California’s climate, characterized by warm, dry summers and mild
winters, makes the state’s water supply unpredictable. For
instance, runoff and precipitation in California can be quite
variable. The northwestern part of the state can receive more
than 140 inches per year while the inland deserts bordering
Mexico can receive less than 4 inches.
By the Numbers:
Precipitation averages about 193 million acre-feet per year.
In a normal precipitation year, about half of the state’s
available surface water – 35 million acre-feet – is collected in
local, state and federal reservoirs.
California is home to more than 1,300 reservoirs.
About two-thirds of annual runoff evaporates, percolates into
the ground or is absorbed by plants, leaving about 71 million
acre-feet in average annual runoff.
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.
A potential lawsuit in North Carolina and legislation in
Congress have together surfaced an under-the-radar debate about
who shoulders the burden of preventing contamination of
waterways with toxic PFAS chemicals.
In response to concerns about lead in the water at schools in
Cabrillo Unified School District, the district is moving
forward with a plan to get 25 filtered water bottle filling
stations installed across Cabrillo campuses.
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
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
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.
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
Warren Turkett, a natural resource analyst for the Colorado
River Commission of Nevada, told commissioners Tuesday that a
warm summer and lack of precipitation in the upper Colorado
River Basin last year left soil drier than normal, which is
expected to cut the amount of water flowing into Lake Powell to
20 percent below average based on current projections.
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.
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.
California American Water has received a 90-day extension of
the deadline for the Coastal Commission to consider the
company’s desalination project permit application, effectively
allowing commission staff about four more months to complete
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.
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
A report recently published by the Lawrence Livermore National
Lab, Getting to Neutral, suggests that power plants across the
state could profitably convert wood from forests and orchards
into liquid or hydrogen fuels, all while capturing their
Wildfire poses layers of risk to drinking water that unspool
over time and geography, with some effects emerging years
later, sometimes outside the burn zone… Water utility
managers, engineers and scientists have only recently begun to
grapple with the aftereffects of fires that consume entire
neighborhoods and towns—as they did in California—and that in
the process, release dozens of manmade pollutants into water
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
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.
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.
A growing health crisis fueled by synthetic chemicals known as
per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in groundwater
has garnered much attention in the last few years. The reported
levels could be “just the tip of the iceberg,” as most of the
chemicals are still migrating down slowly through the soil,
according to Bo Guo, University of Arizona assistant professor
of hydrology and atmospheric sciences.
Experts and advocates on Tuesday criticized the Environmental
Protection Agency’s proposed rule to combat lead in the water
supply, calling for the agency to require that service lines
containing lead be replaced.
Dr. Kurt Schwabe … stated that from 2007 to 2015 water prices
increased an average of 45% while income has been stagnant or
decreased by an average of 6%. This affects a household’s
discretionary income, the disposable income left over after
subtracting the cost of water and other essential needs. As
water prices rise and discretionary income falls below zero,
households are forced to make tradeoffs for some of their
California’s alarmingly dry winter continues, with no
meaningful snow or rain in sight. Although it’s far too soon to
predict a drought, experts said wildfire risks could worsen
this summer as a result of the shortage of precipitation.
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
More than dust-filled air could be plaguing residents around
the quickly evaporating Salton Sea in Imperial Valley.
University of California, Riverside research shows toxic
aerosols could also be filling the air. The problem has to do
with agricultural fertilizer in the Salton Sea wetland area.
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.
The group called Water Audit California has used lawsuits to
pry water releases from local reservoirs for fish and has
threatened a groundwater-related lawsuit against Napa County.
The group last week co-sponsored a forum to suggest another
Wildfires can have many detrimental impacts on water supplies.
The effects can last for multiple decades and include drinking
water pollution, reservoir sedimentation, flash floods and
reduced recreational benefits from rivers. These impacts
represent a growing hazard as populations expand, and
communities encroach onto forest landscapes.
The local steelhead run is at the height of its roughly
four-month window, when adult fish raised from eggs at the Don
Clausen Hatchery return from the ocean, swimming up the Russian
River and Dry Creek. Returning salmon — including wild and
hatchery raised chinook and coho — make similar journeys
through the watershed, but their spawning seasons are a bit
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.
