November 2015

Metropolitan Water District: Old delta foe is new neighbor

The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the much-maligned - and for most Californians unknown - region central to the state's human water system is suddenly a real estate play. Why? Because the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has taken an option to buy all or part of five sinking islands in the path of the governor's misguided twin tunnels plan. Delta interests - farmers, environmentalists, sportsfishermen - worry a long-time foe is going to become a new neighbor and, as a major landowner, influence delta policies. The Met, they fear, wants to return their levee-ringed farms to the fish.

San Francisco Chronicle, November 22, 2015

California water agency's land purchase rattles growers, highlighting farm-city tensions

The nation's largest distributor of treated drinking water became the largest landowner in a remote California farming region for good reason: The alfalfa-growing area is first in line to get Colorado River water. Metropolitan Water District of Southern California's play in Palo Verde Valley, along the Arizona line, tapped a deep distrust between farm and city that pervades the West over a river that's a lifeline for seven states and northern Mexico.

U.S. News and World Report, November 21, 2015

Tensions, threats as California's new groundwater law takes shape

For the first time in more than a century, California is trying to regulate groundwater pumping. Legal challenges are expected, starting with who gets to decide how much water can be pumped. Local officials look to state for guidance, legal backing.

Sacramento Bee, November 21, 2015

Water wars: L.A. behemoth sets sights on delta islands

While Metropolitan's long-term plan is still somewhat murky, it's clear to everyone that acquiring the islands -- including Bacon Island in San Joaquin County, and a portion of Chipps Island in Solano County -- would give the district more leverage in the bitter battle for delta water, especially if California's four-year drought continues.

Los Angeles Times, November 20, 2015

What's behind a bid to shift dollars from the bullet train to water projects

While high-speed rail certainly will draw the headline focus, the proposal's primary purpose apparently is to reduce water for the environment and provide more for agriculture.

Los Angeles Times, November 19, 2015

Study: California Drought Management Lacking

The report from the Public Policy Institute of California says the state's system for allocating water is fragmented, inconsistent and lacks transparency. It says the problems keep the state from adequately managing water in a drought.

Capital Public Radio, November 18, 2015

Op-Ed California must capture water, not waste it

We don't know for sure whether the El Nino we face this winter will be a drought buster or a bust. But we had better prepare for a lot of rain and the potential flooding, landslides and disruptions we know especially heavy winter storms can bring to California. At the same time, we need to look past the comingEl Nino at the long-term changes in our weather patterns, as climate change poses new challenges to water managers, planners, utilities and, indeed, all of us.

Los Angeles Times, November 17, 2015

What are Met's intentions as new Delta dweller?

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is negotiating to buy four Delta islands. In the minds of locals, this is like the fox pricing the henhouse. The Met, as it is called, is the most powerful of all water interests perennially contriving to draw water from the ailing estuary. The mighty Met supplies 19 million in metro Los Angeles

Stockton Record, November 12, 2015

Ballot proposal would divert high-speed rail money to water

Two well-known Republican state lawmakers submitted language Thursday for a ballot initiative that would ask California voters to redirect about $8 billion in bond money from the state's high-speed rail project to build water storage. Board of Equalization member George Runner and Sen. Bob Huff of San Dimas, the former Senate minority leader, said they filed language for the initiative with the attorney general's office.

Merced Sun Star, November 12, 2015

Environmentalists sue over Sacramento River water, fish perils

Legal action is latest skirmish amid drought. Attorney: Federal water management 'near death blow' for Chinook salmon.

Sacramento Bee, November 11, 2015

L.A.'s water board seeks to buy key delta lands

The powerful Metropolitan Water District of Southern California decided Tuesday to begin negotiations to buy thousands of acres including four islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, an effort to secure steady flows of water amid the historic drought. But delta advocates and environmentalists called the bold move by the nation's biggest water agency, which serves 19 million people, a blatant water grab.

San Francisco Chronicle, November 10, 2015

Jerry Brown's tunnels meet flurry of criticism, but will it matter?

Governor pushes forward with Delta water project. Critics prepare for years-long battle. Financing concerns could force changes.

Sacramento Bee, November 8, 2015

Editorial: Cortopassi measure to scuttle Delta tunnels is a disaster

Wealthy Stockton farmer Dean Cortopassi is right that California voters should be able to vote on Gov. Jerry Brown's misguided, $17 billion twin-tunnel plan for the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. But instead of a straightforward ballot measure, he has concocted a nightmare of a law that appears to require statewide voter approval of all state revenue bond projects costing more than $2 billion. It's a classic badly drafted proposition with the potential for massive unintended consequences, none of them good.

San Jose Mercury News, November 8, 2015

Delta tunnels project brings deluge of opposition comments

The contentiousness of the project was on full display during the public comment period for the project. That period came to an end on Friday, Oct. 30, with more than 30,000 comments against the proposal. Roughly 10,000 were registered in favor of or neutral to the project.

Central Valley Busiess Times, November 5, 2015

Capitol Journal: Brown gets touchy over criticism of water tunnel plan

Last week after tunnel opponents protested on the state Capitol steps -- claiming the $15.5-billion project was financially risky and a water grab by San Joaquin Valley corporate farmers and Southern California developers -- Brown issued a brief prepared statement unique in its formal acerbity.

Los Angeles Times, November 5, 2015

Measure that imperils Delta tunnels plan qualifies for 2016 ballot

Supporters turned in 932,966 signatures. Today is the deadline for counties to complete random signature sampling. Stockton-area farmer Dean Cortopassi and wife have contributed $4 million to the effort.

Sacramento Bee, November 2, 2015

Southern California water agencies push forward on Delta land purchase

Metropolitan, three Kern County agencies eye four Delta islands. Islands could be used to move water south, assist with tunnels project. Possible purchase comes as south state agencies offer tepid support for tunnels.

Sacramento Bee, November 2, 2015

October 2015

Delta tunnels plan draws protest

The project is supported, in principle, by farms and cities in Southern California, which see it as a potentially more reliable source of surface water. Opponents, including some environmental and fishing groups and Delta farmers, lambast the plan as an unabashed Southern California "water grab."

Sacramento Bee, October 30, 2015

Opponents Expect 30,000 Comments Against Delta Tunnel Plan

California officials expect an earful from opponents of the Bay Delta tunnel plan, as the public comment period comes to a close Friday. The twin 40-mile tunnels would carry water from the Delta to Central and Southern California. The state says the $15 billion project would be less environmentally-intrusive than the current system. Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla of the group Restore the Delta calls it "the worst and most expensive, low-value public works project ever proposed in the history of California."

Capitol Public Radio, October 29, 2015

Drought-driven salmon deaths could have far-reaching impact

One of the last wild runs of chinook salmon in California is sinking fast amid the four-year drought and now appears perilously close to oblivion after the federal agency in charge of protecting marine life documented the death of millions of young fish and eggs in the Sacramento River.

San Francisco Chronicle, October 29, 2015

California officials outline preparations for El Nino flooding

Water engineers and emergency managers addressed a state Senate hearing in Los Angeles on preparations for the El Nino phenomenon, a recurring climate pattern that warms parts of the Pacific and is expected to bring severe weather to California and other regions.

Reuters, October 29, 2015

Recharge method could boost Merced-area aquifers up to 20 percent, report says

Excess flows in wet years would soak into ground on selected farms. Findings could apply in Stanislaus and other counties outside study area. Almond Board already is planning recharge tests in orchards.

Modesto Bee, October 27, 2015

Breaking Western Water Taboos

The recent severe drought in the western United States and California in particular has shined a spotlight on a range of water-management practices that are outdated, unsustainable, or inappropriate for a modern, functional 21st century water system. Unless these bad practices are fixed, no amount of rain will be enough to set things right. Yet a discussion of many of these bad practices has been taboo for fear of igniting even more water conflict. Well, water conflict is here and no strategy that can fix our problems should be off the table.

Huffington Post, October 26, 2015

Place some limits on new pumping till drought ends

Groundwater levels are dropping faster than they have for decades. Surface decline due to subsidence is causing serious problems. Gov. Jerry Brown should ban pumping in critical areas until the drought ends.

Sacramento Bee, October 23, 2015

Mokelumne River Bill Signed Into Law

Conservationists cheered Friday after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill by Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, R-O'Neals, that grants temporary wild and scenic river protection to 37 miles of the Mokelumne River east of Pardee Reservoir. Bigelow represents Calaveras County.

Calaveras Enterprise, October 12, 2015

Restrictions on water rates get newfound opposition from Gov. Jerry Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown is picking a fight over a two-decade-old law that can make it difficult to increase water rates, raising the possibility of a new battle over the issue at the ballot box next year.

Los Angeles Times, October 10, 2015

Bera, Congressional colleagues criticize governor's tunnels plan

U.S. Rep. Dr. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove) and other local members of Congress remain critical of a $15 billion plan to build tunnels that would carry water from the Delta to southern California. "We still believe that these multibillion-dollar tunnels fail to increase water supply, devastate an already fragile ecosystem, and divert funding from more effective statewide water solutions for California," they wrote.

Elk Grove Citizen, October 9, 2015

Feinstein, Boxer hopeful for compromise to increase state water

Four years into California's epic drought, a Senate committee heard Thursday from California lawmakers proposing two wildly conflicting approaches to water shortages, hoping to meld a compromise that could come together by the time El Nino arrives in the state.

San Francisco Chronicle, October 8, 2015

Environmental Groups Say Governor's Delta Tunnels Would Violate the Law

The twin water tunnels touted by Gov. Edmund ... The comparatively clean water would be piped 35 miles to the State Water Project and federal Central Valley Project to be sold to buyers in the San Joaquin Valley, Southern California and Silicon Valley.

Central Valley Business Times, October 8, 2015

Water attorney gives new definition to "water fix"

Veteran water war attorney Thomas Zuckerman says the "California Water Fix" -- the marketing name now given to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan's twin tunnels project -- is like a junkie rolling up his sleeve, sticking a needle in your arm, and blowing the rent money in the corner bar.

Central Valley Business Times, October 8, 2015

Scientists question twin tunnels report

An independent team of scientists renewed its criticism of Gov. Jerry Brown's twin tunnels plan this week, saying that the massive documents justifying the project are "incomplete and opaque." The Delta Independent Science Board isn't judging whether the $15 billion tunnels are a good idea or a bad idea. Rather, the board is criticizing the environmental documents that are supposed to explain -- to experts and the general public -- what benefits the tunnels would provide and what impacts they might have.

Record.Net, October 7, 2015

California’s federal reservoirs even lower than last year

In the latest indicator of the severity of the drought, the federal government's main reservoirs serving California have begun the new “water year” at just a quarter full and in worse shape than last year.

