The growing leadership of women in water. The Colorado River’s persistent drought and efforts to sign off on a plan to avert worse shortfalls of water from the river. And in California’s Central Valley, promising solutions to vexing water resource challenges.
These were among the topics that Western Water news explored in 2018.
We’re already planning a full slate of stories for 2019. You can sign up here to be alerted when new stories are published. In the meantime, take a look at what we dove into in 2018:
Amy Haas recently became the first non-engineer and the first woman to serve as executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission in its 70-year history, putting her smack in the center of a host of daunting challenges facing the Upper Colorado River Basin.
Yet those challenges will be quite familiar to Haas, an attorney who for the past year has served as deputy director and general counsel of the commission. (She replaced longtime Executive Director Don Ostler). She has a long history of working within interstate Colorado River governance, including representing New Mexico as its Upper Colorado River commissioner and playing a central role in the negotiation of the recently signed U.S.-Mexico agreement known as Minute 323.
For as long as agriculture has existed in the Central Valley,
farmers have pumped water from the ground to sustain their
livelihood and grow food consumed by much of the nation. This has
caused the ground in certain places to sink, sometimes
dramatically, eliminating valuable aquifer storage space that can
never be restored.
The California National Guard on Monday joined more than a
dozen other agencies to help the Yurok tribe combat rampant
marijuana grows that have threatened the reservation’s water
supply, harmed its salmon and interfered with cultural
The breakthrough came in April when governor’s office staff was
discussing the drought with tribal officials.
The plan won’t help with the immediate drought crisis, but the
document is important in the long run because it states the
county’s case for a share of state bond money – not only what’s
left of voter-approved Proposition 84, but also whatever funds
are available should a new water bond pass in November.
From the H2outlook blog, in a post by Metropolitan Water District
of Southern California General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger:
The state/federal effort to improve the reliability of water
supplies from Northern California and restore the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta is now in its seventh year, a testament to the time
and hard work necessary to come up with a lasting solution. From
the outside, it may be difficult to gauge progress of the Bay
Delta Conservation Program at any given time.
“Stockton could wind up as one of thousands of cities, irrigation
districts or landowners to be subjected to what are called
‘curtailments’ for the whole summer. Essentially, they are orders
to stop pumping water due to the drought.”
“Milpitas City Council voted unanimously May 20 to accept Santa
Clara Valley Water District’s plan to reduce the amount of
treated, potable water the city receives from its wholesaler by
20 percent due to the statewide drought.”
“State authorities Thursday began notifying hundreds of water
rights holders on the upper Russian River to stop diverting water
from the drought-stricken watershed because there isn’t enough
supply to go around.”
“California, supplier of nearly half of all US fruits, veggies,
and nuts, is on track to experience the driest year in the past
half millennium. Farms use about 80 percent of the state’s
‘developed water,’ or water that’s moved from its natural source
to other areas via pipes and aqueducts.”
“The Marin Municipal Water District is looking at the idea of
putting a $45 million pipeline on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge
to keep Marin wet in dry years. If that sounds familiar, the
water district did just that in the 1970s.”