Devastating floods are almost annual occurrences in the West and in California. With the anticipated sea level rise and other impacts of a changing climate, particularly heavy winter rains, flood management is increasingly critical in California. Compounding the issue are man-made flood hazards such as levee stability and stormwater runoff.
While you may have heard about the Trump administration’s attempts to narrow the scope of Waters of the United States (WOTUS), California is expanding its regulations, including broadening the definition of wetlands subject to permitting requirements. … Projects impacting California surface waters and wetlands that are outside federal jurisdiction will now need state authorization under new and more expansive rules.
In just the past week, water about an inch deep has popped up out of nowhere in both the northbound and the southbound lanes just south of the 880 interchange. … Underground aquifers are full from all the recent rain and pressure is now forcing water to bubble up in weak spots in the surface.
The National Flood Insurance Program provides coverage to more than 5 million households and small businesses across the United States, including more than 229,000 in California. The program has been hard hit by payouts from major flood disasters in recent years and is heavily in debt. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which houses the program, has recently announced significant changes. We talked to Carolyn Kousky, a flood insurance expert at the Wharton Risk Center at the University of Pennsylvania … about the program.
Frustration was evident, whether it was from a flooded homeowner or a government agency trying to explain its processes during Wednesday’s “listening session” regarding flooding in north Chico. … Despite the anger, there seemed to be some progress, whether it was the cleaning of Rock Creek west of Highway 99 by the Rock Creek Reclamation District, or more property owners funding efforts themselves. Lucero suggested that property owners could pay more into the existing county service areas set up for drainage maintenance.
I am standing where stream flow begins, in a nameless tributary of the Russian River to the east of Hopland, California. This particular spot and location has been a grazing livestock ranch, primarily sheep, going back more than 100 years. This is one of thousands of spots in the watershed where water comes to the surface, joins in a channel, and starts its path downstream.
California State Treasurer Fiona Ma announced the competitive sale this week of $299.6 million in California Department of Water Resources water system revenue bonds to refinance certain State Water Project capital improvements, including a portion of the costs of the Oroville Dam Spillways Response, Recovery and Restoration Project.
Residents are concerned a proposed project aimed at tackling the pollution problem in the Tijuana River Valley will ultimately negatively affect them. … Some residents voiced they are not happy to hear about a proposal to build what they have dubbed a “sewage pond” near their homes.
Attorneys general from 14 states and the District of Columbia on Tuesday vehemently opposed the Trump administration’s proposal to roll back a regulation known as Waters of the United States, a move they said would end federal oversight of 15 percent of streams and more than half of the nation’s wetlands.
Wildfires alter the chemistry of streams for years, causing significantly lower concentrations of dissolved organic matter, which provides a vital energy source to organisms living in streams and rivers… University of New Hampshire researchers and their collaborators with the University of California-Merced and Ohio State University examined the effects of wildfire on stream chemistry and water quality in Yosemite National Park, Calif.
Oakwood Lakes Water District that serves a gated community and a mobile home park just outside of the southwest Manteca city limits needs to expand and upgrade its wastewater treatment plant. Manteca needs to find a way to send storm water from a large swath of southwest Manteca to the San Joaquin River. The two needs have led to a proposed agreement between the water district and the city …
2019 marks the sixth straight winter that scientists from NASA/JPL have been flying over portions of the Sierra range, using light-detection and ranging lasers called lidar to map and decode the snowpack. The Airborne Snow Observatory program, or ASO, is based on technology that NASA has been using for years to look at Mars and other planets.
Climate change is already negatively affecting the health of Marin residents and within 15 years attendant sea-level rise could threaten the county’s shoreline buildings, roads and original utility systems. This was the sobering message Marin supervisors received after Supervisor Kate Sears requested an update on the local health impacts of climate change and efforts to prepare for sea- level rise.
All along the lazy Lake County shorelines of creeks, ponds and lakes you may be able to sneak up on Western pond turtles to observe their slow-motion antics. … Besides watery places of residence, however, they require a terrestrial habitat to thrive. For instance, if the turtles’ resident pond or marsh dries up seasonally or in a drought, they might end up living outside of their aquatic environment for two-thirds of a year.
Expected to temporarily hold excess sewer flows during storms, a project to build an underground flow equalization system underneath the San Mateo County Event Center parking lot is one of several components of San Mateo’s Clean Water Program. … But for many residents … pile driving and the installation of dewatering wells included in the project’s construction plans drew concerns about noise, the structural integrity of nearby homes and the project’s impact on neighbors’ quality of life.
From the first LA River cleanup in April 1989 when 10 people showed up to the thousands that arrive on the river banks each April, the group has attracted 70,000 volunteers who have collectively removed 700 tons of trash in 29 years, the group reported. … Many argue the cleanup events are the No. 1 reason for the nonprofit’s successes in making the LA River a cause celeb.
The latest declaration will provide aid to local governments from the state’s Office of Emergency Services and directs Caltrans to request federal assistance. In addition to Santa Cruz County, the declaration will affect Butte, Colusa, Del Norte, Mariposa, Napa, Solano and Tuolumne counties.
Prior to the installation of the system, the rain garden was hardpan dirt, allowing all the rainwater—contaminated and polluted with oil, gas, sediment, cigarette butts and plastic wrappers—to drain directly into Orrs Creek and the Russian River. The new garden is 3- to 5-feet deep and composed of carefully constructed layers of soil and rock, allowing the water to be cleaned mechanically and biologically filtering the biocontaminants.
A new analysis from Trout Unlimited shows the U.S. Geological Survey underestimates the number of streams nationwide that flow only following rain. … The analysis comes as the Trump administration is soliciting comments on its Waters of the U.S., or WOTUS, rule that would eliminate Clean Water Act protections for ephemeral streams, which flow only following rainfall.
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.
Residents in north Chico say they have never seen flooding like the deluge that came their way this year, and they want to know how to stop it. Storm water from Rock Creek and Keefer Slough surged into their backyards, front yards, and in some cases into their homes. It crept into orchards and overtook Highway 99, north of Chico and continued westward.
Over the past 50 years, hydrology has experienced a revolution in theory, technical application, and interdisciplinary collaboration. … But as impressive as these technological advancements are, the hydrological revolution owes as much to a shift in culture.
“Flood-MAR” is a resource management strategy that uses flood water for managed aquifer recharge (MAR) on agricultural lands, working landscapes, and managed natural landscapes. At the March meeting of the California Water Commission, a panel discussed Flood MAR with a focus on using agricultural lands for groundwater recharge.
