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 Courthouse News Service

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

The bitter drought validated scientists’ warnings that despite longstanding endangered species protections, the state’s outdated and overtaxed water management plans are failing in the face of climate change.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

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Aquafornia news The Point Reyes Light

Rains make way for Lagunitas Creek coho return

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

Aquafornia news Reuters

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

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

Aquafornia news Tahoe Daily Tribune

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

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

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

Aquafornia news Curbed LA

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

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

Aquafornia news KPBS

Oysters to serve as biological sensors in San Diego estuaries

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news Roll Call

California Democrats seek EPA watchdog help amid Trump threats

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

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

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

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

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Editorial: Bel Marin Keys restoration an important move

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

Aquafornia news Bay City Beacon

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

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

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

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

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

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

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

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

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Aquafornia news Environmental Health News

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

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

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

Aquafornia news Bay Nature Magazine

Housing project pits regional goals against city plans

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

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Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Napa River project wins prestigious environmental award

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

Aquafornia news National Public Radio

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

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

Aquafornia news Sierra Club

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

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

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Arizona prepares to lose federal water protections

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

Aquafornia news Bitterroot Magazine

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

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

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Massive Bel Marin Keys marsh restoration begins

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

Aquafornia news UC Merced News

Researchers look to wetlands to increase Delta water quality

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

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

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

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

Aquafornia news FishBio

Blog: Bustin’ berms: The restoration of Tule Red

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

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

The disconnect between groundwater legal systems and groundwater hydrology

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

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Aquafornia news E&E News

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

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

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Water officials work to assist recharge projects

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

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California seizes $1.5 billion-plus in black market marijuana

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

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

Aquafornia news E&E News

Clean Water Act: Economic analysis could undermine Trump rule repeal

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

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Navigating California’s new regulations for wetlands and state waters

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

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Environmental prosecutions drop to lowest level in decades

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

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Aquafornia news Fairfield Daily Republic

Garamendi bill for extended life of Clean Water permit passes

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

Aquafornia news E&E News

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

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

Aquafornia news Sierra Club

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

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

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Environmental groups sue over Trump rollback of waters rule

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

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

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

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

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Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

San Francisco Estuary health report offers mixed review

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

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Aquafornia news Capital Press

New market would pay farmers for conservation practices

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

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Monday Top of the Scroll: Imperial County seeks to declare Salton Sea emergency, wants disaster funds

Imperial County is seeking to declare a public health emergency at the Salton Sea … aiming to force Gov. Gavin Newsom and federal officials to free up emergency funds and take immediate action to tamp down dangerous dust.

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Aquafornia news KESQ TV

Aerial view shows environmental disaster at the Salton Sea

Audubon California’s Salton Sea Program Director Frank Ruiz served as the guide for this trip. Ruiz says the Salton Sea is receding at an alarming rate, about 6-inches a year, exposing toxic lake bed which is evident from the air.

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Tubbs fire zone landowners felling dead trees, thinning brush to protect Santa Rosa-area creek

The project includes improvements along more than 3 miles of dirt roads, repairing culverts and building erosion control features designed to reduce sediment flow into the creek. The aim is to protect gravel nests, called redds, where female salmon and steelhead lay their eggs, suffocating the eggs as well as clogging the gills of adult fish…

Aquafornia news Sacramento News & Review

Governor’s veto of SB1 criticized as playing into hands of anti-environment White House

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s veto of Senate Bill 1 means the honeymoon may be over with environmental groups who saw the bill as a bulwark to protect California’s water quality and endangered species from the Trump administration’s regulatory slashing.

Aquafornia news HowStuffWorks.com

How the Salton Sea became an eco wasteland

California’s largest inland lake, the Salton Sea, lies in the Imperial and Coachella valleys. The lake, which is more than 50 percent saltier than the Pacific Ocean, is becoming more salt than water because it’s essentially evaporating. The lake and the area that surrounds it — once hotspots for tourism and wildlife — have essentially become ghost towns.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Editorial: Trump forcibly expands oil and gas drilling in California. Will Newsom fight back?

