A wrap-up of posts published on Maven’s Notebook this week …
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This week’s featured article …
Governor Newsom releases 2023-24 state budget proposal; Here’s what is proposed for water and climate spending
Governor Gavin Newsom today introduced his 2023-24 state budget proposal. Funding for water resilience and drought is included under the climate change section.
The budget for 2021 and 2022 allocated approximately $54 billion over five years to address climate change; Newsom’s proposal maintains approximately $48 billion (or 89 percent). With the projected decline of revenues, the budget proposal across several programs which are partially offset by shifts to other funding sources. These reductions will be restored if there is sufficient revenue next year.
The specifics are below; the budget proposal for climate change spending is embedded at the bottom of this post.
Click here to read this article.
In California water news this week …
Another onslaught of atmospheric river storms to pummel California through the weekend
“Another barrage of atmospheric rivers will slam into California starting Friday, with a series of storms continuing to hit the West Coast through the weekend and into early next week. The Golden State caught a break Thursday from the onslaught of deadly atmospheric river storms that have greatly helped the ongoing drought situation but have battered California with heavy rain, high winds, flooding and mudslides. California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office said Tuesday the storms claimed the lives of at least 17 people, which is more than wildfires over the past two years combined. ... ” Read more from Fox News here: Another onslaught of atmospheric river storms to pummel California through the weekend
California snowpack outpacing highest year on record
“California’s snowpack levels continue to rise, now sitting at more than 225% of the average for this time of year. It’s welcome news to a state slogging through a prolonged drought, and with more winter storms headed this way, that number is sure to climb. Snowpack levels in the Sierra Nevada approached 200% of the yearly average on Monday, driven by multiple atmospheric rivers over the last several weeks. On Wednesday, that total continued to climb to 226% of the yearly average for Jan. 11, according to the National Weather Service. ... ” Read more from KTLA here: California snowpack outpacing highest year on record
Major rains along with record snow pack could amount to danger
“California has not seen rain like we’re having in many years. That’s extremely helpful to filling the Golden State’s water starved dams; especially the major mega dams tens of millions of Californians depend on. But, with precipitation, too much of a good thing requires intense oversight and management, round the clock, by reservoir and dam operators. … Joshua Viers, a watershed scientist at UC Merced. “It is a delicate balancing act, and it’s one that I think keeps a lot of engineers up late at night,” said Professor Viers. … ” Read more from KTVU here: Major rains along with record snow pack could amount to danger
How did a La Niña winter become so rainy?
“As rain has deluged our parched state since New Year’s Eve, many Californians have found themselves asking a familiar question: Is this somehow because of El Niño? In the California imagination, the climate pattern known as El Niño has an almost mythological status as a harbinger of prolonged wet spells, while its counterpart, La Niña, is associated with drought. The past three years have been La Niña years. The continuing procession of storms this winter has drawn comparisons to the famed wet winter of 1997-98, when rain driven by El Niño drenched the Golden State. Californians are bracing for one of the season’s most intense storms to date on Monday and Tuesday. But Daniel L. Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that El Niño hasn’t taken over — yet. … ” Continue reading from the New York Times here (gift article): How did a La Niña winter become so rainy?
California flooding could bring deluge of snakes
“As torrential rainfall continues to batter the West coast, you may be wondering how all of this wet weather is affecting California’s wildlife. In Australia at the end of last year, heavy rain and floods caused snake sightings to soar across the country—could the same thing happen in California? “Rapidly rising flood water from heavy rain can displace wildlife, including rattlesnakes,” Bryan Hughes, owner of Arizona-based snake rescue service Rattlesnake Solutions, told Newsweek. “This can mean that in some areas, there will be a temporary increase of the likelihood of random encounters.” … ” Read more from Newsweek here: California flooding could bring deluge of snakes
California storms ‘significantly reduced’ drought intensity, yet still more rain is needed
“For three years, California has been in desperate need of rain. Years of unfavorable precipitation trends and more intense heat waves have fed directly to the state’s unrelenting, historic drought that has triggered dire water shortages. But the past several weeks of rain and snow have “significantly reduced” the state’s drought intensity, according the US Drought Monitor’s latest report. Extreme drought — the second-highest designation on the drought monitor scale — has nearly disappeared, according to the weekly analysis published Thursday. It is now confined to less than 1% of the state near the border with Oregon. Only two weeks ago, more than one-third of California was in this extreme drought category. The drought is not over for the state, however. Despite the epic rain and snow, more than 95% of California remains in moderate or severe drought, since moisture deficits have been baked into the landscape in some areas over the past three years. ... ” Read more from CNN here: California storms ‘significantly reduced’ drought intensity, yet still more rain is needed
California’s lengthy drought made mudslides more likely when the rains came.
