Drought— an extended period of limited or no precipitation— is a
fact of life in California and the West, with water resources
following boom-and-bust patterns.
No portion of the West has been immune to drought during the last
century and drought occurs with much greater frequency in the
West than in other regions of the country.
Most of the West experiences what is classified as severe to
extreme drought more than 10 percent of the time, and a
significant portion of the region experiences severe to extreme
drought more than 15 percent of the time, according to the
National Drought Mitigation Center.
Experts who have studied recent droughts say a drought occurs
about once every 10 years somewhere in the United States.
Droughts are believed to be the most costly of all natural
disasters because of their widespread effects on agriculture and
related industries, as well as on urbanized areas. One of those
decennial droughts could cost as much as $38 billion, according
to one estimate.
Because droughts cannot be prevented, experts are looking for
better ways to forecast them and new approaches to managing
droughts when they occur.
Most of the settlement money — more than $580 million of it —
will go to agencies affected by the Camp Fire, including Butte
County and the nearly destroyed town of Paradise. Another $415
million will be divvied up among a long list of agencies
affected by the 2017 blazes, including Sonoma County, the city
of Santa Rosa, Napa County and the city of Napa.
With some local agencies just months away from a deadline to
complete groundwater management plans, local and state
officials acknowledge there have been a few speed bumps in
distributing grant funding for planning and implementation. But
observers say they expect the grant process overall to benefit
groups working to comply with provisions of the Sustainable
Groundwater Management Act.
The Bureau of Reclamation predicts levels at Lake Powell will
go up 55 feet before the end of the year, and officials
anticipate they will release nine million acre-feet downstream
for the fifth year in a row. According to Bureau spokesperson
Patti Aaron, the release from Lake Powell and increased flows
from tributaries downstream will likely mean Lake Mead goes up
by about four feet, keeping it above emergency levels.
The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) requires
water users to develop plans to bring their basins into balance
in coming years and encourages wide public participation in the
planning process. Knowing some of the vocabulary is key to
engaging in the conversation. This glossary will get you
Most of the seven states that get water from the Colorado River
have signed off on plans to keep the waterway from crashing
amid a prolonged drought, climate change and increased demands.
But California and Arizona have not, missing deadlines from the
Flume Tech seems like a rather simple solution to a problem
California has faced for decades. “We saw the state trying to
encourage a way to reduce their consumption, but there wasn’t
that feedback,” Flume CEO Eric Adler said. “No one really knew
how much water they were using.” The Flume device tells you
exactly that and about any leaks you aren’t aware of.
Rivers around the world are struggling to cope with changing
weather patterns. … California is emerging from a six-year
drought1 that restricted water supplies and devastated trees,
fish and other aquatic life. Across the US southwest, extended
dry spells are destroying many more forests and wetlands. What
should river managers do?
Water is a complex problem on Earth: Some places get far too
little of it and some get far too much. That’s why NASA and its
international partners are tracking the flow of freshwater
across the world in hopes of improving access to it for the
billions of us who depend on it.
The California Climate & Agriculture Network called the State
Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program the most popular of
the Climate Smart Agriculture Programs, and the only program
that offered incentives for on-farm water conservation
Blythe is on the California side of the Colorado River where
Interstate 10 crosses, with a freeway fast food/motel strip and
the sort of beleaguered economy you see in desert ag towns of
the Lower Colorado. Average per capita annual income here is
$16,329, just 55 percent of the state average, according to the
U.S. Census Bureau. I have a few different stories about why my
life is so entwined with the Colorado River. This is one of
According to a report from the research group Equinox Project,
The Nonprofit Institute at University of San Diego, the average
daily water consumption increased from 84 gallons per person to
91 gallons per person. That’s an increase of 8.3 percent. It’s
still shy of the 119 gallons per day in 2007, but the usage has
been steadily going up since restrictions were lifted.
The agencies want ideas for actions needed now to help
California cope with more extreme droughts and floods, rising
temperatures, year-round wildfires, species declines, aging
infrastructure, contaminated water supplies and changing
demands for water. The input will help determine priorities and
identify complementary actions to ensure safe and dependable
water supplies, flood protection and healthy waterways for the
state’s communities, economy and environment.
Arizona’s been in a drought for nearly 20 years. So the city of
Phoenix has long worked to promote water conservation. Kathryn
Sorensen is director of Phoenix Water Services. … But as
climate change makes the region even hotter and drier, water
scarcity will get worse. And it will be critical for businesses
and residents to conserve even more.
The states that share the river completed a drought plan
earlier this year that brings them closer to living within
currently available supplies, and a new round of negotiations
on long-term management of the river is due to begin next year.
However, a new report warns that planning for gradually
declining water supplies, as difficult as that is, may not be
enough to adequately prepare for the future.
The Los Angeles River is on the verge of a new era. In the few
years since the flood control channel was reclassified as a
“navigable waterway,” the region has re-embraced its oddball
amalgam of concrete and nature, which winds roughly 51 miles
from the San Fernando Valley out to the ocean in Long Beach. A
$1-billion-plus plan to restore 11 miles north of Downtown LA
is (slowly) working its way through federal approvals.
The agreement on how to address dwindling reservoir levels
along the Colorado River comes after years of negotiation
between two nations, seven states, ten tribes, and the
countless internal interests involved. TPR presents the
following interview with Metropolitan Water District General
Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger discussing how a complex consensus
among the parties was finally reached…
For the first time in nearly 40 years, the National Weather
Service’s flagship computer prediction model has received a
major makeover, which its leadership says will pave the way for
The question of whether the Colorado River system is a reliable
source of water for the future was the topic of a presentation
held at the Washington County Water Conservancy District on
Thursday. … Utah is entitled to 23%, or about 1.4 million
acre feet under the compact. Utah currently uses 1 million acre
feet, Millis said. This leaves the state with 400,000 acre feet
to left to develop.
After years of defending its proposed water grab from our
region’s rivers, the state Water Board chose to ignore all
science and impose orders to take the water anyway. Likewise,
until recently when Gov. Newsom wisely said “no” to the twin
tunnels, the state insisted on devastating the Delta by
stubbornly refusing to consider alternatives. And five years
after passage of the historic 2014 water bond, no new water
storage facilities have even started construction.
The proposed rule changes include an expansion of “categorical
exclusions.” These are often billed as tools that give land
managers the discretion to bypass full-blown environmental
studies in places where they can demonstrate there would be no
severe impacts or degradation to the land.
The Golden State is cursed with some of the finest weather and
richest soil on earth. Its luminous skies and airy loam have
been crucial to California’s transformation into our most
populous and agriculturally most bountiful state. But
capricious nature has withheld one essential resource needed to
sustain this dizzying growth—water. In his sprawling,
provocative book “The Dreamt Land,” journalist Mark Arax
examines California’s long-building water crisis with the keen,
loving, troubled eye of a native son.
