WEEKLY WATER NEWS DIGEST for Nov. 28-Dec. 2: Kamyar Guivetchi on managing water resources for sustainability & resilience; State kicks off water year with anticipated 5% allocation; Water thieves abound in dry California. Why are they so hard to catch?; and more …
A wrap-up of posts published on Maven’s Notebook this week …
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KAMYAR GUIVETCHI: Managing Water Resources for Sustainability & Resilience
Kamyar Guivetchi is the Manager of DWR’s Division of Planning, where he works with staff, numerous government agencies, California Native American tribes, other stakeholders, and the public to prepare the California Water plan updates. At the UC Davis Groundwater SAS Symposium, Mr. Guivetchi gave a keynote address focusing on the need to build watershed resilience by increasing integration among agencies with responsibilities for water resources. He also touched on the Newsom administration’s water initiatives, the update to the California Water Plan, and Flood-MAR.
Its currently raining here in Sacramento along with much of the north State and north-central Sierra Nevada with snowfall beginning last night from the Oregon border and continuing throughout the morning as far south as Huntington Lake as of early afternoon today.
This first December storm is a harbinger for wetter conditions expected through the weekend and into next week. And this rainfall comes not a moment too soon as many reservoirs and lakes across the State continue to recede during what has become a particularly dry autumn.
State kicks off water year with anticipated 5% allocation
“The state Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced Dec. 1 that it would provide 5% of contracted amounts across the board for agricultural and municipal customers in 2023. That may sound bad, but the initial allocation announced for 2022 was 0% for ag and only enough water for municipal contractors to protect health and safety. At this early stage of the water year, it’s hard to get too excited one way or another about the initial allocation, said Ted Page, Chair of the Kern County Water Agency Board of Directors. “We had a really good December last year, then it dried out and the state gave us 5%,” he said. “You don’t want them to throw out a big allocation number and then have to take it back. Then you have farmers borrowing money thinking they have water and if the state takes it back, that doesn’t work for anyone.” … ” Read more from SJV Water here: State kicks off water year with anticipated 5% allocation
Reclamation urges Central Valley Project contractors to prepare for potential fourth dry year
“The Bureau of Reclamation is asking its contractors receiving Central Valley Project water for municipal and industrial use to begin planning for potentially extremely limited water supply conditions in 2023. Despite the early storms that California experienced this month, drought conditions continue. Conservative planning efforts will help better manage the limited water resources in the event conditions remain dry and we move into a fourth consecutive drought year. The Central Valley Project began the 2023 water year on October 1 with water storage reservoirs near historic lows. Shasta Reservoir, the state’s largest reservoir and cornerstone of the Central Valley Project, is currently at 31% capacity. If drought conditions extend into 2023, Reclamation will find it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to meet all the competing needs of the Central Valley Project without beginning the implementation of additional and more severe water conservation actions. … ” Continue reading this press release from the Bureau of Reclamation here: Reclamation urges Central Valley Project contractors to prepare for potential fourth dry year
More than 70 water agencies in California could face water shortages in the coming months, state report shows
“Nearly 20% of California’s urban water agencies reported they could see significant water shortages in the coming months as the state braces for a potential fourth consecutive year of drought. After surveying urban water agencies representing roughly 90% of the state’s population, the California Department of Water Resources early this week released its first annual water supply and demand report that assesses how the state is faring with water supply amid unrelenting drought conditions. The assessment, which includes annual data through July 1, found that while a vast majority – 82% – of urban water suppliers who submitted reports say they have enough water to meet projected demand in the coming year, around 18% – 73 out of the 414 water suppliers – reported they will soon face potential shortages. … ” Read more from CNN here: More than 70 water agencies in California could face water shortages in the coming months, state report shows
Western snow season 2022-23 preview: A look at water supplies and the winter outlook in 10 maps
“It’s hard to overstate how crucial this snow season is for the western United States. Regions such as the West that receive a great deal of their precipitation in the form of snow face a number of challenges when snow droughts occur, including shrinking water supplies. And western water supplies are truly shrinking as some states are facing their second or third drought year in a row and a large part of the region is stuck in a 20+ year megadrought. Hanging over all of this is climate change–influenced aridification in the Southwest that is increasing evaporative demand, causing water supplies to dwindle from rising temperatures even when there is adequate precipitation. … The maps included here show how previous La Niña winters have impacted precipitation and temperature across the U.S., the latest National Weather Service outlooks that are influenced by these past La Niña events, and the water supply issues in the West, which will be greatly exacerbated if the winter outlooks come to fruition. Lastly, the latest snow conditions in the West are included, although it’s very early to draw any conclusions from them. … ” Read more from NIDIS here: Western snow season 2022-23 preview: A look at water supplies and the winter outlook in 10 maps
Water thieves abound in dry California. Why are they so hard to catch?
