California Fish and Game ends striped bass population mandate, allowing decline: “The California Fish and Game Commission on Friday voted unanimously to amend its decades-old policy regarding striped bass, beginning a process that could allow the population decline. The decision ends a 1996 policy that had committed the state to sustaining a population of about 1 million striped bass in the Delta and other California waterways. They’re voracious, nonnative predators that can weigh as much as 60 pounds. They’re especially popular among anglers. It’s unclear exactly how many of striped bass are in the state, but the number is believed to be fewer than 300,000. … ” Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: California Fish and Game ends striped bass population mandate, allowing decline
Despite California drought fears, resorts aren’t too worried about the ski season: “After a strong start to the winter, a dry January and February have reduced the Sierra snowpack to 53 percent of normal for this time of year, a marked difference from last winter’s record-breaking snowfall that kept some Sierra ski resorts open into midsummer. … But the resorts say this year, they’re not close to panicking, and there’s still enough snow to keep skiers happy, though it’s in the form of machine-groomed runs instead of the powder they’d prefer. ... ” Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here: Despite California drought fears, resorts aren’t too worried about the ski season
Feds reimburse California for Oroville Dam repairs, but expensive new work possible: “The federal government has reversed itself and agreed to reimburse California for most of the $1.1 billion it cost to repair Oroville Dam after its spillways failed three years ago. The Federal Emergency Management Agency agreed this week to cover $750 million of the cost of the repairs. That reversed a decision made last March, when FEMA rejected a bid for $306 million in reimbursements. … Even after the repairs, the state might still be on the hook for more expensive construction to increase capacity so the nation’s tallest dam can handle a worst-case flood. … ” Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Feds reimburse California for Oroville Dam repairs, but expensive new work possible
Finally on: California files lawsuit to block Trump administration water rules: “California sued the Trump administration on Thursday to block new rules that would let farmers take more water from the state’s largest river systems, arguing it would push endangered populations of delta smelt, chinook salmon and steelhead trout to extinction. The federal rules govern how much water can be pumped out of the watersheds of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, which flow from the Sierra Nevada mountains to the San Francisco Bay and provide the state with much of its water for a bustling agriculture industry that supplies two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts and more than a third of its vegetables. … ” Read more from KQED here: Finally on: California files lawsuit to block Trump administration water rules
Groups urge Newsom to work with feds on water: “Farm groups are urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to work with the federal government on water deliveries even as California followed through Thursday on its threat to sue to nullify biological opinions that could bring increases in surface water for San Joaquin Valley growers. President Donald Trump’s signing of a record of decision that seeks to coordinate the federal and state water projects offers a hopeful sign, said California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johansson. … ” Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Groups urge Newsom to work with feds on water
Senate bill gives critical facilities authority to run generators: “Legislation introduced this week will ensure facilities such as hospitals, fire stations and water treatment plants will continue to operate during planned power shutoffs. Senate Bill 1099, introduced late Wednesday, allows critical facilities to operate permitted emergency backup generators in the event of forced power outages, the statement released by Dodd’s office said. Many of those kinds of facilities already have backup power options in place, but there have been situations in which water plants and other important services lost their power. ... ” Read more from the Daily Republic here: Senate bill gives critical facilities authority to run generators
Reclamation provides $11.2 million to 12 water efficiency improvement projects in California: “The Bureau of Reclamation has selected 54 projects to share $40.99 million in WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants to help projects use water more efficiently and effectively in the western United States. Twelve projects located in California will receive a total of $11.2 million. “The WaterSMART Program is helping Reclamation address the West’s water challenges,” said Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman. “Water and Energy Efficiency Grants provide water districts and communities the needed assistance to modernize their water delivery infrastructure and increase hydropower generation.” Projects are located in California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. The types of projects receiving funding include canal lining, advanced water metering, flow measurement and real-time monitoring of water deliveries, and pressurized irrigation systems. … “
