Recent California Water News
September 2014Proposition 1: Voters to decide on $7.5 billion water bond
California voters will be faced with a $7.5 billion question this fall about whether to publicly finance a water bond meant to help the state better manage its most precious and increasingly limited resource.
San Francisco Chronicle, September 22, 2014
California drought: Some wells running dry in Central Valley
Hundreds of domestic wells in California's drought-parched Central Valley farming region have run dry, leaving many residents to rely on donated bottles of drinking water to get by.
Los Angeles Daily News, September 21, 2014
Governor signs Wolk bill to better manage state's water resources
Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law legislation Friday that strengthens requirements for urban water districts report to the state their water losses through leaks in their water systems.
Woodland Daily Democrat, September 20, 2014
Roger Dickinson: Historic groundwater law will secure California's water future
By approving my Assembly Bill 1739 and Sen. Fran Pavley's Senate Bill 1168 and SB 1319, which make up the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, local communities now have the tools and the mandate to restore a resource that has often been mismanaged and, consequently, vastly depleted.
Modesto Bee, September 20, 2014
Opponents of governor's tunnels now oppose governor's water bond
The environmental group Restore the Delta has been the sparkplug behind the "Save the Delta, Stop the Tunnels" grass roots movement against the governor's proposal to siphon fresh water from the Sacramento River via what would be two of the largest water tunnels ever built.
Central Valley Business Times, September 18, 2014
Congress keeps California water talks flowing
Secret California water bill negotiations have a "55 percent to 60 percent chance" of success during the fast-fading 113th Congress, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer said Thursday. In her first extended public comments on the closely held water talks, Boxer voiced cautious optimism even as she criticized House Republicans for trying to exclude Northern California Democrats.
Sacramento Bee, September 18, 2014
Jerry Brown signs groundwater legislation
Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Tuesday enacting sweeping new regulations on groundwater pumping in California, making the state the last in the West to regulate the practice.
Sacramento Bee, September 16, 2014
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla: Proposition 1 adds a big debt for little new water
Bottom line: Proposition 1 panders to special interests at the expense of the public. It provides no drought relief, it eliminates public oversight, and it steals funds from essential public programs -- including education and road maintenance. It is pure pork. California taxpayers must not be forced to assume additional debt and sacrifice their access to public water, their fisheries and recreational waterways simply to build infrastructure for politically connected farming conglomerates.
Modesto Bee, September 16, 2014
Gov. Brown's Delta water diversion project gets bashed in Washington
California Governor Jerry Brown's $25 billion twin tunnel water diversion project is getting no love from Washington these days. First, the Environmental Protection Agency said it would violate the Clean Water Act. Now, California lawmakers are trying to pull the plug on federal funding to help launch the project.
Capitol Public Radio, September 15, 2014
California poised to restrict groundwater pumping
Under the legislation, each of these landowners eventually would come under the jurisdiction of a new local "groundwater sustainability agency." These agencies would prepare a groundwater plan, which, for the first time, will set rules on when and how much water each well owner can pump. The local agency could be a county government or a new entity formed by residents specifically to comply with the law.
Sacramento Bee, September 15, 2014
Drought Watch: Where has Shasta Dam water gone?
This summer, like all summers, the Bureau of Reclamation released water from Lake Shasta, the cornerstone of the Central Valley water project and the largest reservoir in the state, to meet Delta flow requirements far to the south. Somewhere along the line from Shasta Dam to the southern Delta, the water is going missing, and it's not known exactly where it's going.
Appeal Democrat, September 10, 2014
Bera sponsors bill to block federal funding for Delta tunnels
Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, sponsored a bill Tuesday to block the federal government from paying part of the cost of building two water diversion tunnels, though Bera and other lawmakers last year said that it was unrealistic to expect any federal money to flow to the project.
Sacramento Bee, September 9, 2014
Water bond opponents attack money for dams
Opponents of California's $7.5 billion water bond proposal signaled their presence Sept. 5 by unveiling an internal poll that suggests soft voter support for the November measure. The poll, which shows Proposition 1 favored among likely voters by 42 percent to 24 percent with 34 percent of voters still undecided, shows the measure may not have the bedrock of support needed to withstand organized opposition, pollster Joshua Ulibarri told reporters in a conference call.
Capital Press, September 8, 2014
Ground rules for groundwater: Uncertain future in Sacramento Valley
The uncertainty stems from the fact DWR has not drafted the guidelines for what the groundwater management plans will need to include to ensure the state does not step in to assume control of groundwater resources, which will initially be handed over to local entities.
Appeal Democrat, September 7, 2014
Bills regulating state's groundwater not an instant fix for aquifers
California is finally about to join the rest of the West in regulating groundwater supplies. But the package of bills awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown's signature is not an instant fix for the state's shrinking, over-pumped aquifers. It could be decades, experts say, before the most depleted groundwater basins recover under the legislation, which is a historic step in a state that long resisted managing a key water source.
Los Angeles Times, September 7, 2014
Editorial: Brown needs to answer EPA on Delta tunnels
Some scientists and environmentalists have been contending that water quality would suffer, pollution would increase and aquatic life would be harmed if California goes forward with plans to build twin tunnels in the Delta. Now, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has strongly reinforced those concerns and called for changes in the multibillion-dollar plan.
Sacramento Bee, September 7, 2014
Mercury News editorial: Governor should sign historic groundwater bill
Californians are just beginning to understand the challenge of managing their limited water supply. The historic groundwater legislation is a major step in the right direction.
San Jose Mecury News, September 2, 2014
California drought: Why doesn't California build big dams any more?
Dam opponents say none of the big projects make economic sense. If the five most often talked-about projects were built, the cost would be $9 billion and the average annual water yield would be only 400,000 acre feet -- 1 percent of California's total annual use -- said Ron Stork, with Friends of the River. "All the good dam sites are taken and the water is already diverted," he said. "Voters are being misled if they think they are going to get a meaningful amount of water out of new dams."
San Jose Mecury News, September 1, 2014
August 2014Historic California groundwater regulations head to Gov. Jerry Brown
California could soon become the last state in the West to regulate water pulled from beneath the earth, with the Legislature on Friday advancing an unprecedented groundwater-management strategy.
Sacramento Bee, August 29, 2014
EPA says California's Delta water tunnel project could violate federal law
The pair of giant water diversion tunnels proposed in the Delta could violate the federal Clean Water Act and increase harm to endangered fish species, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which released its formal comment on the project Thursday.
Sacramento Bee, August 28, 2014
Lawmakers approve groundwater management bill
Amid a third year of drought, state lawmakers began pushing legislation Wednesday that would begin to regulate groundwater for the first time in California history.
Davis Enterprise, August 28, 2014
California officials delay massive Delta water tunnel project
Plans for two huge water diversion tunnels in the Delta are being delayed, state officials announced Wednesday, because the plans need more work.
Sacramento Bee, August 27, 2014
Editorial: Stop the delays; pass groundwater regulation
Bills to create a system for managing groundwater are being undermined before they come up for final votes as early as today in the Senate and Assembly.
Sacramento Bee, August 26, 2014
Dan Walters: Drought leads California to rethink water management
Dealing intelligently with long-term water supply reliability will become more difficult if climate change affects precipitation patterns, but will be impossible without rational groundwater regulation and water rights reform.
Fresno Bee, August 23, 2014
California allocates vastly more water than supplies allow, study shows
The state of California has handed out five times more water rights than nature can deliver, a new study by University of California researchers shows.
Sacramento Bee, August 19, 2014
$7.5 billion water bond headed to California voters
California voters will be asked to authorize $7.5 billion to bolster the state's water supply, infrastructure and ecosystems in November, as lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday struck a long-sought deal to move a new water bond to the ballot.
Modesto Bee, August 14, 2014
California water bond clears Legislature, Brown signs off
With just a few hours to go before a midnight deadline to put a new state water bond on the November ballot, lawmakers Wednesday approved a $7.5 billion package that includes money for California's first new state-funded dams and reservoirs in more than 30 years.
Mercury News, August 14, 2014
Water Bond Measure Is a Bad Idea
The $7 billion compromise plan likely would make it easier for the governor to build his water-tunnel boondoggle.
East Bay Express, August 13, 2014
California water spending plan at a glance
Details of the $7.5 billion water package approved by the Legislature Wednesday for the November ballot (the total repayment cost is projected to be $14.7 billion over 30 years, assuming a 5 percent interest rate on the borrowing).
Charlotte Observer, August 13, 2014
Viewpoints: All sides in water wars should get behind protecting Mokelumne River
People who follow California's water wars may wonder whether experts who disagree on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan ever agree on anything at all. The answer is yes. We agree it's time to protect 37 miles of the Central Sierra's Mokelumne River as a state Wild and Scenic River.
