Congressman Jared Huffman says the Water, Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee, which he chairs in the U.S. House of Representatives, is finally getting to do things “we weren’t allowed to do” for the past six years when Republicans controlled the House. Things like protecting public lands, making climate change part of all environmental programs, trying to prevent offshore drilling and looking at the state of the nation’s wildlife and fisheries.
The last thing California needs is another tax. But that’s what Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed – a regressive water tax that will hit financially challenged Californians hardest. … Yet California’s taxpayers have been working so hard they have showered the state with a $22 billion surplus. Spending a fraction of that would take care of the clean water problem.
Cal Am is seeking California Public Utilities Commission approval to start raising local customers’ rates by May 11 to pay for the 7-mile pipeline from Seaside to Pacific Grove, which is in operation and is designed to allow pumping of new desalinated and recycled water sources from the Seaside basin to local customers.
The dominant water issue facing our community and every community in California today is the insecurity of the water supply. The California Legislature is facing up to the serious need to take less water from the surface and groundwater for human use to preserve wildlife habitats and industries such as fishing. Both depend upon water filling the streams and waterways that ultimately find their way to the ocean.
What the state requires our community to do is challenging. Land development, population growth and climate change make planning for the future very complicated. The new state law requires us to face these challenges and work together as a community to create a plan.
The tall, bamboo-like plants clustered in dense thickets along sections of the Salinas River in the Salinas Valley have long attracted the attention of those who have strolled in that area. Green and stately with long, sword-like leaves, they belong to a species known as Arundo donax, or more commonly, giant cane. … But the plant is a nuisance and local officials have decided to do something about it.
Should the governor want to do away with fracking, he could issue an emergency order placing a moratorium on it. But the public hasn’t heard from Newsom on the issue as he has laid out his initial priorities, and his staff did not answer questions from CALmatters about his current leanings.
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.
When you turn on a faucet on the Monterey Peninsula, you’re consuming water that’s been illegally pumped from Carmel River. Now, after more than two decades of this, scores of public officials, utility executives and citizen advocates are working – and sometimes fighting – to replace the region’s water supply before state-mandated sanctions kick in. California American Water is forging ahead with its plan: a desalination plant near Marina.
In California, the amount of water exiting aquifers under the state’s most productive farming region far surpasses the amount of water trickling back in. That rampant overdraft has caused land across much of the region to sink like a squeezed out sponge, permanently depleting groundwater storage capacity and damaging infrastructure. … New research from Stanford University suggests a way to map precisely where and how to use groundwater recharge to refill the aquifers and stop the sinking.
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.
A new rule goes into effect today that will help protect California’s groundwater. … The new standards for oilfield injection are some of the strongest in the nation. They require stricter permitting standards, regular mechanical integrity testing and routine pressure monitoring – all necessary ingredients for safeguarding groundwater.
A self-imposed deadline to choose what path the city will choose in securing its future water supply, even in times of prolonged drought, is approaching. The Santa Cruz Water Commission will take stock of its progress to enact an ambitious water supply plan, reuniting with the 14-member community panel that spent 18 tumultuous months crafting the city’s water supply source blueprint.
Armed with a recent court ruling that climate change must be considered in decisions to open federal land to oil and gas drilling, conservationists shot the opening volley Thursday in what promises to be a protracted legal battle over the future of fracking and oil drilling in Northern California.
The Santa Barbara County Planning Commission is one step closer to a decision on whether to approve ERG’s oil drilling and production plan. It would include developing and operating more than 200 new oil production wells in the Cat Canyon area. At recent planning commission meetings, dozens of people have shown up both in support and opposition to the project. Supporters say it will increase jobs in the area, while opponents express concern for the environment.
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.
Here, the city of Santa Cruz’s water department is in its third round of testing a plan to pump water underground, into the Purisima Aquifer to rest the area’s wells and hopefully provide a new reservoir of water storage—one that could supplement Loch Lomond, the city’s current reservoir up in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
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.
France and California face a common challenge of managing overdraft in intensively exploited aquifers. As of 2018, large areas of France and California have overexploited groundwater (see maps below). And both regions have passed landmark groundwater legislation, the Loi sur l’Eau et les Milieux Aquatiques (LEMA) of 2006 in France and the Groundwater Sustainable Management Act (SGMA) of 2014 in California.
A “landmark” initiative aimed at restoring Carmel River floodplain habitat and helping reduce flood risks for homes and businesses along the lower part of the river and lagoon has reached a key phase with the release of its environmental review document.
The only Monterey Peninsula city with its own desalination plant is looking to install new intake wells to help balance the salinity levels and increase output to the 300-acre-foot-per-year design capacity of the almost 10-year-old Sand City desalination facility. The plant, which is owned by Sand City and is operated by California American Water, is currently running at 200 acre-feet per year.
To put it bluntly, there’s a chance that a portion of “Capitola by the Sea,” as it’s sometimes known, could become “Capitola in the Sea.” The city of Santa Cruz’s Climate Adaptation Plan, published in 2018, estimates climate change, caused by greenhouse gas emissions, will result in about 28 inches of sea-level rise along the Central Coast by 2060.
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.