“After several years of intense drought, California is now being pummeled by weeks of heavy rain. As the state’s residents are discovering, the two opposite meteorological conditions can combine to make for severe mudslides.In a prolonged drought, soils dry out, harden and become less permeable to water, said Dan Shugar, a geoscientist at the University of Calgary in Canada. When heavy rain falls on soil like that, less of the water soaks in. … Water can pond quickly on the hardened soil, and, depending on the terrain, will eventually run off. On steep slopes, the water rushing downhill can accelerate, eroding soil in its path, picking up rocks and debris and joining with other rivulets of water to make a growing and potentially destructive mudslide. … ” Read more from the New York Times here: California’s lengthy drought made mudslides more likely when the rains came.
California Republicans renew call for quicker movement on water storage projects
“Republicans in California’s Assembly used a break in the storms Thursday to condemn Democrats for the drought-stricken state’s inability to capture more of the rainfall that has inundated it in recent weeks. “It’s a failure of leadership,” Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Nicolaus, said during a press conference near the American River in Sacramento. “The Democratic supermajority and the governor have failed to make investments in water infrastructure.” Gallagher, the Republican Leader, was joined by 10 of his Assembly colleagues on a rare sunny day so far in 2023. They pleaded with Gov. Gavin Newsom to expedite pending water storage projects. … ” Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: California Republicans renew call for quicker movement on water storage projects
Valadao rolls out sweeping overhaul of Calif. water policy
“A comprehensive overhaul of water policy affecting the San Joaquin Valley is back on the table, courtesy of Rep. David Valadao (R–Hanford). Valadao initially introduced the Working to Advance Tangible and Effective Reforms (WATER) for California Act last September and is bringing it back, this time with a Republican-controlled House. The entire California Republican delegation joined Valadao as co-sponsors on the bill. The big picture: The WATER for California Act will streamline operations, expand water storage infrastructure and increase accountability of water use in the Golden State. … ” Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: Valadao rolls out sweeping overhaul of Calif. water policy
Congressman Valadao requests Newsom, Biden waive pumping restrictions and prioritize water storage
“Today, Congressman David G. Valadao (CA-22) led members of the California Republican congressional delegation to President Biden and Governor Newsom urging them to waive impediments to Delta pump operations to ensure none of the current storm flows in California go to waste. The lawmakers also urged President Biden and Governor Newsom to prioritize and expedite water storage projects that would help the state be better prepared for future storm events. “Government regulations should not and must not deny our constituents critical water from these storms. While we cannot make it rain, we must take advantage of opportunities to store water when it does and maximize what can be moved at all times through the Delta for the duration of these storms,” the lawmakers wrote. Congressman Valadao was joined in the letter by Reps. Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), John Duarte (CA-13), Ken Calvert (CA-41), Jay Obernolte (CA-23) and Tom McClintock (CA05). ... ” Read more from Congressman Valadao’s office here: Congressman Valadao requests Newsom, Biden waive pumping restrictions and prioritize water storage
Congressman LaMalfa introduces the ‘Protect Our Water Rights’ Act
“Today, Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R – Richvale) introduced H.R. 289, the Protect Our Water Rights (POWR) Act. This bill will give certainty to agriculture producers and irrigators during dry years and hold the Bureau of Reclamation accountable for proper water delivery. “Building water storage, delivering irrigators their water that is lawfully theirs, and ensuring fresh water is not wasted are the priorities of rural California. This is especially critical in California agriculture, where severe water mismanagement has exacerbated the crippling drought. Responsible water management means higher food production and lower prices for all Americans, while keeping farmers in business. I’m looking forward to passing this bill and protecting our water rights,” said Congressman LaMalfa. … ” Read more from Congressman Doug LaMalfa’s website here: Congressman LaMalfa introduces the ‘Protect Our Water Rights’ Act