Sacramento Bee, August 13, 2014
Viewpoints: Deadbeat dam projects shouldn't be part of water bond
However, the bond debate ignores the fact that publicly funded new or expanded dams are a 19th century solution to our 21st century water needs that runs afoul of the very real law of diminishing returns.
Fresno Bee, August 12, 2014
Growers group awash in water while neighbors' crops die
The property owners and farmers who are within the 80-mile-long territory that falls under the authority of the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors will get 75 percent of the water they historically receive this year from the California State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project.It is an ironclad guarantee based on California's quirky water-allocation and priority system, which bestowed senior water rights over the past century based, essentially, on who showed up first to take the water.
San Francisco Chronicle, August 8, 2014
California's invisible reservoirs
In this land of little rain, we cannot afford to ignore the vast groundwater storage capacity that nature has provided us.
San Francisco Chronicle, August 8, 2014
Profiting From California's Epic Drought
They're among the lucky owners of so-called senior water rights, which date back to the Gold Rush era, when settlers staked their claims along California's rivers. Today, those claims still determine who gets the water that flows from the Cascades and the Sierra Nevada into the Central Valley, one of the world's most productive agricultural regions. In times of drought, the system creates winners--the heirs of the miners and ranchers who built the state--and losers, including farmers without rights, who find their place in the state's $44.7 billion agricultural industry threatened by deals for natural resources cut more than 100 years ago.
Business Week, August 7, 2014
Mercury News editorial: Santa Clara Water District tax hike would be outrageous
It's apparently legal for California's water districts to raise property taxes without a public vote to pay for the proposed $25 billion Delta twin-tunnel project, but that doesn't make it right.
Mercury News, August 7, 2014
Banish the big water bond
If the Legislature fails to produce a new measure, voters should vote no on the big bond. The state needs resources to address the worst drought on record. The Legislature needs to offer a good bond, not a big one.
San Francisco Chronicle, August 6,2014
Editorial A watered-down water bond for California
Now that same bond is headed toward November's ballot despite Gov. Jerry Brown's warning that he would support only a smaller, $6-billion version. The state does indeed need a water bond -- to fund projects to make better use of its most precious resource through efficiency and recycling; to store water in wet years for use in sustained droughts like this one; to ensure water quality in struggling communities throughout the state; and to repair damage to sensitive ecosystems, most notably in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, which supplies water to most Californians.
Los Angeles Times, August 6, 2014
Jerry Brown presses case on $6 million water bond
Gov. Jerry Brown, pressing his case Tuesday for a smaller water bond on the November ballot, criticized the existing, $11.1 billion bond as "pork-laden" and "with a price tag beyond what's reasonable or affordable."
Sacramento Bee, August 6, 2014
Editorial: California needs to get a grip on its groundwater
It's not just reservoirs and aqueducts that are drying up in the state's drought. Under the ground, aquifers that store water relied on by more than three-quarters of Californians are being over-pumped, often to such an extent that the earth above them sinks. Other states regulate pumping, or require local authorities to do it, to ensure that groundwater is managed sustainably and fairly. Here, though, regulations are so spotty that neighboring farmers often drill for the same water, subject to no agreements on how it is to be divvied up and no checks on over-pumping.
Los Angeles Times, August 4, 2014
Politicians pitch new ways to manage water use
Federal legislation that its sponsors say would provide new incentives and investments to help residents, businesses and local water agencies conserve, recycle and manage limited water supplies is being introduced in Congress by two senators and two members of Congress, three from California and one from Oregon.
Central Valley Business Times, August 1, 2014
How Conservation and Groundwater Management Can Gird California for a Drier Era
It's way past time for California to come to grips with the possibility that its extraordinary water woes are the new normal -- and essentially the return of the old normal given the state's climate history, in which drought has been the rule and the verdant 20th century the exception. In the weekly update to the U.S. Drought Monitor site yesterday, nearly 80 percent of the state was in extreme or exceptional drought conditions.
New York Times, August 1, 2014
Our View: 'Pumping for profit' is exploitation
Water is water, except in a courtroom. In times of scarcity, it needs to be shared, not exploited.
Modesto Bee, August 1, 2014
Drilling wells to quench California's water needs raises debate
California is facing its worst drought in generations -- bad news for the state where nearly half of the nation's fruits and vegetables are grown. With water from rivers and reservoirs in short supply, attention has turned to how to manage the state's groundwater.
PBS Newshour, August 1, 2014
July 2014Editorial: California needs to overhaul its protection of groundwater
There are many environmentally worrisome aspects of oil and gas production, and one is the injection of wastewater back into the ground. This process -- a way of disposing of the contaminated water created during the drilling process -- is done in conventional oil and gas drilling, and is even more common in fracking, which uses large amounts of water to fracture rock and release oil. The concern is that the injection process can end up poisoning the aquifers that provide drinking water.
Los Angeles Times, July 31, 2014
Delta tunnel plan called a fish death sentence by key group
The state's plan to build a pair of 35-mile tunnels under the delta would cause the extinction of winter-run chinook salmon, steep declines in dozens of other species and devastate water quality in San Francisco Bay, an environmental group said Wednesday.
San Francisco Chronicle, July 31, 2014
Why almonds cover California
We, the public, can reclaim our water, but we must break the unholy alliance between Sacramento and the San Joaquin agribusiness cabal. It may be 2014, but our water policies remain rooted in the 19th century. It is high time we brought them up to date.
San Francisco Chronicle, July 29, 2014
Delta tunnels opposition to submit signatures blasting environmental and funding plan
Government officials behind the Bay Delta Conservation Plan are "hiding their financing plan because can't produce a plan," said Jeff Michael, director of the Business Forecasting Center at University of the Pacific, in a conference call with reporters.
Sacramento Business Journal, July 28, 2014
Legislature must not fund delta water tunnels through back door
The state's plan to build twin tunnels to export water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to places farther south is controversial, contested and very expensive. So may be the way that local water districts choose to pay for it.
San Francisco Chronicle, July 27, 2014
Pass law to regulate diminishing California groundwater
While calls to stop serving water in restaurants and to rip out our water-wasting lawns help engage all Californians in weathering the drought, the biggest change is embodied in these bills - the need to treat water as a responsibly shared resource, not a property right.
San Francisco Chronicle, July 26, 2014
California drought requires urgent action
Next year might be wet, but it could just as well be dry. Even in wet years, we have serious unresolved water problems. If we fail to act, we will be at risk of waking up, turning on the tap, and getting nothing but air.
San Francisco Chronicle, July 26, 2014
California officials admit they have incomplete water usage data
When state regulators tried to tally water use across California recently, they didn't exactly get a flood of cooperation. Of the 440 water agencies in the state, only 276 provided water consumption data. And officials in San Diego made a point of formally refusing the request, saying the state's method for measuring water use in California's second-largest city was "misleading and technically inappropriate."
Los Angeles Times, July 26, 2014
For additional information, view the presentation: Emergency Regulations to Increase Urban Water Conservation
New report warns: No groundwater refills after underground layers collapse
Farm water pumping in this dramatic drought is causing the west San Joaquin Valley floor to sink, but forget about refilling those underground spaces when wet years return.
Fresno Bee, July 25, 2014
Property taxes could pay for $25 billion Delta tunnels without public vote
Major water districts in California are quietly considering using property taxes -- and possibly raising them without a vote of the public -- to help fund Gov. Jerry Brown's $25 billion plan to build two massive tunnels through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
Mercury News, July 22, 2014
Coalition forms to manage California's groundwater
Next month, there'll be a major legislative attempt to both regulate groundwater and craft a new, odorless water bond that commits big money to, among other things, aquifer cleanup in the San Fernando Valley.
Los Angeles Times, July 20,2014
California Water Districts Face Suit for Ignoring Conservation Law
After largely ignoring a conservation law passed during the last drought, some of California's largest agricultural water districts are facing a lawsuit that would force them to measure how much water farmers use.
KQED Radio, July 17, 2014
Sacramento Judge Makes Precedent-Setting Ruling On Groundwater Regulation
A Sacramento Superior Court judge issued a ruling Tuesday requiring regulation of groundwater pumping to protect a river in Siskiyou County. Attorneys on both sides say it's the first time a California court has ruled the "public trust doctrine" applies to groundwater. The doctrine says the State of California holds all waterways for the benefit of the people.
Capitol Public Radio, July 16, 2014
California adopts $500 criminal penalty for water waste
On Tuesday, amid evidence that existing conservation measures are not working, the State Water Resources Control Board took the unprecedented step of declaring certain types of water waste a criminal infraction similar to a speeding violation. Water use deemed excessive -- such as allowing landscape watering to spill into streets, and hosing off sidewalks and driveways -- can be subject to fines of $500 per day.
