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 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.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

How California hunters are trying to save ducks from deadly outbreak

Last year, tens of thousands of water birds became paralyzed and died in a gruesome botulism outbreak caused by lack of water at two wildlife refuges on California’s border with Oregon. And it could happen again this summer. The crippling drought that has plagued the region for years shows no sign of ending, and there’s been little relief from the bureaucratic gridlock and lawsuits over water that has slowly starved the Klamath Basin refuges of their supplies over the past two decades.

Aquafornia news Pacific Sun

Fecal bacteria poisons Point Reyes beaches

In a January test of the water in Abbotts Lagoon [at Point Reyes National Seashore] …, the number of E. Coli cells found in water samples was twenty times the safe amount. At Kehoe Lagoon, the safety margin was exceeded by a factor of 40. It gets worse for E. Coli’s nasty bacterial cousin known as Enterococcus. It can devour your heart, stomach, brain, and spinal cord. This monster thrives in raw sewage and intestines. Kehoe Lagoon seethes with 300 times the acceptable amount of this voracious creature. … Gee, you’d think the Park Service would put up a few warning signs. But, no, there are zero signs cautioning those who touch these waters that a drop can wound and kill. 

Aquafornia news KQED

The San Francisco Bay once teemed with oysters. What happened?

There’s one type of oyster that’s indigenous to the San Francisco Bay, and that’s the Olympia oyster (Ostrea lurida). It’s named after Olympia, Washington, though these small, tangy oysters can be found up and down the west coast from Alaska all the way down into central Mexico. Olympias — or Olys for short — can still be found in the San Francisco Bay today. But scientists say pollution from agricultural runoff is too high for commercial fishing.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Bay Area salmon season is expected to be much shorter this year, bringing higher prices

Bad news for salmon lovers: The quantity of fish in Bay Area coastal waters this year is expected to be far lower than in 2020. And fewer fish means less work for local fishers and fewer salmon in stores. The number of adult king salmon from the Sacramento River fall run is projected to be 271,000 this spring and summer, compared with last year’s estimate of 473,200….The limited season reflects a downward trend in the population of king salmon, also known as chinook, over the last decade because of drought and state policies that have limited the amount of water allotted to the parts of the Sacramento River basin where the fish spawn and juveniles spend their early months. 

Aquafornia news Bay Nature

Newark advances project that’s a Bay conservation setback

In November 2019, the city of Newark approved the “Sanctuary West” project for Area 4, a plan to construct 469 single family homes and 2,739 parking spaces. The land borders the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge, and conservation groups and state and federal agencies have targeted it for restoration since the 1990s. … Area 4 is a rare San Francisco Bay upland habitat. Tidal wetlands move inland over time as sea level rises, but for the most part, in the Bay Area, cities are built right up to the edge of the marsh and the wetlands have nowhere to go. 

Aquafornia news Drovers

The return of California red-legged frogs

The effort to return [California red-legged] frogs to Southern California, which had been ongoing by Robert Fisher from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative Program for more than 20 years, began to move the needle in San Diego County when Winchell started working with private ranchers Judy and Chuck Wheatley who had just restored a pond on their property for the reintroduction of the Western pond turtle. … The species was decimated by disease and invasives, and disappeared from San Diego County in 1974 and western Riverside County in 2001. 

Aquafornia news Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions

New research: Blue carbon California – Incorporating blue carbon science into climate policy solutions

California is home to a diversity of coastal ecosystems like tidal marshes, seagrass beds, and estuaries. These ecosystems provide flood and storm protection, healthy habitats for fish and birds, and recreational spaces. They may also play an important role in addressing climate change. A new COS and Natural Capital Project study in Global Environmental Change investigates the carbon sequestration potential of habitats along the California coast and details pathways incorporating carbon-capturing habitats into climate change policy.

Aquafornia news Patch

Efforts to bring back red-legged frog underway in San Diego area

California red-legged frogs disappeared from their natural habitat in Riverside and San Diego counties decades ago. Disease and invasive species were their downfalls, according to John Heil, who works for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Now multiple partners — including national and international nonprofits, government agencies, and private landowners — have come together to change the course of the frog’s plight, Heil explained.

Aquafornia news Utah Public Radio

After years of delays, California tries to tamp down Salton Sea dust

California is spending more than $200 million to keep an unfolding ecological crisis from getting worse. The state wants to stabilize habitat along the southern bank of the Salton Sea, the state’s largest lake. That is good news for nearby residents concerned about their health, but the restoration could also affect everyone who draws water from the Colorado River.  At issue is the wide swaths of exposed lakebed that have been uncovered as the thirsty lake’s water evaporates in the desert air.

Aquafornia news San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District

News release: California water agency may be first in the nation to be led by a fish biologist whose previous job was protecting endangered species

[Heather] Dyer was the fish biologist spearheading U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service efforts to protect the Santa Ana sucker, the tiny fish whose habitat was threatened by water projects along the Santa Ana River….Doug Headrick, the former general manager of San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, was so impressed with Dyer he hired her away from the federal government and put her in charge of leading …the development of the Upper Santa Ana River Habitat Conservation Plan. …The plan is expected to be approved by state and federal agencies this year….Dyer, meanwhile, has been promoted to the position of Valley District’s CEO and general manager…  

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: How ‘cutting green tape’ can make California more resilient

California is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots – home to more unique species of plants and animals than any other state in the U.S. This biodiversity makes up the beautiful land and seascapes of the world’s fifth-largest economy and sustains our health, cultures and quality of life.  Yet it is disappearing at alarming rates. … Environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act are designed to protect the environment from damage. What these laws are not designed to do is provide a pathway for restoring nature damaged, for instance, by development projects.
-Written by Ashley Boren, the CEO of Sustainable Conservation, a San Francisco- and Modesto-based nonprofit. 

Aquafornia news Lake County News

Water Resources to update supervisors on invasive mussel prevention program

The Board of Supervisors will hear the latest this week on the program that aims to prevent destructive mussels from infesting Clear Lake and will consider a proposal to extend a contract for using the former juvenile hall as a temporary support shelter for the county’s homeless residents. The‌ ‌meeting‌ ‌will‌ ‌begin‌ ‌at‌ ‌9‌ ‌a.m.‌ ‌Tuesday,‌ ‌March 9, and will be available to the public virtually only.

Aquafornia news Downey Brand LLP

Blog: Proposed “California Clean Water Act” (AB 377) would restrict ability to secure schedules of compliance in water quality permits or other water quality-related orders

AB 377, entitled the “California Clean Water Act,” introduced by Assemblymember Rivas in February 2021, includes provisions to eliminate all “impaired waterways” and make all waters in California suitable for drinking, swimming, and fishing by 2050.  If adopted, this bill would have significant impacts on the ability to timely and cost-effectively comply with discharge requirements set forth in National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) permits, Waste Discharge Requirements (“WDRs”), and waivers of WDRs (collectively, “water quality permits”).  The bill would also usher in an era of focus on enforcement, rather than good-faith compliance.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Multi-agency collaboration restores critical habitat for endangered Delta smelt, other native species

Native fish, including smelt and salmon, in the southern Yolo Bypass in Yolo County have new sources of food and shelter thanks to a project that successfully restored more than 1,600 acres of former cattle pasture. The Lower Yolo Ranch Tidal Restoration Project is a collaboration between multiple agencies including the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and Westlands Water District (Westlands) which serves western Fresno and Kings counties. The agencies are working together to meet a portion of state and federal requirements to restore 8,000 acres of tidal wetland habitat in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Bolinas Lagoon flood project aims to redirect creek

Marin County plans to reroute a Bolinas Lagoon creek as part of an effort to prevent flooding along Highway 1, prepare for sea-level rise and restore habitat for threatened species. The county’s Bolinas Lagoon Wye Wetlands Project aims to redirect Lewis Gulch Creek closer to its historic route and raise a nearby road to allow the creek more room to wind and flow during winter storms. The project would also restore floodplains at the northern end of the 1,100-acre Bolinas Lagoon that were lost over more than a century as wetlands made way for roads and pastures.