“… Across the West, major water users are subject to strict regulations that govern how and when they can draw water from rivers and streams. These rights vary from state to state, but the general principle is always the same: older water users have stronger rights than newer users, and the state has the authority to curtail water usage during drought periods. … But enforcing those rules is easier said than done. Over the past decade, as more states have clamped down on water usage, water managers across the west have found themselves struggling to monitor all potential violations, and to implement water rights law that they’ve never had to use before. Even a large and well-funded state like California can’t keep track of all illegal water diversions, and attorneys often have trouble prosecuting even those violations they do identify. Even when the state has an airtight case, its enforcement powers are limited, and the punishments it can mete out often aren’t severe enough to deter potential violators. … ” Read the full story at Grist here: Water thieves abound in dry California. Why are they so hard to catch?
Smart meter monitoring can help conserve water — but not without a fight, researchers find
“The use of smart meters to enforce water restrictions could encourage widespread conservation — but not without local backlash, a new study has found. Amid California’s ongoing drought, researchers partnered with the city of Fresno in summer 2018 to access and identify water violations via household meter data. While a resulting surge in fines brought a dramatic reduction in both water use and violations, a barrage of complaints thwarted the program’s survival, according to the study, released on Wednesday by the University of Chicago’s Energy & Environment Lab. “The urgency of the water challenge in the West requires such highly efficient tools,” co-author Michael Greenstone, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, said in a statement. Yet policymakers “will need to carefully balance improved monitoring with community expectations and enforcement efforts,” Greenstone acknowledged. … ” Read more from WNCT here: Smart meter monitoring can help conserve water — but not without a fight, researchers find
DWR completes scheduled removal of West False River Emergency Drought Salinity Barrier
“The Department of Water Resources (DWR) has completed the removal of a drought salinity barrier from the West False River in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The barrier was installed in June 2021 to prevent saltwater intrusion with less fresh water from upstream reservoirs and streams flowing into the Delta during California’s ongoing extreme drought conditions. DWR was required to remove the structure by November 30 to comply with environmental permits. “In normal conditions, the release of fresh water from upstream reservoirs keeps the salty ocean water from pushing into the Delta, but in extreme drought conditions that doesn’t happen,” said Jacob McQuirk, DWR principal engineer. “The barrier changes the plumbing so we’re able to keep the Delta fresh while preserving upstream water supplies for other uses.” … ” Read more from DWR News here: DWR completes scheduled removal of West False River Emergency Drought Salinity Barrier
Video: Surplus and shortage—California’s water balancing act
“After three years of virtual events, the PPIC Water Policy Center’s annual fall conference made a welcome return to an in-person format in Sacramento on Friday, November 18. The half-day event began with a welcome from PPIC Water Policy Center assistant director Caity Peterson and a presentation by senior fellow Jeffrey Mount. “The elephant in the room is that conditions have changed,” said Mount. “We’re no longer talking about some future existential threat….we have now moved into the era of the hot drought.” Hotter droughts, he said, coupled with a thirstier atmosphere, are testing California’s water system as never before. This year was “brutal” for agriculture, said Thad Bettner of the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District during the first panel, moderated by PPIC Water senior fellow Alvar Escriva-Bou. ... ” Read more from PPIC here: Video: Surplus and shortage—California’s water balancing act
Summers over, but water crisis still remains top concern for California producers
“Water was once taken for granted in western states, like California. But now the tides have changed, and dairy farmers understand all too well the need for water is vital but also one that is not always guaranteed. “As a dairy producer, this is an ever-growing challenge and is my top concern,” Ryan Junio, owner of Four J Jerseys in Pixley, Calif says. Geoff Vanden Heuvel, the director of regulatory and economic affairs with the California Milk Producer Council shared on a National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) podcast that the California water issue is complex and long-standing, and the state was developed without any regulations on groundwater. He also states that between 85-90% of California’s milk supply hails from the Central Valley. … ” Read more from Dairy Herd here: Summers over, but water crisis still remains top concern for California producers
‘Giga Fire’ project aims to map all of California’s wildfire fuels: ‘This kind of information is critical’