Sacramento Bee, October 6, 2015

Sepember 2015

Dreadful dam project would strand California's salmon

The wholesale re-plumbing of the Central Valley watershed to create the CVP-SWP has wreaked havoc on the environment, drowning wild rivers, blocking salmon from reaching their former spawning grounds, and rendering flows below the dams too low and too warm to support healthy populations of native fish. A number of native species, including California's iconic Chinook salmon, are perilously close to extinction, their once-abundant populations decimated by the low flows and high temperatures caused by decades of CVP-SWP operations. Too much water is taken out of California's freshwater ecosystems for the species that evolved in those ecosystems to flourish, and perhaps even to survive.

San Francisco Chronicle, September 29, 2015

Lawmakers Urge Governor to Scrap His Tunnels

The governor would be wise to scrap his crusade to build massive water tunnels beneath the California Delta, say seven members of Congress, all Democrats

Central Valley Business Times, September 28, 2015

Former Brown Official Pushes Water Bond

Just a year after California voters approved a multi-billion dollar water bond, another may be on the way. Governor Jerry Brown's former top water official is pushing another initiative to upgrade the state's water system.

Capital Public Radio, September 28, 2015

Officials: Klamath River fish healthy after flow increase

The monthlong Trinity River dam water releases that ended on Sept. 20 have helped prevent disease and parasite outbreaks on Chinook salmon and other fish harboring on the drought-stricken lower Klamath River, officials said. The flows down the Trinity River and into the lower Klamath River helped cool the drought-stricken waters, improving fish immune systems and washing away deadly, single-celled parasites known as ich that thrive in low-flowing, warm waters, The Eureka Times-Standard reported Saturday

Sacramento Bee, September 26, 2015

New California water bond seeks to plug funding holes

California environmentalists plan to file a new water bond proposal with the secretary of state next week, a measure backers say will provide critical money for programs that were under funded by the $7.8 billion bond passed by voters last year. The exact amount of the new water bond has yet to be determined but will be less than $5 billion, Jerry Meral, director of the California water program at the Natural Heritage Institute, told Reuters this week.

Reuters, September, 24, 2015

Uncle Sam sells out the Delta

The Westlands scored an unbelievable victory last week. It got rights to Delta water in perpetuity -- regardless of the Delta's health, climate change or any future California water shortage. The powerful water district's bonanza came in the form of a proposed settlement of its lawsuit against the federal government.

Stockton Record, September 22, 2015

Sen. Hertzberg proposes California reuse all treated water

With California in the fourth year of a drought, a state lawmaker has introduced a last-minute bill that would require half of treated wastewater to be used for beneficial purposes, including landscape watering, by 2026 and 100% usage by 2036. Sen. Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) gutted another bill to insert the language of his new proposal but said he would not have it taken up by the Legislature until next year.

Los Angeles Times, September 9, 2015

Murkowski plans drought hearing in October

Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said she is planning to hold a legislative hearing to address drought in California and other western states in October. The bills in the spotlight at the hearing will be Rep. David Valadao's Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015, which passed the House on July 16, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein's California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2015, which she introduced on July 29

Politico, September 9, 2015

Governor's tunnels would violate federal law, say conservation groups

Would run afoul of the Endangered Species Act, hurting imperiled salmon. "The governor has his hard hat ready to go for this project"

Central Valley Business Times, September 9, 2015

Less water might be plenty for California, experts say, and conservation is only the start

"The reality is that there are so many soft paths that we can take that might have a lot less environmental impact and be a lot less expensive, and still meet our future demand," said Newsha Ajami, director of urban water policy for Stanford's Water in the West initiative. "This is probably a smarter tack than building more infrastructure, and moving more water around long distances."

Los Angeles Times, September 6, 2015

Feds scramble to avoid another mass salmon die-off in the Sacramento River

Last year, warm water killed endangered fish in the Sacramento River. Federal models for saving the species have proved faulty Farmers say they're asked to sacrifice based on flawed science.

Sacramento Bee, September 5, 2015

Ex-California official says governor ordered regulators to bypass US water law

California's top oil and gas regulators repeatedly warned Gov. Jerry Brown's senior aides in 2011 that the governor's orders to override key environmental safeguards in granting oil industry permits would violate state and federal laws protecting groundwater from contamination, one of the former officials has testified.

Associated Press, September 4, 2015

Fresno State drought study seeks consensus on water use

Authors of a California State University-Fresno study that suggests ways to get the most out of limited water in the San Joaquin Valley say they hope their research fosters dialogue and political compromise.

Capitol Press, September 2, 2015

August 2015

Time for another water bond? Draft language floating

Former Brown administration official considers asking voters for follow-up water bond. Measure comes less than a year after Californians approved $7.5 billion water bond.

Sacramento Bee, August 30, 2015

Another hurdle for twin tunnels

Operators of California's giant state and federal water projects are formally asking for permission to take at least some of their water before it reaches the Delta, setting up another bureaucratic hurdle that must be cleared if Gov. Jerry Brown's twin tunnels are ever to be built. Right now the water projects are allowed to take their water only from existing export pumps near Tracy. To put some of that water in the tunnels instead, the operators must first change their water rights to allow them to tap the Sacramento River in the north, where they would build intakes to feed the 30-mile-long, 40-foot-wide tunnels.

Stockton Record, August 27, 2015

Federal, State Agencies Seek Permits For Controversial Delta Tunnels Project

Federal and California agencies have filed some of the first permit applications for a proposed project involving the construction of twin 30-mile tunnels to help carry water from the northern to southern and central regions of the state, officials said Thursday.

CBS Sacramento, August 27, 2015

Court sides with Klamath River fish flows over Central Valley districts

A U.S. District Court judge has denied two Central Valley Project water districts' attempt to halt fish kill prevention flows to the Klamath River on Wednesday, making it the second year in a row that the federal court has sided outright with protections of Klamath River fish.

Eureka Times-Standard, August 26, 2015

Water Files - Demand: More people, agricultural trends aggravate drought

Estimates have water allocations from the Delta five times higher than that watershed produces annually. California's fastest growth occurs in hotter, drier interior, boosting demand for water.Agriculture's use of water still relies in large part on antiquated delivery method

Sacramento Bee, August 26, 2015

Economist: Taxpayers may pay for $15 billion Delta tunnels

California taxpayers may be liable for picking up part of the $15 billion cost of the proposed Delta tunnels project, an economist warned at a legislative hearing last week., August 26, 2015

The drought's hidden victim: California's native fish

And if the drought drags on for another year or two, wild populations of some of the state's most prized fish are likely to vanish."We're going to be losing most of our salmon and steelhead if things continue," said UC Davis professor emeritus Peter Moyle, a leading authority on California's native fish. Also in danger are the long-suffering delta smelt, whose numbers have plunged to what he called "the last of the last."

Los Angeles Times, August 24, 2015

Jerry Brown says California's groundwater management 'not aggressive enough'

Gov. Jerry Brown said in an interview aired Sunday that California is not aggressive enough policing use of the state's groundwater, promising stepped-up oversight in future years.

Sacramento Bee, August 23, 2015

Nut empire battles conservationists over water tunnel for California orchards

At first sight, the scrubby land around Lost Hills in California's Central Valley looks like the worst place in the world to grow anything. The climate is unrelentingly hot, dry and smoggy. The soil frequently leaches toxic white selenium salts. And the area is dotted with oil wells -- the tail end of a century-long oil boom that has sucked away precious water resources, brought benzene and other toxins to the surface and each year generates tens of billions of gallons of chemical-laden wastewater, some of which has been found to be stored in unlined pits threatening the integrity of the desperately depleted local groundwater supply.

The Guardian, August 21, 2015

Feds, tribes agree on fish-kill preventative flows

On Thursday afternoon, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation agreed to release fish-kill preventative flows from a Trinity River dam starting this weekend in order to protect fish on the lower Klamath River from deadly pathogens caused by warm, low-flowing water conditions, tribal fisheries officials said.

Times Standard News, August 20, 2015

California land quickly sinking in drought costs farmers

Land in Central California's agricultural region is sinking so quickly because of the state's historic drought that it is forcing farmers to spend millions of dollars upgrading irrigation canals and putting roads, bridges and other infrastructure at risk.

Associated Press, August 20, 2015

Questions remain when it comes to tunnel plan

State leaders and a panel of experts recently took the opportunity to discuss the unanswered questions about the massive Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta Tunnels proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The Reporter News, August 18, 2015

Records: California plans taking land for huge water tunnels

State contractors have readied plans to acquire as many as 300 farms in the California delta by eminent domain to make room for a pair of massive, still-unapproved water tunnels proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown, according to documents obtained by opponents of the tunnels.

Associated Press, August 17, 2015

State needs an efficient water allocation system

But California won't truly tackle its water crisis until it focuses on those whose feckless behavior is largely to blame for the shortage the state is experiencing -- the agricultural industry itself.

Sacramento Bee, August 15, 2015

How California Is Winning the Drought

If cities look at the water they have -- rainwater, reservoir water, groundwater, wastewater -- as different shades of one water, they quickly realize that there's no such thing as "storm water" or "wastewater." It's all water. You can start giving yourself new water sources quickly by cleaning and reusing the water you've already got.

New York Times, August 14, 2015

California OKs strict water standards for showerheads

California officials launched two initiatives Wednesday to boost residential water conservation: The nation's toughest water efficiency standards for showerheads and a $30 million rebate program to rip out grass lawns and replace old toilets.

Associated Press, August 12, 2015

Court rebuffs farm pollution waiver

The Sacramento County Superior Court sided with environmentalists who opposed a blanket waiver for growers in the Salinas Valley and other areas of the Central Coast, saying the conditions of an "ag order" failed to protect the public from dangerously high nitrate levels in drinking water and from chemicals linked to the deaths of sea otters and other animals.

Los Angeles Times, August 11, 2015

'Water Fix': Same old song, dance

At the end of the day, what we are left with is the same old song and dance from the administration to build a too-expensive project that will devastate the Delta and not produce a single new drop of water, all to serve the interests of Southern California.

Stockton Record, August 8, 2015

Panel scrutinizes levee plan

A state proposal to rank Delta levees and funnel public money toward those where upgrades are most needed, instead of funding all levees equally, is drawing criticism from scientists who say the state's method fails to consider how a levee breach on one of the Delta's low-lying islands might affect a neighboring island, and also ignores the value of the Delta as a place.

Stockton Record, August 8, 2015

Judge OKs state water restrictions on farmers

A Sacramento judge has given California water regulators the go-ahead to enforce pumping restrictions on a small Central Valley irrigation district, a decision seen as validation of the state's broader authority to restrict water during the drought.

San Francisco Chronicle, August 4, 2015

Drought could hurt endangered fish caught in water fight

The silvery, finger-sized fish has been in trouble for years, but the four-year drought is helping to push the smelt to the brink of extinction. And it threatens several other native fish species, including the longfin smelt, green sturgeon and winter-run Chinook salmon.

Associated Press, August 4, 2015

Contra Costa Times editorial: Feinstein water bill better than the last, but ...

But it should pass only if it sufficiently protects California's environment for future generations -- and leaving it up to one political appointee with no direct responsibility to voters looks dubious to us.

