New federal data show that California may be sliding back into
drought, just as the Legislature is starting to pursue ways to
make sure residents are prepared for water shortages. Due to
weeks of dry weather about 10 percent of California and more
than half of Nevada are in drought mode, the federal government
As the county reports advances in water protection and
conservation technologies, water use continues to remain lower
that previous years, the Santa Cruz County Water Resources
Management Status Report shows.
City staff recommends Pleasanton sign on to a potentially $1
million task order with three other Tri-Valley public water
agencies for preliminary studies and community outreach … to
explore the possibility of supplementing the local water supply
with recycled water treated for drinking purposes, better known
as potable reuse water.
This rain-year has brought an alarmingly dry winter in
California so far, according to climate change experts. Now,
there’s a new tool to help Californians navigate your water
supply. It’s an online tool that allows a person to see the
groundwater levels in their area. The tool then gives a
representation of what could be at risk or impacted if a
By the most conservative estimate, 500,000 acres of agriculture
land are expected to go fallow in the San Joaquin Valley as
SGMA is implemented over the next 20 years, [David] Orth said,
while some studies say it could be as much as 1 million acres.
Since this process is just starting in the Sacramento Valley,
it’s unclear how the area might be impacted, but in general,
north of the Delta is in better shape.
Both Republicans and Democrats are backing measures in the
Legislature that would enable Arizona to start measuring how
much groundwater is pumped in unregulated rural areas where
aquifers have been rapidly declining.
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.
California is stuck in a dry spell amid what is historically
the wettest time of the year. But while the Sierra snowpack is
dwindling and rainfall totals are below normal, weather
watchers are not concerned about a drought. “One dry year
doesn’t make a drought,” said Chris Orrock, a spokesperson for
the California Department of Water Resources.
One of the top priorities outlined in the Newsom
Administration’s recently released draft Water Resilience
Portfolio is reducing reliance on any one water source and
diversifying supplies – key strategies for making our water
supply systems more flexible, adaptable, and resilient to the
impacts of climate change.
Jan. 31 marked a major milestone for building groundwater
sustainability and climate resilience into California’s complex
and increasingly stressed water systems. It was the first major
planning deadline for implementing the state’s historic
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
The Ventura City Council announced Monday that it may request a
six-month extension from the court for the thousands who were
sent legal notices or served with a court summons in the case.
… The litigation dates back to 2014 when Santa Barbara
Channelkeeper filed a lawsuit alleging the city of Ventura
was taking too much water from the Ventura River,
hurting habitat for steelhead trout and other wildlife.
Lawmakers in Arizona have proposed a new bill that would
require toilets, faucets and other plumbing fixtures sold in
the state to work more efficiently in an effort to save water.
… If passed into law, HB 2737 would emulate rules in states
like Texas, Colorado, California, Oregon, and New York state
that all require WaterSense certified fixtures in all new
Vast amounts of valuable energy, agricultural nutrients, and
water could potentially be recovered from the world’s
fast-rising volume of municipal wastewater, according to a new
study by UN University’s Canadian-based Institute for Water,
Environment and Health.
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…
Kiara Nirghin, ’22, developed a unique polymer that can keep
crops hydrated during dry spells. The innovative research has
garnered her global recognition, including top honors at the
Google Science Fair.
People crowded into an Ojai junior high school auditorium
recently after thousands received legal notices or a court
summons from the city of Ventura. The city notified 14,000-plus
property owners in the Ventura River watershed of a potential
adjudication of water rights. That move came years after the
city faced legal action over its own water use.
Large lawns and backyard pools were once common features of new
homes in the Phoenix area, but not anymore. A recent study of
single-family homes in the Phoenix metropolitan area showed
that nearly two-thirds of homes do not have a swimming pool.
The Santa Monica City Council approved a water self-sufficiency
plan Tuesday that will double the price of water and wastewater
removal by 2024. The rate increases will finance about $42
million in infrastructure projects that will allow Santa Monica
to stop importing water from the Metropolitan Water District of
Southern California by 2023.
Trump’s frequent allusions to a bygone era filled with superior
appliances misses what is largely a story of American ingenuity
and continued progress. Several manufacturers and trade groups
said these items work better than ever today — while also using
less water and power, the result of years of corporate
investment and testing. Industries that might normally cheer
reduced regulation say they don’t want government efficiency
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.
As I watch the way Governor Gavin Newsom is handling water
policy, I have two thoughts. First, the governor is on a track
that seems driven by adherence to some of Governor Jerry
Brown’s worst water policies. And, second, he’s not getting
For many businesses in drought-ridden states like California,
water supply issues aren’t a problem for the future—they’re
happening right now. … For the Cloverdale-based Bear Republic
Brewing Company, the impact was especially devastating, due to
the city’s heavy reliance on the water supply of the Russian
Time and time again seemingly well-intentioned initiatives and
repeated attempts to develop a comprehensive water management
solution have failed, despite cautionary tales. However, 2019
witnessed the horizon of a new initiative called the Voluntary
Agreements that could do what few, if any, past plans, efforts,
or reports could do – unite water management and develop
Despite growing concerns of a below-average rainfall season,
the city of Ontario revoked mandatory conservation measures
this week, setting a 0% water conservation target with state
regulators. … The City Council approved the change from
mandatory Stage 2 water conservation to voluntary conservation
on Tuesday, Jan. 21.
