratory drilling in the Suisun Marsh

The California Department of Justice (DOJ) filed comments with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) regarding Sunset Exploration’s proposal to drill for natural gas in the Suisun Marsh. Located in the San Francisco Bay-Delta, this 88,000-acre wetland is home to a number of endangered and threatened species, including California Ridgway’s rail, black rail, and Chinook salmon – and is just a few short miles from environmental justice communities in Solano County…. DOJ urges the Army Corps to fully consider the proposal’s significant environmental impacts, including harm to these communities and protected species, as well as increased greenhouse gas emissions, before deciding whether to grant the requested permit.

Aquafornia news Western City Magazine

Cities of San José and Ukiah lead the way on critical water infrastructure projects

Much of the state’s water infrastructure was designed decades ago and was built to serve half the size of our current population. Faced with aging infrastructure, California cities have taken innovative approaches to modernizing water treatment and recycling systems to meet the needs of a growing population and a changing climate. One infrastructure need that many residents take for granted is wastewater treatment. … The San José-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility is the largest advanced wastewater treatment facility in the Western United States. Originally built in 1956, today it serves more than 1.4 million residents and 17,000 businesses in eight cities in Silicon Valley and unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County. Using a treatment process that simulates the way nature cleans water, the facility treats an average of 110 million gallons of wastewater per day.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Underwater meadows of California seagrass found to reverse symptom of climate change

Eelgrass, a plant that grows in “underwater meadows” along the California coast and emerges like a floating carpet at low tide, is already known to be an important habitat for fish, birds and baby Dungeness crabs. It turns out it can also reduce seawater’s acidity back to preindustrial levels, creating refuges for animals who can’t tolerate that byproduct of climate change. … [S]eagrass meadows, which have shrunk in number and size globally because of pollution and development … may support wildlife as well as the production of farmed oysters, mussels and abalone. … The state already has efforts in place to protect its eelgrass habitat. The California Ocean Protection Council has a goal of preserving the state’s existing 15,000 acres of seagrass beds and adding another 1,000 acres by 2025.

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Aquafornia news California Department of Fish and Wildlife

News release: Future of Buena Vista Lagoon to be more natural

The Buena Vista Lagoon Ecological Reserve in San Diego County sits between the cities of Oceanside to the north and Carlsbad to the south. It’s historic because it was the state’s first-ever reserve, created in 1968. … [H]omeowners in that area, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), CDFW and several other groups came to an agreement after years of dispute on how the lagoon should be altered so it thrives well into the future. … Like lagoons up and down that part of San Diego County, Buena Vista took in runoff from hills to the east and fed water to the west into the Pacific Ocean. But in the ‘40’s a weir was added at the mouth by nearby landowners, so the lagoon essentially became freshwater only. …

Aquafornia news Mammoth Times

County scores win to keep Long Valley green – for now

The huge, lush green meadows that stretch between the S.R. 203 junction with U.S. 395 and Crowley Lake may seem like they have been there forever but in reality, their existence has been under threat for several years after the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power threatened to withdraw much of the water from the meadowlands a few years ago, stating it needed the water for its own uses. If implemented, the proposed ‘de-watering’ of much of the massive meadows would have turned them into sage and dust, destroying wildlife habitat, historic cattle grazing leases, the fishing habitat along Hot Creek and the Upper Owens River and much more. 

Aquafornia news Civil Eats

Indigenous food sovereignty movements are taking back ancestral land

In recent years, the Wiyot Tribe in Northern California secured ownership of its ancestral lands and is working to restore its marine habitats; the nearby Yurok Tribe fought for the removal of dams along the Klamath River and has plans to reconnect with salmon, its traditional food source; and the Quapaw Nation in Oklahoma has cleaned up contaminated land to make way for agriculture and cattle businesses.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: With San Francisco Bay on life support, Newsom withholds the cure

San Francisco Bay’s life support systems are unravelling quickly, and a wealth of science indicates that unsustainable water diversions are driving this estuary’s demise. Yet, with another drought looming, federal and state water managers still plan to divert large amounts of water to their contractors and drain upstream reservoirs this summer. Meanwhile, the state’s most powerful water districts are preparing yet another proposal to maintain excessive water diversions for the long-term. By delaying reforms that the law requires and that science indicates are necessary, Gov. Gavin Newsom encourages wasteful water practices that jeopardize the Bay and make the state’s water future precarious. 
-Written by Jon Rosenfield, a senior scientist for SF Baykeeper.

Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Council hires new Chief Deputy Executive Officer

The Delta Stewardship Council (Council) announced the hiring of Ryan Stanbra, the Council’s legislative and policy advisor, to the key post of chief deputy executive officer. … Appointed by Governor Brown in 2015, Ryan joined the Council in the role of legislative and policy advisor. He has played a pivotal role in advising on critical Council initiatives like implementation of reduced reliance on the Delta, interagency coordination and outreach for the Delta Levees Investment Strategy, increasing funding for critical science investments, and more. He has served in the acting chief deputy executive officer role since January.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Fixing a dysfunctional marsh on Sonoma Creek

Restoration projects, like species, evolve. The Sonoma Creek Enhancement Project, originally about mosquito control, has shown itself to be a boon to special-status tidal marsh wildlife as well. More than a decade of adaptive management actions made that happen.  The existing marsh, formed rapidly beginning in the 1960s by deposited sediment, lacked the dendritic channels of a mature marsh. High tides brought in water that pooled in a central basin and didn’t drain out, providing breeding habitat for mosquitos. The disadvantages of chemical treatment prompted land managers to look for alternatives.

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Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

April Fools Blog: Looking for a new challenge? Retrain as a Delta Smelt

The Federal government is beginning a program for the unemployed to retrain as much-needed Delta Smelt.  Following a two-day course, candidates will learn to: Seek out turbid waters; Spawn in sand at secret locations; Surf the tides; Make themselves present for counting in mid-water trawls. Major California water projects and water users are preparing to hire successful graduates for 1-2 year non-renewable contracts. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta bundle features map and layperson’s guide at a special price

Explore the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, one of California’s most vital ecological and water resources, with a special discounted education bundle that includes our brand-new Delta Map and our recently updated Layperson’s Guide to the Delta. Purchased separately, the map retails for $20 and the guide sells for $15. But with our Delta Education Bundle you can get both items for just $30.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Beavers make good neighbors

Much like when tech money reshapes an historical neighborhood, a beaver’s move downtown can cause the locals to worry. In Napa, the animals’ sprawling waterfront complexes create worrying pools along the riverbank, while the native cottonwoods are whittled down and threaten landowners’ roofs. It seems destined that two species known for their environmental engineering would struggle to live in unison. However, municipalities like Napa and Martinez in Contra Costa County have learned to live with their beavers, and the upcoming California Beaver Summit aims to set the record straight.

Aquafornia news North Bay Business Journal

Northern California farmers turn to ‘regenerative agriculture’ for conserving water, growing healthy crops

Another advantage to “feeding” the soil in a region plagued with persistent drought involves the tremendous water savings. … With below-average precipitation in California, its reservoirs are showing the impacts of a second dry year. Lake Oroville stands at 55% of average and Lake Shasta, California’s largest, now stands at 68%. Most eco-conscious activists agree that, with the climate’s changing patterns that lead to decreasing water supplies and die-offs of pollinators, a lot more needs to be done to help keep our water and food supplies plentiful. 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Field courses help young people see the real world

It was perhaps unsurprising I wound up a field ecologist. Raised in Wisconsin, I spent almost all my childhood free time roaming largely unchaperoned in nature, pre-internet. It was there that I developed a deep love for nature, water and fish that would stay with me my whole life. It was a privileged upbringing. And yet somehow it was years later, when I was 22 and taking a university field course, that I finally figured out I wanted to pursue a career in fish and ecology. It’s unclear how many biologists trace their paths back to experiences like these, but I suspect there are many. Field courses are so impactful, and we need them now, more than ever before. 