All this reliance on an overallocated river has left its final hundred miles as the ultimate collateral damage. Since the early 1960s, when Glen Canyon Dam impounded the river near Page, Arizona, it has rarely reached the Pacific Ocean. The thread is frayed beyond recognition, leaving no water for the river itself.
Casey Hashimoto, general manager of the Turlock Irrigation District since 2010, announced Tuesday that he will retire at the end of 2019. The leader of one of Stanislaus County’s largest water and power providers disclosed his plans at the morning board meeting. Hashimoto, an electrical engineer, joined TID in 1985 and was an assistant GM for 10 years.
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.
Now that spring is here and the sun is finally out, Bay Area residents are already reminiscing over what a rainy winter it was, one of the wettest in recent memory, with many more downpours than normal. Or was it? Not according to weather experts.
The Los Angeles County Flood Control District has committed $8 million toward the restoration of Baldwin Lake, a severely polluted body of water that is the centerpiece of the county Arboretum visited by 400,000 people annually, officials said.
For the millions of Californians who live and work far from the Delta, it can be easy to overlook the splendor of the largest estuary in western North America. Whether you are one mile or hundreds of miles from the Delta, however, all Californians have a stake in the survival and preservation of this fragile, dynamic ecosystem that is also the keystone of the state’s water supply system.
The Anderson Cottonwood Irrigation District, or ACID, Canal was covered in tree debris after the snow and rain storms. The workload was enough that Congressman Doug Lamalfa called in the California Conservation Corps.
It’s not clear how much water this year’s snowpack will produce, but the record snowpack in 2017 produced about one million acre feet of water. That’s too much for a funnel only about one-third that size. That means that water managers have to figure out where to put the excess water as it melts off the mountains. And the problem becomes potentially worse if a warm streak hits and melts the snow fast
This week California’s State Water Resources Control Board adopted important new rules to protect the state’s remaining wetlands resources. Enacted after over a decade of Board hearings, workshops and deliberation, those rules are overdue, welcome and critically necessary. Their adoption is particularly timely now, given the Trump Administration’s wholesale assault on and erosion of federal programs designed to protect our nation’s wetlands under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA).
Among other ramifications, the new procedures largely duplicate (and in some respects are inconsistent with) federal procedures, but add a significant new layer to the already byzantine regulatory process for permitting projects that involve fill of federal and state waters and wetlands.
Sacramento County homeowners living in flood-prone areas may be eligible for a grant to elevate their houses above identified flood levels. The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced it will fund a $2.6 million flood mitigation grant, which could help dozens of homeowners in the county.
People living in flood-prone areas throughout Shasta County seemed to be breathing easier Friday after a long winter dealing with high water threats. For months, many have been watching the rivers and creeks around their homes, in case the waters started to rise. However, despite wet weather and increased water releases from Keswick Dam this week, the residents we spoke with Friday say their waterways are staying at manageable levels.
Our predecessors settled in a valley bordered by mountains that increase the rainfall and help store water as melted snow underground. They also experienced drought and, in response, they thoughtfully set aside thousands of acres of land needed to capture and replenish the primary source of the water they needed, underground.
Officials met in Imperial Beach Friday to discuss the sewage pollution that continues to plague South Bay shorelines — shuttering beaches more than 100 days every year. The event was billed as an “inaugural dialogue,” which in the future will include a host of other binational issues, including climate change and commerce.
Our soggy spring has been a big boost to these so-called “vernal ponds,” ephemeral bodies of water which play a critical role in preservation of threatened and endangered creatures… The team found larvae of the threatened California tiger salamander in 28 of the 58 pools they monitor. The endangered vernal pool tadpole shrimp was found in 49 of these pools. That’s the third-highest tally in recent years.
Specifically, the Feather River Recovery Alliance is asking FERC to not reissue a license to the state Department of Water Resources to operate the Oroville Dam until terms of the agreement are renegotiated, including a new recreation plan. The group says it received 6,469 local signatures on the petition.
Chris Orrock of the California Department of Water Resources joins the podcast to chat with John Howard and Tim Foster about what this wealth of snow means for California’s water reserves and flood dangers, and the implications for wildfires later in the year.
Now EPA and the Corps want to hear directly from members of the public — including farmers, ranchers, landowners and others who may be subject to regulation — to make sure the new Clean Water Rule provides clear and easily understood guidelines. But with the comment period on the proposed new rule closing on April 15, there’s no time to lose.
A fierce battle by Berkeley firefighters to prevent a gas-tank explosion succeeded in averting a potential disaster this week — but an apparently deadly aftereffect is that hundreds of fish were killed when water and retardant foam from the firefight flowed into a nearby stream.
The heavier than normal rains Napa Valley endured this winter will have beneficial after-effects for plants and animals like birds, fish and the endangered Calistoga popcorn flower. “Coming off several years of drought, there’s really nothing but a positive from all this rain…,” said Peter Tira of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Almost everyone who flies into San Francisco or San Jose airport has seen it — a vibrant patchwork quilt of colorful water. … As part of a huge effort called the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, the Cargill salt company has freed almost 16,000 acres of their salt ponds.
In an era of high population growth and sprawling urban and wildland development, fire and flood disaster officials have to plan in advance for post-fire problems… One strategy California and Colorado are working on is to build political alliances that combine forestry, water and land issues so that lawmakers at the state and even the federal level are provided with a more powerful, holistic view of the problems.
One video follows Matthew Sligar on a “typical 14-hour workday” during the planting season. Another offers a step-by-step explanation of how rice is planted in Butte County. In others, he takes viewers on virtual tractor rides and demonstrates important tools, like his autonomous agriculture drone. Sligar doesn’t shy away from controversial topics, either, such as weed and pest control management and water usage.
California received some good news on Tuesday for the state’s water supply: The Sierra Nevada snowpack is well above normal, at 162 percent of average. This amount of snow is thanks to the more than 30 “atmospheric rivers” that brought storms this winter and spring. Chris Orrock, with the California Department of Water Resources, says … this is the fourth largest amount of snow in recorded history.
It worked. Oroville Dam’s main flood-control spillway reopened for business Tuesday morning, releasing a gentle sheet of water into the Feather River for the first time since the 2017 crisis that sent 188,000 people fleeing for their lives. … It was a far cry from the scene two years ago, when the massive sinkhole in the spillway turned water releases into an angry, boiling mess…
On Tuesday, Napolitano, D-El Monte and U.S. Rep. Linda Sánchez, D-Norwalk asked a House Appropriations subcommittee to funnel $100.4 million into the Army Corps’ construction and dam safety correction budget for fiscal year 2020, citing the Whittier Narrows Dam in Pico Rivera as a leading contender for at least part of that funding.