Aquafornia news UC Santa Cruz

News release: UCSC leads multicampus initiative on coastal resilience and climate adaptation

Experts in coastal science and policy at UC Santa Cruz are teaming up with researchers at UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego, and the U.S. Geological Survey to address the many challenges of adapting to climate change along California’s coast. … California’s iconic shoreline, from its communities and beaches to coastal wetlands and intertidal habitats, is increasingly threatened by coastal hazards such as extreme flooding and erosion associated with climate change, sea level rise, storms, and El Niño events.

Aquafornia news Patch

$2.8m fine faced for illegal Suisun Marsh levee work

A man accused of illegally repairing a levee and damaging sensitive aquatic habitat in the Suisun Marsh is facing a $2.8 million fine following a California appeals court decision last month. John Sweeney, who ran a kiteboarding club on Point Buckler Island in Solano County after buying it in 2011, must also abide by a clean up and abatement order that requires him to restore the marshlands and tidal channels damaged during the levee work.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Restricted season likely with poor Sacramento, Klamath river salmon numbers

A forecast of relatively low numbers of Sacramento and Klamath River fall Chinook salmon now swimming in the ocean off the California coast points to restricted ocean and river salmon fishing seasons in 2021. State and federal fishery managers during the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s salmon fishery information on-line meeting on February 25 forecast an ocean abundance this year of 271,000 adult Sacramento Valley fall Chinook salmon, about 200,000 fish lower than the 2020 estimate.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Improving the health of California’s freshwater ecosystems

California’s rivers, wetlands, and other freshwater ecosystems are in poor health. Water management practices, pollution, habitat change, invasive species, and a changing climate have all taken a toll, leaving many native species in dire straits. And the current approach for managing freshwater ecosystems is not working. In this video Jeff Mount, senior fellow at the PPIC Water Policy Center, discusses the many benefits these ecosystems bring to California, and outlines a path for improving their condition to secure these benefits for future generations.

Aquafornia news KPBS

State water project takes aim at restoring Salton Sea, alleviating health risks

California is spending more than $200 million to keep an unfolding ecological crisis from getting worse. The state wants to stabilize habitat along the southern bank of the Salton Sea, the state’s largest lake. That is good news for nearby residents concerned about their health, but the restoration could also affect everyone who draws water from the Colorado River. At issue is the wide swaths of exposed lakebed that have been uncovered as the thirsty lake’s water evaporates in the desert air. The lake bottom is typically a deep layer of fine silt. When covered by water, it poses no risk. But once exposed to the air, and whipped up by the region’s strong winds, the dust becomes a major health risk.

Aquafornia news The Reporter

Congress passes Garamendi bill to expand National Heritage Area into Rio Vista

Approximately 62 acres of land in Rio Vista, including the former Army Reserve Center, have been incorporated into legislation by Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano, to increase the boundaries of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area. This bill, known as House Resolution 1230, passed in the U.S. House of Representatives Friday and will move on to the Senate. The bill is an expansion of bicameral legislation by Garamendi and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that was signed into law in 2019 to provide $10 million for community-based efforts to preserve the Delta’s cultural heritage as well as its historical landmarks. 

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

EPA abandons plan to appeal ruling protecting Redwood City salt ponds from development

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday abandoned its appeal of a federal judge’s ruling last year that a sprawling collection of Redwood City salt ponds is protected from development under provisions of the Clean Water Act. The move brings to an end the federal government’s attempts — started during former President Trump’s administration — to end protections that could have led to development at the site. Related article: 

Aquafornia news FOX 5 San Diego

Oceanside gets $1M federal grant to protect, restore wetlands

A wetland enhancement project in south Oceanside has been selected as the recipient of a $1 million federal grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, it was announced Thursday. The award was issued through the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation grant program, which funds projects that protect, restore and enhance coastal wetland ecosystems. The grant will go toward construction of the first phase of the Loma Alta Slough Wetlands Enhancement project, which is intended to restore and enhance six acres of coastal wetland and upland habitat near Buccaneer Beach. 

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Thousands of native plants placed near Sacramento River

The organization River Partners teamed up with California State Parks and Butte County Resource Conservation District on Thursday to host a flood plain restoration and reforestation event. The event was called the Bidwell-Sacramento River State Park Riparian Restoration Project and was held near the Pine Creek Access point of the Sacramento River in Chico.

Aquafornia news Center for Biological Diversity

News release: Lawsuit launched to protect imperiled California fish

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent today to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking Endangered Species Act protection for the Clear Lake hitch, a large minnow found only in Northern California’s Clear Lake and its tributaries. The Trump administration denied the fish protection in a December 2020 determination.

Aquafornia news Santa Clarita Magazine

Christy Smith appointed to Delta Stewardship Council

Former Assemblymember Christy Smith announced that she has been appointed by Speaker Anthony Rendon to serve on the Delta Stewardship Council. … The Council was created to advance the state’s coequal goals for the Delta – a more reliable statewide water supply and a healthy and protected ecosystem, both achieved in a manner that protects and enhances the unique characteristics of the Delta as an evolving place.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Will California’s desert be transformed into Lithium Valley?

California’s desert is littered with remnants of broken dreams — hidden ghost towns, abandoned mines and rusty remains of someone’s Big Idea. But nothing looms larger on an abandoned landscape than the Salton Sea, which languishes in an overlooked corner of the state. The water shimmers and broils in the desert like a rebuke: born of human error, made worse by 100 years of neglect and pollution. California’s largest lake is also one of its worst environmental blights, presenting a problem so inverted that its toxic legacy intensifies as its foul water disappears…. The blue-ribbon commission members, appointed by state agencies, legislators and the governor, hold their first meeting today… 

Aquafornia news The Log

Lawsuit against the Ballona Wetlands restoration

On Jan. 28 Defend Ballona Wetlands filed a lawsuit with the Los Angeles Superior Court against the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to stop the restoration project in the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve and challenge the environmental impact report. The proposed project is set to restore and revitalize 640 acres across the wetlands and create 10 miles of bike and footpaths.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Colusa Sun Herald

Applications being accepted for 2021 Wetland Conservation Easement

Private landowners interested in enhancing, restoring and protecting wetlands are encouraged to apply for the Wetland Reserve Easements in California program facilitated by the Natural Resource Conservation Service. 

Aquafornia news BBC News

Extinction: Freshwater fish in ‘catastrophic’ decline

Conservation groups said 80 species were known to have gone extinct, 16 in the last year alone. Millions of people rely on freshwater fish for food and as a source of income through angling and the pet trade. But numbers have plummeted due to pressures including pollution, unsustainable fishing, and the damming and draining of rivers and wetlands. The report said populations of migratory fish have fallen by three-quarters in the last 50 years. Over the same time period, populations of larger species, known as “megafish”, have crashed by 94%.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

State Ocean Protection Council awards $1.3 million to Elkhorn Slough restoration

The state’s Ocean Protection Council has awarded $1.3 million to preserving and safeguarding estuary habitat at Elkhorn Slough, which boasts the second-largest tidal salt marsh in California. The wetland, once degraded by farming activities such as diking, is at risk of impacts from climate change — particularly rising sea levels.

