Topic: Agricultural Drainage

Overview

Agricultural Drainage

California’s rich agricultural productivity comes with a price. The dry climate that provides the almost year-round growing season also can require heavily irrigated soils.  But such irrigation can also degrade the local water quality.

Two of the state’s most productive farming areas in particular, the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and parts of the Imperial Valley in southern California, have poorly drained and naturally saline soils.

Aquafornia news The Confluence

Blog: Headwaters

I am standing where stream flow begins, in a nameless tributary of the Russian River to the east of Hopland, California. This particular spot and location has been a grazing livestock ranch, primarily sheep, going back more than 100 years. This is one of thousands of spots in the watershed where water comes to the surface, joins in a channel, and starts its path downstream.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Clean Water Act: EPA won’t regulate pollution that moves through groundwater

EPA won’t regulate any pollution to surface waters that passes through groundwater. … If pollution travels through groundwater, EPA says, it “breaks the causal chain” between a source of pollution and surface waters. That could affect regulation of pollution from a variety of sources, including seepage from coal ash and manure management ponds, sewage collection systems, septic system discharges, and accidental spills and releases.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Fox 5 San Diego

Proposal to build so-called ‘sewage pond’ angers some San Ysidro residents

Residents are concerned a proposed project aimed at tackling the pollution problem in the Tijuana River Valley will ultimately negatively affect them. … Some residents voiced they are not happy to hear about a proposal to build what they have dubbed a “sewage pond” near their homes.

Aquafornia news Del Norte Triplicate

Water quality talk turns contentious; Neighborhood watch meeting focuses on lilies

Smith River Neighborhood Watch coordinator Joni Forsht began by telling local Easter lily bulb growers that though the goal wasn’t to put them out of business, she wanted them to change their methods “as far as what you’re putting on the lily bulbs and where it’s going.” But before Wednesday’s meeting was over, the growers said they felt attacked.

Aquafornia news The Ukiah Daily Journal

Drought Resistance Outreach Program for Schools rain garden celebrated at Ukiah High

Prior to the installation of the system, the rain garden was hardpan dirt, allowing all the rainwater—contaminated and polluted with oil, gas, sediment, cigarette butts and plastic wrappers—to drain directly into Orrs Creek and the Russian River. The new garden is 3- to 5-feet deep and composed of carefully constructed layers of soil and rock, allowing the water to be cleaned mechanically and biologically filtering the biocontaminants.

Aquafornia news KQED News

‘There’s so much here that’s still alive’: Young filmmakers document a dying Salton Sea

Massive fish-die offs. Dead birds. A toxic stench. Bryan Mendez and Olivia Rodriguez are dissatisfied that those sad facts are the only things most Californians ever hear about the Salton Sea, one of the largest inland seas in the world.  

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

Conservationists obtain $2.9 million to fight Salinas River’s arundo invasion

An invasive bamboo-like species called arundo is encumbering the natural ecology of the Salinas River and increasing flood risk to nearby farmland. But the conservation agency charged with protecting the area recently secured nearly $3 million from state coffers for the purpose of fighting the invasion.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Opinion: Garbage in, garbage out: Sacramento’s Salton Sea restoration plan

At its core, the ill-advised attempt to “restore” the Salton Sea is nothing short of environmental malpractice. It will inevitably fail at a very high cost to both wildlife and taxpayers, succeeding only in perpetuating a hazardous condition.

Aquafornia news Plumas News

Watershed group will be testing Lake Almanor

Since 1993, the Lake Almanor community has been fortunate to have representatives from the California Department of Water Resources (CDWR) assisting in the testing and assessment of the health of the lake and its tributaries. … The testers check for water temperature at the test location, dissolved oxygen, turbidity (amount of suspended matter in the water) and for various metals and minerals.

Aquafornia news KUNC

Five years later, effects of Colorado River pulse flow still linger

All this reliance on an overallocated river has left its final hundred miles as the ultimate collateral damage. Since the early 1960s, when Glen Canyon Dam impounded the river near Page, Arizona, it has rarely reached the Pacific Ocean. The thread is frayed beyond recognition, leaving no water for the river itself.

Aquafornia news KUNC

As the Colorado River Basin dries, can an accidental oasis survive?

The wetland is fed by a concrete canal that removes drainage water from American farms across the border in Arizona. … But there’s a problem. As the Colorado River basin heats up and dries out like climate projections predict, Juan Butrón-Méndez is concerned people will stop thinking of the water that flows to the wetland as waste, find a way to use it and, in turn, harm the Ciénega.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Assemblyman Todd Gloria holds “inaugural dialogue” with Mexican officials on Tijuana water pollution

Officials met in Imperial Beach Friday to discuss the sewage pollution that continues to plague South Bay shorelines — shuttering beaches more than 100 days every year. The event was billed as an “inaugural dialogue,” which in the future will include a host of other binational issues, including climate change and commerce.

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Geyserville property owner fined for diverting, polluting streams to grow marijuana

A Geyserville property owner who launched a medical cannabis farm has agreed to pay $245,000 in fines and penalties for what Sonoma County prosecutors said was improper water diversion, unpermitted grading and site work that harmed streams in the Russian River watershed.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Mexico-US talks focus on fixes for failing sewer systems on the border

Mexican and American officials met in Mexico City this week to talk about fixing a costly set of problems that have sprung up along the border: failing sewer systems that send raw sewage spilling into rivers. … Roberto Salmón, Mexico’s commissioner of the International Boundary and Water Commission, said border cities from Tijuana to Matamoros need a total of about 10 billion pesos, or $520 million, “just to bring the sanitary systems up to speed, to correct the problems.”

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Aquafornia news Capital Press

Opinion: Now is the time to weigh in on proposed Clean Water Rule

Now EPA and the Corps want to hear directly from members of the public — including farmers, ranchers, landowners and others who may be subject to regulation — to make sure the new Clean Water Rule provides clear and easily understood guidelines. But with the comment period on the proposed new rule closing on April 15, there’s no time to lose.

Aquafornia news KALW

The Bay’s colorful salt ponds are fading, and that’s a good thing

Almost everyone who flies into San Francisco or San Jose airport has seen it — a vibrant patchwork quilt of colorful water. … As part of a huge effort called the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, the Cargill salt company has freed almost 16,000 acres of their salt ponds.  

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Salton Sea toxic bacteria triggers: Sewage, runoff and — surprisingly, sunlight

Hot weather is on its way, and with it, potentially toxic bacteria could bloom rapidly in California’s largest lake, the Salton Sea, and other waters on the receiving end of runoff from farms and golf courses or sewage spills. With temperatures across the desert expected to climb high into the 90s by Monday, experts say telltale signs will quickly appear.