Aquafornia news Merced Irrigation District

News release: Restoration of salmon habitat continues on the Merced River

Efforts are continuing to support restoration of crucial habitat for salmon spawning and rearing on the Merced River. Last fall, Merced Irrigation District completed the Merced River Instream and Off Channel Habitat Restoration Project. Adult salmon, which migrated from the ocean to the river, are already known to have used the new gravel beds for spawning. Now, in the coming months, surveys will be done by biologists to further study the use of the new stretch of river and the developing juvenile salmon that may rear there.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: Strong state oversight needed to ensure California’s wetlands are protected

When the first European explorers arrived in California’s Central Valley, they found a vast mosaic of seasonal and permanent wetlands, as well as oak woodlands and riparian forests. What remains of those wetlands are still the backbone of the Pacific Flyway; along with flooded agricultural fields, they support millions of migrating waterbirds each year. According to a just-released study from Audubon, tens of millions of land birds rely on the Central Valley as well… But today, the situation is dire. More than 90% of wetlands in the Central Valley – and throughout California – have disappeared beneath tractors and bulldozers. 
-Written by Samantha Arthur, the Working Lands Program Director at Audubon California and a member of the California Water Commission.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Proposed natural gas well at edge of Bay Area riles up opposition, at odds with state’s climate goals

A Brentwood company’s proposal to drill a natural gas well in Suisun Marsh has become the latest flash point in California’s quest to fight climate change and transition away from fossil fuels. Sunset Exploration wants to search for a commercially viable amount of gas at the site of an abandoned well in the wetlands south of Suisun City. If the company finds enough fuel, the Solano County project could be operational for 20 years, connecting to a pipeline that would help heat homes and light stoves around the region. It’s the kind of proposal that, in a prior era, might have encountered little organized resistance. 

Aquafornia news Science News

Simple structures can help streams survive wildfires and drought

Many of the wetlands in the western United States have disappeared since the 1700s. California has lost an astonishing 90 percent of its wetlands, which includes streamsides, wet meadows and ponds. In Nevada, Idaho and Colorado, more than 50 percent of wetlands have vanished. Precious wet habitats now make up just 2 percent of the arid West — and those remaining wet places are struggling. Nearly half of U.S. streams are in poor condition, unable to fully sustain wildlife and people, says Jeremy Maestas, a sagebrush ecosystem specialist with the NRCS who organized that workshop on Wilde’s ranch in 2016. As communities in the American West face increasing water shortages, more frequent and larger wildfires and unpredictable floods, restoring ailing waterways is becoming a necessity.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Friday Top of the Scroll: Delta study predicts stronger floods and less water supply

[F]or those who live in the legal Delta zone – some 630,000 people – the braided weave of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers and their maze of associated wetlands and levees provides a place of home, community, and recreation. And, as a recent study by the Delta Stewardship Council shows, climate change is tugging on the watery thread holding it all together. … The council’s overview reveals a grim outlook for the millions of people that are tethered to the region’s water: drought similar to that experienced in 2012-2016 will be five to seven times more likely by 2050. This will result in more severe and frequent water shortages and, as the report bluntly states, “lower reliability of Delta water exports.”

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Aquafornia news Grist

Farms, feathers, and fins share water in California

The rivalry between farms and wildlife for water and land was long seen as a zero-sum game, especially in California where water is such a precious commodity that the state’s water futures are traded on the stock exchange. That competition has been particularly sharp in the Central Valley: 95% of the region’s historic wetlands have transformed into farmland, and the region’s increasingly scarce water supply has been prioritized for farming. As a result, some of the migratory birds that rely on the Central Valley for habitat, food, and water sources have seen steep declines in the past century. 

