Today Californians face increased risks from flooding, water shortages, unhealthy water quality, ecosystem decline and infrastructure degradation. Many federal and state legislative acts address ways to improve water resource management, ecosystem restoration, as well as water rights settlements and strategies to oversee groundwater and surface water.
In SB1, State Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins provides a compelling case to protect California’s air, navigable water, drinking water and workers. … However, despite our recognition that some in our state feel recent administrative rulings and legislative changes to federal law may not be the right prescription for California, we believe this legislation is overbroad, duplicative and unworkable.
Arizona’s top water official says a lawsuit filed Tuesday by California’s Imperial Irrigation District could pose a threat to the newly approved multistate drought contingency plan. But Tom Buschatzke, director of the Department of Water Resources, said he’s not worried the plan will fall apart — at least not yet.
Congressman Jared Huffman says the Water, Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee, which he chairs in the U.S. House of Representatives, is finally getting to do things “we weren’t allowed to do” for the past six years when Republicans controlled the House. Things like protecting public lands, making climate change part of all environmental programs, trying to prevent offshore drilling and looking at the state of the nation’s wildlife and fisheries.
There are at least six high-profile projects in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming that combined could divert more than 300,000 acre-feet of water from the beleaguered Colorado River. That’s the equivalent of Nevada’s entire allocation from the river. These projects are in different stages of permitting and funding, but are moving ahead even as headlines about the river’s dwindling supply dominate the news.
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.
The petition, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges violations of the California Environmental Quality Act by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and names the Coachella Valley, Palo Verde and Needles water districts as well. It asks the court to suspend the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan until a thorough environmental analysis has been completed.
President Donald Trump signed a bill Tuesday authorizing a plan for Western states to take less water from the overburdened Colorado River. The president’s signing capped a years-long process of sometimes difficult negotiations among the seven states that rely on the river. … Next, representatives from Arizona and the other Colorado River basin states who had a hand in crafting the deal are expected to meet for a formal signing ceremony.
The obvious question is “Why did Prop 3 fail?” Multiple commentators have suggested answers. But exploring “Where did Prop 3 fail?” provides additional insights. The results are sometimes counter-intuitive…and deepen our understanding of how voters think about water in California.
A bill moving through the state legislature looks to make repairs and enhancements to the Friant-Kern Canal. Senate Bill 559 was authored by Senator Melissa Hurtado, representing the 14th Senate District, and was co-authored by several other San Joaquin Valley lawmakers. The legislation recently advanced through the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water with a vote of 7 to 0.
Daryl Vigil, water administrator at Jicarilla Apache Nation, who worked on the study, said it’s relatively new for local and federal lawmakers to include tribes in national water policy conversations. “That conversation and that opportunity wasn’t available before,” Vigil said. “But now with the conclusion of this DCP and the inclusion of tribes in that dialogue, I think that sets the stage for that to happen.”
Here’s something worth celebrating: In a rare bipartisan resolve to prevent a water crisis in the Southwest, Congress has authorized a plan to reduce consumption from the Colorado River – a major conservation milestone. It shows that when we work together as Americans, we can address some of the biggest challenges facing our nation today.
Congress passed an historic Colorado River drought deal on Monday, which is now on its way to President Trump’s desk for his signature. That leaves Arizona back to wrestling with water issues that it mostly set aside during the two years it fixated on the negotiations for the Colorado River deal.
Environmental groups have dropped their opposition to a bill they had originally blasted as a way for the state to green-light a controversial plan to pipe water from eastern Nevada to Las Vegas after the bill was amended last week. … But AB30 was altered significantly enough on Wednesday to allow those groups to feel comfortable enough to now say they are neutral on the bill.
Bruce Babbitt, the former Arizona governor and secretary of the Interior, has been a thoughtful, provocative and sometimes forceful voice in some of the most high-profile water conflicts over the last 40 years, including groundwater management in Arizona and the reduction of California’s take of the Colorado River. In 2016, former California Gov. Jerry Brown named Babbitt as a special adviser to work on matters relating to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the Delta tunnels plan.
This bill calls for $150M in funding over the next ten years from the state’s General Fund to conduct laser surveys via ten airplane trips over the Trinity Alps and the Sierra Nevada each year. They would also fly over hydrologic areas that drain to, or supply water to, certain major reservoirs and lakes.
Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) ripped the State Water Resources Control Board on Tuesday for arguing that the harm caused by the Bay-Delta Plan to the drinking water of disadvantaged communities is not “significant”. Gray’s comments came as his legislation, Assembly Bill 637, cleared the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee with bipartisan support.
The legislation, which received bipartisan support, will invest $400 million from the State’s General Fund towards the Friant-Kern Canal, one of the Central Valley’s most critical water delivery facilities.
Assemblyman Jim Frazier spoke out in frustration Wednesday when his bill to increase local representation on the Delta Stewardship Council died Tuesday in a committee hearing. Unable to get his bill past the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, Frazier blamed Southern California water special interests
Lawmakers on Wednesday moved an amended version of the bill following pressure from conservationists, American Indian tribes and rural communities who oppose siphoning water from remote Nevada valleys to the state’s largest city. Although the bill still requires approval from both the Assembly and Senate to become law, opponents say the watered-down version assuages their concerns about the pipeline.
Senate Bill 307 prohibits water transfers unless two agencies agree that the transfers do not harm state and federal desert lands. But it’s really about one thing: stopping the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project. … The Cadiz project has been thoroughly vetted and meets an important need. It’s time legislators let it proceed.
Responding to congressional approval of a Southwestern drought pact, officials from the Imperial Irrigation District said Tuesday the Salton Sea is the untested plan’s “first casualty.” … IID had refused to sign the plan because it wanted a “firm commitment” of more than $400 million in state and federal funds to resolve environmental issues at the Salton Sea.
Most states don’t tax milk, bread, fruit or vegetables because they are essential to human life. Food tax exemptions have been in place since the Great Depression, part of a social covenant formed to help the neediest afford life’s essentials. But Democratic Sen. William Monning of Carmel is leading an effort to tax something even more essential than groceries. Tax bills now under consideration seek to tax the water we use in our homes.
California has until recently lagged behind other states when it comes to tackling the myriad problems posed by one group of chemicals found with increasing frequency in drinking water systems nationwide. A sweeping new bill requiring testing for the whole group of chemicals, rather than a few, would help change that.
Cadiz says that the aquifer refills at the rate of 32,000 acre feet per year (not 50,000); but, renowned scientists working with the United States Geological Survey and the National Park Service say the refill rate is more like 2,000 to 10,000 acre feet per year — at least 40,000 acre feet per year less than the Cadiz plan. The math just doesn’t add up.