Aquafornia news KCRW

Ballona Wetlands are getting a makeover, but opponents don’t want too much ecological change

A restoration project for the long-suffering Ballona Wetlands is moving forward after the California Department of Fish and Wildlife certified the final Environmental Impact Report for the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve last year.  Years of neglect, human impact, and development took a toll on the wetlands for years.  The project aims to remove invasive plants and leftover fill from the development of Marina Del Rey, re-establish a functioning floodplain, and create natural levees for flood protection against sea level rise. 

Aquafornia news Audubon

Blog: Federal priorities for a secure water future in the West

Climate change will continue to impact the West, and particularly its water supply—the many impacts include longer and more damaging wildfire seasons as well as prolonged drought. Federal leadership and action are needed to address the climate crisis. With the 117th Congress now in session, Audubon is advocating at the federal level for funding and policy priorities that restore habitat, protect communities, and support birds through proactive water management and conservation.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Smoothing the bumps in the road to ecosystem restoration

California’s environmental permitting system was developed to prevent bad things from happening to the environment, but it often slows efforts to do good things, too. How can California improve regulatory processes to make them more efficient and effective? The PPIC Water Policy Center recently discussed these issues with a group of experts…

Aquafornia news California Trout

Blog: CalTrout v. Goliath — a monumental victory at Mono Lake

There are six Mono Lake tributaries to be exact – Rush, Lee Vining, Parker, Walker, Wilson, and Mill creeks. And the fact is Mono Lake never had any surplus water; its fullness has always depended on the amount of water running into it. So as soon as some of that water was cut off, which began in 1941, the Lake started to plummet and the entire ecosystem dependent on those “half a dozen little mountain brooks” soon followed. 

Aquafornia news BenitoLink

Rivas co-introduces statewide Clean Water Act

Nearing the 50th anniversary of the federal Clean Water Act, Assemblyman Robert Rivas held a press conference on Feb. 2 to discuss the proposed California Clean Water Act, AB 377. The legislation, co-introduced by Rivas and state Senate Majority Leader Robert Hertzberg, would work to ensure all rivers, lakes, oceans and other bodies of water in California are clean enough for drinking, swimming and fishing purposes by 2050. 

Aquafornia news San Mateo Daily Journal

Officials call for Redwood City’s salt pond protections

Bay Area political leaders and organizations have come together to encourage the new Biden administration to protect Redwood City’s salt ponds from future development by withdrawing a Trump era appeal of a federal district court ruling deeming the wetlands federally protected.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: Our future in the Sacramento Valley – Serving water for multiple benefits

There has been recent commentary and discussion around a commodity futures market for water in California. In the Sacramento Valley, we are not involved in this process; nor are we participating in these contracts. Although we are not entirely clear on this market or what is being traded, it is clear that this new market does not involve real/wet water–which is our focus in the Sacramento Valley. We will continue to focus on serving water for cities and rural communities, farms, fish, birds, other wildlife and recreation.

Aquafornia news The Press

Delta study examines climate change effect

For the better part of the last two centuries, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has been modified in any number of ways to meet the demands of Californians. But a new wide-ranging study looks at what might be the most serious Delta threat that doesn’t come in the form of an excavator – global warming. 

Aquafornia news Sierra Club Angeles Chapter

Blog: Will barons of blue water be more equitable than those of black oil?

Many of today’s under-resourced communities have no more access to blue gold (scarce water) than the under-resourced white residents of the Owens Valley have had since the 1920s. In 1924 greedy public and private water interests transformed the lush Owen’s Lake into a noxious dust bowl. One of the guilty parties LADWP (Department of Water and Power), recently celebrated partial restoration of Owens Lake by constructing a ghostly monument of granite and sculpted earth in the long desiccated lake bed. … For many indigenous peoples denied their rights to water for a century, partial restoration of the lake without full restoration of their water rights is too little, too late. 

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Herring fishermen sue Chevron over California oil leak

A pipeline rupture that gushed hundreds of gallons of oil into the San Francisco Bay spurred a class action filed Tuesday that accuses a Chevron refinery of prioritizing profits over safety and threatening the survival of herring in the area for years to come. … On Feb. 9, a Chevron refinery in the East Bay city of Richmond, California, discovered a pipeline leak that oozed about 700 gallons of a substance described interchangeably by Chevron as “a mixture of recovered oil and gasoline”, “petroleum and water mixture” and “hydrocarbons.”

Aquafornia news Daily Pilot

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Tentative order released for controversial Poseidon water project

The Santa Ana Regional Water Board released a tentative order Friday detailing proposed revisions to Poseidon Water’s controversial proposed $1.4-billion water desalination project in Huntington Beach. The board’s tentative order would make Poseidon responsible for five mitigation projects, including four projects within the Bolsa Chica Wetlands and the restoration of a 41.5-acre rocky reef offshore of Palos Verdes. 

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: Eat prey loon – lessons from juvenile loons in Wisconsin

Identifying familiar habitats can be beneficial, but which habitat traits actually matter? A new study examines this question for juvenile common loons (Gavia immer) in lakes in northern Wisconsin. In central California we generally see loons in the winter, mostly in coastal ocean waters and also at some large reservoirs in Solano and Yolo County. But in summer, these large birds are icons of northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, New England, and Canada.

Aquafornia news KPBS

State launches Salton Sea restoration effort

California is poised to begin the first major restoration project at the Salton Sea. The state is investing more than $200 million in a project that will create flooded ponds and other habitats on the exposed lakebed at the southern edge of the lake.

Aquafornia news Lexology

Blog: Regulatory changes on the horizon for California State Water Resources Control Board

On December 17, 2020, the Sacramento County Superior Court issued a ruling limiting the ability of the California State Water Resources Control Board (“State Board”) to implement its adopted statewide wetlands and Waters of the State (“WOTS”) regulations. 

Aquafornia news Sacramento Business Journal

Cascadian Farm supports Nature Conservancy’s water research

An organic food company has committed $750,000 to studying a sustainable farming strategy in the Sacramento Valley. Cascadian Farm, a manufacturer of cereal, granola, granola bars and frozen vegetables, announced the partnership with The Nature Conservancy last week. The money will fund a trial on a strategy that could turn working farmland into wildlife habitat, regenerate groundwater and reduce flood risk.

Aquafornia news East Bay Times

Environmental groups file appeal to stop 469-home development near Newark wetlands

Environmentalist groups aiming to stop a major controversial housing development at the edge of Newark’s wetlands are appealing an Alameda County court decision that would allow the project to go forward, marking the latest volley in a decades-long fight over the best use for the land. The Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge and the Center for Biological Diversity … said the development “would contribute to the loss of Bay wetlands and wildlife habitat,” such as the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse, and could worsen flooding in nearby areas.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Lake County News

Updates to conservation easements strengthens protection for farmlands, grasslands and wetlands

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday released the final rule for its Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, or ACEP, which enables agricultural producers and private landowners to protect farmlands, grasslands, and wetlands with conservation easements. The rule updates ACEP as directed by the 2018 Farm Bill and incorporates public comments made on an interim rule.