Contra Costa Times, August 3, 2015

Many snags ahead for California water bills

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, [is] again going big with a $1.3 billion California water package. The compelling question is whether negotiators can finally reach an elusive agreement.

McClatchyDC, August 3, 3015

CSPA charges water board, feds with violations of laws protecting salmon

A prominent sportfishing group today formally charged the state and federal governments with violating numerous laws protecting salmon, Delta and longfin smelt and other fish species during the California drought.

Daily Kos, August 3, 2015

Editorial: State must do more to protect the Delta

In the meantime, state water officials need to do more to make sure water protections for the Delta are better followed in order to protect this precious resource.

Vacaville Reporter, August 1, 2015

July 2015

California judge says she'll likely uphold farmer water cuts

California's demand for lower agricultural water use during the drought will likely survive a legal challenge, a judge indicated Thursday. Sacramento Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne Chang said during a hearing that she believes the state's revised approach to warning farmers of insufficient supplies is legal.

Associated Press, July 30, 2015

Californians step up, meet state goals for water conservation

Drought-ravaged Californians and the water agencies that serve them cut water use 27.3 percent in June -- the second time that communities statewide met the governor's 25 percent goal, but the first time they did so under the threat of fines.

San Francisco Chronicle, July 30, 2015

Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduces $1.3-billion California drought-relief bill

Sen. Dianne Feinstein filed her long-awaited legislative response to California's water crisis on Wednesday, hoping to broker a compromise that has eluded Congress through four years of fallow fields and brown lawns. Feinstein's proposal would funnel $1.3 billion over the next decade to storage, desalination and other projects. Her plan is in marked contrast to one approved by the GOP-controlled House, which would pump more water to San Joaquin Valley growers by rolling back environmental protections.

Los Angeles Times, July 29, 2015

Raising Shasta Dam too expensive for federal government

The federal government will not pay the nearly $1.3 billion to raise the height of Shasta Dam up to 18 1/2 feet, according to a report released Wednesday on the feasibility of the project. While the final feasibility report says raising the height of the dam would be feasible, it stops short of recommending approval because of cost and financing issues.

Redding Record Searchlight, July 29, 2015

DROUGHT: Takings arguments bubble up as Calif. cuts water rights

In drought-stricken California, lawyers are asking a simple question with a complicated answer. Can the state take away water rights? At issue: the U.S. Constitution's 5th Amendment, which says no property shall be taken without just compensation.

Greenwire, July 27, 2015

New plan erodes tunnels' economics

But while the downsized project is more likely to garner the needed federal approvals and to mitigate some of the more heated opposition from local residents, critics say it now makes less economic sense than ever.

San Diego Union Tribune, July 27, 2015

California's Delta saltier from San Francisco Bay water

State officials say they are struggling to keep portions of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta fresh as saltier water from the San Francisco Bay pushes inland during another summer of drought.

San Jose Mercury News, 7/26/2015

Jeffrey Michael: Cost of Delta tunnels doesn't add up

State's optimistic estimates don't add up compared to $15 billion cost. Earthquake argument is economically wrong and morally outrageous. No amount of tweaking can save this fundamentally bad idea. Read more here:

Sacramento Bee, July 25, 2015

California drought: High court hands setback to water conservation fight

Rejecting the pleas of California officials worried about water conservation, the state Supreme Court on Wednesday left intact a lower court ruling that makes it tougher for cities and water districts to impose punishing higher rates on water wasters.

San Jose Mercury News, July 23, 2015

Proving illegal water grabs tough in California's drought

California's vast network of reservoirs, canals and rivers is among the world's most engineered water systems, but it is tough to prove when water is illegally siphoned because of sparse metering, infrequent reporting and a complex web of tens of thousands of water rights.

Associated Press, July 22, 2015

An Alternative to the Tunnels

A new report shows that taking toxic cropland out of production in the San Joaquin Valley would be much cheaper than the governor's tunnels plan.

East Bay Express, July 22, 2015

State accused of killing off endangered fish

Complaint says Brown Administration favors alfalfa over fish. "If the SWRCB can require urban conservation, it can also require conservation in agriculture."

Central Valley Business Times, July 22, 2015

Environmentalists decry latest tunnel plan as 'water grab'

"The fix is in for the twin tunnels project, which has always been merely a huge water grab with some window dressing. Now the so-called 'California Water Fix' has abandoned any pretense of habitat protection," said Jeff Miller with the Center for Biological Diversity.

Manteca Bulletin, July 22, 2015

Advocates claim a secret pact has occurred with California water

As the drought in California continues, water advocates from non-profit organization Friends of The River claim two very important Federal agencies have been in a secret pact over access to portions of California's precious water resources.

Digital Journal, July 22, 2015

Governor's plan for delta tunnels takes turn for worse

The grand ambitions to provide more water to farms and Southern California cities and fix the serious environmental problems of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta have deflated with the release this month of thousands of pages of documents detailing the governor's new plan. Launched in April and dubbed California WaterFix, this plan will cost more, provide less water than originally envisioned (but more than pumped south now), restore less than half of the delta habitat than proposed, take longer to build and, most notably, lack the 50-year guarantee of water deliveries that made the old plan attractive.

San Francisco Chronicle, July 17, 2015

Editorial: Brown's Delta Tunnel Plan Benefits Plummet; Give It Up

Although the cost estimate has dropped from $17 billion to $15 billion, the latest proposal seems even further from penciling out in a cost-benefit analysis.

Contra Costa Times, July 17, 2015

California drought bill roils Capitol Hill waters

A Republican-drafted California water bill approved by the House of Representatives on Thursday now faces a serious test in the Senate and beyond. Loaded with provisions sought by GOP lawmakers and San Joaquin Valley farmers, the 170-page package won approval on a 245-176 vote following roughly two hours of sometimes contentious and often familiar debate.

The Bakersfield Californian, July 16, 2015

State issues first action to enforce a water rights curtailment

State regulators Thursday took another step in the escalating battle over drought-related curtailments of thousands of California water rights. The State Water Resources Control Board issued a draft cease-and-desist order against the West Side Irrigation District of Tracy, which holds junior rights to some flows in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

Los Angeles Times, July 16, 2015

Comment Period Opens on 'Delta Fix' EIR

[R]epackaging of the water export tunnels will waste up to $60 billion dollars without creating any new water, won't help desperate communities during the drought, or fund innovative water conservation, stormwater capture, or water recycling projects that cities are eager to build for resilience in a changing climate.

The independent, July 16 2015

A Solution for California's Water Woes

One possible avenue for elevating the public trust doctrine's status is the adjudication of water rights -- the legal process to determine who has a valid water right, how much water can be used, who has priority during shortages, and even whose water use is reasonable and whose is not.

East Bay Express, July 15, 2015

Tunnels plan pushes forward

Construction on Gov. Jerry Brown's twin tunnels could begin in 2018, though a top state official said Monday that it remains unclear how much water the tunnels would convey to justify their $15 billion cost.

Stockton, July 13, 2015

Ballot measure threatens California water tunnels plan

Wealthy Stockton-area farmer's initiative expected to qualify for 2016 ballot. Measure would force vote on some projects costing more than $2 billion. Initiative backers have poured $3 million into effort, alarming tunnels proponents

Sacramento Bee, July 11, 2015

California Drought Pits Salmon Runs Against Nut Orchards

Responding to the drought means finding solutions that address the real cause of water shortages and that don't needlessly abandon the environment, fisheries and fishing communities. Our salmon runs deserve our care, even when it's dry.

Newsweek, July 11, 2015

San Joaquin River revival pushes deadlines back

First major project now expected to start in 2017 -- four years after it was supposed to be finished. Farmers argue the restoration is late and underfunded. Environmentalists applaud consensus approach.

Fresno Bee, July 11, 2015

Water rights ruling a setback for California drought regulators

Judge halts curtailment of some senior water rights. Water users' lawyer cites lack of due process. Ruling could have statewide implications

Sacramento Bee, July 10, 2015

California unveils revised blueprint for Delta tunnels

Massive environmental review spells out project changes. Environmentalists still not swayed. Funding for project remains unclear.

Sacramento Bee, July 9, 2015

Republicans' California drought bill triggers debate

Bill passes House Natural Resources Committee. Democrats and environmental groups object. Passage is assured in the House, but the Senate is a question mark.

McClatchy DC, July 9, 2015

New drought-relief bill introduced in Congress

Rep. Jared Huffman's "Drought Relief and Resilience Act" will fund water recycling, storm-water capture and the clean-up of polluted ground-water basins by tapping into the 113-year-old unspent Reclamation Fund carrying a balance of $10 billion and adding $300 million to the Superfund.

Los Angeles Daily News, July 8, 2015

Farmers vs. fish: Water war heats up with probe into who got millions of dollars

The site of some of the fiercest environmental wars over water in recent years is now the subject of a federal investigation into millions of dollars that whistleblowers say were intended to secure water for drought-stricken fish but flowed instead to farmers and ranchers. The Office of Special Counsel, the small federal office that investigates disclosures by whistleblowers, has found enough of a likelihood that $48 million was spent improperly by the Interior Department in the Klamath Basin that it directed the agency to do a formal investigation.

Washington Post, July 8, 2015

House panel will approve California water bill, but then what?

An ambitious California water bill will pass a key House committee this week and soon will sail through the Republican-controlled House of Representatives on a near party-line vote. Then it will crash into the Senate, where negotiators may or may not be able to craft a package acceptable to enough Democrats that it can become law.

McClatchy DC, July 7, 2015

California's rural poor hit hardest as massive drought makes remaining water toxic

For many Californians, the state's long drought has meant small inconveniences such as shorter showers and restrictions on watering lawns. But in two rural valleys, the Coachella southeast of Los Angeles and the San Joaquin to the north, farmworkers and other poor residents are feeling its impact in a far more serious and personal way.

Washington Post, July 5, 2015

Proposed reservoirs are no panacea for drought

New surface storage would have added only modestly to the state's water supply. Real benefits of new storage are likely to come from the increased flexibility for state's water system. Building drought resilience requires increased conservation, wastewater recycling, stormwater capture.

Sacramento Bee, July 4, 2015

The Drought's Scapegoat

Mainstream and conservative media and politicians have wrongly blamed the tiny delta smelt for causing water cutbacks for agriculture during the drought. Why?

East Bay Express, July 1, 2015

June 2015

Parched California Farmers Hope to Tap Wastewater From Cities

In a few years, that wastewater -- treated and disinfected -- could flow to farms in the Del Puerto Water District, in what would be the largest urban-to-agriculture water recycling project in the state.

KQED, June 29, 2015

The Delta Smelt: Keystone Species, Political Flashpoint, Possibly Already Extinct

If you've paid attention to California water politics at any point over the last three decades, you've probably heard of the Delta smelt. A tiny, silvery fish about two inches long at maturity, the smelt is uniquely sensitive to changes in California's Bay and Delta... and may already be extinct as a result of those changes.