With a deadline to take action just weeks away, lawmakers and
the governor haven’t settled controversial issues regarding the
so-called wildfire fund: How much money does the state need and
what portion of that will come out of the pockets of
electricity customers? Lawmakers are looking to Gov. Gavin
Newsom to take the lead and provide answers to one of
California’s most high-stakes problems.
If the decommissioning goes through as planned (the latest
timetable aims for a drawdown sometime in 2021) it will be the
largest dam removal project in U.S. history, with major
implications for environmental restoration, the salmon fishery,
agriculture and local tribes. But a recent Federal Appeals
Court decision is having repercussions that extend far beyond
the Klamath River Basin.
The Amethyst Basin flood control and groundwater recharge
facility, aimed at meeting the water needs of the High Desert,
was formally dedicated on Thursday. The 27.4-acre project, 10
years in the making, has been a cooperative effort between the
San Bernardino County Flood Control District, the Mojave Water
Agency, the City of Victorville and California Department of
Governor Newsom has stated that he supports a single
tunnel—building on the planning and analysis for modernized
conveyance in the Delta done to date with an increased focus on
how to make the project work for the Delta communities. …
Under this direction, the Department of Water Resources (DWR)
will launch a new environmental review and planning process
toward the end of this year.
The effort, particularly in California, amounted to a wholesale
re-engineering of the existing hydrology to suit the needs of
ranchers and farmers. It was “California’s irrigated miracle,”
as Mark Arax calls it in his new book, “the greatest human
alteration of a physical environment in history.” “The Dreamt
Land” is Arax’s exhaustive, deeply reported account of this
At the beginning of the twentieth century, though, a faint
fixed pattern becomes discernible among the randomness, a quiet
but strengthening note against a background symphony. Some
regions—California, the Mediterranean, Australia—dry out. It is
a small, almost imperceptible-to-humans drying, but it is a
pattern that no natural cycle can reproduce.
After seven years of drought in California that drained
aquifers and brought many farmers to the brink, legislators in
Sacramento crafted a bunch of rules governing water usage.
Those rules, many of which kick in next year, cap how much
water farmers and cities can use. The regulations have caused a
lot of anger and panic in the farming community. But also…a
lot of innovation.
Championed by state and local water planners and decried by
conservation groups, the Lake Powell Pipeline project continues
to be a focal point for discussion among Southern Utah
residents. As to the current status of the pipeline project, a
public comment period connected to a permitting process
overseen by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission – more
commonly known as FERC – recently concluded.
A new proposed rule from the U.S. Forest Service designed to
make environmental reviews more efficient would shortcut
important oversight of industry plans, environmentalists say.
The rule comes after months of complaints by President Trump
that the agency is mismanaging forests and not doing enough to
prevent fires in California and other states.
Through the Airborne Snow Observatory program, NASA and
California’s Department of Water Resources use instruments
mounted on airplanes to create high resolution estimates of
snow water content for priority watersheds in the Western U.S.
The collected data helps determine the timing of the spring
melt, which has downstream effects on hydroelectric power
generation and planning for how much water can be held in
Jason Mead at Wyoming’s Water Development Office says more dams
could help ranchers survive the coming droughts, but some
scientists say, building more dams might actually worsen
climate change. University of Wyoming soil scientist Jay Norton
says, dams that manage for flood control, for example, could
have a damaging effect.
Climate variability, competition for water from other users
including urban and environmental, and groundwater depletion
threaten the sustainability of irrigated agriculture. To face
these challenges, the irrigation industry must develop and
adopt innovative technologies and management practices that
optimize economic outcomes, while also minimizing environmental
A second plant, similar to Carlsbad, is being built in
Huntington Beach, Calif., with the same 50-million-gallon-a-day
capability. Currently there are 11 desalination plants in
California, and 10 more are proposed. … For decades, we have
been told it would one day turn oceans of salt water into fresh
and quench the world’s thirst. But progress has been slow. That
is now changing, as desalination is coming into play in many
places around the world.
California’s largest farming region faces two linked
challenges: balancing groundwater supply and demand in
overdrafted basins, and addressing water quality in the
region’s aquifers. We talked to Ashley Boren, executive
director of Sustainable Conservation, about tackling these
issues in the San Joaquin Valley.
Earlier this year, the seven states that rely on Colorado River
water signed a collective drought contingency plan. At a
conference last week in Colorado, Arizona Department of Water
Resources Director Tom Buschatzke said his state will take
about half of the water reductions under that plan when a
Mayor Kevin Faulconer touted an infrastructure investment of
more than $700 million, the largest in the city’s history. A
large portion of that spending will fund construction of the
Pure Water program, which the city says will produce one-third
of San Diego’s drinking water supply by 2035.
Water officials struck with the task of hammering out a plan to
manage Santa Clarita Valley groundwater are looking for seven
people to serve as the agency’s advisory group. … “We need
their input to move ahead,” Tara Bravo, spokeswoman for SV
Strategies, told the Santa Clarita Valley Groundwater
Sustainability Agency board.
Domestic well users in some areas were greatly impacted by
additional agricultural groundwater pumping during California’s
2012-2016 drought… Implementation of the 2014 Sustainable
Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) should improve long-term
groundwater availability during drought for all system users by
requiring groundwater management to avoid significant and
unreasonable impacts of decreased groundwater levels.
California is looking to scale up this strategy. The snowpack
that historically has supplied water into the dry spring and
summer is predicted to largely disappear with the climate
crisis. And its winter storms are predicted to grow more
intense. Water managers and scientists, led by the California
Department of Water Resources, are looking for the best places
to move water from winter storms underground for use during the
Ventura’s elected officials on Monday heard details about the
city’s current water situation, accepting a recommendation to
remain in a Stage 3 drought. … Monday’s action doesn’t mean
rates will go up — rates will remain the same through fiscal
year 2019-20, at least — but it means they won’t go down
either, as they would for some users were the city to leave the
As the West faces more demand for water and less water
available to meet that demand, decision makers are working to
figure out how Colorado could implement recently signed
agreements to reduce water use in the Colorado River basin,
which includes the Yampa River.
In a first-of-its-kind move, the Fox Canyon Groundwater
Management Agency agreed to pay up to $3 million to help
recharge overstressed groundwater resources in Ventura County.