“Wildfire has always been a natural part of California’s ecosystem. But a historical lack of forest management combined with climate change and human activity has contributed to larger and more destructive fires in recent years. The biggest of those fires are called “giga fires,” which burn at least 1 million acres. Fire officials also recently categorized any fire larger than 100,000 acres as a “megafire.” In order to prevent the next big fire, Cal Fire is teaming up with the California Air Resources Board and a team of scientists at the University of Nevada at Reno. The goal is to optimize forest management programs through the “Giga Fire Project.” … ” Read more from KCRA here: ‘Giga Fire’ project aims to map all of California’s wildfire fuels: ‘This kind of information is critical’
Satellites detect no real climate benefit from 10 years of forest carbon offsets in California
“Many of the companies promising “net-zero” emissions to protect the climate are relying on vast swaths of forests and what are known as carbon offsets to meet that goal. On paper, carbon offsets appear to balance out a company’s carbon emissions: The company pays to protect trees, which absorb carbon dioxide from the air. The company can then claim the absorbed carbon dioxide as an offset that reduces its net impact on the climate. However, our new satellite analysis reveals what researchers have suspected for years: Forest offsets might not actually be doing much for the climate. … ” Read more from The Conversation here: Satellites detect no real climate benefit from 10 years of forest carbon offsets in California
Water shortages are pushing Calif. farms, communities to the brink. Pricey water sales aren’t the answer.
William Bourdeau, executive vice president of Harris Farms, director of the Westlands Water District, and chairman of the Valley Future Foundation, writes, “Despite a smattering of storms, the San Joaquin Valley – and California as a whole – has come to another breaking point over its dwindling water supply during a critical drought. Thanks to limited planning, our water supplies continue to shrink, communities are being pushed to the brink, and little headway is being made to generate long-term solutions to our state’s water issues. The result for Californians of all stripes is clear: the only thing we have to be thankful for this season is that the collision of these woes hasn’t led us into a worse position. For me, I only have to look outside my doorstep to see the impact of California’s third year of intense drought. … ” Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: Water shortages are pushing Calif. farms, communities to the brink. Pricey water sales aren’t the answer.
California needs better water supply reliability – including improved conveyance systems
Tom Coleman, General Manager at Rowland Water District, and Federico Barajas, Executive Director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, write, “As California confronts another extended drought and its impacts, it is more obvious than ever that the state has failed to address its water supply and management challenges for far too long. The immediate fallout of the unprecedented situation we find ourselves in is frightening: local residents with wells running dry; urban water rationing and critical shortages; massive fallowing of some of the nation’s most productive agricultural land and the resulting impacts on food prices; and significant uncertainty about our ability to adapt to the future. The long-term effects are even more dire. The viability of California’s $3.4 trillion economy is at stake. … ” Read more from the Desert Sun here: California needs better water supply reliability – including improved conveyance systems
The water supply crisis is devastating California’s farms. It’s time for a crisis-level response.
Dave Puglia, president & CEO of Western Growers, writes, “For decades, California has been paralyzed, prevented from securing an adequate water supply by endless debate, red tape and litigation over where, how, and even if the state should create more water supply infrastructure. In the last few years some major farming regions have received almost no water from state and federal projects built specifically to provide water for food production — yet calls to further choke off water to these and other farming regions have grown even louder. As farms are starved of water, California sacrifices critical food production, jobs in agriculture and the economic health of entire regions of California. It doesn’t have to be this way, and this shouldn’t be our destiny. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recent call for a direction, California’s Water Supply Strategy: Adapting to a Hotter, Drier Future, projects — for the most part — an overdue end to the decades of futzing and fighting that have transformed the state from water secure to water crisis. With the strong warning that some aspects of Newsom’s strategy could be counterproductive — particularly upending the state’s water rights laws — it is now time for follow through. … ” Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here: The water supply crisis is devastating California’s farms. It’s time for a crisis-level response.