Alongside auto wrecking yards and shipping centers off state Route 905, a pop-up world has emerged with some of the strangest creatures to swim in six inches of water. Here aquatic plants grow next to cacti, and animals that have waited for decades in the dust come to life. In this Otay Mesa preserve are some of San Diego’s vernal pools, fleeting water bodies that appear and vanish over the course of a season.
Lawmakers are considering spending $150 million to fund new high-tech measurements of the snowpack using lasers. … The new hi-tech approach is meant to help water managers know exactly how much water they can expect in water runoff from the snowpack – and when that runoff will arrive in reservoirs, rivers, and streams.
Officials predict they might need to open the gates to move water that accumulated during the wet winter season from the reservoir down into the Feather River. … Amy Rechenmacher, an associate professor of engineering practice at USC, said the spillway’s use is going to be a big test for the agency and engineers who worked on the project.
Decay festers all around at the Salton Sea, the vast inland lake in Southern California that once hosted beauty pageants and boat races in its tourist heyday. … But new life is moving into the breach. At Bombay Beach, artists drawn by the cheap prices and surreal setting have been snapping up lots and crumbling buildings as gallery spaces.
Fortunately, California has developed a forward-looking Central Valley Flood Protection Plan to meet this challenge. In his first state of the state address, Gov. Gavin Newsom highlighted the central tenet of the flood plan—investing in floodplain improvements that give rivers more room to safely bypass flood waters around cities and infrastructure.
If it seems that wildfires are burning nearly all the time these days, that there’s no longer a definable fire season in California, you’re right. Fourteen of the 20 most destructive fires in state history have occurred since 2007, and California has 78 more annual “fire days” now than it had 50 years ago.
It’s been a big year for snow in the Sierra Nevada range. This is the time of year—April 1—when the snowpack is typically at its peak and on Tuesday, when surveyors do their monthly manual survey, they’re likely to find a snowpack at about 160 percent of the average.
Hermosa Beach City Council has scrapped a large stormwater infiltration project slated for the southern end of city’s greenbelt, after more than a year of opposition from residents. City officials will look for a new home for the project, meant to ultimately reduce bacteria in the Santa Monica Bay, but could potentially forfeit nearly $3.1 million in grant funding from the State Water Resources Board.
One month after destructive flooding tore through Sonoma County, residents are waiting for the state to decide if it will ask the federal government for a disaster declaration — a move that they say can bring them much-needed financial aid.
Russian River environmental watchdog Brenda Adelman accepted a water stewardship award from California’s North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board last month in a ceremony at NCRWQCB headquarters in Santa Rosa.
Spearheaded by the San Mateo Resource Conservation District, with additional support from California State Parks and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the project aims to re-establish more than a mile of the historic creek channel, remove 45,000 cubic yards of sediment and restore more than 10 miles of habitat for threatened steelhead trout and endangered coho salmon.
Democrats and their allies are moving to push back against a former lobbyist and frequent foe of California environmentalists who is on his way to becoming the next secretary of the Interior Department. They don’t have the power to block Trump nominee David Bernhardt, but they do have far more ability to oppose his agenda than they had for the last two years, when he served as the powerful deputy secretary of the department.
For the past year the state’s worked to eradicate the rodents for a second time. The rodents were brought to California in the 1900s for the fur trade and fur farming. “[The] challenge is we keep looking and we keep finding more nutria,” said Peter Tira with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “However, we do know there’s about 1.8 million acres of suitable nutria habitat. This is the largest nutria eradication ever attempted in the United States.”
For the second time in two months, officials had to stop diverting river water into Lake Casitas this week when several feet of sandy muck got in the way. … Officials blamed the Thomas Fire, which burned much of the area upstream in December 2017. When rain slammed into scorched hillsides, debris and sediment came down the river.
Parts of the bay are experiencing high levels of shoaling — sediment buildup that shallows the water, putting boats at the mercy of large waves. … The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District called for a state of emergency in February due to increased shoaling halfway across the channel in the North Bay, a portion known as “Rock and Roll Alley.”
Five months after voters approved a bond measure to protect the waterfront from earthquakes and flooding from sea-level rise, San Francisco plans to start using the first batch of funds. Next week, The City is expected to introduce to the Board of Supervisors for approval a proposal to use $50 million of the $425 million Embarcadero Seawall Earthquake Safety general obligation bond approved by more than 80 percent of the voters in November.
Whitewater rafting businesses are holding out hope of getting a safe landing area near the Ward’s Ferry bridge over the Tuolumne River, as a condition of relicensing the Don Pedro hydroelectric project. At a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hearing Tuesday in Modesto, speakers said an existing takeout for rafts on the Tuolumne, upstream from Don Pedro Reservoir, is under water because of dam operations. And the options for getting boats out of the water are not safe.
The California Department of Conservation (DOC) announced late last week that eight organizations have received a total of $1.85 million in grants to hire watershed coordinators to help in building local capacity to improve forest health. … Areas identified by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection as being most at risk of catastrophic wildfires were given priority for the grants.
Major new efforts to manage runoff and protect existing homes and businesses will be needed. Sea level rise will also affect water management in other ways. One area is wastewater treatment. Throughout coastal California and particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area, wastewater and stormwater treatment takes place in facilities that are currently at or near sea level. Water supply will also be affected. Many coastal aquifers will see increases in salinity …
Water may cascade down Oroville Dam’s rebuilt spillway next week for the first time since a massive crater formed in its nearly half-mile long surface two years ago — a major milestone in the saga that triggered the evacuation of 188,000 people and a $1.1 billion repair job to the country’s tallest dam. A storm forecast to hit this week is expected to fill Lake Oroville to the point that state dam operators might need to open the spillway gates…
On our Bay-Delta Tour June 5-7, participants will hear from a diverse group of experts including water managers, environmentalists, farmers, engineers and scientists who will offer various perspectives on a proposed tunnel project that would carry water beneath the Delta, efforts to revitalize the Delta and risks that threaten its delicate ecological balance.
Duane Waliser of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory … says as the climate warms, atmospheric rivers are projected to grow wider and longer. Powerful ones are also expected to become more frequent. That could increase water supply in some places. “But on the other hand, atmospheric rivers come with flood potential as well, so they’re sort of a double-edged sword, so to speak.”
The town of roughly 1,000 people is located in the north-east part of the county and surrounded by active waterways. It has flooded multiple times in the past. Goals of the study included reducing the risk of flooding while enhancing habitat restoration and providing safe access to the river, according to Sabatini’s presentation.
Water managers are shifting from flood control to water storage at reservoirs across California. Folsom Lake is at roughly 70 percent capacity, with about twice the amount of inflow as outflow. “Some of the challenges we have — there are water demands that are always increasing at Folsom, we have snowpack that’s large, we have weather storms that come in,” said Todd Plain with Bureau of Reclamation.