The money will buy roughly 15,000 acre-feet of water, which
started spilling out of Santa Felicia Dam at Lake Piru on
Members of the Tuolumne Utilities District gave California
water leaders a tour focused on the challenges the county faces
when it comes to water supply, with hopes that it will bring
Ventura Water officials are recommending the city stay in a
Stage 3 Water Shortage Event, a position it’s been in for
nearly five years. … Stage 3 was first set by city officials
in September 2014, as the state was in the midst of a
years-long drought. It means the city’s projected
water supply is between 20% and 29% below a normal year’s
The people of Santa Clarita Valley are invited to weigh in on
water issues Monday afternoon, when members of the SCV
Groundwater Sustainability Agency is scheduled to meet.
Concerns about local water resources and, of course,
groundwater, are expected to dominate discussion.
A new study analyzes patterns of urban irrigation and
vegetation health during extreme drought. Its findings could
inform urban water conservation and water infrastructure
development under climate pressures.
You don’t have to travel very far to get pure artesian water
sourced from below a dormant volcano in New Zealand. “We tap an
artesian aquifer, and we bottle at source in this amazing
beautiful area of New Zealand,” said Justin Mahy of Santa
It can be difficult to precisely define a drought in a state
known for being hot and dry. … Arizona and the Southwest’s
standards for drought are far different from standards in other
parts of the country that may be wetter or have the capacity to
store large volumes of groundwater.
Following through on its threats, on May 21 the group Save the
El Dorado Canal filed suit against the El Dorado Irrigation
District over plans to pipe the El Dorado Canal (also called
the Upper Main Ditch) in Pollock Pines. … The canal is seen
as a historical, environmental and recreational asset in the
community as well as a conveyance that protects and enhances
Dr. Doug Parker, director of the California Institute for Water
Resources, says while we would like to believe we are returning
to the days when California rain and snowfall averages were
normal more years than not, there is little or no indication
that is the case. … “We’ll never be in a place where we can
coast or just relax on water issues.”
Lake Powell is benefitting considerably from this year’s runoff
following a strong snow year in the Rocky Mountains. The lake
has risen 16 feet in the last month and is experiencing an
inflow of 128% the average.
The water district would reroute an average 2.32 million
gallons a day of the about 8 million gallons a day of treated
wastewater otherwise discharged into the Monterey Bay Marine
Sanctuary. … Pure Water Soquel’s final product would then be
pumped back into underground aquifers, depleted due to decades
of overpumping, to replenish the Mid-County region’s major
At the spring conference of the Association of California Water
Agencies, a panel discussion brought together groundwater
managers in four critically overdrafted basins to discuss their
near-term goals and regional challenges in complying with the
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
First adopted in 2013 amid drying wells over the basin, the
county offset ordinance put a theoretical moratorium on
agricultural pumping. But the policy is set to expire later
this year when North County leaders adopt a basin-wide
sustainability plan—even though that plan could take another
several years to fully take effect.
California regulators have approved allowing utilities to cut
off electricity to possibly hundreds of thousands of customers
to avoid catastrophic wildfires like the one sparked by power
lines last year that killed 85 people and largely destroyed the
city of Paradise.
On the ground, it’s hard to get a fix on the Central Valley; it
flashes by as dun-colored monotony — a sun-stunned void beyond
the freeway berms. … But in “The Dreamt Land,” former L.A.
Times reporter Mark Arax makes a riveting case that this
expanse … as much as the world cities on its coast, holds the
key to understanding California.
Of all the issues that have crossed Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk
during his first 100 days in office, water might very well be
the most complex. … I am an almond grower from Merced County,
and we in the California almond community are all rooting for
the governor, his fellow policymakers and regulators to succeed
in finding viable solutions and common ground.
In my 40 years at the California Department of Water Resources,
I have seen changes in climate that have convinced me that the
full picture is changing and our extrapolation methods are
losing value rapidly. This is especially true in extreme years,
wet or dry – such as 2015, when the statistics are just not
going to be accurate enough to meet our growing water
Earlier this month the governor’s Drought Interagency
Coordinating Group unanimously voted to inform the governor
that Arizona’s long-running drought declaration should
continue. This means Arizona has been in a state of drought for
more than 20 years, surpassing the worst drought in more than
110 years of record keeping. Now that our drought has been
extended yet again, it leaves many to wonder what it will take
to get us out of this drought.
The study, published in the journal Ecological
Applications, found that thinning and prescribed fire
treatments reduced the number of trees that died during the
bark beetle epidemic and drought that killed more than 129
million trees across the Sierra Nevada between 2012-2016.
California’s rich landscape of rolling hills and steep canyons
has potentially hundreds of thousands of microclimates, which
makes fire prediction an incredible challenge. That’s why
PG&E wants to build a dense network of weather stations,
which they hope will illuminate the humidity, wind speed, and
temperature of Northern California’s varied landscape.
The largest water agency in Silicon Valley has been secretly
negotiating to purchase a sprawling cattle ranch in Merced
County that sits atop billions of gallons of groundwater, a
move that could create a promising new water source — or spark
a political battle between the Bay Area and Central Valley
A congressional bill includes almost $14 million in funding for
water projects in the Central Valley and Northern California.
Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, said he was successful in working
the funding into an Energy and Water Development appropriations
bill that includes spending for infrastructure across the
Despite years of scientific research pointing to prescribed or
“controlled” burns as a successful method of clearing brush and
restoring ecosystems, intentional fire-setting by federal
agencies has declined in much of the West over the last 20
years, the study found. “This suggests that the best available
science is not being adopted into management practices…” the
Steve Frattini, mayor of Herrin, Ill., went to a water
conference a few years ago in California amid a severe drought.
So he started working on a plan to send water to the area. The
water is from the city’s wastewater treatment plant … The
Wastewater Treatment Plant has a rail line nearby that would be
used to transport the water… Initially, Frattini said the
water would go to the area near the Salton Sea in southern
California, a sea that’s been drying up for years.
Even though the Russian River watershed has received roughly
130 percent of the average rainfall this season, it is time to
discuss the impacts of overwatered landscapes as the dry
weather returns and irrigation controllers turn on.
It’s hard to respond effectively to a crisis when you don’t
have clearly defined priorities. This is true for sudden-onset
crises, like floods and wildfires, and also for slow-onset
crises, like droughts.
The southernmost portion of Southeast Alaska, including
Ketchikan, Prince of Wales Island, Wrangell and Metlakatla, has
been in a drought for the last two years… Last week, though,
the drought was updated to a D3, or “extreme” drought, the
second-highest category the U.S. Drought Monitor measures. It’s
the first time those conditions have ever been recorded in
Alaska, according to the Drought Monitor.
Rather than unquestioningly celebrating Powell and his legacy,
this year gives us the chance to think about a couple of
points: First, how are we telling Powell’s story now, and how
have we told it in the past? Is it, and has it been, accurate
and useful? Second, whose stories have we excluded, ignored,
and forgotten about in the focus on Powell?