Sacramento Bee, July 15, 2014
Viewpoints: San Joaquin River's hard-won restoration is under threat
If there's a hope that a nugget of California's original wealth can be restored while sustaining modern day demands, that hope lies along the San Joaquin. The restoration started here is a promising historic achievement with a legacy that belongs to everyone. It should not be sacrificed to the cynical belief that a river is wasted if it serves some small remnant of native life, which once thrived to the benefit of all.
Sacramento Bee, July 14, 2014
Another View: Busting water conservation myths
As a solution for California's complex water challenges, conserving water to get more from every drop stands out for its great potential and the misconceptions around it.
Sacramento Bee, July 14, 2014
No water solutions within BDCP
The BDCP in its current form is not the solution we need now. It does not solve the state's water needs and is potentially harmful to our communities that are in the heart of the Delta.
Tracy Press, July 11,2014
A warning to water hogs
California needs to take the drought seriously and modify its water-guzzling ways. While nudging urban water users to let lawns go brown and cars stay dirty, the State Water Resources Control Board has a much bigger challenge in changing the water appetite of agriculture, which consumes nearly three-quarters of the supply.
San Francisco Chronicle, July 10, 2014
Editorial: Water conservation in California can no longer be voluntary
Californians must make conscious choices to save water. Mandatory measures and the threat of fines will help. But the state should also lay the foundation for a permanent change in the ways residents consume water.
Los Angeles Times, July 10, 2014
Saving Water in California
State officials need to act with a much greater urgency. Earlier this year, the State Legislature set aside nearly $700 million for emergency drought relief, but 90 percent of that money has yet to be spent. Mr. Brown's administration should think a lot bigger than emergency aid aimed at a single drought. The state must focus on longer-term policies that encourage people to alter their lifestyles and businesses to change how they operate.
New York Times, July 9,2014
How much water does California have left?
Voluntary measures such as Gov. Jerry Brown's emergency request to reduce water use by 20% are clearly not working. Coastal communities in Southern California managed to reduce water use by only 5% between January and May. Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Diego all recorded increases of between 1% to 4%.
Los Angeles Times, July 8, 2014
In dry California, water fetching record prices
Throughout California's desperately dry Central Valley, those with water to spare are cashing in. As a third parched summer forces farmers to fallow fields and lay off workers, two water districts and a pair of landowners in the heart of the state's farmland are making millions of dollars by auctioning off their private caches.
Associated Press, July 2, 2014
June 2014How We Should Pay For Water
The amount of water on earth is fixed. We can't create any more. But sensible price signals and a robust water market will reflect the true value of our most precious resource.
New York Times, June 30, 2014
Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal intensifies water bond negotiations
Gov. Jerry Brown's call for a drastically cheaper water bond set off a fresh round of negotiations in the Capitol on Wednesday, as lawmakers and stakeholders seek to craft a plan that addresses the state's myriad water needs without a bloated price tag.
Los Angeles Times, June 25, 2014
Gov. Jerry Brown pushes for scaled-down, $6-billion water bond
Gov. Jerry Brown told legislative leaders Tuesday that he wants a $6-billion water bond to be put before voters in November -- a substantially lower price tag than proposals making their way through the Legislature.
Los Angeles Times, June 24, 2014
Delta tunnels, conservancy in spotlight as Senate bond proposal falters
With the governor's controversial Delta tunnel project a key part of the debate, lawmakers on Monday failed to advance a leading Senate proposal to put a revised water bond on the November ballot.
Sacramento Bee, June 23, 2014
Op-Ed 'Chinatown' in real life: In L.A., you have to follow the water
[S]cientists know that California and the Southwest have experienced mega-droughts, lasting for decades. Today, no one has a plan should such droughts recur. And yet recur they almost certainly will. UCLA researchers found that such "perfect droughts" coincide with periods of warming temperatures. And the climate models and data point to one consistent conclusion: The Southwest will be much warmer and drier in the near future. State officials expect the Sierra snowpack to diminish by 25% in 35 years.
Los Angeles Times, June 20, 2014
Ballooning state water bond
Taxpayer-approved bonds should pay for projects with clear, wide public benefits. Ratepayers should bear the cost of projects that benefit a select few. This package needs to be scaled back to reflect a fiscal and environmental responsibility that voters can accept.
San Francisco Chronicle, June 18, 2014
Report: California has a long way to go on water conservation
As California slips into summer amid the worst drought in a generation, state residents, as a whole, have done relatively little to cut their water use, falling well short of the 20 percent target set in Gov. Jerry Brown's emergency drought declaration in January.
Sacramento Bee, June 17, 2014
Lawsuit targets Delta water shipments
Environmentalists sued Wednesday to block proposed water transfers from Northern California to the drought-plagued south San Joaquin Valley, arguing that the plan fails to protect the fragile Delta.
Stockton Record, June 12, 2014
Drought Outlook: 'Disastrous Consequences' If 2015 Is Dry
A dry 2015 would have disastrous consequences for agencies and sectors up and down the state.
KQED, June 11, 2014
Dueling Drought Strategies: Save More Water or Store More Water
Two competing camps have emerged about how to boost California's water supplies during dry times: conserve more water or build more water storage.
KQED, June 10, 2014
Northern California leaders frame their position on water bond
Cynical observers of California politics sometimes assume the real reason for a new statewide water bond is to pay for projects that take water from the north and ship it south. But on Monday, a number of Northern California leaders made it clear they are prepared to support a water bond for the November ballot -- under certain conditions.
Fresno Bee, June 10, 2014
California Farmers Ask: Hey Buddy, Can You Spare Some Water?
Some farmers are paying 50 or even 100 times more for that water than others who live just an hour's drive away.
NPR, June 9, 2014
Editorial Congress' drought legislation an arid offering Drought and doubt over Congress' dusty solutions
Masquerading as a response to California's drought, a bill to waive environmental protections and divert more water to Central Valley agriculture passed the Republican-controlled House in February and is now going to conference to be reconciled with a competing bill by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that the Senate adopted last month. Californians overwhelmingly reject loosening environmental regulations to increase water deliveries to farms and cities, as demonstrated by the results of a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll released Friday. So you might think that Feinstein's alternative bill would propose a more palatable way to deal with the state's water crisis. But there's a catch -- three of them, actually.
Los Angeles Times, June 8, 2014
Diana Diamond column: Time to take the big picture in dealing with California's droughts
Let's not keep telling people to conserve more water, take fewer showers or recycle their washing machine with gray water. We need to do something much more dramatic to handle what, most likely, will be continuing droughts in our arid state.
Mercury News, June 4, 2014
Editorial: It's high time California manages its underground water sources
Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, has legislation, Senate Bill 1168, to require local agencies to develop groundwater-management plans. There are other bills regarding groundwater management as well. The governor has also included nearly $5 million in his proposed 2014-15 budget for the Department of Water Resources to monitor groundwater levels and to step in when local or regional agencies fail to police their own groundwater basins.
Sacramento Bee, June 2, 2014
May 2014Feinstein water legislation will weaken Delta conservation efforts
California must find solutions for the real problems with the state's water supply, including lack of groundwater regulation in overdrafted parts of the San Joaquin Valley; failure to invest sufficiently in water recycling infrastructure and conservation; and replacement of row crop farming with tree crops that harden demand for water. Periodic droughts are part of California's climate, and they may become more frequent under climate change. Feinstein appears to blame the conservation community for not solving this problem because we will not agree to short-term fixes that result in species extinctions, continued degradation of the West Coast's largest estuary, and the demise of related fishing and tourism businesses.
Mercury News, May 30, 2014
Guest commentary: California's water crisis requires smart actions and tough choices
For a state as blessed as California with innovation, technology and riches of all kinds, there are climate-smart solutions to address our shared water challenges.These solutions fall roughly into two categories: the ones we can do now, and the ones that require us to answer tough questions, demand political action and to make far-sighted investments
Contra Costa Times, May 24,2014
Feinstein leaves S.J. high, dry
That politically connected region [southern San Joaquin Valley] on Thursday was the beneficiary of Feinstein's water bill that took water from migrating baby salmon and gave it to desert farms.
Stockton Record, May 23, 2014
Senate passes California drought-relief bill
With nary a word, the Senate on Thursday night passed a California drought-relief bill that sets up serious negotiations with the House over water storage, river protection, irrigation deliveries and more.
Modesto Bee, May 22, 2014
Panel: Delta tunnel project 'falls short' of scientific standards
The state's proposal to restore habitat in the Delta and build two massive water diversion tunnels on the Sacramento River "falls short" in its scientific rigor, according to a new report by a group of scientists.