Two pieces of legislation recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives will help more communities modernize their water management strategies to include water recycling and we urge Congress to pass them.
A bill that would authorize the federal government to enact a drought plan for Colorado River basin states in times of shortage has passed Congress and is on its way to the White House for the president’s signature. … Its aim is to protect water users from deep losses and keep the reservoirs and river healthy.
Administered by the National Park Service (NPS), NHAs are defined by NPS as a grassroots, community-driven approach to heritage conservation and economic development. They differ from national parks in several significant ways. Primarily, NPS does not take ownership of the land encompassed within an NHA and no land-use restrictions are placed upon landowners.
Tohono O’odham Chairman Edward D. Manuel testified Thursday that lack of water has been killing crops and livestock – and, essentially, the tribe’s economy – and things will only get worse if federal funding is allowed to lapse. That’s why Manuel joined officials from other tribes, utilities and advocacy groups to urge passage of a bill by Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson, that would make permanent a federal fund used to help the government meet its obligations under legal settlements over water-rights issues.
The water tax will require a two-thirds vote in each house. Democrats have that and a little to spare. Still, the governor will need to use all his power of cajolery and coercion to win passage of any tax increase.
Excluded from a Southwestern drought pact, the Imperial Irrigation District won a small victory on Tuesday when federal legislators included protections for the Salton Sea that were left out of previous drafts of the agreement.
Most winters, [firefighter Mike] Morello would be working on several of these forest treatment projects, especially prior to the bulk of the Sierra winter snowfall. But throughout late December and most of January, Morello was sitting at home. He got to spend more time with his kids, but because he was one of the thousands of Forest Service workers to be furloughed, he couldn’t spend time in the woods, trying to prevent the next Sierra town from becoming Paradise, California, where 85 people died in November of last year.
Current water sharing proposals fail to achieve the balance needed to restore our salmon runs. Meanwhile, additional massive increases in Delta diversions are planned by the Trump administration under these agreements, which would make conditions for salmon even worse. This is a formula for extinctions and the end of salmon fishing in California. There is no support for this proposal among fishermen or conservationists.
Two members of Arizona’s congressional delegation introduced legislation Tuesday on a plan to address a shrinking supply of water from a river that serves 40 million people in the U.S. West. Republican Sen. Martha McSally and Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva vowed to move identical bills quickly through the chambers. Bipartisan lawmakers from Colorado River basin states signed on as co-sponsors.
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.
Under a veil of trying to protect the vast California desert, SB307 focuses squarely on the Cadiz Water Project aiming to trap it in another state-run permitting process promoted by special interests who have challenged the Cadiz Project for more than a decade.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, wants to create a tax on water customers to fund a safe drinking water program in disadvantaged communities. But a rival proposal by a lawmaker from his own party seeks to tap into the state’s record budget surplus instead.
A plan to divvy up cutbacks to Colorado River water in times of shortage has passed its first two tests in Congress. On Thursday, a House subcommittee endorsed the Drought Contingency Plan after questioning the state and federal officials who crafted it. Thursday’s approval came a day after a Senate subcommittee endorsed the plan. Next, lawmakers in both chambers will have to negotiate and vote on bills that would allow the federal government to carry out the plan.
Groundwater helped make Kern County the king of California agricultural production, with a $7 billion annual array of crops that help feed the nation. That success has come at a price, however. Decades of unchecked groundwater pumping in the county and elsewhere across the state have left some aquifers severely depleted. Now, the county’s water managers have less than a year left to devise a plan that manages and protects groundwater for the long term, yet ensures that Kern County’s economy can continue to thrive, even with less water.
This is a very worthy cause. But needed improvements can easily be paid for with the state’s multibillion-dollar budget surplus or with the billions in approved state water bonds. Imposing a first-ever tax on something as basic as water is a horrible idea.
U.S. Sen. Martha McSally vowed Wednesday to take quick action on a plan to preserve the drought-stricken Colorado River, which serves about 40 million people in the U.S. West and Mexico. … The plans that have been in the works for years got a first congressional hearing Wednesday before a subcommittee that McSally chairs. The Arizona Republican said she’ll introduce a bill soon and expects strong support.
Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he will introduce a tax of up to $10 a month to water customers in order to fund safe drinking water in disadvantaged communities. Valley Public Radio has reported in the past about how many of those communities are right here in the San Joaquin Valley. To learn about Newsom’s plan, we spoke to Jonathan Nelson, policy director at the Community Water Center.
The agreement represents the first multistate effort in more than a decade to readjust the collective rules for dealing with potential shortages. … But even as the drought agreement has earned widespread praise as a historic step toward propping up the river’s reservoirs, Arizona’s plan for implementing the deal has also drawn criticism for relying on a strategy that some argue has significant drawbacks.
In recent days, there have been contentions that the DCP has left a major factor out of the equation: the Salton Sea, California’s largest inland lake. But this simply is not the case. … The Imperial Irrigation District has yet to sign on to the DCP. The DCP has an on-ramp for IID’s participation if they change their minds. But with or without IID’s participation, the DCP will not adversely impact the Salton Sea…
I introduced AB 854 because the board of directors of IID, one of California’s most powerful municipal utilities, operates without representation from Riverside County ratepayers who make up 60 percent of their service territory. Moreover, according to The Desert Sun, Riverside County ratepayers provide IID with the majority of its revenue yet have no voice on how their municipal utility is managed.
More than 100 organizations representing water and agricultural interests in the Western U.S. urged Congress today to use any infrastructure package under consideration to help address severe hydrological conditions in the West.
In the coming days, Congress will begin committee hearings on unusually concise, 139-word legislation that would allow the secretary of the interior to implement the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan, or DCP. … This agreement marks a watershed moment in building our country’s resilience to climate change.
He announced Wednesday his plans to charge water customers an extra amount ranging from 95 cents to $10 a month — money that, combined with fees on animal farmers, dairies and fertilizer sellers, he projects would raise $140 million a year that could be put toward testing wells, aiding public water systems and treating contaminated water. The amount paid would depend on the size of one’s water meter.
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.
Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to charge California water customers up to $10 per month to help clean up contaminated water in low-income and rural areas, but he will face resistance from some legislative Democrats hesitant to impose new taxes. … Newsom wants to combine it with fees on animal farmers, dairies and fertilizer sellers to raise about $140 million per year.
There can be no more excuses for federal inaction. Yet shockingly I have learned from recent investigative reporting that the Trump administration is now pushing federal legislation that would eliminate public health and environmental protections for the Salton Sea and beyond as part of a federal drought plan for the Colorado River.