If President Trump wants to understand the risk of rolling back
water efficiency standards that have been in place for almost
30 years, he can turn to a member of his own Cabinet.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has signed off on
regulations that treat water-efficient toilets and shower heads
as effective tools to save Americans from droughts and other
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.
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.
January’s rainfall has been unimpressive to date, and Jan Null,
veteran meteorologist with Golden Gate Weather Services, agrees
that the last week of the month looks relatively dry. Seasonal
precipitation totals for Northern and Central California
continue to fall behind normal.
Americans are flushing toilets 10 times, showers aren’t
cleaning people like they used to and dishwashers must run five
times to be effective. That’s President Trump’s latest twist on
environmental messaging as he makes his pitch for a second
term. And it’s one that political strategists said is
reflective of so many aspects of Trump’s political career.
We are on the brink of a historic accomplishment in California
water to resolve longstanding conflicts through comprehensive
voluntary agreements that substitute collaboration and creative
solutions for perpetual litigation. For anyone to abandon this
transformative effort in favor of litigation would be a tragic
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.
Although water purified at the Silicon Valley Advanced
Purification Center is not currently part of Santa Clara
County’s supply of drinking water, the goal is to make that a
reality within the next decade or so.
The Santa Fe Irrigation District approved three percent water
rate increases for the next three years at a Jan. 16 hearing.
… The rate increases aim to help meet the district’s
objectives to ensure equity across customer classes, encourage
conservation and maintain financial stability as it faces
challenges such as the rising costs of imported water.
Utah first proposed building a 140-mile pipeline from Lake
Powell on the Utah-Arizona border more than a decade ago. The
plan, however, was waylaid by environmental and other reviews
during the Obama administration. … Reclamation signaled to
the state that it wants to move swiftly on the plan, in
recognition of how it was stalled at FERC…
In another valley, the disagreement might have blown over
without fanfare. But in Napa, which has been wrestling with
tensions between viticulture and environmental preservation,
the fight over Igor Sill’s vineyard took on a larger
President Trump yesterday touted his repeal of key Clean Water
Act regulations as more than three dozen current and former
government officials called for an investigation into the
scientific basis of his forthcoming replacement rule.
Gov. Doug Ducey is touting Arizona’s record on water while also
acknowledging the state has “more to do” in some areas. Ducey
talked about water policies this week in an interview for The
Arizona Republic’s podcast The Gaggle.
Now Trump’s team is set to impose new environmentally damaging
Bay-Delta water diversion and pumping rules. … These new
rules would wipe out salmon and other wildlife by allowing
wholesale siphoning of water from Northern California rivers to
a few agriculture operators in the western San Joaquin
Stamping out incorrect social-media information is like trying
to halt those computer viruses that multiply bad files every
time you close one. You can sometimes convince someone that the
story isn’t quite right – only to see it pop up on myriad other
feeds. … The specific story involved water rationing.
In a groundbreaking vote, California has allocated nearly $45
million toward boosting highly efficient electric heat pump
technology that can help avoid burning fossil fuels to heat our
water, as well as store California’s abundant pollution-free
solar energy to give us piping-hot showers when the sun isn’t
As Gov. Gavin Newsom and his administration attempt to
establish a comprehensive and cohesive water policy for the
state, officials are seeking public input on the draft water
resilience portfolio released earlier this month. The document
was issued in response to Newsom’s April 2019 executive order
directing his administration to inventory and assess a wide
range of water-related challenges and solutions.
Inside the dome on top of the Penitencia Water Treatment plant
in San Jose is the first permanent x-band weather radar system
in the Bay Area. “The radar system that you see up there is
collecting crucial data as we speak,” said Norma Camacho, CEO
of Valley Water.“ Camacho joined the San Francisco P.U.C.,
Sonoma Water and other partners in unveiling the new system,
which will improve weather forecasting across the region.
The Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant, located just south of
LAX, purifies water and injects it into the ground to act as a
barrier between seawater and fresh groundwater. … But the
idea is to one day recycle wastewater into drinking water and
put it right back into the system. The industry is moving
cautiously, though, given what you might call a considerable
“ick” factor for the public.
In order to provide ongoing funding for Sebastopol’s water and
sewer system, the Sebastopol City Council unanimously approved
an increase to water and sewer rates at its Jan. 7 meeting. …
The average ratepayer’s bill is expected to increase by $3 or
$4 per month, according to Mayor Patrick Slayter.
Even though water districts and cities throughout the San
Bernardino Valley rely on local rainfall and mountain runoff
for about 70 percent of their water supply, local supplies are
not enough. The region relies on Sierra snowmelt from Northern
California to meet the remaining 30 percent.