Sacramento Bee, May 19, 2014
Drought could cost Central Valley farms $1.7 billion and 14,500 jobs
"Overall, the state economy will be much less affected by the drought," Lund said in an interview. "That's largely because California is not an agricultural economy. Back in the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s, agriculture accounted for about 30% of the jobs in California. Today, it's less than 5%."
Los Angeles Tims, May 19, 2014
Feinstein: Environmentalists no help on California drought
Sen. Dianne Feinstein will try to fast-track farm-friendly drought legislation through the Senate over the objections of environmentalists, who the senator complains have done nothing to help her adapt California's aging water system to deal with climate change and the addition of millions of thirsty residents.
San Francisco Chronicle, May 16, 2014
Depletion of Central Valley's groundwater may be causing earthquakes
For years, scientists have wondered about the forces that keep pushing up California's mighty Sierra Nevada and Coast Ranges, causing an increase in the number of earthquakes in one part of Central California. On Wednesday, a group of scientists offered a new, intriguing theory: The quakes are triggered in part by the pumping of groundwater in the Central Valley, which produces crops that feed the nation.
Los Angeles Times, May 14, 2014
The Water Tunnel Boondoggle
The project is ambitious. In fact, it's hard to overstate its grandeur. Building the tunnels is expected to cost roughly five times as much as the construction of the Hoover Dam when adjusting for inflation, and nearly a quarter of the Delta's mostly fertile farmland would be seized and literally turned upside down to create tidal wetlands. Despite its magnitude, however, a significant portion of the water project isn't subject to voter approval.
East Bay Express, May 14, 2014
Nick Di Croce: Don't build dams; stop sending water to poisoned land
There is a less risky and less expensive way of dealing with the fact that California promises more water than is normally available --retiring much of the selenium, boron, mercury and arsenic contaminated farmland in parts of the south Valley and west side currently served by the Federal Central Valley Project.
Modesto Bee, May 10, 2014
State needs to monitor use of underground water
Overdraft is harming the land, reducing the ability to store water underground and threatening the state's economy. At this rate, California might not have the underground water reserves to get us through the next drought.
San Francisco Chronicle, May 9, 2014
Group says state regulations needed to preserve Valley groundwater
A key advisory group told Gov. Jerry Brown's administration Monday that regulation must be part of the fight against overdrafting precious groundwater -- the state's declining safety net in drought crisis.
Fresno Bee, May 5, 2014
Report: Well water under strain across California
A new analysis of groundwater levels across California has found historically low water levels in thousands of wells in all areas of the state, another telltale of the drought's intensity.
Sacramento Bee, May 1, 2014
April 2014Water cutbacks looming for California farmers, water agencies
California water officials are on the verge of making an unusually drastic pronouncement in response to the ongoing drought: Ordering hundreds of water agencies, farmers and other property owners to stop diverting water from rivers in which they have longstanding water rights.
Sacramento Bee, April 30, 2014
When the wells run dry: State's groundwater nearing crisis
While the day when dust comes out of the tap instead of water may not be imminent, Californians are rapidly draining the state's known available groundwater as the drought continues, a new report from the Department of Water Resources says
Central Valley Business Times, April 30, 2014
LOIS HENRY: Epic drought calls for epic solution: backward flow
Water does funny things in California. When there's a drought as bad as the one we're in now, it does things you wouldn't think were possible. Like flow backwards. As in south to north.
The Bakersfield Californian, April 29, 2014
Farmers And Frackers Wrangle For Water In Shadow Of Calif. Drought
California's drought has developed an interesting relationship between farmers and oilers: California oil wells produce more water than oil, and Chevron filters that water and sells it to a local water district. Interest in the technology is growing in the Central Valley, but high costs and uneasy relations between oil and agriculture might get in the way.
NPR, April 29, 2014
California rethinking groundwater
With water tables plummeting in places from the wine country of Paso Robles to the almond orchards of the San Joaquin Valley, the state Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown could soon adopt measures to retool California's approach to groundwater.
The Desert Sun, April 28, 2014
California drought putting fish, birds and tree species at risk, scientists say
California's drought is imperiling tricolored blackbirds, large trees and native fish, with some of the affected species already on the state's endangered list and others likely headed there because of rapidly declining numbers, scientists say.
Sacramento Bee, April 25, 2014
Gov. Brown orders more emergency drought measures
Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed a sweeping new emergency drought proclamation, cutting red tape for a variety of government functions to help water agencies find new supplies, and to press the public to use water carefully...Others said it goes too far. "The danger is the bad precedent this sets for waiving environmental protections," said Jonas Minton, a water adviser at the Planning and Conservation League in Sacramento. "In this dry year, the limitation is not environmental protection. It's the lack of water throughout California."
Sacramento Bee, April 25, 2014
Billionaires' influence felt in state's water policy
The outsize influence of subsidized mega-growers yields significant indirect control of our state and federal agencies that regulate them. That's a problem, as their private interests trump the public interest.
San Francisco Chronicle, April 25, 2014
Opinion on Paso Robles groundwater basin
But groundwater is a finite resource. It already is exploited excessively, and water tables are falling in many places because recharge is not keeping up with withdrawals. Worse, efforts are underway to transfer control of our aquifers from local and regional stakeholders to centralized state and corporate interests by creating water districts that enable the export of groundwater beyond the boundaries of overlying lands.
Paso Robles Daily News, April 24, 2014
Mercury News editorial: Feinstein bill risks further damage to Delta
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein's willingness to do Big Ag's bidding at the expense of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is increasingly alarming. Last week she released a revised drought bill that has environmentalists up and down the state fuming -- with good reason.
Mercury News, April 21, 2014
California's Thirsting Farmland
A recent report on prospective planting from the federal Department of Agriculture forecast a 20 percent decline in California's rice crop and a 35 percent decline in cotton this year from last year's crop.
New York Times, April 20, 2014
California's water wars reach 'new level of crazy' this year
San Joaquin Valley farm groups say too much water has been allowed to escape to the ocean for nature, robbing the multibillion-dollar agriculture industry. Environmental and fishery groups say agriculture is manipulating the drought crisis to extract delta water, exposing even nonthreatened fish and the fishing industry to catastrophic losses.
Fresno Bee, April 18, 2014
California drought: March rains mean small increase in water supply, but not enough to make a major difference
In a minor bright spot after more than a year of drought, state and federal officials announced Friday that because of March storms, they will be able to deliver slightly more water to California farms and cities this year than expected a few months ago.
Mercury News, April 18, 2014
California's Governor Wants Water Tunnels. Antitax Group Wants to Know Who Pays
California has a $25 billion plan to transport snowmelt from the northern Sierras through a pair of 37-mile tunnels to farms and cities in the south. But there's no indication of how much water users will owe for the huge project or who's on the hook if they can't pay for it, according to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the state's leading antitax group.
Bloomberg Business Week, April 18, 2014
Loosening protections for delta fish won't end the drought
This drought hasn't been caused by a lack of pumping or by environmental regulations; it has been caused by a lack of rain and snow.
San Francisco Chronicle, April 17, 2014
Editorial: Dianne Feinstein's water bill is an overreach
In the past, Feinstein has said it is important to avoid seeking "gains for certain water users at the expense of others" or abandoning "fundamental state and federal environmental laws." To make actions match words, she should fix the two provisions. Otherwise, it just looks like she's going to bat for Westlands and the Resnicks, which doesn't bode well for the larger Bay-Delta process seeking to balance statewide water supply reliability with protection of a healthy Delta ecosystem.
Sacramento Bee, April 17, 2014
Court rules for environmentalists in water fight
An appeals court said Wednesday that federal officials should have consulted wildlife agencies about potential harm to a tiny, threatened fish before issuing contracts for water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Modesto Bee, April 16, 2014
Environmentalists slam Dianne Feinstein's drought bill
Sen. Dianne Feinstein's revised drought bill is coming under increasing attack from the left even as the California Democrat tries to woo Republicans to speed the bill's passage through the Senate without committee consideration. More than a dozen environmental groups, including Sierra Club California, Audubon California, Environmental Defense Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council, issued a letter late Monday demanding changes to the revised bill, S.2198.
San Francisco Chronicle, April 15, 2014
California drought spawns well drilling boom
Tapping groundwater has other costs. The water that was deposited underground naturally over thousands of years isn't being replaced as rapidly as it's being drawn, causing the ground in the Central Valley to sink in a process called subsidence. In California, there is little if any regulation of groundwater pumping by the state.
Sacramento Bee, April 14, 2014
Politics won't end state's drought
Sen. Dianne Feinstein is fast-tracking a bipartisan bill through the Senate that seeks to unravel decades of carefully crafted protections for the San Francisco Bay estuary in an effort to divert more water to Southern California farms and cities.