Representatives of seven states finished a landmark agreement to shore up the dwindling Colorado River and signed a letter to Congress on Tuesday calling for legislation to enact the deal. The set of agreements would prop up water-starved reservoirs that supply cities and farms across the Southwest and would lay the groundwork for larger negotiations to address the river’s chronic overallocation…
On Thursday, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) introduced bipartisan legislation (H.R.1764) to support local water infrastructure projects. … Congressman Garamendi’s legislation would extend the maximum term for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, or NPDES, permits issued under the federal Clean Water Act from 5 to 10 years, to better reflect the construction schedules for public agencies.
The city of Oceanside is receiving more than $2.6 million in federal funding to increase its local water supply and to reduce brine discharge into the ocean. The city will receive $2.623 million in funding from the Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART’s Desalination Construction Projects under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN), subject to federal appropriations.
A pending transfer in ownership of the Contra Costa Canal will allow for upgrades in its water quality and safety, but it could also make for changes for hikers and cyclists along some of its trails. A bipartisan package of public lands bills President Donald Trump signed Tuesday moves the Contra Costa Water District a step closer to gaining ownership of the aging Contra Costa Canal system.
The chances for passage this year of legislation to jump-start serious water planning in New Mexico, including by pumping millions of dollars into the effort, evaporated last week when a Senate committee tabled a key bill.
The 2018 Farm Bill is an example of bipartisanship and what can be accomplished when leaders from both sides of the aisle work together for a common cause. The Farm Bill is America’s food bill and for years it has given support to farming communities. It also serves as a safety net for the old, young and working poor.
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…
Rebuffed by an Arizona House panel, a Globe lawmaker convinced a Senate committee Tuesday that Pinal County farmers should get $20 million more to help drill new wells to replace Colorado River water they will give up. The 6-3 vote by the Senate Appropriations Committee came after Republican Rep. David Cook argued the farmers were promised the cash as part of the drought contingency plan enacted by in January.
It won’t arrive in time for this wet winter, but hopes are rising that Central Valley politicians will soon deliver on one of their top political goals in recent years: investment in California water storage. Bills introduced last week by Bakersfield Republicans in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., would redirect money from the state’s high-speed rail project toward a series of reservoir projects, as well as repairs to a canal serving Kern County farmers.
Bonds to continue the next phase of an improvement program are critical to the Tahoe Basin. That was the message delivered to the Nevada Assembly Government Affairs Committee on Tuesday. Assemblyman Mike Sprinkle, D-Sparks, said the $8 million in this biennium’s bonding package will cover Nevada’s share of the Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program for two years.
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.
After more than a decade in the making, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area Act by Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano, was signed into law by President Donald Trump… A National Heritage Area is designated to encourage historic preservation. Under Garamendi’s legislation, the Delta is the first National Heritage Area in California’s history.
When it opened in 1951, the Friant-Kern Canal carried at least 4,000 cubic feet of water per second along its route from Millerton Lake, north of Fresno, to Bakersfield. Then something unfortunate happened. A 25-mile stretch of land between Terra Bella and Pixley began to sink, and kept sinking, to the point that the canal’s gravity-powered water flow has slowed to about 1,700 cubic feet per second. … Federal and state officials would like to restore the canal to its original capacity, as would the seven municipalities and 18,000 family farms using the canal. But how? And where would money for repairs come from?
Bills introduced last week by Bakersfield Republicans in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., would redirect money from the state’s high-speed rail project toward reservoir projects, as well as repairs to Friant-Kern Canal. … The proposals by U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy and state Assemblyman Vince Fong seize upon a common frustration among many valley Republicans that billions of state and federal dollars dedicated to high-speed rail would be better spent on capturing water from wet years…
When congress passed the CWA in 1972, they made it clear in documents accompanying the legislation that they supported “the broadest possible constitutional interpretation” of protected waters of the United States.
Environmentalists and rural water users expressed broad support last week for a bill that would create small water reserves in aquifers across Nevada. Senate Bill 140, sponsored by Republican Sen. Pete Goicoechea of Eureka, Nev., aims to prevent regulators from issuing more rights to water than there is water available, an issue already playing out in more than 100 groundwater basins.
More than 300 communities across the state and one out of every four schools in the Central Valley lack access to safe drinking water, according to the state Water Board. … Responding to the crisis, Gov. Gavin Newsom is calling for a new water tax. If the proposal passes, the levy will generate $110 million in annual revenue. But some Californians – many working directly with the state’s water authorities – oppose the plan. They say there are better ways to raise the money needed than taxing tap water.
After a months-long delay, key negotiators say Congress is closing in on a deal to pass a disaster relief package, including billions in funding for California wildfire recovery that has been hanging in limbo. Still, it remains unclear when any bill will advance, and lawmakers say political fights have been holding up the process.
About half the Sycuan Indian tribe relies heavily on a single groundwater well for water. The whole tribe now wants access to the same water most San Diegans enjoy – Colorado River water, Northern California water and desalinated Pacific Ocean water. Most of San Diego’s state legislative delegation is pushing a bill that could make it happen.
Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Creek, working with Republican Doug LaMalfa of the First District, have introduced the Sites Reservoir Protection Act to support building the reservoir and other water infrastructure in the Central Valley. The act, also known as House Resolution 1453, would direct the Bureau of Reclamation to complete a feasibility study for the project in Colusa and Glenn counties.
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.
Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano, introduced the Sites Reservoir Protection Act Thursday to provide federal support for the building of Sites Reservoir and other water infrastructures in the Central Valley. The act, also known as House Resolution 1453, would direct the Bureau of Reclamation to complete a feasibility study for the project Colusa and Glenn counties.
Plans to give Nevada’s top water official more flexibility to wade into water rights disputes got a rough reception in the state Legislature. Farmers, conservationists and American Indians from Nevada and Utah turned out in opposition to the proposals in two bills. No one spoke in support of measures critics say would direct more water toward urban and suburban development at the expense of farming, ranching and the environment in rural valleys.
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.
A wide-ranging bill that revives a popular conservation program, adds 1.3 million acres of new wilderness, expands several national parks and creates five new national monuments has won congressional approval. … The bill would permanently reauthorize the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which supports conservation and outdoor recreation projects across the country. The program expired last fall after Congress could not agree on language to extend it.
A comprehensive bill addressing ocean concerns will call for improving the quality of ocean water and wetlands, better salmon habitats, and rules that would protect whales from being hit by ships. … Other potential legislation ranges from a move to end the practice of pumping treated sewage into the ocean to a law that would eliminate most paper shopping receipts to a smoking ban on all California state beaches.
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.
