WEEKLY WATER NEWS DIGEST for April 30 – May 5: California taps beavers to restore watersheds; El Niño is looming. Here’s what that means; DWR conducts May 1 snow survey; A new breed of water speculator is remaking the American West; and more …

A wrap-up of posts published on Maven’s Notebook this week …

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This week’s featured articles …

FEATURE: California taps beavers to restore watersheds

Written by Robin Meadows

As evidence for the wide-ranging environmental benefits of beavers has mounted, champions of these 40-to-70-pound rodents have increasingly clamored for restoring them in California. Now, the state has finally joined others, including Oregon, Washington and Utah, that are putting these furry ecosystem engineers to work. This year marks the launch of a $1.44 million per year California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) program to bring beavers back to watersheds throughout their historic range in the state.

“We agree: time for California to embrace beavers,” CFDW director Chuck Bonham wrote in a January 2023 op-ed in Outdoor California.

Click here to continue reading this article.

SCIENCE FEATURE: Structured Decision Making for Delta Smelt Habitat: Synthesizing Multiple Streams of IEP Data to Inform Management

The habitat surrounding the future location of the Lookout Slough Tidal Restoration Project, located in the Cache Slough complex. Photo by
Florence Low / DWR

Our native species face numerous threats, including climate change, habitat loss, and invasive species.  Therefore, effective management strategies must be implemented to avoid extinction and promote recovery.  However, making decisions about managing species can be challenging for many reasons, such as high uncertainty, limited data, and multiple stakeholders with different interests.

Structured decision-making (SDM) is a process that can aid in species management by providing a framework for decision-making that is transparent, inclusive, and evidence-based.  At the 2023 Interagency Ecological Program workshop, Dr. Brittany Davis and Dr. Rosemary Hartman with the Department of Water Resources gave a presentation on how structured decision-making was used to make decisions about summer-fall habitat actions for Delta smelt, a listed species, in 2022.

Click here to read this article.

RESERVOIR REPORT for May 1, 2023

Written by Robert Shibatani

For a moment it was looking as though we had skipped over Spring and went directly to Summer although temperatures have since returned to those more in line with the current season.  A season that, hydrologically, at least in areas reliant on snow accumulation, is known for one significant event; the spring snowmelt.

As April closes out, we can begin to see the first signs of the spring freshet.  And with California’s many reservoirs either at, or nearing capacity, the next several weeks will illustrate both the strengths and shortcomings of our current water resources system.

Click here to read the reservoir report.

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In California water news this week …

El Niño is looming. Here’s what that means for weather and the world.

“Earth is under an “El Niño watch” as scientists eye signs that the climate pattern is developing.  Its arrival could mean significant impacts worldwide, including a push toward levels of global warming that climate scientists have warned could be devastating.  Since March, a rapid increase in average ocean temperatures has been helping to fuel speculation that El Niño is imminent. The pattern could mark a quick departure from an unusually extended spell of El Niño’s inverse counterpart, La Niña, which scientists say ended in February. Before it materializes, here is what you need to know about it, and what it could mean for your community and planet. … ”  Read more from the Washington Post (gift article).

SEE ALSOWhat an ominous surge in ocean temperatures means for the planet, from the Washington Post

Water deliveries could be affected by years of land subsidence

Even after a surplus of water fell on the state this past winter, California continues to face problems brought on by the years of drought that plagued the state.  Earlier this month, the California Department of Water Resources announced that there would be no restrictions in water allocation from the State Water Project for the first time since 2006 due to a tremendous increase in reservoir storage. While reservoir storage can see tremendous gains in a single year, the same can’t be said for groundwater. Years of overpumping groundwater aquifers, particularly in the San Joaquin Valley, has caused the land to subside.  “We can think of an aquifer as sands and gravels and clays kind of filling up a volume of space and the voids are all filled with water,” said Claudia Faunt, Supervisory Hydrologist for the United States Geological Survey. Problems arise when this occurs, especially because land subsidence occurs at differing rates…. ”  Read more from Channel 10.

