Topic: San Joaquin Valley

Overview

San Joaquin Valley

The San Joaquin Valley stretches from across mid-California between coastal ranges in west and the Sierras on the east. The region includes large cities such as Fresno and Bakersfield, national parks such as Yosemite and Kings and fertile farmland and multi-billion dollar agriculture industry.

The federal Central Valley Project and State Water Project (about 30 percent of SWP water is used for irrigation) helped deliver water to the valley. Today, San Joaquin Valley crops include grapes, tomatoes, hay, sugar beets, nuts, cotton and a multitude of other fruits and vegetables. At the same time, water used to grow these crops has led to the need for agricultural drainage.

 

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Costa, Cox vote to OK subpoenas to probe Valley water boost

Reps. Jim Costa (D–Fresno) and TJ Cox (D–Fresno) joined fellow Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee to grant wide-ranging subpoena power to the committee’s chair, Raul Grijalva (D–Ariz.)… A key inquiry likely to be explored by Grijalva … is to dig into the Trump administration’s issuance of new biological opinions governing the Central Valley Project.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

Friday Top of the Scroll: Trump heads west, with California water in mind

President Trump will splash into California’s perpetually roiled water world next week when he drops by the southern San Joaquin Valley city that’s home to his biggest House booster and proximate to some of the state’s biggest dilemmas. With his expected visit to Bakersfield, Trump can affirm support for increased irrigation water deliveries, troll Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and reward House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in his hometown.

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Aquafornia news Merced Sun-Star

Groundwater sustainability cuts individual, agricultural use

Do you have something to say about the state-mandated sustainability plan that will limit individual and agricultural groundwater consumption in Merced County? The Jan. 31 deadline for local agencies to submit their 20-year sustainable groundwater management plan has passed, kicking off a 75-day public comment period before the Department of Water Resources reviews it.

Aquafornia news Sacramento News & Review

Blog: One tunnel, same distrust

State water officials offered an early look at the downsized California WaterFix project earlier this month, and conservationists and far-traveling indigenous tribes say they still believe it has the potential to permanently alter life in and around the Delta.

Aquafornia news Merced Sun-Star

Cleaning Atwater’s contaminated water is city’s highest priority, says council

The Atwater City Council this week unanimously declared its highest priority public improvement project to be restoring the city’s clean water. The urgent resolution came after a carcinogenic chemical, 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (TCP), was found in several Atwater wells — and in quantities exceeding state-approved maximum contaminant levels.

Aquafornia news Visalia Times Delta

Water bill designed to help bring clean water to Central Valley gets Republican opposition

A bill that could help disadvantaged Central Valley towns including ones in Tulare County provide safe and affordable drinking water is facing opposition by Republican critics, including GOP representatives from California. In December 2019, Rep. TJ Cox (D-Fresno) unveiled a $100 million proposal to make improvements in small towns suffering from contaminated drinking water.

Aquafornia news Valley Economy

Blog: Delta tunnel EIR scoping comments: Finance drives operation, so feasibility study should come first not last

The EIR scoping meetings for the single-tunnel delta conveyance facility (DCF) began this week. My comments focus on two critical areas where DWR appears to be repeating their mistakes of their past despite the Newsom administration’s stated intention of taking a fresh approach

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Two valley congressmen have a say in whether House Dems probe water boost

Wednesday, the House Natural Resources Committee is scheduled to vote on a resolution granting Committee Chair Raul Grijalva (D–Ariz.) wide-ranging subpoena power over the Interior Department. One inquiry in the hopper: a closer look at the process that yielded the Trump Administration’s freshly-released biological opinions governing the federally-operated Central Valley Project.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

‘Framework’ aims to aid water agreements

In the coming weeks and months, the Newsom administration, water users and conservation groups will continue to refine a framework for potential voluntary agreements intended to benefit salmon and other fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Opinion: Hard to swallow Newsom’s “voluntary agreements” under the threat of doom

First things first: you’d be wise to forget everything you’ve read or heard recently about “voluntary agreements,” which according to the usual suspects, will bring a just and peaceful end the seemingly never-ending battle over California water. Not true. Not even close.

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Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Manteca’s first water system

Achille Baccilieri — a man who built the region’s first commercial winery as well as donated land for what ended up being Manteca’s first municipal park — established the first water system in 1900. Known as the Manteca Water Works, by 1913 it served less than 200 residents in the Manteca town site.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: How oil & gas states did (and did not) protect land and water in 2019

Regulating the day-to-day details of an oil and gas operation can be a complex task, with both regulators and operators working hard to prevent leaks, explosions and other threats to worker safety, community health and the environment. … That’s why we track what states are up to on a consistent basis.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Opinion: Stop farmers’ poisoning of Bay Area drinking water supply

The Central Valley Regional Water Board has issued a 25-year permit for toxic discharges of agricultural wastewater into the San Joaquin River and Bay-Delta… Fishermen and environmental groups have appealed the water board’s decision to the state of California, leaving the future of this permit uncertain.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Gov. Newsom softens his fight against Trump in California water wars

The governor’s newest proposal signals Newsom may be softening his fight against Trump, but opening another battle. Newsom may have traded a court fight with Trump for a legal battle with the very environmentalists the Democratic administration has seen as allies.

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Aquafornia news GVWire.com

Extra $11M coming for Friant-Kern Canal repairs

Repair work on the Friant-Kern Canal is getting $11 million in new federal funding, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Tuesday. The funds are coming from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. … McCarthy also announced $8 million in funding for design and other pre-construction work to raise Shasta Dam in northern California by 18.5 feet at a cost of $1.4 billion.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California’s multibillion-dollar problem: the toxic legacy of old oil wells

Across much of California, fossil fuel companies are leaving thousands of oil and gas wells unplugged and idle, potentially threatening the health of people living nearby and handing taxpayers a multibillion-dollar bill for the environmental cleanup.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California governor proposes new plan for managing water

California’s governor revealed a plan on Tuesday that would keep more water in the fragile San Joaquin River Delta while restoring 60,000 acres of habitat for endangered species and generating more than $5 billion in new funding for environmental improvements.

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Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Bright idea saves Manteca money

Borrego Solar is under contract to build … a 5 megawatt solar facility at Manteca’s municipal wastewater treatment plant. Interim City Manager Miranda Ludlow has indicated Manteca is in talks with a number of firms to hammer out a solar power purchase agreement.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California canals damaged by sinking soil, groundwater pumping. New bills aim to help

Democratic congressman from Fresno introduced two pieces of legislation that aim to repair aging canals and water infrastructure in California that’s been damaged by sinking ground levels – called subsidence, caused by groundwater pumping.

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Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

California ag faces a decade of challenges

On the heels of a seemingly perpetual drought that has slowed surface water deliveries to a trickle and made water transfers complicated and expensive, Joe Del Bosque and other growers face new pumping restrictions under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. … The farm’s water costs have already more than doubled in the past 10 years…

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Dairy farmer in Turlock area fined over manure rules

The valley’s massive dairy industry routinely mixes manure-tainted wastewater into the irrigation supplies for corn and other feed crops. The state requires that the volume not exceed what the crops can take up as nutrients.