The new House of Representatives is rolling out its game plan and strategies for the next two years, and it’s clear which state holds the most clout: California. … California now has more Democrats in the lower chamber than the entire congressional delegations of Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Washington combined. The state’s power to shape the agenda goes beyond leadership. In the environment and energy fields, 12 Californians are subcommittee chairs and vice chairs.
Arizona’s efforts to finish a Colorado River drought plan are moving forward after leaders of the Gila River Indian Community announced that they will proceed with their piece of the deal. … The Gila River Indian Community’s involvement is key because the community is entitled to about a fourth of the water that passes through the Central Arizona Project Canal, and it has offered to kick in some water to make the drought agreement work.
Now stripped of its once vast wetlands and nearly sucked dry from the overpumping of groundwater during the West’s increasingly common droughts, the fertile valley is in need of a reboot: Its aquifers have shrunk and the remaining water is often contaminated with nitrate and salts. Citing a new water law that will have major effects on water suppliers and farmers, experts are calling for an “all hands on deck” approach to fixing the valley’s water woes.
The cheering is for a governor who has brought attention to a problem that’s almost unfathomable in wealthy urban regions. No Californian in 2019 should have to endure third-world drinking-water conditions. But there’s ample reason to give the governor the raspberries, too. That’s because Newsom’s solution comes right out of former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “you never want a serious crisis go to waste” playbook.
Hoping to prevent another California utility from being driven into bankruptcy by wildfires, state officials may create a new kind of insurance fund to help cover costs from the increasingly devastating disasters. … How it would work and who would fund it remain unclear, but the bill envisions electric utilities paying into the fund, while a leading consumer group has suggested shifting the financial burden to the property insurance market.
At a Town Hall Tuesday night, Rep. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) told the large crowd filling nearly every available seat in the Ukiah Valley Conference Center about a possible future for the Potter Valley Project that would remove the controversial dam, but preserve the water supply the Ukiah Valley has depended on for more than a century.
State Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside and Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale last week introduced SB 307, which seeks to ensure “that any future water transfers from groundwater basins underlying desert lands do not adversely affect the California desert’s natural or cultural resources,” according to a bill fact sheet.
The odds are looking increasingly poor that Arizona and other Western states will meet a March 4 federal deadline for wrapping up Colorado River drought plans. That’s not just because of the ongoing conflict over a now-shelved water rights bill for Eastern Arizona that prompted a threat from the Gila River Indian Community to bolt this state’s drought plan. It’s also not just because of a Southern California irrigation district’s efforts to secure $200 million in U.S. funds to shore up the dying Salton Sea.
If the Trump administration wanted to increase California’s water supply by the most cost-effective means possible, it would immediately drop its attempt to raise Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet. It would instead put $1.5 billion — the cost of the proposed Shasta enlargement, in 2019 dollars — toward a completely different approach to water supply: watershed and forest restoration.
As awful as the constant spills from Tijuana’s broken sewage infrastructure have been for the Tijuana River and the San Diego County-Baja California coast, new information suggests they’re an even scarier health threat than previously thought.
The majority of L.A. County water systems serve fewer than 10,000 customers. Taken together, small water systems reach more than 250,000 L.A. County residents. As my co-authors and I detail in a new UCLA Law report, the two greatest challenges these systems face are contaminated groundwater sources and underfunding. Across L.A. County, more than 900,000 people depend on groundwater that has been contaminated by industrial pollutants, agricultural products, or naturally occurring elements before it is treated.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey steered away from the term “climate change” in order to garner political support for the state’s Colorado River drought plan, he indicated Friday in an interview with a Pima Community College newspaper. In that interview, he also avoided making any connection between climate change and the “drier future” (his preferred phrase) that Arizona faces. His omission bordered on a denial of the established links between the two.
Metropolitan General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said … the agency intends to work constructively with the Newsom administration on developing a WaterFix project “that addresses the needs of cities, farms and the environment.” But Kightlinger expressed frustration that the project will be delayed even more.
This failure is twofold. First, the DCP has limited provisions for actually conserving water — only $2 million for groundwater conservation programs in active management areas. … Second, the DCP fails to address conservation for Arizona’s rivers, streams and springs, even in the face of warming and drying trends.
Newsom has embraced an idea that has previously failed to gain traction in Sacramento: new taxes totaling as much as $140 million a year for a clean drinking water initiative. Much of it would be spent on short- and long-term solutions for low-income communities without the means to finance operations and maintenance for their water systems. … But the money to change that — what’s being called a “water tax” in state Capitol circles — is where the politics get complicated.
Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis of the Gila River Indian Community said in a statement Thursday that a decision by House Speaker Rusty Bowers to move forward with a contentious water bill threatens the community’s plan to support the drought agreement. The Gila River Indian Community’s involvement is key because it’s entitled to about a fourth of the Colorado River water that passes through the Central Arizona Project’s canal.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed his first bill, which will provide $131.3 million in immediate relief from the state’s general fund for emergencies such as a lack of clean drinking water, while surrounded by children at a Parlier elementary school – all of whom must drink from water bottles due to unsafe drinking fountains.
Congressman Kevin McCarthy led his California colleagues in sending letters to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation requesting a substantial initial water supply allocation to Central Valley Project contractors using authorities under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act. Additionally, he and his colleagues from California also sent a letter to the California Department of Water Resources calling for an increase to the existing water supply allocation to State Water Project contractors given current hydrological conditions.
Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano, introduced a bill in Congress to remove a provision from the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 to allow presidents to divert disaster recovery funds during a declared state of emergency. In January, during the government shutdown, senior Defense department officials reportedly discussed with President Donald Trump the possibility of using a portion of funds set aside by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for civil works projects to fund 315 miles of barrier along the Mexican border.
Assembly Bill 533 exempts any rebates, vouchers, or other financial incentives issued by a local water agency or supplier for expenses incurred to participate in a water efficiency or storm water improvement program from state or corporate income tax.
The hottest and driest summers in state history have occurred within the last 20 years … Her bill, if passed, would allocate $2 million in funding from the Office of Planning and Research for a competitive grant program designed to develop “specified planning tools for adapting to climate change in the agricultural sector.”
Lawmakers from both parties said the bill’s most important provision was to permanently reauthorize the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which supports conservation and outdoor recreation projects across the country. The program expired last fall after Congress could not agree on language to extend it.
Scientific monitoring in the Pacific Ocean, using buoys to take seawater temperatures, screeched to a halt when the government recently shut down for 35 days. But those efforts to monitor El Nino, the warming of the equatorial Pacific Ocean that affects global weather patterns, are just some of the shutdown’s impacts on science that Kevin Trenberth describes.
About 1 million Californians can’t safely drink their tap water. Approximately 300 water systems in California currently have contamination issues ranging from arsenic to lead to uranium at levels that create severe health issues. It’s a disgrace that demands immediate state action.