Aquafornia news The Point Reyes Light

Private tests show bad water quality near park ranches

Water quality testing commissioned by two groups lobbying for the end of ranching in the Point Reyes National Seashore shows fecal contamination exceeding federal recreational standards in several waterways feeding the Pacific Ocean. In response, seashore personnel point to their nearly finalized general management amendment, which requires water quality improvements. The tests from two rainy January days included samples from and near Kehoe Lagoon, Abbotts Lagoon and Schooner Creek, and showed exceedances in levels of E. coli and Enterococcus—bacteria that serve as common indicators for fecal contamination. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Estuary Magazine

Flow rules stalled as tunnel advances

As California stares down the barrel of yet another dry year, alarm bells are already ringing over conditions in the Delta. Environmental groups, fishermen, tribes, and a host of others are calling on the State Water Resources Control Board to complete and implement a long-delayed update to the Water Quality Control Plan for the Bay and Delta (Bay-Delta Plan), to protect the imperiled ecosystem. At the same time, plans for a structure with the potential to divert more water than ever to southern cities and farms are creeping ahead. 

Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

Blog: On World Water Day, reflecting on the value of water  

Water is one of the most valuable resources on the planet — we need it to survive, to stay clean and healthy, to grow food, to run businesses, to support ecosystems, and so much more. And yet clean, accessible, abundant water is often taken for granted, in part because its cost rarely reflects its true value. But anyone who has spent even a day, or a few hours, without access to water knows its vital importance. Still today over 2.2 billion people globally lack access to safe drinking water.

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Aquafornia news Civil Eats

20 hotspots to start fixing nitrogen pollution in agriculture

Nitrogen pollution is one of agriculture’s biggest and most intractable problems. Crops can’t grow without the critical nutrient, and because sources of nitrogen are easy to come by—synthetic fertilizer is cheap and manure from large animal agriculture operations is plentiful—farmers often apply too much, to try to ensure the highest yields. Because plants can’t use it all, the excess makes its way into groundwater and washes into waterways where it contaminates drinking water and creates vast dead zones in oceans and lakes. … California’s largest hotspot unsurprisingly includes 21 counties that cover the Central Valley, America’s produce capital.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: California needs to repeat history by passing new clean water laws

The Porter-Cologne Water Quality Act, California’s state clean water law, passed in 1969 and became the model for the 1972 federal Clean Water Act. Nearly half a century after passage of the landmark federal law, it is time for both the state and the nation to assess progress and chart a new course. Once again, California is leading the way with Assembly Bill 377, a new bill introduced by Assemblyman Robert Rivas (D-Hollister). Although new legislation is needed, the existing federal and California clean water acts have produced successes that should be celebrated.
-Written by Terry Tamminen, president of 7th Generation Advisors and founder of Santa Monica Baykeeper. 

Aquafornia news Patch, Bay City News

Officials to hire firm for large Walnut Creek wetland project

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will likely hire a contractor for the sweeping Lower Walnut Creek Restoration Project that aims to improve both flood control and conditions for wildlife and recreation. County staff recommends the board approve a deal with Four M Contracting, which came in with the lowest bid on the project, at $11.285 million. The Winters-based civil engineering firm specializes in wetland enhancement projects and the creation of wildlife habitat.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California green group trying to make Big Plastic pay for scourge of pollution

Earth Island Institute, a Berkeley, Calif.-based environmental nonprofit, sued a collection of the world’s largest food, beverage and consumer goods companies, saying their use of millions of tons of plastic packaging has resulted in polluted oceans, waterways and beaches. … Another novel element of the case is that the Earth Island Institute is claiming the 10 companies in question are also harming the institute specifically by allowing plastics to proliferate in the oceans off of California, causing the nonprofit to expend enormous sums to effect beach clean-ups and other related projects. 

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: Fish in hot water – Moments that write history #7

As of 2021, California is home to 31 distinct kinds of native salmon, steelhead and trout species, 20 of which are found only in our state. These fish are prized for their economic and cultural significance by local communities, and for their recreational attributes by anglers from around the world. But these fish face an alarming threat that can’t be ignored. If current trends continue, nearly half of these fish will be extinct within the next 50 years. How do we know this? And perhaps an even better question: what can be done about it? 