California Farmland Trust: Growing conversation on agriculture, development: “Every year, about 50,000 acres of fertile California farmland and ranchland are lost to development. That is why protection advocates will convene in Sacramento next month, March 18, in hopes of inspiring legislators during Ag Day at the Capitol. Immediately following the event, East County’s own local agency, California Farmland Trust (CFT) — the result of a 2018 merger between the Brentwood Agricultural Land Trust and the Central Valley Farmland Trust — will present a short film, “Concrete California: Preventing California’s Last Harvest,” produced by CFT. ... ” Read more from The Press here: California Farmland Trust: Growing conversation on agriculture, development
LAO Report: The 2020-21 Budget: Governor’s Wildfire-Related Proposals: “While wildfires have always been a natural part of California’s ecosystems, recent increases in the severity of wildfires and the adverse impacts on communities have increased the focus on the state’s ability to effectively prevent, mitigate, and respond to wildfire risks. This report has two parts. First, we assess the state’s approach to addressing wildfire risks in light of the complex challenges that make an efficient and effective approach difficult. Second, we evaluate the Governor’s various wildfire‑related budget proposals in the absence of having a statewide strategic wildfire plan.” Read the report from the LAO here: LAO Report: The 2020-21 Budget: Governor’s Wildfire-Related Proposals
Yuba Water GM Curt Aikens announces retirement; Willie Whittlesey takes reins July 1: “After 23 years of dedicated service to Yuba Water Agency, General Manager Curt Aikens will retire in January of 2021. At today’s board meeting, the agency’s directors announced their acceptance of his retirement, with gratitude for his many years of service. The board also announced that they have chosen to appoint the assistant general manager, Willie Whittlesey, as the new general manager, effective July 1, 2020, at which time Aikens will assume a role focused on special projects. … ” Read more from ACWA’s Water News here: Yuba Water GM Curt Aikens announces retirement; Willie Whittlesey takes reins July 1
EPA moves to limit financial pressure on ‘forever chemical’ manufacturers under cleanup law: “A proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would absolve the nation’s manufacturers of cancer-linked “forever chemicals” from broad financial responsibility for cleaning up their product as it leaches into the water supply across the country. The class of chemicals known as PFAS, which are noted for their persistence in both the environment and the human body, are used in a variety of nonstick products. ... ” Read more from The Hill here: EPA moves to limit financial pressure on ‘forever chemical’ manufacturers under cleanup law
Effective environmental policy requires inclusion: “Picking a place to eat for a group of is one of my least favorite tasks. However, as the person in my friend group with the most-restrictive diet, this burden typically falls to me. So I pick with the goal of making everyone happy. But inevitably we sit down, and I hear “Did you know this place was so expensive?” or “This wait is too long” or “[some other restaurant] would have had better food.” I use this example to demonstrate (in an albeit silly way) how difficult it is to make effective decisions for other people. If my goal was to make everyone happy with the restaurant I chose, I failed. If I had solicited everyone’s opinion in the group, asking what type of food and price range they wanted before I made my decision, I would have increased my odds of picking a restaurant the entire group would like. This theory of inclusion holds true for governmental policies as well. ... ” Read more from EnviroBites here: Effective environmental policy requires inclusion
Toxic Superfund cleanups decline to more than 30-year low: “The Trump administration completed the fewest cleanups of toxic Superfund sites last year than any administration since the program’s first years in the 1980s, figures released by the Environmental Protection Agency indicated Wednesday. The federal government wrapped up cleanups at six Superfund sites around the country in the 2019 budget year, the fewest since three in 1986, EPA online records showed. … ” Read more from the AP here: Toxic Superfund cleanups decline to more than 30-year low
What remains in high court’s environmental lineup: “At the midpoint of the Supreme Court’s current term, the justices have now heard arguments in some of the biggest environmental cases in years, but decisions in those disputes are still pending. By this summer, the justices will have decided a case that could more clearly establish the scope of the Clean Water Act and a challenge that could more firmly define states’ role in federal Superfund cleanups. The court has so far been slow to issue opinions while Chief Justice John Roberts was spending half of his days at impeachment trial proceedings across the street on Capitol Hill. … ” Read more from E&E News here: What remains in high court’s environmental lineup