The Imperial Irrigation District holds among the oldest and largest rights to water from the Colorado River and is using that as leverage to get what it sees as a better deal in current drought contingency plan negotiations involving states that draw from the river. Among the hardball tactics IID is putting in play: A demand that the federal government provide $200 million for efforts to bolster the beleaguered Salton Sea.
Arizona and California aren’t done finishing a plan that would establish how states in the Colorado River Basin will ensure water for millions of people in the Southwest, said the head of the agency running the negotiations. … One challenge comes from the Imperial Irrigation District, a water utility that serves the Imperial Valley in southeastern California. It hasn’t signed California’s plan because it wants $200 million to restore the vanishing Salton Sea, the state’s largest lake.
Low-income Californians can get help with their phone bills, their natural gas bills and their electric bills. But there’s only limited help available when it comes to water bills.
That could change if the recommendations of a new report are implemented into law. Drafted by the State Water Resources Control Board, the report outlines the possible components of a program to assist low-income households facing rising water bills.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed state budget recently included a drinking water tax that would cost Santa Clarita homeowners 95 cents per month to help disadvantaged communities clean up contaminated water sources. Santa Clarita residents paying the tax would see their water bill increase by $11.40 per year if the proposal is approved.
Extreme wildfires in California threaten more than homes in the Golden State. … Under California law, a utility is liable for property damage if its equipment caused a fire, regardless of whether there was negligence. Given that, some are asking whether utilities can survive in the nation’s most populous state.
On Tuesday, the Democratic members of the House Committee on Natural Resources elected Huffman to serve as chair for the newly established Water, Ocean and Wildlife Subcommittee. The chair is the result of a long career championing environmental protections and, for Huffman, it’s both an honor and a welcome added responsibility.
Did the goalposts just move on us? … Media reports suggest that Reclamation is lumping Arizona with California, which clearly did not meet the deadline, in its reasoning for taking an action that we had all hoped to avoid. It’s easy to feel betrayed by that, to conclude that Arizona was asked to move mountains and then when we did, we were told it still wasn’t good enough.
A group of Northern California lawmakers seeking more sway over a mammoth $17 billion water project introduced a proposal Friday that would require new construction contracts to be reviewed by the Legislature. The Legislative Delta Caucus says because of the scope of the California WaterFix, the project should require more scrutiny from both the public and lawmakers now that former Gov. Jerry Brown has left office.
All eyes were on Arizona this week as state lawmakers took a last-minute vote on their part of the pact. They approved the plan Thursday afternoon, just hours before the deadline, but Arizona officials still haven’t finalized a variety of documents. In addition, a California irrigation district with massive river rights has yet to sign off on the agreement. On Friday, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman … said the agency would start the formal legal process of soliciting comments on how it should impose cuts.
Gov. Doug Ducey signed a drought contingency plan Thursday afternoon, six hours ahead of the deadline set by a key federal official for the state to act or face having its Colorado River water supply determined by her.That came despite objections from some legislators who questioned why the state will allow Pinal County farmers to once again pump groundwater for their crops and will also provide cash to help them do it.
California’s Imperial Irrigation District will get the last word on the seven-state Colorado River Drought Contingency Plans. And IID could end up with $200 million to restore the badly polluted and fast-drying Salton Sea. Thursday, as the clock ticked toward a midnight deadline set by a top federal official, all eyes had been on Arizona. But lawmakers there approved the Colorado River drought deal with about seven hours to spare. IID, an often-overlooked southeastern California agricultural water district, appears to have thrown a last-minute monkey wrench into the process.
The 32-page Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River covers the history of the river’s development; negotiations over division of its water; the items that comprise the Law of the River; and a chronology of significant Colorado River events.
The Colorado River Indian Tribes, or CRIT, have lands that stretch along 56 miles of the lower Colorado River. The tribe’s right to divert nearly 720,000 acre-feet from the river is more than twice the water that is allocated to the state of Nevada. By law, that water is to be used on the reservation. But if CRIT convinces Congress to allow off-reservation leasing, the change would free up a large volume of water that would be highly desirable for cities and industries.
Congressmen John Garamendi and Doug LaMalfa have reintroduced legislation to provide farmers access to discounted rates under the National Flood Insurance Program. The bipartisan Flood Insurance for Farmers Act of 2019 (H.R.830) would also lift the de facto federal prohibition on construction and repair of agricultural structures in high flood-risk areas designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The utility company was found liable for dumping hexavalent chromium (aka chromium-6), a carcinogen used to suppress rust formation at the Hinkley gas compressor station, into an unlined pond in the ’50s and ’60s. PG&E hid the crisis and misled the community on the effects of that specific type of chromium and its possible connection to health problems in the town. For those remaining in Hinkley, either by choice or by circumstance, to continue on, they need to know what’s going on with their water.
Arizona lawmakers appear on track to pass a Colorado River drought plan, with less than 30 hours to go before a critical federal deadline. A state Senate committee voted 6-1 Wednesday evening to pass a pair of measures that outline how the state would share looming cutbacks on the river’s water and work with other states to take less. The bills now head to the full Senate and House. Both chambers are expected to pass the bills Thursday, an effort that could stretch into the night as they rush to meet a federal deadline.
A new bill would create guidelines for reusing water from beer or wine processing for rinsing equipment and tanks. The bill was introduced by Senator Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco) directs the State Water Board, in consultation with the California Department of Public Health – Food and Drug Branch, to develop regulations for microbiological, chemical, and physical water quality and treatment requirements for the onsite treatment and reuse of process water at breweries and wineries.
In Arizona, the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan now hinges on the approval of tribal nations. The plan is meant to levy water cuts to seven Western states in order to prevent the river and its reservoirs from reaching critical levels — but after a state lawmaker introduced legislation that undermines parts of the Gila River Indian Community’s water settlement, the tribe has threatened to exit the plan. Without tribal buy-in, Arizona’s implementation design will collapse….
A federal court of appeals ruled Friday that PacifiCorp, which currently owns and operates several dams along the Klamath River, can no longer continue to use a controversial tactic which has allowed the company to avoid implementing mandatory requirements meant to protect the health of the Klamath River for over a decade. The decision marks a victory for the Hoopa Valley Tribe, who filed the lawsuit, and may expedite the removal of several Klamath River dams.
The partial shutdown has affected federal government activities relating to western water issues in several federal agencies and will continue to do so until the political issues are resolved. The following is a list of five key areas of interest to the water community.