Let’s reject politics of scarcity and help our California farms thrive
Jamie Johansson, president of the California Farm Bureau, writes, “California Farm Bureau gathers for its 104th Annual Meeting in Monterey beginning this weekend. In a year with extraordinary challenges, California farmers and ranchers persevered—through historic drought, unprecedented water curtailments, supply-chain disruptions and rising input costs—to feed America and the world. This year’s immense contributions and sacrifices by Farm Bureau members may never be adequately acknowledged by our elected representatives in the California Capitol or on Capitol Hill. But our concerns going forward are now shared with their constituents in all districts. At family dinner tables in rural and urban communities alike, people are talking about scarcity. … ” Read more from Ag Alert here: Let’s reject politics of scarcity and help our California farms thrive
Water delivery cuts hurt farmers, fail to benefit fish
Ryan Walker, Siskiyou County Farm Bureau, writes, “The year 2022 has been one that few growers in Siskiyou County want to repeat. Following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s drought emergency order, the California Water Resources Control Board imposed emergency regulations to establish minimum flows in the Shasta and Scott rivers. Historic curtailments in water deliveries cost farmers millions of dollars of lost production. As the year comes an end, it is worth considering what environmental benefit was achieved for such a substantial cost to agriculture. Unfortunately, now that flow and water data from the season is complete, it is very clear that denying farmers irrigation supplies provided no meaningful environmental benefit for threatened coho salmon and other fish. … ” Read more from Ag Alert here: Water delivery cuts hurt farmers, fail to benefit fish
Commentary: Media fails to report the #1 reason Warren Buffett’s Klamath River Dams are coming down
Felice Pace writes, “The recent formal decision by the Federal Energy Commission to order removal of four of Warren Buffett’s Klamath River Dams has, predictably, resulted in a new raft of media reports about “the largest removal of dams ever.” “Tribes celebrate plan to remove dams on Klamath” in Indian Time is the best of the lot which I’ve seen so far because it acknowledges that: Dam removal was at its core a business decision to off-load a money losing asset, that is, Warren Buffett’s Klamath hydro dams; It was Indigenous Native Activists and the Lower Klamath River Tribes, the Yurok, Hoopa and Karuk Tribes, which led the twenty year effort.; Dam removal will not restore the River and Klamath Salmon; that much more is needed. As Hoopa Chair Joe Davis put it: “Now we must keep the momentum going and we are looking forward to working with all of our neighbors and partners in that effort.” However, like all the other articles on dam removal, this one does not report the real reason the dams became uneconomical. … ” Read more from the Klamblog here: Commentary: Media fails to report the #1 reason Warren Buffett’s Klamath River Dams are coming down
Editorial: Keeping Salton Sea from becoming toxic dust bowl is crucial
The San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board writes, “It’s been seven years since the Little Hoover Commission — a state watchdog agency — warned of disaster ahead because of deteriorating conditions at the Salton Sea. This intensely salty 300-plus-square-mile lake in Imperial and Riverside counties was created by Colorado River flooding in 1905-1907, which filled up the below-sea-level Salton Trough. Yet only now is the scope of the problem and the need to act crystallizing for federal officials. The 2015 report came during the 16th year of a megadrought in the Southwest. With that megadrought now in its 23rd year, the problems have only grown worse. … ” Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: Editorial: Keeping Salton Sea from becoming toxic dust bowl is crucial
There are no new rivers left to tap. We must learn to do more with less.
Dr. Laurence Smith, a professor at Brown University and the author of “Rivers of Power: How a Natural Force Raised Kingdoms, Destroyed Civilizations and Shapes Our World,’ writes, “Last month, record low water levels in the Mississippi River backed up nearly 3,000 barges — the equivalent of 210,000 container trucks — on America’s most important inland waterway. Despite frantic dredging, farmers could move only half the corn they’d shipped the same time last year. Deliveries of fuel, coal, industrial chemicals and building materials were similarly delayed throughout the nation’s heartland. … Conditions are even worse in the southwestern United States, where an ongoing 22-year drought — now the harshest in 1,200 years — has shriveled Colorado River reservoirs, straining water supplies for farms, cities and hydropower from the Hoover Dam. Across the Atlantic in Germany, warmer temperatures and longer droughts have shrunk the Rhine River, making navigation harrowing on a waterway responsible for up to 80 percent of the country’s ship-bound cargo. … There are no new rivers left to tap. We must learn to do more with less. … ” Read more from the New York Times here: There are no new rivers left to tap. We must learn to do more with less.