“In many ways, summer steelhead are the most extreme athletes
of the steelhead, allowing them to get up to habitats higher in
the watersheds like the Middle Fork Eel River in the Yolla
Bolly Wilderness, their southernmost stronghold where they have
unimpeded access,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
biologist Damon Goodman. “Having clear routes of passage to be
able to make it up and express their life history is critical
to their survival.”
In the waning moments of 2019, San Francisco’s Water Department
persuaded Congress to deny long-promised access to unreachable
areas of Yosemite National Park. This power play would ban
environmentally benign boating on Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. The
move reverses the guarantees of improved access and recreation
which San Francisco made in 1913, when it pleaded with Congress
to pass the Raker Act and allow it to build the reservoir in
Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park.
Under a 1944 treaty, Mexico and the United States are supposed
to allow cross-border flows of water to each other, but Mexico
has fallen badly behind and now has to quickly catch up on
payments. … Mexico’s federal government dispatched National
Guard officers to protect the La Boquilla dam Tuesday, but
hundreds of farmers pushed and shoved them back hundreds of
yards in a failed bid to take over the dam’s control room.
A warming climate has been linked to human activity around the
world, and has affected the Colorado River System as well. The
impacts are substantial, from reduced water flows, threats to
indigenous species and the influx of new invasive species along
the river system.
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission recently
purchased nearly 800 acres of verdant, rolling hills and
expansive bay area views east of Milpitas, a property known as
Wool Ranch, adding cohesion to its collection of protected
lands that surround the watershed feeding the Calaveras
Luisa Valiela is an Environmental Protection Specialist in the
watershed division of US EPA Region 9. Xavier Fernandez is the
Chief of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Board’s Planning
and TMDL division. At the 2019 State of the Estuary conference,
Ms. Valiela and Mr. Fernandez gave a joint presentation
covering the goals and objectives of the Wetlands Regional
Monitoring Program, the development process, and the Program
Plan that will be released in early 2020.
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.
While the Ventura River may be beautiful, a legal case over its
water is turning ugly. Thousands of people like Jessica
Colborn, born and raised in Upper Ojai, are being served legal
papers. This is because of their wells that use water from the
The governing boards of the two water agencies, which combined
serve southern and eastern San Diego County, recently created a
joint committee to explore a potential arrangement that would
allow Sweetwater to purchase recycled water from Otay.
Owens Valley Indian Water Commission is pleased to announce the
Commission awarded the Big Pine Tribe a $100,000 Agriculture
Assistance Grant torepair segments of the Tribe’s irrigation
system to ensure tribal members have access to water for
agricultural and general purposes.
The state lowered the acceptable levels for two PFAS toxins in
drinking water on Thursday, triggering the closure of wells
throughout the California — including 33 in Orange County,
which has been particularly plagued by the so-called “forever
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
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.
Unfortunately, there are few places so well-suited for
geothermal energy as the site of the Geysers in California,
which was built over an area with naturally occurring steam and
a reservoir of hot water. That is why some experts advocate for
enhanced geothermal energy systems (EGS), which pump water into
the ground to tap natural heat sources, creating conditions for
geothermal energy in areas where it would otherwise be
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.
Pure Water Monterey has finally secured a critical final state
approval and is poised to begin delivering potable recycled
water to the Seaside basin by mid-February. After an all-day
inspection of the $126 million recycled water project’s
advanced water purification facility by a nine-member team on
Tuesday, the state Division of Drinking Water signed off both
verbally and by email.
Researchers at Virginia Institute of Marine Science issued
their annual report card which looked at tide-gauge records for
32 coastal locations, stretching from Maine to Alaska. … The
Bay Area was home to two of those stations: one in Alameda and
one in San Francisco, which both recorded a year-over-year
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
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation last year lost a major partner
willing to help pay for raising the height of Shasta Dam, but
that hasn’t stopped the agency from going forward with the
project. The federal agency continues to look for new partners
after the Fresno-based Westlands Water District backed out, and
the bureau continues to do “pre-construction” and design work
on the dam.
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
From an ecologist’s perspective, river habitat and species
population sizes and life histories were shaped by unimpaired
flow patterns (including volume and natural variability) across
seasons and years. Science from across the world, other regions
in the US, and right here in California suggests that we can
take some of that flow for other uses, but must preserve
adequate volume and natural patterns of variation if we want
native species to survive.