NEW LETTER: Harder demands in-person public hearings on latest delta tunnel report
“Today, Representative Josh Harder (CA-9) sent a letter to the Lieutenant General Scott A. Spellmon of the Army Corps of Engineers demanding his body reverse its’ decisions not to host in-person public hearings on the proposed Delta Tunnel project and extend the public comment period by an additional 60 days. At present, the Army Corps of Engineers, state, and federal agencies plan to host no in-person hearings on the 700-page draft Environmental Impact Statement concerning the project and will accept written public comment only through February 14th. The letter is also signed by Reps. Garamendi, DeSaulnier, and Thompson. “Today, I’m calling on the Army Corps of Engineers to reverse its unthinkable decision and hold a real, in-person public hearing on the greedy water grab that is the Delta Tunnel,” said Rep. Harder. “Building the Delta Tunnel will rob our farmers and put our whole community at risk. I promise that the politicians in Sacramento and Washington are going to hear from us on this project, whether they like it or not.” … ” Read more from Congressman Josh Harder’s office here: NEW LETTER: Harder demands in-person public hearings on latest delta tunnel report
Interior Secretary Haaland’s memo reverses Trump policy defunding CVPIA environmental restoration
“On Dec. 15, Secretary of the Interior Debra Haaland executed a memorandum that ensures statutory funding to protect fish and wildlife as required under the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA). The memo reverses a Trump administration action to defund environmental mitigation and restoration, as required under the CVPIA. … “The action by Secretary Haaland means that CVP water contractors will resume payment for projects to create and improve floodplain and other habitat for salmon, waterfowl, and other fish and wildlife,” according to a press statement from the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Assocations (PCFFA). “The payments are required by the CVPIA, passed in 1992 to require the CVP to put fish and wildlife protection on an equal footing with water supply.” … ” Interior Secretary Haaland’s Memo Reverses Trump Policy Defunding CVPIA Environmental Restoration
In extraordinary move, California mulls crackdown on Los Angeles’ water draws at Mono Lake
“Even as a storms shower California with rain and snow, state water regulators announced this week that they’re revisiting their effort to protect Mono Lake from the ravages of drought, agreeing to review how much water the city of Los Angeles is taking from the basin and whether it’s too much. … Almost three decades ago, one of the biggest environmental campaigns in U.S history succeeded in forcing Los Angeles to reduce the amount of water it pipes from the basin to faucets in Southern California. Still, state regulators have told The Chronicle that the 1994 reductions haven’t raised Mono Lake to the point it should be at, nor will the recent storms and a potentially very wet year. The State Water Resources Control Board has scheduled a public workshop for Feb. 15 to reopen discussion of the problems at Mono Lake and water diversions by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. … ” Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: In extraordinary move, California mulls crackdown on Los Angeles’ water draws at Mono Lake
SGMA implementation and CEQA: Is now the time to reconsider a statutory exemption?
“The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which requires local agencies to form Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) to adopt Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) to ensure sustainable groundwater management in all high- and medium-priority groundwater basins, is well into its implementation phase. The deadlines for GSAs to submit GSPs for all high- and medium-priority basins have passed, and the Department of Water Resources continues to issue determinations on submitted GSPs. As GSPs are approved, GSAs have begun to pursue projects to implement their GSPs, primarily comprising groundwater recharge projects. These projects are generally subject to the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which mandates environmental review of discretionary public agency actions. … ” Read more from Somach Simmons & Dunn here: SGMA implementation and CEQA: Is now the time to reconsider a statutory exemption?