Aquafornia news The Planning Report

Blog: CalEPA Secretary Blumenfeld on Governor Newsom’s water & climate priorities

As Secretary, Jared Blumenfeld oversees the state’s efforts to fight climate change, protect air and water quality, regulate pesticides and toxic substances, achieve the state’s recycling and waste reduction goals, and advance environmental justice. … Blumenfeld joined TPR for an exclusive interview to discuss the administration’s priorities…

Aquafornia news Chico News & Review

Learning from the land: Butte County farmer engages, educates via YouTube channel

One video follows Matthew Sligar on a “typical 14-hour workday” during the planting season. Another offers a step-by-step explanation of how rice is planted in Butte County. In others, he takes viewers on virtual tractor rides and demonstrates important tools, like his autonomous agriculture drone. Sligar doesn’t shy away from controversial topics, either, such as weed and pest control management and water usage.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Opinion: A California tax to clean up toxic drinking water has lawmakers jumpy

The water tax will require a two-thirds vote in each house. Democrats have that and a little to spare. Still, the governor will need to use all his power of cajolery and coercion to win passage of any tax increase.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

Napa County supervisors pass watershed, tree protections

After 10 hours, 12 minutes and more than five dozen public speakers, supervisors … increased requirements for preserving trees and replacing cut-down ones for vineyards and other development in watershed areas, but decided against a complete ban on projects on ground steeper than 30 percent.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Salton Sea gains protections, IID board president says

Excluded from a Southwestern drought pact, the Imperial Irrigation District won a small victory on Tuesday when federal legislators included protections for the Salton Sea that were left out of previous drafts of the agreement.

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Aquafornia news SFGate.com

Bombay Beach Biennale focuses artists’ energy in effort to save Salton Sea

The use of public art to bring about social change created the interactive art event called the “Bombay Beach Biennale” on the shores of the Salton Sea. Organizers hope to bring attention to the long-ignored environmental issue facing the region, once one of the premier tourist destinations in Southern California.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Tom Steyer, liberal philanthropist, promotes California clean water fund

Tom Steyer, the billionaire philanthropist and Democratic Party donor, took a break from trying to impeach President Donald Trump on Friday to visit the eastern Coachella Valley and learn about the water quality issues plaguing the region’s residents.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

San Diego leaders head to Mexico to talk trade, push sewer upgrades

Several San Diego political and business leaders headed to Mexico City Sunday to advocate for free trade and increased infrastructure spending in Tijuana to stop sewage spills from polluting local beaches.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Opinion: California must prepare for coming superstorms, atmospheric rivers

Fortunately, California has developed a forward-looking Central Valley Flood Protection Plan to meet this challenge. In his first state of the state address, Gov. Gavin Newsom highlighted the central tenet of the flood plan—investing in floodplain improvements that give rivers more room to safely bypass flood waters around cities and infrastructure.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Opinion: Why this Drought Contingency Plan is no friend to the Salton Sea

The March 26 opinion piece by Tom Buschatzke and 13 other Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan proponents to persuade the public that the DCP is good for the Salton Sea would have been better served – and made more believable – by a show of good faith rather than a show of force.

Aquafornia news California Sun

Artists are bringing new life to a town on the dying Salton Sea

Decay festers all around at the Salton Sea, the vast inland lake in Southern California that once hosted beauty pageants and boat races in its tourist heyday. … But new life is moving into the breach. At Bombay Beach, artists drawn by the cheap prices and surreal setting have been snapping up lots and crumbling buildings as gallery spaces.

Aquafornia news KTVU

Anglers pleased with pesticide reduction on the Delta

Bay Area anglers say they are pleased California State Parks is drastically reducing the number of sites treated with pesticides on the grass and weed-choked Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. … The move to reduce spraying and pelleting on parts of the Delta this year comes in the wake of last year’s increased use of pesticides that anglers’s claim wiped out the weeds, but also killed dozens of beavers, fish, turtles and other wildlife.

Aquafornia news KRCR

Cal Fire awards over $63 million in grants to projects aimed at promoting healthy forests

Cal Fire has awarded over $63 million in grants for 16 landscape-scale, regionally-based projects aimed at promoting health and resilient forests that protect and enhance forest carbon sequestration.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

A nemesis of California environmentalists gains new powers, but also new foes

Democrats and their allies are moving to push back against a former lobbyist and frequent foe of California environmentalists who is on his way to becoming the next secretary of the Interior Department. They don’t have the power to block Trump nominee David Bernhardt, but they do have far more ability to oppose his agenda than they had for the last two years, when he served as the powerful deputy secretary of the department.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Thomas Fire fallout blamed for stopping diversions to Lake Casitas

For the second time in two months, officials had to stop diverting river water into Lake Casitas this week when several feet of sandy muck got in the way. … Officials blamed the Thomas Fire, which burned much of the area upstream in December 2017. When rain slammed into scorched hillsides, debris and sediment came down the river.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Humboldt Bay Harbor Working Group sounds alarm over bay

Parts of the bay are experiencing high levels of shoaling — sediment buildup that shallows the water, putting boats at the mercy of large waves. … The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District called for a state of emergency in February due to increased shoaling halfway across the channel in the North Bay, a portion known as “Rock and Roll Alley.”

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Editorial: California water tax plan is back — and Newsom’s version is the worst yet

This is a very worthy cause. But needed improvements can easily be paid for with the state’s multibillion-dollar budget surplus or with the billions in approved state water bonds. Imposing a first-ever tax on something as basic as water is a horrible idea.

Aquafornia news KVPR

Governor Newsom’s clean water tax a ‘moral imperative’ to some, a burden to others

Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he will introduce a tax of up to $10 a month to water customers in order to fund safe drinking water in disadvantaged communities. Valley Public Radio has reported in the past about how many of those communities are right here in the San Joaquin Valley. To learn about Newsom’s plan, we spoke to Jonathan Nelson, policy director at the Community Water Center.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Environmentalists and winemakers square off in Napa Valley

“The community is miserably divided,” said Napa County Supervisor Diane Dillon during a meeting on Tuesday. Dillon and her four fellow board members were tasked with crafting and approving the Water Quality and Tree Protection Ordinance, a controversial new law that seeks to conserve trees and forested areas while improving water quality for the many creeks that feed the Napa River.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Opinion: Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan is necessary now, groups say

In recent days, there have been contentions that the DCP has left a major factor out of the equation: the Salton Sea, California’s largest inland lake. But this simply is not the case. … The Imperial Irrigation District has yet to sign on to the DCP. The DCP has an on-ramp for IID’s participation if they change their minds. But with or without IID’s participation, the DCP will not adversely impact the Salton Sea…

Aquafornia news Estuary News

Putah Creek Pipeline for Salmon

Chinook spawned here historically, but in 1957 Putah Creek was dammed near Winters to divert water for Solano County. After that, hardly any salmon made their way up the creek. Then a lawsuit in the 1990s — and resulting restoration project — finally gave the fish what they needed to return after all these years.