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.
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers finalized a long-awaited new rule redefining the term
“Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act
(CWA). The Agencies state that their so-called Navigable Waters
Protection Rule will improve and streamline the regulatory
definition of WOTUS.
The Air Force research crew on the WC-130J Super Hercules
airplane was cruising at 28,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean,
preparing to deploy 25 weather-sensing devices over a long band
of water vapor known as an “atmospheric river” when the hazards
of air travel got in the way of science.
The Four Corners drought of 2017 and 2018 caused $3 billion in
losses and prompted the Navajo Nation to issue an emergency
drought declaration. Now, new research in the Bulletin of the
American Meteorological Society suggests a sizable portion of
the drought’s impacts stemmed from human-caused climate change.
The Bureau of Land Management may stop studying how its
long-term blueprints for millions of acres of public lands
would affect the environment, according to a document shared
with Bloomberg Environment. … The BLM may propose a land use
planning rule that will “remove NEPA requirements from the
planning regulations,” referring to the National Environmental
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
State Sen. Scott Wiener will unveil legislation today to let
the state of California seize control of the embattled utility
PG&E. Wiener’s bill … would use eminent domain to force
the company’s stockholders to sell their shares to the state of
California, which would then take over operations.
In November 2018, more than two-thirds of voters passed Measure
W, a comprehensive plan to address how we capture water and how
to reduce our reliance on imported water. Now called the Safe
Clean Water Program, this annual 2.5 cent per impervious square
foot tax for all non-exempt property owners will fund over $250
million dollars annually to build and maintain projects that
capture rainfall and storm water…
A bill introduced last week by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) helped craft would ban
fracking nationwide by 2025, according to its newly unveiled
text. The legislation would immediately prevent federal
agencies from issuing federal permits for expanded fracking,
new fracking, new pipelines, new natural gas or oil export
terminals and other gas and oil infrastructure.
Connie Woodhouse and David Meko, professors at the University
of Arizona’s Laboratory of Tree Ring Research, found the most
recent span of 100 years, when five perfect droughts hit
California, was not unusual compared to past centuries.
Congressional leaders unveiled a transformative vision of
moving America and the environment forward by investing in 21st
century infrastructure. The Moving Forward Framework outlines a
five-year plan for bold investment in transportation and water
Plans to replace the Lake Wohlford dam are now on hold as
Escondido investigates other, less expensive options because
the projected cost of the project has escalated to more than
$50 million. It was nearly 13 years ago when state inspectors
determined that the top quarter of the dam might liquefy in the
event of a major earthquake…
A San Francisco Bay Program Office would be established at the
Environmental Protection Agency to make grants for estuary
conservation and other water-related initiatives under a
modified version of H.R. 1132. The bill would authorize $25
million annually for the office for fiscal 2021 through 2025.
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…
In the South Bay, Santa Clara County’s 10 reservoirs combined
are at about two-thirds of their normal levels at this point in
the year. Lexington Reservoir, near Los Gatos is just half
full. Water managers say local groundwater supplies remain
strong so the reduced Sierra snowpack is not yet of critical
California’s win rate shows that lawyers in its attorney
general’s office are bringing strong cases, says legal scholar
Buzz Thompson, founding director of the Stanford Woods
Institute for the Environment.
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.
The plan, put together with the help of Carollo Engineers,
Inc., lays out a 20-year road map of projects needed to
maintain and improve the city’s reservoirs, water tanks, wells,
underground pipes and pump stations.
An audit of 650 California dams considered hazardous found that
only a small fraction have completed emergency plans required
after the Oroville Dam spillway collapsed three years ago and
forced the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people.
One of the major questions fish biologists are often asked is
“how much water do fish need?” In 2016, a group of scientists
from California Trout, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, The Nature
Conservancy, Utah State University and the Southern California
Coastal Water Research Project, with funding in partnership
from the State Water Board, began to delve into this question
Overpumping of groundwater has led to a variety of negative
effects including reduced groundwater levels, seawater
intrusion, and degraded water quality. It has also led to
subsidence, which causes damage to critical water
infrastructure. In some cases, years of overpumping have left
entire California communities and farms without safe and
reliable local water supplies.