As the Sacramento River rose in late February and early March due to a series of storms, it spilled over and flooded several hundred acres of recently planted fields south of Hamilton City. Just the way it was planned. The river poured through a gap that had been opened in the old J Levee and flooded a habitat restoration project between the riverbank and a new levee that had been built, set back from the river a mile or so.
The intense nature of wildfires is undeniable, and while most people want nothing but to get as far away as possible, artist Jeff Frost decided that wasn’t an option. … His video and sound installation, “California on Fire,” showcases 350,000 photographs from more than 70 major wildfires, taken over the period of five years. The 25-minute video shows just a glimpse of what Frost experienced behind the lens, and how many people have been affected during the fires.
In places like Oakland, flooding will occur not just at the shoreline, but inland in areas once considered safe from sea level rise, including the Oakland Coliseum and Jones Avenue, where [UC Berkeley professor Kristina] Hill and her students now stood, more than a mile from San Leandro Bay. In fact, she added, rising groundwater menaces nearly the entire band of low-lying land around San Francisco Bay, as well as many other coastal parts of the U.S.
Any new path on California water must bring Delta community and fishing interests to the table. We have solutions to offer. We live with the impacts of state water management decisions from loss of recreation to degradation of water quality to collapsing fisheries. For example, how can new and improved technology be employed to track real time management of fisheries?
In California, [Jerry] Schubel saw an opportunity to turn the energy, food and water issues facing the state into a sustainable model showing how people can live in harmony with the Earth and the ocean, and thrive. That model required deep collaboration, a commitment to educational resources for the public and an aquarium willing to take a risk.
More than 400 nutria have been captured in the first year of an effort to eradicate the invasive South American rodent from California. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife said Monday the semi-aquatic rodents were trapped in five counties in the San Joaquin Valley. Nutria are an agricultural pest, destroy wetlands critical to native wildlife and threaten water delivery and flood control infrastructure through destructive burrowing.
Another round of soaking winter weather is on the horizon for the West Coast, with a series of storms expected to impact the region through midweek. … “Unsettled weather will continue across the West Coast this week as more rain and mountain snow targets Northern California, Oregon and Washington,” according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Max Vido.
Chinook spawned here historically, but in 1957 Putah Creek was dammed near Winters to divert water for Solano County. After that, hardly any salmon made their way up the creek. Then a lawsuit in the 1990s — and resulting restoration project — finally gave the fish what they needed to return after all these years.
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.
Water gives us life, and water does not come easily to California. It made sense to invite it to stay a while and help nurture our Gravensteins, our white figs and pear. So I’ve spent months cutting back bramble and digging out blackberry. The creek has become my workout video. I spend mornings contemplating the flow of water and noticing what mushrooms grow in the leaf litter, what animal prints inscribe the mud.
Water levels and flows on area rivers are looking similar to conditions in 2017 when there were more than double the water rescues compared to average years. “Everyone should treat the river like a wild animal,” said Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District Captain Jeff Frye. “Enjoy it from afar.”
The problem is that removing the four dams will not restore natural river flows. Those flows are, for the most part, controlled by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation which will continue to divert Klamath River water to the Rogue Basin and for federal irrigation in the Upper Klamath and Lost River Basins.
An engineer with 20-plus years experience working on dams fears the Oroville dam could be in trouble again. He says the same problem which led to the failure of the main spillway in 2017 is still happening. … Now, expert Scott Cahill told News Radio KFBK, water can be seen seeping from the foot of the dam and dozens of points along the new spillway.
As the sea level rises, it could impact more than the California coastline. The rising water could impact the Sacramento region. Some researchers said the rise could threaten levees in the area and increase the risk of flooding throughout the Delta and the Sacramento Valley.
A collection of legislators are taking another shot at getting state money to repair the canal carrying water to thousands of farms and several cities along the Valley’s eastside. … The bipartisan supported legislation will secure California’s water supply by investing $400 million in general funds to repair subsidence in the Friant-Kern Canal caused during the historic drought.
Climate advocates say an overhaul of the nation’s flood insurance program being unveiled by the Trump administration will spur communities around the country to better plan for extreme weather, but could drive up costs for some homeowners. … It will tie premiums to the actual flood risk facing individual homes nationwide starting in October 2020. The current system sets prices based largely on whether a home is inside or outside of the 100-year flood plain.
Ninety-one years ago this week, the worst civil engineering failure in California history killed more than 450 people when a wall of water carved a path of staggering destruction from a canyon north of Los Angeles to the coast.
Officials from the California Department of Water Resources, the Public Policy Institute of California and the Water Education Foundation will join regional water managers and federal agency representatives at the daylong event, “Moving Forward Together: From Planning to Action Across the Watershed“ at Cal State Fullerton.
FEMA said that a wide range of pre-existing problems contributed to the deterioration of both the upper and lower sections of the massive concrete spillway. The agency argues that federal law, regulations and policy restrict payments only to work needed to fix damage stemming from a declared disaster.
Water storage at New Melones Reservoir in southeastern Calaveras County is currently at 84 percent of its 2.4 million acre-feet capacity – 35 percent higher than its 15-year average for March… Although the dam’s emergency spillway has never been tested, Reclamation has been proactively releasing water in anticipation of snowpack runoff.
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.
Addressing concerns that include floods, droughts, wildfires and state regulations on river flow, two state officials advised farmers and ranchers to remain engaged in those and other natural-resources issues. At the California Farm Bureau Federation Leaders Conference in Sacramento last week, California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot said his top priorities include water and wildfire protection.
With rising tides threatening to submerge the Palo Alto Baylands by mid-century, city officials agreed on Monday they need to explore new barriers — both physical and legislative — to protect coastal area from sea level rise. These measures will be approved as part of a new Sea Level Rise Implementation Plan, a document that Public Works staff are in the process of putting together and that could have significant ramification for properties around the Baylands.
Our rules, cobbled over time from various state water right decisions or federal biological opinions, are too rigid. … Things are done by an aging book. We are not adapting our management based on testing new hypotheses collaboratively advanced by stakeholders who are willing to celebrate the results regardless of outcome.
Water is coming out from Friant Dam into the San Joaquin River. The dam is at about 82 percent of capacity, and the warm weather is melting the mountain snow. Michael Jackson, area director for the Bureau of Reclamation, says the flow out of the dam is being increased. Flood releases don’t usually start until April, so the extra water is good news for valley growers, with extra irrigation water available.