KCET, June 29, 2015

Republicans Introduce Bill Based On The Idea That Environmentalists Caused California's Drought

A new bill introduced in the House of Representatives is pushing for new ways to combat California's epic drought. But it's doing so based on the premise that environmental policy -- not climate change -- is making the drought so bad in the state.

Climate Progress, June 26, 2015

In California, Water Restrictions Above Ground and Leaks Below

Californians have been ordered to save water because of the drought. But one of the best ways to save it is to not lose it in the first place. That is why many cities in this thirsty state have declared a war on leaks.

New York Times, June 26, 2015

Court Battles Loom Over California's Senior Water Rights

The orders are expected to launch a flurry of lawsuits, with water right holders challenging the state's fundamental authority to cut off senior rights. Court rulings could dramatically alter how water rights are handled in the state.

KQED, June 15, 2015

Taking a new shot at Delta tunnels

Might have five intakes -- or one. Strips out much of the restoration aspect of BDCP

Central Valley Business Times, June 14, 2015

$110 million in drought aid going to California, other Western states, White House says

California will receive tens of millions of dollars in new drought aid from the U.S. government that will provide relief for farmers, displaced workers and rural communities that have run out of drinking water, officials said Friday.

Los Angeles Times, June 13, 2015

California Announces Restrictions on Water Use by Farmers

Farmers with rights to California water dating back more than a century will face sharp cutbacks, the first reduction in their water use since 1977, state officials announced Friday.

New York Times, June 12, 2015

State attorney general challenges ruling against tiered water rates

The California attorney general's office has asked the state Supreme Court to depublish a controversial ruling that it argues will impede the state's ability to encourage conservation by charging people higher rates when they use excessive amounts of water.

Los Angeles Times, June 11, 2015

Oakland Tribune editorial: CEQA fast track for Silicon Valley water recycling could include Delta tunnels

[T]he vague language of this bill could allow the governor to build his massive, controversial Delta twin tunnels without completing extensive environmental studies.

Oakland Tribune, June 9, 2015

$340 million in California drought-relief money left unspent

Although millions of dollars from the same drought-assistance package have helped parched communities across the state, the amount of money that remains untapped shows how slowly the wheels of government can turn even in a crisis.

Los Angeles Daily News, June 9, 2015

California Lawmaker Proposes Steep Tax For Water Guzzlers

California's worst water-guzzling residents and businesses could get slapped with 300 percent taxes on their bills under drought-inspired legislation that was proposed Tuesday but faces a tough path before it could actually affect local water bills.

KPBS, June 9, 2015

California water losses 'huge,' new thinking required on drought, panel says

A panel of water experts on Sunday mapped out the challenges California faces in meeting future demands for water at a time when water sources are under stress and future supplies appear uncertain.

Los Angeles Times, June 7, 2015

California's congressional delegation can't agree on response to drought

The state's splintered congressional delegation -- despite its size and influence -- has been stymied by fundamental disagreements over the causes of the drought and the role of the federal government in mitigating its consequences.

Los Angeles Times, June 6, 2015

California Farmers Dig Deeper for Water, Sipping Their Neighbors Dry

The draining of the aquifers creates another hazard aboveground. As water is pulled from the spongy layers below, the ground above collapses, creating what is known as subsidence. Where subsidence is the worst, the land can sink as much as a foot each year.

New York Times, June 5, 2015

Government is killing California's Delta, says lawsuit

Environmental groups sue four agencies. "We bring this lawsuit in an effort to prevent the impending extinction of fisheries that thrived for millennia."

Central Valley Business Times, June 4, 2015

Study: California farmers to fallow 560,000 acres of crops this year

California farmers will fallow hundreds of thousands of acres and employ fewer workers in 2015, but the drought will not cripple the state's agricultural industry, UC Davis researchers said Tuesday.

Sacramento Bee, June 2, 2015

California drought defies easy solutions at Senate hearing

"There are fundamental questions about the economic viability of some of these larger projects," [Deputy Interior Secretary Michael] Connor told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, adding that "at times, we get bogged down on the larger projects."

McClatchy DC, June 2, 2015

As California drought worsens, experts urge water reforms

California's record-low snowpack is destined to be the new normal in changing climate, expert says. California's system of riparian water rights are 'totally dysfunctional' in an arid state, expert says

Los Angeles Times, June 1, 2015

May 2015

California Senate committee passes bill making well data public

Despite opposition from agriculture groups, the state Senate Appropriations Committee approved legislation Thursday that would make data on water wells available to the public like is done in all other Western states.

The Press Democrat, May 28, 2015

Water agency approves farmers' voluntary water reduction plan

In a move reflecting the growing severity of California's drought, state water regulators have accepted a historic proposal by Delta region farmers to voluntarily cut water usage by 25%, or, alternatively, to allow a quarter of their fields to lay idle.

Los Angeles Times, May 22, 2015

California faces a tough test to tame its unquenchable thirst for water

In the fourth year of the most severe drought in state history, Californians are finally starting to turn away from arcane rules and practices that have allowed them nearly unlimited use of water since the era of the Gold Rush.

Washington Post, May 21, 2015

California to order end to pumping from San Joaquin River

Regulators are ordering farmers with California's oldest water rights to stop pumping from the San Joaquin River watershed for the first time in memory. State water board engineer Kathy Mrowka told a public drought hearing that the curtailment orders will be sent to so-called senior rights holders on Friday.

Associated Press, May 20, 2015

Millions in federal dollars aim to improve long-term water conservation

California is getting about $33 million in federal money for water recycling, irrigation improvements and other conservation projects in a new round of funding for water and energy efficiency projects in Western states.

Los Angeles Times, May 20, 2015

Delta farmers offer to take 25 percent less water

Dozens of California farmers whose century-old claims to rivers and streams have assured them a nearly endless water supply, at least up until now, are offering to give up a quarter of their water in exchange for a guarantee that the drought-plagued state won't come clamoring for a whole lot more.

San Francisco Chronicle, May 20, 2015

The Bipartisan Opposition to the Tunnels

The Environmental Impact Report (EIR/EIS) for the project indicates that Governor Brown's tunnels will be dry 52 percent of the time under current climate conditions. This same document makes it clear that fisheries will do worse with the operation of the tunnels than they will with the existing antiquated pumps in Tracy. In addition, the water that will be made available in wet periods will not increase water supplies for property taxpayers within the Metropolitan Water or Santa Clara Valley Water districts, even though they will carry a large portion of the financial burden of the $60 billion project (including interest and operations).

East Bay Express, May 20, 2015

As California withers, federal water bill mired in secrecy

"We certainly hear about it, involving a sub-group of stakeholders working on drafts that we haven't been allowed to see," Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., said in an interview. "Far from a transparent regular order, it feels like we're right back to secrecy and exclusion, and that's very disappointing." Complaints about secrecy and exclusion helped undermine legislation last year. Huffman and six other Northern California Democrats subsequently met with Feinstein in January.

Merced Sun Star, May 17, 2015

California water officials deliver sobering facts on depleted wells

As water-starved Californians pump more from wells, groundwater levels decrease. Preliminary data from this spring show that over the course of the last year, the levels of more than 40% of the approximately 4,500 measured wells have declined more than 2 feet -- not unusual for the fourth year of a drought, water officials said. More concerning, the data show decreases of more than 10 feet in more than 15% of measured wells and some severe decreases of more than 25 feet in some central California wells. And state officials say several groundwater basins in the Central Coast and Southern California also show "significant to severe" levels of decline.

Los Angeles Times, May 17, 2015

Local solutions or Gov. Brown's tunnels? Guest commentary

MWD water agencies should spend no more ratepayer money for Jerry Brown's tunnels. Keep ratepayer money in Southern California for projects that secure the water future and create local jobs. The choices MWD makes in the near future will affect all Californians' long-term future.

Los Angeles Daily News, May 15, 2015

Why California Farmers Are Conflicted About Using Less Water

As part of the implementation of California's 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, new agencies are being formed across California to set baselines. Norm Groot, director of the Monterey County Farm Bureau, says many farmers fear if they take less groundwater now, the baselines set for them will be smaller.

KQED, May 13, 2015

Drought May Mean The End For Some Native Fish

The Delta smelt, the small fish that is often at the center of California's water wars, is likely headed toward extinction.

Capitol Public Radio, May 12, 2015

Oil waste doesn't belong in California's water supply

The suit and its claims deserve attention and thought. California's oilfield regulators stumbled badly in permitting the practice. If these overseers aren't up to protecting the state, then the courts must step in to safeguard the state's shrinking water supply.

San Francisco Chronicle, May 11, 2015

In California, water cuts disappoint cities that spent heavily to prepare for drought

Some California cities are finding their past preparations for drought count for nothing under sweeping new statewide cuts to water consumption.

Fox News, May 9, 2015

California drought: New water rules may not work

California is adopting unprecedented, statewide water conservation rules for its nearly 40 million residents. But some experts say the regulations will be tough to enforce and don't address the state's primary problem -- that California's water rights and rules systems are broken and obsolete.

CNBC, May 8, 2015

Measure California's Water

Droughts in California may become more frequent, and their effects more severe, as the state feels the effects of climate change. The state can't respond to them if it doesn't know who is using how much.

New York Times, May 8, 2015

California: Regulators Approve Mandatory Water Restrictions

The State Water Resources Control Board voted 5 to 0 on Tuesday to adopt sweeping restrictions on how people, governments and businesses can use water amid the state's four-year drought. Under the new rules, each city is ordered to cut water use by as much as 36 percent compared with 2013, but it is unclear what punishment the state board and local agencies can or will impose for those who do not meet the targets.

New York Times, May 6, 2015

Brown says critics of delta tunnels should 'shut up'

During a candid and sarcastic speech to water agency officials Wednesday, Gov. Jerry Brown said critics of the controversial delta tunnels project should "shut up" unless they've logged 1 million hours like the state has to study the plan...While his remarks earned applause from the water agencies association, they drew quick ire from tunnel critics who say they too have logged a million hours to show the project would be harmful.

San Francisco Chronicle, May 6, 2015

California approves new uniform rules for seawater desalination

California water regulators on Wednesday adopted a new uniform permitting process for seawater desalination projects expected to expand in number as the drought-stricken state increasingly turns to the ocean to supplement its drinking supplies. Action on the desalination rule, which puts key decisions for such plants in the hands of statewide regulators rather than regional boards, came a day after the same state body enacted sweeping cutbacks in water use by California's cities and towns.

Reuters, May 6, 20115

Oakland Tribune editorial: Gov. Brown's latest Delta plan just a massive water grab

Gov. Jerry Brown has abandoned any pretense that his massive Delta twin-tunnel project could benefit the environment, leaving it simply as one of the biggest water grabs in state history. Having failed to convince federal agencies that his plan would improve the Delta's health, Brown dropped the $8 billion, 50-year environmental component of the tunnel project. Salvaging the ecology of the largest estuary west of the Mississippi is officially off the table.