How forest thinning waste could fund California wildfire prevention
Steve Frisch, president of Sierra Business Council, and Sam Uden, director of climate and energy policy at Conservation Strategy Group, writes, “Reducing catastrophic wildfire is one of the state’s most challenging climate problems. A recent study by researchers at UCLA and the University of Chicago found that wildfire carbon emissions from the 2020 fire season alone were more than double the amount of overall emissions reduced in California from 2003 to 2019. The state set a goal of treating 1 million forested acres per year to reduce wildfire risk. While there is no firm figure available, the state currently treats an estimated 200,000 acres per year, excluding commercial timber harvest. The challenge: how do we get from treating 200,000 acres to 1 million acres as quickly as possible? ... ” Read more from Cal Matters here: How forest thinning waste could fund California wildfire prevention
Survey of the AgroAbsurd
Bill Hatch writes, “The Kumeyaay People have lived in the region between the Pacific Coast of San Diego County, Baja California Norte. and Imperial Valley for 10,000 years. They hunted, fished, gathered and traded according to the seasons, from Bighorn sheep in the mountains to Mesquite beans in the desert, from abalone to yucca, rabbits to pinon nuts. They lived with this land for millennia before there was a Mexico or a United States. Even the desert provided for them abundantly. But then, shrewd white men arrived and discovered that the soil of this desert was in fact a rich alluvial plain of Colorado River silt that could be cleared, ploughed, harrowed, irrigated, planted and made to grow profitable crops for export on the railroad. So, they bought a great deal of land, developed a small canal from the Colorado, sold land to other white men, who began the new form of gaining food – not by gathering the fruits of this rich desert, but by planting crops and gambling on markets. … ” Read more from CounterPunch here: Survey of the AgroAbsurd
‘Free water’ was never free, writes a historian of the American West
Nate Housley, a founding member of Save Our Great Salt Lake and a historian with a master’s degree from the University of Utah, writes, “The West uses too much water. For such a simple problem, the obvious solution — use less — lies frustratingly out of reach. That inability to change may seem hard to understand, but the root of the problem becomes clearer if we consider the role of the West in the historical development of the United States: The purpose of our system of “free water” — heavily subsidized water for irrigation — was to provide opportunities to settlers. The frontier has served an important function in the Euro-American imagination since before there was a United States. For historians of the American West like me, the significance of the frontier has been at the center of our field for more than a century. … ” Read more from the Revelator here: ‘Free water’ was never free, writes a historian of the American West
An alternative to worrying about the tragedy of the commons
Paul H. Betancourt writes, “For over forty years environmental policy has been driven by the idea of the Tragedy of the Commons. In 1968 UC Santa Barbara professor Garret Hardin wrote a piece for Science magazine outlining his concerns about population growth. The population bomb was a huge issue at the time. Hardin used the image of the English common pastures to illustrate that is held in common can be used by individuals for personal gain. Hardin’s followers have used the idea of the Tragedy of the Commons, for decades now, as the rationale for government control of natural resources. ??? There is an alternative. Dr. Elinor Ostrum was the co-winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics for her work showing how to harness private use of natural resources for more effective management. We have learned the wrong lesson from the Tragedy of the Commons. … ” Continue reading at Water Wrights here: An alternative to worrying about the tragedy of the commons
The largest-ever dam demolition will restore salmon habitat
“Four aging dams will be destroyed along the Klamath River in California and Oregon, restoring hundreds of miles of historical salmon habitat and improving the health of the river. Native American tribes and environmentalists have been fighting for the $500 million demolition proposal for years, and in November, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved it, Gillian Flaccus reports for the Associated Press (AP). The project is slated to begin next year, and the biggest removals will likely take place in 2024. “The Klamath River has been Exhibit A for how dams, drought, imbalanced water management and climate change can strangle a river,” Chrysten Rivard, Oregon director for Trout Unlimited, says in a statement. “Now, the Klamath is poised to become a prime example of how an entire river system, and the people and wildlife that depend on it, can be renewed.” … ” Read more from Smithsonian here: The largest-ever dam demolition will restore salmon habitat
If you build it, do they come? Measuring results of the Water Forum’s habitat projects on the Lower American River