California American Water has notified the state Public Utilities Commission it does not plan to pursue a Pure Water Monterey expansion proposal, at least for now, arguing that its proposed Monterey Peninsula desalination project is still on schedule and noting an absence of detailed information on the proposal, as well as an apparent increase in the cost of the recycled water project.
We’re having one of the best rainfall seasons in years, with drought conditions easing for much of the state. But one of the nation’s leading oceanographers says there’s much more involved before the impacts of the drought are completely gone, and that it could take years to replenish groundwater supplies.
It is interesting to go to water district meetings and see diametrically opposite sides using the same arguments they have used for years. No one is changing what they say even though an election changed the political landscape quite a bit. … But there are things we can do to intelligently frame the discussion of what is feasible — based on our actual needs.
While high drama plays out in nations across the planet, California has also been having a bit of drama — torrential rains turning communities into isolated islands up north, mudslides and flooding down south. So, it seems to make sense that state officials have officially declared the latest drought to be over, finished, soaked.
Feasibility of a potential public buyout of California American Water’s local water system should be based on a consulting team’s advice on an acquisition plan that could succeed in a public necessity court trial while seeking cost savings for local ratepayers… That’s according to a recommendation from Monterey Peninsula Water Management District general manager Dave Stoldt to be considered on Monday.
Mercury mines were once a critical player in San Luis Obispo County’s economy. They helped keep America’s economy running — playing a part in everything from the California Gold Rush to World War II. One SLO County mine even helped establish Cambria as a city, back in the 19th century. Now that mine, as well as many others, are hiding in plain sight.
Political leaders responsible for the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin are launching discussions about which multi-million-dollar water projects could help solve the aquifer’s woes—and how basin pumpers will pay for them. In the future, the basin, which serves much of Paso Robles wine country, could start receiving water from the State Water Project, Lake Nacimiento, and/or the Salinas Dam.
A countywide effort to manage sea level rise is beginning to coalesce. In recent months, San Mateo County officials have taken steps to form a new government agency to address coastal erosion, flooding, storm water infrastructure and sea level rise.
A week after the Marina Planning Commission unanimously rejected a key desalination project permit, California American Water has filed an appeal of the decision to the Marina City Council. On Wednesday, Cal Am filed the appeal to the council, arguing the planning commission erred in its denial of a coastal development permit for parts of the proposed desal project.
North County political leaders responsible for the health of the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin are launching discussions about which multi-million-dollar water projects could help solve the aquifer’s woes—and how basin pumpers will pay for them.
A project offering to triple Santa Barbara County’s oil production continues stirring debate. Environmentalists believe a proposal to add dozens of oil wells in Cat Canyon could trigger the next oil spill and contaminate the Santa Maria Groundwater Basin, while supporters insist it would boost the local economy by adding jobs and tax revenue.
Local officials have received an OK to divert more water into Lake Casitas, years after prolonged drought conditions shrunk the reservoir to historic lows. But the new measures were in effect just a matter of days and just for one storm.
In the most extensive study to date on sea level rise in California, researchers say damage by the end of the century could be far more devastating than the worst earthquakes and wildfires in state history. A team of U.S. Geological Survey scientists concluded that even a modest amount of sea level rise — often dismissed as a creeping, slow-moving disaster — could overwhelm communities when a storm hits at the same time.
A proposal to add 187 new steam-injected oil wells and a new natural gas pipeline in West Cat Canyon will be considered by the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission when it meets Wednesday in Santa Maria. Project opponents have said they intend to stage a demonstration outside and speak against the project that would have significant impacts on biological, surface water and groundwater resources and would increase noise, according to the environmental impact report.
It’s a growing problem many say cannot be solved by firefighters alone. Enter the Cal Poly W.U.I. F.I.R.E Institute. It stands for the Wildland Urban Interface Fire Information Research and Education Institute. Turner is working with Cal Poly staff like forest management professor Chris Dicus to create a collaborative space for research, training, and outreach.
San Luis Obispo County supervisors are exploring what it’d take to bolster the county’s authority in issuing groundwater well permits. Following a report about groundwater conditions in the Adelaida region of the North County on Feb. 26, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to have its staff look at how it could increase the level of review and discretion the county has over approving or denying well applications.
California farmer Brenton Kelly still remembers how the Cuyama Valley used to be. The valley, located in California’s Central Coast region, has long been home to an abundance of wildlife. Historically, the land has been used for cattle pastures, and featured “beautiful rolling grassy hill” and an “amazing wildflower show,” according to Kelly. These days, however, the land has been taken over by large commercial farms and vineyards, Kelly said. … Among some of the corporations that have expanded into the region in recent years is an unlikely investor — the Harvard Management Company. HMC, the University’s investment arm, oversees Harvard’s nearly $40 billion endowment.
The Crossroads Open Space soccer field in Santa Maria is filled with water thanks to the most recent storm. Located on S. College Dr., the field also serves as a basin to collect storm runoff. The city says the water will soak into the ground, recharging the groundwater basin.
Water is now flowing freely along a 480-foot stretch of San Francisquito Creek after Stanford University removed the aged Lagunita Diversion Dam. … Removing the 8-foot-high structure now allows water to flow freely downstream to support endangered-fish-species habitat in the creek. San Francisquito is home to a population of the Central California Coast Distinct Population Segment of steelhead.