Something fishy is happening inside the ears of Delta smelt
“Conservationists have spent decades trying to prevent the extinction of the delta smelt, a tiny transparent fish that smells vaguely of cucumbers. The funky fish is native to California’s San Francisco estuary, a series of bays and river deltas covering more than 4,000 square kilometers between Sacramento and the Golden Gate Bridge. The delta smelt was once the most abundant fish in the estuary but is now approaching extinction, with few fish left in the wild. … In December 2021, researchers at the University of California, Davis, started to experimentally release hatchery-reared delta smelt into the wild. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), which oversees the project, hopes the experiment will boost numbers, giving people more time to address the root causes of the fish’s decline, which include pollution, invasive species, and habitat loss caused by dams and agriculture. However, mere months into the project, fish ecologist Levi Lewis and laboratory technician Jonathan Huang, both then at the University of California, Davis, noticed something fishy about the hatchery-reared delta smelt that raises questions about the project’s effectiveness. … ” Continue reading at Hakai Magazine here: Something fishy is happening inside the ears of Delta smelt
In commentary this week …
From parched to flooded: Making sense of California’s weather whiplash
Columnist Marek Warszawski writes, “Water, water everywhere. So much it makes you think. Only two months ago our parched state was staring down the empty flask of another dry winter. Then December arrived with a splash, and since the calendar flipped California has been wringing in the new year. All this rain is a welcome sight, but please not all at once. Caused by the onslaught of atmospheric rivers — everybody’s favorite new meteorological term — thousands of homes have been evacuated while dozens of roads are closed by flooding and rockfalls. At least 14 people have died. In times like this, it feels a little callous to gawk at rainfall totals and monitor reservoir levels while pondering big-picture questions (“Is California still in a drought?”) that can’t truly be answered till we see what February, March and April bring. Nevertheless, a couple weeks of rain are all it takes for certain parties to start making hay. … ” Read more from the Fresno Bee here: From parched to flooded: Making sense of California’s weather whiplash
Flooding in California has been worse before — and likely will be again
Peter H. Gleick, a hydroclimatologist, co-founder of the Pacific Institute, “In November 1861, it began to rain in California, presaging disaster. By late December, the rivers were full, the Sierra Nevada was under snow, and the soils of the Central Valley were saturated. In early January 1862, storms delivered 10 feet of rain from the Columbia River to the Mexican border. The final blow fell in mid-January. Another intense storm — warm this time — swept in from the Pacific Ocean, melting the massive snowpack and sending more water cascading into the soaked Central Valley. By the time the storms ended, devastation reigned. Millions of acres of land had become an inland sea. Thousands of people were dead. Some 200,000 cattle and more than half a million sheep drowned. New telegraph lines were lost, disrupting communications with the East, and 1 in 8 homes in the state was destroyed. In all, the so-called ARkStorm wiped out an estimated quarter of the state’s economy. ... ” Read more from the Washington Post here: Flooding in California has been worse before — and likely will be again
Thanks to radical environmentalists, not even a ‘bomb cyclone’ can fix California’s drought
Tristan Justice, western correspondent for The Federalist, writes, “Poseidon answered California’s prolonged drought crisis with a “bomb cyclone” pouring enough water over the state to temporarily replenish residents’ parched reservoirs. … According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, California’s surface area that’s under drought conditions has dropped to just more than 71 percent since the storm hit, down from 85 percent a month ago. That number might be far lower had the state been adequately prepared to capture the gift from the sky. California hasn’t built a new dam in four decades. An estimated more than 80 percent of the state’s winter rainwater is annually wasted. Most of this week’s precipitation is finding its way back to the Pacific, where environmentalists have blocked efforts to desalinate. ... ” Continue reading at The Federalist here: Thanks to radical environmentalists, not even a ‘bomb cyclone’ can fix California’s drought
Commentary: San Joaquin Valley at a crossroads
Scott Hamilton writes, “The San Joaquin Valley, its people, its environment, and its economy stand at a crossroads, perhaps even a precipice. For too long the SJV has been drawing on groundwater resources faster than they can be replenished. That condition was simply unsustainable, and it led to implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) by the California legislature. The Act requires these groundwater resources be sustainable by the year 2040. There are only two ways to achieve sustainability: to decrease demand – requiring the fallowing of vast acreages of productive farmland or increasing the rate of ground water replenishment. The first alternative has dire consequences. … ” Read more from Water Wrights here: San Joaquin Valley at a crossroads
Commentary: In defense of alfalfa: Important crop gets a bad rap
Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition, writes, “California is the most populous state in the nation and the nation’s biggest agricultural producer. That combination can occasionally lead to misunderstandings between consumers in cities and suburbs and growers in farming communities. That extends to public perceptions about decisions farmers make to grow crops such as alfalfa. The crop is an important part of our food chain that most of us depend on every day. But very few people understand that. The Family Farm Alliance and the California Farm Water Coalition, which is supported by the California Farm Bureau, have set out to educate the public about why farmers grow the crops that they do. We see it all the time when water supplies are scarce. Critics emerge, confident that they know how the state should manage water resources and what crops farmers should and shouldn’t be growing. ... ” Read more from Ag Alert here: Commentary: In defense of alfalfa: Important crop gets a bad rap
Will current storms be an opportunity lost?