San Francisco Chronicle, April 9. 2014
San Joaquin tops list of endangered rivers in America
The San Joaquin River is America's most endangered waterway this year, says the national advocacy group American Rivers, known for annually picking the country's 10 most troubled rivers. The San Joaquin's water is spread too thin among farmers, hydroelectric projects and other uses on the mainstem and three tributaries, the Merced, Stanislaus and Tuolumne rivers, the group announced Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
Fresno Bee, April 8, 2014
California drought puzzle: store or conserve more water?
[T]here is not enough water storage in California to sustain all the competing interests. The dilemma has again put a spotlight on the precious water that gets away.
San Francisco Chronicle, April 6, 2014
March 2014The water revolution California needs
The state must follow Australia's example and fundamentally change the way water and water rights are managed.
Los Angeles Times, March 27, 2014
California drought: Central Valley farmland on its last legs
Even before the drought, the southern San Joaquin Valley was in big trouble. Federal studies long ago concluded that the only sensible solution is to retire hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland.
San Francisco Chronicle, March 24, 2014
California drought puts spotlight on water theft
It's amazingly easy to steal water from a California stream. Even in this epic drought, the state has no way of monitoring exactly who is tapping into its freshwater supplies and how much they take. And those who do get caught taking water they have no right to often are allowed to keep taking it for years just by promising to obtain a permit.
Sacramento Bee, March 23, 2014
Drying up the delta: 19th century policies underlie today's crises
Because they got there first, irrigation districts most Californians have never heard of have dibs on vast amounts of water upstream from the delta -- even in times of drought.
Los Angeles Times, March 22, 2014
California farms to get some drought relief
California and federal water officials say there is enough runoff in the Delta from recent storms to begin delivering some water to farms, potentially offering at least temporary drought relief.
Sacramento Bee, March 20, 2014
While Some Lawmakers Offer Outdated Ideas for Drought, California Proves Power of Water Efficiency
While some farmers have invested in advanced systems to use their water more efficiently, more than half of the irrigated acreage in California still relies on less efficient flood and furrow techniques. That presents a huge opportunity for the agricultural community to improve crop yields, maintain farm income, and save water.
Huffington Post, March 17, 2014
Bee Special Report: Continuing to pump, San Joaquin Valley irrigation districts selling surplus
Irrigation districts provide water that's key to agricultural prosperity in the Northern San Joaquin Valley, but some of those districts also have been cashing in on the region's water resources.
Modesto Bee, March 15, 2014
California drought - for salmon, more at stake than dollars
In the water crisis that Californians now face, state leaders are necessarily focused on relieving the immediate effects of the drought on citizens. But the salmon and the commercial and sport fishermen who depend on them must be part of the short-term remedial steps.
San Francisco Chronicle, March 14 2014
Appellate court ruling new hurdle for Delta tunnel plans
On a 2-1 decision, a three-justice appeal panel in Sacramento ruled the California Constitution bars the state from entering private properties to do preliminary soil testing and environmental studies unless it wants to condemn affected sections of the parcels through its power of eminent domain.
Modesto Bee, March 13, 2014
California: Court Upholds Guidelines to Protect Fish
An appeals court on Thursday sided with environmentalists over growers and upheld federal guidelines that limit water diversions in order to protect delta smelt.
New York Times, March 13, 2014
Exploiting California's Drought
The current drought is a crisis worth exploiting. Because rainfall cannot be relied upon but California agriculture is of critical importance nationally (the state provides around 50 percent of our fruits, vegetables and nuts), these kinds of changes are needed to begin to shift an arcane and antiquated system.
New York Times, March 11, 2014
Water fight pits farmer against farmer
San Joaquin Valley growers' demand for water conflicts with the needs of delta agriculture
Los Angeles Times, March 9, 2014
California Water Action Plan is wrong for state
[W]e know that we should be exploring all reasonable alternatives instead of constantly dithering about a dead-end plan that has left us unprepared in the face of the drought.
Stockton Record, March 8, 2014
State Panel Urges Rejection of Water Tunnels
The California Advisory Committee on Salmon and Steelhead Trout, which is appointed by the state legislature, says the governor's plan could decimate endangered fish.
East Bay Express, March 5, 2014
Farms threatened, basic water principles violated
The 19th and early 20th century idea of unfettered expansion is no longer appropriate to the 21st century. It has generated innumerable battles over water rights and land use and has led to our current fight over a valuable and limited resource.
Sacramento Bee, March 2, 2014
Febuary 2014Poll finds few in favor of Delta tunnel project aimed at bolstering water imports to Southern California
As top state water officials briefed lawmakers Tuesday on the status of the $37 billion Bay Delta Conservation Plan that includes construction of two large tunnels, a leading environmental organization released a public-opinion survey that shows only 10 percent of Californians approve of it.
San Francisco Examiner, February 28, 2014
California's drought is not about "fish versus farmers"
By choosing to focus on tired political rhetoric, the media has, by and large, avoided serious discussion of climate change, population growth, crumbling infrastructure and wasteful water practices in the state's agricultural, industrial and residential sectors -- all of which are much more serious factors underlying the state's current water dilemma.
High Country News, February 27, 2014
California drought relief package heads to governor's desk
In a concerted effort to aid California's drought-stricken communities, the Legislature on Thursday sped a $687 million relief package to Gov. Jerry Brown.
Sacramento Bee, February 27, 2014
California analyst suggests drought solutions
Saying Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal "includes little to address the effects of the current drought," a new report by the Legislature's nonpartisan fiscal analyst suggests anti-drought and conservation steps that lawmakers could take.
Sacramento Bee, February 25, 2014
Federal fish biologists are right
Jerry Brown has a record of understanding and communicating the finite nature of our natural resources. In his recent drought declaration, Brown restated that water is one of those finite resources. But his gigantic twin tunnels project, as currently construed, flies in the face of that reality. Attacking the messengers, in this case the federal fish biologists, is wrong.
Sonoma Index-Tribune, February 25, 2014
Severe drought? California has been here before
A thousand-year tree-ring study shows that deep droughts come with the territory. Now the issue is how to deal with them.
Los Angeles Times, February 23, 2014
Mike Dunbar: Southern California has all the water it needs; why doesn't the Valley?
Oh, and if water scarcity isn't already frightening enough, here's another worry: Farmers aren't the only ones willing to pay top dollar. In that Kern County auction, Cal Heavy Oil offered to buy 350 acre-feet at $1,207 per. What would an oil company want with 114 million gallons of water?... Oil companies inject water and solvents into shale, pushing out oil. It's called fracking.
Modesto Bee, February 22, 2014
Editorial: In record drought, state leaders can't ignore agriculture to save water
But if we're really all in this together, leaders must pay far more attention to the biggest user -- agriculture, which sucks up as much as three-fourths of available water in a given year.
Sacramento Bee, February 21, 2014
Most Central Valley growers to get no water from Central Valley Project
Central Valley growers Friday got the grim news they have been expecting for months. Most of them will get no water from the big federal irrigation project that supplies 3 million acres of California farm land.
Los Angeles Times, February 21, 2014
Is Brown's drought response something new or just spending?
With the drought deepening, Sacramento is taking the first steps to soften the damage. A $687 million package boosts conservation and provides aid for those left jobless in farm country. But the moves will take months to take effect and barely touch the state's long-term water woes.
San Francisco Chronicle, February 20, 2014
Days of Desiccation
California's big urban areas, after years of smart conservation measures, will get by. But in a state where agriculture consumes 75 percent of the water, farms will go fallow. This drought for the ages should prompt some imaginative thinking on what foods grow best in an arid land.
New York Times, February 20, 2014
California leaders propose $687 million to alleviate drought
Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders on Wednesday unveiled a proposal to spend roughly $687 million to alleviate the impacts of California's drought, including efforts to clean and recycle water, improve conservation, capture rain, and give emergency food and housing assistance to farmworkers who will be out of work because their fields are fallow.
Sacramento Bee, February 20, 2014
Reclamation to slash Calif. water deliveries to historic low
The Obama administration plans a historic tightening of the spigot for California farmers in the face of punishing drought. The Bureau of Reclamation notified senior water contractors on the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers last weekend that they should expect 40 percent of their regular deliveries this year.
E&E publishing, February 19, 2014
Water war boils down to farmers vs. fishermen
Even when there's not a drought, there isn't enough to go around. And the collapse of a great estuary will endanger far more than the smelt.
Wildlife director Bonham's take on the farmers vs. fishermen fight is this: "When people start screaming at each other, it takes all our energy away. And we need all the brainpower we can muster to solve this."
Los Angeles Times, February 19, 2014
Our View: Water contractors will pay bulk of the bill for Delta tunnels
If contractors south of the Delta aren't on board for picking up the bulk of the cost, the Twin Tunnels proposal is dead. Or it should be.