Heavy rains this winter will help replenish groundwater aquifers and benefit projects that use excess surface water to recharge groundwater basins. At the California Department of Water Resources, planners focus on a voluntary strategy known as Flood-MAR, which stands for “managed aquifer recharge.” The strategy combines floodwater operations and groundwater management in an effort to benefit working landscapes, and could also aid local groundwater agencies as they implement the state Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
One of the key challenges facing newly formed local government agencies responsible for groundwater management is to establish and implement quantitative metrics for sustainability. To help local agencies do this, a new report from Water in the West examines how four special districts in California have used quantitative thresholds to adaptively manage groundwater. These case studies provide valuable insights on the development and implementation of performance metrics and will be important in guiding local agencies.
In some California basins, sustainable groundwater management can mean the difference between whether a species goes extinct or a community’s drinking water becomes contaminated. The stakes are high. Felice Pace, an activist who works for the North Coast Stream Flow Coalition, talks to Clean Water Action about salmon, surface flows, and the importance of community involvement in the Smith and Scott River Groundwater Sustainability Plans.
Scientists found that wet winter weather, historically a predictor of more modest California fire seasons, is no longer linked to less damaging fires. The link between more rain and less fire fell apart thanks to modern fire management and accelerating climate change, the study said. “It’s going to be a problem for people, for firefighters, for society,” said study co-author Alan Taylor, a Pennsylvania State University geography professor.
Working under a less-than-four-year deadline, Soquel Creek Water District is fine-tuning the ‘where’ of its planned water recycling plant construction. On Tuesday, district officials will recommend the board split the Pure Water Soquel project between two sites, with tertiary treatment at the city of Santa Cruz’s Wastewater Treatment Facility and advanced purification at the controversial new site in Live Oak.
Like its world-famous parent two blocks away, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s $42-million education center now under construction on Cannery Row depends on the quality of its seawater. Unlike the aquarium’s massive water tanks, which are fed by ocean water, the compact 25,500-sq-ft center’s eight 200-gallon saltwater tanks will be part of a closed system, with water trucked in and processed to maintain the correct temperature and conditions.
A Northern California river flooded 2,000 homes, businesses and other buildings and left two communities virtual islands after days of stormy weather, officials said Wednesday. The towns of Guerneville and Monte Rio were hardest hit by water pouring from the Russian River, which topped 46 feet (13 meters) late Wednesday night. It hadn’t reached that level for 25 years and wasn’t expected to recede again until late Thursday night.
More rain this winter and an improved water outlook promise California farmers more flexibility in what annual crops to grow, even if sluggish commodity prices limit their crop choices. For example, California cotton acreage is expected to increase this year to 287,000, according to a planting-intentions survey by the National Cotton Council. Citing expected water availability, the council reported California farmers intend to plant 230,000 acres of pima cotton and 57,000 acres of upland cotton. That’s up 9.7 percent and 14.4 percent, respectively, from last year.
Bill Smallman, an elected director of the San Lorenzo Valley Water District board, apologized Monday for calling users of an herbicide “probably gay.” Responding to a post about glyphosate herbicides on online platform Nextdoor, Smallman wrote Saturday that a recent water district ban on that class of product is “leading by example, showing that anyone who uses this crap is both really stupid and lazy, and probably gay.”
The Pismo Beach City Council wants to build a $28 million facility that will purify Pismo Beach and South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District wastewater and inject it into the Santa Maria groundwater basin. If completed, it will prevent salt water from seeping into one of South County’s water sources and provide more water to South County residents.
After concluding Greka Energy improperly stored hazardous waste at its facility near Santa Maria, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday ordered the company to conduct sampling to determine whether its operations resulted in contaminated local soil and groundwater.
The cheering is for a governor who has brought attention to a problem that’s almost unfathomable in wealthy urban regions. No Californian in 2019 should have to endure third-world drinking-water conditions. But there’s ample reason to give the governor the raspberries, too. That’s because Newsom’s solution comes right out of former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “you never want a serious crisis go to waste” playbook.
The Pismo Beach City Council wants to build a $28 million facility that will purify Pismo Beach and South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District wastewater and inject it into the Santa Maria groundwater basin. If completed, it will prevent salt water from seeping into one of South County’s water sources and provide more water to South County residents.
Under the fee structure, there are two types of water use: agricultural and “all others.” Ag users will be assessed a $4.79/acre fee and other users will be assessed $2.26 per service connection. (Ag accounts for more than 90 percent of the pumping from the basin.) The new fees are part of California’s effort to regulate groundwater, which has historically been treated as a “pump as you please” resource, not subject to the same restrictions as surface water, like the Carmel River that largely supplies the Monterey Peninsula.
Newsom has embraced an idea that has previously failed to gain traction in Sacramento: new taxes totaling as much as $140 million a year for a clean drinking water initiative. Much of it would be spent on short- and long-term solutions for low-income communities without the means to finance operations and maintenance for their water systems. … But the money to change that — what’s being called a “water tax” in state Capitol circles — is where the politics get complicated.