Aquafornia news WestSideConnect.com

Dam seismic retrofit project moving forward

The preferred alternative to address seismic safety concerns at the structure, commonly known as San Luis Dam, involves raising the crest of the dam by 12 feet, adding shear keys to prevent slippage and construction of downstream berms to strengthen the structure… Work on the project is expected to begin in August 2021

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Friant-Kern, drinking water reviewed: Subcommittee hearing on two Cox bills

Congress began the process of providing relief to the San Joaquin Valley when it comes to the Friant-Kern Canal and clean drinking water in rural communities when a subcommittee held a hearing on two bills sponsored by T.J. Cox.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

The nuts and bolts of the Central Valley Salts program

At a breakfast event hosted by the Water Association of Kern County shortly after the amendments were adopted, a panel discussed what the new program from the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board means for dischargers in the Central Valley. The panel speakers were Clay Rodgers, Assistant Executive Officer at the regional water board; Tess Dunham, an attorney with Somach Simmons & Dunn; and Richard Meyerhoff, a water quality specialist with GEI Consultants.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Groundwater plans are due in California, but the hard work is just getting started

January 31 is a big day for California water. It’s the day when 21 critically overdrafted groundwater basins must submit plans to the state for how they will bring their groundwater demand in line with available supplies over the next 20 years.

Aquafornia news Kern Valley Sun

Local film brings awareness to Kern River ecology

Executive Director and Founder of the Kern River Conservancy Gary Ananian spoke to the Kern Valley Sun about the organization’s project in process. For the last couple of years, the organization has been working on a documentary highlighting the importance of introducing native trout back into the ecology of the Kern River and bringing about awareness of issues facing the river.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Visalia Fire Department to save millions of gallons in trainings

Formally called a Direct Recirculating Apparatus Firefighting Training & Sustainability (DRAFTS) Unit, the pump pod is a self-contained unit that recirculates water used during firefighter training and pump testing.

Aquafornia news ABC30

City of Corcoran sues well-known dairy company for $65 million

The city of Corcoran and Curtimade Dairy have been neighbors for more than 100 years. But about four years ago, their relationship turned contentious. The city said it planned to sue the dairy for contaminating its drinking water wells with nitrates, a contaminant that if consumed, can interfere with the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen to body tissues.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Chevron official tells California lawmakers repairs caused 2019 oil spill

A senior Chevron official told California lawmakers on Monday a 2019 incident that spilled over a million gallons of water and oil into a creek bed was likely caused by its attempts to patch up a shuttered well.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Lathrop replacing 3,506 residential water meters

New state-of-the-art water meters that will provide accurate, real-time readings of how much water Lathrop’s residential customers use are on the way. The Lathrop City Council approved a consent calendar item that will allow city staff to purchase the remaining 3,506 water meters in the city that have not yet been updated – approving the expenditure of $436,760 and a contingency of $43,676 to modernize the aging system.

Aquafornia news Irish Tmes

Are almonds bad for the environment?

A single almond takes about three and half litres of water to produce. Most almonds – an estimated 82 per cent – are grown in drought-afflicted California, where it constitutes a multibillion-dollar industry. The number of almond orchards has doubled in the last 20 years in California.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

California oil and gas wells could cost $9 billion to plug, clean

Cleaning up the tens of thousands of oil and gas wells scattered across California — which includes plugging them, removing surface infrastructure and cleaning the soil — could eventually cost more than $9 billion if they fall to the state to handle, a new report commissioned by state oil regulators says.

Aquafornia news Visalia Times Delta

New film highlights fight for clean drinking water in Valley

Yolanda Cuevas saw herself on the big screen for the first time during the Saturday premiere of “The Great Water Divide: California’s Water Crisis” in Exeter. The short documentary focuses on Tooleville, a hamlet in eastern Tulare County where children can’t wash their hands, dishes or vegetables without supervision because the water is tainted with multiple contaminants.

Aquafornia news KQED Science

With some oil drilling on hold, lawmaker wants state to do more to prevent releases

The moratorium has led state officials to place on hold 58 permit applications for high-pressure cyclic steam wells, according to Don Drysdale, a spokesman for the Department of Conservation, which oversees the division now known as the California Geologic Energy Management Division, or CalGEM. A Southern California lawmaker who has launched an inquiry into the steam injection wells says CalGEM’s new rules don’t go far enough.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

SGMA implementation: Groundwater Sustainability Plan evaluation and State Water Board intervention

A joint workshop hosted by the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Board provides details on how incoming plans will be evaluated and what State Water Board intervention might look like.

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Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

U.S. food trade increasingly leans on unsustainable groundwater

Konar and her colleagues combined groundwater depletion data with county-level food trade data. They found that, between 2002 and 2012, unsustainable groundwater use increased by 32 percent in products traded domestically. The increase was 38 percent for exported goods. If groundwater is like a bank account, then this is deficit spending.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: Newsom pledged to fix California water politics. Now he’s bogged down in the Delta

The Newsom administration appears to be a house divided on water, as competing interests pull it in opposite directions. The main flash point is the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a threatened estuary and source of water for a majority of Californians.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: To protect children, schools must lead the effort to prevent lead poisoning

Fresno County contains eight of the top 50 census districts in California with the highest numbers of kids with lead poisoning, according to a recent article in The Fresno Bee. This is completely unacceptable.

Aquafornia news Bill Lane Center for the American West

Blog: Small farmers wait for California’s groundwater hammer to fall

Farmers, large and small, are beginning to grapple with what the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act means for them. One by one, local sustainability plans are starting to go public. Many farmers expect to see cutbacks on pumping once the program is fully implemented in 2040.

Aquafornia news Valley Economy

Blog: As water agencies balk at the tunnel’s price tag, DWR turns to a desperate ransom strategy

Since July, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and State Water Contractors have engaged in fruitless negotiations over how to pay for a single-tunnel Delta Conveyance Facility. On December 23, right before the holidays, DWR made their 6th proposal to the State WaterContractors with a major shift in approach.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Update on the San Joaquin River Restoration Program

The main focus of the program are the barriers to fish passage for salmon from Friant Dam to the ocean and back again. There are three key barriers: the East Side Bypass Control Structure which is in the flood bypass; Sack Dam, which is the intake for Arroyo Canal for Henry Miller irrigation system; and Mendota Dam which controls Mendota Pool. The program also needs to ensure enough habitat for the fish when they return to complete their life cycle,

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Tulare County agency approves groundwater sustainability plan; Friant-Kern Canal among concerns

Now the hard work begins which includes determining just how much water growers can pump out of the ground. A big factor in deciding how much groundwater can be pump will be mitigating the decreased level of water in the Friant-Kern Canal, another major topic addressed at Friday’s meeting.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Nuts getting a bad rap for sinking the California Aqueduct

State water officials are blaming almond and pistachio orchards for sinking the California Aqueduct before all the evidence is in, according to one western Kern County water district manager.

Aquafornia news KQED Science

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Time’s up on groundwater plans: One of the most important new California water laws in 50 years explained

The landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, requires some of the state’s thirstiest areas form local “Groundwater Sustainability Agencies” and submit long-term plans by Jan. 31 for keeping aquifers healthy. Together, those plans will add up to a big reveal, as groundwater managers finally disclose how badly they believe their aquifers are overdrawn…

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Aquafornia news Stockton Record

San Joaquin County supervisors blast plans to move Delta tunnel project forward

Response to Wednesday’s action by the California Department of Water Resources to initiate an environmental impact report for a tunnel project in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta was not popular with the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors.