Modesto Bee, February 19, 2014
Jerry Brown, legislative leaders to announce drought aid
Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders on Wednesday will unveil plans to spend roughly $680 million on efforts to alleviate the impacts of California's drought.
Sacramento Bee, February 19, 2014
Obama promises money for drought relief; now the hard part begins
The White House has provided money, commitments and a presidential visit. But the money is limited, the president is moving on and the commitments will soon be tested on Capitol Hill and deep within the federal bureaucracies.
Sacramento Bee, February 17, 2014
California drought: Why is there no mandatory water rationing?
Yet when it comes to water in California, there's no one-size-fits-all answer to explain why rationing hasn't taken hold. While three utilities provide 80 percent of Californians' electricity, there are roughly 3,000 water providers statewide, all with different rules, political realities and needs. Some are cities. Some are corporations. Some are farm districts pumping from wells. Some have significant amounts of water stored up and some don't. But all of their bottom lines depend on selling water, not conserving. And as difficult as the economics of rationing are, the politics may be even more complex.
Mercury News, February 15, 2014
Drought conversation will turn to dreaded groundwater rules
If there's no river water, people turn on their wells. If everybody pumps at the same time, wells will go dry, land will sink and neighbor will be upset with neighbor.
Fresno Bee, February 13, 2014
Politics cloud water debate
Fixing California's water crisis requires finding a way to reallocate supply among the state's three major user groups -- and avoiding the political posturing and bickering that have surfaced.
Los Angeles Times, February 11, 2014
Storm allows boost in Delta water diversions
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation was able to take advantage of increased runoff from the wet weekend storms to boost water diversions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Sacramento Bee, February 11, 2014
Mercury News editorial: California needs a more balanced approach to water
In a way the House's latest attempt to hijack California's water for one industry has done a service by making farmers' motives -- and the Central Valley's disregard for urban water needs -- so transparent.
Mercury News, February 7, 2014
Group Sues California For Privatizing Massive Water Reserve
The suit claims the transfer of the Kern Water Bank to controlling private interests "amounts to an unlawful and unconstitutional gift of a critical state asset.
CBS San Francisco, February 7, 2014
Thirsty growers bid sky-high for available water
Bids for a chunk of water being sold by a local agricultural water district came in so high Wednesday that one district pulled its bid in the middle of the process figuring "why bother?"
The Bakersfield Californian, February 5, 2014
House GOP's California drought bill seen as political ploy
House Republicans ratcheted up pressure on California Democrats to defend river and fish restorations in the delta amid a historic statewide drought, passing legislation Wednesday that would ship scarce water from Northern California to parched farms in the San Joaquin Valley.
San Francisco Chronicle, February 5, 2014
California Water Officials Made the Drought Worse
There's strong evidence that the state shipped extra water in 2013 - enough for about four million people - despite the threat of a third year of little to no rain.
East Bay Express February 5, 2014
California's Thirsty Almonds: How the water-intensive crop is helping drive the governor's $25 billion plan to ship water to the desert
Yet for many environmentalists and opponents of the governor's plan, the debate is not about whether California should have agriculture, it's about whether it makes sense to spend tens of billions of dollars so that farmers can grow water-intensive crops like almonds in dry environs - especially if droughts intensify because of climate change.
East Bay Express February 5, 2014
Drought triggers state of emergency in Tuolumne County
Tuolumne's Board of Supervisors declared a state of emergency Tuesday, warning that the drought poses "an imminent threat of disaster" that may "cause widespread harm to people, businesses, property, communities, wildlife and recreation.
Merced Sun-Star, February 4, 2014
Editorial: McCarthy should whip a new water deal into shape
Pumping more water south of the Delta would get water to farmers on the west side of the southern San Joaquin Valley, but would do nothing to remedy lack of rain and low river flows. It would ensure that more ocean water would encroach in the Delta, which would be destructive for Californians who depend on Delta water.
Sacramento Bee, February 4, 2014
Jerry Brown blasts bill as 'divisive intrusion' in drought
Gov. Jerry Brown lashed out Monday against a water bill moving quickly through the Republican-controlled House, calling it "an unwelcome and divisive intrusion" into California's effort to manage the state's drought.
Sacramento Bee, February 3, 2014
California officials forecast 'zero' water deliveries
State officials announced Friday that 29 water agencies serving 25 million people across California can expect "zero" water deliveries from the State Water Project this summer because of the worsening drought.
Sacramento Bee, February 3, 2014
Why not get tough on water use, California?
If the state's drought is as bad as Gov. Brown says, why settle for voluntary conservation?
Los Angeles Times, February 2, 2014
January 2014California drought produces thirst for water -- and political solutions
Big dams, bitter feuds and some political bombshells surface in a California water bill slated for lickety-split House approval next week.
Modesto Bee, January 31, 2014
California water deliveries dropped to zero
State and federal water officials announced Friday that deliveries of state water to agricultural and municipal users south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, which had been slashed to 5 percent earlier, will drop further to zero due to the state's severe drought."
Sacramento Bee, January 31, 2014
California drought: Meager snowpack sets record
The snowpack in the Sierra is only 12 percent of normal for this time of year -- the lowest amount recorded since 1960, when the state began keeping snowpack records."
San Francisco Chronicle, January 30, 2014
Bay Area Democrats, Central Valley GOP clash over water
Republican leaders are expected to pave the way for House consideration as early as next week of a bill to halt the restoration of the San Joaquin River and send water south to Central Valley farms. The move by GOP Reps. Devin Nunes of Tulare, Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield and David Valadao of Hanford (Kings County) infuriated Bay Area Democrats, who noted that the bill would do nothing for communities, mostly in Northern California, that the state says are on the verge of running out of water."
San Francisco Chronicle, January 30, 2014
Viewpoints: A new water supply for urban California
Local, decentralized water solutions have major potential to tap the huge quantities of water that urban Californians apply to their outdoor greenery. Water-efficient software, stormwater recapture, drought resistant landscaping and graywater -- the soapy water from laundries and showers that can be repurposed for landscaping -- could provide significant benefits almost immediately."
Sacramento Bee, January 29, 2014
A brazen GOP water grab
The politics are obvious, but the rest of California should worry about such a brazen move. The drought will be forcing hard choices on the state with traditional access to water up for negotiation as never before. That includes agriculture, cities and environmental interests all needing to compromise."
San Francisco Chronicle, January 27, 2014
Stormy seas ahead for the California water debate
The California drought will soon expose the geographic, political, personal and institutional divisions that complicate meaningful congressional action. Forget farmers versus environmentalists, that classic California plot. These divisions go deeper, and could easily kill the legislative fixes House Republicans vowed to make at a Bakersfield-area farm last week."
Sacramento Bee, January 27, 2014
Viewpoints: Better solutions for managing California's water
First, we need to export a safe yield of water from the Delta without repeatedly depleting the watershed. Second, we need to reinforce levees to ensure that the water that can be shared from the Delta is secure for all Californians. Third, we need to retire drainage-impaired agricultural lands on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. This will ultimately be cheaper than building the twin tunnels, and it will end the cycle of poor water management decisions made by state officials to enrich a few hundred corporate agribusinesses."
Sacramento Bee, January 27, 2014
California drought lessons - what works, what doesn't"
California's leaders - and all Californians - are facing a major challenge, but this is not the first time we've faced a drought, and it won't be the last. It's time, once again, to roll up our sleeves and make sure we don't let a good crisis go to waste. Managing this crisis well will help ensure that the next one is less critical."
San Francisco Chronicle, January 26, 2014
California drought threatens coho salmon with extinction"
The lack of rain this winter could eventually be disastrous for thirsty California, but the drought may have already ravaged some of the most storied salmon runs on the West Coast."
San Francisco Chronicle, January 26, 2014
Republicans seek to tap California drought for a political edge
Beleaguered and outnumbered, California Republicans think they may have found a crucial ally -- drought."
Los Angeles Times, Janury 26, 2014
Our View: Don't make drought worse than it already is
[O]ur irrigation districts are public entities, with a duty to serve the public in their districts. Oakdale's farmers should get first dibs on excess water -- at the same price others are willing to pay. After all, the value of whatever is grown here increases at that 3-to-1 ratio as it moves through our local businesses. Under no circumstances should OID [Oakdale Irrigation District] be allowed to drain the county's aquifers so that it it can send water south."
Modesto Bee, January 25, 2014
California drought: Water officials look to rules of '70s
"The question that California will have to address ... is where do we invest the money," he said. "Do we invest in dams and pipelines ... or do we invest the money in recycling, groundwater cleanup and conservation technologies?"