A landslide that dumped about 6 million cubic yards of rock and debris across California Highway 1 near near Big Sur, California, in May 2017 was the result of drought followed by deluge, a team of scientists say. … The researchers determined that water replaces air in the tiny spaces between soil particles, which greatly increased the pressure on those particles, speeding up the rate of collapse.
According to a new study from the UC Santa Cruz Institute of Marine Sciences, waves are crashing onto the coastline with more force than ever before — and this increase in wave strength is directly correlated to ocean warming.
Salinas Valley farmers would cover the bulk of administrative costs for a state-mandated groundwater sustainability agency charged with balancing use and recharge in the agriculture-rich region under a proposal to be considered Thursday. Farmers would pay about 90 percent of the Salinas Valley Basin groundwater sustainability agency’s proposed $1.2 million annual budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year or about $1.08 million through a $4.79 per acre annual “regulatory” fee under the proposal, while public water system customers would contribute about $120,000 per year through a $2.26 annual fee.
Farmers, water managers and government agencies agree: Groundwater sustainability is critical for California. But achieving it could bring significant changes to the state’s agricultural landscape, according to speakers at a Sacramento gathering of water professionals.
The hottest and driest summers in state history have occurred within the last 20 years … Her bill, if passed, would allocate $2 million in funding from the Office of Planning and Research for a competitive grant program designed to develop “specified planning tools for adapting to climate change in the agricultural sector.”
Of the 517 groundwater basins and subbasins in California, local agencies submitted 43 requests for basin modifications for either scientific or jurisdictional reasons. … In the draft decision, DWR approved 33, denied seven, and partially approved three modification requests.
About 1 million Californians can’t safely drink their tap water. Approximately 300 water systems in California currently have contamination issues ranging from arsenic to lead to uranium at levels that create severe health issues. It’s a disgrace that demands immediate state action.
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.
For the first time, researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and collaborating institutions have documented the transition of a stable, slow-moving landslide into catastrophic collapse, showing how drought and extreme rains likely destabilized the slide. The Mud Creek landslide near Big Sur, California, dumped about 6 million cubic yards (5 million cubic meters) of rock and debris across California Highway 1 on May 20, 2017.
Questions about financial liability and concerns over weighted votes among member agencies of the Central Coast Water Authority prompted the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors to take no action on transferring the state water contract to that joint-powers agency. … CCWA has been trying to have the contract reassigned since it was formed in 1991, but the Department of Water Resources would not agree to the request because it was unclear if a joint-powers agency could levy a property tax if a member defaulted on financial obligations.
Even with the onslaught of rainy weather, the U.S. Drought Monitor states San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County remain in a moderate drought. On Wednesday, the UC Cooperative Extension held a workshop in Solvang titled “Weather, Grass, and Drought: Planning for Uncertainty.”
Just as Carpinteria was finishing its draft ocean adaptation report, the State of California put out some gloomy news: Sea-rise levels were now expected to rise 10 feet by 2100, not 5 feet. Carpinteria will be holding an all-residents-invited workshop on February 12 to discuss the findings and possible solutions.
The sewer rate increases approved for Morro Bay will go into effect in July, despite opposition from a group that earlier claimed it got enough protest signatures to stop the rate hike. Morro Bay City Manager Scott Collins clarified in a recent report that the protest was unsuccessful and the measure will go into effect with customers seeing the additional charge on their August bill.
A new $50 million California American Water pipeline is officially in use. According to Cal Am engineering manager Chris Cook, the pipeline began conveying water from the Carmel River to the Seaside basin as part of the aquifer storage and recovery program last week, allowing the company to start reversing the historic flow of water from northward to southward and save money and energy in the process.
A partnership between Monterey One Water and the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District, the project is designed to produce up to 3,500 acre-feet of highly treated water per year to the Peninsula for injection into the Seaside basin and later extraction and use by California American Water for its Peninsula customers. … The recycled water project is a key part of the proposed replacement water supply portfolio for the Peninsula to offset the state water board’s Carmel River pumping cutback order.
Plains All American Pipeline has applied for permits to rebuild a 124-mile pipeline across the Central Coast of California, a project that would enable ExxonMobil to reopen offshore production that stopped after Plains’ existing pipe caused an oil spill near Santa Barbara in 2015.
The strongest Pacific storm of the season will lash California through Saturday with high winds, feet of Sierra snow, and heavy rain that could trigger flash flooding, debris flows and rockslides. If that wasn’t enough, another colder storm is waiting in the wings behind this first system.
By this time next year, 21 critically over-drafted groundwater basins in California must submit plans to the state’s Department of Water Resources for how to bring their basins back into balance. With this major deadline looming, it’s crunch time for water managers and their consultants – some of whom will begin releasing draft plans in the next six to eight months seeking required public comments.
Any day now, eel-like parasites with sucker mouths will wiggle up San Luis Obispo Creek and build underwater nests in the creek bed to spawn. … These ancient, jaw-less fish, which look like something out of a bad horror movie, are called Pacific lampreys. This is the third year in a row that the lampreys are in San Luis Obispo. That’s after they suddenly vanished for nearly a decade, leaving scientists bewildered.