DWR conducts May 1 snow survey to continue to collect data on spring runoff

Snow runoff near the California Department of Water Resources snow survey site at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Kenneth James / DWR

“The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today conducted the fifth snow survey of the season at Phillips Station. The manual survey recorded 59 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent of 30 inches, which is 241 percent of average for this location on May 1. The snow water equivalent measures the amount of water still contained in the snowpack and is a key component of DWR’s water supply run-off forecast. DWR’s electronic readings from 130 snow sensors placed throughout the state indicate the statewide snowpack’s snow water equivalent is 49.2 inches, or 254 percent of average for this date.  Despite a brief increase in temperatures in late April, the statewide snowpack overall melted at a slower pace than average over the month of April due to below average temperatures early in the month and increased cloud cover. An average of 12 inches of the snowpack’s snow water equivalent has melted in the past month and it now contains an average of 49.2 inches. … ”  Read more from DWR News.

Making the most of a wet year

“One of California’s driest and warmest three-year periods on record just ended in an epic wet season. As snow melts and water demand skyrockets, it’s a good time to take stock. Did we sock away some water for the next dry period? Where are we most vulnerable to flooding, and what might we do better?  “We are having an extreme year, and it is embedded within a series of extreme years,” said PPIC Water Policy Center senior fellow Jeffrey Mount at an event last week. “I want everyone to remind themselves where we were a year ago. Last year at this time we were pretty freaked out about storage,” he said, referring to the low reservoirs and meager snowpack, which supplies about 30% of the state’s water.  The picture has changed thanks to a series of atmospheric rivers, but Mount emphasized how increasing precipitation volatility is challenging water management. “Increasing drought intensity makes wet year management much more important,” he said. “We routinely fail to store enough water during wet periods, and flood management is equally important as water supply management.” … ”  Read more and watch video from the PPIC.

Louder voices, bigger investments needed for Calif. water security, local experts say.

“As the San Joaquin Valley yo-yos from drought to flooding, the region’s top water experts spent Thursday afternoon examining how to best approach the Valley’s long and short-term needs.  The viewpoints came amid the California Water Alliance’s third-annual water forum featuring the leaders of Friant Water Authority, Westlands Water District, farmer Cannon Michael, and Rep. John Duarte (R–Modesto).  Duarte hones in on twin crises: With the expected ‘Big Melt’ likely to increase flooding likelihoods across the San Joaquin Valley over the spring and summer, Duarte opened the forum by noting that he pressed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite permitting for channel flow improvements by water agencies.  … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun.

Ocean water to fresh: First-of-its-kind wave-powered pilot project in Fort Bragg set to test

“Fort Bragg is embarking on an innovative pilot project to desalt ocean water for the Mendocino Coast community using carbon-free wave action to power an energy-intensive process that in other cases generates climate changing greenhouse gases.  The design comes from a young Quebec-based company called Oneka Technologies that makes floating, raft-like units containing the equipment needed to draw in water, pressurize and force it through reverse-osmosis membranes, then send it back to shore in a flexible pipe on the ocean floor.  Fort Bragg will start with a single, 16-foot by 26-foot unit, anchored about a mile off shore of the Noyo Headlands, Public Works Director John Smith said. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat (gift article).

California’s wet winter to help summer lights stay on, PG&E says

“California’s wet winter will help the Golden State keep the lights on when energy demand soars this summer, PG&E Corp.’s top executive said.  The series of atmospheric rivers that slammed the state with heavy snow and rain has replenished hydroelectric supplies that had been sapped by drought.  “All of this rain has filled up our reservoirs,” PG&E Chief Executive Officer Patti Poppe said in an interview Thursday. “We have a very large hydro system with additional capacity that will be available this year on multiple days, whereas last year and the year before, we were really holding it for the peak-of-peak days.” … ”  Read more from Bloomberg (gift article).

River rafters say big California snowmelt means epic season

“Triple Threat. Deadman’s Drop. Satan’s Cesspool. After years of drought, the rapids along California’s American River are truly living up to their names.  As a historic snowpack starts to melt, the spring runoff is fueling conditions for some of the best whitewater in years on the American River and its forks, which course through the Sierra Nevada northeast of Sacramento.  “This is an epic whitewater rafting season,” said Deric Rothe, who owns Sierra Whitewater Inc. and has been rafting for decades. “The conditions are awesome. If you compare the rafting to a rollercoaster, it’s bigger, faster, more fun, and more exciting. So, we’re loving it.” … ”  Read more from CBS News.