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Aquafornia news Visalia Times Delta

Two Tulare County towns will be testing ground for ‘innovative’ arsenic-tainted water treatment

A $30,000 grant will bring together 20 high school students from Allensworth and Alpaugh to learn about safe drinking water, conduct hands-on testing of arsenic treatment, and present findings… The students will work with a UC Berkeley lab to test the technology, Electrochemical Arsenic Remediation…

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

State senate candidates can’t escape the water wars. They disagree about high-speed rail

The territory encompassed by the 5th State Senate District has been a battleground for California’s complex water politics. So it’s not surprising the two Democrats and three Republicans running to succeed Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, who is terming out this year, might tap dance around questions regarding Tuolumne and Stanislaus river flows and water quality in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California sues to block Trump administration fracking plans

California increased its efforts Friday to keep the federal government from allowing oil and gas drilling on more than 1 million acres of public land, suing to block the Trump administration from issuing new permits in the central part of the state.

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Aquafornia news Fox40

‘All risk and no reward’: Patterson group fights back against proposed dam

Dozens of families in Stanislaus County are fighting against a proposed dam just west of Patterson. The 800-acre reservoir would mean a portion of Del Puerto Canyon would be underwater. … Volunteers and organizers with the Patterson Progressive Alliance have been working to save Del Puerto Canyon.

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Aquafornia news WestSideConnect.com

Project pushes river back from roadway’s edge

A month-long, emergency construction project has moved the Merced River away from Hills Ferry Road. Merced County Supervisor Lloyd Pareira said the road was in danger of being washed out due to erosion which was creeping ever closer to the shoulder at a bend where the Merced River flows into the San Joaquin River…

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Douglas E. Beeman

Water Resource Innovation, Hard-Earned Lessons and Colorado River Challenges — Western Water Year in Review
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK-Our 2019 articles spanned the gamut from groundwater sustainability and drought resiliency to collaboration and innovation

Smoke from the 2018 Camp Fire as viewed from Lake Oroville in Northern California. Innovative efforts to accelerate restoration of headwater forests and to improve a river for the benefit of both farmers and fish. Hard-earned lessons for water agencies from a string of devastating California wildfires. Efforts to drought-proof a chronically water-short region of California. And a broad debate surrounding how best to address persistent challenges facing the Colorado River. 

These were among the issues Western Water explored in 2019, and are still worth taking a look at in case you missed them.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Digging into levees: Homeless create unique safety issue for those living in Lathrop

Lathrop — like any other community — has a homeless problem. But unlike other communities, the homeless problem could imperil the community. That’s because a number of homeless in the Lathrop area have taken to digging holes into the base of levees designed to hold back the San Joaquin River at high water levels.

Aquafornia news Mother Jones

Blog: Energy companies have a great friend at Trump’s Interior Department: Their former lobbyist

Since he took the new post in July 2017, Bernhardt’s former clients have spent a lot of money trying to influence the Department of Interior. Seventeen of them have coughed up a combined $29.9 million to lobby the Trump administration since January 2017, according to a new report from the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen…. Bernhardt’s former client Westlands Water District, which has lobbied to weaken endangered species protections to divert more water for agriculture… has spent more than $1.5 million lobbying Interior and Department of Justice since 2017. 

Aquafornia news KCET

State-federal water deal takes bite from L.A.’s supply

With virtually no public notice, state officials quietly gave away a significant portion of Southern California’s water supply to farmers in the Central Valley as part of a deal with the Trump administration in December 2018. One year later, it remains unclear why the California Department of Water Resources signed the agreement…

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California governor restarts giant water tunnel project

California’s governor has restarted a project to build a giant, underground tunnel that would pump billions of gallons of water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the southern part of the state. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration on Wednesday issued a Notice of Preparation for the project, which is the first step in the state’s lengthy environmental review process.

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Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Growers still unclear on how much groundwater they can use

The first question asked at the Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency Board meeting on Friday represented the frustration of growers who are still facing the unknown. “It’s 2020,” the grower said, who went on to ask the board, referring to growers, “what can they pump?” The board is still working through the process on how much water growers can pump out of the ground.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Monday Top of the Scroll: The Delta’s sinking islands: A way of life hangs in the balance

The courtroom battle over 9,000-acre Staten Island is the latest conflict in the Delta over farming, wetlands and aging levees that, besides preventing flooding, preserve a way of life on the man-made islands. The suit, filed in 2018 by a group called Wetlands Preservation Foundation, accuses the California Department of Water Resources and the Nature Conservancy of failing to adequately protect wildlife or employ sustainable agricultural practices on the property…The stakes are high because the channels, islands and marshes that make up the Delta are a catch basin for most of California’s drinking water.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: Save the San Joaquin? Fresno County should reject Cemex proposal for deeper gravel mine

Yes, aggregate mining on the San Joaquin has been going on for more than a century. But with production tapering off and newer operations opening on the nearby Kings River, it was generally assumed the poor San Joaquin would finally be given a break… Unfortunately, a proposal by Cemex threatens to dash those hopes while ensuring another century of heavy industry on California’s second-longest river…

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Judge: Modesto Irrigation District overcharged 122,000 electric customers to help farmers

Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Roger M. Beauchesne issued his decision Dec. 30 in the lawsuit filed by Andrew Hobbs and Dave Thomas. Each sued the MID in 2016, and their lawsuits were combined into one. … Beauchesne ruled the subsidy was an illegal tax under California law because the MID had not sought voter approval for electric customers to subsidize irrigation water customers.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Fresno County adopts plan to avoid pumping too much groundwater

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors adopted a plan on Tuesday meant to maintain groundwater and keep users from pumping too much from underground basins. … Officials said the plan also lays out efforts to try to recharge groundwater — in other words, replace water sucked out from underground.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Opinion: Westlands backs governor’s Delta water strategy

Consistent with the science developed over the last three decades, the Newsom administration is pursuing comprehensive, watershed-wide solutions that address the numerous factors that limit the abundance of native fish in the Delta. These types of solutions are the ones that are most likely to achieve the state’s co-equal goals of the 2009 Delta Reform Act…

Aquafornia news Visalia Times Delta

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: 2 bills could decide fate of critical Friant-Kern Canal in 2020. Will reps outside Valley care?

A duo of bills, at the state and federal level, will likely determine the fate of the Friant-Kern Canal in a legislative year that is shaping up to be pivotal for Central Valley growers and ag communities.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Balancing water supply for all is 2020 priority

California water policy leaders say balancing the supply of groundwater by implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, and addressing policies related to water supply and water quality, will continue to be priority issues in 2020.

Aquafornia news National Public Radio

California water cutbacks could take large area of farmland out of production

California is increasing regulations on groundwater. For many farmers in the state, it is a step too far. The law’s critics say it could lead to a loss of half a million acres of farmland in California’s Central Valley. As Kerry Klein of member station KVPR in Fresno reports, some farmers are so worried, they’re quitting.

Aquafornia news KSRO

Audio: New federal guidelines for diverting California water to take effect soon

The new guidelines call for diverting more water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to agribusiness and urban areas further south. Barbara Barrigan-Parilla with the group Restore the Delta, says despite Newsom indicating he was going to sue over the new federal guidelines, that hasn’t happened yet.