Aquafornia news CSR Wire

News Release: Cascadian farm commits $750,000 to The Nature Conservancy to rebuild wildlife habitat and restore groundwater on farmland in the Sacramento Valley

Cascadian Farm, a pioneering brand in the organic movement, announced its commitment of $750,000 to The Nature Conservancy to help rebuild farmland in California’s Sacramento Valley. The two-year investment will focus on partnering with farmers to rebuild wildlife habitat and regenerate groundwater on more than 25 million square feet, equal to 600 acres of farmland, in this key sourcing region for the brand.

Aquafornia news The Reporter

New federal law may boost Delta, Bay restoration, protection

The major Northern California waterways may be getting a renewed lease on their ecological and economic lives, as federal support for protection and restoration of the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary could nearly double in coming years following enactment last month of the Protect and Restore America’s Estuaries Act. As one of 28 “estuaries of national significance” eligible for funding through the new law, the San Francisco Estuary and other estuaries along every U.S. coast each may now receive as much as $1 million a year in federal aid…

Aquafornia news East County Today

Blog: Clean Water Act bill introduced to clean up all waterways by 2050

Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister), Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) and California Coastkeeper Alliance introduced the California Clean Water Act, Assembly Bill 377, legislation that will put California back on track to eliminate impaired waterways and make all waters statewide suitable for conversion to drinking water, swimming, and fishing by 2050.

Aquafornia news Newswire

News release: California Tule removal bullrush aquatic vegetation weed control service launch

DK Environmental announced its tule removal service for water systems of all sizes throughout California. The company uses amphibious aquatic maintenance equipment to clear blocked waterways. DK Environmental, an aquatic vegetation removal company based in Los Gatos, California, announced its tule removal service. … Aimed at responsibly reducing problematic tule that grows abundantly in California’s marshes, DK Environmental’s tule removal service relies on its fleet of amphibious aquatic maintenance equipment to clear tule from water systems of all sizes, from large lakes to small ponds.

Aquafornia news Water & Wastes Digest

Agricultural developer agrees to pay Clean Water Act fines

A California agricultural developer has agreed to pay a civil penalty to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) on property near the Sacramento River in Tehama County, California. The developer must also preserve streams and wetlands, effect mitigation, and be subject to a prohibitive injunction, according to the Department of Justice. Roger J. LaPant Jr. originally purchased the property in 2011 and sold it in 2012 to Duarte Nursery Inc. which sold it that same year to Goose Pond Ag Inc. 

Aquafornia news KQED

California environmental officials switch to offense as Biden takes charge

Sacramento, at least, is excited about Washington’s new climate direction. Jared Blumenfeld and Wade Crowfoot head California’s environmental protection and natural resources agencies, respectively. Last week, they discussed with KQED’s Kevin Stark what the change from the Trump to Biden administrations might mean for California. … The president’s order to triple protected land and waterways across the country should also infuse the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management with badly needed funds. 

Aquafornia news Smithsonian Magazine

California’s Central Valley and the Colorado River Delta are epicenters for North America’s migratory birds

Migratory birds have followed the same flight patterns for millennia, searching for abundant food resources. The journey is often risky, and birds undergo harsh weather patterns—from storms that can throw them off course to dry arid landscapes that provide little to no food resources. A new study published this week in Ornithological Applications found tens of millions of birds depend on the river and wetland habitats weaved within the Colorado River Delta and California’s Central Valley while they make their journey across the dry western landscapes, reports Corryn Wetzel for Audubon.

Aquafornia news City of Watsonville

News release: City of Watsonville levee embankment stabilization project

[FEMA] intends to provide federal financial assistance … to the Santa Cruz County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, Zone 7 in Santa Cruz County, California, to install a sheet pile wall through the center of the existing Pajaro River levee adjacent to the southern edge of the Watsonville Wastewater Treatment Plant. The proposed action would protect the plant flooding if the levee is compromised by river erosion, slope failure, and seepage.

Aquafornia news KALW

One Planet: California’s ecological crisis and our relationship with its wild places

On this edition of Your Call’s One Planet Series, we are speaking with Sacramento Bee environment reporter Ryan Sabalow about his five part investigation, Nothing Wild: California’s relationship with the animal kingdom is broken. Can it be fixed? Invasive grasses are causing fires to explode, thousands of water birds are dying miserable deaths, and the sage grouse is at risk of disappearing forever. Sabalow explores California’s ecological crisis and our relationship with its wild places.

Aquafornia news DW

How wetlands are linked to our climate

Why should we care about wetlands?  Although wetlands cover less than 4% of the Earth’s surface, 40% of all animal species live or reproduce in them. One-third of all organic matter on our planet is stored in places like the gigantic Pantanal wetland in western Brazil, the Sudd floodplain in southern Sudan or the Wasjugan Marsh in western Siberia.  Wetlands filter, store and supply the planet with water and food — more than a billion people worldwide depend on them for sustenance. They also play a key role in regulating the planet’s climate…

Aquafornia news Bay Area Monitor

New Delta carbon market could boost Bay Area water security

The Delta Conservancy has launched a new initiative aimed at fixing all these problems — carbon emissions, soil subsidence, and water security — at the same time. Called the Delta Carbon Program, the initiative entails a two-pronged solution. First, subsided islands are flooded, protecting them from the air and so arresting further soil and carbon loss. Then the newly inundated islands are re-vegetated with water-loving plants that rebuild peat, reversing subsidence and so reducing the risk of levee failure.

Aquafornia news Patch

2 new lawsuits call Ballona Wetlands restoration a climate threat

Two new lawsuits filed Thursday are challenging the legality of the State of California Department of Fish & Wildlife’s approval of a major project that could harm the Ballona Wetlands and the abundance of diversity of species there. Additionally, climate impacts and flood risk are significant issues not adequately addressed by this proposed huge industrial alteration.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Feds ’shortchange’ San Francisco Bay – local Congress members want money for restoration

San Francisco Bay is dwarfed by the Chesapeake Bay, Puget Sound and other treasured estuaries when it comes to federal funding, and California lawmakers want that changed. On Thursday, a contingent of Bay Area members of Congress introduced legislation that would boost federal money tenfold for restoration of the region’s signature waters. Under the proposal, $50 million a year for five years would flow to bay projects that reduce water pollution, support wildlife, revive wetlands and protect shoreline communities from sea level rise.

Aquafornia news Patch

City to trace mystery water at Concord Naval Weapons Station

In order to get a wetlands permit needed for development of the former Concord Naval Weapons Station to move ahead, the City of Concord will investigate the source of water unexpectedly found near the one-time airfield north of Willow Pass Road. The Concord City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to move $12,000 of previously approved loan money to aid in the study of where water is coming from on that land, located east of Olivera Road near the Pixieland Amusement Park.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Blog: The floodplain forward – Bypasses and fish habitat

Today, 95% of the Central Valley’s historical floodplains are cut off from the river by levees. Built in the early 1900s to combat devastating floods, levees and bypasses were constructed to corral mighty rivers and push water quickly through the system. Even before invasive species, large rim dams, and Delta water export facilities were introduced into the system, salmon populations started to dramatically decline with the construction of the levees. Simply put, the levees prevented Chinook salmon from accessing their primary food source. 

Aquafornia news UC Davis

News release: Eye-popping research helps inform salmon and floodplain management

If you look deep into the eyes of a fish, it will tell you its life story. Scientists from the University of California, Davis, demonstrate that they can use stable isotopic analysis of the eye lenses of freshwater fish—including threatened and endangered salmon—to reveal a fish’s life history and what it ate along the way. They conducted their study, published today in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution, through field-based experiments in California’s Central Valley. The study carries implications for managing floodplains, fish and natural resources; prioritizing habitat restoration efforts; and understanding how landscape disturbances impact fish.