When a Healdsburg winery leaked thousands of gallons of
Cabernet into the Russian River last week, the jokes flowed,
too. … But the spill coincided with a more sobering blow to
clean water, coming to light the day the Trump administration
announced it was ripping up expanded protections for streams,
wetlands and groundwater adopted by the Obama administration.
To inform our conservation work on the Eel, CalTrout has teamed
up with partners on this new project – The Adult Salmonid Sonar
Monitoring Program – to tally the annual spawning run of
Chinook salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead on the South Fork
Eel River with a Sound Metrics Dual Frequency Identification
California’s win rate shows that lawyers in its attorney
general’s office are bringing strong cases, says legal scholar
Buzz Thompson, founding director of the Stanford Woods
Institute for the Environment.
The situation in Australia illustrates a growing global
concern: Forests, grasslands and other areas that supply
drinking water to hundreds of millions of people are
increasingly vulnerable to fire due in large part to hotter,
drier weather that has extended fire seasons, and more people
moving into those areas, where they can accidentally set fires.
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.
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 California Department of Water Resources conducted the
second monthly snow survey of the year Thursday morning at
Phillips Station snow course in the Sierra Nevada, south of
Lake Tahoe. Snowpack across the state is averaging 72 percent
of what’s normal for the start of February.
The multi-year, multi-agency effort to transform the lower
landscape of the Carmel River into a natural floodplain took a
massive step forward Jan. 28 when the Monterey County Board of
Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the project’s final
environmental impact report.
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
Coastal Commission staff has recommended California American
Water withdraw and resubmit a coastal development permit
application involving the company’s proposed Monterey Peninsula
desalination project, which would likely postpone a hearing on
the desal permit and a pending appeal until September at the
The vast majority of California’s major dams aren’t adequately
prepared for an emergency. Three years after the near-disaster
at Oroville Dam, only 22 state-regulated dams have finalized
emergency plans — out of 650 major dams that are required by
law to have plans in place — according to a report issued
Thursday by State Auditor Elaine Howle.
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.
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.
Water-related projects topped the list of infrastructure
priorities for mayors, according to the 2019 Menino Survey of
Mayors released this month. Why it matters: The survey revealed
urgency around investments in water, wastewater and stormwater
facilities, with mayors 10 percentage points more likely to
focus on that issue than four years ago.
It was standing room only as supporters of Curtimade Dairy
lined the walls of Corcoran City Council chambers during last
night’s city council meeting. Corcoran is currently suing the
Curti family for $65 million dollars for damages incurred when
their dairy allegedly contaminated the city’s water supply at
the height of the drought in 2015.
It is doubtful that the new Navigable Waters Protection Rule
will provide any benefits to California’s farmers and ranchers.
Because of rules that the State Water Board established last
year, California is unlikely to be affected by the recent
federal regulation that replaces the Waters of the U.S. rule.
Tests are still finding such deadly pesticides as DDT, despite
the ban of its use in farming during the 1970s. There are also
untold amounts of ammunition from military testing as well as
uranium left over from the Atomic Energy Commission for
WWII-era testing. Proponents don’t claim sea water import is a
perfect answer; just the most feasible means of containing
these toxins as they are heavier than water.
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.
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.
Wildfires are feasting on overgrown, overcrowded and
undermanaged forests, warmer temperatures have created longer
fire seasons and officials are trying to prevent another
environmental catastrophe. That was all just part of the
discussion Monday during Operation Sierra Storm, a national
weather conference sponsored by the Lake Tahoe Visitors
Understanding why desalination is so critical to California’s
water future is a lot like building a personal budget. With a
changing climate, growing population and booming economy, we
need to include desalination in the water supply equation to
help make up an imported water deficit.
When Wendy Rash was diagnosed in 2005 with a thyroid disorder,
chronic fatigue and other ailments, her doctor couldn’t explain
her suddenly failing health. … It wasn’t until 2016 that
scientists tested the tap water they had been drinking and
found it was contaminated with man-made chemicals known as
per-fluorinated compounds, part of a family of chemicals called
In preparation for the inevitable, Self-Help Enterprises …
has launched a new and innovative Emergency Services Division
that will reach and engage diverse and vulnerable populations
around natural disasters, such as drought, fire, flood and
earthquake. The program will also help families receive urgent
access to clean water, help with water well replacement and
water filtration services as needed.