The majority of California’s elected leaders oppose Trump’s plans. A majority of Californians also believes the state should ban the dangerous practice called “fracking,” which injects poisonous, cancer-causing chemicals deep into the ground.

Aquafornia news San Mateo Daily Journal

Opinion: Profit and Trump’s attack on Bay protections

Areas under Clean Water Act, or CWA, jurisdiction are not prohibited from being filled for development, but if developed, the act does require federal oversight, permitting and full mitigation for any loss of wetlands and wildlife habitat. Removing CWA protections would likely make the 1,400-acre salt pond site more profitable to develop, and thus more difficult to purchase for tidal marsh restoration.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California water czar seeks resource collaboration, not combat

For E. Joaquin Esquivel, California has made great strides in fighting climate change and transitioning to a cleaner energy sector. Now, he said, it’s water’s turn. “Water, I think, is ready for that moment,” said Esquivel, the chairman of the California State Water Resources Control Board who took over from longtime chair Felicia Marcus in February.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Opinion: California must defend its environmental protection laws

At Orange County Coastkeeper, we are disappointed that Gov. Gavin Newsom chose to veto SB 1 because of pressure from water interests, particularly in the San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

San Francisco Bay study gives 20-year window into marine life, climate impacts

On a biological scale, 20 years is like the blink of an eye — if not faster. But for San Francisco marine biology researchers, 20 years is priceless in what it can tell about the changing nature of the bay’s wildlife, especially in the face of a changing climate.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Environmental bill’s veto sparked surprise

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s veto of a major environmental protection bill angered and surprised environmentalists – and left some wondering what happens next.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

A ‘chilling message’: Trump critics see a deeper agenda in California feud

President Trump’s political feud with California has spread collateral damage across more than a dozen other states, which have seen their regulatory authority curtailed and their autonomy threatened by a Trump administration intent on weakening the environmental statutes of the country’s most populous state.

Aquafornia news Legal Planet

Blog: Why is Newsom vetoing SB 1?

How well does the Governor’s reasoning for vetoing the bill actually match up with the legislation he will be vetoing?

Aquafornia news Bay Area Monitor

Conservation before construction: Bay Area pilots new state program

To optimize mitigation for impacts to wetlands, other wildlands, and at-risk species, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is developing a program called the Regional Conservation Investment Strategy (RCIS). … Each RCIS identifies top conservation needs, such as habitat for sensitive species…

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council

Blog: Stewardship of wetlands and soils has climate benefits

When you look at a farm, do you think about nutrient rich soils or cover crops growing between rows? When you look at a marsh, do you see the submerged layers of sediment created by years of plant litter piling up? Probably not. But those parts of well-managed agricultural lands and wetlands store a lot of carbon, and that’s increasingly important as climate change is forcing society to consider ways to lower carbon emissions…

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: Resnicks set a record with Caltech gift, but altruism isn’t the whole story

Although the $750 million represents a personal gift to Caltech rather than a corporate gift from the Resnicks’ principal corporate entity, The Wonderful Company, they’re engaged through that company in some arguably unsustainable environmental practices.

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council

Blog: Newsom administration faces difficult tests on water this fall

While I’m deeply disappointed that Governor Newsom vetoed SB 1, the governor’s veto is also a troubling sign for several big tests on California water coming this fall…

Aquafornia news Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Opinion: Trump administration makes right move in repealing 2015 water rule

Recently, authority over many streams, pools, and lakes in the United States reverted from the federal government to the states. The Trump administration repealed the 2015 “Waters of the United States” rule, under which the federal government claimed authority to regulate virtually any body of water it wished.

Aquafornia news Berkeleyside.com

New ‘green stormwater spine’ in West Berkeley aims to clean water traveling to the Bay

A new “green infrastructure” project under construction along the western side of the block is designed to slow down that process by detoxing the water through soil and plants and pumping a purified product back out to the creek. The project, a whopping seven years in the making, is part of a $4 million, four-city effort…

Aquafornia news TheEcologist.org

Blog: Victory for defenders of Californian waterways

A coalition of river and coastal defenders have won a major victory against the State Water Resources Control Board, securing an order that requires the board to meet the statutory deadlines for its list of impaired waterways in California. The lawsuit focused on the board’s violations of the Clean Water Act and the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act…

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

SF Giants unveil plan for a 5-acre ‘constructed eco-system’ along bay

Now that the San Francisco Giants’ underwhelming season is over, the team has big off-season plans — at least in terms of real estate. Construction should begin this winter on the first phase of the remake of the team’s parking lot south of McCovey Cove along Third Street, including a 5-acre waterfront park with tide pools open to waders and a bayside lawn capable of holding 5,000 people.