Assemblyman Devon Mathis (R-Visalia) Thursday announced the introduction of a bipartisan amendment to the California Constitution to dedicate two percent of the state’s general fund budget to rebuilding and enhancing the state’s water infrastructure. Mathis’ proposal, which he coauthored with Asm. Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) will provide a stable, ongoing source of funding for projects to improve California’s water quality, supply and delivery systems.
Arizona’s water leaders and lawmakers are running out of time to complete the state’s Drought Contingency Plan, a blueprint for how Arizona water users would share a likely shortage on the Colorado River. … There are a lot of moving parts to understand and a lot of concepts that may seem overwhelming. Here are the things you need to know in advance of the Jan. 31 deadline to finish the plan.
The rainwater collection system is broken at the environmental research station on a remote, rocky Pacific island off the California coast. So is a crane used to hoist small boats in and out of the water. A two-year supply of diesel fuel for the power generators is almost gone. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel ordinarily would help with such problems. But they haven’t been around since the partial federal government shutdown began a month ago…
The Groundwater Authority has a little over a year left to create the Groundwater Sustainability Plan, and the Indian Wells Valley Water District is doing everything it can to ensure that happens. The IWV Water District had its first workshop of the year on Wednesday morning, where future plans and goals of the water district were discussed. The main objective was to ensure that every decision and action that the water district makes is in tune with what the GA is trying to achieve.
Governor Newsom’s first proposed state budget, released earlier this month, addresses several critical water and natural resource management challenges. Here are highlights from his plans to mitigate problems with safe drinking water, improve forest health and reduce the risk of wildfires, and encourage healthy soils to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase drought resilience.
Making water conservation a way of life – that was the topic during a symposium, Tuesday, sponsored by the Water Association of Kern County. The discussion focused on the challenges of complying with new state laws that will set water conservation targets for homeowners and businesses.
The restoration site is one of three south of the U.S.-Mexico border, in the riparian corridor along the last miles of the Colorado River. There, in the delta, a small amount of water has been reserved for nature, returned to an overallocated river whose flow has otherwise been claimed by cities and farms. Although water snakes through an agricultural canal system to irrigate the restoration sites, another source is increasingly important for restoring these patches of nature in the delta’s riparian corridor: groundwater.
“The judiciary is the safeguard of our liberty and of our property under the Constitution,” said U.S. Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes in Elimra, New York in 1907. That quote exemplifies the reason that five irrigation districts on tributaries to the San Joaquin River as well as the city of San Francisco filed lawsuits recently against the State Water Resources Control Board. They are defending their water rights.
The Santa Clara Valley Water District made a grave miscalculation in suing the State Water Board over the Bay Delta Water Quality Control Plan. By alienating the remnants of the environmental community who have supported them in recent years, they are jeopardizing future projects and funding measures that will require voter approval.
Arizona lawmakers and the governor are under the gun to come up with a Drought Contingency Plan to deal with possible Colorado River water shortages. Get an update from Kathleen Ferris of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy. This Arizona Horizon segment is part of Elemental: Covering Sustainability, a multimedia collaboration between public radio and public television stations in Arizona, California and Colorado.
The Gila River Indian Community is threatening to blow up the drought-contingency plan because of efforts it says will undermine its claim to water rights. House Speaker Rusty Bowers is proposing changes to state laws in a way he said will protect the rights of farmers in the Safford Valley who have been “scratching it out” to water from the Gila River. But attorney Don Pongrace, who represents the Gila River Indian Community, said … courts have ruled those rights — and the water that goes with it — belong to the tribe.
Longstanding urban-rural tensions over a proposed drought plan have escalated after Pinal County farmers stepped up their request for state money for well-drilling to replace Colorado River water deliveries. “Enough is enough,” responded 10 Phoenix-area cities through a spokesman. They say the state has already pledged millions to the farms for well drilling, and plenty of water to boot.
When it comes to water, the lifeblood of the Central Valley, Democrats don’t have all the answers. So says freshman Representative Josh Harder, suddenly one of the most powerful Democrats in these parts. … “We need to make sure we’re all working together to advance the agenda of the Central Valley,” continued Harder, 32, of Turlock. “I was very encouraged to see some of the measures the Trump administration put forward on water.”
Without a change in how the Colorado River is managed, Lake Powell is headed toward becoming a “dead pool,” essentially useless as a reservoir while revealing a sandstone wonderland once thought drowned forever by humanity’s insatiable desire to bend nature to its will. … Absent cutbacks to deliveries to the Lower Basin, a day could come when water managers may have little choice but to lower the waters that have inundated Utah’s Glen Canyon for the past half-century.
For decades, the New River has flowed north across the U.S.-Mexico border carrying toxic pollution and the stench of sewage. Now lawmakers in Washington and Sacramento are pursuing legislation and funding to combat the problems. “I feel very optimistic that we’re going to be able to get some things done on the New River issue,” said Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia.
The State Water Resources Control Board has proposed flow requirements for rivers that feed the Delta based on a percentage of ‘unimpaired flows… If approved, this ‘unimpaired flows’ approach would have significant impacts on farms, communities throughout California and the environment. We join many other water agencies in our belief that alternative measures …
The Trump administration’s bid to restrict the Clean Water Act’s reach over streams and wetlands is backed by an … assumption that 29 states “may” or are “likely” to bolster dredge and fill regulations as federal oversight retreats. … Thus far, only California has made moves toward beefing up its wetlands protections.
A declining Colorado River in Arizona. Orcas and salmon stocks in Washington state. Forest restoration in Idaho to protect drinking water sources from wildfire. And renewable energy seemingly everywhere. These are some of the water issues that U.S. governors have mentioned in their 2019 State of the State speeches. The speeches, usually given at the beginning of the legislative session, outline budget or policy priorities for the coming year.
With Lake Mead now 39 percent full and approaching a first-ever shortage, Western states that rely on the Colorado River are looking to Arizona to sign a deal aimed at reducing the risk of the reservoir crashing. The centerpiece of Gov. Ducey’s proposed legislation is a resolution giving Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke the authority to sign the Drought Contingency Plan. The package of proposed bills also would appropriate $35 million and tweak existing legislation to make the plan work.
California’s new governor looked at the rainfall and saw millions of dollars in uncollected water taxes going right down the drain. In one of his first moves as chief executive, Newsom declared that he wants to tax the state’s drinking water, in order to give poor people access to safe and affordable water. I guess this is his idea of trickle-down economics.
The draft legislation compiled by the Department of Water Resources looks similar to how water leaders described the measures at a Drought Contingency Plan Steering Committee meeting last week. … But the legislation as drafted barely delves into the nitty-gritty details of a far more complex intrastate agreement that Arizona water users have been hashing out for months.