Fracta combines artificial intelligence with machine learning
and measures everything from soil quality to population density
of an area, along with historical information on when pipes
were installed and what they are made of. The startup says it
has already won contracts in 23 states, including cities such
as San Francisco and Oakland, which have faced water shortages.
The public will get an opportunity to hear from the city of
Ventura on Thursday about why it has sent out thousands of
notices and summonses to those who use, pump or own property in
the Ventura River watershed. The process started years ago
after Santa Barbara Channelkeeper filed a lawsuit alleging the
city was taking too much water from the watershed, officials
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.
Doug Ridley and Sherry Shen figured their condominium in Santa
Clara would serve as a retirement nest egg, drawing enough
rental income so they could comfortably travel to the United
Kingdom and Asia visiting relatives. Instead, the last two
years have turned into a homeowner’s nightmare, thanks to an
old artesian well
The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians has filed a second
lawsuit against the Coachella Valley Water District and Desert
Water Agency over groundwater. … In the new complaint filed
on Jan. 24, the tribe asserts that it and its members should
not have to pay a “replenishment assessment charge” for
groundwater production on land owned by the tribe and
individual tribal members.
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
By analyzing more than two decades of data in the western U.S.,
scientists have shown that flood sizes increase exponentially
as a higher fraction of precipitation falls as rain, offering
insight into how flood risks may change in a warming world with
A company’s proposal to take water from farmland along the
Colorado River and sell it to a growing Phoenix suburb has
provoked a heated debate, and some Arizona legislators are
trying to block the deal with a bill that would prohibit the
The Chino City Council on Tuesday night approved selling
3,500-acre-feet of surplus groundwater to the Fontana Water
Company for more than $2 million. … As of June 2019, the city
of Chino’s stored groundwater reserves totaled approximately
120,000-acre-feet, which is equivalent to 31.1 billion gallons
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.
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.
The Lake Local Area Formation Commission has approved a
proposal to annex Middletown Rancheria land into the Callayomi
County Water District in order to ensure a safe, reliable
source of water for the tribe’s homes and casino.
Trump administration officials took a victory lap after they
unveiled their final revisions to Clean Water Act protections
for waterways and wetlands. But the Waters of the U.S., or
WOTUS, replacement rule that EPA and the Army Corps of
Engineers completed yesterday must now survive a possible
Democratic win in the 2020 presidential election and an
expected inundation of challenges in the courts.
A new project out of UC Merced — funded by a $2.5 million grant
from the National Science Foundation — seeks to address this
problem by developing an innovative, environmentally friendly
and economically feasible system to desalinate and reuse
agricultural drainage water.
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.
A water management district created by a 1993 state law that
allowed massive subdivisions to spread into the outer suburbs
of Tucson and Phoenix is now heading for a “train wreck,” warns
former Arizona Governor and Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.
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
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.
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
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
Watershed adjudications take a long time and their outcomes are
impossible to predict. Thus the interest expressed by some
major water purveyors (like the City of Ventura, Casitas
Municipal Water District, Ventura River Water District and
Meiners Oaks Water District) in pursuing a court-sanctioned
settlement agreement. Negotiations on a settlement have begun
and could avert the need for a lengthy basin-wide adjudication.
In California’s never-ending water and fish wars, the striped
bass doesn’t get nearly the publicity as its celebrity
counterparts, the endangered Chinook salmon and Delta smelt.
Yet the striped bass is at the heart of a protracted fight over
California’s water supply, 140 years after the hard-fighting
fish, beloved by anglers, was introduced here from the East
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.
For decades, California’s coastal aquifers have been plagued by
invading seawater, turning pristine wells into salty ruins. But
the state’s coastal water agencies now plan to get more
aggressive in holding back the invasion by injecting millions
of gallons of treated sewage and other purified wastewater deep
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
One of the biggest indicators of renewed geothermal interest
occurred Thursday when the Bureau of Land Management published
a final environmental impact statement on a California
geothermal leasing area that sat on the shelf for eight years.
The statement is for the proposed designation of a 22,805-acre
Haiwee Geothermal Leasing Area north of Ridgecrest, Calif., and
west of Death Valley National Park.