Aquafornia news Patch.com

Ballona Wetlands: Malibu Lagoon’s resounding success

The final of six yearly Comprehensive Monitoring Reports performed by The Bay Foundation based on detailed scientific monitoring data prove the Project wholly succeeded in meeting its goals, performance standards and success criteria, and requires no supplemental work.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: SB1: Newsom vetoes bill to block Trump Endangered Species Act rollback

Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill on Friday that would have allowed California to preserve Obama-era endangered species protections and water-pumping restrictions for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta should they be dismantled by the Trump administration, a move scorned by environmental groups that have been among the governor’s most important political allies.

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Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California, environmental groups sue EPA over protection of SF Bay salt ponds

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Bay Area conservation groups sued the Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday for failing to protect Redwood City’s salt ponds under the Clean Water Act, a decision they say will harm the San Francisco Bay ecosystem.

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Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Opinion: Keeping streams safe and clean

A white egret delicately dips its beak into a small puddle. A mother otter and pups dive and roll in a clear, still pool. Tiny minnows dart in the shady shallows. And all of this takes place a stone’s throw from backyards and byways. Our local creeks and streams are literal rivers of life flowing through Sonoma County communities.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: Newsom should sign SB 1 into law. Without its environmental protections, Californians will suffer

At least 85 different federal laws and regulations affecting California have been weakened or undermined by the Trump administration since January 2017. … That’s why I, along with many proponents, believe that Senate Bill 1 would safeguard our state …

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Concrete jungle: The quest to make the L.A. River wild again

A dozen kayakers paddled down the tree-lined, sandy-bottomed Los Angeles River in late August, running their hands through sycamore and willow leaves and gliding over carp and steelhead trout as traffic noise from the nearby 405 Freeway buzzed overhead.

Aquafornia news Capital Press

Editorial: WOTUS has done more for trial lawyers than clean water

While farm and private property interests cheered, environmental groups last week bemoaned the Trump administration finalizing the repeal of the controversial “Waters of the United States,” or WOTUS, rule. We see little to cheer or jeer at this point, as the repeal is hardly the final chapter in a dispute that has stretched on for nearly 10 years.

Aquafornia news Estuary News

Clout and cool science push land-river reconnection

Before all those thousands of miles of levees went in, the Central Valley had one of the West Coast’s largest salmon runs, with a million or more of these mighty fish returning each year. A big reason for the salmon’s suc-cess was that the valley was among the most extensive floodplains in the world.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Opinion: How SB1 defends against Trump environmental rollbacks

Our beaches, bays and waterways are central to who we are as San Diegans and to our unique way of life. But in a heavily urbanized region clean water doesn’t just happen; it takes hard work and stewardship.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Demise of key environment bill could escalate California’s water wars

Newsom has said he won’t approve Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins’ bid for a legal backstop against environmental rollbacks by the Trump administration. And Washington is poised to reduce protections for endangered fish species in the state’s largest watersheds. The result may be the heightened regulatory uncertainty that opponents of the bill said they hoped to avoid…

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Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Editorial: Newsom must keep his promise on California SB1

Whatever satisfaction might be gained by telling the president to pound sand is nowhere near as important as protecting the water supply of Modesto and thousands of farmers depending on the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers.

Aquafornia news National Public Radio

EPA confirms the agency is changing water policy

The Trump administration announced significant rollbacks of Obama-era EPA regulations. How could the policy change affect the environmental landscape, and what could opponents do to fight it?