While Newsom has been forced to address climate change on many
fronts during the past year – think wildfires, blackouts and
automobile standards – the state’s myriad water challenges must
remain a priority. Our state’s water system is decades old and
needs to be re-envisioned for a new era.
SDSU, with the help of its landscape architect Schmidt Design
Group, hopes to engineer ties to the oft-overlooked San Diego
River, which runs behind the Mission Valley property currently
home to SDCCU Stadium. Although park-goers won’t be able to
access the river — a landscaped buffer will be used to keep
people away from the natural habitat — they should get a
river-like feel from the park.
In December, the boards of the Fallbrook Public Utility
District and the Rainbow Municipal Water District voted to
begin detachment from the San Diego County Water Authority in
order to join Riverside’s Eastern Municipal Water District.
Will those left behind pay more as others tap new supplies?
Questions are flying in Valley Center, where farms are the main
customers, even as avocado turf keeps shrinking.
If you manage a data center, you need smart water management
strategy. Fortunately, practical solutions to make that happen
are available today. Smart water management is a growing
necessity because of two colliding challenges: the need for
more data centers around the world and increasing global water
When was the last time that you heard a water district in
California complaining that in the future, they will have too
much water supply? Remarkably, that’s the future that the
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD)
outlined at their October 2019 Board of Directors’ retreat.
Because zone changes have the potential to impact many well
users, Valley Water conducted extensive stakeholder engagement
on the preliminary study recommendations. … The board of
directors agreed and directed our team to prepare the survey
description to modify the two existing zones, and create two
new zones in South County. The board will consider these
changes in a public hearing later this year.
Plenty of work is on the docket for 2020 and beyond to manage
and preserve Arizona’s water supply, even if that work might
not write history the way last year’s signing of the Drought
Contingency Plan did. … The state’s water managers are known
for prioritizing predictability and making careful, gradual
changes, not erratic or sudden ones. Here are five key
issues to watch this year in Arizona water.
Severe droughts have happened simultaneously in the regions
that supply water to Southern California almost six times per
century on average since 1500, according to new research. The
study is the first to document the duration and frequency of
simultaneous droughts in Southern California’s main water
sources—the Sacramento River basin, the Upper Colorado River
Basin, and local Southern California basins.
The Henry J. Mills Water Treatment Plant will be out of service
for nine days and the Western Municipal Water District will not
be able to import water, forcing the agency to rely on its
reserves, officials said. The work began Friday, Jan. 10, and
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California crews will
be fixing and modifying the facility until Jan. 19, according
to the agency.
Right now, the April-July runoff is supposed to be 82% of
average. That compares to 145 % of average in 2019, the
second-best runoff season in the past 20 years, says the
federal Colorado Basin River Forecast Center. Despite last
year’s excellent river flows, most experts also say the
Colorado still faces long-term supply issues…
San Francisco city officials and employees will no longer be
sipping bottled water, but instead tap water provided by the
San Francisco Public Utilities Commission under a new pilot
program announced Thursday. The program aims to install new
reusable five-gallon containers at nine departments with
offices within City Hall, filled with tap water from the city’s
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…
Who can deny the value of potable water to every living thing
in this city, this county, this state? Four million residential
and industrial customers in 43 cities in the Los Angeles, San
Gabriel and San Fernando Basins are dependent on multiple water
sources – groundwater pumped from below them, by aqueduct from
the Colorado River, the Sierra Nevada snowpack, Mono Lake, the
Owens Valley and recycled from wastewater treatment plants.
Because the amount of groundwater pumped out far exceeds what
is naturally replenished by rainfall, Valley Water’s
groundwater management activities are critical to maintaining
healthy groundwater basins.
Every year since 2014, I have petitioned the State Water
Resources Control Board to end the widespread practice of
irrigation, especially of cattle pastures, outside the legal
irrigation season. So far, however, State Water Board staff
have not taken effective action to end the illegal water use
and the resulting degradation of Scott River stream
When most think of the possible impacts of sea level rise, they
think of coastal flooding and the growing risks to shore-based
infrastructure — but there’s another sea level rise-related
threat that is much less talked about. As sea level rises, so
too will groundwater levels in coastal aquifers, and some
recent studies have concluded that in some coastal areas, as
much or more land could flood as a result of rising groundwater
tables than will flood directly from rising tides.
Along with long-term drought and climate change, the
overcommitment of the Colorado River is a big reason why Lake
Mead has dropped to historic levels in recent years. Fixing it
could be a big problem for Arizona.
As groundwater sustainability agencies prepare their plans to
meet the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management
Act (SGMA), they will likely utilize a variety of tools to
achieve sustainability. … At ACWA’s fall conference, a panel
discussed the legal framework, different types of groundwater
rights, lessons learned from existing groundwater production
allocation programs, and potential pitfalls …
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department says deputies were
dispatched Monday when a person in the city of Perris reported
they had not seen their neighbor for several days and a steady
flow of water coming out of the residence was flooding yards.