Aquafornia news KQED

Opinion: The Creek

Water gives us life, and water does not come easily to California. It made sense to invite it to stay a while and help nurture our Gravensteins, our white figs and pear. So I’ve spent months cutting back bramble and digging out blackberry. The creek has become my workout video. I spend mornings contemplating the flow of water and noticing what mushrooms grow in the leaf litter, what animal prints inscribe the mud.

Aquafornia news Coronado Times

City council approves golf course moderization project

The idea of a recycled water plant project has been around for more than 10 years, with the original idea coming from the community. Through the years, staff has looked at various locations, including a combined project with Naval Base Coronado, and determined the golf course location to be the best choice.

Aquafornia news San Diego State University

Blog: The shape of water

SDSU researchers examine the effects of shrinking water supplies in the Imperial-Mexicali Valley: The problems there are as old as the urbanization of Southern California: insufficient water to meet community demands and ecosystem needs. The solutions, which could figure into future policy-making, are both increasingly high-tech and surprisingly personal.

Aquafornia news SFGate.com

Details of Newsom’s plan for drinking water tax revealed

He announced Wednesday his plans to charge water customers an extra amount ranging from 95 cents to $10 a month — money that, combined with fees on animal farmers, dairies and fertilizer sellers, he projects would raise $140 million a year that could be put toward testing wells, aiding public water systems and treating contaminated water. The amount paid would depend on the size of one’s water meter.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Opinion: Dam removal alone won’t scour lower Klamath

The problem is that removing the four dams will not restore natural river flows. Those flows are, for the most part, controlled by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation which will continue to divert Klamath River water to the Rogue Basin and for federal irrigation in the Upper Klamath and Lost River Basins.

Aquafornia news CBS News

Clean drinking water a bigger global threat than climate change, EPA’s Wheeler says

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler says that unsafe drinking water — not climate change — poses the greatest and most immediate global threat to the environment. In his first network interview since his confirmation last month, Wheeler told CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett that while the administration is addressing climate change, thousands are dying everyday from unclean drinking water.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California governor pushes for fee to clean up tainted water

Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to charge California water customers up to $10 per month to help clean up contaminated water in low-income and rural areas, but he will face resistance from some legislative Democrats hesitant to impose new taxes. … Newsom wants to combine it with fees on animal farmers, dairies and fertilizer sellers to raise about $140 million per year.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Residents see zero progress at Salton Sea, but new officials say it’s time to turn the page

Another group of top state officials visited the Salton Sea this week to promise that this time, things will be different and progress will be made to restore the fast-drying water body. … Newly appointed water board chairman E. Joaquin Esquivel, who grew up in nearby La Quinta and fished in the lake as a boy, said he shares residents’ and longtime experts’ frustrations, and feels personally accountable to family members who still live in the area, as well as the communities around the lake.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Opinion: Colorado River drought moves threaten life, health at the Salton Sea

There can be no more excuses for federal inaction. Yet shockingly I have learned from recent investigative reporting that the Trump administration is now pushing federal legislation that would eliminate public health and environmental protections for the Salton Sea and beyond as part of a federal drought plan for the Colorado River.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Widening the conversation about safe drinking water in the San Joaquin Valley

Here in California, the San Joaquin Valley is a hot spot for unsafe drinking water. The region has more than half of all public water systems that are out of water-quality compliance in California, but just 10% of the state’s population. … We talked to Veronica Garibay—co-founder and co-director of the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability—about ways to ensure community involvement in water management decision-making.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Water managers decry blind eye for shrinking Salton Sea

Residents and officials who packed a yacht club on the north shore of the Salton Sea on Tuesday vented their anger about what they perceive as unnecessary delays and obfuscations about the environmental and public health disaster unfolding here. The California Water Resources Control Board held the workshop at the North Shore Yacht and Beach Club to both inform the public and garner opinions of residents living in proximity to the sea, which is rapidly vanishing into the desert.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Manteca spending $14.3M to improve city drinking water

Manteca is preparing to spend $14.3 million to make sure ground water from five wells meet higher standards implemented by the state of California when it comes to acceptable levels of 1,2,3-Trichloroprane — a Shell Oil and Dow Chemical product used in certain soil fumigants area farmers used between 1950 and 1980 — that is found in drinking water.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Opinion: Now is California’s chance to save the Salton Sea

On Tuesday, March 19, the California Water Resources Control Board will hold a session on the North Shore to hear from state officials about their progress addressing the many issues related to the Salton Sea. This is a good opportunity for these officials to break through the remaining obstacles to progress at the Salton Sea and find a productive way forward.

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Opinion: Dam removal report sparks hope for Klamath Basin Ag

It may be a unique situation when a dam removal might mean more water for farmers instead of less, but the Klamath Basin is a unique place. A report released last summer by the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) is leading more and more Basin farmers and ranchers to believe that dam removal may have something big to offer.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Trump’s EPA opens the door for massive San Francisco Bay development

A sprawling stretch of salt ponds on the western edge of San Francisco Bay, once eyed for the creation of a virtual mini-city, is back at the center of debate over regional development after the Trump administration this month exempted the site from the Clean Water Act.

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Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Bill aims to protect waterways, addresses ocean acidification

A bill introduced by a state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) that will address ocean acidification and water quality issues has been introduced and it’s being supported by a wide variety of stakeholders. Senate Bill 69, authored by Wiener, is aimed at reducing land-based sources of pollutants, the restoration of wetlands and the sequestration of greenhouse gases and to protect wildlife and keystone species.

Aquafornia news KPBS

Salton Sea management effort lags as water continues to recede

Imperial Valley officials are reportedly close to finishing an important habitat restoration project at the Salton Sea. The remake of Red Hill Bay was supposed to be a model for a management plan around the shrinking lake, but the effort is two years overdue and still months away from completion. The Salton Sea needs a management plan because water is evaporating faster than it’s being replaced…

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: MWD vote moves Colorado River drought plan forward

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on Tuesday sealed California’s participation in a landmark Colorado River drought management plan, agreeing to shoulder more of the state’s future delivery cuts to prevent Lake Mead from falling to dangerously low levels. With California signed on, the plan can move to Congress, which must approve the multi-state agreement before it takes effect. The MWD board took the step over the objections of the Imperial Irrigation District, which holds senior rights to the biggest allocation of river water on the entire length of the Colorado.

Aquafornia news KPBS

New project takes aim at controlling Salton Sea dust

The sandy playa that used to be underwater is now being baked by the sun and blown around by the winds that frequently scour the desert floor here. The dust is tiny and can easily get airborne. That is a public health crisis for a region already suffering from some of California’s highest asthma rates.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Water pollution: Ruling would exempt dams from standards

Environmental groups Monday asked a federal appeals court to reconsider a ruling that struck down part of a high-profile removal plan for four dams on the Klamath River in California and Oregon, saying it set a precedent that would exempt dozens of dams nationwide from meeting water quality standards.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Sick marine mammals turning up on California beaches in droves

Rescues of unhealthy seals and sea lions have nearly tripled for this time of year in Orange County, according to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, which this week took in its 41st pinniped since the year began. … While the exact reason for the increase in the number of strandings this year is unknown, Higuchi said it could be tied to warmer ocean waters caused by an El Nino weather pattern or excess stormwater runoff from all of this winter’s rains.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

Dried out: Big ag threatens clean water in rural California

Residents of Allensworth, a historic town established by a former slave, have struggled with clean water access for decades. … The community’s water system comes from two blended wells, serving 521 residents with 156 connections. A chlorination process removes most harmful bacteria, but the water still tests high for arsenic, a known carcinogen that damages the kidneys.