Water Whiplash: What the ‘Big Melt’ has revealed about the Valley’s flood response

A drone view of flooded fields and properties along 6th Avenue near Quail Ave south of Corcoran, in Tulare County, California. Photo taken March 24, 2023.
Josh Baar / DWR

“As temperatures climb and the “Big Melt” flows out of the Sierra Nevada, rising floodwaters have revealed that flood protection in the San Joaquin Valley is patchy at best— and inadequate at worst.  That’s the crux of a recent investigation by the non-profit newsrooms Fresnoland and SJV Water. As the first installment of our new series, Water Whiplash, KVPR’s Kerry Klein talks with reporter Jesse Vad of SJV Water about those findings.  Listen to the interview in the player above, and read the transcript below. … ”  Read/listen at KVPR.

Winter storms exposed the unfairness of California’s flood protections. Are marginalized areas closing the gap?

“The floods driven by winter storms are nothing new in Monterey County, but the early March catastrophe that swelled the Pajaro and Salinas rivers and drowned farmworker communities exposes the extreme inequality built into flood-control systems.   The immediate cause of the flood were the winter storms that struck the California coast, but the disaster that breached levees in towns like Pajaro was decades in the making. It was based on two decades of official neglect shaped by  federally mandated cost-benefit analyses and the lack of community engagement that might have challenged their conclusions.  For years, particularly after the major floods, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers considered bolstering the Pajaro River levee, which was originally built in 1949. Given the persistent low value of agricultural land and worker homes in farming communities like Parajo, whose residents pick strawberries and artichokes for American tables, Federal rules ensured the Corps couldn’t argue that the engineering and construction costs would be worth it. … ”  Read more from & the West.

A new breed of water speculator is remaking the American West

“For the first two decades of the 21st century, not even a once-in-a-millennium drought could deter real estate developers from building vast suburban tracts on the wild edges of Western U.S. cities. But in 2021, a reckoning appeared on the horizon. Western officials had seldom let questions about water availability get in the way of population growth, but suddenly they seemed to have no other choice. Faced with an unprecedented shortage, many local governments tried to pump the brakes on new developments. This pivot to conservation was bad news for D.R. Horton, the nation’s largest homebuilding company.  All of a sudden, Horton had to find the water itself.  Luckily, there was a third party who could help. … ”  Read more from the Reno Gazette Journal (open article).

AI programs consume large volumes of scarce water

water loss from AI
Data processing centers consume water by using electricity from steam generating power plants and by using on-site chillers to keep their servers cool. Graphic image by Evan Fields/UCR

“Every time you run a ChatGPT artificial intelligence query, you use up a little bit of an increasingly scarce resource: fresh water. Run some 20 to 50 queries and roughly a half liter, around 17 ounces, of fresh water from our overtaxed reservoirs is lost in the form of steam emissions.  Such are the findings of a University of California, Riverside, study that for the first time estimated the water footprint from running artificial intelligence, or AI, queries that rely on the cloud computations done in racks of servers in warehouse-sized data processing centers.  Google’s data centers in the U.S. alone consumed an estimated 12.7 billion liters of fresh water in 2021 to keep their servers cool — at a time when droughts are exacerbating climate change — Bourns College of Engineering researchers reported in the study, published online by the journal arXiv as a preprint. It is awaiting its peer review. … ”  Read more from UC Riverside.

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In commentary this week …

Department of Water Resources approves incomplete plans that leave drinking water users at risk in the Salinas Valley

“Last week, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) approved 12 groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs) for basins located across California including: Big Valley, Shasta Valley, Scott River Valley, San Jacinto, Upper Ventura River, San Luis Obispo Valley, Santa Margarita, and in the Salinas Valley: East Side Aquifer, Forebay Aquifer, Langley Area, Monterey, and Upper Valley Aquifer.  While DWR’s approvals came with recommendations to improve each plan in the next five years, these GSPs currently fail to protect drinking water users — a primary focus of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).  One example is East Side Aquifer’s approved plan which puts vulnerable communities in Northeastern Monterey County, such as the City of Salinas, City of Gonzales, and San Jerardo Cooperative, at risk of losing access to their primary water source. As a housing community built by and for farmworkers, the San Jerardo Cooperative has faced decades of unaffordable water rates and nitrate contamination. … ”  Continue reading at the Community Water Center.