Farm organizations welcomed a new water planning document from
state agencies while they analyzed the document’s proposed
strategies. Titled the California Water Resilience Portfolio
and released last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration
described the document as an effort to guide water management
in a way that works for people, the environment and the
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…
California will impose new limits on water usage in the
post-drought era in the coming years — but a claim that
residents will be fined $1,000 starting this year if they
shower and do laundry the same day isn’t true. It wasn’t true
when the state’s new conservation laws were enacted in 2018,
and it isn’t true now — despite a recent report on a Los
Angeles television station …
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.
These changes will be substantial, multi-faceted, and often
rapid. Some changes will be irreversible. Many changes are
inevitable. Some will say today’s Delta is doomed. It will be
important for California to develop a scientific program that
can help guide difficult policy and management discussions and
decision-making through these challenges.
In the early years of the 20th century, leaders across the West
had big dreams for growth, all of which were tied to taking
water from the Colorado River and moving it across mountains
and deserts. In dividing up the river, they assigned more water
to users than the system actually produces.
Evaporation ponds, which are commonly used in many industries
to manage wastewater, can span acres, occupying a large
footprint and often posing risks to birds and other wildlife.
… Now researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence
Berkeley National Laboratory have demonstrated a way to double
the rate of evaporation by using solar energy and taking
advantage of water’s inherent properties.
Citing a lack of action by Congress and the Trump
administration, a group of California Democrats said it’s up to
the state to continue fighting the “existential” threat of
climate change by simultaneously cutting greenhouse gas
emissions and improving the standard of living for low-income
communities and people of color.
Governor Newsom’s administration recently released a draft
Water Resilience Portfolio plan… This plan also emphasizes
diverse relatively precise policy initiatives for state
agencies, often in support of local and regional water
problem-solving and with some aspirations to bring state
agencies together. It is a good read, clearly reflecting
intense and diverse discussions over several months.
Conserving water while training firefighters might seem like an
oxymoron. But the DRAFTS Pump Pod, essentially a specially
designed trailer designed to capture and reuse water, will
provide a vital role in teaching cadets how to use hoses,
manage hose lines and learn nozzle reaction so they can serve
the community after graduation…
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.
Over the next few weeks, all owners of any real property that
overlies the watershed’s four groundwater basins, as well as
users who take or could take water from the Ventura River, will
receive a notification or summons about the court proceedings
as part of an ongoing legal process and as required by the
The city of Chino Hills was named with three other entities in
a class-action lawsuit filed Dec. 17 in San Bernardino Superior
Court by the Natural Resources Defense Council for not
submitting a water conservation report required by the state
for three consecutive years. The other entities were San
Bernardino County, Rancho Cucamonga and Redlands.
The river is a powerful example of Mexico’s failure to protect
its environment: A New York Times analysis of 15 years of
efforts to clean up the Santiago found that attempts floundered
in the face of legal loopholes, deficient funding and a lack of
Federal agency representatives on Friday night kept the
conversation going with U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley about continued
efforts to save two Klamath Basin sucker species from
extinction. … Merkley has delivered $23.5 million to the
Basin since 2013 to find a way toward a solution. He recently
secured $11 million for sucker recovery efforts, including $5.1
million for the Klamath River.
Another water war is getting underway. This time we are not
fighting California. It’s a family feud right here in Arizona.
Urban versus rural. Phoenix and Tucson ganging up on the rural
communities along the Colorado River in western Arizona.
State agencies on Friday released a draft water resilience
portfolio with a suite of recommended actions to help
California cope with more extreme droughts and floods, rising
temperatures, declining fish populations, aging infrastructure
and other challenges.
The Lower Basin states of Arizona, California and Nevada need
to cut total water use by 18% from their 2000-2018 average to
bring Lakes Mead and Powell into a long-term state of balance,
says Brian Richter. Richter is president of the nonprofit group
Sustainable Waters and a former director and chief scientist
for the Nature Conservancy’s Global Water program.
One of the major problems LandWatch cites is a lack of water on
former Fort Ord property which the city hopes to develop in the
future, according to court documents. Two parcels, identified
as sites 1 and 1A, are located over the Salinas Valley
Groundwater Basin, considered overdrafted and already
experiencing seawater intrusion.
In the shadow of Mount Shasta lies the Butte Creek Ranch, its
alpine meadows carpeted in grass sprinkled with wildflowers and
bordered by forest. … For over 160 years, this summer scene
has played out for six generations of the Hart family. …
Recently, the Harts guaranteed the continuation of this legacy
by working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a
plan that balances their land use with conserving the rich
natural resources of Butte Creek.
Until recently, any time Long Beach firefighters practiced
using their high-powered hoses, the water they sprayed ended up
in the drain. … That changed in March 2019 when the Long
Beach Fire Department started using something called a Direct
Recycling Apparatus Firefighter Training & Sustainability Unit,
or DRAFTS Unit, for short.
A project in the Salinas Valley aims to remove contaminants
like phosphate from the water at a lower cost using much less
energy. … Partnering with the city of Salinas and the
wastewater treatment facility, the project aims to remove
phosphates efficiently and recycle water for groundwater
recharge and irrigation water to farmers.