“The Water Forum and its federal and state partners have invested millions of dollars over the past 15 years to enhance salmon spawning and rearing habitat in the Lower American River. In this blog post, we want to highlight one way that the Water Forum, with its consultant, Cramer Fish Sciences, monitors the projects and helps to answer a critical question: If You Build It, Do They Come? Since 2008, the Water Forum has implemented numerous projects to replenish coarse gravel in the Lower American riverbed to create spawning habitat for fall run Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead. These native species require coarse riverbed gravels to create the redds, or nests, for their eggs. … ” Read more from the Water Forum here: If you build it, do they come? Measuring results of the Water Forum’s habitat projects on the Lower American River
‘It’s been a fight for our homes’: The ongoing saga to fix San Francisco’s sewers
“Months before this fall’s rains began, Victoria Sanchez stood out in front of her home on Cayuga Avenue in San Francisco’s Mission Terrace neighborhood. Her block appeared ordinary on that July day: rows of colorful Mediterranean-style homes stretched wall-to-wall as the 44 Muni bus rumbled past the corner. The scene was typical of many neighborhoods across San Francisco with one distinct difference. Along the sidewalks and driveways of Cayuga Avenue lay rows of sandbags, a reminder of the destructive floods of sewage and stormwater that the rainy season can bring — inundations that have ravaged the neighborhood for decades. … Mission Terrace isn’t the only San Francisco neighborhood to suffer problems with destructive flooding that both residents and government agencies trace to the city’s failure to upgrade sections of its sewer system. … ” Read more from KQED here: ‘It’s been a fight for our homes’: The ongoing saga to fix San Francisco’s sewers
The re-beavering of the Bay Area
“In a deep muddy creek near Silicon Valley’s busiest freeway, a large furry head pokes up. And then quickly submerges. The brief sighting, along with a growing collection of video footage, confirms something remarkable: After being hunted to extinction in the 1800s, the North American beaver is returning to the creeks of the San Francisco Bay Area. Ecosystem explorers, beavers were re-introduced to Lexington Reservoir in Los Gatos about four decades ago, and made homes in upper Los Gatos Creek. Since then, they’ve expanded their range north along the edge of the Bay to the Guadalupe River, Coyote Creek, San Tomas Aquino Creek in the wetlands by Sunnyvale’s Water Pollution Control Plant – and, now, Palo Alto’s Matadero Creek. … ” Read more from the San Jose Mercury News here: The re-beavering of the Bay Area
Half Moon Bay: Water potential not lost in coastal fog
“In a warming and drying California, water agencies across the state are looking for new water sources and trying to better utilize the ones they have. Pacifica has a potential source of water not available to many communities: the drippy gray moisture that blows ashore in the form of fog. Fog is composed of tiny water droplets; together, a cubic mile of fog can carry some 56,000 gallons of water. The North Coast County Water District is experimenting to see how much water might be available from this unusual resource, and how best to capture it. With the help of area researchers, the district installed experimental fog-catchers over the summer at three district sites — Milagra Ridge, Christen Hill off Skyline Boulevard, and Royce Canyon near Fassler Avenue — and are monitoring their production. … ” Read more from the Half Moon Bay Review here: Half Moon Bay: Water potential not lost in coastal fog
With coastal commission approval, what’s next for Cal Am’s desalination plant?
“California American Water (Cal Am) scored a major win earlier this month after the California Coastal Commission approved a development permit for the company’s proposed desalination plant. The commission voted 8-2 in favor of the project at its Nov. 17 meeting, reversing a decision in 2020 that had denied the company’s permit. The company first proposed the plant nearly a decade ago. “We’re really excited that we’re finally at the point where we got past the coastal commission,” said Josh Stratton, a spokesperson for Cal Am. … ” Read more from KAZU here: With coastal commission approval, what’s next for Cal Am’s desalination plant?
Tuolumne River Trust looks out for spawning salmon amid drought. How many this year?
“Seven canoes carried 11 people to see how Tuolumne River salmon are faring after three years of drought. The Tuolumne River Trust organized the Nov. 12 trip to press its point that too much water goes to farms and cities. The group paddled the two miles between the La Grange and Basso bridges, near the upstream end of the 25-mile spawning stretch. Chinook salmon come here each autumn after a few years in the Pacific Ocean to reproduce and die, one more turn of an ancient life cycle. … ” Read more from the Modesto Bee here: Tuolumne River Trust looks out for spawning salmon amid drought. How many this year?