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: Newsom has a chance to end California’s water battles

Last week, the Legislature acted to thwart President Donald Trump on water matters by passing a bill to essentially pre-empt the execution of federal environmental law. The Metropolitan Water District opposed Senate Bill 1 because it would have unleashed rounds of state-federal litigation, and would have likely brought 13 years of effort to a halt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has signaled he plans to veto the measure.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Opinion: The quiet death and imminent rebirth of a water bond

A concerted effort to put a $4 billion bond measure for safe drinking water, drought preparation, wildfire prevention, and climate resilience on the March 2020 ballot in California died quietly in the state legislature last week. But the bond measure proposal will rise again early in the new year…

Aquafornia news The Revelator

Opinion: Why environmentalists are losing the water wars

It all boils down to diluted language that minimizes the perception of how we’re devastating our rivers and other bodies of water.

Aquafornia news Bay Nature Magazine

Want to prevent California’s Katrina? Grow a marsh

Something is amiss on Sherman Island, a whale-shaped swath of farm and grazing land at the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers. If you don’t know what ails the place, it might be hard to pinpoint the problem.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

South Gate charts new course to rear fish that once thrived in L.A.

The city of South Gate plans to transform a weedy and rutted field overlooking an industrialized stretch of the Los Angeles River into a sylvan retreat boasting a nursery for rare native fish that thrived before the explosive growth of Southern California after World War II.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Panel discussion: Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta legal framework: ‘All the acronyms you need to know’

At the Association of California Water Agencies‘ spring conference, a panel of lawyers covered the basics of the legal framework for the Delta. The panel was billed as ‘All the Acronyms You Need to Know”, but no 1.5 hour panel discussion could possibly cover all that. However, the panel did a good job of hitting the main ones and highlighting current issues.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: State Water Board authorizes major recycled water project

Efforts to increase recycled water use in California got a significant boost this week with the State Water Board’s issuance of an order authorizing the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District’s program to deliver an average of 45 million gallons per day of recycled water from the Sacramento Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant …

Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

California steps up multimillion-dollar battle to eradicate nutria from state wetlands

There’s no certain answer as to how the nutria population re-emerged after being declared eradicated in California decades ago but the population is spreading and causing serious concern. The Department of Fish and Wildlife was recently awarded $10 million to wipe out the large, invasive rodents and that effort is now well underway.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: Newsom plans to veto bill that would have blocked Trump’s rollback of endangered species protections

Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to veto a bill passed by California lawmakers that would have allowed the state to keep strict Obama-era endangered species protections and water pumping restrictions for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Newsom’s intentions … comes less than 24 hours after state lawmakers passed the sweeping legislation.

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Aquafornia news Hakai Magazine

Bioreactors to the rescue in polluted California wetlands

Farmers clearly appreciate the yields that fertilizers facilitate, but many acknowledge that these chemicals are tainting the land and water. Enter the Central Coast Wetlands Group and the Coastal Conservation and Research, Inc. and their new bioreactor designed to process agricultural runoff, turning algae-bloom-triggering waste into benign nitrogen gas.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

California protects itself from Trump’s rollback of Clean Water Act

The Trump administration rolled back a key provision of the Clean Water Act on Thursday, doing away with protections for many wetlands and streams across the country… The repeal of the Waters of the United States rule, however, will not directly affect landowners and businesses in California. State regulators in April passed a sweeping wetlands policy that secured state oversight of California’s waterways…

Aquafornia news CALMatters

Opinion: Newsom and legislators have a choice: side with the environment or with Trump

The Trump administration, under Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, is finalizing plans to rip up restrictions on diverting Northern California water to its friends in the agricultural industry in the dry western San Joaquin Valley.  However, some of the state’s biggest water districts oppose SB 1, hoping Trump administration efforts will translate into increased water diversions.  

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California’s Trump-blocking environmental bill may be delayed in fight over water

Facing fierce lobbying from well-financed water districts, the bill’s author, Senate President Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, acknowledged Tuesday that the bill might get pulled from consideration until next year.