Farmers for decades have used huge machines to plant, grow and
harvest their crops, but more and more Arizona farmers today
are using tiny, remote-controlled aircraft to boost yields and
save water and money.
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.
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
The nearly $4 million project, assisted with $3.4 million in
state grants and a $1 million match from Pajaro Valley Water,
is expected to further reduce groundwater pumping in the area,
so as to halt seawater intrusion and groundwater overdraft
while keeping agriculture viable in the Pajaro Valley.
While Colorado River water management eyes were focused
elsewhere this year – on the big snowpack up north, or the
chaos success of the Drought Contingency Plan – California has
quietly achieved a remarkable milestone.
The Department of Defense recently awarded a $266,589 grant to
a California State University Monterey Bay professor to
continue his research into fog. Reporter Michelle Loxton spoke
with Daniel Fernandez about how this grant will take his
research to the next level.
Quick shifts in climate have prompted Los Angeles to consider
an unlikely place to bank some of its Sierra Nevada snowmelt:
beneath dry Owens Lake, which the city drained starting in 1913
to fill the L.A. Aqueduct and supply a thirsty metropolis.
California is at a water crossroads. We can continue our
costly, 100-year-old pattern of trying to find new water
supplies, or we can choose instead to focus on smarter ways of
using – and reusing – what we already have.
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,
Legislation needs to be implemented to lessen pollution. And
all sectors — public and private — need to be educated about
the importance of saving water, as does society more broadly.
High on the list should be efforts to investigate the benefits
and risks of drinking reused water, including ways to make it
more acceptable to consumers.
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
Climate change is already affecting water management across the
state. Small rural communities with ongoing drinking water
challenges are especially vulnerable to greater extremes
brought on by a warming climate. We talked to Jan Coppinger, a
special district administrator from Lake County, about how the
county’s small water systems have dealt with an especially
devastating string of natural disasters.
In theory, a demand management program would pay users to
conserve in the midst of a crisis in order to boost the river’s
big reservoirs. How it would work, who would participate and
how it would be funded are still unanswered questions. Another
concern is how to make the program equitable — so it doesn’t
burden one user over another.
Transforming water systems to be climate resilient is a
critical component of the needed change. This means urgent
action to plan for and adapt to climate impacts on water
systems; it also means urgent action to minimize the
contribution of water systems to the climate crisis.
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
As an appointee to the San Francisco Regional Water Quality
Control Board, Newsha Ajami has worked with local, state and
federal agencies to monitor and ensure water quality in areas
affected by wildfires. Ajami is director of urban water policy
at Stanford’s Water in the West program, and co-leads the Urban
Water Systems & Institutions Thrust at Re-Inventing the
Nation’s Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt), a National
Science Foundation engineering research center based at
Stanford. She discussed wildfire’s threat to water quality with
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.
Passing the new North American free trade agreement would mean
millions of dollars to help upgrade sewage infrastructure on
the border, say the agreement’s backers. But an environmental
group and a local organization on the U.S.-Mexico border say
it’s not enough.
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.”
Next year would mark a decade of lawsuits by the San Diego
County Water Authority challenging the Metropolitan Water
District of Southern California’s uniform rates set by our
Board of Directors after many public meetings and hearings. For
nearly my entire tenure on the board, SDCWA has been pursuing
litigation against Metropolitan. One of my goals as chairwoman
is to put this era behind us.
A mechanical engineer at Carnegie Mellon University has
developed a new, micro-thin material to make membrane water
desalination even better. Amir Barati Farimani, with fellow
researchers Zhonglin Cao and Vincent Liu, has calculated how
much better his metal organic framework (MOF) works than the
traditional membrane method.
When it comes to testing toilets, it turns out the appropriate
substitute for human feces is miso paste. That’s what EPA uses
to ensure that commodes earning its WaterSense efficiency label
flush effectively. To earn the label, tank-type toilets
currently must use 1.28 gallons or less of water per flush
while eliminating 350 grams of miso paste, along with toilet
paper. That may be news to President Trump…
Federal water managers are about to start reexamining a
12-year-old agreement among Western states that laid down rules
for dealing with potential water shortages along the Colorado
River. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said he asked the
Bureau of Reclamation to start the review at the beginning of
2020, rather than by the end of 2020, which is the deadline
under the existing agreement.
Federal water managers are about to start reexamining a
12-year-old agreement among Western states that laid down rules
for dealing with potential water shortages along the Colorado
River. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said he asked the
Bureau of Reclamation to start the review at the beginning of
2020, rather than by the end of 2020, which is the deadline
under the existing agreement.
This isn’t just a problem for Mexico. These growers are the
custodians of rare varieties of maize that may hold the secret
to more sustainable agriculture. If they lay down their tools,
their crops could begin to vanish.