Aquafornia news KQED Science

Trump pressure on California water plan excludes public, rushes science, emails show

The Trump Administration has ordered federal biologists to speed up critical decisions about whether to send more water from Northern California to farmers in the Central Valley, a move that critics say threatens the integrity of the science and cuts the public out of the process. The decisions will control irrigation for millions of acres of farmland in the country’s biggest agricultural economy, drinking water for two-thirds of Californians from Silicon Valley to San Diego, and the fate of endangered salmon and other fish.

Aquafornia news KPBS

Change at the Salton Sea is affecting bird populations

California’s largest lake has long attracted visitors. Many go there year-round to see thousands of birds congregating around the lake and its nearby habitats, but the lake is changing and that’s changing bird populations.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

A bounty of San Joaquin Valley crops on display during Central Valley Tour

During our three-day Central Valley Tour April 3-5, you will meet farmers who will explain how they prepare the fields, irrigate their crops and harvest the produce that helps feed the nation and beyond. We also will drive through hundreds of miles of farmland and visit the rivers, dams, reservoirs and groundwater wells that provide the water.

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Santa Rosa proclaims flood emergency after 250 million gallons of treated sewage released into streams

Santa Rosa officials said Tuesday that managers at the city’s wastewater plant have been forced to release at least 250 million gallons of treated sewage into two creeks and the nearby Laguna de Santa Rosa amid record inflow to the facility that began in last week’s storm. The three-day deluge pushed more than five times the normal flow of wastewater and runoff into the city’s Laguna de Santa Rosa plant. It was the highest inflow ever recorded at the site, according to the city.

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Aquafornia news USA Today Network

Monday Top of the Scroll: Breaking impasse, feds will include Salton Sea in seven-state drought plan, IID says

Imperial Irrigation District officials announced at a special board meeting late Friday that the federal Bureau of Reclamation has agreed to their condition that the drought contingency plan package include restoration of the Salton Sea. They said federal officials will write a strong letter of support backing IID’s requests for $200 million in Farm Bill funding for wetlands projects around the shrinking sea, which is California’s largest inland water body.

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Aquafornia news Daily Democrat

Yolo Bypass a key link in state’s water and flood future

The Yolo Bypass is central, both geographically and in importance, to California’s water supply and flood protection system, according to Bontadelli. However, proposed modifications to the Bypass to enhance habitat for out-migrating endangered winter and spring-run young salmon means the it will be key to the continued pumping of water south for agriculture and urban users.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Manteca is green leader for treating wastewater

The most eco-friendly wastewater treatment plant in the Northern San Joaquin Valley will be Manteca’s by the time 2020 rolls around. Not only is the treated water returned to the San Joaquin River meeting the latest standards established by the state for water quality, but within six months or so methane gas — a major byproduct of the treatment process that typically has to be burned — will no longer contribute to valley air quality issues.

Aquafornia news Times-Standard

California studying cannabis impacts in Mattole River watershed

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is researching how cannabis cultivators who divert water from Mattole River streams might be impacting the river’s fish and insect populations… By fall 2019, the researchers will publish findings on the full environmental effects of cannabis grows. While the research is intended to “support efforts to establish” sustainable cultivation levels, the study’s main focus is analysis, said department representative Janice Mackey.

Aquafornia news Palm Springs Desert Sun

Funding increase will help border’s ‘sewage crisis,’ lawmakers say

During the past two decades, the federal government’s spending on sewer projects along the U.S.-Mexico border has declined dramatically. The decrease in funding has left a long list of needed sewer fixes unbuilt, while raw sewage and industrial pollution have continued to pour into the New River, the Tijuana River and other rivers that flow across the border. Now, Congress has started to put more money toward combating water pollution on the border.

Aquafornia news Times-Standard

Shallow Humboldt Bay entrance prompts harbor district emergency

The Board of Commissioners for the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District passed a motion to declare a countywide state of emergency in light of shoaling, or increased sedimentation, on Humboldt Bay near the channel entrance — conditions that could persist for months, officials said. … The shoaling stems from recent winter storms and has brought activity on the bay to a halt…

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

Opinion: There is nothing ‘fresh’ about a new water tax

Not surprisingly, the Governor’s “fresh approach” was nothing close to fresh but the same old Sacramento dance: creating a new tax.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Monday Top of the Scroll: California’s Central Valley: Ground zero in water war

Now stripped of its once vast wetlands and nearly sucked dry from the overpumping of groundwater during the West’s increasingly common droughts, the fertile valley is in need of a reboot: Its aquifers have shrunk and the remaining water is often contaminated with nitrate and salts. Citing a new water law that will have major effects on water suppliers and farmers, experts are calling for an “all hands on deck” approach to fixing the valley’s water woes.

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Aquafornia news E&E News

Clean Water Act case could have sweeping impacts

Environmental groups, states, industry and conservatives are watching the case closely, as its outcome could clarify or narrow EPA’s historical interpretation of the types of pollution discharges covered by the Clean Water Act. “This is the most significant environmental law case in the last few years,” said Beveridge & Diamond PC attorney John Cruden, former head of the Justice Department’s environment division.

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Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Editorial: Newsom, Feinstein and Harris: Please help with Tijuana River pollution crisis

As awful as the constant spills from Tijuana’s broken sewage infrastructure have been for the Tijuana River and the San Diego County-Baja California coast, new information suggests they’re an even scarier health threat than previously thought.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Trump’s WOTUS: Clear as mud, scientists say

The Trump administration’s proposal might seem simpler to follow on wetlands because it wouldn’t protect those that are dry most of the time and don’t connect to larger downstream waters. But navigating the definition could be confusing when it comes to wetlands that do connect to streams that are dry during parts of the year.

Aquafornia news Herald and News

Reclamation updates Klamath Irrigation District on water operations

Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Basin Area Office continues to operate under the 2013 Biological Opinion while a new document is being created, along with the court-ordered injunction in place to guide the Klamath Project.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Less talk, more action: It’s time to get serious about floodplain management

Many no longer recall the Great Midwest Flood despite its record-breaking precipitation, flooding and $13 billion price tag. Sure, 1993 seems like a long time ago, but I believe the reason the flood has left most people’s memory is because, over the last 25 years, the nation has experienced one devastating, record-breaking flood after another. Our memories are diluted by the frequency of such events.