Contra Costa Times, May 4, 2015

House passes water bill, but drought solutions still under debate

The bill, approved by a largely party line 240-177 margin, does not, however, reflect significant consensus on some key California water disputes, nor does it come close to the comprehensive drought bill that has so far eluded lawmakers.

Sacramento Bee, May 2, 2015

California farms ordered to stop pumping water from rivers as drought continues

State officials say drought has forced them to order thousands of farms to stop pumping water from two Northern California river systems. Tim Moran of the State Water Board said Friday that the order applies to more than 2,700 water rights holders -- mostly farms -- along the Sacramento River and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Under California's a century old system, the junior water rights holders have to stop pumping, so those with more senior rights can irrigate.

Los Angeles Daily News, May 1, 2015

April 2015

New $17 billion Delta tunnels plan with less environmental restoration unveiled by Brown

Environmental groups immediately blasted the plan, arguing that without extensive work to restore fish and wildlife in the Delta, the proposal is little more than a water grab by Southern California and Central Valley agribusiness. And it drew tepid responses from the big water providers that must pay for the tunnels.

San Jose Mercury News, April 30, 2015

California Cuts Environment Spending in $15 Billion Water Plan

California Governor Jerry Brown said he will scale back plans for restoration in an ecologically sensitive delta to build two $15 billion water tunnels meant to guard against events like the record drought gripping the area.

Bloomberg Business April 29, 2015

Gov. Jerry Brown seeks fines of up to $10,000 a day for water wasters

Gov. Jerry Brown wants to fine big water wasters up to $10,000 per day, one of two new efforts he announced Tuesday to battle California's drought. The higher penalties would be a sharp increase from the current $500 maximum that local water districts can now impose on residents and businesses.

Los Angeles Times, April 28, 2015

See proposed water use cuts for every community in California

All urban communities will need to cut their water usage this year due to the drought. The cuts proposed by the State Water Resources Control Board earlier this month range from 8 percent to 36 percent, depending on how much water each community's residents used during summer 2013. Look below to see how much each community will need to cut.

Sacraemtno Bee, April 28, 2015

Another View: Why knock almonds? Alfalfa consumes twice the water

Unlike almonds, alfalfa is a low-value crop primarily used as feed for livestock. About 70 percent of alfalfa grown in California is used in dairies, and much of the rest is exported to Asia for animal feed -- to the tune of 100 billion gallons per year.

Sacramento Bee, April 25, 2015

California water use numbers should flow freely

If we're all in this together, we need to know who is using how much water -- no matter whether it's corporate farms siphoning rivers or underground aquifers, apartment complexes irrigating landscapes or industrial and power plants piping in water. Secrecy and misinformation breed suspicion, and that only makes it more difficult to come up with smart and fair solutions.

Sacramento Bee, April 25, 2015

California drought tests strength of Gold Rush-era water rights

Earlier this year, the State Water Resources Control Board ordered more than 1,000 property owners to prove their water rights. This month, the board warned claim-holders to expect curtailments of their ability to divert water from rivers and streams.

Sacramento Bee, April 25, 2015

Desalination plants aren't a good solution for California drought

Enthusiasm for desalination tends to overlook its high costs, which stem in part from its enormous energy demand and weighty environmental footprint.

Los Angeles Times, April 24, 2015

California orders no water diversions despite legal rights

About 1,500 farms and individuals in the Central Valley were ordered Thursday to stop taking water from rivers and streams for irrigation, the latest move by state regulators to save water amid intensifying drought conditions. It was the start of the latest round of water restrictions as rivers and streams across California run too dry to provide enough water to grow crops and to provide safe passage for fish.

Washington Times, April 23, 2015

Editorial What's next on California's water rates?

It will take some time to fully grasp the consequences of Monday's court decision rejecting San Juan Capistrano's tiered rate structure for water. Gov. Jerry Brown said the ruling would make it harder for local governments to encourage conservation, and it does indeed undermine what has proved to be the most effective means of curbing excessive water use. With tiered rates, all users pay a relatively small amount per unit for their basic needs, but as their usage increases they pay not just for more gallons but more per gallon, giving them an increased incentive to make do with less.

Los Angeles Times, April 22, 2015

The end of the delta tunnels plan? We should hope so

The governor has it half-right with his decision to invest in environmental restoration. Now he just needs to deep-six those tunnels.

San Francisco Chronicle, April 21, 2015

Is Jerry Brown Breaking His Prop. 1 Promise?

Richard Stapler, the spokesman for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, admitted to Peter Fimrite of the San Francisco Chronicle that they could use money from Proposition 1 to pay for "habitat mitigation" for construction and operation of the tunnels.

Daily Kos, April 21, 2015

Our View: Now we see real goal of Delta plan

Gov. Brown now appears more intent on sending water south than on saving salmon and smelt. This comes after federal agencies signaled they probably won't issue the 50-year environmental permits that were a key element of the original plan. Continuing without the environmental goals exposes the plan for what we always believed it was: a water grab.

Modesto Bee, April 21, 2015

Southern California Court Strikes Down Town's 'Conservation' Water Rates

In a decision that could raise obstacles to water conservation efforts across the state, a Southern California appeals court has rejected the city of San Juan Capistrano's adoption of tiered rates to encourage customers to use less water. Ruling on a case initiated by taxpayers, a three-judge 4th District Court of Appeal found that the city's water-rate scheme violated provisions of Proposition 218, a constitutional amendment passed in 1996 to limit service fees imposed by local agencies.

KQED, April 21, 2015

What you need to know about the state's proposed water restrictions

Under the newest regulations, the board proposed grouping water districts into nine tiers. A very small number of agencies could individually apply to be in the first tier, which requires only a 4% cut in water use. But most of the state's water agencies will be required to cut usage between 8% and 36%. (Find your water agency here.)

Los Angeles Times, April 19, 2015

Don't harm fish to help Big Ag

Loosening critical environmental protections for these waterways in order to redirect those resources elsewhere will only further harm fish populations and the communities and jobs that depend on them.

USA Today, April 19, 2015

Brown shouldn't leave eco goals out of new Delta plan

As Gov. Jerry Brown tries to salvage the $25 billion project to build twin tunnels through the Delta, he should keep in mind that it won't be acceptable to give up its environmental goals.

Sacramento Bee, April 18, 2015

Jerry Brown needs new water strategy -- no tunnels

The state has to reset its water priorities to match both current and worst-case long-term needs. But Brown can't make that happen as long as he clings to his $25 billion, twin-tunnel proposal to carry Delta water south.

San Jose Mercury News, April 17, 2015

State water board issues revised drought regulations for Californians

Anticipating a seasonal spike in summertime water usage, California's Water Resources Control Board released a modified set of proposed conservation restrictions Saturday that would take effect in June. State water board officials emphasized that making major water use cuts during the coming summer months would be critical to meeting Gov. Jerry Brown's mandate of a 25% reduction in urban water use statewide. Cutting back on outdoor irrigation during the summer remains a top priority, board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus said.

Los Angeles Times, April 16, 2015

To shield tech executives, California's biggest water users are secret

In the midst of a historic drought, Californians have no way of knowing who's guzzling the most water. That's not an accident. It's by design, thanks to an obscure 1997 measure that weakened one of the state's chief open government laws, the California Public Records Act. For the source of this legislation, look no further than Silicon Valley, where the city of Palo Alto decided it needed to do more to protect the privacy of the tech elite.

The Center for Investigative Reporting, April 16, 2015

Drought rescue: State to build rock dam across Delta slough

As the drought weakens fresh water flows from rivers, seawater from San Francisco Bay pushes upstream into the central Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta -- the heart of California's complex water system. The result: a risk of drinking water that tastes salty and irrigation water that can stress plants and hamper agricultural productivity.

San Jose Mecury News, April 16, 2015

Jerry Brown faces fight over mandatory water cuts

Representatives of urban water suppliers and advocacy groups from across the state have criticized a plan from state water regulators that would force some to cut water consumption by as much as 35% over the next year. In more than 200 letters to the State Water Resources Control Board released Wednesday, some agencies urged state officials to reconsider how they would implement the mandatory statewide water-use cut that Gov. Jerry Brown ordered this month.

Los Angeles Times, April 16, 2015

The Drought Isn't California's Only Water Problem

In an effort to push forward, last week Governor Jerry Brown announced that he was scuttling key environmental provisions that would have guaranteed that the tunnels and works associated with them would improve the Delta for 50 years into the future. "We can't accurately model what things are going to look like in 50 years," says Richard Stapler, a spokesman for the California Natural Resources Agency.

Wired, April 16, 2015

Here's the Real Problem With Almonds

Almonds: crunchy, delicious, and the center of a nefarious plot to suck California dry? They certainly have used up a lot of ink lately--partly inspired by our reporting over the past year. California's drought-stricken Central Valley churns out 80 percent of the globe's almonds, and since each nut takes a gallon of water to produce, they account for close to 10 percent of the state's annual agricultural water use--or more than what the entire population of Los Angeles and San Francisco use in a year.

Mother Jones, April 15, 2015

California almond growers to expand orchards, despite drought

Almond orchards have become ground zero in the debate over California's epic drought, the focal point of criticism that agriculture uses too much water. The response? More almond trees.

Sacramento Bee, April 15, 2015

Redistribute California's Water? Not Without A Fight

The state of California is asking a basic question right now that people often fight over: What's a fair way to divide up something that's scarce and valuable? That "something," in this case, is water.

NPR, April 15, 2015

Drought unlikely to cause major damage to California economy, analysts say

California's drought has threatened farmers, ski resorts and golf courses, but it's unlikely to do much damage to the state's overall economy or budget, according to a new report from legislative analysts.

Los Angeles Times, April 15, 2015

Making Sense of Water

Almost every number used to analyze California's drought can be debated, but this can be safely said: No level of restrictions on residential use can solve the problem. The solution lies with agriculture, which consumes more than its fair share.

New York Times, April 14, 2015

Boxer slams McCarthy's 'small measure' drought fix

Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer lashed out Tuesday at a fellow Californian, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, calling his legislative efforts to address the state's drought crisis "destructive" and divisive.

The Hill, April 14, 2015

Delta group blasts Brown for "water grab"

"Governor Brown seems to believe he can push forward a project that will not meet the standards set into law in 2009. Moving to circumvent federal and state water quality laws, water rights laws, Delta water planning laws, and Endangered Species Act protections to push forward with the Delta tunnels will raise the ire of millions of Californians, and would be a waste of public resources during this time of drought," says Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta.

Central Valley Business Times, April 13 2015

In California, a Wet Era May Be Ending

Scientists say that in the more ancient past, California and the Southwest occasionally had even worse droughts -- so-called megadroughts -- that lasted decades. At least in parts of California, in two cases in the last 1,200 years, these dry spells lingered for up to two centuries.

New York Times, April 13, 2015

In California, rights to water exceed the supply

It's arguable whether California has enough water to meet its actual needs. But it clearly does not have enough to match people's expectations. And one reason is simple. Government historically has over-promised -- not exactly a new concept. In the last century, the state has handed out rights to five times more surface water than our rivers produce even in a normal year. On some major river systems, especially in the parched San Joaquin Valley, the over-allocation is jaw-opening.