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Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Butte County’s western pond turtle: A reptile in trouble

The western pond turtle in Butte County is currently shaking in its shell, due to habitat alteration and introduced species that are killing off the local reptile. … The turtle is being evaluated for listing as threatened or endangered, according to California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Administration finalizes repeal of 2015 water rule Trump called ‘destructive and horrible’

On Thursday, the Trump administration plans to scrap the Obama-era definition of what qualifies as “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act, returning the country to standards put in place in 1986. … EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the administration will finalize a new definition for which water bodies deserve federal protection within a matter of months…

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Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation and DWR to restore floodplain habitat for endangered salmon in the Yolo Bypass

The Bureau of Reclamation, in coordination with the California Department of Water Resources, today announced its decision to move forward with a restoration project to improve fish passage and increase floodplain fisheries-rearing habitat in the Yolo Bypass.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Butte County’s yellow-legged frog under threat

If you see something hopping around in Big Chico Creek, chances are it could be the foothill yellow-legged frog. This frog is currently being evaluated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to possibly be placed on the state’s endangered species list.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday Top of the Scroll: Water users fight California’s anti-Trump environmental bill

Senate Bill 1 has strong support from some of California’s most influential environmental and labor organizations, including some that helped get Gov. Gavin Newsom elected. But several of California’s water suppliers and agricultural interests … oppose the measure. This includes the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which has made SB 1 a top lobbying priority.

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Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Coming home: Helping endangered fish return to suisun marsh

DWR is currently overseeing five habitat restoration projects in Suisun Marsh. In October 2019, one of these projects, the Tule Red Tidal Habitat Restoration Project – which converts approximately 600 acres of existing managed wetland into tidal habitat – is expected to finish construction.

Aquafornia news Arizona Public Media

New border wall could further deplete groundwater supplies

According to a Customs and Border Protection spokesperson, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument has identified existing groundwater wells construction contractors can use. In addition, the contractor has proposed drilling new wells along the border for the wall project. Currently, the construction contractor estimates needing about 84,000 gallons of water per day for the project.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Here’s a look inside Ventura’s wastewater operations

There’s a lot of confusion and concern about what will happen once the city of Ventura no longer discharges millions of gallons of water into the Santa Clara River Estuary. … To help residents get a better understanding of how Ventura’s wastewater operations work, and to help answer those questions, city officials opened up its facility to the public last week.

Aquafornia news U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Blog: Marsh of Dreams

Over the past 200 years, California has lost 97% of its wetland habitat. The Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve, part of the UC’s Natural Reserve System, represents about 3% of what remains of California’s coastal wetlands. Due to a century of draining for land use and land development, the marsh has dwindled to 230 acres.

Aquafornia news Audubon

Blog: Water to flow in Colorado River delta again

However, this is brackish water. For a few months we will see it in the Colorado below Morelos Dam, reminding us of the river that once flowed there. It is agricultural drainage that comes from farms in southwestern Arizona that use the Colorado River to irrigate in the desert.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot to be keynote speaker at Water Summit

Crowfoot oversees a sprawling agency of 19,000 employees engaged in the stewardship of the state’s forests and natural lands, rivers and waterways, coast and ocean, fish and wildlife and energy development. Now in its 36th year, the Water Summit features a variety of policymakers, experts and stakeholders discussing important topics in water across California and the West.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Opinion: Congress must fund protection for the Bay Area’s favorite parks

Our leaders in Washington filled me with so much hope earlier this year when they approved  permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. , securing the near-term future of one of our country’s oldest and most important conservation tools. But we can’t truly call this a victory until Congress takes that final step: permanent program funding.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Controversial water legislation heads to California Assembly floor

Senate Bill 1 is seen as a pre-emptive strike by California lawmakers before the Trump administration ushers in new biological opinions to alter water deliveries through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news One Truckee River

Blog: The importance of Pyramid Lake water quality

There are a lot of reasons our watershed is unique. It’s a high elevation terminal watershed, what could be more special? Well, another contributing factor is that the terminus of the Truckee River watershed exists on the largest Native American Reservation in Nevada.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Opinion: Legislature, rethink SB 1. It will hurt water management

If not amended, Senate Bill 1 will perpetuate California’s water and environmental troubles, not help to resolve them, as its proponents claim.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Remarkable Suisun Marsh: a bright spot for fish in the San Francisco Estuary