Aquafornia news The Revelator

Blog: 5 things to know about the fate of wild salmon

It’s not too hard to find salmon on a menu in the United States, but that seeming abundance — much of it fueled by overseas fish farms — overshadows a grim reality on the ground. Many of our wild salmon, outside Alaska, are on the ropes — and have been for decades. Twenty years ago Pacific salmon were found to have disappeared from 40% of their native rivers and streams across Oregon, Washington, Idaho and California. … In California a groundbreaking project to allow rivers to flood fallow farm fields in winter has helped provide both food and rearing habitat for salmon — and has helped prove that water managers don’t have to choose between fish and farmers.

Aquafornia news High Country News

The Biden administration’s critical role in Indian Country

Tribal leaders see President Joe Biden’s administration as an opportunity to increase tribal consultation regarding issues like water management, oil and gas leasing, and land conservation. Here, we look at four major projects … that the new administration is tasked with advancing…. Negotiations among federal, tribal and state governments on water flows and allocations in the Colorado River Basin began last year and are set to conclude by 2026…. After years of political, social and regulatory barriers, the undamming of the Klamath River is within sight…. 

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Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Managing water on our floodplains for multiple benefits: the proof is in the projects

Through collaborative projects, birds and endangered fish are returning to areas they once reared in more than 100 years ago. Partnerships among farmers, conservationists, universities, and state and federal agencies are proving that by reactivating our historic floodplains and using our bypasses during key times of the year, we can create high-quality habitat that produces safe haven and up to 149 times more food for salmon than the river. These key projects demonstrate some of the work being done on the wet-side of the levee.

Aquafornia news Boating Industry

California offers grants for quagga and zebra mussel prevention

The Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) will be accepting grant applications for quagga and zebra mussel infestation prevention programs from March 22 through April 30, 2021. All applications must be received by 5 p.m. on Friday, April 30, 2021. … California water body authorities have recognized the westward spread of mussel infestation via the Colorado River System and the potential harm to state waterways should lakes and reservoirs become invaded. To help prevent California waterways from infestation, DBW provides grants to entities that own or manage any aspect of water in a reservoir that is open for public recreation and is mussel-free.

Aquafornia news California Department of Fish and Wildlife

News release: Wildlife officers shut down illegal cannabis operation on CDFW property

Wildlife officers with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Marijuana Enforcement Team (MET) conducted a raid of a clandestine cannabis grow on the North Grasslands Wildlife Area, Gadwall Unit in Los Banos. The property is home to dozens of species of nesting waterfowl, migratory birds, rabbits, pheasants, birds of prey, small rodents and native plants. … Several dead birds, including one Western Meadowlark were discovered within the grow site. Thousands of feet of black polyethylene pipe were stretched across the property and was siphoning water from the permanent wetlands in the closed zone. Officers also discovered dozens of dangerous pesticides and chemicals.

Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

Taylor, Tallac creek marsh invasive species removal underway

Crews on Lake Tahoe’s South Shore continue work to remove aquatic invasive plants from the Taylor Creek and Tallac Creek marshes. A new fence was recently installed around the project area and officials are asking recreators to respect the protected area for safety and to ensure the greatest chance of success for the project, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency said in a press release. The fencing is intended to protect large tarps that will be staked to the marsh bottom as part of a project to remove Eurasian watermilfoil from the marsh ecosystem…

Aquafornia news UC Davis

News release: When ‘eradicated’ species bounce back with a vengeance

Some invasive species targeted for total eradication bounce back with a vengeance, especially in aquatic systems, finds a study led by the University of California, Davis. The study, published in the journal PNAS, chronicles the effort — and failure — to eradicate invasive European green crabs from a California estuary. The crabs increased 30-fold after about 90 percent had been removed. The study is the first experimental demonstration in a coastal ecosystem of a dramatic population increase in response to full eradication. … For the PNAS study, researchers in 2009 began intensive efforts to eradicate the European green crab from Stinson Beach’s Seadrift Lagoon. 

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: As drought alarms sound, is California prepared?