Aquafornia news The Business Journal

Blog: Business interests form Delta tunnel coalition

A broad coalition that includes the California Chamber of Commerce and labor, business, environmental, community and water leaders recently announced the formation of Californians for Water Security (CWS). The mission is to support the construction of a single tunnel to funnel water from Northern California through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to users south.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Editorial: Newsom is being played by Big Ag on Delta water

The governor’s apparent willingness to play into the hands of monied, agri-business players at the expense of the health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta remains the biggest mystery of his short tenure. It also threatens to trash his reputation as a strong protector of California’s environment.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Foes seek to block permanent water contract for Westlands

Environmental groups, tribes and upstream water users in California yesterday sought to block a permanent water delivery contract between the Interior Department and the Westlands Water District. At issue is a proposed deal between Westlands, an agricultural powerhouse in California’s San Joaquin Valley, and the Bureau of Reclamation in which Westlands pays off its debt to the government to guarantee deliveries in perpetuity without future contract renewals.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Groups fight against opening up 1 million acres for drilling, fracking

Environmental groups say they plan to fight a Trump administration decision that cleared the way for new oil and gas leases on more than 1 million acres in California. … The final supplemental environmental report released recently said the BLM found no adverse impacts of hydraulic fracturing that could not be alleviated. Several groups and state officials, however, disagree and have called the analysis flawed.

Related article:

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

‘A geological and natural treasure.’ Would Stanislaus County dam put the area at risk?

To many West Side residents and others familiar with the [dam] site, Del Puerto Canyon is a natural gem and one of the county’s scenic wonders. An environmental impact report released last week raises some concerns about seismic risks and impacts on wildlife. But a significant and unavoidable impact noted in the report is “substantial damage to scenic resources,” “degradation of the visual character” and “adverse effect on a scenic vista.”

Aquafornia news Roll Call

California water politics complicate House panel’s oversight

House Natural Resources Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona wants his committee to give him subpoena authority for multiple possible investigations, but California Democrat Jim Costa may vote against that as the panel considers whether Interior Secretary David Bernhardt improperly influenced a decision to send more water to his district.

Related article:

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: Who pays for the Friant-Kern repairs? It should be farmers, but most likely, taxpayers

I understand the need to convey water via canals in our Central Valley within a systematic, well-regulated and properly managed system. But there are so many unanswered questions…

Aquafornia news The Ceres Courier

Water project one more step closer to reality

The cities of Ceres and Turlock formed the Stanislaus Regional Water Authority which is in the process of hiring a design-build consultant to oversee the project to build the facility along the Tuolumne River west of the Fox Grove Fishing Access. Water will be drawn from the river, filtered and piped to both Turlock and to Ceres. Plans call for the water to be stored in a large aboveground water storage tank. The surface water will then be comingled with groundwater for use throughout the two cities.

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

Opinion: Don’t go into the tunnel

Votes of support by local jurisdictions bring the project one step closer to reality. Reality is a costly giant tunnel that would divert Sacramento River water bound for the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta and transport the water directly to Central Valley farms and urban users in the Bay Area and Southern California.

Aquafornia news Roll Call

Powerful patrons duel over California projects in final spending package

The top Democratic and Republican leaders in the House are pushing for their own home-state projects in this year’s final spending bills — a spectacular park overlooking San Francisco Bay and a dam across the largest reservoir in California — but without agreement from each other in the negotiations’ final days.

Aquafornia news Valley Citizen

Blog: Draining the last great aquifer: A group project

Environmentalists who had high hopes Gavin Newsom would lead the way to sustainable water use in the San Joaquin Valley are waking up to the knowledge that the new governor isn’t going to be any more effective than the old governor. Sustainability is just too big a lift.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Progress on canal repairs sparks hope but funding questions loom

It was welcome news for Kern County farmers, but word last week that the process of fixing the Friant-Kern Canal has finally begun may have obscured the fact that a great deal of work lies ahead — including finding money to complete the job.

Related article:

Aquafornia news WestSideConnect.com

Community workshop set on proposed Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir

The project will deliver water from the Delta-Mendota Canal to the reservoir, where it will be stored and released on a managed basis, according to a press release. The reservoir would allow water to be delivered into storage during wetter periods and held until needed in drier times for irrigation, groundwater recharge or beneficial wildlife uses, the release stated.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Monday Top of the Scroll: ‘It would mean total annihilation’ – Some farmers sell off fields ahead of groundwater law

Farmers are worried… Some feel angry, even betrayed by lawmakers and the environmental groups that have pressured them into what they see as ever-tightening regulations on the ag industry. While many disagree with SGMA, most do acknowledge that California’s unrestricted groundwater use has been unsustainable.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Battle lines are drawn over oil drilling in California

The state is moving to ramp down oil production while Washington is expediting it. State officials are taking a closer look at the environmental and health threats — especially land, air and water contamination — posed by energy extraction, while Washington appears to have concluded that existing federal regulations sufficiently protect its sensitive landscapes as well as public health.

Related article:

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: California must change its approach to water, become more collaborative

We face an important opportunity to finally put the seemingly permanent conflicts that have defined water and environmental management in California behind us, but not if we let it drift away. This new era of opportunity springs from a common recognition that our ways of doing business have failed to meet the needs of all interests.

Aquafornia news Clean Water Action

Blog: Q&A on groundwater sustainability with Jane Wagner-Tyack of the League of Women Voters

I assumed the different local water agencies were in regular contact with their customers about important issues like groundwater and that they would be happy to take advantage of the opportunity to educate the public about what was happening with SGMA. I learned that that was not the case. This is not a subject that engages people who don’t already have some reason to be concerned about it.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Fishing groups sue federal agencies over latest water plan for California

The fracas over California’s scarce water supplies will tumble into a San Francisco courtroom after a lawsuit was filed this week claiming the federal government’s plan to loosen previous restrictions on water deliveries to farmers is a blueprint for wiping out fish.

Aquafornia news The Confluence

Blog: Q&A with Linda Estelí Méndez Barrientos

In my current research, I have been studying the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, commonly known as SGMA, in California. SGMA is one of the world’s largest-scale policy experiments on collective action to manage natural resources. At the same time, pervasively disparate access to water resources in the Central Valley made SGMA the perfect case study to test some of the power asymmetry theories I have been working on with my colleagues.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Reclamation seeks to restore sinking California canal

Federal authorities are considering a plan to repair a California canal in the San Joaquin Valley that lost half its capacity to move water because of sinking ground. … The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Dec. 3 published an environmental assessment detailing plans to repair, raise, and realign the Friant-Kern Canal, which it began building in 1949.

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Dirty water too pricey to fix for many Central Valley cities. Is this idea the answer?

Cities like Huron, with a population of 6,926 and a $22,802 median household income, are often too small to expand water access projects that could lower utility rates. While cities like Delano are too big to qualify for rural development projects from the federal government. But a new proposal could soon alleviate those pains.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Conservation groups sue feds over California water project opinions

The complaint says the Trump administration did not fully consider scientific facts or logic, and arbitrarily concluded that the projects would not have a damaging effect on endangered fish species, including salmon and steelhead. … The projects at issue divert water from the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers to the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, primarily for agricultural and municipal uses.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Opinion: Newsom picks fish over farms, but still gets brickbats

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration has given environmentalists much of what they presumably want as it released a 610-page draft Delta environmental report recently that calls for $1.5 billion in habitat restoration among other environmental projects. … But as much as they cheered the lawsuit announcement, environmentalists were aghast at the report because the state plan will allow some additional water for farms.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: It’s time to secure California’s water supply by raising Shasta Dam

Reliable water is critical to every aspect of the economy as more than 40 percent of the nation’s fruits, nuts and vegetables are grown in the Central Valley, much of that using water from the Central Valley Project (CVP) and its largest reservoir — Shasta Lake.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Water in the bank: Coalition of agencies develops ‘historic’ sustainable groundwater plan

There’s progress to report in the momentous task of ensuring that San Joaquin County and surrounding communities have enough water to meet anticipated needs for the next 20 years.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Water fight between Kern district, Kings River managers

Just as they did more than two generations ago, Kern County farmers are looking to another Central Valley river to the north to refill their groundwater shortfall. But this time around, natives in the Kings River watershed are “sharpening their knives” to fight off what they say is a desperate water grab.