Aquafornia news Audubon

Blog: Tens of millions of western birds depend on these two regions during migration

Each spring and fall, an estimated 1 billion birds migrate through the Pacific Flyway, which snakes down from Alaska, along the West Coast of the United States and Mexico, and into South America. … Now new research reveals what has been long-suspected but never confirmed: California’s Central Valley and the Colorado River Delta are hotspots for North America’s migratory landbirds. 

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Environment experts to Newsom: Now’s your moment

Back in September, while wildfires raged and the pandemic wore on, California Gov. Gavin Newsom held a virtual press conference to announce a bold new climate goal. By 2035, he said, all new cars and trucks sold in California would be zero-emission, in order to seriously curtail climate warming-emissions. … But while Newsom has grabbed attention for his clean car policy … environmental experts say he hasn’t moved boldly enough on ecological issues… Last summer, the governor issued a water resilience portfolio that outlines 142 state actions to help the state deal with water as the climate crisis worsens….

Aquafornia news Water Finance & Management

Radhika Fox appointed to lead EPA’s Office of Water

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the selection of US Water Alliance CEO Radhika Fox as the Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water. Fox was a Day One Presidential Appointee in the Biden-Harris Administration. She will serve as the Acting Assistant Administrator for Water.

Aquafornia news The Pagosa Springs SUN

Opinion: When water dries up, it can be deadly

In Oregon, the Klamath Basin wildlife refuges have fallen into their winter silence now. The huge, clamorous flocks of geese that fill the sky during migration have moved south.  This summer, a different silence gripped the basin. A dead silence. The 90,000 acres of marshes and open water that make up the Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges are a small remnant of vast wetlands that once filled this region on the Oregon-California border.
-Written by Pepper Trail, a contributor to Writers on the Range and a conservation biologist in Ashland, Ore.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

At dawn of Biden administration, opportunities for water systems

President Joe Biden has made his priorities clear: subduing the pandemic, economic recovery, climate action, and racial equity. … Climate has received top-billing within the president’s environmental agenda, but water infrastructure and water systems could also see their status lifted. Some observers are hopeful that the new administration and the Democratic Congress will uncork federal water spending that has been steady but flat in recent years. 

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn | Attorneys at Law

Blog: Sacramento Superior Court rejects State Water Board’s attempt to apply Water Quality Control Plan to waters not covered by the Clean Water Act

The Sacramento County Superior Court recently issued a final decision in San Joaquin Tributaries Authority v. California State Water Resources Control Board, finding that the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) is not authorized to adopt a state-level water quality control plan for waters that are not classified as waters of the United States. As a result, the State Board is prohibited from applying the Water Quality Control Plan for Inland Surface Waters and Enclosed Bays and Estuaries of California (Inland Surface Waters WQCP) to wetlands that do not meet the federal definition of waters of the United States.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

LA has plan for network of waterways in the land of cars

On Wednesday, Los Angeles County officials released their preliminary master plan for the river “reimagined” to support both ecosystems and people who live along [the LA River's] 51-mile corridor. … The long-awaited plan — the result of five years of input from community residents, organizations and people like renowned architect Frank Gehry — will provide a foundation as the region balances its duty to protect properties from flooding with the need for more access to natural environments.

Aquafornia news North Coast Journal

Our newest public space: Samoa Dunes and Wetlands Conservation Area

You may know it as Dog Ranch or perhaps Dead Man’s Drop Forest, but forget that. The parcels immediately to the west of Samoa Bridge [near Humboldt Bay] are now officially the Samoa Dunes and Wetlands Conservation Area. “We’re looking to re-introduce this place to our community,” says Mike Cipra, who heads up Friends of the Dunes, the new titleholder of the 357 acres. “This property is a fantastic jewel for our local community and we want to emphasize just how special it is with the name.”

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Salton Sea habitat project breaks ground near New River

Construction began this week on a 4,110-acre wetlands project on the Salton Sea’s playa near the mouth of the highly polluted New River, the California Department of Natural Resources announced Wednesday. Called the Species Conservation Habitat Project, the $206.5 million plan will build ponds and wetlands along the small delta to provide wildlife habitat and suppress dust. The final design includes 340 additional acres of coverage as compared to older projections, and work led by Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. is expected to be finished by 2024.

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Aquafornia news Capital Press

Pendulum swings in Clean Water Act regulation

The regulatory pendulum is expected to swing toward stricter Clean Water Act enforcement, though experts say the Biden administration’s changes probably won’t be immediate. Farmers and environmentalists have been in a political tug-of-war over the law’s scope for years, largely due to ambiguous legal interpretations of the statute. While Democrats will now have power over Congress, their majority is too slim to make changes to the law, said Don Parrish, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s senior director of regulatory relations.

Aquafornia news The Log

CDFW approves restoration project for Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has certified the final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for a project aiming to restore the largest coastal wetlands complex in Los Angeles County and increase public access to outdoor recreation and natural spaces in one of the most densely populated areas in the world. The Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve (BWER) project will enhance and establish native coastal wetlands and upland habitat…

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Opinion: 3 critical lessons California offers to improve restoration of land on a global scale

California has lost more than 90% of its wetlands since the arrival of European settlers. Wetlands play an increasingly crucial role in absorbing excess water and protecting coastal and inland communities from flooding. They also provide critical habitat for wildlife, including a variety of species found nowhere else on Earth, some of which are at risk of blinking out of existence…. we’ve identified three critical lessons California has to offer the world to improve restoration on a global scale…
-Written by Julie Rentner, president of River Partners, and Manuel Oliva, CEO of Point Blue Conservation Science.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Researchers exploring how San Diego County wetlands can be part of climate-saving strategies

Buried in San Diego County’s lagoons are centuries worth of carbon, cached in muddy stockpiles that scientists say could help combat climate change. Recently, scientists with the conservation organization Wildcoast and Scripps Institution of Oceanography started studying how much carbon coastal wetlands can capture, and how to restore these environments to boost that capacity.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

In Trump administration’s final-days deregulatory push, Army Corps reduces stream protections

The Army Corps of Engineers finalized a rule on January 4 that further retracts federal protections for the nation’s smallest streams. The revisions to the nationwide permits, which authorize the filling and dredging of waterways, are one of a flurry of environmental deregulatory actions federal agencies are taking in the final days of the Trump administration, even though there is the possibility with a Democratic Congress that the Biden administration will reverse them.

Aquafornia news The Grunion

Authority certifies environmental report for Los Cerritos wetlands restoration

A study detailing environmental impacts of restoration efforts at the Los Cerritos Wetlands (LCW) was unanimously certified Thursday, Jan. 8, by the LCW Authority.

Aquafornia news Lexology

Blog: Santa Clara Valley Water District v. San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board

In a published opinion filed December 29, 2020, the First District Court of Appeal affirmed a judgment denying a petition for writ of mandate filed by the Santa Clara Valley Water District (District) challenging waste discharge requirements (WDRs) belatedly imposed by a responsible agency, the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (Board), on lead agency District’s flood control project…. The case involved highly unique facts, and a number of interesting legal issues concerning the Board’s authority under the Federal Clean Water Act (CWA), the state Porter-Cologne Act, and CEQA.

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Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

Harnessing rice fields to resurrect California’s endangered salmon

California’s labyrinthine system of dams and levees cut off once roaring rivers from millions of acres of their floodplains, drastically reducing the habitat and food salmon need to thrive. Climate change may hasten extinctions by raising water temperatures and disrupting flows with bigger floods and more frequent and severe droughts, which also threaten to reignite conflicts over increasingly scarce water. But such dire prospects have inspired a novel alliance in one of the most productive agricultural valleys in the country, which has turned adversaries into allies to offer salmon and other threatened wildlife a lifeline.