With a low rumble from a large pipe, water began flowing into a
dirt basin at 25th Street West and Elizabeth Lake Road Thursday
morning, christening the Upper Amargosa Creek Recharge Project
and marking the debut of a new water storage endeavor in the
Valley. Inside the basin, water flowed from holes in a round
structure to begin flooding the bottom, where it will begin to
percolate through the soil to the aquifer beneath.
States in the U.S. West that have agreed to begin taking less
water next month from the drought-stricken Colorado River got
praise and a push for more action Thursday from the nation’s
top water official. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner
Brenda Burman told federal, state and local water managers that
abiding by the promises they made will be crucial to ensuring
that more painful cuts aren’t required.
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
UC Berkeley engineers have developed a mineral-coated sand that
can soak up toxic metals like lead and cadmium from water.
Along with its ability to destroy organic pollutants like
bisphenol A, this material could help cities tap into
stormwater, an abundant but underused water source.
The Trump administration on Thursday gave the go-ahead to new
oil-drilling leases on federal land in California, mostly
around petroleum-rich Bakersfield but also in less-obvious
spots in the Sierra foothills, such as near Yosemite National
During its 10 years, the Ellis Wastewater Treatment Facility
has reshaped itself to take in waste produced by a rapidly
changing city, factoring in an increased population and new
industries like large-scale beer production. Recently-completed
projects costing roughly $9 million have changed the face of
the wastewater facility by expanding treatment capacity,
tackling hard-to-process industry waste and building a system
that will provide biofuel to city vehicles.
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman said
Wednesday that Nevada has been a national leader in water
conservation by reducing demand on the Colorado River and
investing in infrastructure over the past two decades. In Las
Vegas for the Colorado River Water Users Association’s annual
conference, Burman declined to say, however, whether she sees
Nevada’s share of the river’s water increasing…
At 65, Lehrer has become Los Angeles’s doyenne of landscape
design and a leading advocate for green urbanism… But the
main project that Lehrer has been tenaciously, tirelessly
working on for most of her career is the Los Angeles River.
Dr. Michael Kiparsky is the founding director of the Wheeler
Water Institute within the Center for Law, Energy, and
Environment at the UC Berkeley School of Law. In this
presentation from the 2019 Western Groundwater Congress, Dr.
Kiparsky discussed a pilot project in the Pajaro Valley
designed to incentivize private landowners to do groundwater
There’s new hope for an endangered California frog that has
vanished from half of its habitat. The state Fish and Game
Commission on Wednesday approved protections for five of six
populations of the foothill yellow-legged frog.
Arizona, Nevada and Mexico will start taking less water from
the Colorado River in January as a hard-fought set of
agreements kicks in to reduce the risk of reservoirs falling to
critically low levels. The two U.S. states agreed to leave a
portion of their water allotments in Lake Mead under a deal
with California called the Lower Basin Drought Contingency
Plan, or DCP…
Researchers combed through six years of data, from 2012 to
2018, to examine how L.A. County has mitigated the issue, most
visible in the 72-hour aftermath of rainfall but persists
during dry weather in the form of runoff from driveways and
sidewalks. As it turns out, not much has been done, largely
because of a lack of transparent requirements when it comes to
the monitoring of stormwater pollution by various
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.
There are two things already baked into the desert’s cake
guaranteed to inject a bit of what ails the rest of the state —
the full flowering of the regulatory scheme mandated by the
state’s 2014 Groundwater Sustainability Act and reductions in
Colorado River allocations made necessary by a drying Colorado
River Basin that is already badly over allocated.
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.
With Poseidon Water’s plans for a Huntington Beach desalination
plant approaching the homestretch, critics were as adamant as
ever at a Friday workshop, where dozens complained the proposal
is environmentally flawed, unneeded and would jack up water
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
Pummeled by fires, drought and floods, California’s Democratic
primary voters put fighting climate change at the top of their
list of issues for the next president to tackle. Nearly half of
likely Democratic primary voters call the issue the No. 1
priority for the next president, according to a new statewide
The recommended fee hike would have elevated the rate from a
monthly $30 per-acre foot pumped to $75/acre-foot, according to
IWVGA acting general manager Don Zdeba. It would turn the
tables on the IWVGA ending 2020 fiscal year with $465,000 in
the red to ending in the positive by $209,000.
Tijuana and Rosarito residents may have gotten a brief reprieve
from scheduled water shut-offs, but the delivery of water
throughout Baja California is a vulnerable system in need of
urgent repairs, state and water officials stressed this week.
Dr. Rachel Johnson is a research biologist with the NOAA’s
National Marine Fisheries Service and UC Davis with over 15
years’ experience working on various aspects of conservation
and fisheries biology. In this presentation from the 2019 State
of the Estuary conference, Dr. Johnson discussed the importance
of developing a holistic framework among aquatic ecosystems and
The Bear Valley 1884 Dam that created Big Bear Lake was the
culmination of Frank Brown’s dream of creating an irrigation
colony in the far west since leaving Connecticut in 1877. The
single arched dam revolutionized dam building and made Frank
Brown famous. The multiple arched dam built in 1912 with 10
arches became an engineering standby based on the 1884 dam.