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
In wildland forest locations, they found that drought-ridden
and drier locales like Idaho and Colorado have longer stretches
of post-burn protection (about 20 years) because the woody
debris in those forests require extreme drought to carry fires
and the land lacks grassy fuels. Coastal California, however,
receives more moisture and grassy fuel grows quickly,
increasing the risk for reburn, seeing that negative feedback
disappear after about 10 years.
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.
The findings by the Environmental Working Group show the
group’s previous estimate in 2018, based on unpublished U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency data, that 110 million
Americans may be contaminated with PFAS, could be far too low.
The groundwater sustainability plan approved Jan. 9 features a
slew of solutions like eradicating thirsty reeds invading the
watershed, and proposed pumping limits that could lead to the
fallowing of some farmland. Also envisioned are a “wall”
against seawater and possibly a new desalination plant that
would dwarf the project being pursued by the Monterey
Peninsula’s water utility, California American Water.
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.
Touting successful conservation efforts in recent decades, the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday it will reclassify
a Colorado River fish from endangered to threatened. The agency
said the humpback chub, a dorsal-finned fish that primarily
resides in the Colorado River, no longer meets the required
criteria to be classified as a federally endangered species.
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.
There hasn’t been enough moisture this year so far to keep up
with what’s normal. The Southern Sierra 6-station index which
covers the Tulare Basin, stood at 78 percent of normal as of
Tuesday as far as the precipitation level.
Santa Barbara County and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have
issued notices of violation to Southern California Edison for
its dumping of debris and rocks into Mission Creek near the
Inspiration Point hiking trail. … Mission Creek is Santa
Barbara’s largest creek, flowing from the hills of Mission
Canyon through the heart of downtown and to the Westside. It is
home to steelhead trout among other wildlife.
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…
At a panel discussion hosted by California Natural Resources
Secretary Wade Crowfoot, the panelists discussed how by
spreading out and slowing down water across the landscape can
provide multiple benefits year-round by allowing farmers to
cultivate the land during the spring and summer, and provide
habitat for fish and wildlife in the fall and winter months.
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,
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…
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.
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.
Siskiyou County supervisors last week supported Sheriff Jon
Lopey’s assessment that illegal marijuana grows are detrimental
to the health and well being of local residents and approved
the extension of a local state of emergency through 2020.
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
Speaking to the crowd at the American Farm Bureau Federation
conference in Austin, Texas, Trump said he would be withdrawing
the Water Supply Act proposed in the final days of the Obama
Under a new bill in the Arizona state Legislature, some water
tied to land that borders the Colorado River could not be
transferred into central Arizona. It comes after recent
proposals to do just that.
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.
The Sonoma Index-Tribune recently published a couple of
articles about beavers and otters in Sonoma Creek… It’s a
good sign, not just because it’s nice to know that Sonoma
Valley’s main waterway is actually clean enough to support
wildlife, but also because beavers can actually improve life
for other critters, including my favorite, rainbow trout.
Weak and problematic levees are a big reason why there was so
much destruction when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in
2005. It cost Louisiana and Mississippi more than $150 billion
dollars and killed more than 1,800 people. But could something
like this happen in the Sacramento region? The answer CapRadio
heard from levee experts is yes, Sacramento could see that type
of flooding, but there are a lot of things that lower that
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.
The conservation district is a special governmental entity that
has been recharging the local groundwater aquifers for 100
years. The Wash Plan will implement water conservation, supply
infrastructure, transportation and aggregate production while
protecting threatened species.
It was an evening of tense questioning and a lack of local
details on Wednesday, January 8 as the San Marino City Council
grilled representatives from the California American Water
(CAW) Company on why the city is facing a proposed increase of
water rates of 16.64 percent starting January 1, 2021.
The deaths of the trees, some of which lived through the rise
and fall of hundreds of empires, caliphates and kingdoms – not
to mention the inauguration of every US president – have
shocked researchers in their speed and novelty.
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
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
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.
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
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.
More rain and snow area headed to Northern California on
Tuesday, although the storm won’t be nearly enough to make up
for what’s been a relatively dry January. … The Department of
Water Resources’ precipitation index was at 63 percent of
normal for the Valley and Sierra. The Sierra snowpack is 82
percent of normal.