Aquafornia news Vox

Why the American West is fighting for water protections

Since the Clean Water Act passed in 1972, the assumption has been that all waterways are protected from pollution… But the Trump administration has managed to successfully chip away at environmental protections in the US, including actions like 2020’s implementation of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. The rule redefined which waterways are under the jurisdiction of and protected by the Clean Water Act, omitting many wetlands and non-perennial water sources, which means some areas of the country are impacted more than others. 

Aquafornia news San Diego Union-Tribune

Lake Hodges water levels dry up prospects for grebes

For years, pairs of grebes would zoom across the water at Lake Hodges in a dazzling mating dance, and then build their nests on mats of dried brush suspended above the waterline. This year, some of the birds are still pairing up, but their nesting area near Interstate 15 no longer floods with seasonal rains, and can’t sustain them. The eastern finger of the lake, which long alternated between riparian woodland and seasonal ponds, is permanently drained because of state-ordered changes to the water level.

Aquafornia news City News Service Los Angeles

Petition against Ballona Wetlands project reaches 8,000+

A petition in opposition to a Ballona Wetlands restoration project approved by the state had more than 8,800 signatures as of Monday. Defend Ballona Wetlands, which plans on challenging the restoration in court, contends the project will harm animals living in the reserve, including endangered species and allege the state’s plan is motivated by bond money and private interests, including a Southern California Gas Co. gas storage facility under the wetlands.

Aquafornia news Cox Castle & Nicholson

Blog: Court rules against California’s wetlands regulatory program

The Sacramento Superior Court delivered a serious blow to California’s regulatory program for the protection of wetlands and other waters of the State. The State’s wetland protection program (commonly known as the “Procedures”), which became effective in May, was intended to create a regulatory structure to fill the gap left by recent Trump administration regulations that dramatically narrowed Federal wetland protections.  Ironically, the court’s order prohibits the State of California from applying the Procedures to any waters other than those already protected by Federal law, thus leaving in place the very regulatory gap that the Procedures were intended to fill.

Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Trump administration advances plan to increase San Luis Reservoir water storage

The Bureau of Reclamation sent Congress the final feasibility report for the B.F. Sisk Dam Raise and Reservoir Expansion Project. This marks an important step forward in returning water supply reliability to south-of-Delta farmers, local communities, and wildlife refuges.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Why disease is killing California’s wild ducks and shorebirds

A decade ago, a diverse coalition of tribes, farmers and conservationists hashed out water-sharing settlements that would have given the [Klamath basin] refuges a steady supply of water each year, and in the process stopped years of lawsuits, protests and acrimony. But Congress killed their efforts. Now the refuges — and Lower Klamath in particular — are at risk of drying up. And the fighting over water will only continue as the watershed grows increasingly dry from climate change.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Blog: California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta – a short history of big changes

Deltas globally adjust with changes and fluctuations in external conditions, internal dynamics, and human management.  This is a short history of big changes to California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) in the past and present, and its anticipated future.  This history is important for understanding how many of the Delta’s problems have developed, changed, and continue to change.

Aquafornia news The Associated Press

State approves contentious Ballona Wetlands restoration plan

A plan to restore the largest coastal wetlands complex in Los Angeles County has received state approval as it advances through a lengthy process. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife said this week that it has certified the final environmental impact to restore the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog

Picture this research – a photo blog from the Center for Watershed Sciences

Holidays are a natural time of introspection on who we are, what we do, and why. Towards a bit of our own self-reflection, some researchers from UC Davis’ Center for Watershed Sciences (CWS) have each contributed a photo and short description of their work. We hope you enjoy reading about us and learning even more about us. It is hopefully a soft bookend to a wild 2020!

Aquafornia news Audubon Magazine

A struggling California marsh gets an overhaul to prepare for rising seas

The sun shines meekly through a veil of morning fog and wildfire smoke while several figures in orange vests, hard hats, and face masks move slowly through a marsh on the north shore of San Francisco Bay. …It’s early October at the mouth of Sonoma Creek, where an unusual conservation project that broke ground five years ago is nearing the finish line. Audubon California and partner agencies are turning what was once a 400-acre stagnant backwater into a thriving wetland ecosystem that will serve as a refuge from rising seas for decades to come.

Aquafornia news Nature

Targeted wetland restoration could greatly reduce nitrogen pollution

The beneficial effects of wetlands on water quality are well documented, and wetlands are widely used both in urban and rural settings to remove pollution arising from human activities. The biogeochemical conditions in wetlands particularly favor the removal of nitrate, which is often the dominant form of nitrogen pollution in water.

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Aquafornia news Phys.org

Restoring wetlands near farms would dramatically reduce water pollution

Runoff from fertilizer and manure application in agricultural regions has led to high levels of nitrate in groundwater, rivers, and coastal areas. These high nitrate levels can threaten drinking water safety and also lead to problems with algal blooms and degradation of aquatic ecosystems. Previous research has shown that wetlands improve water quality, but how much of an impact are wetlands having on nitrate removal now, and what improvements could wetland restoration deliver in the future?

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Blog: Quest for water in the Kern River continues

The steady drumbeat of support to get more water flowing in the Kern River through Bakersfield continued Tuesday at the State Water Resources Control Board. During the public comment portion of the meeting three speakers from Bakersfield and Kern County’s political realm urged board members to finally hear — and grant — a decade-old petition by the City of Bakersfield to appropriate water on the river to run through the heart of town.

Aquafornia news Dredging Today

Supporting levee projects throughout Sacramento Valley

Working with Rep. Jerry McNerney, Rep. John Garamendi expedited completion of the Army Corps feasibility study for the San Francisco Bay to Stockton Navigation Improvement Project. This feasibility study examines deepening the John F. Baldwin and Stockton Deepwater Ship Channels from their existing depths of -35 feet mean lower low water to -40 feet and beneficially reusing dredged sediment for marsh restoration of subsided islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news Northern California Water Association

Advancing water supplies for Gray Lodge Wildlife Area

The Biggs-West Gridley Water District, Ducks Unlimited and the Bureau of Reclamation recently announced the completion of Phase II (of five total phases) of the water supply project for the world-renowned Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. 

Aquafornia news San Mateo Daily Journal

Feds, Cargill appeal Redwood City salt pond ruling

Seeking to overturn a federal district court determination that the Cargill salt ponds in Redwood City are covered by federal Clean Water Act protections, the Environmental Protection Agency under the Trump administration and Cargill Inc. representatives filed appeals to the ruling this week. 

Aquafornia news InsideClimate News

California farmers work to create a climate change buffer for migratory water birds

In the Central Valley, where agricultural and urban development have claimed 95 percent of the region’s historic wetlands, flooded croplands provide food and habitat that help egrets, sandhill cranes and other iconic water birds get through the winter. But many farmers are moving toward wine grapes, olives and other “permanent crops” that don’t provide the same habitat benefits as row crops. And now these land use changes, combined with the uncertain effects of a warming world, have left scientists scrambling to safeguard critical habitat in one of most important wintering regions for water birds in North America. 

Aquafornia news The Coast News Group

Oceanside advances plans for Loma Alta Wetlands project

With more than $500,000 in combined state and federal funding and the conceptual restoration planning for the Loma Alta Wetlands Enhancement Project complete, the project is one step closer to coming to fruition.