Dozens of computer coding teams from around San Joaquin County were tasked to create an app in roughly seven hours. The issue: following the destruction caused by the malfunction of the Oroville Dam in February 2017 and the evacuation of more than 180,000 people, could there be an app that can track dam leakage, seismic activity and other structural impacts and communicate with the appropriate individuals to help deter another disaster?
The statewide snowpack has reached 160 percent of its annual year-to-date average and the snow-covered peaks of the Sierra Nevada can be seen from Highway 198. … But, if you think that’s a lot of rain, think again. Sunday marks the 113th anniversary of the 1906 flood, which filled Visalia’s downtown streets with about a foot of water. The water didn’t dissipate for 10 days.
Otters, birds, and turtles might be the last animals you would expect to find living next door to the Interstate 680 toll-plaza. But, tucked between the freeway, an oil refinery and a wastewater facility hides an oasis on the mend. … The 21-acre constructed wetland is in the middle of an industrial zone and is part of the Mt. View Sanitary District Wastewater Treatment Plant. “It’s the very first wetland on the west coast to use treated wastewater to create wetlands,” explained district biologist Kelly Davidson.
When a wild river floods, water and sediment spills over its banks onto adjacent land, it builds up a natural floodplain. Floodplains allow a river’s high flows to spread out and slow down, forming temporary reservoirs that pool over the rainy season. That means more water percolating down into underlying aquifers … and less floodwaters barreling toward cities.
A move by the Environmental Protection Agency could revive the contentious plan to develop 1,400 acres of Redwood City shoreline owned by Cargill Salt, which operates an industrial plant there. The EPA removed one barrier to development earlier this month by ruling that the area is not subject to restrictions in the federal Clean Water Act. That puts the EPA at loggerheads with environmentalists, who want to convert the land back to tidal wetlands.
To better understand how vineyard and housing development could affect its Upvalley water sources, the city of Napa may join forces with the county on a study of runoff and inflow into Lake Hennessey and Milliken Reservoir.
By allocating $1 million last week toward a creek restoration project set to rejuvenate threatened and endangered species and reduce flooding in Pescadero, county officials locked in funding needed to begin a dredging effort experts expect will give the Butano Creek a chance to reset.
On Tuesday, March 19, the California Water Resources Control Board will hold a session on the North Shore to hear from state officials about their progress addressing the many issues related to the Salton Sea. This is a good opportunity for these officials to break through the remaining obstacles to progress at the Salton Sea and find a productive way forward.
Climate change is having a profound effect on the millions of migrating birds that rely on annual stops along the Pacific Flyway as they head from Alaska to Patagonia each year. They are finding less food, saltier water and fewer places to breed and rest on their long journeys, according to a new paper in Nature’s Scientific Reports.
They are a semiaquatic South American rodent a bit smaller than a beaver. Females can give birth three times a year and have up to 12 babies each litter. They are really good at tearing up crops, burrowing tunnels into levees, and other destructive behavior that is tough on farmers. And they’ve been discovered in California’s San Joaquin Valley, a major food-producing area.
The waters are getting warmer due to more heat being kept in the atmosphere from excess carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels. … When the earth heats up, so do the waters in the Arctic where the polar ice caps and sea ice are melting. This excess water flows down into rivers, streams and bays where people live. The result: Sea levels rise, causing flooding to coastal cities.
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 sprawling stretch of salt ponds on the western edge of San Francisco Bay, once eyed for the creation of a virtual mini-city, is back at the center of debate over regional development after the Trump administration this month exempted the site from the Clean Water Act.
Blockbuster claims in a lawsuit that a racist, sexist, corrupt culture contributed to the near-catastrophic failure of Oroville Dam two years ago can go forward, a Sacramento judge ruled Thursday. The decision … sets the stage for what plaintiffs’ attorneys vow will be a deep dive into claims of a poisonous work culture that nearly disastrously compromised the nation’s tallest dam.
Last month, we broke ground on a long overdue revamp of the West Fontana Channel. … It was created in the 1970s after the County of San Bernardino got serious about flood control following the devastating flooding that occurred in 1969. But unlike Day Creek, San Sevaine and other flood control facilities, the West Fontana Channel was never fortified with concrete to ensure it could handle all of the fast-moving runoff it gets inundated with after heavy storms.
Heavy snowfall this winter is expected to delay the seasonal opening of many Yosemite tourist attractions, including Yosemite Valley campgrounds, Half Dome’s climbing cables and Tioga Road into the high country, park officials announced Wednesday.
For the bulk of her career, Jayne Harkins has devoted her energy to issues associated with management of the Colorado River, both with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Colorado River Commission of Nevada. Now her career is taking a different direction. Harkins was appointed last August to take the helm of the United States section of the International Boundary and Water Commission, the U.S.-Mexico agency that oversees myriad water matters between the two countries…
The Glory Hole’s inlet is 72 feet in diameter and the outlet shrinks down to 28-feet wide. Right now, the water is coming out at 3,800 cubic feet per second. Just in case you are wondering, that is enough water to fill an Olympic-sized pool every 23.2 seconds.
A system that transfers and diverts water from the Eel River basin has been in Pacific Gas and Electric’s control for over 35 years, but the utility’s bankruptcy filing in January — coupled with its interest in either selling or abandoning the project — has Humboldt County officials intent on closely following what happens next.
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.
Hundreds of Bakersfield agriculture, oil and political leaders came together March 7 to examine the challenges and opportunities associated with providing California residents and businesses with a secure, reliable supply of clean water. Lest the wet winter create a sense of complacency around one of the state’s most vital needs, specialists from various fields urged collective attention to the costly and increasingly complex problems that surround sourcing, storing and conveying water.
The water within the Paradise Irrigation District is clean. The trouble is, the infrastructure within the district may not be, according to Paradise Irrigation District’s Kevin Phillips. “The water is clean but some of the pipes are contaminated, that’s why (contamination) is so random,” he said. “One service line can be contaminated, but the one next door isn’t. If the water were contaminated, then it would be everywhere.”
Still unconvinced Klamath River dam removal wouldn’t result in excessive silt at Crescent City Harbor, Del Norte County supervisors are asking the nonprofit organization behind the effort to set aside mitigation dollars. With a 4-1 vote Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors directed Community Development Director Heidi Kunstal to draft a letter to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation with its request.
A bill introduced by a state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) that will address ocean acidification and water quality issues has been introduced and it’s being supported by a wide variety of stakeholders. Senate Bill 69, authored by Wiener, is aimed at reducing land-based sources of pollutants, the restoration of wetlands and the sequestration of greenhouse gases and to protect wildlife and keystone species.
When an atmospheric river meets mountainous terrain like the Sierra Nevada, the water vapor condenses and becomes rain or snow. Strong atmospheric rivers can bring about floods and landslides, but the water and snowpack they leave behind provide California with 25 to 50 percent of its yearly precipitation in just a few days.