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

Visalia prohibits overseeding lawns during water-restricted winter months

Visalia may have received its first drops of rain for the season, but that doesn’t mean you should start dropping seeds to bolster your lawn. In fact, it’s now illegal under a revision of the city’s water conservation code.

Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

Lemoore breaks ground on ‘life-changing’ drinking water project

City officials gathered Thursday afternoon in Lemoore to break ground on construction of a new groundwater treatment plant project. … The City obtains all of its drinking water from local groundwater resources that are challenged by naturally-occurring water quality issues. These issues include elevated levels of arsenic, iron, ammonia, total organic carbon and color…

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Editorial: Gov. Newsom’s Delta water plan is merely ‘Trump lite’

Join the crowd of California water officials if you are confused by the mixed message Gavin Newsom offered Thursday on the future of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. 

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Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Opinion: Trinity River under threat — will our county fight back?

Lots of stories circulate about the unethical actions of Bernhardt and Gov. Newsom’s reluctance to fight Trump on water — stories about Bernhardt’s effort to get rid of scientists who concluded the new Trump Water Plan jeopardizes endangered species in the Delta. Then there’s his work to give Westlands a permanent water contract to irrigate poisoned selenium-ridden lands… What’s not being covered: the impact these projects will have on the Trinity and Klamath Rivers, and Newsom’s reluctance to stop them.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: San Joaquin Valley’s water solution? Look north to the mighty Columbia River

Central Valley agriculture faces a looming existential water crisis from the interlocking problems of drought, climate change, and falling underground water tables. Yet the potential answer to this problem is incredibly simple and only a lack of political will may defeat it. The solution is to send south to California the abundant waters of the Columbia River.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

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Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: Newsom must stop the Westlands water grab and save the San Francisco Bay-Delta

Initially, federal scientists wrote a draft report that found increasing water exports would harm California’s native salmon population, a species already imperiled. Those scientists were reassigned. Now, the Trump administration and David Bernhardt have released a new proposal, and guess what? Westlands can grab even more water from the Bay-Delta.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Westlands nearing a permanent federal water contract. What does that mean?

Westlands Water District, Fresno-based agricultural water district, is set to convert its temporary, renewable water service agreements with the Federal government into a permanent contract. And while Westlands is the first of its class to make the switch, it certainly won’t be the last water agency to do it.

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Aquafornia news Delta Stewardship Council

Blog: Recognizing the Delta’s place in the greater watershed and beyond

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is hitched to so many things. Our estuary is a critical habitat for fish and wildlife, home to millions of people, and the hub of our state’s water delivery system. From the Sierra Nevada to the mouth of the San Francisco Bay, what happens in one part of the Delta watershed affects the entire estuary.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: No new California fracking without scientific review, Newsom says

In a victory for critics of California’s oil drilling industry, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday stopped the approval of new hydraulic fracturing in the state until the permits for those projects can be reviewed by an independent panel of scientists. Newsom also imposed a moratorium on new permits for steam-injected oil drilling, another extraction method … linked to a massive petroleum spill in Kern County over the summer.

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Aquafornia news AgWeb

Blog: California can keep the water flowing

California is in trouble. We can’t keep the lights on, the fires out, or the air clean. Worst of all, from my perspective as a farmer, is that we’ve failed to keep the water flowing. That may change, thanks to the Trump administration.

Aquafornia news KVPR

Millions of gallons of oily water have surfaced in a Kern County oil field, and more keeps coming

Since July, at least a half dozen surface expressions have been reported into the state spill report database, including one in early November, totaling more than 2.7 million gallons of oil, water and mud. … Under strengthened state regulations, these surface expressions became illegal only in April of this year. But that doesn’t mean the public knows about all of them or how close they occur to communities…

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Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Path To sustainability: Workshop covers plan for groundwater

Groundwater in Tulare County, especially in Porterville, has been a hot topic of discussion for quite sometime. As groundwater levels have begun to subside, a viable and woking plan to maintain the groundwater has been state mandated, and the implementation of this plan is set to be put in action by January 31, 2020. But what exactly is the plan, and who is at stake?

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: Westlands contract shakes the waterscape

California’s perpetual, uber-complex conflict over water progresses much like the tectonic plates that grind against one another beneath its surface. In much the same way, interest groups constantly rub on each other in political and legal venues, seeking greater shares of the state’s water supply, which itself varies greatly from year to year. And occasionally, there’s a sharp movement that shakes things up.

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Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Health of our families, communities depends on safe water

California took a historic step forward this summer with the passage of the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund. This fund seeks to provide new targeted investments to end the state’s drinking water crisis, where one million Californians are impacted by unsafe water each year. Unfortunately, successful implementation of the fund is on a potential collision course with another California law, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act…

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Wanted: Big vision, small ego for water agency manager

Kern County Water Agency General Manager Curtis Creel will retire Dec. 7, leaving a very large and important hole to fill. The agency is the second largest contractor on the State Water Project and pays 25 percent of the bill for that massive endeavor, giving it a very big voice on most water issues.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Editorial: California must help kill sleazy Westlands water deal

The Westlands Water District has engaged in some sleazy maneuvers over the years, but this one, which threatens the Bay Area’s water supply, tops them all.

Aquafornia news Seeking Alpha

Blog: Farmageddon in California: Why J.G. Boswell is set to benefit from California’s ‘catastrophic’ water law

This article will provide readers with a background on why the 2014 SGMA legislation was passed, and what the implications are for J.G. Boswell which has both surface and groundwater rights in California.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

USFWS regional director Paul Souza explains the biological opinions

Paul Souza is regional director of the Pacific Southwest division of the US Fish and Wildlife Service… At the November meeting of Metropolitan Water District’s Water Planning and Stewardship Committee, Mr. Souza gave a presentation on the recently released biological opinions for the long-term operations of the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Feds set to lock in huge water contract for well-connected Westlands Water District

Westlands has had water service contracts with the Central Valley Project since 1963. But they were subject to renewal, when the reclamation bureau could, at least in theory, renegotiate terms. In contrast, the so-called repayment contract the bureau now proposes to award Westlands would not expire, permanently locking in the terms, including the amount of 1.15 million acre-feet of water.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Interior chief’s lobbying past has challenged the agency’s ethics referees

On the morning of Aug. 21, 2018, David Bernhardt, then the deputy interior secretary, wanted to attend a White House meeting on the future of a threatened California fish, the delta smelt — an issue upon which Mr. Bernhardt had been paid to lobby until he joined the Trump administration a year before. … “I see nothing here that would preclude my involvement,” he wrote ahead of the meeting…

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Aquafornia news KBAK

Underground water impacting farmland property value

Kern County is seeing a drop in agricultural property value. The water crisis plaguing the state is also affecting the value of farms here in Kern County. Michael Ming, Lead Appraiser for Alliance Ag Services, said groundwater sustainability efforts have proven to be a big challenge.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: Trump Delta water policy threatens Stockton as well as salmon

The city’s fate is linked inextricably with the San Joaquin River… Much of the water upstream is diverted for agriculture, although a legal settlement ensures that the river no longer runs dry. Additional diversions at the downriver end … greatly reduce the amount of water that actually makes it through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the San Francisco Bay and then the Pacific. It is as if one of the state’s two great arteries … is detached from its heart.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Opinion: Pinpointing water content in mountain snow will help California water management

Based on DWR’s own documents, it appears that an aerial snow observator is the most important science- and data-focused program that needs to be expanded statewide, so that the integral aquifer recharge program can play its role in Governor Newsom’s Water Resiliency Portfolio.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Interior proposes coveted California water deal to ex-client of agency head

The Interior Department is proposing to award one of the first contracts for federal water in perpetuity to a powerful rural water district that had employed Secretary David Bernhardt as a lawyer and lobbyist. … Environmental groups say a permanent deal would let California’s water contractors forgo future negotiations before the public and environmental groups, further threatening the survival of endangered native fish and other wildlife that also need the water.