San Francisco Chronicle, January 19, 2014
Drought declaration a warning of things to come
The drought is an opportunity to rethink our water use to reflect 21st century California. It will take regional cooperation and individual conservation commitments by every Californian to make it work."
San Francisco Chronicle, January 18, 2014
Jerry Brown declares California drought emergency, urges 20 percent cut in water use
Gov. Jerry Brown announced a state of emergency Friday that has been all but official for weeks: California is in a drought."
Sacramento Bee, January 17, 2014
Viewpoints: Drought is Mother Nature at work, not Congress
Let's not be diverted from the task at hand by fooling ourselves that Congress is to blame, or that Congress can deliver a silver bullet to somehow fix a badly broken system."
Sacramento Bee, January 16, 2014
EDITORIAL: Valley leaders must address increasing water overdraft
Valley farmers had better work with local leaders to rein in their narcotic-like addiction to -- or the state will swoop in with its own prescriptions."
Fresno Bee, January 15, 2014
The Truth about Jerry Brown's Twin-Tunnel Scheme... and LA's Water Future"
By securing excessive amounts of water for corporate agribusinesses in the Westlands Water District, the tunnels would both undermine the health of the Delta and the ability for Los Angeles to secure its own water future."
Los Angeles City Watch, January 10, 2014
Away go our dollars down the delta drains
California's waterworks are out of whack, ecologically, physically and financially, but Brown's titanic tunnels are an expensive fix that does not treat the real problems. I call them the Delta Drains because they will drain the life out of the delta and the money out of our pockets while chiefly benefiting big agribusiness."
San Francisco Chronicle, January 10, 2014
Record-setting drought threatens salmon survival
California's intensifying drought is forcing water managers to make tough choices that pit fish species against one another for survival. In the grip of a three-year dry period that shows no signs of abating, California is butting up against the limits of its vast system of canals, dams and reservoirs, designed to funnel water from northern rivers to farms and cities farther south."
Greenwire, January 8, 2014
Outrage in Owens Valley a century after L.A. began taking its water
Now much of the controversy is about groundwater pumping that long ago dried up seeps and springs and is blamed now for harming many of the valley's lush, ecologically important meadows."
Sacramento Bee, January 6, 2014.
Colorado River Drought Forces a Painful Reckoning for States
The sinuous Colorado River and its slew of man-made reservoirs from the Rockies to southern Arizona are being sapped by 14 years of drought nearly unrivaled in 1,250 years."
New York Times, January 5, 2014
California's dry year is a chance to rethink water use
While the state has not declared a drought, its Drought Task Force will discuss on Tuesday how to prepare for a third dry year. This is no crisis - it is an opportunity to weigh how we use our state's most precious resource."
San Francisco Chronicle, January 5, 2014
Water Bonds Shrivel as California Sees Driest Year
The drought may influence voters' willingness to pay for water projects. Brown is considering whether to submit a bond measure to voters to pay for tunnels and other infrastructure to increase supplies from the Delta region. In July 2012, Brown withdrew an $11 billion borrowing proposal from the November 2012 ballot, citing concerns that it would have jeopardized his plan for higher sales and income taxes."
Bloomberg News, January 2, 2014
December 2013Anthony Rendon poised to wade into California water issues
The water bond will be the No. 1 priority of this office moving forward into 2014, Rendon said. Water is the big thing here."
Sacramento Bee, December 30, 2013
Drought brings water rationing orders
December is usually not the time of year to discuss water rationing. But this holiday month has been so dry that mandatory water conservation orders are beginning to sweep across the Sacramento region."
Sacramento Bee, December 29, 2013
Fracking: The Bay Delta Conservation Plan would provide water for mining
"Will water pumped from the Delta be used for fracking in the Central Valley?" -- that troubling question appears in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) weekly forum, "Your Questions Answered." The answer is yes. According to the plan, fracking is a "reasonable, beneficial use" of water."
Mercury News, December 27, 2013
Delta tunnels plan's true price tag: As much as $67 billion
For more than a year, Gov. Jerry Brown's administration has been describing his plan to build two massive water tunnels through the Delta as a $25 billion project. But when factoring in long-term financing costs, the price tag actually ranges from $51 billion to $67 billion, according to new figures that emerged last month"
Mercury News, December 26, 2013
A serious case of 'tunnel vision'
The biggest losers in this sneaky water grab are California taxpayers who will be required to fund the BDCP but will have no say in the outcome of any tunnel project."
Stockton Record, December 21,2013
Gov. Brown's twin-tunnel project undermines L.A.'s water future: Guest commentary
These tunnels won't provide us with any new water, but they will secure massive amounts of water for California's most powerful corporate agribusinesses at our expense."
Los Angeles Times,December 19, 2013
Fate still unclear for nine species in Delta water tunnel plan
The state's ambitious plan to restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has two main goals: improve water supplies and remove dozens of native animals from the endangered species list. Yet for nine key species -- including salmon, Delta smelt and greater sandhill cranes -- it remains unclear whether the plan will ultimately help or hurt."
Sacramento Bee, December 18, 2013
Fight against twin tunnels heats up at Capitol
[E]ven more speakers were present to denounce Gov. Jerry Brown's $24.7 billion twin tunnel proposal. Hundreds gathered with signs and plenty of anger that the project that has been described as a "boondoggle" continues to push forward with no public vote on the project."
River News Hearld and Isleton Journal, December 18, 2013
Editorial: Hard truths about California's water future
First, the state must act to stave off disaster. Second, no one will get all the water they want."
Los Angeles Times, December 15, 2013
Shaky rationale behind Brown tunnel plan
Promoters of a $25-billion plumbing project say a major quake could topple levees. Experts find holes in that argument."
Los Angeles Times, December 15, 2013
Brown's Tunnel Vision on State Water Plans
Nothing is more important to the economy of San Diego and all of California than a reliable supply of water. But the intensely controversial proposal of Gov. Jerry Brown to achieve greater reliability through environmental restoration of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta -- the hub of California's massive water system -- and re-engineering of the delta's intricate plumbing increasingly appears unworkable."
San Diego Union Tribune, December 15, 2013
Lois Henry: How water from Kern grows sprawl in Madera
So, a pile of water banked in Kern County is being used to support a massive urban development in Madera County."
The Bakersfield Californian, December 14, 2013
Editorials: Two-tunnel study leaves big questions unanswered
Despite the state's 34,000-page draft environmental impact study, fundamental questions remain unanswered about the proposal to build two huge tunnels to divert water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to points south."
Sacramento Bee, December 12, 2013
Lawmakers ask Brown to declare California drought emergency
After an unusually dry start to the rainy season, two California lawmakers are urging Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a drought emergency."
San Francisco Chronicle, December 11, 2013
Viewpoints: When it comes to re-plumbing the Delta, trust is a two-way street
[T]he parties pushing this project [Bay Delta Conservation Plan] have displayed scant interest in working with Northern California to develop a plan that would serve the needs and requirements of all Californians. Monday's release of more than 30,000 pages of an environmental impact report that purports to justify the current Bay Delta Conservation Plan project only underscores the need for statewide collaboration."
Sacramento Bee, December 11, 2013
Is Jerry Brown's Delta tunnels plan repeating the errors of high-speed rail?
Opponents of the tunnels called Brown's plan a costly boondoggle that will result in more water being pumped out of an already overtaxed ecological system, mostly to subsidize large corporate farmers in Kern County and San Joaquin Valley. They said the entire plan is built on shaky financing."
Mercury News, December 9, 2013
Proposed delta tunnels may not satisfy water needs, documents say
A $25-billion proposal to re-engineer the hub of California's sprawling water system may not yield all the water that San Joaquin Valley farmers and Southland cities want, leaving open the question of whether the massive project will be built."
Los Angeles Times, December 9, 2013
Delta water tunnels environmental report released
Whether the Bay Delta Conservation Plan is the solution to decades of conflict over California's water supply is heavily debated. But after seven years in the making, the environmental impact report for the project -- which proposes construction of two enormous tunnels to divert freshwater from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the south state -- is finally ready for scrutiny."
Sacramento Bee, December 9, 2013
Delta water tunnel plan presents California with tough choices
A new future for the troubled Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta was laid out for public review Monday in 34,000 sprawling pages of analysis associated with two giant water-diversion tunnels proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown. The question now for the public and policy makers: Is this the future they want?"
Sacramento Bee, December 9, 2013
Delta water tunnel project needs $1.2 billion more for planning
The giant Delta water-diversion tunnels proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown need $1.2 billion more spent on planning and design before construction starts or is even assured."