Aquafornia news KPBS

San Diego coastal marshes may become important tools to battle climate change

San Diego researchers and environmentalists are taking a close look at a pocket habitat that may become an important tool as the climate changes.

Aquafornia news Congressional Research Service

Report: Salton Sea restoration

The federal role in restoring the Salton Sea is limited to a handful of projects that address issues on lands in and around the sea that are managed by federal agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management, and Department of Defense. Unlike in areas such as Lake Tahoe, the Everglades, and the Chesapeake Bay, the federal government does not have a comprehensive program to restore the Salton Sea.

Aquafornia news Daily Breeze

Torrance’s Madrona Marsh wins grants for restoration and education

Torrance’s Madrona Marsh Preserve and Nature Center will, by March, finally see the overdue restoration of its vernal pools, critically important wetland habitat home to numerous rare plants and animals, including two species of fairy shrimp, at a cost of about $470,000.

Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News Release: Reclamation, Biggs-West Gridley Water District and Ducks Unlimited complete major milestone in Gray Lodge Wildlife Area water supply project

The Bureau of Reclamation, Ducks Unlimited, Inc. and Biggs-West Gridley Water District completed the second phase of a five-phase construction project to improve water conveyance for the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. This milestone includes increasing capacity of two major canals that feed water to the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, home to more than a million waterfowl annually.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Oceanside gets $175,000 for wetlands enhancement

Oceanside has been awarded a $175,000 federal grant for the final design of the Loma Alta Slough Wetlands Enhancement Project, which will restore about six acres with improved habitat, trails, informational signs and possibly a connection to the Coastal Rail Trail.

Aquafornia news High Country News

A little fish that’s mighty as a mountain

In early November, the Domestic Names Committee of the U.S. Board of Geographic Names voted unanimously to name a peak in Nevada’s Amargosa Valley, outside of Death Valley National Park, for the endangered Devils Hole and the Ash Meadows Amargosa pupfishes.

Aquafornia news Sierra Sun

Invasive species removal begins in Taylor Creek marsh

Crews began work this month in the marsh system of Taylor and Tallac creeks in the Southwest portion of the Tahoe Basin to remove aquatic invasive plants from an abundant and impacted marsh ecosystem, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency announced.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Trials evaluate alfalfa fields for groundwater recharge

Alfalfa is proving in University of California studies to be remarkably resilient when flooded with large amounts of water early in the year to refill ground depleted by deficit irrigation, or to recharge groundwater drawn down by pumping.

Aquafornia news KRCR TV

10 Humboldt fisheries restoration projects receive nearly $2.8 million in CDFW funding

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Tuesday it’s awarding $10.7 million for fisheries habitat restoration program projects. Ten out of the 27 projects selected by the CDFW are in Humboldt County and will receive a total of nearly $2.7 million of the funding.

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Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Pixley National Wildlife Refuge: A wintertime treasure

While many people look towards the mountains for accessing beautiful nature, the San Joaquin Valley Floor is home to many amazing sights of nature and in particular, birds. Not only is Tulare County home to over 100 types of birds, it is part of the Pacific Flyway – one of the most important bird migration paths in the world.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: Tom Birmingham: Why restoring tidal marsh is good for SJ Valley farmers

Why would a public water agency that exists primarily to serve irrigation water to farmers on the west side of Fresno and Kings counties undertake an ecosystem restoration project in the Delta?

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Rep. Ruiz introduces Salton Sea bill in Congress to provide funding

HR 8775, the Salton Sea Public Health and Environmental Protection Act, would create an interagency working group called the Salton Sea Management Council to coordinate projects around the lake’s receding shoreline.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Federal water rule expected to stay murky through Biden term

A Biden administration won’t be able to untangle the legal and regulatory “mess” under part of the Clean Water Act that determines which streams, wetlands and other waters get federal protection, legal scholars and litigators say.

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Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Westlands celebrates habitat restoration following third straight year of finding zero Delta Smelt

Westlands Water District announced Wednesday that it recently completed the Lower Yolo Restoration Project, which restored the habitat for fish and other wildlife species in part of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. … The land had been previously used for cattle grazing, and now it has transformed into tidal marsh, riparian and upland buffer habitat. 

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Aquafornia news UC Davis News

News release: Grazing and riparian restoration are compatible when you put in the work

Rangeland ecologists at the University of California, Davis, found that when ranchers invest even one week a year in practices that keep cows away from creeks — like herding, fencing and providing supplemental nutrition and water — they can improve riparian health by as much as 53 percent.

Aquafornia news Dredging Today

Malibu Creek project one step closer

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District and its partner, the California Department of Parks and Recreation, Angeles District, are one step closer on a project to restore Malibu Creek’s ecosystem after receiving support from the Corps’ top brass.

Aquafornia news Ducks Unlimited

Blog: Riches to rags: The decline of the Klamath Basin refuges

How did two of the most important waterfowl refuges in the United States reach such a sad state? The decline of the Tule Lake and Lower Klamath refuges was a hundred years in the making. There are no villains here; rather it is simply a tale of too little water to go around on an arid landscape.

Aquafornia news GVWire.com

Zero Delta smelt found in latest search; new habitat hopes to change that

An annual search for a tiny endangered and contentious fish in the sprawling California Delta has once again come up empty. The state’s annual Fall Midwater Trawl found no Delta smelt in September’s sampling of the critical waterway. … Hoping to reverse the trend, Westlands Water District and the California Department of Water Resources announced completion of a Delta habitat restoration project on Wednesday.

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Aquafornia news Patch.com

The battle over protecting Ballona Wetlands — and if they need it

For decades it’s been an environmental jewel wedged between the urban sprawl of Marina Del Rey and Playa Del Rey. But now the Ballona Wetlands State Ecological Reserve, home to diverse plant and animal wildlife, has become a battleground for conservationists and other activists.

Aquafornia news E&E News

How Biden could undo Trump’s water regulations

The incoming Biden administration is widely expected to undo President Trump’s regulatory rollbacks on a range of water rules including stream and wetland protections, drinking water contamination, and the permitting of controversial energy and flood projects.

Aquafornia news Central Coast Public Radio

King tides project documenting a rising sea level future

“King tides are about one-to-two feet higher than an average tide, and it turns out that is about what we expect to see in California in the next few decades from sea level rise,” said Annie Cohut Frankel of the California Coastal Commission. “We invite the public to look at how these high tides are impacting our public beaches, our beach access ways, wetlands, roads and other coastal infrastructure.”

Aquafornia news Water Finance & Management

Senators propose level EPA funding for 2021, no WIFIA cuts

The U.S. EPA’s water infrastructure financing programs would be in line for approximately level funding next year under a plan for FY21 appropriations released by Senate Republicans last week. … The Republicans’ proposal would provide EPA with just under $9.1 billion next year, roughly in line with the agency’s FY20 appropriation.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Bernhardt order gives states veto authority over Land and Water Conservation Fund

A new order from Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, published Friday afternoon, would, among other things, essentially give state and local jurisdictions veto power over how communities spend and match grants through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which funds access to recreation in states and federal land acquisitions.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Costa Mesa’s Fairview Park Wetlands, once seen as a boon, is bogged down by deficiencies

Reported deficiencies in the design and construction of the water delivery system have resulted in poor water circulation that has caused algae to overbloom, while cattails and duckweed are growing like wildfire along pond shores, creating conditions ripe for mosquitoes. Fairview Park administrator Cynthia D’Agosta said maintenance costs have ballooned far beyond the annual $40,000 anticipated at the outset of the work.