Agriculture groups want to tackle climate change, but won’t call it that: “A coalition of 21 agriculture groups says the industry is doing its part to control greenhouse gas emissions and wants a seat at the federal policy table as Congress focuses on climate change, but largely avoided using that term at a Wednesday briefing. Instead, members of the newly formed Farmers for a Sustainable Future used terms like “climate smart,” sustainability, climate policy and climate issues. Farmers and ranchers, they said, can help the environment with tools such as efficient water use, improved manure management, use of cover crops that can capture and store carbon and nitrogen, and ethanol and biodiesel to reduce car emissions. … ” Read more from Roll Call here: Agriculture groups want to tackle climate change, but won’t call it that
The U.S.-Iran pistachio war is heating up: “Forty years of vicious geopolitical competition between the U.S. and Iran came close to open war in January, and it’s still too soon to call a winner—except in one field. American farmers have deposed Iran as king of the global pistachio industry, benefiting from U.S. policies hostile to Tehran, climate change, and egregious failures of economic and water management that have sucked the Islamic Republic’s lakes and aquifers dry. The country is unlikely ever to recover its pistachio crown, spawning a race among other producers to grow the nut and fill the gap created by its defeat. In the reductionist language of President Trump, Iran lost big. ... ” Read more from Bloomberg Quint here: The U.S.-Iran pistachio war is heating up
How Cape Town is surviving its water crisis: “The annual Meeting of the Minds summit is gathering in Phoenix to discuss just about every aspect of growth, technology, environment and culture in urban areas throughout the U.S. and globally. … One of the speakers is Gareth Morgan, a former member of South Africa’s parliament and current director of Cape Town’s Resilience Program that looks at ways for the city to overcome physical, social and economic challenges. Cape Town in 2017 saw a drastic decline in reservoir levels that threatened the water supply of South Africa’s second largest city. Morgan joined The Show and started by explaining how dire the circumstances were in Cape Town just a couple of years ago.” Listen to the show from KJZZ here: How Cape Town is surviving its water crisis
Chasing Nigiri: How a father and son’s fishing trips led to putting salmon on rice fields.
Food Water and Our Habitat: Steve Baker writes, “Balancing the California Delta ecosystem and our food supply becomes most difficult when there is not much water to go around. Water deliveries become problematic because there are many water relationships that must be satisfied. Food, water and habitat are three needs that every relationship must consider. We find society’s strength is challenged by changes in agricultural successes causing a domino effect of change in our society. Everyone wants it all but water is a finite resource that changes in its availability and sometimes quality each year. Water is a Many Splendor’ed Thing brings you another water relationship that has a personally significant impact to your life.” Produced by Steven Baker, Operation Unite® Bringing People Together to Solve Water Problems, Online at www.operationunite.co
Trump wading into California’s water policy with phony answer, says the SF Chronicle: They write, “President Trump believes he “got it done” in fixing California’s troubled and contentious water system. What he actually produced is another wrecking-ball delay and a lawsuit to try to halt his lopsided solution. The president found a dirt-dry corner of the Central Valley to sign documents that bless more pumping of Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta water southward to farms and water agencies. His blessing at a campaign-style gathering in Bakersfield won’t immediately rev up water shipments, but it should underline how divisive and intractable he’s making a long-standing problem. ... ” Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: Trump wading into California’s water policy with phony answer
California must act to protect its beaches from sea level rise, says Jennifer Savage: She writes, “Maybe “magic” isn’t the most accurate word to describe the delight gazing out at the ocean brings — but it feels magical, the way looking over the expanse of blue while breathing in the salty air can instill peace in even the most troubled heart. California’s coast is truly a treasure for residents and visitors alike. Sadly, rising seas are washing away our beach, and for every inch of sand lost, our opportunities for joy — and our economic future — similarly shrink. ... ” Continue reading at the San Francisco Chronicle here: California must act to protect its beaches from sea level rise