We’re facing another very dry year, which follows one of the driest on record for Northern California and one of the hottest on record statewide. The 2012-16 drought caused unprecedented stress to California’s ecosystems and pushed many native species to the brink of extinction, disrupting water management throughout the state.  Are we ready to manage our freshwater ecosystems through another drought?
-Written by Jeffrey Mount, senior fellow, and Caitrin Chappelle, associate director, at the Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Center.

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Aquafornia news KQED

Environmental groups urge feds to reject gas drilling project in North Bay wetland

Local political leaders and a dozen Bay Area environmental groups are urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reject a permit proposal for an exploratory natural gas drilling project in Suisun Marsh. The 88,000-acre wetland in Solano County — the largest contiguous brackish marsh on the west coast of North America — lies near the North Bay cities of Fairfield and Benicia, at the mouth of the vast Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta where the salty waters of San Francisco Bay mix with river water to create an estuary ecosystem that is home to hundreds of species of birds, fish, amphibians and mammals, including river otter, tule elk and the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse.

Aquafornia news Long Beach Post

Judge denies attempt to block approval of Los Cerritos wetlands land swap for oil wells

A Los Angeles Superior Court Judge ruled that the California Coastal Commission did not abuse its power when it approved a land-swap deal in 2018 that will allow for the rehabilitation of 150 acres of wetlands, but also the development of up to 120 new oil wells. In a 22-page tentative ruling, Judge Mary Strobel denied a request to stop the project in the Los Cerritos wetlands in the southeastern part of the city. Strobel’s ruling said that the commission did not misinterpret the Coastal Act in approving the deal, and the public benefits of the project were correctly weighed before voting to approve the deal.

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Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

‘We’re getting hit left and right’: Dwindling salmon runs to restrict 2021 commercial season

Dwindling Chinook salmon runs have forced the Pacific Fishery Management Council to shorten the commercial salmon fishing season. The Sacramento Valley fall-run Chinook salmon runs are projected to be half as abundant as the 2020 season while the Klamath River fall Chinook abundance forecast is slightly higher than the 2020 but is still significantly lower than the long-term average. During a press briefing on Friday morning, John McManus President of the Golden State Salmon Association said the added restrictions will deal a blow to commercial fishermen.

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Aquafornia news NOAA Climate.gov

Blog: March 2021 ENSO update

La Niña continues in the tropical Pacific, but it has weakened recently, and forecasters estimate about a 60% chance of a transition to neutral conditions in the late spring. Looking farther out into the fall of 2021, El Niño is unlikely to develop, and the chances of La Niña and neutral are similar.

Aquafornia news Arizona Capitol Times

Opinion: Congress has opportunity to protect Grand Canyon region

The Grand Canyon Protection Act was recently introduced by U.S. Rep. Raύl Grijalva and passed in the House and has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. The bills will permanently protect about 1 million acres of public lands surrounding Grand Canyon from the harmful and lasting damage of new uranium mining. … This legislation is critical to stopping the threats that mining poses to water quality and quantity, unique habitats and wildlife pathways, and to sacred places. 
-Written by Sandy Bahr, director for Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter, and Amber Wilson Reimondo, Energy Program director with Grand Canyon Trust.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Editorial: As sea level rises, Stinson residents right to craft own plan

Stinson Beach residents are smart to start working on their own homegrown plan to prepare for rising sea levels. Even if the state’s warning that coastal areas should be prepared for an average 3.5-foot rise in sea level by 2050 comes true, much of the beach and many low-lying homes could be subject to regular flooding. Over the years, Stinson has already seen some of the damage that can be done as a result of a combination of higher tides and storm-driven waves. 

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Aquafornia news ABC7 San Francisco

Housing development or protected wetlands? Fight over future of California salt ponds

For decades, the Cargill salt ponds in Redwood City have stretched into the San Francisco Bay like a blank slate. What’s to come of them? The Cargill corporation sees the outline of a new housing development, while environmental groups see a restored wetland habitat. David Lewis and his group Save the Bay recently joined a lawsuit against the former Trump administration’s EPA in a back-and-forth battle over whether the area falls under federal protection.