Aquafornia news Politico

Friday Top of the Scroll: How California will shape U.S. environmental policy under Biden

“Probably water allocation and climate change would be the two big pivots and increased opportunity for collaboration between California and the federal government after 4 years of conflicts and really outright warfare,” said Rick Frank, a former California chief deputy attorney general. He is now a professor at UC Davis law school.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Overlooked Army Corps rulemaking would shrink federal stream protections

The Army Corps of Engineers … is considering another rule change that would also shrink federal protection of small streams, ecologists and lawyers say. The Corps said in its proposal it is acting in response to the president’s order to review regulations that burden energy development. Some of the proposed changes will have essentially the same consequence as the Trump administration’s contraction of the Clean Water Act…

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Aquafornia news KYMA News

Restoration projects at the Salton Sea

Restoration projects are finally coming to the Salton Sea and New River. Nearly $47 million dollars have been secured in California’s state budget for the next year to begin mitigation efforts at the Salton Sea and the New River.

Aquafornia news Fairfield Daily Republic

Seasonal wetlands ‘best success story’ of repurposing rice straw

Burning rice straw after harvest was a traditional and economical practice that was phased out in 2000. … The side effect is it has created millions of acres of seasonal wetlands in the rice-growing region of the state – and with a variety of conservation contracts, provided additional income for growers whose costs rose when straw burning was prohibited.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Law

Trump leaves unfinished business in environmental litigation

Clarity on which wetlands and waterways count as “waters of the U.S.” or WOTUS, subject to federal oversight, has been elusive for years. … Trump officials’ narrow definition … is facing lawsuits in a half-dozen federal courts. New litigation is guaranteed if Biden officials attempt to revert to the Obama-era rule or craft their own program.

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Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: DWR certifies final EIR for Delta’s largest tidal habitat restoration project

The Department of Water Resources has moved one step closer to starting the Delta’s largest multi-benefit tidal restoration and flood improvement project… Lookout Slough is in unincorporated Solano County, near the border of Yolo County. It is adjacent to additional tidal restoration efforts, including Yolo Flyway Farms and Lower Yolo Ranch, to create a contiguous wetland restoration complex spanning 16,000 acres in the Cache Slough region of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Rice fields provide crucial refuge for migrating birds

As a rice farmer in Yolo County, Kim Gallagher should be used to the sight of thousands of birds swarming her flooded fields this time of year—but when she sees a flock take off, scattering the sky with a confetti of fluttering wings, her enjoyment is clear.

Aquafornia news Santa Clara Valley Water News

Blog: Valley Water builds a new wetland and restores Llagas Creek

A former quarry in south Santa Clara County will be humming with fish and wildlife in the coming months as birds, frogs, turtles and a variety of other species benefit from a newly created wetland habitat and a restored Llagas Creek.

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Aquafornia news Fairfield Daily Republic

Agency approves 2 new Measure AA projects for Solano region

The Suisun Resource Conservation District has been awarded $454,624 for the first phase of the Suisun Marsh Fish Screen Rehabilitation Project. … American Canyon in July received a $450,000 Measure AA grant for the American Canyon Wetland Restoration Plan.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Opinion: Fight climate change, preserve nature in one stroke

The Protecting America’s Wilderness Act (H.R. 2546) would protect and restore over one million acres of public lands and well over 500 miles of rivers throughout the state, including in Northwest California’s wild lands and along the Central Coast.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

World’s fish scientists appeal for action to reduce greenhouse gases

In their statement, the scientists laid out the grim picture that has emerged from thousands of peer-reviewed studies: Climate change is inflicting extensive harm to aquatic ecosystems, both in freshwater and the oceans. The degradation of these ecosystems, which are among the most threatened on Earth, is accelerating.

Aquafornia news Spectrum 1 News

Environmental groups torn over fight for Ballona Wetlands

Many who oppose the restoration project say it includes a plan to install new infrastructure adjacent to the wetlands. “The last thing we need when we are in a crisis of climate change is to build new fossil fuel infrastructure,” said representatives for The Sierra Club Ballona Wetlands Restoration Committee. And who is investing in fossil fuel use? SoCalGas owns a natural gas facility adjacent to the wetlands.

Aquafornia news Fairfield Daily Republic

SF estuary flows into restored marsh for first time since 1800s

The first phase of a highly touted tidal marsh recovery plan was completed this week when a levee was breached and the restored marsh area was reconnected to the San Francisco Bay estuary for the first time since the late 1800s. The first phase of the Montezuma Wetlands Restored Tidal Marsh Project was completed Tuesday.

Aquafornia news Woodland Daily Democrat

Collaboration between rice farmers and environmentalists working out nicely

When driving over the Yolo Bypass in the winter, one can’t help but notice the flooded fields. … Historically, the area used to be wetlands and floodplain habitat, but now, farmers grow rice there. After harvest, the fields are flooded to not only help decompose the leftover rice straw but also, as a surprise to many, recreate a surrogate habitat for many area wildlife, most notably birds.

Aquafornia news Audubon California

Salton Sea project receives $700k for restoration of Bombay Beach wetland

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has awarded a grant of $700,000 to Audubon California towards the stabilization, restoration and enhancement of wetlands near the town of Bombay Beach, on the Salton Sea.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Army Corps banks on wetland data EPA deemed ‘unreliable’

When the Trump administration finalized a key water rule last year, EPA said it considers current federal wetlands inventory data unreliable. The Army Corps of Engineers apparently didn’t get the memo.

Aquafornia news Heal the Bay

Blog: Changes are coming to the L.A. River

After the river was concretized, Indigenous People, activists, and environmental organizations demanded the restoration of the L.A. River and its tributaries back into a functioning natural river ecosystem. Now with the climate crisis, we can no longer afford to have a concretized river system that solely provides flood control.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

What has the Trump administration meant for water?

The desire for crystal clean water is one that the president repeats frequently, even dating to his 2016 presidential campaign. Immaculate water, he has also said. Clear water. Beautiful water. But the focus on appearances is superficial, according to a number of water advocates and analysts. Revisions to environmental rules that the administration has pursued during the first term of the Trump presidency will be detrimental to the nation’s waters, they said.

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Aquafornia news UC Rangelands

Blog: Riparian conservation in grazed landscapes

In the absence of appropriate management, excessive livestock damage can occur in sensitive habitats such as riparian areas that provide drinking water, forage, and microclimates sought by free-ranging livestock. … Fortunately, conservation-grazing management strategies can reduce the likelihood of livestock damage to riparian areas.

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Aquafornia news East Bay Times

Officials update Oakley council on creek flooding concerns

Contra Costa County Flood Control Division officials told the Oakley City Council recently that they’re still assessing the issues of concern caused by beavers that built a dam in an area of Marsh Creek near Creekside Park earlier this year. At the time, the city and county received a lot of backlash from the community and beyond because the county’s answer to the problem was to kill two beavers that built the dam.

Aquafornia news The Beach Reporter

Report gives California an ‘A’ grade for coastal protection

Most states are doing a mediocre job – and some even a poor one – of managing shorelines and preparing for sea-level rise, according to a new study by the Surfrider Foundation. California, on the other hand, is a “shining example” and has excelled in responding to changes along the coast, earning the only “A” grade in the nation — but the report found there are still areas that need improvement…

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Novato bayside levee project nears completion

Working over the last year, construction crews expect to complete a new 2-mile levee near Novato in the coming weeks. It will allow bay waters to eventually reclaim nearly 1,600 acres, or about 2.5 square miles, of former tidal marshes that had been diked and drained for agriculture and development during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.