Go deep into one of California’s most pressing issues – groundwater – by visiting an extensometer that measures subsidence, an active aquifer storage and recovery well, a recycling facility that recharges water into the ground and more.
Water well owners in Sonoma County may get billed for their annual water usage under a proposed water-conservation plan up for discussion next week at a community meeting in Santa Rosa. The Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) is hosting the Jan. 30 meeting to hear feedback on its proposed “groundwater sustainability fee,” which would provide funding to support the new agency.
From 1,000 feet above, you can see surf pounding long sequences of seawalls and riprap rocks protecting homes, the ocean sometimes appearing to threaten structures, despite the installed barriers. Where there are cliffs with no homes, the waves gnaw away at the bluffs, moving the beaches at their base farther inland. The extreme king tides of the past few days occur only once or twice a year, but they offer a glimpse of what normal tides will be eventually be doing daily as the result of rising sea levels.
The rainwater collection system is broken at the environmental research station on a remote, rocky Pacific island off the California coast. So is a crane used to hoist small boats in and out of the water. A two-year supply of diesel fuel for the power generators is almost gone. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel ordinarily would help with such problems. But they haven’t been around since the partial federal government shutdown began a month ago…
Even in the depths of winter it’s easy to bite into a plump blackberry or a delicate red raspberry, thanks to Driscoll’s, the world’s largest berry company. In late 2018, I traveled to the Pajaro Valley, west of Santa Cruz, for a tour of a Driscoll’s research facility, which provided an eye-opening view into how this family-owned company has become an agriculture leader selling berries every month of the year, and why they are so committed to water conservation.
California American Water’s Monterey Peninsula desalination project is in the midst of another critical phase even as a Carmel River pumping cutback order milestone requiring the start of construction looms later this year. … The city of Marina is on schedule to consider the project’s coastal development permit application covering mostly proposed desal plant feeder slant wells on the CEMEX sand mining plant by mid-March, according to a senior city planning official.
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.
Locally, the primary impacts of climate change on people can broadly be broken into four categories: sea level rise, drought, flood and wildfire. The good news is, work and planning are already well underway to mitigate impacts, though it’s hard to say how much of an effect the measures will have, and how much those agencies – and their constituents – will be willing to spend on them. But this much is clear: Local, state and federal agencies are taking climate change seriously, and treating it like the potentially existential threat that it is.
California’s new governor looked at the rainfall and saw millions of dollars in uncollected water taxes going right down the drain. In one of his first moves as chief executive, Newsom declared that he wants to tax the state’s drinking water, in order to give poor people access to safe and affordable water. I guess this is his idea of trickle-down economics.
A group of Lake Nacimiento residents is suing Monterey County for $120 million, claiming officials ignored the needs of recreational users by releasing more water from the reservoir than necessary. The lawsuit, filed in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court in Paso Robles, alleges the county agency has mismanaged the reservoir and “operated the lake in a manner that renders it almost unusable by property owners and visitors for recreation.”
More than ever, water’s true value as a finite and precious resource is starting to be realised, and a growing number of investors are paying attention. There are plenty of examples of water risk. Campbell Soup Company took a hit in its quarterly earnings recently, due to an acquisition of a California fresh food company that was pummeled by the California drought.
The budget specifically calls out funding for Safe and Affordable Drinking Water. It discusses the need to find a stable funding source for long-term operation and maintenance of drinking water systems in disadvantaged communities, stating that existing loan and grant programs are limited to capital improvements.
Learn from top experts at our annual Water 101 Workshop about the history, hydrology and law behind California water as well as hot topics such as water flows, the Delta, disadvantaged communities and the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. For the first time, the workshop offers an optional groundwater tour the next day
The announcement finalizes prioritization of 458 basins, identifying 56 that are required to create groundwater sustainability plans under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. For most basins, the results are a confirmation of prioritizations established in 2015. Fifty-nine basins remain under review with final prioritization expected in late spring.
Last month, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management released a scoping report on hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas development on approximately 400,000 acres of BLM-administered public land and 1.2 million acres of federal mineral estate lands on tribal and privately held lands in Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura counties.
The USDA estimates gross cash receipts for the dairy industry to be down 9 percent from the previous year but estimates poultry receipts to be 7 percent higher. After several years of strong production, gross receipts for tree fruit and nuts are expected to be slightly lower. Likewise, vegetable gross receipts are expected to be down slightly, though consumption remains stable.
At the Groundwater Resources Association’s Western Groundwater Congress, a panel of experts discussed emerging issues as agencies work to develop their plans to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which became law in California in 2014.
During severe winter storms, Cold Springs Creek above Montecito turns into a torrent of mud, uprooted trees and shed-size boulders as it drains three square miles of sheer mountain front. The only thing protecting the people, homes and businesses below is a low dam that the Army Corps of Engineers built in 1964 at the mouth of the creek’s canyon, forming a basin between the steep banks to catch the crashing debris.
This 2-day, 1-night tour offers participants the opportunity to learn about water issues affecting California’s scenic Central Coast and efforts to solve some of the challenges of a region struggling to be sustainable with limited local supplies.