As the Colorado River’s flow declines, water supplies in seven
states are imperiled by potential shortages. That includes
Arizona, which passed legislation outlining steps it would take
if water from the river continues to decrease. But what does a
water shortage mean for Phoenix?
Cadiz is using Three Valleys Municipal Water District in
eastern Los Angeles County and the Jurupa Community Services
District in Riverside County to co-sponsor what they’re calling
a “peer review” of its groundwater plan, written by four
After much speculation about whether Janet Nguyen might run for
one of Orange County’s hotly contested congressional seats in
2020, the Republican former state senator has thrown her hat in
a surprising ring. And she’s not alone. Nguyen is one of seven
people vying to fill a board of directors seat with the
Municipal Water District of Orange County.
In an effort to combat climate change and reduce smog, former
Gov. Jerry Brown last year signed a landmark law that requires
California’s utilities to produce 60 percent of their
electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind by 2030.
But hydroelectric power from large dams doesn’t qualify as
renewable, because of another state law, passed nearly 20 years
ago, that aimed to protect salmon and other endangered fish.
That’s not right, says State Sen. Anna Caballero, D-Salinas.
The Kern County Water Agency supports the state’s “reset” to a
one-tunnel approach because it is more cost effective and still
prepares California’s water system for earthquakes and climate
change while protecting the Delta’s fish and communities.
The desalination plant would have seven wells sloping into the
ground and sucking up water underneath the dunes, removing the
salt, and sending it to cities on the Monterey Peninsula …
but not Marina. They wouldn’t get any of the desalinated water
because they’re not served by CalAm. Biala and other Marina
residents oppose the plant because they think it will cause
irreversible damage to their town’s ecosystems.
Giant green stems with budding yellow flowers greeted hikers
along a narrow path beneath the soaring Santa Monica Mountains
on a recent drizzly day. This is where, just seven months ago,
the worst fire in Los Angeles County history swept through,
destroying more than 1,000 homes and blackening miles of
hillsides and canyon. But thanks to one of the wettest seasons
in years, rains have transformed the fire zone back to life
with great speed.
Nevada ranchers, environmental groups and American Indian
tribes are sounding the alarm over legislation they say could
drain the water supply from rural areas throughout the state.
They’re worried about Assembly Bill 30 in the Nevada
Legislature after negotiations over arcane language in the bill
broke down in recent days.
Precipitation in California is highly variable from year to
year, and climate change is increasing this variability. … To
address this and other challenges, the state passed Assembly
Bill (AB) 1668 and Senate Bill (SB) 606 in June 2018. Known
jointly as the Water Conservation Legislation, these bills were
drafted in response of Governor Jerry Brown’s 2016 executive
order to “make water conservation a California way of life.”
There are six key components…
University of Colorado Professor Emeritus Charles Wilkinson …
described the Western icon and one-armed Civil War veteran as a
complex character, a larger-than-life person and an early
visionary of wise water use in an arid West. Wilkinson spoke
recently with Western Water about Powell and his legacy, and
how Powell might view the Colorado River today.
The Bureau of Reclamation updated its 2019 allocation for the
Central Valley Project South-of-Delta, increasing the westside
water allocation to 70 percent of the contract total. Said
Mid-Pacific Regional Director Ernest Conant: “The late storms
provided an added boost to the already above average
precipitation for 2019. Snowpack throughout the state is still
about 150% of average for this time of year.”
The “smart” sprinkler controller … uses the internet to
detect when rain is in the forecast and automatically delays
the system so the homeowner doesn’t even have to think about
it. In addition, the controller syncs to smartphones, allowing
the homeowner to easily adjust watering schedules manually as
Could a drought in California be linked to a drought in the
Midwest? A recent Stanford-led study published in Geophysical
Research Letters finds that regions may fall victim to water
scarcity like dominos toppling down a line.
The session, “Navigating the Waters,” drew a crowd of about 150
farmers to the International Agri-Center in Tulare last week,
where attendees heard from water-agency leaders, state water
officials, farmers and others on a range of topics with the
goal of helping almond growers make informed water decisions.
On Tuesday, May 21, the Board of Directors of the Sonoma County
Water Agencyand the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved
a plan to offset a fee that is likely to be imposed on
groundwater users in the Santa Rosa Plain… Under the plan,
the County and Sonoma Water would contribute up to $240,000
annually for three years to the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater
A firm hired by the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority
is already in the initial phase to find sources of imported
water for the valley, according to a progress report delivered
at a Thursday board meeting. … Capitol Core Group, retained
in March, is looking at what water supply options are available
and how to secure funding to ultimately purchase and develop
infrastructure to deliver into the valley.
Legislation that would require the state to enhance its river
and stream gauging system has cleared the state Senate. … The
bill requires the Department of Water Resources and Water
Control Board to improve and enhance the monitoring system,
including filling those gaps that are found, as well as assess
a funding source to complete the work.
The California Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would require
additional environmental review for groundwater transfers that
would affect desert areas, which would put a major roadblock in
front of a controversial water project proposed in the Mojave
Desert by Cadiz Inc.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and his allies have
filed a lawsuit to stop Federal water users from participating
in the raising of Shasta Dam, a federal dam. … Plain and
simple, this is a lawsuit waged against Central Valley farmers.
Last fall, a team of researchers at the Public Policy Institute
of California (PPIC) studied the state’s response to the
extreme drought conditions, distilling their findings down to
four essential reforms that will better prepare the state to
adapt to the impacts of climate change. At the Association of
Water Agencies of Ventura County’s Annual Symposium held in
April of 2019, Ellen Hanak, Director of Public Policy Institute
of California’s Water Policy Center gave this recap of their
CSUN students and faculty have long contributed to California’s
efforts to ensure access to clean drinking water, efforts that
have intensified during the recent multi-year drought. A group
of students in CSUN’s Department of Geography and Environmental
Studies is helping in these efforts.
I ran down a quick summary this morning of the relevant data,
comparing recent use with the cuts mandated under the DCP. It
shows that, at this first tier of shortage, permitted use is
less than the voluntary cuts water users have been making since
2015. In other words, all of the states are already
using less water than contemplated in this first tier of DCP
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has declared a drought emergency
across nearly half the state. The drought declaration covers
the Olympic peninsula, the North Cascades, the eastern Cascades
and most of southwest Washington. It allows local governments
to tap into $2 million in state funding to respond to hardships
caused by the drought. … Snowpack is now at its fourth-lowest
level in the past 30 years.
Our Headwaters Tour June 27-28 highlights the connection
between fire and water with an up-close look at the critical
role healthy Sierra forests play in water supply and quality
across California. We will also learn about a new initiative
between Yuba Water Agency, the California Department of Water
Resources and University of California, San Diego’s Scripps
Institution of Oceanography to study how atmospheric rivers
affect the location, duration and intensity of storms.