Aquafornia news San Diego Union-Tribune

Banned pesticides and industrial chemicals found flowing from Tijuana into San Diego

There may be more in the sewage-tainted water that regularly spills over the border from Tijuana than many San Diegans realize. The cross-border pollution also contains potentially dangerous industrial and agricultural chemicals, according to a draft report compiled by U.S. Customs and Border Protection that was circulated to officials throughout the region on Wednesday.

Aquafornia news Siskiyou Daily News

Wheels keep turning in lawsuit to retain Klamath dams

The Siskiyou County Water Users Association received confirmation that its writ of mandamus, filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals in November, 2018, has been scheduled for the docket early next month. The writ asks the court to compel the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to rule on a motion the SCWUA filed in April, 2018, which attempts to stop the transfer of the dams’ ownership to the KRRC – the nonprofit formed to decommission them.

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Newsom removes Felicia Marcus as chair of State Water Board

Felicia Marcus, whose push for larger river flows angered farmers and community leaders in the Northern San Joaquin Valley, won’t continue as chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board. Gov. Gavin Newsom named Joaquin Esquivel as chairman of the powerful water regulatory board. … Laurel Firestone, co-founder of the Community Water Center, was appointed as the replacement for Marcus. … Firestone has been an advocate for addressing wells contaminated with nitrates. 

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Don’t miss opportunity to examine dire Salton Sea news firsthand

Ominous predictions about the desert lake’s ecological collapse are beginning to occur. You can see this sea up close during our Lower Colorado River Tour, Feb. 27-March 1, when we will visit the fragile ecosystem and hear from several stakeholders working to address challenges facing the sea.

Aquafornia news Herald & News

Opinion: We must focus on addressing Klamath Basin resource problems through a ‘coalition of the doing’

The Klamath Tribes have made it clear that we are not interested in engaging in water settlement discussions. However, we are very interested in discussions that will protect and enhance our treaty resources.

Aquafornia news CALMatters

Opinion: Newsom can confront climate change by restoring rivers, habitat

Our floodplain reforestation projects are biodiversity hotspots and climate-protection powerhouses that cost far less than old-fashioned gray infrastructure of levees, dams and reservoirs. They provide highly-effective flood safety by strategically spreading floodwater. Floodplain forests combat the effects of drought by recharging groundwater and increasing freshwater supply.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

‘Pit of infection’: A border town’s crisis has nothing to do with migrants

For generations, residents of the Southern California border town of Calexico watched with trepidation as their river turned into a cesspool, contaminated by the booming human and industrial development on the other side of the border in Mexico. As Washington debates spending billions to shore up barriers along the 2,000-mile southwest border, many residents in California’s Imperial Valley feel at least some of that money could be spent to address the region’s public health threats.

Aquafornia news The Salt Lake Tribune

Scientists study Lake Powell sediments to see how climate change, humans are affecting the water

The coring project is the initial phase of a multiyear analysis in partnership with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, the National Park Service and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The agencies have set aside $1.3 million for the study, about half going toward extracting the cores.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Polluters are paying much lower fines under Trump, EPA says

Numbers released by the Trump administration Friday show an 80% drop in some penalties levied against polluters, the latest sign that the Environmental Protection Agency has become a less aggressive watchdog.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Salton Sea fish and birds wiped out this winter

A year after Colorado River imports were diverted to urban areas from farms draining into the lake, dire predictions about what would occur are coming to pass. A long-predicted, enormous ecological transition is occurring this winter.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

California’s ‘dry farmers’ grow crops without irrigation

While unfamiliar to many consumers, dry farming is an age-old practice that entails carefully managing soils to lock winter rainfall into the top layers until it’s time to begin growing crops during the spring and summer. As little as 20 inches of rain – roughly the same amount that the Central Coast receives each winter on average – can sustain crops in the months without rainfall, with no need to add any extra water.

Aquafornia news Jefferson Public Radio

Conflicts get an airing at Klamath Dam removal hearing in yreka

The latest chapter in the long-running dispute over how to manage water in the Klamath Basin is playing out in northern California communities. … About two dozen protesters are standing along Main Street in Yreka, the seat of Siskiyou County, which lies just across Oregon’s southern border. They’re holding signs saying “Stop The Klamath Dam Scams.”

Aquafornia news Herald and News

California adds protections for Klamath spring salmon

Wednesday, the California Fish and Game Commission made Klamath-Trinity spring Chinook salmon a candidate for listing under the California Endangered Species Act. The decision was in response to a petition filed last year by the Karuk Tribe and the Salmon River Restoration Council. A final decision to list the species will be made within 12 months; in the meantime Klamath-Trinity Spring Chinook will be afforded all the protections of a listed species.

Aquafornia news Del Norte Triplicate

Petition to list spring Klamath Chinook as endangered considered

The California Fish and Game Commission on Wednesday will consider a petition to list spring run Chinook salmon on the Upper Klamath-Trinity River as threatened or endangered under the California Endangered Species Act. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is recommending the Fish and Game commission accepts the petition, which was submitted by the Karuk Tribe and the Salmon River Restoration Council in July 2018.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Wetlands: Calif. clinches new regs just in time for federal rollback

After more than a decade of drafting and editing, California is poised to finally update its wetlands regulations this spring. The effort, which began after a pair of Supreme Court decisions limited federal wetlands protections, could be finalized just in time to insulate the state from a Trump administration proposal restricting which wetlands and waterways are protected by the Clean Water Act.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Trump taps ex-California water lobbyist for Cabinet

President Donald Trump on Monday nominated David Bernhardt, the former top lobbyist for a powerful Fresno-based irrigation district, to run the Department of the Interior, raising renewed questions about whether he’d try to steer more California water to his former clients. … Bernhardt is a former lobbyist for Westlands Water District, which serves farmers in Fresno and Kings counties and is one of the most influential customers of the federal government’s Central Valley Project.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news E&E News

Dusty agency gets sharp elbows under Trump

The Bureau of Reclamation, the Interior Department’s Western water bureaucracy that saw its dam-building heyday in the 1960s, has risen in stature once again in the Trump administration. Reclamation has flexed its muscles on Colorado River drought management plans… And it has been the administration’s key player in trying to fulfill President Trump’s campaign promise to deliver more water to California farmers, squeezing the state and forging ahead on a dam project California says it doesn’t want.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Friday Top of the Scroll: California water district wants $200M for Salton Sea in Colorado River drought plan

California’s Imperial Irrigation District will get the last word on the seven-state Colorado River Drought Contingency Plans. And IID could end up with $200 million to restore the badly polluted and fast-drying Salton Sea. Thursday, as the clock ticked toward a midnight deadline set by a top federal official, all eyes had been on Arizona. But lawmakers there approved the Colorado River drought deal with about seven hours to spare. IID, an often-overlooked southeastern California agricultural water district, appears to have thrown a last-minute monkey wrench into the process. 