Sacramento Bee, December 7, 2013
November 2013Earth Log: U.S. Geological Survey raises quiet buzz about Calif. groundwater law
Federal scientists added another piece of evidence last week in the argument for regulating California's underground water -- the San Joaquin Valley's famous sinking landscape is still dropping. The U.S. Geological Survey study showed a 1,200-square-mile section of the west side in Madera, Fresno and Merced counties has dropped almost 2 feet in just two years."
The Fresno Bee, November 26, 2013
Lois Wolk: State Needs Cost-effective Water Bond
It's time to focus on financing the most cost-effective local and regional projects that will deliver a more clean and reliable supply of water for all communities."
San Diego Union Tribune, November 23, 2013
Mercury News editorial: Why California water debate is going nowhere fast
It's common for successful water projects to have the rules of operation in place first, so everyone understands how much water will be available, who will receive it, and who will be in charge of enforcing the rules. For all the numbers being tossed around with the Bay Delta plan, none of that is clear, and nobody seems inclined to face up to it."
Mercury News November 22, 2013
California is drowning in ancient and unfair water rules: Editorial
Farming accounts for more than 80 percent of the state's water usage, while providing less than 5 percent of its gross domestic product. That economic reality drives wasteful and even unsustainable agricultural practices, like flooding fields for rice cultivation in a state whose urban population constantly is hectored about water conservation."
Los Angeles Daily News, November 21, 2013
"Alternative to Governor's Giant Water Tunnels Plan Would Be $6 Billion Cheaper
State officials recently admitted that they had incorrectly analyzed an alternative proposal to Jerry Brown's giant water tunnels plan, and now acknowledge that it would be $6 billion cheaper than the governor's proposal. The California Natural Resources Agency had previously said that the competing water plan--known as the Portfolio Alternative-- would only save the state $3 billion, and as a result, was not viable."
East Bay Express, November 18, 2013
"Why Bay Area should care about California delta
What is clear is that California needs to reduce reliance on the giant plumbing system that is the delta and develop more regional approaches to water use. Southern California is already far ahead of Northern California on water conservation, groundwater management and water-recycling measures. (From the Southern California view, we here in the Bay Area are profligate water wasters.)"
San Francisco Chronicle, November 18, 2013
"Groundwater levels falling at alarming rate while lawmakers decide what to do
San Joaquin Valley's groundwater is being depleted at an alarming rate and something needs to be done before it's too late, state officials were warned last week."
Modesto Bee, November 17, 2013
"Editorial: Big obstacle for Delta tunnel project -- who will pay for it
The tunnel project will cost roughly $15billion to build, and likely more with inevitable cost overruns. Water contractors are slated to pick up that tab. But if they will only get as much water as they've been getting in recent years, on average, will it be worth that investment?"
Sacramento Bee, November 17, 2013
"Contra Costa: Residents' concern grows over Delta tunnels plan
As the state prepares to unveil key environmental documents for Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to build two large tunnels to move Sacramento River water south, dozens of concerned East Contra Costans were brought up to speed last week on how it could impact their Delta backyard."
Contra Costa Times, November 15, 2013
"Congressman John Garamendi: California needs a comprehensive water plan that creates new water supplies--not a $25 billion dollar boondoggle.
California's aging water infrastructure is insufficient for our present and future needs. Unfortunately, the current Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and its two massive tunnels is a destructive $25 billion boondoggle that won't solve the problem. California can solve its water needs and end the water wars that pit north vs. south and water exporters vs. environmentalists -- but not with the BDCP."
Isleton River News, November 6, 2013
"San Joaquin fix: Money flows; not river, salmon
Government biologists say it takes time. They hope that environmental improvement projects on the river and on the delta will combine to bring salmon back to modern-day California and historic runs such as the San Joaquin."
San Francisco Chronicle, November 6, 2013
"Viewpoints: Why I'm still confused about the proposed tunnels in the Delta
Honest and complete answers to the questions posed above must be provided if California voters and decision-makers are to make informed choices about the path forward for California water. Good water policy in California will only come about if it is guided by sound science, eyes-open analysis and public transparency."
Sacramento Bee, November 6, 2013
"Viewpoints: Why undermine law that keeps Merced River wild and scenic?
California's elected officials of both parties -- and in both houses of Congress -- should back the sound and amicable compromises of the past, stand up to lobbyists who simply want to change the laws they dislike and cherish the waters of Yosemite by keeping its river intact."
Sacramento Bee, November 2, 2013
"Lodi crane advocates say tunnel project threatens birds
Organizers of Lodi's annual Sandhill Crane Festival are worried state plans to build two tunnels through the Delta will harm the threatened species that gives the festival its name."
Lodi News, November 1, 2013
October 2013"Viewpoints: So how can L.A. wean itself from distant water?
Between water recycling, rainwater harvesting, pipe repair and conservation, we could come very close to eliminating our need for distant water altogether and achieving water independence, possibly forever."
Sacramento Bee, October 12, 2013
"Environmental group lobs new criticism at Bay Delta Plan
Spell out what they say are better alternatives; Most affordable for agricultural, urban water users, or California taxpayers."
Central Valley Business Times, October 7, 2013
"Viewpoints: The Economic case for a Bay Delta Conservation Plan without the twin tunnels
The $25 billion Bay Delta Conservation Plan is on the brink of failure. Its proponents have been unable to show that the plan meets environmental requirements, and they have failed to develop a viable financial plan for its massive water-conveyance tunnels."
Sacramento Bee, October 6, 2013
"Dan Walters: Money could spell doom for two big California projects
The twin tunnels and ancillary habitat projects connected to them would cost at least $25 billion. While the tunnels themselves would presumably be financed by bonds repaid by sales of water, there's no firm financing plan in place, and a recent USC/Los Angeles Times poll found that when the $25 billion cost is mentioned, voter support plummets to scarcely one-third."
Sacramento Bee, October 6, 2013
September 2013"Californians want water issues fixed but not enough to pay for it
Voters acknowledge serious water supply problems but balk when told the multibillion-dollar price tags to address them, poll finds."
Los Angeles times, September 30, 2013
"Water bond for state, not North or South
Clean, drinkable water for disadvantaged communities is the feel-good component of both of the water bond bills proposed to replace the pork-laden $11 billion measure now on the November 2014 ballot."
San Francisco Chronicle, September 27, 2013
"Recycled water a viable resource
After filtration, recycled water supplies are now more pure than other supplies."
San Francisco Chronicle, September 27, 2013
"Yosemite fire exposes water system vulnerabilities
Yosemite's Rim Fire is still burning but is under control and off the front page. For San Francisco's water system, the fire likely was a catastrophe narrowly averted. But it is a wake-up call for all communities that precariously rely on water imported from far away."
San Francisco Chronicle, September 27, 2013
"Delta conservation plan is only a piecemeal solution
What's needed is a statewide, or even regionwide, solution to the problem of limited water supply and burgeoning demand."
Los Angeles Times, September 24, 2013
"Buffaloes threaten pristine landscape
Construction of two giant tunnels to funnel water to the Central Valley and Southern California would disrupt farming and despoil the delta."
Los Angels Times, September 22, 2013
"Water, Water, Everywhere--But Not A Drop To Drink?
With the planet getting warmer and more populated, the trend lines seem clear: the thirst on Earth is building. Is there enough water to go around, and if so, for how long?"
Los Angeles Magazine, September 17, 2013
"Climate change prompts new concerns about Delta tunnels, Sacramento water supply
The Sacramento City Council this week stepped up its critique of a plan to build two giant water diversion tunnels in the Delta, warning that it may harm the city's ability to access drinking water in the decades ahead."
Sacramento Bee, September 13, 2013
"A fracking bill gone bad
Some level of regulation of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is preferable to none. Except if the helpful aspects are canceled out by more problematic ones. That is the case with SB 4, passed by the Assembly on Wednesday. It goes back to the state Senate for final vote, and we hope it's stopped there. If not, Gov. Jerry Brown should veto it."
Los Angeles Times, September 12, 2013
"For Northern California rivers, luck is not a plan
The Interior Department's mismanagement of this year's crisis and failure to take a stand on Humboldt County's water rights should be a red flag to Northern Californians regarding another "do you feel lucky" policy in the making: the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and its proposal to build huge tunnels to increase diversions of water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta estuary without protections for North Coast water."
San Francisco Chronicle, September 11, 2013
"Editorial: Wait to debate water bond, and improve it
With dry conditions igniting fires statewide and reservoirs dropping ever lower, state lawmakers should be thinking about water. The good thing -- they are. They are thinking about a 2014 water bond."
Sacramento Bee, September 5, 2013
"New water tunnel route sets up conservation battle over Delta island
The new route proposed for Gov. Jerry Brown's giant Delta water-diversion project may conflict with direction from California voters, who spent $35 million in 2001 to acquire part of the new route as permanent wildlife habitat."
Sacramento Bee, September 1, 2013