The Colorado River just got a boost that’s likely to prevent
its depleted reservoirs from bottoming out, at least for the
next several years. Representatives of seven Western states and
the federal government signed a landmark deal on Monday laying
out potential cuts in water deliveries through 2026 to reduce
the risks of the river’s reservoirs hitting critically low
Tulare County Supervisors will vote to approve a letter of
support for proposed legislation that will bring up to $3.5
billion for water infrastructure improvements. The money comes
at a cost to California’s biggest undertaking — high-speed
On our August Edge of Drought Tour, we’re venturing into the
Santa Barbara area to learn about the water challenges and the
steps being taken to boost supplies. The region’s local surface
and groundwater supplies are limited, and its hydrologic
recovery often has lagged behind much of the state despite the
recent lifting of a drought emergency declaration following
this winter’s storms.
Recently-appointed Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has
rescinded a letter of support that Obama-era Interior Secretary
Sally Jewell wrote in 2016. … Matt Cox is with the Klamath
River Renewal Corporation, the non-profit formed to implement
the dam removal agreement. He says rescinding Jewell’s letter
has no legal effect.
A bill that could block a Los Angeles-based water supply
company from pumping water out of a Mojave Desert aquifer
passed through the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday,
extending the yearslong fight over whether the environmental
impact of groundwater extraction merits additional scrutiny.
The Colorado River — of which the Green is the biggest
tributary — is the main water source for 40 million people.
It’s already overallocated, and climate change is predicted to
shrink flows by up to 50 percent by the end of the century.
We’re finally coming to grips with those forecasts and
beginning to heed Powell’s century-and-a-half-old warnings. But
it’s taken drought and desperation to get us there, and we have
to do better.
Aidee Guzman is focusing on these small farms to find out
whether, ecologically, this diversity has any positive effects
on soil health. Her work won’t be published for another two
years, but there is already a large body of research that
explains how large monocropping operations strip soils of their
nutrients and make them less capable of storing carbon… As
she works, she is documenting a potential alternative to the
industrial mega-farms of the valley and the West.
The idea was to count the reductions in water consumption
thanks to new irrigation sources, and count that water toward
the city’s water yearly water allowance. After that, the city
would make those excess water credits available for sale to the
residents and businesses that had languished on the city’s
water waiting list, sometimes for years.
Many have gazed across its shimmering expanse and seen an idea
just as big to fix it. … So far, with the exception of
geothermal energy, none have seen the light of day.
But with new interest in Sacramento, the rough
outlines of immediate, medium range and long-term plans to
protect public health and restore wildlife are taking shape.
It takes more than one wet year to not only refill reservoirs
but also recharge aquifers and return moisture in parched soils
to normal levels. … All this upstream snowpack and rain is
predicted to boost Powell to 47% of capacity by the end of the
year, another three or four feet, but there’ll still be plenty
of the “bathtub ring” visible. It’s been 36 years since Powell
was full. It’s not likely it’ll ever fill again.
After months of tense, difficult negotiations, a plan to spread
the effects of anticipated cutbacks on the drought-stricken
Colorado River is nearing completion. On Monday,
representatives of the seven states that rely on the river will
gather for a formal signing ceremony at Hoover Dam, the real
and symbolic center of the Lower Basin Drought Contingency
Arizona relies on groundwater for about 40% of its water
supply, yet groundwater resources outside of the state’s
biggest urban areas are largely unprotected and unregulated…
HB 2467, a bill that passed in the Arizona House and currently
awaiting a final vote in the Senate, takes an important step
forward to address groundwater challenges in Mohave and La Paz
Although they spend their lives hidden beneath the surface,
fish are directly affected by the weather happening outside
their aquatic world. This is particularly true of species that
rely on watersheds in regions like California, where the
availability of water changes dramatically with the seasons.
When you hear news about ice loss from Greenland or Antarctica,
an aquifer in California that is getting depleted, or a new
explanation for a wobble in Earth’s rotation, you might not
realize that all these findings may rely on data from one
Insisting the state made a commitment, a central Arizona
lawmaker and farmers he represents are making a last-ditch
pitch for $20 million from taxpayers to drill new wells and
water delivery canals. Rep. David Cook, R-Globe, said Thursday
the farmers in Pinal County agreed to give up their right to
Colorado River water to help the state come up with a plan to
deal with the drought. In exchange they were given the right to
take additional water out of the ground.
In the ceaseless conflict over how to use the state’s available
water — and maybe then some — a varied group of water users and
lawmakers sang a refrain older than Nevada: “Everyone is going
to court in the end.” … The ghosts of litigation — past,
present and future — loomed over the Thursday Senate Natural
Resources Committee hearing that stretched until 8 p.m. and
offered insight into why it’s so difficult to update Nevada
Stakeholders throughout the Colorado River Basin just wrapped
up arduous negotiations on a drought plan. There’s little time
to rest, however. Stakeholders are expected to begin the even
more difficult task of hammering out sweeping new guidelines
for delivering water and sharing shortages that could
re-imagine how the overworked river is managed.
Over the short life of the Sustainable Groundwater Management
Act, Owens Valley has gone from medium to high and now low
priority. That prioritization would have had an impact three
years ago. Medium and high priority basins are required to form
an agency and sustainability plan; low basins are not.
The big conflicts are deeply interconnected and appear to be
reaching their climactic phases. How they are resolved over the
next few years will write an entirely new chapter in
California’s water history, changing priorities and perhaps
shifting water from agriculture to urban users and
This river provides water for one-third of Latinos in the
United States. Latinos make up the bulk of agricultural workers
harvesting the produce this river waters. We boat, fish, swim
and recreate along its banks. We hold baptisms in its waters.
Therefore, it is critical to engage the growing Latino
population on water-smart solutions.
California must defend our scarce and sacred resources … The
legislation, authored by Sen. Richard Roth of Riverside,
authorizes state agencies to conduct independent review of the
Cadiz project, restoring safeguards eliminated at the federal
level and ensuring any pumping from underneath Mojave Trails
and protected desert lands is sustainable.
Five years ago, Deb Fallows and I made the first of what became
many visits to the farming town of Winters, California. …
When we first visited five years ago, the main question for the
area’s nut-tree farmers, and for California’s agricultural
economy as a whole, was whether the state’s drought-ravaged
water supplies could support such commercially valuable but
What happens when there is not enough surface water to go
around in a watershed? California water rights law says that
certain water users must curtail their water diversions — in
other words, reduce the amount of water they divert or stop
diverting water altogether. … But following water right
priorities is not always straightforward, and other aspects of
state and federal law complicate the picture …
The U.S. Geological Survey studied the land and the water and,
in 2002 … concluded that the proposed pumping would far
exceed the rate of natural refill. The National Park Service
submitted comments in 2012 stating that Cadiz’s estimates are
“3 to 16 times too high.” The Geological Survey, in 2017,
reported that there was no information to lead it to change its
2002 conclusions. … And that ought to have been the end of
The DCP … provides assurance against curtailments for water
stored behind Hoover Dam. This is especially important for the
Southern California water agencies, whose ability to store
water in Lake Mead is crucial for managing seasonal demands.