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Places Journal

The land where birds are grown: Engineered wetlands in California’s Central Valley

Maintaining functional wetlands in a 21st-century landscape dominated by agriculture and cities requires a host of hard and soft infrastructures. Canals, pumps, and sluice gates provide critical life support, and the lands are irrigated and tilled in seasonal cycles to essentially farm wildlife. Reams of laws and regulations scaffold the system.

Aquafornia news Lake County News

CDFW and State Water Boards to present at four cannabis permitting workshops in Northern California

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the State Water Resources Control Board, or SWRCB, are extending outreach to the cannabis cultivating community with presentations at four permitting workshops in Northern California. The presentations are ideally suited for cannabis cultivators, consultants and anyone interested in the topic. SWRCB will cover policy and permitting, and other important information. Computers will be available for applicants to apply for water rights and water quality permits.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Lagunitas Creek observers see robust coho salmon run

The recent burst of winter rains has helped drive endangered coho salmon up to their spawning grounds in Lagunitas Creek, with surveyors counting the highest number of spawners in 12 years. … Lagunitas Creek supports about 20 percent of the remaining coho salmon between Monterey Bay and Fort Bragg, making it a key recovery area for the threatened species.

Aquafornia news NBC San Diego

City council to discuss joining Calif. lawsuit over Tijuana sewage flows

The San Diego City Council is set to vote Tuesday on whether to join a California lawsuit against the International Boundary Water Commission (IBWC) over sewage flow from Tijuana, Mexico into the United States.  … The lawsuit alleges millions of gallons of waste, including untreated sewage, trash, pesticides and heavy metals have been discharged from the IBWC’s treatment facilities in violation of the Clean Water Act.

Aquafornia news Manteca Bulletin

Lathrop step closer to state OK for river discharge

The City of Lathrop is one step closer to earning a permit that will allow for the discharge of treated wastewater straight into the San Joaquin River.  … Currently the City of Lathrop disposes of the effluent that is generated from the Lathrop Consolidated Treatment Facility by storing it in basins during the winter months, and then applying it to urban or agricultural landscapes during the summer months. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Explore ecological challenges facing the Salton Sea on our Lower Colorado River tour Feb. 27-March 1

On our Lower Colorado River Tour, Feb. 27-March 1, we will visit this fragile ecosystem that harbors 400 bird species and hear from several stakeholders working to address challenges facing the sea, including managers of the Imperial Irrigation District, the Salton Sea Authority and California’s appointed “Sea Czar,” assistant secretary on Salton Sea policy Bruce Wilcox.

Aquafornia news Press Banner News

SLV Water District bans glyphosate — permanently

Last week, in the third meeting of the Board of Directors of the San Lorenzo Valley Water District … the board voted 4-1 for a permanent ban on the use of glyphosate pesticides by the district, keeping a campaign promise that remained controversial right up to the board’s vote. “The residents in our district have spoken — they do not want glyphosate … and we don’t really know the true effects of glyphosate — how it will affect all the little creatures in sensitive habitat,” said Louis Henry, the newly appointed board chair.

Aquafornia news Times-Standard

New research is rewriting the history of Klamath-Trinity Chinook salmon

Recent research has identified a genetic variation in Klamath-Trinity spring-run Chinook salmon which is upending prevailing scientific narratives about the fish. Scientists are calling it the “run time gene,” as it appears to be the factor which controls whether the salmon will migrate in the spring, or fall. The research, spearheaded by Daniel Prince and Michael Miller of UC Davis, is being utilized by the Karuk Tribe and the Salmon River Restoration Council in a renewed effort to list the Spring Chinook Salmon under the state’s Endangered Species Act.

Aquafornia news KQED Science

What it’s like to live in one of the most polluted places in California

This is not quite anyone’s vision of the California dream, popularly imagined as variations based on building a safe, secure and successful life. … Instead, Imperial County is emblematic of life for millions of people around the state who live under an umbrella of bad air quality or who have contaminated soil or lack access to clean water. 

Aquafornia news Fox News

California officials collect more than 1,000 dead birds following outbreak of contagious, bacterial disease

More than 1,000 birds died at a lake in Southern California earlier this month, state wildlife officials announced Tuesday. The birds – primarily migratory water fowls such as Ruddy Ducks, Northern Shovelers, Black-necked Stilts and Gulls – died at the Salton Sea after contracting a contagious bacterial disease known as avian cholera

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Groundwater shortage takes on added importance in the Colorado River Delta

The restoration site is one of three south of the U.S.-Mexico border, in the riparian corridor along the last miles of the Colorado River. There, in the delta, a small amount of water has been reserved for nature, returned to an overallocated river whose flow has otherwise been claimed by cities and farms. Although water snakes through an agricultural canal system to irrigate the restoration sites, another source is increasingly important for restoring these patches of nature in the delta’s riparian corridor: groundwater.

Aquafornia news BB&K Law

Blog: California court broadens scope of prevailing wage law for special districts

A California appellate court recently continued the trend of legislative and judicial expansion of the prevailing wage law’s scope in Kaanaana v. Barrett Business Services, Inc. The Second District Court of Appeal found that … any tasks involving some form of labor done under contract (and not performed by agency employees) for irrigation, utility, reclamation and improvement districts, and other districts of this type is, except for public works projects of $1,000 or less and operation of the irrigation or drainage system of any irrigation or reclamation district, potentially subject to prevailing wage requirements.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: ‘A crisis of sewage’: California lawmakers seek funding for the polluted New River

For decades, the New River has flowed north across the U.S.-Mexico border carrying toxic pollution and the stench of sewage. Now lawmakers in Washington and Sacramento are pursuing legislation and funding to combat the problems. “I feel very optimistic that we’re going to be able to get some things done on the New River issue,” said Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia.

Aquafornia news The Wall Street Journal

Farms, more productive than ever, are poisoning drinking water in rural America

One in seven Americans drink from private wells, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Nitrate concentrations rose significantly in 21% of regions where USGS researchers tested groundwater from 2002 through 2012, compared with the 13 prior years. … “The worst-kept secret is how vulnerable private wells are to agricultural runoff,” says David Cwiertny, director of the University of Iowa’s Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Strange bedfellows: Harder praises Trump, Denham for work to keep water for farmers

When it comes to water, the lifeblood of the Central Valley, Democrats don’t have all the answers. So says freshman Representative Josh Harder, suddenly one of the most powerful Democrats in these parts. … “We need to make sure we’re all working together to advance the agenda of the Central Valley,” continued Harder, 32, of Turlock. “I was very encouraged to see some of the measures the Trump administration put forward on water.” 

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Bureau of Reclamation names Ernest A. Conant Mid-Pacific Region director

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman today named Ernest A. Conant director of the Mid-Pacific Region. Conant has nearly 40 years of water law experience and previously served as senior partner of Young Wooldridge, LLP.