Los Angeles Times, April 12, 2015

Newspaper: Brown ready to ditch restoring Delta

The state's so-called "co-equal" goal of saving the ecology of the California Delta while making it a more reliable source of water apparently is losing half of the equation -- the ecology part. The other part -- spending billions of dollars to build massive twin water tunnels to ship water to the south -- is still on the chalkboard.

Central Valley Business Times, April 12, 2015

Why Gov. Jerry Brown's water plan fails to tackle agriculture

Gov. Jerry Brown has spoken: The drought is a sign of climate change. But as has happened so often in his long political career, there is little correspondence between the problems he describes and the solutions he proposes. He claims we face a "new era," but he acts as if this were just another drought and getting rid of lawns and taking fewer showers will see Californians through. His role is scold in chief.

San Francisco Chronicle, April 12, 2015

Delta tunnels: Major changes to environmental restoration could endanger Brown's water plan

Now the Brown administration is proposing a major and politically risky change: dropping a 50-year guarantee to restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta's environment. A centerpiece of the project, the environmental plan included $8 billion to preserve 100,000 acres of wetlands and dozens of other restoration efforts. The dramatic course correction, whose details have not yet been made public, comes after biologists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other federal agencies told the state they won't issue permits for the environmental plan. The reasons, the biologists say, is that the state cannot prove it will restore salmon, smelt, sturgeon and other wildlife struggling for survival in the Delta.

San Jose Mercury News, April 11, 2015

Delta's water vanishing amid drought

Delta farmers don't deny using as much water as they need. But they say they're not stealing it because their history of living at the water's edge gives them that right. Still, they have been asked to report how much water they're pumping and to prove their legal rights to it.

San Diego Union Tribune April 11, 2015

Feds to look into bottled-water permit during drought

Federal officials are examining long-expired permits that Nestle has been using to pipe water out of a national forest to sell as bottled water, a U.S. Forest Service supervisor said.

USA Today, April 11, 2015

California farmers mount PR campaign to counter backlash over water use

On the total water use numbers themselves, there is broad agreement. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, about 9 million acres of farmland in the state are irrigated, representing about 80 percent of all water used by people.

Sacramento Bee, April 9, 2015

State regulators: California water use will never be the same

California needs to use "this crisis as an opportunity to accelerate what we know we are going to have to do under climate change anyway," said Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, which oversees the state's complex system of water allocations, and this spring is tasked with writing new usage regulations.

Sacramento Bee, April 9, 2015

Emergency changes approved reducing river flows

Tom Howard, executive director of the State Water Resources Control Board, found this week that those lower river flows "are likely to have negative effects on fish and wildlife species," but he said in a written order that the emergency changes -- combined with similar changes earlier this year -- could save 1.2 million acre-feet of water through June., April 8, 2015

Calif. authorities won't dictate crops, irrigation amid drought

California authorities have no plans to mandate further water conservation efforts on farms even as political pressure mounts from urban residents feeling the effects of Gov. Jerry Brown's order to cut their water use by 25 percent.

Capitol Press, April 8, 2015

It's Time to Restrict Groundwater Pumping in California

Brown's arguments about agriculture and water use -- while true to a point -- are deeply flawed. For starters, agribusinesses, especially in the dry Western San Joaquin Valley (roughly between Tracy and Bakersfield), have been making up for the water cutbacks from Northern California and the delta by pumping huge amounts of water out of the ground. In fact, in some areas, farmers have faced no real water shortage so far, because the state has no restrictions on groundwater use.

East Bay Express, April 8, 2015

California Slow To Spend Emergency Drought Money

"Simply because the money has been awarded or encumbered doesn't mean that it's been spent," explains Sacramento State political analyst Steve Boilard, a veteran state budget watcher.

Capitol Public Radio, April 5, 2015

California's wealthy lagging in water conservation

Beverly Hills and other affluent cities use far more water per capita than less-wealthy communities, prompting some to cast them as villains in California's water conservation effort.

Los Angeles Times, April 5, 2015

Beneath California Crops, Groundwater Crisis Grows

Scientists say some of the underground water-storing formations so critical to California's future -- typically, saturated layers of sand or clay -- are being permanently damaged by the excess pumping, and will never again store as much water as farmers are pulling out.

New York Times, April 5, 2015

Watering California's Farms

Farmers can switch from flood irrigation or inefficient sprinklers to drip or microspray systems, which use less water. They can also invest in irrigation controllers that monitor water and soil conditions and deliver only as much water as crops need. And some may need to change what they plant

New York Times, April 5, 2015

Capitol Journal: Why do farmers get a free pass from Brown?

Agriculture is a business, but it uses 80% of our water and accounts for only 2% of the state's economy.

Los Angeles Times, April 5, 2015

California Drought Tests History of Endless Growth

A punishing drought is forcing a reconsideration of whether the aspiration of untrammeled growth that has for so long been the state's engine has run against the limits of nature.

New York Times, April 4, 2015

An unrelenting drought should spur California to overhaul its water system

The state has a complex system of water rights, developed over decades to attract miners, farmers and other settlers. This system makes it difficult to track who's using what, let alone to see that water goes where it's most needed. The best way to ensure that happens is to sweep away the complexity and finally create a transparent and efficient water market in California. Those who need it most will pay a price that reflects reality. Those who don't won't.

Washington Post, April 3, 2015

Agriculture is 80 percent of water use in California. Why aren't farmers being forced to cut back?

The argument for focusing urban conservation may come down to practical concerns. It takes time and investment to make farms more efficient, and the state has already put money into encouraging farmers to buy efficiency upgrades. During drought emergencies, water use can be curtailed faster by simply telling people not to water their lawns.

Washington Post, April 3, 2015

Exclusive: California used 70 million gallons of water in fracking in 2014

California oil producers used 214 acre-feet of water, equivalent to nearly 70 million gallons, in the process of fracking for oil and gas in the state last year, less than previously projected, state officials told Reuters on Thursday.

Reuters, April 3, 2015

Californians Who Conserved Wonder if State Can Overcome Those Who Didn't

A day after Gov. Jerry Brown announced sweeping mandatory cuts to water use, Californians said they worried that their efforts to scrimp and conserve were simply not enough in the face of a four-year drought that has drained reservoirs, robbed mountains of snow and raised concerns about an increasingly scarce and precious resource.

New York Times, April 3, 2015

Officials deflect criticism that water plan spares ag

Gov. Jerry Brown's April 1 executive order boosts reporting requirements for agricultural water users and mandates that water districts submit detailed drought plans. State officials deflect criticism that farmers weren't ordered to do more as cities were required to cut their water use by 25 percent.

Capitol Press, April 2, 2015

Amid record-low snowpack, California orders mandatory curbs on water use

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) announced strict new curbs on state water use Wednesday to combat a worsening drought affecting more than 50 million people in the western United States. The executive order imposes mandatory water reductions across California to reduce water usage by 25 percent.

Washington Post, April 1, 2015

California Drought Is Worsened by Global Warming, Scientists Say

The severe California drought that has led the state to order cutbacks in water use may not have been set off by climate change, scientists say, but global warming is making the situation worse.

New York Times, April 1, 2015

March 2015

Delta decisions must be made in the open

The range of competing and entrenched water interests (agriculture, water purveyors, environmentalists, local governments and ratepayers, among others) will only find a solution through an open, collaborative process.

Sacramento Bee, March 31, 2015

April snowpack hits new record low: 6 percent of average

The April 1 snowpack measurement of accumulation in the Sierra Nevada Mountains is likely to be the lowest in recorded history, furthering concerns of possible water shortages during the fourth year of a historic drought.

KPCC, March 31, 2015

Congress may consider proposals to address California's drought

Local water agencies in California would get federal help to begin new projects to capture, store and recycle more water under a proposal being introduced in Congress by Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton. A second proposal from him would ensure the health and safety of drinking water during drought conditions.

Central Valley Business Times, March 30, 2015

Opinion California's cracking down on urban water waste. What about the farmers?

As George Skelton points out in his Times column, state water conservation efforts are focused almost exclusively on individuals while ignoring the well-hydrated elephant in the room: California's agriculture industry consumes the lion's share of the state's "developed water" (i.e., water that is managed and controlled in reservoirs, dams, rivers, etc.).

Los Angeles Times, March 28, 2015

$1 Billion Water Spending Plan Heads to California Governor

A plan to pump $1 billion of water spending into drought-stricken California cleared the Legislature on Thursday and was sent to Gov. Jerry Brown, who is expected to sign the legislation.

ABC News, March 26, 2015

California lawmakers weigh $1 billion water spending plan; few details on key projects

The lack of details marked a change from the usual practice for flood bond spending. Lawmakers typically know what projects they are approving, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office. The office says spending for flood protection in California has been slowed in recent years as projects have struggled to find federal and local matching funds and get lengthy, mandatory environmental clearances. The office has criticized earlier versions of the flood protection plan for not addressing these delays.

Associated Press, March 25, 2015

Water Transfers Threaten Fish and Tribes

Salmon and the Native Americans in Northern California who depend on them are facing grave threats from the continued shipment of water to agribusinesses in the dry San Joaquin Valley.

East Bay Express, March 25, 2015

Water Transfers Threaten Fish and Tribes

Salmon and the Native Americans in Northern California who depend on them are facing grave threats from the continued shipment of water to agribusinesses in the dry San Joaquin Valley.

East Bay Express, March 24, 2015

We deserve to hear both sides of debate on Delta tunnels

Friends of the River demanded and obtained copies of the hidden comments under the Freedom of Information Act. We recently completed posting all the comments made by public agencies and non-government organizations.

Sacramento Bee, March 24, 2015

Water details become vital as drought worsens

For the third year running, Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, is pushing legislation to provide public access to otherwise confidential reports about groundwater wells. Her Senate Bill 20, which cleared its first committee Tuesday, clearly warrants approval by the full Legislature.

Sacramento Bee, March 24, 2015

Mercury News editorial: Jerry Brown's lame response to California's drought

California is in a drought of historic proportions with no end in sight. Scientists and political leaders, including Gov. Jerry Brown, agree. The governor called an official state of emergency way back in January 2014 -- but you wouldn't know it from his actions since. Lame doesn't begin to describe Brown's failure to show leadership on this threat to the state's long-range future that's easily as dire as the massive budget deficit he inherited in 2011.

San Jose Mercury News, March 23, 2015

Thirsty crops should require state regulation

This is what the Brown administration isn't talking about as it tightens the spigot on landscaping: Urban use accounts for only 20% of California's developed water. Agriculture sucks up 80%.

Los Angeles Times, March 22, 2015

It's time to get serious about the California drought

The cold reality is that even if the current drought were to end tomorrow, there will be more extended droughts in California's future. There is still a distressing lack of emphasis and urgency on key aspects of long-term state water policy.