Recent rains have left the San Joaquin Valley’s reservoirs in better shape, but groundwater depletion and the resulting ground subsidence continue to beset farmers and water managers. What will this year hold? … Your best opportunity to understand the challenges and opportunities of this vital resource in the nation’s breadbasket is to join us on our Central Valley Tour April 3-5.
The city of Sacramento has approved a $2.9 million contract that will allow construction of a new sewage vault underneath McKinley Park. The goal of the project is to provide a place to store sewage during wet weather, when stormwater runoff — and wastewater — can end up in the same place, and overflow can send it all into East Sacramento’s streets.
Implementing the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act—which requires overdrafted groundwater basins to achieve balance between supply and demand by the 2040s—could require taking at least 500,000 acres of irrigated cropland out of production in the San Joaquin Valley. … We talked to Soapy Mulholland, president and CEO of Sequoia Riverlands Trust, about this impending challenge.
It’s not often that communities in California and Louisiana face similar water challenges. California is better known for having too little water and Louisiana too much – both challenges exacerbated by climate change. But record-setting wet winter weather led both states last week to release significant amounts of water from reservoirs and rivers to prevent flooding, underscoring the need for new approaches to build climate-resilient communities across the country.
California’s state water agency is set to appeal a federal determination that some of the Oroville Dam’s reconstruction costs are ineligible for reimbursement. The Federal Emergency Management Agency last week approved an additional $205 million for the project, on top of the $128.4 million it sent last year, according to the state Department of Water Resources. But FEMA officials told the state they likely won’t fund some portions of the 2-year, estimated $1.1 billion rebuilding effort that followed the Oroville Dam’s near-failure in February 2017.
Santa Monica will experience more frequent droughts and coastal flooding, hotter temperatures and poorer air quality as the world’s climate changes throughout the next century. However, officials said the city’s geography and the City of Santa Monica’s Climate Action & Adaptation Plan (CAAP) will shield residents from some of the impacts of climate change. The plan, released last month, describes how the city will ensure residents have affordable water during droughts, contain sea level rise and deal with high heat days.
Rising temperatures, rising sea levels and a disappearing snowpack were part of a scary story told to SCV Water Agency officials recently as they learned the effects of climate change over the next 100 years. … The latest climate assessment was intended to advance “actionable science” that would serve the growing needs of state and local-level decision-makers from a variety of sectors.
In the midst of the wet winter storms bringing rain and snow to California this year, you might not expect drought preparations to be among the state’s current priorities. And yet, they need to be. In this post, I’ll explore why to set the stage for a blog series that explores what the state can do to prepare for the more frequent and intense droughts we expect in California’s future. The series draws on work my colleagues and I did for California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment.
The sandy playa that used to be underwater is now being baked by the sun and blown around by the winds that frequently scour the desert floor here. The dust is tiny and can easily get airborne. That is a public health crisis for a region already suffering from some of California’s highest asthma rates.
California’s recent drought may have officially ended, but the state’s water data drought remains in full effect. Shockingly, we don’t always know the answers to basic questions such as how much water is available in our state, let alone where and when. That’s why improving California’s woefully deficient stream gage network should be a top priority for the state.
Death Valley, the hottest and driest place in North America, isn’t exactly known for record rainfall or pop-up lakes stretching as far as the eye can see. But after a massive storm lashed the desert with rain and brought chilly temperatures through Southern California, that’s exactly what happened, according to photographer Elliott McGucken. He was trying to get to Badwater Basin, where he thought there could be flooding, when he saw the giant lake.
The Sacramento Valley’s flood management system is a good example where a portfolio of actions has greatly reduced flood damages and deaths, with relatively little management expense and attention in a highly flood-prone region. This case also illustrates how the many individual flood management options presented in the table can be assembled into a diversified cost-effective strategy involving the many local, state, and federal parties concerned with floods.
Subsidence and socialism are two “S” words that wouldn’t seem to have much in common, especially here in the San Joaquin Valley. Nevertheless, for insiders in the Valley’s intricate water game, the words are inextricably linked.
Oregon’s dam safety regulations are getting an overhaul, for the first time in nearly a century. A bill pending in the Legislature would rewrite the laws governing construction, inspections and enforcement authority for hundreds of state-regulated dams. The bill would increase the state’s power to force owners of aging, dangerous dams to do maintenance and make repairs. And it would require state approval and oversight of all new dam construction and removal of old dams.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued a $35 million contract to continue the Sutter Basin Project – strengthening a stretch of Sutter County levees. The project will allow repairs to continue on approximately five more miles of the Feather River west levee between Tudor Road and Cypress Avenue in south Sutter County, according to a press release from the corps.
A long battle over development of the Cargill salt ponds in Redwood City may soon return after the EPA declared the site exempt from the federal Clean Water Act — causing concern by environmentalists and the city’s mayor. The Environmental Protection Agency announced its decision earlier this month, effectively removing one of several barriers to development of the 1,400-acre Bayside property.
Rescues of unhealthy seals and sea lions have nearly tripled for this time of year in Orange County, according to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, which this week took in its 41st pinniped since the year began. … While the exact reason for the increase in the number of strandings this year is unknown, Higuchi said it could be tied to warmer ocean waters caused by an El Nino weather pattern or excess stormwater runoff from all of this winter’s rains.
In this edition of In Depth we take on two water topics. First, there’s growing concern that a lot of the rainwater we’ve been getting is just going down the drain and out to sea. We plumb the depths of California’s water system to find out where it’s coming up short and what can be done to fix it. Then, new research suggests that the historical link between wet winters and less severe fire seasons has broken down. We discuss why even in the rainiest of years, we still can’t count out damaging wildfires.
The Napa County Planning Commission is sending the controversial, draft Water Quality and Tree Protection Ordinance back to the Board of Supervisors with a few recommended changes, but no sea change in direction. Commissioners heard from about 50 speakers on Wednesday. Some warned that too many additional environmental restrictions will hurt farming. Some said that bold action is needed to protect drinking water and combat climate change.
A “major problem” in southeast Tulare County forced hundreds of people out of their homes and endangered thousands of animals. … Tulare County Sheriff’s Department was sent scrambling to notify residents in the area of Strathmore that Frazier Creek Canal spilled over and water levels were rising. Frazier Creek is directly linked to the Friant-Kern Canal. … Friant-Kern Water Authority officials later determined the flooding wasn’t caused by “overtopping” of the Friant-Kern Canal’s banks. The issue was drainage from Frazier Creek.