Here we provide an updated account of Suisun Marsh fishes to show why the marsh is so important for conserving fishes in the upper San Francisco Estuary in general…and why we continue to be enthusiastic about working there.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Nature gone: Bay Area beach getting washed away

Known to locals as “Long Beach,” it’s part of the San Leandro Shoreline Marshlands and once stretched at least 23 miles. The most recent official estimate done back in 2008 put the beach at seven miles amid development and rising sea levels.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Opinion: California must follow water quality rules in Salton Sea restoration

The intent of the Salton Sea restoration is to mitigate losses of habitat for wildlife as the Salton Sea shrinks. However, mitigating lost habitat by replacing it with something harmful does not result in any benefits to wildlife; in fact, it makes things worse by creating a new exposure pathway that subjects wildlife to contaminants.

Aquafornia news USC News

Blog: As Salton Sea shrinks, experts fear far-reaching health consequences

University of Southern California researchers are exploring how losing California’s largest lake could affect the respiratory health of people throughout the Imperial Valley and beyond.

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Blog: How a young, orphan beaver learned life skills from a bunch of otters

We don’t get to see Castor canadensis, the 60-pound North American beaver, in Sonoma County very often, so I jumped at the invitation to see one up close at the Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue. An orphaned young kit, little more than a year old, is there for care and rehab before release to back to the wild.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Audio: Should California insulate itself from federal rollbacks of environmental laws?

Moderator Kathleen Schock spoke with advocates on both sides of the issue, John Harris of Harris Farms and Kim Delfino with Defenders of Wildlife. Dr. Lisa Bryant, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Fresno State also joined the conversation.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

State approves $20M for Bel Marin Keys wetlands restoration

Restoration of nearly 1,600 acres of wetlands near Bel Marin Keys is set to begin this year after the approval of $20 million in funding on Thursday. The state Coastal Conservancy voted unanimously during its meeting in Sausalito on Thursday to allocate the money to begin the first phase of construction…

Aquafornia news FishBio

Blog: Understanding how fish deal with drought

Aquatic animals in regions like California that have historically experienced frequent droughts have evolved remarkable adaptations to dealing with dry conditions. However, the duration, severity, and frequency of droughts are all increasing as a result of ongoing climate change and an increased human demand for water, leaving even drought-hardened species struggling.

Aquafornia news The San Francisco Examiner

Red-legged frogs making a comeback at Yosemite with help of SF Zoo

After four years, San Francisco Zoo officials wrapped up a successful reintroduction program Monday by releasing the last of more than 1000 red-legged frogs into Yosemite National Park. The zoo began partnering with the National Park Service and Yosemite Conservancy in 2015 to reintroduce the threatened frogs back into Yosemite National Park…

Aquafornia news U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Blog: It was ‘do or die’: Saving the Tijuana Estuary

The idea of conserving the marsh was not popular with most of the residents and elected officials, and the McCoys were frequent targets of threats and harassment. It was a rough and tumble fight and there was a lot of money at stake. Ignoring personal risk, the McCoys launched their campaign to secure the estuary.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Reactivating our floodplains: A new way forward

A panel of experts discuss how reactivating the floodplains can provide habitat and food for native fish and for migrating birds, and highlights the many projects and opportunities in the Sacramento Valley.

Aquafornia news San Mateo Daily Journal

Redwood City Cargill development opposition emerges

More than 60 elected officials and environmental and community groups throughout the Bay Area are urging Redwood City officials to reject proposals to develop the Cargill salt ponds and rather have them restored as wetlands.

Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

Spawning a solution for McKinleyville’s wastewater

Finding a way to deal with the wastewater produced by a town full of people is a challenge, one that’s forced the McKinleyville Community Services District to find some creative solutions. Officials are touting the emerging solution as a win-win, a cutting-edge project that will serve the district’s needs at minimal cost to ratepayers while also helping the environment.

Aquafornia news California Sun

Podcast: Ariel Rubissow Okamoto and a deep dive into the San Francisco estuary

Ariel Rubissow Okamoto, the editor in chief of Estuary Magazine and long-time Bay Area science writer, talks about the resiliency of the largest estuary on the West Coast, the challenges facing the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, and the potential impacts of climate change and sea-level rise on the San Francisco Bay.