Triangle T Water District and the absurdities of CA water

Doug Obegi, Director of California river restoration with the NRDC, writes, “Bloomberg recently published a story (“Groundwater Gold Rush”) reporting on how Wall Street banks, pension funds, and insurers have been plowing money into buying land in California, reaping enormous corporate profits by converting rangeland into almonds and other permanent crops while draining California’s groundwater and drying up community drinking water wells.  I’d like to tell the rest of the story about how Wall Street interests formed the Triangle T Water District, because to my mind the Triangle T Water District highlights the absurdities and inequities of California water policy – including the fact that instead of paying to fix the damage they caused through unsustainable groundwater pumping, state and federal agencies have provided millions of dollars of taxpayers monies to subsidize corporate profits.  The story begins around 2010 … ”  Continue reading at the NRDC.

Farmers didn’t design a world economy that wants their alfalfa

Brian McNeece writes, “It seems everywhere you turn, Imperial Valley is in the news, with a target on its back. Recently columnist Dan Walters wrote, “Imperial Valley nears day of reckoning for use of distressed Colorado River.” Over and over, journalists remind the world that the Imperial Irrigation District is allocated 3.1 million acre-feet out of California’s 4.4 maf. Somehow that makes us the bad guys.  Imperial Valley farmers are almost vilified because they grow alfalfa. Most of that goes to dairy and horse farmers, but a significant amount gets shipped overseas.  When it’s sold to Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates, folks raise that pointy finger and proclaim that we are exporting our precious water overseas, as if this was some sort of betrayal of the nation.  Really? Let’s start with the simple observation that farmers, like 100% of their accusers, are just trying to make a living. … ”  Continue reading at the Desert Review.

Hatcheries alone cannot save species and fisheries

Andrew L. Rypel and Peter B. Moyle write, “The photo is a common one (Fig 1). Large numbers of fish are being released into a river, stream or estuary – products of a fish hatchery. A politician or government leader looks on, or even participates in the release, says a few words, and then grabs a photo opportunity for the press or social media. It *looks* good, like we are doing our best to save and improve fisheries. But, does it actually work?  On the surface, fish hatcheries strike many as an example of a management approach that is effective. If we don’t have enough fish, why not just grow more fish in a hatchery and release them into the wild to boost populations? Yet on closer inspection, a variety of problems arise from reliance on hatcheries to support fisheries or to ‘save’ endangered species. Often fish populations continue to decline even if supplemented with large numbers of hatchery fish. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog.

Let’s dispel myths attending California’s latest Chinook salmon fishery closure

writes, “In March, the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife delivered grim news to Californians: only 62,000 adult Chinook salmon had returned from the Pacific Ocean to Sacramento River basin tributaries in 2022. The number is substantially fewer than the targeted minimum of 125,000 fish set by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC), the entity that manages groundfish, coastal pelagic species, highly migratory species, and salmon fisheries on the West Coast of the United States. In response to the discouraging numbers, the salmon fishing season for 2023 was closed, putting hundreds of commercial fishers out of work and disappointing thousands of recreational fishers. As might be expected, finger-pointing ensued. Ocean commercial fishing interests and allies among some environmental organizations have been the loudest critics, directing blame on the management of California’s river waters, particularly water allocations to farmers and urban water users. Reports and posts accompanying the salmon season closure have been rife with misinformation, repeating three persistent and self-serving myths regarding the factors that have contributed to the imperiled state of Central Valley salmon runs. What are those myths? … ”  Read more from the Center for California Water Resources Policy and Management.

Water trading vs. water speculation? What would Michael Lewis say?

