Reservoirs have turned to dust. Farmers have fallow fields. But don’t expect the skiing to languish. Ski resorts have spent many decades amassing water rights and water storage and continuously upgrading snowmaking systems to make the state’s vibrant, multibillion-dollar resort industry virtually immune to drought — so long as this winter, farmers and ranchers have repeatedly said over the summer, is wetter than last winter and those critical reservoirs are filled to brimming come spring.
When the California Legislature created the “modern” water rights regulatory system more than a century ago, it focused exclusively on surface water, exempting groundwater from the permitting system. Yet in most watersheds, surface water and groundwater are closely linked. Actions that change one often have an impact on the other. The arbitrary legal divide has made it harder to manage the state’s water. But a recent law and a new court decision have done a better job of connecting surface water and groundwater.
Our state is in a fight over water policy that could hit all Californians squarely in their grocery carts. If the State Water Board’s unimpaired flow policy is adopted, significant additional amounts of water will be diverted away from farms and others and left in our rivers under the assumption that it will help native fish. Not only does science show this approach doesn’t work, we also know it will cause a variety of new problems.
Within a little more than a year, Santa Cruz is due to decide how best to weather future droughts that last multiple years. The city is set in the next few months to begin test driving several water projects, including top favorites where the city sends extra river and stream water to neighboring jurisdictions, rather than letting it pour out into the ocean.
Saving water saves energy. Simply tracing the origin and following the journey of Ventura County’s water shows the tremendous amount of pumping required to supply local water. Ventura County’s imported water originates in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, is pumped through a series of pipes and flows through canals for hundreds of miles, then is stored in Castaic Lake.
The rivers that once poured from the Sierra Nevada, thick with snowmelt and salmon, now languish amid relentless pumping, sometimes shriveling to a trickle and sparking a crisis for fish, wildlife and the people who rely on a healthy California delta. A state plan to improve these flows and avert disaster, however, has been mired in conflict and delays.
Hemet has filed a federal lawsuit against Dow Chemical and Shell Oil seeking reimbursement for the cost of removing a cancer-causing chemical from the city’s water wells. According to its Sept. 21 suit, the contaminated wells have been tainted by TCP, a “highly toxic substance” used until the 1980s to fumigate soil where crops were grown.
Filmmaker and Producer Jim Thebaut’s exploration of a future where water, food, and natural resources teeter on the edge of sustainability, “Beyond the Brink,” is now available for purchase on DVD. The feature-length documentary includes perspectives from ACWA Executive Director Timothy Quinn among several leaders within California water.
After years of stop-and-go talks, California and two other states that take water from the lower Colorado River are nearing an agreement on how to share delivery cuts if a formal shortage is declared on the drought-plagued waterway. Under the proposed pact, California — the river’s largest user — would reduce diversions earlier in a shortage than it would if the lower-basin states strictly adhered to a water-rights pecking order.
A San Francisco woman who tested her tap water with a store-bought kit and got a positive reading for pesticides, then posted the results to social media, has prompted the city to step up water testing not just near her home in the Sunset District but across the city. Officials at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission insisted Tuesday, for the second day in a row, that municipal supplies are safe to drink.
Seven Southwestern U.S. states that depend on the overtaxed Colorado River have reached landmark agreements on how to manage the waterway amid an unprecedented drought, including a commitment by California to bear part of the burden before it is legally required to do so, officials said Tuesday. The agreements are tentative and must be approved by multiple states and agencies as well as the U.S. government.
An estimated three-quarters of the water used by farms, ranches and dairies in California originates as snow in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, but the future viability of that resource is projected to be at heightened risk due to global climate change.
The controversial Poseidon desalination plant proposed for Huntington Beach is the least cost-effective option and carries the most fiscal risk of key water projects being pursued in Orange County, according to a newly released draft report.
Pasadena violated state water laws for three years by allowing new homes and commercial buildings to waste water, while failing to file conservation reports with the state resources agency. They also ignored a 25-year-old state law strengthened under the governor’s drought emergency of 2015 that ordered stringent reductions in landscape watering, according to a settlement agreement signed last month.
Nevada Irrigation District this week will host a special meeting to review a request by the South Yuba River Citizens League to stop work on its proposed Centennial Dam project until the district’s Raw Water Master Plan is complete The request will be discussed 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9, at the Grass Valley Veterans Memorial Building.
Rep. Jeff Denham, one of the nation’s most vulnerable Republicans, is trying desperately to shut down a state water plan that’s widely disliked in his district. But nothing has worked so far. One thing could: Yet another lawsuit between the Department of Justice and the state of California over the issue.
The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District partnered with the Friends of Bear Creek Stables to install two 10,000-gallon water tanks near the stables, which sit on approximately 15 acres at 19100 Bear Creek Road. … The wildfire water tank project is meant to help protect a wider swath of the open space preserve in case of fire.
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 ceremonies. …
The breakthrough came in April when governor’s office staff was discussing the drought with tribal officials.