San Diego Union Tribune, March 21, 2015

Drought legislation must target agribusiness and Big Oil

Governor Jerry Brown and lawmakers touted the introduction of drought legislation in the Legislature on March 19, while leaders of environmental and consumer groups urged Brown to put real limits on the "most egregious" water users - corporate agribusiness and big oil companies - to really address the drought.

Daily Kos, March 19, 2015

$1 billion in California drought relief may just be the beginning

Gov. Jerry Brown and top lawmakers from both parties announced Thursday a $1-billion plan to deal with California's persistent drought, describing the legislation as a mix of short-term relief and support for long-term water projects."This is a struggle," Brown said at a Capitol news conference. "Something we're going to have to live with. For how long, we're not sure."

Los Angeles Times, March 19, 2015

Dry Southern California Offers Northern Farmers Top Dollar for Water

As California continues to endure its historic drought, a huge water district in the southern part of the state is offering to pay what is thought to be its highest price ever for water from farmers in the north -- more than double what it paid just five years ago., March 18, 2015

California Targets Wrong Water Wasters

As the state's water supply plummets to scary levels, officials are going after people who overwater their lawns. That's a good idea. But they're not the worst culprits.

East Bay Express, March 18, 2015

California: New mandatory water conservation rules for lawns, hotels, restaurants

Acknowledging that California's water conservation efforts are falling short as the state descends into a fourth year of punishing drought, the administration of Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday imposed new mandatory water conservation rules that will affect millions of people -- from how homeowners water their lawns to how restaurants and hotels serve their guests

San Jose Mercury News, March 18, 2015

Fate of Delta smelt sinks as numbers drop

A tiny fish in the middle of California's tug of war over water has declined so sharply in the drought it could be headed toward extinction. State crews who trawl the Delta waters with a net found only six of the fish in March, the lowest March count on record, environmental groups and scientists reported Tuesday.

San Jose Mercury News, March 17, 2015

As California Drought Enters 4th Year, Conservation Efforts and Worries Increase

California is facing a punishing fourth year of drought. Temperatures in Southern California soared to record-high levels over the weekend, approaching 100 degrees in some places. Reservoirs are low. Landscapes are parched and blighted with fields of dead or dormant orange trees. And the Sierra Nevada snowpack, which is counted on to provide 30 percent of the state's water supply as it melts through early summer, is at its second-lowest level on record.

New York Times, March 17, 2015

As drought worsens, L.A. water agency offers cash to Sacramento Valley farmers

Sacramento Bee, March 12, 2015

Op-Ed: California has about one year of water left. Will you ration now?

Our state's water management is complex, but the technology and expertise exist to handle this harrowing future. It will require major changes in policy and infrastructure that could take decades to identify and act upon. Today, not tomorrow, is the time to begin.

Los Angeles Times, March 12, 2015

Agencies admit failing to protect water sources from fuel pollution

The agencies charged with overseeing oil production and protecting California's ever-dwindling water sources from the industry's pollution all fell down on the job, one state official told a panel of peeved lawmakers Tuesday.

Los Angeles Times, March 10, 2015

California is pumping water that fell to Earth 20,000 years ago

As California farms and cities drill deeper for groundwater in an era of drought and climate change, they no longer are tapping reserves that percolated into the soil over recent centuries. They are pumping water that fell to Earth during a much wetter climatic regime -- the ice age.

Reveal, March 9, 2015

Mercury News editorial: California urban water users must get serious about conservation

Lower water use has to become the norm. Agriculture can adjust by shifting from, say, almond orchards back to less water-intense crops, but even if it does, cities will need to step up. Residents shouldn't be waiting to get started.

Mercury news, March 9, 2015

Water storage projects need critical analysis

The commission's challenge will be to take a broad view of the state's plumbing system and to develop a strategy for better integrating storage and water transfers into an efficient, statewide network. That must include independent analyses of which surface water and groundwater projects work best in California's diverse geography and consideration of the impact of climate change on our water supply.

Sacramento Bee, March 7, 2015

Drought stays with us; so does inaction

From the state we have a requirement to come up with a way to manage ground water. That's good, but at the rate we are going, the timeline set for a plan may be much too late. The state wants a balance between water in and water out by 2035. If we have a few more years of drought, who thinks there will be any water left underground to worry about?

The Sentinel, March 6, 2015

Future unclear for salmon

Despite the drought, thousands of king salmon splashed their way up the San Joaquin River and its tributaries last year. But the real test may be still to come., March 6, 2015

'Limited' water exports OK'd

State water watchdogs may allow more water to be pumped south from the Delta this month, but only under "very limited circumstances.", March 6, 2015

Big Businesses Weigh In On Drought

Several companies including Coca-Cola and General Mills announced today they will work together to push for better water management in the state.

Capital Public Radio, March 5, 2015

NOAA: El Nino is 'too little, too late' for California drought

El Nino is here, but don't expect the Pacific Ocean circulation phenomenon to do much for the drought afflicting California and the western U.S., forecasters said Thursday.

Los Angeles Times, March 5, 2015

Tuesday snow survey shows dismal 20 percent snowpack in central Sierra

The water content of the snow for California is at 19 percent of the average for this time of year, with the central Sierra at 20 percent of average., March 5, 2015

Chevron, Linn Told to Halt California Wells on Water Concern

California regulators ordered oil drillers including Chevron Corp. and Linn Energy LLC to halt operations at 12 injection wells in the state because of concerns they may taint groundwater.

Bloomberg Business, March 3, 2015

California drought likely a fixture, says Stanford study

Human-caused climate change is increasing drought risk in California -- boosting the odds that our current crisis will become a fixture of the future, according to a major report Stanford scientists released Monday morning.

Mercury News, March 2, 2015

California drought: State to boost water deliveries after feds pull back

California water officials delivered a rare piece of good news Monday, saying the state's vast system of lakes and reservoirs is full enough to offer cities and farms slightly more water than they expected to provide earlier this year.

San Francisco Chronicle, March 2, 2015

February 2015

WATER: LaMalfa and Garamendi introduce legislation to build Sites Reservoir, store water for millions of Californians

Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA-01) and Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA-03) this week announced the introduction of HR 1060, which will accelerate the completion of a feasibility study of Sites Reservoir and authorize the project should it be found feasible.

Lake County News, February 28, 2015

Bill would double federal funds to restore S.F. Bay

California lawmakers led by Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, and Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer introduced legislation last week to double the amount of federal grants to restore the bay, the largest estuary on the West Coast, to $10 million a year.

San Francisco Chronicle, February 27, 2015

New California water legislation might be on tap

California water legislation is starting to trickle across Capitol Hill. One newly introduced bill would speed approval of Sites Reservoir in the Sacramento Valley. Another would help restore San Francisco Bay habitat. More targeted bills are coming.

McClatchy DC, February 27, 2015

Drought: No reservoir water projected for many Valley farmer

The federal government informed California cities and farms Friday that the state's biggest reservoirs may not be able to provide most of the water typically doled out. And, unless there's significant rain and snow in the next few months, no water will be given to growers on the fertile west side of the San Joaquin Valley, for the second year in a row, farmers reported.

San Francisco Chronicle, February 27, 2015

Mercury News editorial: Delta's health should take priority over pumping

California needs to get serious about protecting the health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, one of Silicon Valley's most valuable water sources. The short-term needs of Central Valley farmers are significant. But they pale in comparison with preserving the long-term water quality of the estuary that provides water for two-thirds of the state's residents.

San Jose Mecury News, February 24, 2015

Water rights' cost draws scrutiny

A provision in California's landmark 2014 Water Bond Act, Proposition 1, could lead California into overspending on water-- and that has sparked concern from the Legislature's nonpartisan fiscal adviser.

Capitol Weekly, February 24, 2015

Oil industry's toxic wastewater threatens California water supplies

Newly revealed documents and media investigations show that state regulators allowed the oil industry to drill more than 2,400 illegal injection wells for wastewater disposal or oil production into protected California aquifers, including some with water clean enough to drink or irrigate crops.

Sacramento Bee, February 21, 2015

State water chief admits mistakes in management

The head of the watchdog agency overseeing California water said he was "mistaken" last year when he approved emergency actions that harmed threatened fish.

Stockton Record, February 19, 2015

Water for California Farms - or for Fish?

Opposing recommendations from federal and state agencies Wednesday, the head of California's water board advised regulators to deny agribusinesses' request for increased pumping from the Delta during the next two months.

Courthouse News Service, February 19, 2015

Arsenic, nitrates among pollutants in California drinking water: report

Water in California violated federal quality standards more than 1,000 times during the fiscal year, triggering reports to the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the report said.

Reuters, February 18, 2015

California water officials eye new restrictions in drought

As the California drought drags on, water officials are considering expanding mandatory outdoor water restrictions on homeowners and adding new limits on restaurants, hotels and decorative fountains.

Fresno Bee, February 17, 2015

Meet The Biggest Threats to California's Environment: The Winners of the Annual Cold, Dead Fish Awards

For its disastrous water policies and the near-extinction of American River steelhead, as well as its continuing drive to raise Shasta Dam, David Murrillo, MidPacific director of the [B}ureau [of Reclamation], receives the "Extinct Steelhead" award.

East Bay Express, February 16, 2015

Threatened Smelt Touches Off Battles in California's Endless Water Wars

The immediate future looks grim. Despite a few powerful winter storms, California is facing a likely fourth year of drought, which is wreaking havoc on the delta's ecosystem. The waterway where the federal researchers were working contained large patches of water hyacinth, an invasive plant that has proliferated in the dry conditions. Last fall, scientists doing a comprehensive survey recorded their lowest-ever seasonal tally of delta smelts, by a substantial margin. Another species, the longfin smelt, hit its second-lowest number.

New York Times, February 14, 2015

U.S. Soon to Face Worst "Megadroughts" in a Millenium, Scientists Predict

Analysis released Thursday from scientists at NASA, Cornell University, and Columbia University predicts that climate change will cause droughts in the Southwest and Great Plains of the U.S. that exceed any experienced in the last 1,000 years.

Newsweek, February 13, 2015

Editorial: Amid a lack of fracking data, the state should halt new operations

The state Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources does not know how much, if any, of the waste pumped into the improperly permitted wells was from fracking. Industries are required to report the amount and composition of the waste they inject into wells; the state should compile this information in a timely manner and make it readily available to the public.

Los Angeles Times, February 12, 2015

High levels of benzene found in fracking waste water

Data culled from the first year of those tests found significant concentrations of the human carcinogen benzene in this so-called "flowback fluid." In some cases, the fracking waste liquid, which is frequently reinjected into groundwater, contained benzene levels thousands of times greater than state and federal agencies consider safe.

Los Angeles Times, February 11, 2015

California Pledges Changes in Protecting Underground Water

California has proposed closing by October up to 140 oilfield wells that state regulators had allowed to inject into federally protected drinking water aquifers, state officials said Monday. The deadline is part of a broad plan the state sent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week for bringing state regulation of oil and gas operations back into compliance with federal safe-drinking water requirements.