In the process of removing the San Clemente Dam in 2015, workers created a pristine route for the Carmel River, complete with step pools and nicely arranged boulders. Winter floods have since transformed the river route into anything but pristine, but the “messy” course has been good for the native steelhead.
In the wake of filing lawsuits in state Supreme Court challenging approval of the California American Water desalination project approval, the Marina Coast Water District and the city of Marina have both filed petitions with the state Public Utilities Commission for rehearing of the desal project application.
In a widely anticipated move, the city of Marina and the Marina Coast Water District filed lawsuits last week in state Supreme Court challenging the California Public Utilities Commission’s approval of California American Water’s desalination project.
After six and a half years of review, the state Public Utilities Commission on Thursday approved a permit for California American Water’s Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project, including a North Marina desalination plant.
In a sign of how seriously the state Public Utilities Commission is taking the debate over the future of water supply on the Monterey Peninsula, all five commissioners attended a CPUC oral argument hearing on California American Water’s proposed desalination project in San Francisco on Wednesday. Several of those who attended the hearing said three of the five commissioners asked a number of questions of the parties to the desal project proceeding, and all five appeared “engaged and interested” in the issue.
In a major development for California American Water’s long-sought desalination project, the California Public Utilities Commission has issued a proposed decision recommending approval of the proposal known as the Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project.
After a protracted legal battle, a California Public Utilities Commission ruling has been issued requiring California American Water to release by this week unredacted [Monterey] county Water Resources Agency invoices for work on the long-defunct regional desalination project at the heart of a $1.9 million settlement agreement between the two.
Spurred by drought and a major policy shift, groundwater management has assumed an unprecedented mantle of importance in California. Local agencies in the hardest-hit areas of groundwater depletion are drawing plans to halt overdraft and bring stressed aquifers to the road of recovery.
Protect Monterey County, the organization that backed a 2016 anti-fracking ballot initiative called Measure Z, announced it filed an appeal this week challenging a judge’s ruling that invalidated part of the ordinance.
Several parties including the Monterey Peninsula mayors regional water authority have called for delaying California American Water’s proposed Marina desalination plant for a year or more to allow pursuit of a proposed Pure Water Monterey recycled water expansion and continued settlement talks in an attempt to avoid litigation.
More than half of a $173.5 million U.S. Environmental Protection Agency award to California for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure upgrades will be designated for the Pure Water Monterey recycled water project.
On Thursday, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration special agent Don Tanner confirmed the investigation will be conducted into the incident involving the spill of up to 4.9 million gallons of untreated wastewater into the bay from the Monterey One Water treatment plant.
An investigation will be conducted into the failure of a computer warning system at the Monterey One Water regional treatment plant which allowed millions of gallons of untreated sewage to flow into the Monterey Bay for more than eight hours late Friday night and early Saturday morning. According to Monterey One Water General Manager Paul Sciuto, the investigation began Monday morning and will be conducted by the consulting firm Pinnacle ART.
Taxpayers may not realize it, but they foot the bill as their city or county complies with new state regulations to improve the health of local streams and waterways. Nicole Beck, 49, a UC Santa Cruz alum with a doctorate in aquatic chemistry, is marrying science and software to help city and county staff get information to make better decisions on where to focus their limited resources.
The joint ground-mapping pilot project is designed to help Soquel Creek Water District and the County of Santa Cruz locate sandy soil areas to install collection basins and dry wells for easier passage for stormwater runoff to return to underground aquifers.
Attorneys on all sides began presenting their cases on the first day of the Measure Z trial on Monday, arguing over whether the voter-approved initiative establishing some of the nation’s toughest oil and gas restrictions is preempted by federal and state authority. … They [oil industry attorneys] argued the Measure Z campaign had misled voters into believing the central issue was fracking and water protection without fully addressing other aspects of the initiative.
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors of the Water Resources Agency approved up to $500,000 for state-mandated emergency repair work to the county-owned Lake San Antonio and Lake Nacimiento dam spillways dubbed “minimum requirements” to allow the dam spillways to continue operating, with additional, classified assessments still being finalized that could result in further repairs.
It’s not every day that logging practices are put to use to restore salmon habitat. But for the past two weeks along the foggy, redwood-strewn banks of San Vicente Creek that’s exactly what has been taking place.
A number of challenges facing the proposed Interlake Tunnel project, including resistance from landowners near Lake Nacimiento, have delayed the proposal again by about six months. … The tunnel proposal calls for connecting Nacimiento and neighboring Lake San Antonio, in Monterey County, to allow water diversion from the former to the latter during higher flow periods.
Tommy Williams rips through an Alka Seltzer packet, dropping the antacids into a bucket of water teeming with juvenile steelhead trout. He has several minutes to work before the anesthetizing effect wears off and the fish wake up.
Western monarch butterflies, which crowd trees along the California coast every winter and flush them with color, have declined so dramatically since the 1980s that the species will likely go extinct in the next few decades if nothing is done, scientists said Thursday in a population study of the treasured creatures.
A plan to enhance steelhead trout rearing and holding habitat in the Carmel River Lagoon by placing tons of organic materials in the waterway is on schedule to come to fruition on Sept. 20 after nine years of preparation.