Net groundwater pumping peaked in 1968 at 86,000 acre-feet and
started to go down in the 1980s, ’90s and 2000s, according to
the state’s 2018 groundwater pumpage inventory for the aquifer.
Thanks to the water authority’s efforts to reduce pumping, only
10% of the water used in the valley now comes from groundwater,
while the rest comes from Lake Mead, Mack said.
The planned downtown Palm Springs entertainment arena, like
many desert projects, is a thirsty one, requiring almost 12
million gallons of water each year to accommodate an American
Hockey League affiliate team and other visitors.
The report by the Environmental Integrity Project released on
Thursday showed some 30 states have reduced funding for
pollution control programs, 16 of them by more than 20%. Forty
states, meanwhile, have cut staffing at environmental agencies,
half of them by at least 10%, the report showed.
The bitter drought validated scientists’ warnings that despite
longstanding endangered species protections, the state’s
outdated and overtaxed water management plans are failing in
the face of climate change. … A report released Thursday by
the Public Policy Institute of California recommends the state
stop prioritizing individual species recovery plans and adopt
holistic management methods that improve entire freshwater
Unfettered pumping has taken a toll on the state’s aquifers for
many years, but just as experts are calling for Arizona to
develop plans to save its ancient underground water, pumping is
accelerating and the problems are getting much worse. Big
farming companies owned by out-of-state investors and foreign
agriculture giants have descended on rural Arizona and snapped
up farmland in areas where there is no limit on pumping.
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.
In her address to the State of the Estuary conference, Felicia
Marcus spoke about the connections of the Delta to all
Californians and the importance of working together and more
broadly to solve the challenging problems before us.
While local tribes celebrated a federal appellate court ruling
last month upholding their senior water rights on the Klamath
River, a trio of threats facing the Trinity River combine to
paint a foreboding picture for local salmon populations.
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.
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.
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.
Elected leaders from across South Bay San Diego announced
Tuesday a joint effort aimed at pressuring the federal
government to support a long-term fix to the sewage pollution
that routinely flows over the border from Tijuana, fouling
beaches as far north as Coronado.
The 20-year groundwater plan, required by state law, aims to
bring the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin back into balance.
Between 1981 and 2011, the 684-square-mile aquifer serving 29
percent of San Luis Obispo County residents and 40 percent of
its agriculture lost 369,000 acre-feet of water.
California is by far the United States’ most populous state, as
well as its largest agricultural producer. Increasingly, it is
also one of the country’s most parched places. But Edgar Terry,
a fourth-generation farmer in Ventura County, just outside Los
Angeles, thinks he has a key to reversing worsening water
stress: establishing tradeable rights to shares of
fast-depleting groundwater aquifers.
California’s water policy community continues to be embroiled
on how best to manage what remains of California’s native
aquatic ecosystems, particularly for the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta and its tributaries. One aspect of this controversy is
the dedication and use of habitat and flow resources to support
The list of bases cited by the report was not limited by
geographical area and ranged from Fort Bragg, North Carolina,
and Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina in the
East to Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and Camp
Pendleton, California in the West.
As conventional wisdom has it, the states were relying on bad
data when they divided up the water. But a new book challenges
that narrative. Turn-of-the-century hydrologists actually had a
pretty good idea of how much water the river could spare, water
experts John Fleck and Eric Kuhn write in Science be Dammed:
How Ignoring Inconvenient Science Drained the Colorado River.
They make the case that politicians and water managers in the
early 1900s ignored evidence about the limits of the river’s
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
A recent settlement between Monterey County, Monterey County
Water Resources Agency, and a coalition of Salinas Valley
farmers brings an end to a protracted legal battle over
reservoir operations during drought conditions.
For three years, residents of the unincorporated San Bernardino
County desert town have used twice-a-month shipments of bottled
water because local wells were no longer meeting state
standards for drinking water. … That changed in September,
when work finished on a new pipeline that pulls clean water
from a well 4 miles away in Yucca Valley.
There’s a war over the future of water on the Monterey
Peninsula and it’s taking place in the board chambers of half a
dozen state and local government entities. It’s also taking
place on social media and in the press.
A new federal program hopes to fill knowledge gaps on how water
moves through the headwaters of arguably the West’s most
important drinking and irrigation water source. The U.S.
Geological Survey announced the next location for its Next
Generation Water Observing System will be in the headwaters of
the Colorado and Gunnison rivers. It’s the second watershed in
the country to be part of the program…
For as far as I could see, east and west, the banks were
littered with plastic cups, fast-food containers, spray paint
cans and chip wrappers. It had rained a smidgen the day before,
the first wet weather of the season, and this was what had
washed downstream from the area west of downtown Los Angeles.
At the November meeting of the California Water Commission,
Taryn Ravazzini, DWR Deputy Director for Statewide Groundwater
Management, updated the Commission on DWR’s recent activities
and milestones related to SGMA.
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.
Through a variety of panel discussions, presentations and a
showcase of student research, the Re:Border conference is
exploring how San Diego State University and its regional
partners can contribute to innovative solutions for
water-related challenges in the transborder region.