Associated Press, February 9, 2015

California Legislature Wants Oversight On Water Bond Money

In total, California has $7.5 billion in bond revenue to work with. Most will be allocated to state departments through the budget process. Democrat Mark Levine chairs the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife committee, which will hold an oversight hearing on the bond. Levine says the state should be cautious.

Capitol Public Radio, February 9, 2015

California drought: Obama administration to invest $50 million in relief

To ease the pain of a drought that's gripped the American West for three years, the federal government will invest $50 million in relief projects across the region, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced Friday. Since California is ground zero for the drought, a federal water project that supplies many of the Central Valley's farms will get almost 40 percent of the money. The rest will be used to finance a water conservation grant program and help states prepare for the next long stretch of bone-dry weather.

San Jose Mercury News, February 6, 2015

Jerry Brown 'not ready' for mandatory water restrictions in drought

Sacramento Bee, February 6, 2015

Set water priorities to prepare for drought

California needs a new approach to managing the environment during drought: One that is deliberative, not reactive. We can learn a lot from our Australian friends in this regard. They weathered a brutal decade-long dry period -- called the Millennium Drought -- through careful planning and prioritization. This included investing in habitats that provided refuge for at-risk species during the driest periods.

San Francisco Chronicle, February 5, 2015

Water Board orders diverters to further justify senior Delta water rights

Persons claiming senior water rights in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed are now going to be required to provide the State Water Resources Control Board detailed information on the water rights they claim and diversions associated with those rights.

Central Valley Business Times, February 4, 2015

State considers tighter water limits, hopes for relief this week

California water officials are considering tightening restrictions on outdoor watering, even as they hold out hope that a series of storms late this week will provide some relief for the drought-stricken state.

San Francisco Chronicle, February 3, 2015

January 2015

State let oil companies taint drinkable water in Central Valley

Oil companies in drought-ravaged California have, for years, pumped wastewater from their operations into aquifers that had been clean enough for people to drink. They did it with explicit permission from state regulators, who were supposed to protect the increasingly strained groundwater supplies from contamination.

San Francisco Chronicle, January 31, 2015

Sierra snowpack dismal for January; fourth year of drought looks likely

The latest survey of California's mountain snowpack on Thursday brought the bad news slamming home: This month will rank as the driest January in state history at many locations, virtually assuring a fourth straight year of drought.

Sacramento Bee, January 30, 2015

California wild salmon harvest continues to dwindle with drought

It's still a little too early to tell for sure, but the news on the California wild salmon front is not good. A combination of low water levels in streams because of the drought and high summer temperatures resulted in a massive die-off of young salmon in Northern California.

Los Angeles Times, January 30, 2015

Brown's tunnel vision could sink taxpayers

Gov. Brown appears undisturbed by the financial, environmental and safety concerns of the tunnels. His brand of tunnel vision can't reverse itself. It prefers to focus on the joys of spending and a glowing legacy down the road. The governor will be long out of office but California taxpayers, and their children, will be stuck with the costs.

Orange County Register, January 29, 2015

Plan to raise Shasta Dam takes hit after federal biologists say they can't support it

Biologists at the main federal agency that oversees the Endangered Species Act have concluded they cannot endorse a $1.1 billion plan to raise the height of the dam at California's largest reservoir, Shasta Lake, because of its impact on endangered salmon. In a 349-page draft report completed in late November, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded that it is "unable to support" any of the project's five options being considered.

Mercury News, January 27, 2015

Southern California's Water Supply Threatened By Next Major Quake

Research shows that a magnitude 7.8 quake on the San Andreas Fault could sever all four aqueducts at once, cutting off more than 70 percent of the water sustaining Southern California.

NPR, January 27, 2015

Feinstein hosts 7 California reps in closed-door water bill talk

The never-sending search for a California water bill showed, perhaps, a little progress Tuesday as seven Democratic House members met for over an hour with Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein. The late-morning meeting in Feinstein's third-floor Senate office was the first of its kind in the new Congress.

Fresno Bee, January 27, 2015

Private wells in California farm area show high uranium

One in four household water wells in parts of California's Central Valley contains potentially harmful levels of uranium, a U.S. Geological Survey study said. The federal study attributed the higher-than-expected uranium levels to farming in the Central Valley, which is one of the country's leading agricultural regions.

Associated Press, January 26, 2015

California water officials may dam 3 Delta channels in emergency measure to combat drought

State water officials say they may dam parts of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in an emergency measure to protect freshwater used by millions of Californians. The Department of Water Resources said Monday that if the drought persists they may build temporary rocky barriers blocking three channels on the Delta.

Associated Press, January 26, 2015

Water panel begins process of considering bond projects

The California Water Commission is beginning the lengthy process of deciding which projects will be funded under the water storage portion of the $7.5 billion water bond passed by the state's voters in November.

Capitol Press, January 26, 2015

Sites Reservoir in a waiting game

Sites Reservoir is in a holding pattern as project leaders wait for the state to settle on regulations for distributing funds from last year's $7.5 billion water bond.

Corning Appeal Democrat, January 25, 2015

Important California Water Infrastructure Talks Start This Week

Today, the California Water Commission, a nine-member body appointed by the governor, will begin piecing together the rulebook for a water-infrastructure spending spree. In November, voters approved a $US 7.5 billion bond that allocates $US 2.7 billion to "water storage" projects. The commission is charged with selecting the projects that will receive state funds. Applicants will include new reservoirs, underground storage, and proposals to clean up dirty aquifers.

Circle of Blue, January 21, 2015

Boxer vows no more 'secret' talks on drought bill

Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer on Wednesday set down some markers on California water legislation, denouncing "secret negotiations" and stressing the importance of seeking statewide support.

McClatchy DC, January 21, 2015

Century Later, the 'Chinatown' Water Feud Ebbs

While the water theft remains a point of contention, the battle long ago turned into one about the clouds of dust that were the legacy of the lost lake, 200 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.

New York Times, January 20, 2015

Pressure's on to help Delta fish suffering amid drought

Mark Cowin, director of the California Department of Water Resources, called the depleted fish populations "a very deep concern," not only for fisheries, but because they can trigger provisions in the Endangered Species Act that restrict water diversions from the Delta.

Sacramento Bee, January 20, 2015

California drought could end with storms known as atmospheric rivers

As much as Californians might hope for a series of atmospheric rivers to sweep in and end the three-year drought, experts warn that so much rain at once could bring devastation.

Los Angeles Times, January 18, 2015

Work is just beginning for California water policy

While talk of water storage causes most to think of large dams, which will continue to play an important role, there is a much wider range of alternatives and opportunities to explore.

Sacramento Bee, January 18, 2015

Calif. boosts water allocations but warns of continued drought

California's State Water Project boosted its anticipated water deliveries to contractors from 10 percent to 15 percent of requested amounts, but officials warn the drought is still severe and drastic measures could still be taken later this year to meet basic health and safety and environmental needs.

Capitol Press, January 16, 2015

California Drought Outlook Extends at Least Into April

Most of California will still be in drought in April even though conditions will probably improve across the southern part of the state, according to the latest forecast from the U.S. Climate Prediction Center.

Bloomberg News, January 15, 2015

Proposed Water Quality Rules May Limit California Ag Activities

A new effort to regulate grazing and its potential impacts on water quality has California ranchers concerned new rules could limit their food production activities and yield little environmental benefits. The State Water Resources Control Board and the nine regional water quality control boards said in public documents they're working together on the new project to explore ways to improve environmental benefits from grazing, while protecting surface and groundwater.

Sierra Sun Times, January 14, 2015

Garamendi co-sponsors water legislation

The legislation would expand rebates and grants for water conservation and efficiency; support local investments in water recycling and improved groundwater management and storage; invest in research into water-saving technologies and desalination; and establish an open water data system. The measure would also help local communities take steps to become better prepared for drought.

The Reporter, January 13, 2015

Supreme Court declines to hear appeals in California water dispute

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a challenge by California growers and local water management agencies to federal guidelines that limit water diversions to protect the Delta smelt fish. The decision not to hear two related cases means a March 2014 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals siding with the federal government remains intact.

Reuters, January 12, 2015

California's Almonds Suck as Much Water Annually as Los Angeles Uses in Three Years

The US now exports 70 percent of almonds. The thing is, nuts use a whole lot of water: it takes about a gallon of water to grow one almond, and nearly five gallons to produce a walnut. Residents across the state are being told to take shorter showers and stop watering their lawns, but the acreage devoted to the state's almond orchards have doubled in the past decade. The amount of water that California uses annually to produce almond exports would provide water for all Los Angeles homes and businesses for almost three years.

Mother Jones, January 12, 2015

San Joaquin Valley farmers reach secret deal in water dispute

A staggering economic and environmental problem festering for three decades in the southern San Joaquin Valley would be addressed by a secret deal reached between the Obama administration and farmers -- one that is sounding alarms for Bay Area lawmakers...Details of the deal between Westlands and the federal Bureau of Reclamation have not been revealed to members of Congress, who would have to approve it. But according to a short "principles of agreement" document that has been made public, the deal would forgive $342 million in federal debt that Westlands owes for construction of the 1960s extension of the Central Valley Project to deliver water to the San Joaquin Valley farms.

San Francisco Chronicle, January 10, 2015

LOIS HENRY: It's good to be a water lawyer, especially now

"Probably more than any other body of natural resource law, groundwater law is often honored more in the breach than in the compliance," wrote water attorney Gary Sawyers in a primer on California water law.

The Bakersfield Californian, January 10, 2015

PD Editorial: Questions ahead on state water supply

For policymakers and Central Valley growers, it's time to confront the reality that taxpayer-subsidized water and thirsty crops that can't be fallowed are the wrong mix.

Santa Rosa Press Democrat, January 10, 2015

Delta smelt legal battle heads to Supreme Court

Citing the severe state drought, lawyers for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider a strict federal rule from the 1970s that calls for curtailing the water diversions to protect the threatened delta smelt and other imperiled species regardless of the cost to humans and the economy.

Los Angeles Times, January 7, 2015

Drought: California water use down 10%, still short of target

Figures released Tuesday by the State Water Resources Control Board show California residents used 9.8 percent less water in November than in the same month in 2013. That's an improvement over October, when year-over-year use was down 6.8 percent, but still short of Brown's goal of cutting back 20 percent.

San Francisco Chronicle, January 7, 2015

Capitol Hill Californians will push for drought legislation again

This week, as the 114th Congress commences, lawmakers prepare to revive anti-drought proposals that divided the state last year. Tactics and strategies are still being crafted and the outcome is uncertain, as are the lessons that may or may not have been learned.

Freson Bee, January 6, 2015

EDITORIAL: Californians need a new mindset about water

Measures that once seemed extraordinary will have to become a new mindset for Californians. Even though winter storms have brought rain and snow, the drought is far from over. We should not ease up on efforts to conserve.

Fresno Bee, January 3, 2015