Some significant challenges must still be addressed, however.
Because of the wet weather this winter, the district is
proposing to lower its Stage Two Drought Condition to a Stage
One Drought Condition, which would lift many mandatory drought
Last month there was an 8 percent increase in water compared to
April 2018. Meanwhile the population over the same time period
went up 2,759 residents or just over a 3 percent increase. …
Using a five-year yardstick with the city adding just over
9,000 residents since 2014, per capita water consumption is
down by more than 10 percent from April 2014 to April 2019.
In reality, the WaterFix could not increase water exports while
protecting the Delta ecosystem. That’s because California’s
snow and rainfall are highly variable, making it unlikely that
existing supplies can meet increasing water demands reliably
into the future. Plus, the science demonstrates that San
Francisco Bay’s fish and wildlife need more water, not less, to
flow from the Central Valley to the Bay.
With the administration’s leadership, representatives of
farmers, cities and conservation groups are having productive
negotiations on a complex package of actions that would
increase river flows and improve fish habitats, collectively
called a “voluntary agreement.” A possible final agreement is
months away, but we are making progress.
Various parties have recently claimed that the Klamath River
Compact Commission has authority over the proposal to remove
four dams in the Klamath Hydroelectric Project. … This
argument, while creative, is wrong. The Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission (or FERC) will decide whether the
proposed dam removal is in the public interest.
The West is still in the midst of a long-term water shortage in
Lake Powell and Lake Mead, primary reservoirs that serve 40
million people. For that reason, the Upper Basin states —
Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico — have to also come up
with their own drought contingency plans. That means Colorado
might be heading into choppy waters as one of the requirements
of a drought contingency plan — demand management — could pit
communities and regions against each other …
According to an engineering investigation released by the San
Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District on March 7, the
Bunker Hill Basin, which stores the groundwater used by the San
Bernardino Valley, remains 570,718 acre-feet below full water
storage following the 2017-18 water year. … The water year
brought a reported 56 percent of average annual precipitation
and 161,708 acre-feet of groundwater production.
For rural communities in the central coast region of
California, the name “Harvard” does not connote excellence. For
these communities, where water is scarce and becoming scarcer,
it evokes greed and exploitation. As California takes its first
steps to regulate groundwater in the midst of a worsening water
crisis, Harvard’s endowment fund is investing millions into
vineyards that pump inordinate amounts of water from
California’s critically overdrafted groundwater basins.
In California, treated wastewater also is a critical source of
water for the environment, and, increasingly, a source for
recycled water. Climate change is worsening water scarcity and
flood risks. Advancements in engineering and technology can
help prepare wastewater agencies for a changing climate. But
significant shifts in policy and planning are needed to address
A new category of El Niño has become far more prevalent in the
last few decades than at any time in the past four centuries.
Over the same period, traditional El Niño events have become
more intense. This new finding will arguably alter our
understanding of the El Niño phenomenon. Changes to El Niño
will influence patterns of precipitation and temperature
extremes in Australia, Southeast Asia and the Americas.
Following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to withdraw permits for
the proposed Twin Tunnels project in favor of a smaller single
tunnel, Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano, issued a letter to the
governor expressing support for the decision while also
outlining alternative water plans.
When it rains in California, it pours. But when it doesn’t,
California’s drought years can have a devastating impact on the
state. California’s water experts are looking for ways to
better store water during rainy years like 2019 so the state
can have it during years when the rain and snow inevitably dry
Locking in a $3.2 million sale price, the Soquel Creek Water
District board will enter an initial five-month “option to
purchase” agreement to buy a nearly 2-acre parcel in Live Oak.
The purchase option period … is designed to give district
officials time to survey the 2505 Chanticleer Ave. land,
assessing its ability to serve as home to the proposed Pure
Water Soquel plant.
Set to expire in 2026, the current guidelines for water
deliveries and shortage sharing, launched in 2007 amid a
multiyear drought, were designed to prevent disputes that could
provoke conflict. … But as the time for crafting a new set of
rules draws near, some river veterans suggest the result will
be nothing less than a dramatic re-imagining of how the
overworked Colorado River is managed…
Even as stakeholders in the Colorado River Basin celebrate the recent completion of an unprecedented drought plan intended to stave off a crashing Lake Mead, there is little time to rest. An even larger hurdle lies ahead as they prepare to hammer out the next set of rules that could vastly reshape the river’s future.
Set to expire in 2026, the current guidelines for water deliveries and shortage sharing, launched in 2007 amid a multiyear drought, were designed to prevent disputes that could provoke conflict.
The effect of wildfires on snowmelt is more widespread and
longer lasting than people thought and has ramifications across
the region, where cities … rely heavily on melting snow to
replenish water supplies. What’s more, human-caused global
warming is feeding the spread of fires, which contributes more
to the deterioration of snow, thus extending and intensifying
the fire season.
Drought affects just 2 percent of the country — about the
smallest area since the federal government began official
monitoring in 2000. Meanwhile, NOAA data show the last 12
months (May 2018 to April 2019) were the wettest on record for
To kick off Water Awareness Month, PWP is partnering with the
City of Pasadena Public Health Department for Rethink Your
Drink Day, a statewide initiative to encourage the public to
switch from sugary drinks to healthy drinking water. At the
event, PWP and the Public Health Department will promote
drinking great-tasting Pasadena tap water with a variety of
family- friendly activities and giveaways.
In the district’s “high-level” draft budget proposal for the
2019-2010 fiscal year projects a 4% increase in annual
spending, and includes a $45,000 operational savings secured
through cutting funding for water conservation and education
programs for the coming year.
Implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act
(SGMA) was always going to be tricky. Part of the necessary
growing pains of SGMA is determining how the revolutionary
statute interacts with traditional tenets of water law. As with
any other sweeping legislative change, SGMA does not provide
direct answers for every practical question which arises as the
law is put into place.
The Imperial Irrigation District board of directors voted
Tuesday to allow access across its lands for critically needed
state wetlands projects at the Salton Sea, designed to tamp
down dangerous dust storms and give threatened wildlife a
boost. In exchange, California will shoulder the maintenance
and operations of the projects, and the state’s taxpayers will
cover the costs of any lawsuits or regulatory penalties…
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the Central
Valley Project, may update its 65% allocation for
south-of-delta agricultural contractors later this month. But
Lon Martin, general manager of the Los Banos-based San Luis
Water District, said landowners who are planting crops and must
secure water for the remainder of the year “cannot wait until
May and June to make decisions.”