Jim Lauria writes, “I’m a big fan of author, reporter and overall sharp-eyed observer Michael Lewis, author of Liar’s Poker, The Big Short, Moneyball and other explorations of the depths of economics and humans’ capacity for brilliance…and greed. With a new wave of interest in water trading, facilitated by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and NASDAQ listing water as a tradeable commodity, I’m very eager to get Lewis’ take on what he sees.  I grew up a few subway stops from Wall Street, and I’ve been watching its reaction to water trading. When the CME’s water market launched in late 2020, most of us were watching for Covid vaccines, but investors couldn’t help but notice the $1.1 billion price tag on the first bucket of contracts.  Putting on my The Big Short hat, I’m wary of the sophisticated tools Wall Street traders can now bring to bear on our most essential resource. … ”  Continue reading at Linked In.

Weather whiplash is the new normal, but it offers ways to capture water for California

Ann Hayden and Sarah Woolf, co-chairs of the San Joaquin Valley Water Collaborative Action Program. write, “For the past several years we hoped for rain and snow to ease the crippling drought across California. We got more than we bargained for this past winter. This water was certainly welcomed and lifted most of our state out of dire dry conditions. But the intensity of that rainfall also led to devastating flooding that caused billions of dollars of damage, including to homes and farms in the Central Valley. Now comes the snow melt. As the weather warms, the historic snow pack in the Sierra will thaw and flow down into our already swollen rivers. Our communities will likely experience more flooding in the near future. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee. | Read more from AOL News.

5 reasons why desalination isn’t worth it

Food & Water Watch writes, “We know that clean, affordable water — essential for life — is a human right. We want to make sure that everyone has access to water when they need it. So as drought drains our reservoirs and climate-fuelled natural disasters threaten our water supplies, it’s no wonder we’re worried about having enough to drink.  In response, governments and companies are turning to the ocean. Drought-stricken areas are seeing more proposals for ocean desalination projects, which would make ocean water drinkable by removing the salt.  However, ocean desalination is not a solution to the threat of water shortages. It’s expensive and environmentally destructive. Moreover, its downsides will — like so many other greenwashed technologies — impact already struggling communities the hardest.  To ensure drinking water for all, we need to rein in corporate water abusers and invest in sustainable water resilience strategies. That doesn’t include desalination. Here are 5 reasons why ocean desalination is not worth it: … ”  Continue reading at Food and Water Watch.

Wildfire size doesn’t matter but its impacts do

“The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, maintains a list of the “Top 20 Largest California Wildfires.” Lately, as bigger blazes erupt, it’s become the norm for the agency to have to update the list each year. All but two of the fires on the current list occurred within the past 20 years; the top five all happened within the past five. That same pattern repeats in other states across the West.  At the same time, more communities are at risk of burning than in years past. More than 460 million acres across the United States are at a “moderate” to “very high risk” from wildfires, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Climate change is creating some of the hotter and drier conditions, but urban sprawl and forest management practices over the past century also shape the landscape. Addressing the heightened challenge fire poses requires rethinking how we approach our relationship with it. … ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Conservation goals require Newsom to prioritize partnerships with Tribes

“As Yuki descendants, my family prided ourselves in our plentiful clean water, and our beautiful valleys and mountains. We had fresh water available from our well, healthy fisheries, and loved spending endless summers in our rivers and at Howard Creek, 30 minutes north of Fort Bragg on the coast. … Worldwide scientists assert preventative measures related to severe impacts of climate change require a minimum protection of 30 percent of the planet’s land and waters by 2030. In 2020, by executive order, Governor Newsom launched California’s 30×30 effort, the following year the Biden Administration set the same federal target. California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) estimates California must protect six million acres of land and 500,000 acres of coastal waters in less than seven years.  I ask California leaders to accelerate conservation efforts in Round Valley and all of Indian Country. Our leaders must prioritize Tribal partnership opportunities to achieve 30×30. … ”  Read more from Capitol Weekly.