Huffman vows at town hall to protect North Coast water rights: “Protecting the North Coast’s waters and the communities that depend on them is a top priority, Congressman Jared Huffman told a town hall at the Eureka High School auditorium Friday night. Making sure fishermen get timely compensation when they’re barred from fishing and ensuring there is enough water in the area to protect fisheries are two key issues, the San Rafael Democrat said. “I desperately want to increase funding for all the different resource agencies that would benefit fisheries and other natural resource management,” Huffman said. “It’s been a challenge in recent years. … I think we’re going to need a Congress and an administration that actually wants to invest in our ecosystems and our natural resources.” … ” Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here: Huffman vows at town hall to protect North Coast water rights
Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District celebrates centennial: “This week marks the 100-year anniversary of the establishment of the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District (GCID). The District’s water rights were established in 1883, one of the earliest and largest water rights on the Sacramento River, and GCID was formally organized on February 21, 1920. GCID’s dedication to its customers, communities and the region has meant more than just simply delivering water for 100 years. GCID is the largest water district in the Sacramento Valley with a 100-year history of serving farmers, businesses and residents, while also maintaining critical wildlife habitat. ... ” Read more from ACWA’s Water News here: Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District celebrates centennial
EID board to consider $42.7 million project at Folsom Lake: “Several big contracts are on the agenda of the Monday meeting of the El Dorado Irrigation District Board of Directors. The largest is with Granite Construction Company in the amount of $35,556,800 for construction of the Folsom Lake Intake Improvement Project. Another $1,654,240 would go to Carollo Engineers for construction management services, $652,158 with Black & Veatch Corporation for engineering services during construction, $169,599 with Blackburn Consulting for geotechnical and material testing services and $54,901 with GEI Consultants for biological and water quality monitoring services. ... ” Read more from the Mountain Democrat here: EID board to consider $42.7 million project at Folsom Lake
EID looks at costs of operation during power shutdowns: “With the memory of last year’s PG&E public safety power shutoffs still fresh in everyone’s minds, at the Feb. 10 El Dorado Irrigation District Board of Directors meeting Dan Corcoran, the agency’s director of operations, provided an overview of how the shutdowns affected operations and budget. EID, like much of the county, was hit by five distinct power outages although pre-planning and a diligent staff prevented interruptions in service to the district’s water or wastewater customers. … ” Read more from the Mountain Democrat here: EID looks at costs of operation during power shutdowns
Salinas Valley seawater intrusion continues migrating deeper: “Seawater intrusion in the Salinas Valley continues to seep into the deeper aquifers, according to the latest Monterey County Water Resources Agency data, even as the overall rate of seawater intrusion continues slowing down. And while groundwater levels in the area continue recovering from the recent drought, the “mechanism” for seawater intrusion is still in place. Those are the conclusions drawn from the 2019 seawater intrusion and groundwater contour maps presented to the county water agency board on Tuesday. … ” Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Salinas Valley seawater intrusion continues migrating deeper
Montecito’s Groundwater Sustainability Agency seeks community involvement: “The Montecito Groundwater Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency (Montecito GSA or Agency) will host a Public Meeting on February 24, 2020 at 5 p.m. at Montecito Union School, 385 San Ysidro Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93108. The meeting will provide an introduction to the Agency and a presentation on groundwater and its importance for the community. The purpose of the meeting is to inform the public and highlight opportunities to get involved. The Montecito GSA is actively seeking applicants for participation on two Advisory Committees: A Stakeholder Advisory Committee and a Technical Advisory Committee. ... ” Read more from Edhat here: Montecito’s Groundwater Sustainability Agency seeks community involvement
Ridgecrest: Tentative timeline discussed at Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority meeting: “The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority achieved one milestone in January with the passage and submission of its groundwater sustainability plan to the state. Now it starts to plan the next set, according to a report from Stetson Engineers president Steve Johnson, the GA’s water resources manager. Johnson outlined a rough schedule of the next steps the GA will need to take as it implements the sustainability plan (GSP), a roadmap that needs to bring the IWV basin into sustainability by 2040. ... ” Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Tentative timeline discussed at Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority meeting