A review of 170 years of water-related successes in California
suggests that most successes can be traced directly to past
mistakes. California’s highly variable climate has made it a
crucible for innovations in water technology and policy.
Get a firsthand view of California’s diverse water resource
issues with two of our summer tours — to the Sierra Nevada
headwaters that were blessed this winter with a plentiful
snowpack, and a Southern California coastal region chronically
prone to drought.
According to the Bureau of Reclamation, the snowpack in the
Upper Basin is nearly 140% above average as of April 15 and it
forecasts that seasonal inflow to Lake Powell will be at 128%
of average. … “These developments may lessen the chance of
shortage in 2020,” Terry Fulp, BOR’s Lower Colorado regional
director, said in a prepared statement.
Pasadena Water and Power is partnering with the city’s
Department of Public Health in celebrating the month of May as
Water Awareness Month, and Wednesday, May 8, as Rethink Your
Drink Day. PWP General Manager Gurcharan Bawa said the utility
plans to engage with community organizations in Pasadena during
the entire month in an effort to educate people about the
importance of water as a precious resource.
By monitoring tiny changes to the Earth’s gravitational field,
the GRACE satellites have been pinpointing the distribution of
fresh water on our planet for almost two decades. But as Marric
Stephens explains, a new follow-on mission is also helping with
plans for a space-based gravitational-wave detector
In the past several years, Los Angeles-based Renewable
Resources Group has helped sell 33,000 acres of land to
California’s most powerful water agency, the Metropolitan Water
District of Southern California. Documents obtained by Voice of
San Diego raise fresh questions about those deals. Now,
Renewable may be working on another deal that could rearrange
the distribution of water in California forever.
DWR has not yet disclosed whether it intends to withdraw the
WaterFix bond resolutions, which are subject to numerous
challenges in litigation DWR filed to validate the bonds. It
remains unclear what will happen with the validation action now
that the project and cost estimates these items are based on no
In a formal response to the drilling proposal, a dozen
environmental organizations expressed concerns about the
effects on ground and surface water if exploration leads to an
industrial-scale mine. … Among those who have spoken against
the plan are officials at Death Valley National Park.
Vertical farming also brings potential for solving our current
and projected water issues in California. By using hydroponic
system technology, water is constantly recycled and uses 98%
less water per item than traditional farming. Adopting this
technology would be greatly beneficial for our future,
considering that California’s agricultural sector uses 40% of
In one key respect, California is lagging behind many other
parts of the world. Climate change is causing drought and water
shortages everywhere, but California has been slow to adopt a
solution that over 120 countries are using: desalination.
Nevada Irrigation District is a very bad steward of the Bear
River and Auburn Ravine, which it uses as a ditch to deliver
water to its paying customers downstream with little regard for
the ecology of Auburn Ravine.
It’s taken four years but fishermen along California’s North
Coast who have seen crab and salmon seasons truncated and even
closed altogether will finally see some relief after $29.65
million in federal disaster relief funding was approved by
Congress. It was in the 2015-16 year the Dungeness crab fishery
and the Yurok Chinook salmon fishery both collapsed due to poor
The giant reservoir, formed by Glen Canyon Dam, was under 40
percent full the last week of April. And a lot of water is
still being released from the reservoir, more demands on the
water are expected, and the water supply above the reservoir,
in the sprawling Colorado River system, is expected to
Set to expire in 2026, the current guidelines for water
deliveries and shortage sharing, launched in 2007 amid a
multi‐year drought, were designed to prevent disputes that
could provoke conflict. But as the time for crafting a new set
of rules draws near, some river veterans suggest the result
will be nothing less than a dramatic re-imagining of how the
overworked Colorado River is managed…
Gov. Gavin Newsom killed the divisive twin tunnels project
Thursday, calming fears that have roiled the delta communities
and dominated California water politics for more than a decade.
It is a signature decision for the young administration.
The drought contingency plan is in the can (well, mostly), and
an unusually wet winter means we’ll likely avoid the water
shortage declaration everyone was expecting in 2020. If this
were the past, we’d take a few months off to revel in our
success. But thank goodness we’re not living in the past.
Arizona’s water leaders know that the drought plan didn’t solve
The Newsom administration announced it is withdrawing permit
applications that the Brown administration had submitted to the
State Water Resources Control Board, California Department of
Fish and Wildlife, and several federal agencies. Instead, the
administration said it will begin environmental studies on a
There’s a need to use the available surface water from rivers,
lakes, and reservoirs so the groundwater can replenish itself.
That’s where the new Southeast Fresno Surface Water Treatment
Facility comes in. … Michael Carbajal, Director of Public
Utilities for the City of Fresno. says that before 2004, we
used 100% groundwater to meet drinking water demand. “We’re
hoping to get up over 50% meaning, 50% of our drinking water
demand through surface water,” says Carbajal.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power released its
operation plan, focusing on pumping volumes, April 20, kicking
off a series of events that historically has ended with a
volume at or near the proposed maximum. The water extractions
will be used in the valley for irrigation,
enhancement/mitigation projects and for export.
Earlier this month, the U.S. District Court for the Central
District of California issued a decision … finding that the
Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians lacked standing to seek
adjudication of its claim to quantification of its reserved
groundwater right and its claim regarding groundwater quality.
The Inland Empire Utilities Agency, Cucamonga Valley Water
District and the City of Fontana held a groundbreaking ceremony
for the Village of Heritage Recycled Water Project in the
northwestern area of the city. About 8,200 linear feet of
pipeline will be installed in an effort to decrease the use of
imported water in Fontana, officials said. The pipeline will be
an extension of the existing Baseline recycled water
The winter was wet, and the memories of California’s
record-setting drought years are receding. But as the weather
warms and irrigation systems are once again operating, city
officials remind local residents that Newman’s water
conservation rules remain in effect.
DCP puts safeguards in place to help manage water use now and
better deal with a potential shortage. Utah, Arizona and the
five other Colorado River basin states wisely chose to include
conservation measures in the DCP — and shared in their
sacrifice to avoid costly litigation and imposed cuts. Congress
and the states should be commended for this bipartisan,
A wet winter is not necessarily good news regarding the
potential for wildfires in the summer, especially where summers
tend to be dry. This is because the extra precipitation can
lead to a more robust growth of grasses and other vegetation
that can become fuel for fires as they dry out.