The committee voted to recommend a less stringent definition of
wetlands for the Town Center area. The committee also
recommended a policy that would allow the wetlands located on a
vacant lot behind the McKinleyville Shopping Center to be
reconfigured or even relocated. The recommendations have the
potential to open up the property to more development…
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.
A bacteria that can cause deadly infections has become an
ongoing problem requiring permanent staffing at California’s
newest state prison, according to state budget documents.
California Health Care Facility, a Stockton prison that houses
some of the state’s sickest inmates, wants to hire 15 permanent
positions and spend about $4.4 million per year to fight the
bacteria, known as legionella…
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.
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…
After years of planning, discussion and debate, the Indian
Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board will vote on the
adoption of the groundwater sustainability plan at its meeting
Thursday. … The plan will provide a roadmap to bring the IWV
groundwater basin into sustainability by 2040. That includes
reducing pumping of the basin to a safe yield of 7,650
acre-feet per year…
The Ono Community Services District has been trying since last
summer to get federal and state money to pay for repairs to the
100-year-old dam, which has holes in its spillway and no other
way to release water after its outlet pipes became plugged with
dirt and debris last spring.
Last year, with those recent calamities haunting the state,
officials took some unprecedented steps to avert a devastating
repeat. Did they work? Well, judging by the results tallied at
the end of the year, something went right.
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.
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.
The Bureau of Reclamation today released the Central Valley
Project Final Cost Allocation Study, which determines how to
distribute costs of the multipurpose CVP facilities to project
beneficiaries. … This final cost allocation study will
replace the 1975 interim allocation to reflect additional
project construction, as well as regulatory, operational, legal
and ecological changes that have taken place over the last half
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.
The issue, which came in front of the county supervisors
Tuesday, has been “put on pause,” she said, until more
information is available. Specifically, the supervisors are
waiting to make a decision on the moratorium until they know
how many homes have been built in the area in the past two to
three years, and how many more are slated to be built.
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.
State legislators plan to tackle widespread problems of
groundwater overpumping in rural Arizona this session,
proposing bills that would make it easier to limit
well-drilling in farming areas where residents have asked for
help from the state to safeguard their dwindling water
UC Merced researchers outline solutions to the severe wildfire
problems in California’s mountain forests and closely linked
water resource challenges in a documentary premiering on KVIE,
the Sacramento affiliate of PBS, later this month. The new film
“Beyond the Brink: California’s Watershed” highlights the
critical need to reverse a century of fire suppression in
Sierra Nevada forests…
Palmdale Water District customers will have more protections
before their water service may be shut off for neglecting to
pay their bills on time, following policy changes approved
Monday. The changes reflect the requirements of Senate Bill
998, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September 2018.
The city has a five-year plan for its initial removals of
sedimentation, and city officials forecast spending a total of
about $1.65 million. According to a 2016 city report, removing
the sediment would deepen the lake and create community
benefits that include enhancing wildlife habitat, critical for
threatened steelhead trout and local and migratory birds, as
well as recreational opportunities…
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 fires raging in Australia present a sadly recognizable
scenario, a new normal that, after two years of devastating
wildfires in California, we in the United States have become
all too familiar with. Policies intended to return forests to a
more “natural” state with less proactive human management have
created disastrous conditions…
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
West Marin ranchers and a local conservation group are teaming
up to plan habitat restoration projects along Walker Creek to
restore the once bountiful, but now diminished, runs of coho
salmon and steelhead trout. The California Department of Fish
and Wildlife awarded the Point Reyes Station-based Marin
Resource Conservation District a nearly $350,000 grant this
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.
The factors causing the decline of many fish and fisheries in
the upper San Francisco Estuary have made their management
controversial, usually because of the correlation of declines
with increased water exports from the Delta and upstream of the
Delta… To address this problem better, the California Fish
and Game Commission is developing new policies for managing
Delta fish and fisheries, with a special focus on striped bass.
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.
How pervasive is that plastic exposure, and is it bad for your
health? Scientists don’t yet know, but they have some working
theories. Here’s what we know so far about these tiny,
prevalent plastic particles.
As they walked to the river’s edge holding baby salmon in cups,
second graders warned the tiny fish of predators before gently
setting them free into the water. Two classes from Oakdale
Heights Elementary School took part in a salmon study that came
to a close Friday at Riverbend Park in Oroville.
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.