Todd Fitchette with the Western Farm Press writes, “California is on the cusp of an opportunity squandered. The atmospheric river and “cyclone bomb” projections suggest well over 10 inches of rain and as many feet of snow could fall on the state within a week’s time. What is California doing, amidst the governor’s declared state of emergency, to squirrel away as much of that runoff and flood water as the state’s infrastructure will allow? There are two pumping stations in the San Joaquin River Delta region that move water into San Luis Reservoir, an off-stream storage site near Los Banos that President Kennedy dedicated in the early 1960s. The reservoir holds just over two million acre-feet of water. Right now, it’s about one-third full. With all this known water coming into the system, why isn’t the State of California moving as much water as can physically be moved into San Luis Reservoir? ... ” Continue reading at the Western Farm Press here: Will current storms be an opportunity lost?
Editorial: California is leading the nation on cutting plastic trash. But it still needs to do more
“Last year was a good one for trash. Or, rather, for the prospects of reducing it. For the last several years, lawmakers have passed new laws aimed at curbing plastic, from the 2014 ban on single-use plastic grocery bags to restrictions on use of plastic straws. But in 2022, they went big and broad, enacting Senate Bill 54, a revolutionary law that will start phasing out all varieties of single-use plastic in 2025 — basically everything on the shelves of grocery and other retail stores — through escalating composting and recycling requirements on consumer products packaging. Most importantly, the law puts the onus on the producers of the packaging to figure out how to make it happen rather than on consumers or state and local governments. … ” Read more from the LA Times here: Editorial: California is leading the nation on cutting plastic trash. But it still needs to do more
In regional water news this week …
Klamath River dam removal project faces lawsuit
“The removal of four dams along the Klamath River near the Oregon-California state line, cheered by tribal, state and federal officials last month, is facing additional litigation. Siskiyou County Water Users Association board member Anthony Intiso has filed a lawsuit against Wade Crowfoot, the secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, claiming Crowfoot is illegally using taxpayer money to fund the historic project, KDRV-TV in Medford reported. “The secretary of natural resources has authority over the implementation of anything that affects wild and scenic rivers. He’s also … in charge of the bond money,” Intiso told the station. ... ” Read more from Herald & News here: Klamath River dam removal project faces lawsuit
Roseville using aquifer storage to retain excess water from storms
“With each storm, there’s a similar question as area reservoirs release excess water: why are we getting rid of what we need? Most local dams release water as a means of flood control with the expectation that more storms will come later in the year. But that still doesn’t change the base of the question of how we hold onto all this excess water. A piece of that answer may be in Roseville. “The future of California water is underneath our feet,” said Ryan Ojakian who works in government affairs for the Regional Water Authority. … ” Read more from CBS Sacramento here: Roseville using aquifer storage to retain excess water from storms
SEE ALSO: Roseville: Persistent rainfall results in groundwater recharge, from the City of Roseville
The Sacramento weir has helped the capital city avoid flooding for more than 100 years
“During Sacramento’s centuries-long history of battling flood waters, inhabitants have devised nearly every possible method of slowing or diverting water, and one of those methods is using the Sacramento Weir. Completed in 1916, the more than 1,900-foot long weir featuring 48 gates sits along the west bank of the Sacramento River about three miles north of the confluence of the Sacramento and American rivers. However, the placement and purpose of the Sacramento weir differs from typical weirs found along other streams and rivers. … ” Read more from Channel 40 here: The Sacramento weir has helped the capital city avoid flooding for more than 100 years
How can we keep the waters of the Cosumnes River from flooding Elk Grove and Galt?
“Fallow and sun-baked in the summer, the Cosumnes River comes to life in the wet winter months. Sierra snow melt and valley rains meet at Michigan Bar near Rancho Murieta feeding the waterway for the final leg of its journey through south Sacramento County. Most years the Cosumnes minds its own, winding through broad, flat fields, pastureland and ancient oak groves, farmers and ranchers taking their share. Groundwater seeps into the soil there, filling the taps of the cities to its north and south, booming Elk Grove and smaller cousin Galt. And the river creates home and habitat for thousands of native and migratory birds at Cosumnes River Preserve as it flows into the Delta. January’s record-setting rains have also shown the meandering Cosumnes to be what it has always been — one of California’s last free-flowing rivers and, as such, capable of unstoppable force. … ” Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: How can we keep the waters of the Cosumnes River from flooding Elk Grove and Galt?