Aquafornia news Escalon Times

Oakdale, South San Joaquin irrigation districts join water plan lawsuit

Citing what they say would be a disastrous decision for the region, the Oakdale and South San Joaquin Irrigation Districts have joined with other members of the San Joaquin Tributaries Authority (SJTA) in a lawsuit challenging the state’s right to arbitrarily increase flows in the Stanislaus and two other rivers.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Opinion: Newsom’s picks for environmental protection and water chiefs will reveal his priorities

Far less settled is how Newsom will fill his administration’s most important positions regarding state water policy. One of Newsom’s key tests confronts him immediate: State Water Resources Control Board Chair Felicia Marcus’ term expires this week.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Lake Mead desalination plant could cost millions to update

Anticipating years of drought, officials built the Yuma Desalting Plant in 1992 to treat agricultural runoff and conserve water in Lake Mead. Over the past 26 years, however, the plant has operated just three times while costing millions of dollars to maintain.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Pressure mounts to solve California’s toxic farmland drainage problem

Many Americans know the name Kesterson as the California site where thousands of birds and fish were discovered with gruesome deformities in 1983, a result of exposure to selenium-poisoned farm runoff. Thirty-five years later, it is one of the oldest unresolved water problems in the state.

Amid ‘Green Rush’ of Legal Cannabis, California Strives to Control Adverse Effects on Water
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: State crafts water right and new rules unique to marijuana farms, but will growers accustomed to the shadows comply?

A marijuana plant from a growing operationFor decades, cannabis has been grown in California – hidden away in forested groves or surreptitiously harvested under the glare of high-intensity indoor lamps in suburban tract homes.

In the past 20 years, however, cannabis — known more widely as marijuana – has been moving from being a criminal activity to gaining legitimacy as one of the hundreds of cash crops in the state’s $46 billion-dollar agriculture industry, first legalized for medicinal purposes and this year for recreational use.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Arrests may hold up feds’ deal to settle with water district over runoff disaster

The manager of a San Joaquin Valley water district seen as a model for how to manage toxic agricultural runoff was jailed last week in Fresno on charges of embezzlement and burying 86 drums of toxic waste on the water district’s property.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Congress misses deadline to approve west-side water fix, but deal not unraveling yet

A key deadline has passed to solve the irrigation drainage problem that caused massive bird deaths and deformities at Kesterson wildlife refuge. But a Westlands Water District official said Congress is still on track to pass legislation benefiting both the district, which delivers water to farms over an area the size of Rhode Island, and the federal government.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

California Westlands water settlement is left in limbo

This year, the annual bill governing national defense policy almost settled a three-decades-old conflict in California over the drainage of toxic water from farm fields. Lawmakers finished resolving the differences between the House and Senate versions of the military bill, legislation that addresses troop numbers and overseas operations, on Nov. 8.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Lobbyist who once sued Interior named to be department’s No. 2 official

His name is David Longly Bernhardt, and he’s worked as the top lobbyist for California’s Westlands Water District, the largest agricultural entity of its kind in the nation. … On Friday, the Trump administration announced it was nominating Bernhardt to serve as deputy to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: The West has a tricky, expensive water problem – and even solving it is controversial

On a mostly party-line 23-16 vote, the House Natural Resources Committee approved the bill to settle the irrigation dispute between the mammoth Westlands Water District and the federal government. The measure relieves Westlands of a big construction debt, and in turn shifts the burden for solving the toxic drainage problem from the government to the water district.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Questions swirl around scope of federal probe into California water districts

A reported federal investigation that’s stalled part of a California irrigation-drainage deal does not extend to the small San Luis Water District in western Fresno and Merced counties, a top district official said Wednesday.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

California farmers hope Congress and Trump team can deliver irrigation drain deal

The political terrain appears favorable for a mega-million-dollar irrigation drainage deal, with Congress still fully in Republican hands and California’s sprawling Westlands Water District with influential allies. But there are complications.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Westlands’ irrigation drainage deal gets extended for one year so Congress can act

Westlands Water District and Justice Department officials have given themselves, and Congress, another year to finish a controversial irrigation drainage plan.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Westlands Water District irrigation drainage plan approved by House committee

A key House committee on Wednesday approved a big irrigation drainage deal with California’s politically potent Westlands Water District, opening another front in the state’s ongoing conflict over water, money and power.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Westlands Water District irrigation drainage bill set for House approval

California’s politically resurgent Westlands Water District is set to win House committee approval Wednesday of a big irrigation drainage plan that’s opposed by Northern California’s Democrats.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Fair deal or government giveaway? Farmers’ toxic drainage agreement nears completion

The federal government and farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley may be close to signing off on another controversial deal to clean up toxic runoff which, if left unabated, could threaten the downstream Delta.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Commentary: Westlands’ foes distort drainage compromise

In an election year, despite the usual suspects rallying against anything that would help Valley agriculture, the House of Representatives’ Committee on Natural Resources has taken an important step to advance bipartisan legislation codifying a settlement between the federal government and the Westlands Water District.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Conflicts swirl around San Joaquin Valley irrigation drainage plan

A proposal to solve a long-running San Joaquin Valley irrigation drainage dispute between the Westlands Water District and the federal government is roiling a Congress already hung up on other California water fights.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Northern California lawmakers question huge Westlands Water District deal

Northern California lawmakers are turning up the heat on the Westlands Water District, with coordinated calls for congressional hearings and tougher Obama administration scrutiny.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

California drought and drainage bills could collide on Capitol Hill

The politics of California water is becoming three-dimensional chess in Congress as lawmakers balance competing anti-drought ideas with a proposed San Joaquin Valley irrigation drainage settlement that’s going to get bigger.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: If you’re 26, these California water disputes have lasted longer than you’ve been alive

The now-distant December of 1988 was a big month for California water lawsuits that would last a generation and eventually land in Congress’ lap, where their ripples linger to this day.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Clashes on California water resume in DC with introduction of drainage bill

U.S. lawmakers from California have more political turbulence ahead of them with the introduction Tuesday of a bill to settle a long-running San Joaquin Valley irrigation drainage dispute.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Blog: Westlands Water District’s drainage cleanup time may have come

Fifteen years ago, a court ordered federal officials to get rid of potentially poisonous irrigation drainage trapped below vast Westlands Water District farms – “without delay.”

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Westlands Water District agreement a retreat from previous U.S. plan

Five years ago, a U.S. Interior Department official outlined the terms of potential legislation to resolve a lingering battle over badly drained farmland in the Westlands Water District.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: How a rich water district beat the federal government in a secret deal

Clout can be defined in many ways. In California’s parched Central Valley farmlands, it’s the ability to secure water. By that measure, the giant Westlands Water District has just set a whole new standard.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: California farm drainage deal faces Capitol Hill currents

A Congress that has stumbled over a California water bill amid record drought now faces a challenging new fight over irrigation drainage. … In a federal court filing Wednesday, the Justice Department provided both details and a roadmap for the irrigation drainage settlement formally agreed to by federal and Westlands officials the day before.