Aquafornia news UC Merced News

Researchers look to wetlands to increase Delta water quality

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

Aquafornia news The Ceres Courier

Opinion: Californians should favor dam expansion plan

The effects of the last drought are still obvious in California’s agricultural belt. … From this perspective, the federal government’s plan to increase the storage capacity of Lake Shasta, created by the Shasta Dam on the Sacramento River, is both sensible and compassionate.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: Gavin Newsom must stand up to Trump’s water grab

In October, the Trump Administration released politically manipulated “biological opinions” under the federal Endangered Species Act that dramatically weaken protections for the Bay-Delta, endangered fish species and commercially valuable salmon runs. … However, in an uncharacteristically subdued response, the Newsom Administration stated that it “will evaluate the federal government’s proposal, but will continue to push back if it does not reflect our values.”

Aquafornia news East Bay Express

Trump administration plan allows Delta water managers to kill off winter-run Chinook salmon

Eight-hundred pages into the text of a lengthy new report, federal biologists have quietly granted government water managers permission to nearly exterminate an endangered run of Sacramento River salmon so they can send more water south from the river’s delta to farmers in the arid San Joaquin Valley.

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Aquafornia news ABC News Bakersfield

California health: Can desalinated water help Kern County’s water needs?

If California goes into another drought and Kern County needs an extra supply of water, Santa Barbara is open to partnering with communities like Kern County. “We’re able to do exchanges with people, so you could in theory have someone in the Central Valley be a partner in desal,” said Joshua Haggmark, water resource manager for Santa Barbara.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Farmers urged to think big and small to survive groundwater cutbacks

The thinking started small and then grew much bigger at a gathering Tuesday in Bakersfield intended to provide a “survival toolkit” for farmers and water managers facing drastic restrictions on Central Valley groundwater pumping. … By the end of the day, however, isolationism gave way to calls for unity as speakers asserted that the only real solution was to increase the region’s water supply by as much as 10 million acre-feet per year on average by diverting water south from the Sacramento Delta.

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Opinion: With California’s water at stake, progress finally triumphs regress

Welcome to the Two States of California: one boasts one of the largest economies in the world while another is shamed with water rationing, third-world power outages, uncontrolled wildfires, an ever-expanding homeless population riddled with medieval diseases. This is the tale of the latter California and the continued alarmism about its water.

Aquafornia news Roll Call

Democrats’ Bernhardt probe has California’s Cox in a tough spot

Freshman Democratic Rep. TJ Cox represents some of the farmers who would likely benefit from the additional water. … Facing what could be a tough reelection fight in 2020, Cox’s future in Congress could depend on whether Bernhardt’s former client gets what it wants.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

For California well owners, clean water is hard to get as state, local hurdles remain

As the state focuses on providing clean and affordable drinking water for millions of residents, those on private wells typically face an uphill battle. Private well owners confront significant financial challenges digging new wells, and connecting to a public water system involves a daunting local and state bureaucratic process…

Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

New laws may result in water rate increases

In order to keep up with the state’s underground water recharge laws, sooner or later, local water rates will likely need to increase. That was the message local water management officials gave in a joint presentation at the Oct. 21 Selma City Council.

Aquafornia news Livermore Independent

Delta group critical of federal move to change water priorities

An environmental group, highly critical of a federal agency’s newly proposed recommendations to protect endangered species in the Delta, states that they would seriously harm those species and their habitat. The new recommendations, released Oct. 22 by the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, are to be used as guidelines for operating the federal pumping plant in the Delta.

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Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Editorial: A new lake in west Stanislaus County? That sounds good

At a time when building anything large and important — like roads, dams and bridges — can be tied up in red tape and take forever, the optimism of this reservoir’s supporters is audacious. And unless opponents emerge with impressive arguments, the Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir deserves the area’s support.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Opinion: Newsom must fight Trump’s Delta fish extinction plan

The Trump administration last week launched an attack on the health of San Francisco Bay and Delta and California’s salmon fishing industry with new rules allowing big increases in water diversions from this teetering, vulnerable ecosystem. … The new Trump administration rules replace prior ones that weren’t strong enough to protect salmon and other wildlife in the last drought. They only make the situation worse.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Disadvantaged communities claim a stake in state groundwater overhaul

A tiny community on the outskirts of the City of Sanger, Tombstone is a bellwether for groundwater issues… Most of the community’s 40 or so homes get their drinking water from shallow domestic wells, which can be vulnerable to both aquifer contaminants and falling groundwater levels.

Aquafornia news The Wall Street Journal

Editorial: Trump’s gift to California

Amid horrific wildfires and rolling blackouts, the Trump Administration this week brought welcome relief to the Golden State by allowing more water to be sent to farmers and folks in the south. Will California liberals accept the deregulatory gift?

Aquafornia news FishBio

Video: Replenishing a river

In today’s Film Friday, we follow the evolution of Honolulu Bar in the Stanislaus River through a restoration and floodplain enhancement project. The project including leveling an intstream island to create more flooded rearing habitat, sorting gravel to create improved spawning habitat, clearing invasive plants and planting native ones. Watch the transformation!

Aquafornia news Reuters

Manure, trash and wastewater: U.S. utilities get dirty in climate fight

Nationwide, more than a dozen utilities have started developing renewable natural gas production through partnerships with farmers, wastewater treatment plants and landfill operators, while nine have proposed price premiums for customers who choose it as a fuel, according to the American Gas Association.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Trump rewrites Delta rules to pump more California water to Valley. Will Newsom fight him?

President Donald Trump’s administration rolled out an aggressive plan Tuesday to ship more water from the Delta to farmers in the San Joaquin Valley, a move that’s certain to trigger lawsuits by environmentalists concerned about endangered fish species.

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Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Less groundwater likely available

The East Tule Groundwater Sustainability Water Agency is racing the clock when it comes to meeting the state’s requirements by next year but the message is this: Those who use groundwater will have to prepare for the possibility of pumping 10 percent less than they have in the past, beginning as soon as next year.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: Change in California water will prevent catastrophe, build a more resilient valley

Change is hard. It’s human nature to resist it. So it’s not surprising that some Central Valley farmers and water managers are raising alarm bells about the most sweeping change to state water law in a century, saying in a recent Fresno Bee series that the consequences will be “excruciating” and “catastrophic.”