Kings County passes new law to monitor, restrict groundwater movement out of the county
“Kings was among the last counties in the San Joaquin Valley without any regulation on the movement of its native groundwater. That changed Nov. 29 as the Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to approve an ordinance that will require anyone moving groundwater out of the county to get a permit. That includes groundwater pumped to backfill for surface supplies that farmers or water districts export out of the area, according to the ordinance. The ordinance faced strong opposition from most of the county’s largest water districts and supervisors took pains at the meeting to explain their reasoning. … ” Read more from SJV Water here: Kings County passes new law to monitor, restrict groundwater movement out of the county
Slippery Rock water not filling Montecito swimming pools
“Rumors sometimes lead to news stories and sometimes not. In the case of Slippery Rock Ranch — TV mogul Dick Wolf’s property in the Goleta foothills — the gossip was that Montecito residents were filling their swimming pools with water from the ranch’s aquifers. While a publicist with the ranch stated last week that Slippery Rock was not selling water or filling Montecito swimming pools, the Goleta Water District confirmed that they quietly settled a long-simmering water dispute with the Law & Order creator in the sum of $10 million. In Santa Barbara Superior Court, Slippery Rock Ranch and the Goleta Water District had disputed since 2015 over possession of the rainwater sluicing off and infiltrating down under the ranch. The Water District pointed out that the ranch — 740 acres above the border of Los Padres National Forest — was in a watershed that contributed to the district’s Goleta Groundwater Basin. The ranch countered that its borders were entirely outside the district’s boundaries and had historically sold its water, albeit to a neighboring ranch. … ” Read more from the Santa Barbara Independent here: Slippery Rock water not filling Montecito swimming pools
Corona Clay Company repeatedly violated Clean Water Act, jury says
“After a five-year legal battle, a jury has sided with environmental groups who sued a clay production company in Corona over claims that the business repeatedly violated the Clean Water Act by letting iron-heavy soil and other sediment flow into Temescal Creek. The creek feeds into the Santa Ana River, which eventually reaches the Pacific Ocean in Huntington Beach. Family-owned Corona Clay Company is now facing civil penalties that could run to multi-millions of dollars. A judge is expected to set the exact amount early next year. The decision marks a rare trial victory for a citizen-filed lawsuit under the Clean Water Act, which lets Americans sue anyone believed to be discharging pollutants into U.S. waters. … ” Read more from the San Bernardino Sun here: Corona Clay Company repeatedly violated Clean Water Act, jury says
Imperial Irrigation District Board approves $250M Salton Sea plan
“A split Imperial Irrigation District board narrowly approved a multiagency deal that calls for the additional conservation of a million acre-feet of Colorado River water in exchange for $250 million in federal funds. The agreement’s approval by the IID Board of Directors came during a special meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 29, a day after the U.S. Department of the Interior disclosed details of the historic plan. The board’s approval of the agreement was preceded by about two hours of discussion, where a couple of board members and several members of the public had spoken out against it. One concern was that the community wasn’t provided an adequate opportunity to review the plan prior to it being presented to the IID board. Another concern suggested that the current board’s two departing members were making a decision that should’ve been left to the newly elected board members who will be sworn in on Friday, Dec. 2. … ” Read more from the Holtville Tribune here: Imperial Irrigation District Board approves $250M Salton Sea plan
San Diego, not SDG&E, must pay to move gas pipelines for Pure Water project, judge rules
“Four years ago, when the San Diego City Council approved paying tens of millions of dollars to relocate utility pipes and other equipment to make room for the ambitious Pure Water project, city officials insisted they would recover the money from San Diego Gas & Electric. That didn’t happen. The city sued San Diego Gas & Electric in 2020, saying that the company violated its franchise agreement by refusing to pay to move its equipment. Now a Superior Court judge has ruled that San Diego taxpayers are responsible for those costs, which already total more than $35 million and could add $65 million or more to the price tag. … ” Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: San Diego, not SDG&E, must pay to move gas pipelines for Pure Water project, judge rules
Whirlpools, blackouts, predator fish: What happens on the Colorado River’s descent to ‘dead pool’
“The first sign of serious trouble for the drought-strickenAmerican Southwest could be a whirlpool. It could happen if the surface of Lake Powell, a man-made reservoir along the Colorado River that’s already a quarter of its former size, drops another 38 feet down the concrete face of the 710-footGlen Canyon Dam here. At that point, the surface would be approaching the tops of eightunderwater openings that allow river water to pass through the hydroelectric dam. The normally placid Lake Powell, the nation’s second-largest reservoir, could suddenly transform into something resembling a funnel, with water circling the openings,the dam’s operators say. … ” Read more from the Washington Post here: Whirlpools, blackouts, predator fish: What happens on the Colorado River’s descent to ‘dead pool’