Aquafornia news McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau

A San Joaquin Valley irrigation drainage settlement is reached, but questions remain

A top Interior Department official next Tuesday will sign a San Joaquin Valley irrigation settlement with the Westlands Water District, signaling the end of a long-running legal battle, but marking the start of a hot new political fight.

Aquapedia background

Salton Sea

Salton Sea

As part of the historic Colorado River Delta, the Salton Sea regularly filled and dried for thousands of years due to its elevation of 232 feet below sea level.

The most recent version of the Salton Sea was formed in 1905 when the Colorado River broke through a series of dikes and flooded the seabed for two years, creating California’s largest inland body of water. The Salton Sea, which is saltier than the Pacific Ocean, includes 130 miles of shoreline and is larger than Lake Tahoe

Video

Salt of the Earth: Salinity in California’s Central Valley

Salt. In a small amount, it’s a gift from nature. But any doctor will tell you, if you take in too much salt, you’ll start to have health problems. The same negative effect is happening to land in the Central Valley. The problem scientists call “salinity” poses a growing threat to our food supply, our drinking water quality and our way of life. The problem of salt buildup and potential – but costly – solutions are highlighted in this 2008 public television documentary narrated by comedian Paul Rodriguez.

Video

Salt of the Earth: Salinity in California’s Central Valley (20-minute DVD)

A 20-minute version of the 2008 public television documentary Salt of the Earth: Salinity in California’s Central Valley. This DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues surrounding the problem of salt build up in the Central Valley potential – but costly – solutions. Narrated by comedian Paul Rodriquez.

Western Water Magazine

Salt of the Earth: Can the Central Valley Solve its Salinity Problem?
July/August 2007

This Western Water looks at proposed new measures to deal with the century-old problem of salinity with a special focus on San Joaquin Valley farms and cities.

Western Water Magazine

Unlocking the Mysteries of Selenium
March/April 2006

This issue of Western Water examines that process. Much of the information is drawn from discussions that occurred at the November 2005 Selenium Summit sponsored by the Foundation and the California Department of Water Resources. At that summit, a variety of experts presented findings and the latest activities from areas where selenium is of primary interest.

Aquafornia news

Aquafornia news about Agricultural Drainage

There are some important things happening in the news right now. Check it out on Aquafornia!

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Agricultural Drainage
Updated 2001

With irrigation projects that import water, farmers have transformed millions of acres of land into highly productive fields and orchards. But the dry climate that provides an almost year-round farming season can hasten salt build up in soils. The build-up of salts in poorly drained soils can decrease crop productivity, and there are links between drainage water from irrigated fields and harmful impacts on fish and wildlife.

Video

Shaping of the West: 100 Years of Reclamation

30-minute DVD that traces the history of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and its role in the development of the West. Includes extensive historic footage of farming and the construction of dams and other water projects, and discusses historic and modern day issues.

Video

Water on the Edge (30-minute VHS)

A 30-minute version of the 2005 PBS documentary Water on the Edge. This video is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues surrounding the New River.

Video

Water on the Edge (60-minute VHS)

Water truly has shaped California into the great state it is today. And if it is water that made California great, it’s the fight over – and with – water that also makes it so critically important. In efforts to remap California’s circulatory system, there have been some critical events that had a profound impact on California’s water history. These turning points not only forced a re-evaluation of water, but continue to impact the lives of every Californian. This 2005 PBS documentary offers a historical and current look at the major water issues that shaped the state we know today. Includes a 12-page viewer’s guide with background information, historic timeline and a teacher’s lesson.

Video

Water on the Edge (60-minute DVD)

Water truly has shaped California into the great state it is today. And if it is water that made California great, it’s the fight over – and with – water that also makes it so critically important. In efforts to remap California’s circulatory system, there have been some critical events that had a profound impact on California’s water history. These turning points not only forced a re-evaluation of water, but continue to impact the lives of every Californian. This 2005 PBS documentary offers a historical and current look at the major water issues that shaped the state we know today. Includes a 12-page viewer’s guide with background information, historic timeline and a teacher’s lesson.

Maps & Posters

San Joaquin River Restoration Map
Published 2012

This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, features a map of the San Joaquin River. The map text focuses on the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, which aims to restore flows and populations of Chinook salmon to the river below Friant Dam to its confluence with the Merced River. The text discusses the history of the program, its goals and ongoing challenges with implementation. 

Maps & Posters

Carson River Basin Map
Published 2006

A companion to the Truckee River Basin Map poster, this 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, explores the Carson River, and its link to the Truckee River. The map includes Lahontan Dam and Reservoir, the Carson Sink, and the farming areas in the basin. Map text discusses the region’s hydrology and geography, the Newlands Project, land and water use within the basin and wetlands. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Mid-Pacific Region, Lahontan Basin Area Office.

Maps & Posters

Delta Sustainability Map
Published 2006

This beautifully illustrated 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing and display in any office or classroom, focuses on the theme of Delta sustainability.

The text, photos and graphics explain issues related to land subsidence, levees and flooding, urbanization and fish and wildlife protection. An inset map illustrates the tidal action that increases the salinity of the Delta’s waterways. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the California Bay-Delta Authority.

Aquapedia background

Imperial Valley

Southern California’s Imperial Valley is home to California’s earliest agricultural drainage success story, one that converted a desert landscape to an agricultural one, but at the same time created far reaching consequences.

Aquapedia background

Evaporation Ponds

Evaporation ponds contain agricultural drainage water and are used when agricultural growers do not have access to rivers for drainage disposal.

Drainage water is the only source of water in many of these ponds, resulting in extremely high concentrations of salts. Concentrations of other trace elements such as selenium are also elevated in evaporation basins, with a wide degree of variability among basins.

Such ponds resemble wetland areas that birds use for nesting and feeding grounds and may pose risks to waterfowl and shorebirds.

Aquapedia background

Agricultural Drainage Environmental Impacts

Agriculture drainage issues date back to the earliest farming. In ancient times, farmers let fields stay fallow hoping rain would flush out salt.

Today, salt and other contaminants continue to cause agricultural drainage problems, particularly in California. Whether a field is adequately drained, or saturated with water, the water still has to be removed.

The disposal of this often-contaminated water continues to be a challenge in California, with the environmental effects of selenium and other drainage-related elements changing the course of drainage planning.

Aquapedia background

Agricultural Drainage and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

Few regions are as important to California water as the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, where the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers converge to discharge into San Francisco Bay.

Aquapedia background

Agricultural Drainage

California’s rich agricultural productivity comes with a price. The dry climate that provides the almost year-round growing season also can require heavily irrigated soils. But such irrigation can degrade the local water quality.

Two of the state’s most productive farming areas in particular, the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and parts of the Imperial Valley in Southern California, have poorly drained and naturally saline soils.

Commands