Aquafornia news ABC10.com

California’s Delta smelt are dying: How this affects the state’s water

The Delta smelt is such a small and translucent fish that it often disappears from view when it swims in the turbid waters of its home in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. However, it’s also been disappearing from the Delta entirely.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Latest Western Water explores potential for managed aquifer recharge to aid California’s groundwater basins

To survive the next drought and meet the looming demands of the state’s groundwater sustainability law, California is going to have to put more water back in the ground. But as other Western states have found, recharging overpumped aquifers is no easy task.

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

State letter chides San Luis Obispo County for diminished role of agriculture in groundwater plan

The California State Board of Food and Agriculture called out San Luis Obispo County in a letter expressing concern about irrigated agriculture’s “limited” involvement in crafting groundwater plans over the Paso Robles basin.

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Aquafornia news Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Santa Clarita Valley Water opens six new wells near Bakersfield, uncorking “banked” water

Under an agreement to “bank” water outside of the Santa Clarita Valley, local water officials … and their water banking partners, Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District and Irvine Ranch Water District, opened six new groundwater wells and a conveyance system to the Cross Valley Canal in Kern County.

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Aquafornia news KQED News

New Chevron crude spills emerge in Kern County oil field

Thousands of gallons of crude petroleum began spouting out of the ground near a part of Chevron’s steam injection well network in a Kern County oil field over the weekend … in the same area where a larger uncontrolled release of 234,000 gallons of oil has taken place since August.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: As groundwater law plows forward, small farmers seek more engagement

Dennis Hutson worries small farmers may not have the resources to adapt to the potentially strict water allocations and cutbacks that might be coming. Their livelihoods and identities may be at stake. “You grow things a certain way, and then all of a sudden you don’t have access to as much water as you would like in order to grow what you grow,” he says, “and now you’re kind of out of sorts.”

Aquafornia news Visalia Times Delta

Opinion: Poor Central Valley communities deserve safe, affordable water service

Access to safe and affordable water is a basic human right. Many of our communities have been without safe water for years or even decades because of contamination of our drinking water sources. Living in communities without safe water is a public health crisis. It is also a crisis of basic justice and equity.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

State water officials to vote on valley-wide plan to reduce nitrate and salt

Later this week, the State Water Resources Control Board will vote on a long-anticipated plan to reduce some of the pollutants flowing into Central Valley water. However, not everyone agrees on the details.

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Aquafornia news Visalia Times Delta

Opinion: Newsom’s veto of Delta water bill best for California residents, farms

Agriculture is part of what makes our state’s economy strong and helps provide for all our families, which is why it is crucial that we do absolutely everything we can to protect our state’s farms and allow them to operate without the fear of major obstacles. California agriculture nearly faced such an obstacle with Senate Bill 1, which would have placed harsh regulations on water pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Aquafornia news Fairfield Daily Republic

Agencies release Delta-conveyed water transfer environmental reports

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority announced the environmental reports, which “analyze potential impacts of approving water transfers to increase water reliability for those suffering shortages during dry times.”

Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

Multi-million dollar plan proposed to change Kings County groundwater management

Kings County’s groundwater management will begin a 20-year transformation in 2020. Five local groundwater agencies presented more information behind the groundwater sustainability plan in a public outreach meeting Thursday night.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Audio: What is ‘SGMA?’ A primer on California’s groundwater overhaul law

While many hail the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act as a success in state legislation and others say the law represents government overreach, most seem to agree: It could change agriculture and the economy in the San Joaquin Valley in a very big way. In this interview, we talk about the nuts and bolts of SGMA with Stephanie Anagnoson, Director of Water and Natural Resources with Madera County.

Western Water Gary Pitzer California Groundwater Map Gary Pitzer

Recharging Depleted Aquifers No Easy Task, But It’s Key To California’s Water Supply Future
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: A UC Berkeley symposium explores approaches and challenges to managed aquifer recharge around the West

A water recharge basin in Southern California's Coachella Valley. To survive the next drought and meet the looming demands of the state’s groundwater sustainability law, California is going to have to put more water back in the ground. But as other Western states have found, recharging overpumped aquifers is no easy task.

Successfully recharging aquifers could bring multiple benefits for farms and wildlife and help restore the vital interconnection between groundwater and rivers or streams. As local areas around California draft their groundwater sustainability plans, though, landowners in the hardest hit regions of the state know they will have to reduce pumping to address the chronic overdraft in which millions of acre-feet more are withdrawn than are naturally recharged.

Aquafornia news Stanford Water in the West

Dispute resolution processes: Thinking through SGMA implementation

Building the capacity to resolve disputes and work together is critical for a sustainable water future. However, recent analysis conducted by Water in the West … suggests that alternative dispute resolution processes are rarely used even when included in water management agreements.

Aquafornia news The Atlantic

Inside California’s Central Valley water crisis

California’s Central Valley is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the United States… But a seven-year drought has threatened the viability of the valley’s farmland, and many rural communities have suffered greatly as a result. Joris Debeij’s short documentary When a Town Runs Dry offers a window into the front lines of the water crisis.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Chinook salmon flocking to revitalized San Joaquin River

A staggering number of Chinook salmon are returning to a California river that hasn’t sustained salmon for decades due to agricultural and urban demands, giving biologists hope that threatened fish are finally spawning in their native grounds without human help.

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Aquafornia news The Business Journal

We’re back, baby! Fresno top ag county once again

A big part of the reason for Fresno County falling short of the No. 1 ranking those years was due to California’s five-year drought that began in late 2011— the worst in the state’s recorded history — causing major water shortages in the western end of Fresno County that forced farmers there to limit their farming or let fields go fallow.

Aquafornia news Visalia Times Delta

Success Dam renamed after Tulare County water official

Success Dam is now Richard L. Schafer Dam. The dam, which has shielded the San Joaquin Valley floor from Sierra snowmelt while providing much-needed irrigation water to Tulare County farmers since 1961, was rechristened in a crowded ceremony along Lake Success last week. Schafer has served as the Tule River Water Master since 1963.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Groundwater overdraft numbers ‘don’t add up,’ and that’s a big problem

Here in Kern County, state-mandated water budgets presented by several large ag water districts and groundwater sustainability agencies have painted a far rosier groundwater picture. So rosy, the numbers simply couldn’t be believed…

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Monday Top of the Scroll: Trump administration opens California to new oil drilling; possibly Bay Area, too

The Trump administration’s latest effort to dramatically boost oil and gas production is landing in California, with the Interior Department on Friday opening up 720,000 acres between the Bay Area and Fresno to potential drilling.

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

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

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

Aquafornia news The Sun-Gazette

East Kaweah sets hearing for groundwater plan acceptance

Based on the most detailed data they have available, the East Kaweah has a supply of 125,000 acre feet per year of ground water available for use without threatening overdraft. However, Hagman notes that the East Kaweah has overdrafted their portion of the basin by 28,000 acre feet on average, per year.

Aquafornia news Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory

Blog: How groundwater management activities can affect water quantity and quality

The paper is intended to help groundwater managers avoid inadvertently contaminating water supplies as they change management practices to comply with California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. It focuses on natural contaminants such as arsenic, chromium, and uranium, as well as contaminants that can pose a threat to human and ecosystem health…

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: The next big California vs. Trump fight is over water and endangered species

Just how far will Gov. Gavin Newsom go in his high-profile fight with the Trump administration over environmental protections? The next few months will provide an answer, as Newsom is forced to take a stand on Trump rollbacks in a long-contested battleground — the Northern California Delta that helps supply more than half the state’s population with drinking water and fills irrigation canals on millions of acres of farmland.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg

River flows are falling worldwide as groundwater is depleted

A new study released Wednesday says that diminishing groundwater is causing the level of streams and rivers to fall as well. Like the shrinking aquifers, surface water is critical to farms, towns and cities for everything from food to trade to energy production. … In watersheds such as California’s Central Valley, the Midwestern U.S.’s high plains, the Upper Ganges and the Indus in South Asia, groundwater is already being depleted.