Aquafornia news JD Supra

Blog: EPA proposes to narrow water quality certification authority under the Clean Water Act

The proposed rule would re-write EPA’s existing Section 401 implementing regulations and significantly narrow the authority of states and Indian tribes when acting on Section 401 certification requests.

Aquafornia news Natural Resources Defense Council

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

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

Aquafornia news SouthTahoeNow.com

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

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

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

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

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

Aquafornia news Forbes

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

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

Aquafornia news Phys.org

New mapping reveals lost West Coast estuary habitat

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

Aquafornia news Pew Charitable Trusts

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

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

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

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

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

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

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

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

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Nutria infestation has Central Valley Democrat declaring war

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

Aquafornia news KQED News

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

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

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

Aquafornia news San Luis Obispo Tribune

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

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

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

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

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

Aquafornia news Merced Sun-Star

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

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

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

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

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

Aquafornia news KPBS

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

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

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Aquafornia news Cool Green Science

Blog: A biodiversity analysis in Los Angeles

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

Aquafornia news The Point Reyes Light

County to start revising streamside ordinance

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

Aquafornia news The Hill

Pair of GOP senators propose easing Obama water rule

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

Aquafornia news KQED Science

Environmental group says stop killing beavers; Trump administration says OK

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

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Aquafornia news Sierra Wave

Owens Lake, under a microscope

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

Aquafornia news SCVNews.com

Efforts to save federally endangered frogs, tadpoles continue

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

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

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

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

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

How California has blocked Trump’s environmental rollbacks

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

Aquafornia news Petaluma Argus-Courier

Local group produces Petaluma wetlands field guide

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Woolsey fire burned habitats for California Red-Legged frogs

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

Aquafornia news The Coast News

Agreement in place for Buena Vista Lagoon restoration

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

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: Yolo Bypass fish passage project approved

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

Aquafornia news Fox 26 News

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

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

Aquafornia news San Francisco State University

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

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

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

Aquafornia news Crosscut

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

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

Aquafornia news Glendale News-Press

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

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

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

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

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

Aquafornia news MyNewsLA.com

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

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

Aquafornia news Legal Planet

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

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

Aquafornia news The Conversation

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

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

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Humboldt Bay is retaking the land as the sea level rises

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

Aquafornia news Photographic Museum of Humanity

The illusion of limitless water

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

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: California Senate Bill 1 a dangerous over-reaction

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

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

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

Aquafornia news Dredging Today

South San Francisco Bay project: Alviso shoreline works resume

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

Aquafornia news CALmatters

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

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

Aquafornia news The Mountain Democrat

Sierra Nevada Conservancy awards $3 million for restoration projects

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

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Drought, fish, and water in California

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

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

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

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

Tour Nick Gray

Bay-Delta Tour 2020
Field Trip - June 3-5

This tour travels deep into California’s water hub and traverses the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a 720,000-acre network of islands and canals that supports the state’s water system and is California’s most crucial water and ecological resource. The tour will make its way to San Francisco Bay and includes a ferry ride. 

Aquafornia news E&E News

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

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

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

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

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

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

Aquafornia news CALmatters

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

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

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Audit blasts San Francisco Bay watchdog on inaction

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

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

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

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

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

$1 million grant for Elkhorn Slough to help restore wetlands

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

Aquafornia news Western Water News

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

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

Aquafornia news The Recorder

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

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

Aquafornia news The Log

Poseidon’s restoration obligations on deck at Coastal Commission meeting

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

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

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

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

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Aquafornia news The Wildlife Society

Blog: Unique partnership preserves unique California ecosystems

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

Aquafornia news High Country News

See the captivating flux of Western alkaline waters

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: The California water model: Resilience through failure

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

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

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

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

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

The Napa-Sonoma marshes are rebounding with wildlife

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

Aquafornia news East Bay Times

Triumph as rare red-legged frogs return to Yosemite

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

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Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

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

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

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

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

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

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

California water board faces lawsuit over new wetlands rules

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

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

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

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

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