For a region so crucial to the growth of California as we know it today, you might think there would be libraries full of books about the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. And yet, as UC Merced scholar Gregg Camfield wrote several years ago, the most obvious thing about the literature of the Delta “is how little there is.” Advocates of the largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas are trying to collect those scattered bits and pieces in a new anthology of the Delta.
Millions of Californians could end up with higher water bills after the Trump administration on Friday announced that federal emergency officials aren’t going to reimburse the state for $306 million in repairs to Oroville Dam stemming from the 2017 spillway crisis. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said federal taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for problems that existed prior to a massive hole forming in the dam’s concrete spillway in February 2017…
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.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved $205 million to reimburse California for the Oroville Dam spillway reconstruction costs, the state Department of Water Resources announced Thursday. … However, FEMA has notified DWR that it doesn’t think some of the reconstruction costs are eligible for reimbursement,
We love our Russian River for its eternal beauty, its nurturing forces, its quenching properties, its recreation and play and its renewing spirits. We love our river — except when we don’t. And right now we are distraught over the destruction its breached muddy torrents visited upon us yet again.
Recent plans to enlarge California’s Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet have raised concerns over possible cultural and ecological implications on wildlife among the Winnemem Wintu people and environmental groups alike. … The change in flood patterns would likely affect vital sacred sites for the Winnemen Wintu Puberty Ceremony for young women, according to the Winnemem Wintu website. The project would also relocate roads, railroads, bridges and marinas, according to a fact sheet from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
The announcement by Mayor Eric Garcetti last month that Los Angeles will recycle all the wastewater produced at the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant by 2035 signals an end to the era of addressing water shortages by importing water from far-flung places and initiates a long-anticipated era of reusing locally available supplies. The shift will require L.A. residents to understand both the necessity of the plan and the technology that will produce safe water.
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.
Water is starting to seep down the rebuilt Oroville Dam spillway. California Department of Water Resources officials said Wednesday this is common and will not affect the operation of the dam’s gates, which are not watertight. … Both spillways at the 770-foot earthen dam, the nation’s tallest, collapsed in February 2017, forcing nearly 200,000 people downstream to evacuate.
You can’t see them. You can’t swim in them. But groundwater aquifers are one of the most important sources of water in the North Coast. Aquifers are water-rich underground areas. They aren’t like lakes or pools but are composed of water-filled areas between rocks, sands, and gravels. Plants and animals benefit from groundwater when it’s near the surface, and feeds creeks and streams. Humans tap into aquifers through wells used for drinking, irrigating crops and operating businesses.
Deadly severe wildfires in California have scientists scrutinizing the underlying factors that could influence future extreme events. Using climate simulations and paleoclimate data dating back to the 16th century, a recent study looks closely at long-term upper-level wind and related moisture patterns to find clues.
The moment a lone duck was sucked into a 200ft-deep drain at a reservoir in northern California – and reportedly survived – has been captured on video. Known locally as the “Glory Hole”, the giant spillway is designed to capture excess water at Lake Berryessa reservoir in Napa County. Rick Fowler, the lake’s water resources manager, filmed the bird as it drifted towards the fast-swirling vortex and dropped down into the hole.
Former Interior Secretary and Arizona governor Bruce Babbitt will be the distinguished speaker at the 2019 Anne J. Schneider Memorial Lecture on April 3 at the Crocker Art Museum in downtown Sacramento. Babbitt’s talk is titled “Parting the Waters — Will It Take a Miracle?”
Behind the initial damage toll of $155 million from last week’s Russian River flood is some positive news: only 35 homes and businesses have been red-tagged as uninhabitable. After the last major Russian River flood, in 2006, 66 homes and businesses were red-tagged. … The steadily declining numbers reflect three decades of progress in fortifying river communities to withstand floods, most notably an ongoing program to elevate homes.
The Success Dam Enlargement Project, headed by the US Army Corps of Engineers, has been working its way towards construction since October 2018. … On Tuesday morning the timeline was published, and it reveals that construction on the Success Dam Enlargement Project will begin in mid 2020. Until then, plenty of work is scheduled to happen before construction starts.
Swollen rivers and creeks fed by atmospheric-river storms caused flooding with both short-term and long-term impacts for California farmers. Mary Ann Renner, a dairy farmer in the Humboldt County town of Ferndale, said the flood from the Eel River was not the worst she’s seen—but was close.
While handing out at the Guerneville Safeway store $50 grocery gift cards to residents affected by last week’s flood, Jeniffer Wertz was forced to turn away several people Sunday after running out of cards. “It was heartbreaking,” said Wertz, a volunteer for the nonprofit Russian River Alliance. For people whose homes, cars or businesses were damaged by the worst flooding along the Russian River in two decades, local nonprofit leaders say, the need for financial help is immediate.
The dramatic shift from dry to wet this winter hints at what’s to come. Scientists predict that California’s total precipitation will remain close to constant in the future, but it will fall in a shorter window of time, with more of it as rain. The state will also experience greater variability—more very wet and more very dry years. These findings highlight the need to capture rainfall and improve aging infrastructure. Here’s what to expect from California’s wet seasons, now and in the future.
The Sacramento Valley’s flood management system is a good example where a portfolio of actions has greatly reduced flood damages and deaths, with relatively little management expense and attention in a highly flood-prone region. This case also illustrates how the many individual flood management options presented in the table can be assembled into a diversified cost-effective strategy involving the many local, state, and federal parties concerned with floods.
Dam by dam, owners of smaller hydroelectric projects around the West look at them with a cold eye as relicensing looms. Created with optimism a century ago, dams are now seen as fish-killers and river-distorters. New energy sources are getting cheaper. After decades of operation, owners approach relicensing knowing that, if they are to continue generating a single watt of electricity, they must fix the problems.
The state Department of Water Resources announced that releases from the powerplant were being increased from 1,750 cubic feet per second to 5,000 cfs. Ten-day projections show the lake reaching 835 feet on March 14, according to DWR. The department has said it does not anticipate that it will utilize the rebuilt Oroville Dam spillway anytime soon; however, crews have been making preparations in case its use becomes necessary. The spillway becomes usable once water reaches its gates at 813 feet, which should happen Tuesday morning.
Santa Rosa officials said Tuesday that managers at the city’s wastewater plant have been forced to release at least 250 million gallons of treated sewage into two creeks and the nearby Laguna de Santa Rosa amid record inflow to the facility that began in last week’s storm. The three-day deluge pushed more than five times the normal flow of wastewater and runoff into the city’s Laguna de Santa Rosa plant. It was the highest inflow ever recorded at the site, according to the city.