How a misreading of the Bible fuels many Americans’ apathy about climate change

Bart D. Ehrman, professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, writes, “Christian theology and global politics can make strange bedfellows. Consider the intimate relationship between fundamentalist expectations of Jesus’ return and market-driven disregard for the environment.  The affair became public back in 1981, when Ronald Reagan’s newly minted Interior secretary, James Watt — once known for suing the department he went on to lead — was testifying before a House committee. Watt was asked whether he was committed to “save some of our resources … for our children?”  “That is the delicate balance the secretary of the Interior must have,” the secretary affirmed, “to be steward for the natural resources for this generation as well as future generations.” But then he continued: “I do not know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns. Whatever it is, we have to manage with a skill to leave the resources for future generations.”  Was Watt suggesting that his faith in the Second Coming should temper the government’s conservation efforts? In response to the ensuing uproar, he maintained that his personal Pentecostal belief in a possibly imminent end of the world would have no bearing on official policy. … ”  Read more from the LA Times.

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In regional water news this week …

Monterey: California American Water rejects unauthorized purchase offer

“California American Water issued its response to Monterey Peninsula Water Management District’s (MPWMD) offer to purchase California American Water’s water system serving the Monterey Peninsula. The company has declined the purchase offer, confirming that its water system is not for sale and pointing out that MPWMD does not have the legal authority to purchase or operate the potable water system serving the area. California American Water reiterated its commitment to working cooperatively with MPWMD and other community partners to bring approved new sources of water supply online to protect the Carmel River.   “California American Water has provided high-quality and reliable water service to its customers on the Monterey Peninsula for many decades and plans to continue serving its customers and working to address the real issues of water supply and environmental protection facing the Monterey Peninsula,” said Evan Jacobs, Director of External Affairs for California American Water. “MPWMD should stop wasting taxpayer money and reconsider its reckless and infeasible attempt to purchase our water system.” … ”  Continue reading this press release from Californian American Water.

Monterey: Cal Am refusal could set stage for condemnation proceeding

“As expected, California American Water Co. is flatly refusing to consider the offer public water officials made to buy out the company’s Monterey Peninsula’s water system, saying the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District has no legal authority to do so. The water district believes it does.  In a statement issued Friday, Cal Am confirmed it is not for sale and says the district does not have the legal authority to “purchase or operate the potable water system serving the area.  “(The district) should stop wasting taxpayer money and reconsider its reckless and infeasible attempt to purchase our water system,” said Evan Jacobs, director of external affairs for Cal Am.  The district said their attempt is neither reckless nor infeasible, rather it is mandated by Measure J that directed the district to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of a public takeover of Cal Am’s system. Cal Am insists Measure J only required the district to conduct a study, not move forward with a takeover. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald.

Regulators find new source of pollution near SLO airport

“After determining the Noll family was responsible for toxic levels of trichloroethylene (TCE) found in groundwater near the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport, regulators have determined a neighbor was the polluter.  In 2019, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board sent a cleanup, abatement, and water replacement order to the current and former owners and operators of 4665 Thread Lane. The Noll family has since spent about $50,000 a year providing their neighbors with water filters to protect against TCE.  TCE is an industrial solvent linked to liver and kidney damage and childhood leukemia.  On April 14, the water board reported it has now determined a neighbor of the Nolls — former geotechnical laboratory at 795 Buckley Road that stored TCE on site — is responsible for polluting the groundwater. … ”  Read more from Cal Coast News.

San Joaquin Valley: Raising a levee on sinking ground

“The Corcoran levee is being raised – again.  The fear is it won’t be high enough as runoff from record breaking snowpack above several rivers that feed into the old Tulare Lake gets underway.  That’s four feet shorter than when it was last raised in 2017, after sinking several feet from its prior height.  The problem is subsidence, the land is sinking. And it’s taking the levee with it.  When California dries out and farmers can’t get enough water from river and state supplies, they turn to groundwater.  Around Corcoran, farmers have pumped the ground so hard it is collapsing – subsiding – over a large area.  The massive area of subsidence has been documented in satellite photos. It even has a name: “the Corcoran bowl.” … ”  Read more from SJV Water.