Lake Mendocino: Rising reservoir levels put Army Corps of Engineers back at the helm of release valves
“The Army Corps of Engineers has been busy during the recent barrage of rainfall. Lake Sonoma and Lake Mendocino under normal conditions are co-managed by the Corps of Engineers and Sonoma Water, but with the influx of rain, that’s changed at Lake Mendocino, according to Nick Malasavage, chief of operations for the Corps’ San Francisco office. “Taking over control is basically the decisions on how much to release into the Russian River based on how high the pool is,” Malasavage said. “So we crossed over that threshold on Monday. Now it’s the flood risk management of our flood control pool.” … ” Read more from Northern California Public Media here: Rising reservoir levels put Army Corps of Engineers back at the helm of release valves
Russian River: Ever-changing conditions a challenge for supercomputers tasked with building accurate flood forecasts
“Just a few days ago, Guerneville and just about every low-lying community along the Russian River were on edge, awaiting cataclysmic flooding that thankfully never arrived. A forecast issued Tuesday morning expected the river to jump its banks in Guerneville around 4 pm Thursday. According to a revision Tuesday afternoon, that’s no longer the case. Flooding is still expected in Hopland midnight Sunday. The Napa River isn’t expected to see flooding, while the Navarro River will go two feet over flood stage at Navarro Saturday night at 9. Turns out, a lot goes in to making these predictions, and the complexity means their reliability isn’t always perfect. Predicting how a river will behave is similar to compiling a weather forecast, but with a whole other layer of complexity. … ” Read more from Northern California Public Media here: Ever-changing conditions a challenge for supercomputers tasked with building accurate flood forecasts
Millions of gallons of sewage flow into Bay following storms
“East Bay Municipal Utility District officials said there were several sewage overflows just before New Year’s during the storms, raising concern from Baykepeer, whose environmental nonprofit keeps an eye on the health of the Bay. … In a statement on Friday, Baykeeper executive director Sejal Choksi-Chugh said there has now been possibly “millions of gallons of raw or partially treated sewage directly into the Bay, with even more rains on the way.” And the upcoming storms are likely causing more sewage spills, as much of the Bay Area’s stormwater system is decades old. … ” Read more from KTVU here: Millions of gallons of sewage flow into Bay following storms
Monterey: Cal Am files request with regulator to re-think earlier decision
“California American Water Co. is asking a state regulator to reconsider a decision that, according to Cal Am, left it millions of dollars short in the costs it will incur from building pipelines and other infrastructure when in coming years it buys water from the Pure Water Monterey expansion project. Late last year the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates Cal Am because it is an investor-owned utility, approved a contract – called a water purchase agreement – for Cal Am to buy water produced from the expansion project, which is an estimated two years off. A few days later Cal Am notified the PUC that it was not signing the agreement, citing financial harm from the inadequate allowance for costs. The company claims that the recovery amount approved by the PUC will leave it roughly $24 million in arrears. … ” Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Cal Am files request with regulator to re-think earlier decision
San Joaquin Valley: California braces for fourth year of drought as groundwater drilling frenzy ensues
Madera farmers push back on tighter pumping restrictions, county agrees to keep status quo
“Facing heated pushback from growers, Madera County officials decided to maintain current groundwater pumping allotments for the next two years rather than reduce allocations over that time. At its Jan. 10 meeting, Board of Supervisors also considered increasing penalties for growers who exceed pumping allocations in the Madera, Chowchilla, and Delta-Mendota subbasins as part of an effort to raise money for projects geared toward bringing more water into the critically over drafted region. Madera County has been the site of an escalating battle over how to reduce groundwater pumping and who should pay for new water projects. … ” Read more from SJV Water here: Madera farmers push back on tighter pumping restrictions, county agrees to keep status quo
Despite obligation to consider putting water back into Kern River, water agency sold excess for $10 million
“We’re all accustomed to the sight now – dirt, weeds and tire tracks where water should be flowing through the barren channel of the Kern River. What would you say, though, if you knew your tax dollars had paid to put water in that empty riverbed – but instead that water was sold for profit? Sadly, that appears to be the case. In 2000 California voters approved a $2 billion ballot initiative to fund an array of purposes involving water, from safe, clean drinking water to more reliable farm irrigation to the preservation of river habitat and the so-called view shed – natural beauty for us all to look at. The Kern County Water Agency got $23 million of that Proposition 13 bond money and spent a portion of it — about $3 million — to build six wells along the north side of the Kern River. Kern River Restoration Wells, they called them at the time. … ” Read more from KGET here: Despite obligation to consider putting water back into Kern River, water agency sold excess for $10 million