A proposed Colorado River drought plan that will cost well over $100 million is just the beginning of what’s needed to protect the over-allocated river, says Bruce Babbitt, the former governor who rammed through Arizona’s last big water legislation nearly four decades ago. After Gov. Doug Ducey urged legislators to “do the heavy lifting” and pass the proposed drought-contingency plan for the Colorado, Babbitt said Monday that authorities will have to start discussing a much longer-term plan immediately after it’s approved.
The budget specifically calls out funding for Safe and Affordable Drinking Water. It discusses the need to find a stable funding source for long-term operation and maintenance of drinking water systems in disadvantaged communities, stating that existing loan and grant programs are limited to capital improvements.
A Bureau of Reclamation program awards grants to water districts and other project sponsors seeking to reuse water and add to supplies. From 1992 through 2017, it awarded about $715 million for 46 construction projects and 71 studies. Nearly all of the funding—about $703 million—went for construction projects that recycled water.
The confluence of California’s two great rivers, the Sacramento and the San Joaquin, creates the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas. Those of us who live here call it, simply, the Delta. It is part of my very fiber, and it is essential to California’s future. That’s why we must save it.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California … began what is being referred to as “defensive withdrawals” from Lake Mead. Remember, Lake Mead is severely low, and if L.A. takes all of the water they’ve been allotted, it will trigger emergency supply restrictions for everyone else. So, why are they doing this with the agreement deadline so close? The Show turned to Debra Kahn who covers California environmental policy and broke the story for Politico Pro.
A bipartisan bill in Congress would designate PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances under the Superfund program, allowing federal agencies to clean up sites contaminated by harmful fluorinated compounds. Health officials have said continued exposure to certain PFAS chemicals in drinking water could harm human health. Studies link exposure to developmental effects on fetuses, cancer and liver and immunity function, among other issues.
Arizona legislators and staff are attending closed-door primers on water policy in advance of a critical January 31 federal deadline for the state to approve the Drought Contingency Plan. The first of three meetings occurred on Friday afternoon and lasted two and a half hours. The session was led by Central Arizona Project general manager Ted Cooke and Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, if he is to successfully steer the state into the future, has to bring to his water agenda the same steely-eyed, reality-based drive that the two previous governors brought to limiting carbon emissions. It is time for the state to respond to its water challenge with the same sense of urgency with which it adopted Assembly Bill 32, the landmark law capping greenhouse gas emissions, in 2006.
While most Californians believe strongly that all Californians should have safe drinking water, most Californians don’t understand the breadth of contaminants that impact communities throughout the state, and how significant those impacts are.
Specific details have not yet emerged on Newsom’s plan, but it’s expected to be similar to a rejected 2018 proposal from state Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, to tax residential customers 95 cents a month to help fund water improvements in rural farming communities in the Central Valley and throughout the state. It would raise about $110 million to get clean water to what the McClatchy News Service estimated last year to be 360,000 people without such access. Others looking at the problem see it as much worse.
California’s failure to provide safe, affordable drinking water to the remaining roughly 1% of residents is probably the most solvable and affordable of California’s many difficult water problems. There will always be isolated small systems with vexing problems, but the number of Californians currently without access to safe affordable drinking water is embarrassing and irresponsibly high.
Up against a federal deadline to approve a Colorado River drought plan — a “generational change” in Arizona water management — four key legislators say they’re optimistic they’ll meet it. Led by House Speaker Rusty Bowers, a Mesa Republican, they see the Legislature as ready — finally — to officially endorse the plan. That’s even though competing water interest groups still have highly visible disagreements about it.
The House approved legislation that would fund and reopen the Interior Department, Environmental Protection Agency and Forest Service in an 240-179 vote on Friday, the latest effort by Democrats to put pressure on Republicans and President Trump to end the partial shutdown. … Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will not bring any of the bills up to a vote in the Senate until there is a deal between Trump and Democrats on the president’s demand for border wall funding.
Congressman John Garamendi, D-3rd District, has reintroduced the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area Act along with a handful of other representatives. A National Heritage Area designation would authorize $10 million in federal funding over 15 years to provide matching grants to local governments, historical societies, and community nonprofit organizations throughout the Delta.
Tackling what promises to be a controversial issue, Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed a tax on drinking water Thursday to help disadvantaged communities clean up contaminated water systems. Newsom’s plan for a “safe and affordable drinking water fund,” included in the new governor’s first budget proposal, attempts to revive an idea that died in the Legislature last year.
With a federal deadline to sign a Colorado River drought deal three weeks away, Arizona water managers are still grappling with several unresolved issues that could get in the way of finishing an agreement. The outstanding issues, some of which are proving contentious, range from developers’ concerns about securing future water supplies to lining up funding for Pinal County farmers to drill wells and begin to pump more groundwater.
One of the Water Education Foundation’s most popular events, Water 101 offers a once-a-year opportunity for anyone new to California water issues or newly elected to a water district board – and anyone who wants a refresher — to gain a deeper understanding of the state’s most precious natural resource. It will be held Feb. 7 at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.
The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research has spent five years drafting a comprehensive update to 30 sections of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) guidelines. Several changes to the Guidelines address two hot button topics: global climate change and statewide affordable housing shortages. Many of the changes will significantly alter the application of CEQA to future projects.
As his term as governor drew to a close, Jerry Brown brokered a historic agreement among farms and cities to surrender billions of gallons of water to help ailing fish. He also made two big water deals with the Trump administration. It added up to a dizzying display of deal-making. Yet as Gavin Newsom takes over as governor, the state of water in California seems as unsettled as ever.
Gov. Doug Ducey used his second inaugural speech Monday to exhort lawmakers and others with a claim to Colorado River water to approve a drought contingency plan before a solution is imposed by the Bureau of Reclamation. “It’s simple: Arizona and our neighboring states draw more water from the Colorado River than Mother Nature puts back,” the governor told his audience. “And with critical shortfall imminent, we cannot kick the can any further.”
Saying it will continue to protect environmentally sensitive waterways such as wetlands in California, even if federal protections on waters of the U.S. are limited, the State Water Resources Control Board has unveiled a final draft on how it plans to regulate dredge-and-fill activities in the state.
The State Water Resources Control Board will accept public comments on the draft report on Options for Implementation of a Statewide Low-Income Water Rate Assistance Program. The report analyzes options for the design, funding, and administration of a program as well as other options to improve water affordability. Comments are due Feb. 1.
A coalition of environmental groups has called on California members of Congress to prioritize the San Luis (B.F. Sisk) Dam seismic remediation over federal funding for new California dams. San Luis Dam is in a very seismically active area. Independently reviewed risk assessments for Reclamation have shown that a large earthquake could lead to crest settlement and overtopping of the dam, which would result in large uncontrolled releases and likely dam failure.