Castaic dam rides out small quake, but a massive one could unleash a catastrophe: “The 3.5 magnitude earthquake that hit early Friday morning near Interstate 5 was only a mile away from Castaic Dam. That’s important, because the dam has one of the lowest safety ratings in Los Angeles County — due to seismic vulnerabilities. The dam was inspected after the earthquake and no problems were detected, said Department of Water Resources spokeswoman Maggie Macias. When it was completed in 1974, it was built to a standard meant to withstand a much bigger earthquake. … ” Read more from the LAist here: Castaic dam rides out small quake, but a massive one could unleash a catastrophe
Southern California nabs federal funds to fix crumbling beaches: “Standing at the entrance to the Encinitas, California, beach where three women from one family were killed last year when a bluff collapsed on them, Rep. Mike Levin said Friday $400,000 in federal funding has been allocated to fix collapsing coastal cliffs in Southern California. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will allocate $400,000 this year in federal funding for the Planning, Engineering & Design (PED) phase of the Encinitas-Solana Beach Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Project. It will also allocate another $505,000 for the PED phase of the San Clemente Shoreline Project. … ” Read more from the Courthouse News Service here: Southern California nabs federal funds to fix crumbling beaches
Levin, local leaders discuss federal funding for bluff stabilization: “After his wife, daughter and sister-in-law died in a bluff collapse last summer, Encinitas resident Pat Davis joined the many local voices calling for federal funding to combat the erosion, sea level rise and other environmental factors that caused it. He and U.S. Rep. Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, marked the recent allocation of the first $400,000 from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during a Feb. 21 news conference at Grandview Beach in Encinitas, steps away from the fatal collapse. Levin announced Feb. 10 that the funds had been secured. … ” Read more from the Del Mar Times here: Levin, local leaders discuss federal funding for bluff stabilization
Colorado River is in danger of a parched future: “The Colorado River is a lifeline. It flows from the central Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Wyoming through five other U.S. states, 11 U.S. national parks and two Mexican states on a 1,450-mile-long journey that supplies water to 40 million people, supports uncounted wildlife and irrigates more than five million acres of farmland. And the river is endangered. Not only are humans drawing unsustainable amounts of water from this source, but abnormally low precipitation and hot, dry conditions have been shrinking it for years—an alarming trend that is likely to worsen as climate change takes its toll. … ” Read more from Scientific American here: Colorado River is in danger of a parched future
Arizona Senate committee shelves groundwater bill after impassioned debate: “State senators heard impassioned pleas from supporters of proposed legislation that would make it easier for Arizona water regulators to limit well-drilling in farming areas where groundwater levels are falling. But in the end, the bill was set aside, its future uncertain. The measure would enable the director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources to look at projected future groundwater pumping, instead of only current water use, in deciding whether to form a new “irrigation non-expansion area,” or INA, barring further growth of irrigated lands. ... ” Read more from Arizona Central here: Arizona Senate committee shelves groundwater bill after impassioned debate
Colorado River flows are diminishing. What does that mean for the Lake Powell Pipeline? “Warming temperatures are causing diminishing flows for the Colorado River, according to a new study published Thursday. The report, authored by Paul Milly and Krista Dunne of the U.S. Geological Survey and published in Science, suggests that climate change could lead to a 20% to 30% decrease in the river’s flow by the middle of the century. The analysis comes in the midst of Utah’s latest effort to develop the Lake Powell Pipeline ... ” Read more from KUER here: Colorado River flows are diminishing. What does that mean for the Lake Powell Pipeline?
As Western coal plants close, what happens to their water? “Coal-fired power plants are closing, or being given firm deadlines for closure, across the country. In the Western states that make up the overallocated and drought-plagued Colorado River, these facilities use a significant amount of the region’s scarce water supplies. With closure dates looming, communities are starting the contentious debate about how this newly freed up water should be put to use. … ” Read more from KUNC here: As Western coal plants close, what happens to their water?
Take a trip over Knights Landing and get a birds eye view. Shot and edited by John Hannon.
Image credit: CA streamflow assessment map, courtesy of Belize Lane. From this paper: Lane, B. A., Dahlke, H. E., Pasternack, G. B., & Sandoval‐Solis, S. (2017). Revealing the diversity of natural hydrologic regimes in California with relevance for environmental flows applications. JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 53(2), 411-430.