The announcement by Mayor Eric Garcetti last month that Los Angeles will recycle all the wastewater produced at the Hyperion plant by 2035 signals an end to the era of addressing water shortages by importing water from far-flung places and initiates a long-anticipated era of reusing locally available supplies. The shift will require L.A. residents to understand both the necessity of the plan and the technology that will produce safe water.
Just months before the Woolsey Fire, Las Virgenes Mutual Water District had joined CalWARN, a mutual assistance system set up for water utilities. General manager Dave Pedersen had heard about it from a neighboring agency. Before dawn Nov. 9, the district requested emergency generators. Within a few hours, they had gotten a response.
The powerful storm that swept over Sonoma County last week caused an estimated $155 million in damage to homes, businesses, roads and other public infrastructure, county officials announced Saturday. The updated assessment came at the end of a week marked by the largest flood on the lower Russian River in nearly a quarter century. Guernville and other riverside communities took the heaviest blow, but flooding elsewhere — in Sebastopol, Healdsburg and Geyserville — led to widespread damage countywide.
Around 3,000 Santa Barbara County residents are being told to evacuate their homes once again this week. Rainstorms forecasted starting Tuesday are expected to be severe enough to potentially cause debris flows and mudslides, especially with already-saturated ground.
Four new voting members, each appointed by representatives of the Delta region, would be added to the Delta Stewardship Council if a bill authored by Assemblyman Jim Frazier becomes law. … Frazier introduced Assembly Bill 1194 this week. It would increase the voting membership of the council to 11 members.
But the river remains an unpredictable force, one that could give rise to even more destructive floods in an era of increasingly extreme weather, experts say. … County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins has her sights on the opportunities to tame floodwaters in the river’s middle reaches, starting near Windsor and upstream, where it broadens and meanders more freely in a floodplain less constricted by roads and other development.
When California’s new governor announced during his February 12 State of the State address that he didn’t support WaterFix as a two-tunnel behemoth, he received a loud burst of applause. Yet, in the next breath, when Newsom added he supported a one-tunnel version, no applause followed. That’s partly because the one-tunnel announcement hasn’t alleviated fears of people living on the north side of the estuary. Hood, Clarksburg and Courtland property owners still face the very real possibility of being hit with eminent domain.
California is drenched and its mountains are piled high with snow amid a still-unfolding winter of storms that was unimaginable just a few months ago. Drought conditions have almost been eliminated, hills blackened by huge wildfires are sporting lush coats of green, and snow has fallen in the usually temperate suburbs of Southern California. … The California Department of Water Resources reported Thursday that the Sierra snowpack is now 153 percent of average to date.
Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Thursday in Sonoma County, a day after disastrous flooding from the Russian River left numerous communities across Northern California inundated. The governor’s order, which included Lake, Amador, Glenn and Mendocino counties, allows Caltrans and local government agencies to request immediate assistance from the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief Program and the Office of Emergency Services.
Although Santa Monica may be the most aggressive Southern California water provider to wean itself from imported supplies, it is hardly the only one looking to remake its water portfolio.
In Los Angeles, a city of about 4 million people, efforts are underway to dramatically slash purchases of imported water while boosting the amount from recycling, stormwater capture, groundwater cleanup and conservation. Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2014 announced a plan to reduce the city’s purchase of imported water from Metropolitan Water District by one-half by 2025 and to provide one-half of the city’s supply from local sources by 2035. (The city considers its Eastern Sierra supplies as imported water.)
State Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) said Senate Bill 559, will “help secure California’s water supply by investing $400 million toward restoring lost (delivery) capacity on the Friant-Kern Canal, one of the San Joaquin Valley’s most critical water delivery facilities.” … The $400 million would be appropriated from the state general fund to the Department of Water Resources to administer the repairs.
To help build leadership capacity and acquire water management tools for valley communities, Self-Help Enterprises invites water board members and staff, water leaders, and residents from rural communities to participate in the 2019 Rural Communities Water Managers Leadership Institute. The six-month program is scheduled for March through August, with sessions held one Saturday per month at Self-Help Enterprises in Visalia.
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.
California has been blessed with a wet winter this year. That’s been good news for the California plants, animals, and humans that rely on water to survive and recreate. But lots of precipitation now doesn’t necessarily mean that California will have lots of water when it needs it. That’s because what matters is not only how much water we get, but when and how we get it.
The southern Sierra Nevada is expected to see a pair of storm systems in the coming days that could create “significant flooding” over several burn scars in the area, according to weather officials. … Next week’s storm, which is expected to hit the area midweek, is the primary source of concern. “That storm could bring between 2 and 5 inches of rain,” said Kevin Durfee, meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “If those rain amounts do materialize, we could be looking at some significant flooding over the burn scars, and rising water levels in rivers and streams.”
The Russian River has surpassed flood levels after an extraordinary 48 hours of rainfall, and by Wednesday morning the waters had blocked all roadways into and out of the town of Guerneville. By 6 a.m., all routes out of the 4,500-person town of Guerneville were blocked by the rising water, which was creeping closer to 41 feet — nine more than the flood level of 32 feet — with an additional five feet expected.
The Yolo Bypass is central, both geographically and in importance, to California’s water supply and flood protection system, according to Bontadelli. However, proposed modifications to the Bypass to enhance habitat for out-migrating endangered winter and spring-run young salmon means the it will be key to the continued pumping of water south for agriculture and urban users.
All eyes have been on the Colorado River recently with headlines across the west announcing the progress – or lack thereof – of the efforts of the seven basin states to reach agreement on the Drought Contingency Plan. So is the Colorado River in crisis? At the 2019 California Irrigation Institute conference, Dr. Brad Udall’s keynote presentation focused on answering that question.
On their to-do list is determining how to spread costs from wildfires in “an equitable manner” and considering whether the state should create a special find to cover wildfire costs. They face a tricky task with an array of competing interests, chief among them how to balance wildfire costs between utilities, their shareholders and their customers.
Most of the active volcanoes lie in Northern California. The report warns a future eruption would have far-reaching adverse impacts on natural resources and infrastructure vital to the state’s water, power, natural gas, ground and air transportation and telecommunication systems.
Los Angeles County officials are proposing to take ownership of 40 miles of flood-control channels along the Los Angeles River from the federal government in order to expedite maintenance and water conservation improvements as climate change increases the frequency of extreme weather.
Rains over the past several weeks have caused erosion to a recently improved portion of levee along the east side of the Feather River and protecting Marysville. But officials say the damage is superficial and doesn’t pose a threat to public safety.
With stepped-up stormwater capture programs, the Pacific Institute said in a 2014 study, Southern California and the Bay Area could boost the state’s water supply by 420,000 acre-feet annually. That’s enough water to meet the needs of 300,000-400,000 people.