Butte County may soon have a better idea of what lies beneath its surface. Starting in late November, a helicopter took off for several days from the Orland airport to fly a pattern over an area between Chico and Orland, and southeast into Butte Valley. Dangling beneath the helicopter was a hoop loaded with devices that created a weak magnetic field and instruments that measured how that interacted with layers beneath the soil.
Each year, several thousand weather forecasters, researchers and climate scientists from all over the world gather for the American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting to exchange ideas to improve weather prediction and understanding of climate change. This year, due to the partial federal government shutdown, hundreds of scientists will not attend the conference set to begin this weekend in Phoenix.
In February, following a string of severe natural disasters in 2017, Congress provided a record $16 billion for disaster mitigation — building better defenses against hurricanes, floods and other catastrophes. Eleven months later, the Trump administration has yet to issue rules telling states how to apply for the money.
Colorado River water managers were supposed to finish drought contingency plans by the end of the year. As it looks now, they’ll miss that deadline. If the states fail to do their job, the federal government could step in. Luke Runyon, a reporter with KUNC who covers on the Colorado River Basin recaps what’s been happening and why it’s so important.
At the Groundwater Resources Association’s Western Groundwater Congress, a panel of experts discussed emerging issues as agencies work to develop their plans to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which became law in California in 2014.
There’s every reason to expect that 2019 will be far better, largely because of Measure W, which was passed by voters in November. The initiative imposes a Los Angeles County parcel tax that will generate $300 million per year to reduce pollution from runoff and capture storm water to add to the water supply.
President Trump on Thursday signed the 2018 Farm Bill, which alters language in agricultural conservation programs to make the Salton Sea eligible for millions in new federal funding. … The bill’s inclusion of the Salton Sea could also nudge California closer to approving a Colorado River drought contingency plan.
Congressional leaders reached a short-term spending deal Wednesday that effectively punts most of the contentious funding decisions into the new year. That includes the question of whether to extend a federal law designed to deliver more Northern California water south, which has become a factor in the Delta water-sharing agreement reached earlier this month.
It’s not smooth sailing for California’s lawmakers in Washington, as a push to extend a controversial water bill is dividing the caucus along unusual lines. … At issue is the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, or WIIN. The bill was signed December 2016, when California’s water infrastructure was being tested by a historic drought’s fifth year.
California agriculture interests will find the farm bill Congress passed this week largely means more of the same. … The farm bill helps agricultural producers — whose business interests can often run contrary to environmental well-being — protect the environment, providing money so they don’t have to pay more out of pocket in order to be environmentally conscious.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein is joining forces with House Republicans to try to extend a controversial law that provides more water for Central Valley farms, but with a sweetener for the environment: help with protecting California’s rivers and fish. The proposed extension of the WIIN Act, or Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, would keep millions of federal dollars flowing for new dams and reservoirs across the West.
A sweeping conservation bill introduced Wednesday by U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris would expand the boundaries of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument to include popular hiking trails north of Pasadena and create a federally designated recreation area along the San Gabriel River, including the western portion of the Puente-Chino Hills.
State Sen. Benjamin Allen (D-Santa Monica) introduced the Wildfire, Drought and Flood Protection Bond Act of 2020 as another tool the state can use to offset a pattern of increasingly destructive and deadly blazes.
California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) on Friday backed a bid by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to extend provisions in a 2016 bill to shuttle more water from the Golden State’s wet north to farms and cities in the arid south.
California’s most senior Democrat and most powerful Republican in Washington are teaming up to extend a federal law designed to deliver more Northern California water south, despite the objections of some of the state’s environmentalists. While controversial, the language in their proposal could help settle the contentious negotiations currently underway in Sacramento on Delta water flows — the lifeblood of California agriculture as well as endangered salmon and smelt.
After touring the devastation of the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif. on Saturday, President Donald Trump announced that the federal government would provide an additional $500 million in funding to the 2018 farm bill for forest management to help mitigate future fires.
The U.S. Senate approved a compromise policy Wednesday on dumping ship ballast water in coastal ports and the Great Lakes, a practice blamed for spreading invasive species that damage the environment and the economy. The plan, part of a $10.6 billion Coast Guard budget authorization bill, includes provisions sought by environmentalists as well as the cargo shipping industry.
President Donald Trump signed a bipartisan infrastructure bill this week that could lead to raising the Shasta Dam and funding other reservoir projects. The plan is to spend $6 billion throughout the country over 10 years.
Congress has approved a sprawling bill to improve the nation’s ports, dams and harbors, protect against floods, restore shorelines and support other water-related projects. If signed by President Donald Trump, America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 would authorize more than $6 billion in spending over 10 years for projects nationwide, including one to stem coastal erosion in Galveston, Texas, and restore wetlands damaged by Hurricane Harvey last year.
One of our most popular events, our annual Water 101 Workshop details the history, geography, legal and political facets of water in California as well as hot topics currently facing the state.
Taught by some of the leading policy and legal experts in the state, the one-day workshop on Feb. 7 gave attendees a deeper understanding of the state’s most precious natural resoures.
Optional Groundwater Tour
On Feb. 8, we jumped aboard a bus to explore groundwater, a key resource in California. Led by Foundation staff and groundwater experts Thomas Harter and Carl Hauge, retired DWR chief hydrogeologist, the tour visited cities and farms using groundwater, examined a subsidence measuring station and provided the latest updates on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
McGeorge School of Law
3327 5th Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95817
A law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown will expand California’s requirement to test water in schools for lead to day care centers and pre-schools that serve nearly 600,000 children. The law marks the first time California’s day care centers have been required to test for lead in water. Only two other states require both K-12 schools and day care centers to do such testing.
The Senate has passed legislation that would provide $1.7 billion to help residents of the Carolinas and elsewhere recover from recent natural disasters. … The bill also makes changes to Federal Emergency Management Agency programs that would allow more disaster aid to be used on projects that reduce the damage from future storms, such as rebuilding levees and buying out landowners in flood plains.
A popular program that supports conservation and outdoor recreation projects across the country expired after Congress could not agree on language to extend it. Lawmakers from both parties back the Land and Water Conservation Fund, but the program lapsed Monday amid dispute over whether its renewal should be part of a broader package of land-use and parks bills.
Fifty years ago, the tide was turning in the war in Vietnam, the civil rights movement was in full swing, and the cold war was raging—but American industry was booming. The United States Congress and the Lyndon B. Johnson administration, however, recognized the danger that industry and development posed, particularly to America’s rivers. Responding to that threat, President Johnson signed the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act (“the Act”) into law on October 2, 1968.