It wasn’t easy for water officials tasked with hammering out a
plan to manage the Santa Clarita Valley’s groundwater to find
seven people to serve as the agency’s advisory group, but on
Monday, they approved a list of double the number they sought.
A bi-national conference at San Diego State University was
aimed at analyzing water resources in the Baja California and
San Diego border region where challenges include cross-border
pollution and water scarcity… Experts at the Reborder 2019
conference discussed ways to improve regional access to “a
secure and reliable water supply” through wastewater treatment
It will be two years in December that the city of Chino Hills
shut down its wells because of a new contamination level set by
the state for the chemical 1,2,3-TCP (TCP) and it could take
another three years before a filtration system can be built to
treat the chemical and put the wells back in service, according
to public works officials.
In the forecast stretching from Tuesday through Friday are
plummeting temperatures, hurricane-force gusts that could reach
or exceed 100 mph in some locations, giant waves of up to 37
feet, as much as four feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada and
heavy rain in lower elevations between San Diego and Salem.
Aside from advanced economies and Mediterranean climates that
sustain long growing seasons, California, Spain and Australia
share an intermittent feature that reshapes their overburdened
water systems every time it rears its ugly head: drought.
Should we worry about a drought yet? Yes, this is California,
where droughts and flood can happen in any year, and sometimes
in the same year… No, not especially anyway, because …
there is not strong correlation between October-November
precipitation and total water year precipitation.
Orange County has long been recognized as a worldwide leader
for developing state-of-the-art, environmentally sensitive new
water supply technology, and we are not resting on our laurels.
… This month, it was announced that the Huntington Beach
Seawater Desalination Plant will receive $585 million in credit
assistance under the EPA’s WIFIA program.
The study demonstrated the following: big legislative reforms
in water management in these three areas have always come about
as a consequence of important droughts. … One of the main
differences lies in how water ownership is managed and how the
market is regulated in this field.
Water shutoffs aren’t uncommon in the growing cities of Tijuana
and Rosarito. But they’re rarely announced beforehand, and
they’re often isolated to certain neighborhoods after pipes or
pumps fail. Earlier this month, however, Tijuana officials
announced that it was planning wide-ranging shutoffs for the
next two months, in an attempt to replenish a vital reservoir
that is perilously low.
The complaint filed in court on Nov. 19 asks the court to
“impose a ‘physical solution’ amongst nine groundwater users in
the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin (“Basin”) to preserve
and protect the Basin’s water supply, the investment-backed
expectations of agriculture, and the economy that is dependent
upon that supply.”
California has told Napa County to form a local groundwater
agency to ensure the underground reservoir that nurtures
world-famous wine country is being kept in good shape. The
county submitted more than 1,000 pages of documents to try to
avoid that outcome.
A district that recharges renewable water supplies to allow new
housing development brings in about $13.4 billion a year in
economic benefits, says a study written for a homebuilders’
group. … The report goes against the grain of
recommendations made over the years by academics,
environmentalists and others to limit enrollment of new
subdivisions in the district, saying that could cause a major
economic setback for the state.
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…
Despite a winter storm forecast to hit the Bay Area soon,
California may be headed for another drought. The National
Weather Service’s latest drought forecast, released Thursday,
shows that California is likely to develop a drought between
now and the end of the February, with abnormally dry conditions
covering most of the state.
Researchers in Canada and the U.S. investigated potential
reductions in streamflow, caused by groundwater pumping for
cannabis irrigation, in the Navarro River in Mendocino County,
California… Reporting in the journal Environmental Research
Communications, they note the combination of cannabis
cultivation and residential use may cause significant
streamflow depletion, with the largest impacts in late summer
when streams and local fish species depend most on groundwater
The Center for Biological Diversity on Thursday sued the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency, alleging the agency wrongly
allowed oil waste to be dumped into a San Luis Obispo aquifer
and ignored impacts to the California red-legged frog and other
Known as Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO), the
approach centers on using the latest forecast technology to
plan for the arrival of atmospheric rivers. Those are the
torrents of moisture in the sky that barrel into California
from the Pacific Ocean. Atmospheric rivers are critical to the
state’s water supply, accounting for as much as half of its
annual precipitation. But they can also cause catastrophic
In what has become an all-too-familiar occurrence, three water
projects designed to serve the Monterey Peninsula have again
experienced delays, including the Pure Water Monterey recycled
water project and its proposed expansion, and California
American Water’s proposed desalination project.
By forming a Groundwater Sustainability Agency, we will be
taking a step towards improved groundwater management in the
Carpinteria Groundwater Basin… Through the development of a
Climate Action Plan, we can examine ways to reduce our
greenhouse gas production and prepare our water system to adapt
to a changing environment.
A reservoir and water dam project aiming to store recycled
water is on track, according to water management officials. The
Santa Margarita Water District gave a tour of the Trampas
Canyon Reservoir and Dam on Saturday, Nov. 16. Construction
began in January 2018 and is expected to finish by 2020.