As the Klamath River Renewal Corporation announced that they’ve
contracted with a company for removal of four Klamath dams last
week, opponents continue to insist the organization is ill
prepared for the expense and consequences of removal.
With the Trump administration trudging ahead and re-writing
another Obama-era environmental law, wary California regulators
last month approved new protections for wetlands in the Golden
State. … Hoping to freeze the new wetlands rules, a coalition
consisting of several California water suppliers and the city
of San Francisco sued the water board late Wednesday in state
“3.1 million acre-feet of the (Imperial) Valley’s entitlement
to Colorado River water is now up for grabs in Sacramento and
it ought to concern all of us,” IID Board President Erik Ortega
said Tuesday afternoon in El Centro. “That’s why I’m calling
today for the general manager to bring back to this board a
plan for the divestment of IID’s energy assets in the Coachella
Although seven years of drought in California finally relented
this March, high heat and lack of water have caused a severe
decline in the health of some trees, with many now essentially
suspended between life and death, Sacramento-area arborist Matt
Assembly Bill 1668 and Senate Bill 606 established indoor and
outdoor irrigation regulations, making water conservation a
permanent way of life. This draconian and arbitrary rationing
legislation tramples upon the personal rights of individuals to
make choices regarding their beneficial use of water,
undermines local conditions and local control, the state’s
water rights priority system and area-of-origin water right
At first blush, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest action on water
seems fanciful and naive. But it has logic and conceivably
could work. Newsom wants to reexamine practically everything
the state has been working on — meaning what former Gov. Jerry
Brown was doing — and piece together a grand plan for
California’s future that can draw the support of longtime water
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call on Monday for a new comprehensive
water plan for California looks like a smart timeout on one of
the state’s trickiest and most intractable battlefronts. As
with many political hot potatoes, there is no way to make
everyone happy when it comes to water management, because the
sides have mutually exclusive goals…
The property, a peaceful meadow at 6,820 feet elevation
near Echo Summit, is also home to … a monthly event that
attracts hordes of reporters and photographers who tromp
through the property on snowshoes. … Carol Pearson would
usually watch the proceedings from the window of the small
cabin, built in 1938, where she’s lived the past 20 years. Now
Pearson, 67, has been displaced by fire. Her cabin burned to
the ground in a chimney fire April 12, killing one of her cats.
Researchers revealed Wednesday the fingerprint of climate
change on drought and the long-term effect on global water
supplies can be traced to 1900. … Lead author Kate Marvel, a
climate modeler at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and
Columbia University, said, “It’s mind boggling. There is a
really clear signal of the effects of human greenhouse gases on
Ellen Hanak, director of the PPIC Water Policy Center,
testified today (April 30, 2019) before the Assembly
Subcommittee on Water, Parks and Wildlife, at a hearing on
balancing water needs into the future in the San Joaquin
Valley. Here are her prepared remarks.
To better measure the water in our snow, California is sending
sharper eyes up into the sky. Two sensors peer out from a
turboprop aircraft, soaring from Mammoth Yosemite Airport over
the white Sierra Nevada – collecting data that tells us almost
exactly how much water we’ll have this summer.
In the Western US, climate change is a major driver behind the
near doubling in burned area that we’ve experienced over the
past 35 years, and has contributed to an increase in the
frequency and severity of fires, while lengthening the fire
season in some regions.
One of the most frequently recurring themes of last week’s
business conference of California agricultural appraisers was
the impact the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, known as
SGMA, is having on land values. … Another recurring theme was
the tight availability of farm employees and the rising costs
associated with those employees. One result has been the
increase in plantings of nut crops, which require fewer people
to tend and harvest.
Some lawyers say the Drought Contingency Plan, or DCP, may be
built on shaky legal ground and could be vulnerable to
litigation — depending on how the Bureau of Reclamation
implements it. One California water district has already sued
to block it.
Born and raised in Northern California, Brad Gates has been
organically farming tomatoes in the region for 25 years,
working on small leased plots and introducing new varieties
with cult followings… For most of that time, he sold his
tomatoes to top restaurants, including Chez Panisse in
Berkeley. But a few years ago he completely rethought his work.
Galvanized by climate change, he joined a growing number of
farmers who are trying to find a future for their threatened
Imperial Irrigation District general manager Henry Martinez and
California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot have
reached an agreement in principle that the state will be
responsible for construction and maintenance of more than 3,700
acres of wetlands aimed at controlling toxic dust and restoring
wildlife habitat. In exchange, the water district will sign
easements for access onto lands it owns that border
California’s largest lake.
Mayor Eric Garcetti Monday unveiled a Green New Deal for Los
Angeles, setting aggressive new environmental goals in a range
of areas, including electric autos, air quality, trees and
public transit. … The plan includes a reiteration of some
previous commitments, but also sets some new benchmarks,
including sourcing 70% of L.A.’s water locally and
recycling 100% of all wastewater for beneficial reuse by 2035.
In the midst of the record-breaking California drought in 2014,
three Cal Poly students decided to use their senior project to
try to help stop water leaks. They began designing a device
that would monitor a consumer’s water usage during the month
and hoped it would inspire people to pay closer attention to
As California’s Central Valley grew into the nation’s leading
agricultural corridor, the region gradually lost almost all of
the wetlands that birds depend on during their migrations along
the West Coast. But a dramatic turnaround is underway in the
valley. Dozens of farmers leave water on their fields for a few
extra weeks each season to create rest stops for birds. The
campaign has not only helped salvage a vital stretch of the
north-south migration path called the Pacific Flyway but also
tested a fresh model for protecting wildlife.
Westminster, Colo.’s, comprehensive plan estimates how much
water each type of building would use. Then the city built GIS
software that overlays water resources and infrastructure over
the comprehensive plan—making it easy to see, for example, how
much water a proposed strip mall might use. It’s a step up from
the typical water-per-capita measure that most cities rely
on… It also helps planners guide developers to smarter
Cal Am announced it had been told by city officials its request
for the mayor and two council members to recuse themselves due
to alleged bias against the desal project would not be honored.
The company will now appeal the commission’s denial directly to
the Coastal Commission.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday ordered key state agencies to
develop a blueprint for meeting California’s 21st-century water
needs in the face of climate change.The executive order
includes few details and doesn’t appear to set a dramatic new
water course for the state. Rather, it reaffirms Newsom’s
intentions to downsize the controversial twin tunnels project
in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, use voluntary agreements
to meet new river flow requirements and provide clean drinking
water to impoverished communities.
This research will supply information needed for the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers to update the 1970’s-era water control
manuals, which dictate the storm-season operations of both
reservoirs. Yuba Water’s goal is to have a new water control
manual approved about the same time the agency completes
construction of a new, planned secondary spillway at its New
Bullards Bar Dam, estimated for completion in 2024.