Court of Appeal sides with Mojave Pistachios and issues order to show cause

“The Fourth Appellate District, Court of Appeal issued an order last week compelling the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority (IWVGA) to show cause as to why the Court should not grant Mojave Pistachios’ petition for writ of mandate in its legal action challenging the IWVGA’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP). Mojave’s petition asks the court to rule on questions of state-wide importance, including that pumping allocations adopted by groundwater sustainability agencies like the IWVGA must be consistent with California groundwater rights law.  In 2020, Mojave filed suit against the IWVGA, asking the court to invalidate the IWVGA’s unconstitutional GSP and actions implementing the GSP and requesting more than $255,000,000 in damages. This action came after the IWVGA gave Mojave, a zero groundwater allocation. The complaint alleges, among other contentions, that the IWVGA misused the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in an attempt to eradicate agriculture from the Indian Wells Valley. … ”  Read more from Mojave Pistachios.

Ninth Circuit drains $48 million judgment over Pomona’s polluted water supply

“A unanimous Ninth Circuit panel ruled Friday there isn’t enough evidence to support a $48 million award for the city of Pomona, California, in its lawsuit against a Chilean fertilizer manufacturer that polluted the city’s drinking water system decades ago.  The lawsuit against brought against SQM North America, the U.S. subsidiary of Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile found that the company’s sodium nitrate fertilizer used in citrus orchards around Pomona between the 1930s and 50s polluted the city’s drinking water system, including with a contaminant called perchlorate. Perchlorate interferes with the production of thyroid hormones, an important part of the development and function of tissues in the body, and can cause serious health issues, especially in developing fetuses, kids, and pregnant women. … ”  Read more from the Courthouse News Service.

Los Angeles reuses lots of stormwater, but wants to save more

“Hours after another storm soaked Southern California, LA County’s principal stormwater engineer Sterling Klippel stands at the base of the San Gabriel Dam, looking like a kid in a candy store. He gazes in awe at the thousands of gallons of stormwater rushing through this dam every second.  “Just this October, this facility was completely drained,” he says.  This dam is almost 300 feet deep in the middle, and it went from empty to full in less than six months. And it’s just one of more than a dozen dams in the county. … Los Angeles County is on track to capture enough stormwater this year to quench the year-round water needs of more than a quarter of the county’s residents. It’s good news, but there is still a lot of work to do to meet local water use goals. … ”  Read more from the Public News Service.

San Diego North County farmers want to ditch expensive water supplier. Will elected leaders stop them?

“Should two rural North County communities be allowed to purchase cheaper water from outside of the San Diego region in a desperate attempt to save farming — even if it could mean slightly higher bills for other ratepayers?  That’s a question elected leaders will have to answer in coming weeks, as a years-long attempt by water managers in Fallbrook and Rainbow to flee skyrocketing rates comes to a head.  “We lose farmers every single year,” said Rainbow Municipal Water District General Manager Tom Kennedy at a recent public meeting. “Agriculture’s dying in the North County.”  The process is being overseen by the San Diego County Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO. Specifically, Rainbow and Fallbrook have requested authorization from the agency to buy wholesale water from Riverside County, as opposed to San Diego County. … ”  Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Imperial Irrigation District testifies to State Assembly on Colorado River status, state impacts

“Representatives of the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) and the Colorado River Board of California testified Tuesday, May 2, during an informational hearing before the California State Assembly’s Water, Parks and Wildlife standing committee.  According to a press release from Imperial Irrigation District, the IID Board Vice President and California’s Colorado River Commissioner JB Hamby and IID Water Department Manager Tina Shields testified at the state capitol on how Southern California is preparing for climate impacts to water supplies.  “Commissioner Hamby spoke on the history of the development of the river by California’s Colorado River water users, the Law of the River, programs and agreements that maintain the state’s use within its 4.4 million acre-feet entitlement, and next steps toward a consensus-based alternative to the Bureau of Reclamation’s Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS),” the release reads. … ”  Read more from the Imperial Valley Press.

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Announcements, notices, and funding opportunities …

NOTICE: Water Right Petitions for Temporary Urgency Changes in Mendocino and Sonoma Counties

NOW AVAILABLE: 2022 California Bacteria Summit Summary Published Online

REGISTER NOW for the Army Corps Regulatory Program Workshop

NOTICE: Draft Sacramento River Temperature Management Plan now posted

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