Water to be released over the Lake Cachuma spillway, 1st time in nearly a decade
“The Bureau of Reclamation will release water over the Lake Cachuma spillway because of the rain for the first time in about a decade starting Friday. The release of 2,000 cubic feet per second is to limit the threat of flooding downstream of the Santa Ynez River. Michael Jackson, the area manager for the South-Central California Office of the Bureau of Reclamation, says since the 1st of the year, the lake has gained over 100,000 acre feet of water and has risen 50 feet in elevation. Jackson says the water flowing downstream has debris in it and has been fast-moving over the past week. … ” Read more from KSBY here: Water to be released over the Lake Cachuma spillway, 1st time in nearly a decade
Metropolitan advances project to deliver new water supplies to communities hit hardest by drought
“Construction will begin soon on the first of several projects to bring additional water to Southern California communities hit hardest by the state’s record drought, following a vote by Metropolitan Water District’s Board of Directors this week to award a contract for the project’s construction. The suite of projects will reengineer Metropolitan’s water delivery system to help bring much-needed water from Metropolitan’s Diamond Valley Lake – the largest reservoir in Southern California – to parts of eastern Los Angeles County and western San Bernardino County that have been under unprecedented mandatory conservation measures since last June because of limited access to water supplies. Southern California imports about half of the water used in the region from the Northern Sierra, through the State Water Project, and the Colorado River. But because of infrastructure limitations, some communities – home to more than 6 million people – are heavily dependent on State Water Project supplies. And when the drought slashed these supplies, they were required to dramatically reduce their use. … ” Read more from Business Wire here: Metropolitan advances project to deliver new water supplies to communities hit hardest by drought
Hundreds of deserted oil and gas wells in Southern California could soon get plugged. Thousands will remain.
“One apparently is hiding under the driveway of a million-dollar home in Placentia. Another lurks beneath a parking lot at Ontario International Airport. And another is under a commercial building in Culver City — much to the surprise of the upscale window company doing business there. Thanks to its once expansive, 150-year-old oil and gas industry, Southern California has one of the nation’s highest concentrations of so-called “orphan wells,” or wells that companies abandoned without first plugging them up for safety. The state has documented nearly 2,000 orphan wells in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties alone, while estimating that thousands more could be paved over, unrecorded, and waiting to be rediscovered. … Starting in 2021, after federal lawmakers announced they’d be doling out $4.7 billion in coming years to help plug such wells, California rushed to account for more, with at least 5,300 orphan wells now on record statewide. … ” Read more from the OC Register here: Hundreds of deserted oil and gas wells in Southern California could soon get plugged. Thousands will remain.
Drought and the Colorado River: Localizing water in Los Angeles
Erik Porse and Stephanie Pincetl write, “In October 2022, water agencies in Southern California with Colorado River water rights announced plans to reduce water diversions. The agencies offered voluntary conservation of 400,000 acre-feet per year through 2026. This annual total is nearly 10% of the state’s total annual usage rights for the Colorado River. The cutbacks help prepare for long-term implications of climate change for the river’s management, which are starting to be acknowledged. In urban Southern California, an important aspect of this need is reducing imported water reliance through investments in local water resources. … ” Read more from the California Water Blog here: Drought and the Colorado River: Localizing Water in Los Angeles
Announcements, notices, and funding opportunities …
NOTICE: Draft guidelines for expedited drinking water grant funding program
NOTICE of 180-Day Temporary Permit Application T033344 / Permit Order 21435 – Merced County
NOTICE: State Water Board Racial Equity Action Plan – Final Draft Available Online
SAN JOAQUIN RIVER RESTORATION: Restoration Flows cease, Flood Flows begin
California Environmental Flows Framework: The Ways Good Science Gets Watered Down
NOTICE of Extension of the Comment Period for the Delta Conveyance Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement through March 16, 2023
SAVE THE DATE: Mono Lake Workshop on February 15, 2023
UPDATE: All Curtailments in the Delta Watershed Remain Temporarily Suspended
FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: CDFW Cannabis Restoration Grant Program: 2023 Proposal Solicitation Notices Are Open for the Qualified Cultivator Funding Opportunity (QCFO) and the Cleanup, Remediation, and Watershed Enhancement (CRWE) Funding Opportunity