One little bird is raising big hopes for the re-wilding of a special species. A fuzzy gray condor chick — the first-ever “second generation” wild-born condor in a long and hard recovery plan for the endangered birds — has been discovered in a redwood tree in Big Sur.
The coastal town of Davenport, gateway to the new Cotoni-Coast Dairies National Monument and home to 100 households, may be running out of water. The problem started in February when storms damaged the water intake at San Vicente Creek that provided the town with water.
It’s expected to cost area agri-businesses about $1 million to provide bottled water to lower-income Salinas Valley residents whose water supply has been contaminated by nitrates in the first year of a pilot program.
State Public Utilities Commission officials are seeking input on whether to conduct new hearings on California American Water’s proposed Monterey Peninsula desalination project to address a number of issues, potentially including an updated project demand forecast and desal plant sizing evaluation that could lead to a smaller initial plant that could be more easily expanded as demand grows in the future.
Lauded as a model for regional collaboration and innovation, and even the “wave of the future” for the rest of California, the Pure Water Monterey recycled water project was universally praised by a group of dignitaries at a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday.
Machine Gun Flats Lake sits placidly in a natural depression on what was once an Army training area. It is one of about 45 vernal pools on Bureau of Land Management land on Fort Ord, teeming with life after an exceptionally wet rainy season, and a welcome sight after years of drought.
A California American Water official argued the company’s desalination project can secure key permits and approvals within six months of certification of the final project environmental review document and start construction shortly afterward, despite a series of delays involving the draft report and the prospect of seeking a critical permit from the city of Marina.
Mineral rights and royalty owners have filed a new lawsuit against Monterey County, challenging voter-approved Measure Z, which establishes some of the nation’s toughest restrictions on oil and gas operations in the state’s fourth-largest oil-producing county. … Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and wastewater injection into aquifers will still be prohibited during the stay.
A Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary representative said the latest delay involving California American Water’s proposed Monterey Peninsula desalination project — a 30-day extension of the public comment period on the project’s draft combined state and federal environmental review document — could push back finalization of the report by a month.
The Monterey County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a letter to the California Department of Conservation expressing their concerns about a proposal to expand the boundaries of an aquifer where oil-production wastewater is being injected.
ARkStorm stands for an atmospheric river (“AR”) that carries precipitation levels expected to occur once every 1,000 years (“k”). The concept was presented in a 2011 report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) intended to elevate the visibility of the very real threats to human life, property and ecosystems posed by extreme storms on the West Coast.
A new ruling issued by a state Public Utilities Commission member has indicated the full commission likely wouldn’t consider approval of California American Water’s Monterey Peninsula desalination project until March 2018, four months after company officials had hoped, and suggested that consideration could be delayed even further.
Lake Cachuma, a giant reservoir built to hold Santa Barbara County’s drinking water, has all but vanished in California’s historic drought. It reached an all-time low this summer — 7 percent capacity, which left a thick beige watermark that circles the hills framing the lake like an enormous bathtub ring.
With the passage of Measure Z, which has captured nearly 56 percent of the vote so far, Monterey County would become the first oil-producing county in California to ban fracking and expansion of risky oil operations. … Monterey County, which ranks fourth statewide in oil production, becomes the sixth county in California to ban fracking.
Outgoing Rep. Sam Farr addressed a 23-member panel bringing together local representatives from four counties, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, municipal flood control staff members and the two candidates running to replace him on Nov. 8, Casey Lucius and Jimmy Panetta.
The good news for humans and other mammals, said UC Santa Cruz professor Raphael Kudela, is that the stink and clingy nature of the foamy water at beaches around Monterey Bay is the worst of it, because the algal bloom is not producing a toxin.
Mired in drought, expectations are high that new storage funded by Prop. 1 will be constructed to help California weather the adverse conditions and keep water flowing to homes and farms.
At the same time, there are some dams in the state eyed for removal because they are obsolete – choked by accumulated sediment, seismically vulnerable and out of compliance with federal regulations that require environmental balance.
Backers of a new Monterey Bay desalination project think they have found a fix for the environmental problems posed by most seawater intakes: Instead of drawing seawater from the beach, they plan to draw from the one of the world’s deepest marine canyons.
In what local water activist Ron Weitzman promises is a precursor to further litigation, the Water Ratepayers Association of the Monterey Peninsula has filed suit against the state Coastal Commission and Monterey County seeking to halt California American Water’s slant test well program for the proposed desalination plant project.
Promised state funding for the increasingly costly Interlake Tunnel project in legislation backed by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, has been cut by 60 percent to $10 million, potentially risking long-term project financing.
In an effort to help maintain the balance between freshwater habitat and flood protection, the Monterey County Resource Management Agency brought in special crews to work at the Carmel Lagoon area Monday.
Local architect Cove Britton is seeking to correct what he contends are inaccuracies in preliminary flood insurance rate maps that could negatively affect his clients and their neighbors in tony Pleasure Point. … Three years ago, homeowners from Oregon to Maine complained about map inaccuracies, according to Pro Publica, an investigative journalism nonprofit that found money for FEMA’s map project was cut by Congress.