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Aquafornia news Rich Pauloo

Blog: Race To The Bottom

There simply isn’t enough water in any given year to support all of the crops and livestock, so farmers and ranchers depend on groundwater pumped from deep, underground aquifers. Groundwater, like oil, is a limited resource, and in California it’s consumed at an alarming rate.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

California fines Chevron $2.7M for Cymric oil spills in Kern County

California on Wednesday fined Chevron more than $2.7 million for allowing an oil spill at the Cymric Oil Field in Kern County that lasted 113 days and covered almost an acre of a dry streambed.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Trump administration surrenders to California, backs off on Delta water fight

The Trump administration has retreated on a plan to push more water through the Delta this fall after protests from California officials on the harmful impacts on endangered Chinook salmon and other fish.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Shasta Dam fight with water district ends in California

The Westlands Water District on Sept. 30 formally stopped its environmental review of a $1.4 billion U.S. Bureau of Reclamation plan to raise the 602-foot dam by another 18.5 feet. It is unclear what Westlands’ decision will mean for the future of the project…

Aquafornia news San Joaquin Valley Sun

Opinion: Reservoirs are booming. So what’s driving California’s water scare?

Tuesday, we began a new “water year” in California. And so, this is as good of time as any to review the water year we are closing.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Bakersfield’s water usage drops as residents’ behavior becoming more efficient

Bakersfield residents deserve a round of applause, at least in terms of the city’s water usage. So far in 2019, city residents have saved 3,348 acre feet of water compared to 2013 quantities. Cumulatively, the city has cut water usage by nearly 12 percent since 2013, an average year before drought struck the state.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Friday Top of the Scroll: ‘Farming the sun:’ As water goes scarce, can solar farms prop up the Valley?

On the Changala family farm in Tulare County, the past and future are separated by a dirt road and a barbed-wire fence. On the south side sits a wheat field. On the north, a solar farm, built three years ago, sending electricity to thousands of Southern Californians. Alan Changala sees little difference between the two.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: California must embrace groundwater management, and expand it

Over the last five years, more than 250 groundwater sustainability agencies have formed to manage groundwater at the local level and dozens of groundwater sustainability plans are in progress. … So what do we still need to make the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act a success?

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California fights Trump over Delta water, fish, environmental rules

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife, in a letter to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, said the federal plan would harm the nearly-extinct Delta smelt and other species. The state said the plan would also hurt the mostly urban water agencies that belong to the State Water Project, which might have to surrender some of its supplies to compensate for the federal plan.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Federal study finds oilfield activity lowered groundwater quality in western Kern

A new study by the U.S. Geological Survey concludes oilfield activity has lowered the quality of groundwater in western Kern County, making it saltier and possibly affecting nearby irrigation sources but not harming drinking water.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Revealed: Trump’s Wildlife Service pick has ties to anti-animal protection groups

Aurelia Skipwith, who is already a top official at the interior department, formerly worked at the agrochemical giant Monsanto. New revelations show she also has ties to the Westlands Water District, a political powerhouse with a history of chafing against Endangered Species Act regulations that can interfere with farmers’ demands for water in California.

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Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

How the Central Valley became the ‘Appalachia of the West.’ Now, new threats loom for economy

Water shortages, already the scourge of the Valley, are about to get worse. A powerful state law called the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act will curb access to water and shrink agriculture’s footprint in the next two decades. Thousands of acres will be turned into solar-energy farms and other non-agricultural uses. The long-term effect of climate change, meanwhile, will squeeze water supplies even more.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: California farmers fear ‘catastrophe’ from water restrictions

Starting next January, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act will require farmers to gradually rein in the amount of groundwater they pump from their wells. It could devastate the economy of the entire San Joaquin Valley. In a region where agriculture is king — and the ability to extract the water beneath one’s soil has been practically a birthright — a difficult reckoning is coming.

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Opinion: Farmers deal with climate change every day

Most farmers haven’t heard about the recent report from the UN, even though it deals with climate change and land use and features agriculture prominently. But we don’t need to read the science — we are living it.

Aquafornia news Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

California’s chronic water overuse leads to sinking towns, arsenic pollution

When you walk through Jeannie Williams’s sunny orchard, you don’t notice anything wrong. But the problem’s there, underfoot. The land around her — about 250 square kilometres — is sinking. “It’s frightening,” Williams says. “Is the land going to come back up? I don’t know.”

Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

Opinion: Water victory shows power of people

In 2019, at long last, justice was finally achieved; it was secured through the combined power of the people and allies who said it was finally time to bring safe water to all Californians. On July 24, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation that will make sure all Californians have access to safe, affordable drinking water.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

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

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

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Aquafornia news The New York Times

Eyes in the sky help farmers on the ground

Recent years have brought severe droughts that have forced farmers to become more efficient with water use. With nearby Silicon Valley teeming with the promise of efficiency and data-fueled intelligence, a natural relationship between technology and agriculture has developed.

Aquafornia news ABC30

Drought tolerant crop being studied in the Valley

Big research is happening at the Kearney Agriculture and Extension Center in Fresno County. Sorghum, a crop that looks similar to corn, is under a microscope.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Editorial: Newsom must keep his promise on California SB1

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

Aquafornia news YourCentralValley.com

Selma residents get drought notices, demand answers from city officials

We all know it’s important to conserve water, but are we still in a drought? California water officials say “no!” But a number of residents in Selma got a notice on their door telling them we are in a drought and that’s why stage 3 water restrictions are in place.

Aquafornia news UCLA

News release: UCLA to assess California drinking water systems to identify risks and solutions

Through a $3 million contract with the California State Water Resources Board, the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation will conduct a statewide drinking water needs analysis to identify risks and solutions for water systems and private wells throughout the state.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Newsom administration quietly stalls fracking permits

The administration of Gov. Gavin Newsom has imposed a de-facto moratorium on hydraulic fracturing while it studies permitting procedures for the politically controversial oil well-completion technique better known as fracking.

Aquafornia news CBS San Francisco

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

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

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Full water allotment helps Fresno County reach record crop value

Commodity prices across some crops, record cotton yields and ample water supplies combined to catapult Fresno County’s gross crop value to a record $7.88 billion in 2018, eclipsing last year’s figure by over 12 percent, and besting the previous record by nearly as much.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

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Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Exeter says it won’t help community fix dirty water problem

The Exeter City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to scrap plans to connect Exeter’s water system with Tooleville, a rural community of about 80 households that has struggled for years with dirty water.

Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

Hurtado’s bill to provide relief for families without reliable access to water heads to governor’s desk

Senate Bill 513, authored by Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger), is headed towards Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk for approval. The bill, which received bi-partisan support, will provide relief for families without reliable access to water by delivering a temporary alternative source of water supply.

Aquafornia news GVWire.com

2018 was a record-setting year for Fresno County farmers

Fresno County farmers and ranchers shattered the yearly record for the value of what they produced by nearly a billion dollars in 2018. Despite below-average surface water supplies, their crops and livestock totaled $7.888 billion last year, according to the Fresno County Department of Agriculture’s annual report released Tuesday.

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