About 100 people, from stakeholders and supporters to dignitaries and politicians, came out to the former site of the San Clemente Dam on Monday to celebrate the removal of the dam and Carmel River Reroute Project.
Reversing course on conducting a series of impact studies, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to place a proposed ban on hydraulic fracturing and other oil and gas well stimulation techniques on the fall ballot.
Backers of a proposed initiative aimed at banning fracking and other oil and gas exploration practices announced Thursday their petition signatures have been verified and deemed sufficient by the Monterey County registrar of voters just days after the Board of Supervisors ordered impact studies on the initiative.
A new era of groundwater management began in 2014 with the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which aims for local and regional agencies to develop and implement sustainable groundwater management plans with the state as the backstop.
SGMA defines “sustainable groundwater management” as the “management and use of groundwater in a manner that can be maintained during the planning and implementation horizon without causing undesirable results.”
The group Protect Monterey County delivered 16,108 signatures Wednesday to the Monterey County Elections Department in support of putting an initiative on the November ballot to ban fracking and dangerous oil production practices in the county.
Hoping to expand on similar bans already in place in Santa Cruz, San Benito and Mendocino counties, environmentalists on Tuesday launched a ballot campaign to prohibit fracking in Monterey County, setting the stage for another expensive battle with the oil industry over the controversial drilling technique.
More than five years after the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District was barred from collecting a user fee on California American Water bills to pay for Carmel River mitigation and other work, the California State Supreme Court ruled the state Public Utilities Commission had no authority over the fee.
California American Water’s latest Monterey Peninsula water supply project cost estimates show a larger desalination plant would cost the same as previous estimates, but a smaller desal plant would be more expensive. That would potentially squeeze the cost of a supplemental recycled water project unless it qualifies for grants and low-cost financing.
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an amended water recycling agreement between the county Water Resources Agency and the Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency, the primary backer of the groundwater replenishment project also known as Pure Water Monterey.
A critical source water agreement for the proposed Monterey Peninsula groundwater replenishment project, and expanded North Monterey County agricultural irrigation, is headed to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday after the county Water Resources Agency board blessed it Monday.
A groundwater replenishment project aimed at providing the Monterey Peninsula with potable recycled water continued to forge ahead of California American Water’s desalination project during a state Public Utilities Commission hearing Monday.
California American Water is expected to resume pumping from its stalled Monterey Peninsula desalination project test slant well operation by early November after the Coastal Commission gave its unanimous approval Tuesday.
Saltwater intrusion challenges nearly every town and farm district in California that borders the Pacific. Many have been fighting back the ocean for generations. Bulletin 52, the first state report to document the salt problem in the Salinas Valley, a farming center just south of Watsonville, was published in 1946.
A more thorough, joint environmental review of the oft-delayed Monterey Peninsula desalination project by the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the state Public Utilities Commission will likely take about a year to draft and finalize, according to representatives of both agencies.
This week, the BBC and PBS are showcasing the success story of Monterey Bay in a series of live prime-time television events called “Big Blue Live.” … As a member of the Santa Cruz City Council in the 1980s, I [California Natural Resources Agency Secretary John Laird] was part of a regional effort to designate the Monterey Bay as a National Marine Sanctuary.
Facing another delay on California American Water’s desalination project, the Monterey Peninsula regional water authority weighed in this week on the major reasons for the delay — the apparent Geoscience conflicts of interest and the stalled test well operation.
California American Water officials have acknowledged using patented slant well technology by Geoscience president Dennis Williams in the Monterey Peninsula desalination project after previously denying it.
Santa Barbara City Council members on Tuesday unanimously approved spending $55 million to reactivate a mothballed desalination plant that could provide the city with nearly a third of its drinking water.
In order to sort out an apparent conflict of interest and its fallout, the state Public Utilities Commission on Thursday extended the public review period for California American Water’s latest desalination project’s draft environmental impact report by nearly three months.
California American Water and a group of experts will be asked to prove regional agricultural irrigation pumping caused most, if not all, of the decrease in north Marina groundwater levels that halted pumping of the Monterey Peninsula desalination project’s test slant well last month.
Soquel Creek Water District leaders are looking at purchasing a new piece of water main-flushing technology as one of several potential water-saving projects that they could fund through fees paid by new district development permits.
Santa Barbara, known for its landscapes fed by coastal fog, has always had a cautious relationship with water. And its history of conservation may hold lessons for other upscale communities such as Beverly Hills and Rancho Santa Fe being forced to slash their hefty water consumption because of the drought.
For the second time in less than a month, Monterey Peninsula business leaders are seeking a legal and technical analysis of California American Water’s desalination project in an effort to sniff out any issues that could potentially further delay or derail the proposal.
The decision, approved in a 3-2 vote, aligned with results of a recent [Soquel Creek Water] district phone survey of 300 customers, 90 percent of who said they were already doing everything they could to conserve water and who were less supportive of mandatory water rationing and penalties.
For nearly 25 years, the desal plant has sat unused. That’s about to change. As nearby beachgoers swam, sailed and paddle boarded on an overcast morning last week, Santa Barbara officials showed off those tanks and pumps, describing their plan to turn seawater into drinking water.