February 2017

Dam crisis is wake-up call for ageing California water system

The Oroville Dam crisis this week, in which nearly 190,000 residents were abruptly evacuated from a valley below the tallest U.S. dam, illustrates the safety risks of the Golden State's ageing infrastructure in increasingly populated areas. Sixty-four California reservoirs, or around 5 percent of the state's total, are restricted to holding less than their rated capacity due to earthquake risks and other concerns, a state dam safety official said on Monday.

Reuters, February 14, 2017

January 2017

The worst of the drought is over for California, but water restrictions continue

"The two big holdouts would be groundwater recovery and in Southern California reservoir recovery," said U.S. Department of Agriculture meteorologist Brad Rippey. "As you move to the north it's becoming more and more obvious that the drought has been eradicated."

CNBC, January 26, 2017

Roseville, Placer to join Sites Reservoir effort. What it means for water storage plan.

The benefit to Placer and Roseville would be indirect. With a proposed capacity of up to 1.8 million acre-feet, Sites would provide another big reservoir that could feed water into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to improve water quality and fish habitat. That would mean Folsom Lake -- the primary water source for Placer and Roseville -- wouldn't have to release as much water into the Delta for environmental purposes.

Sacramento Bee, January 20, 2017

California drought continues to shrink

Overall, 44 percent of the state remains in severe drought conditions or worse, down from 49 percent a week ago, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a weekly study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The improved area, roughly 5.1 million acres, is mostly in the central Sierra Nevada, which has been hit with major snowstorms in recent weeks

Record Bee, January 19, 2017

Should California drought rules be lifted? State ponders question as storms roll in

A chorus of urban water districts Wednesday urged the State Water Resources Control Board, California's chief drought regulator, to allow the state's emergency conservation rules to expire. Water board members, however, indicated that they plan to keep regulations in place, at least for a few more months. Despite the promising start to the winter, they said conditions could turn dry again.

Sacramento Bee, January 18, 2017

Water Scarce to Recharge California Groundwater Basins, New Report Shows

To capture more peak storm flow for the sake of groundwater recharge will require infrastructure, including diversion, storage, and conveyance. Recharge will need to be integrated with potential sources and can be accomplished using percolation, injection or in-lieu management, where current groundwater users effectively switch to a new source of supply.

Sierra Sun Times, January 16, 2017

All this recent rain won't stop California from sinking

The state simply is using too much water - even during wet years. As a result, thousands of miles of prime agricultural area in the Central Valley are sinking. Roads and bridges are cracking, threatening to cause $1 billion in damage. Homeowners are watching their water supply dwindle. "We're taking more out than we're putting back in," said Michelle Sneed, a U.S. Geological Survey hydrologist in California. "You can't do that forever without running out."

Reveal, January 14, 2017

As Rains Soak California, Farmers Test How To Store Water Underground

The first is simply that California's aquifers are depleted. It got really bad during the recent drought, when farmers couldn't get much water from the state's surface reservoirs. They pumped so much groundwater that many wells ran dry. The water table in some areas dropped by 10, 20, or even 100 feet. Aquifers are especially depleted in the southern part of California's Central Valley, south of Fresno. Flooding fields could help the aquifers recover.

KQED, Jaunary 13, 2017

Obama Administration Aids Giant California Water Project

In an executive order, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell directed federal wildlife officials on Wednesday to release by Jan. 17 a preliminary environmental opinion that directs the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to assist as the $15.7 billion project seeks state and federal permits and other approvals.

ABC News, January 4, 2017

December 2016

California officials say a new plan will make water conservation 'a way of life'

The new plan would instead give each water agency a budget for how much water its customers are allowed to use. Each agency's allowance would be based on estimates from state officials of its demographics -- population, economy, outdoor temperature, tree canopy and even the rate of water evaporation -- to determine its need.

Washington Post, December 31, 2016

A Battle Over the San Joaquin River

The State Water Resources Control Board wants to raise the flow of the San Joaquin and the tributary Merced, Stanislaus and Tuolumne Rivers to 40 percent of their natural flow during the critical spring months. But that target seems only to have angered both sides in the debate. Environmental groups say it's too low; farmers and leaders in the valley say it would cripple their economies.

New York Times, Decmeber 28, 2016

California water projects rely on imaginary water

State Water Project contractors hold contracts for about 4.2 million acre-feet per year of project water (often referred to as "Table A Water"). Yet, as the Department of Water Resources admits, because much of the system was never built out -- including several proposed dams that were taken off the table by Gov. Ronald Reagan when he protected several rivers as Wild and Scenic. So the State Water Project can only reliably produce between 2 and 2.4 million acre-feet per year. The difference is known as "paper water," and the fact that the contracts are based on so much imaginary paper water is one of the main reasons the Bay-Delta ecosystem is collapsing.

Mercury News, December 27, 2016

To solve the West's water problems, California needs to solve the Salton Sea

With another deal nearing completion to make crucial further Colorado River water use cutbacks, Kelley has drawn a line in the sand. Without a good-faith commitment from the state to keep its 2003 promise, Imperial will not sign the new agreement. Without Imperial - the largest water user on the Colorado River - there likely can be no deal.

Sacramento Bee, December 23, 2016

State releases report on disputed twin tunnels water plan

The pipeline bypass has been mired in controversy from the beginning. Barrigan-Parrilla said the new report does not adequately address concerns about changes to delta water and groundwater, salinity and economic impacts to the delta community.

San Francisco Chronicle, December 22, 2016

Brown's Delta tunnels scheme releases its final EIR

The project's "Final Environmental Impact Report and Environmental Impact Statement" is being posted three days before Christmas. It runs to some 80,000 pages; the executive "summary" alone is 147 pages in length.

Central Valley Business Times, December 22, 2016

Stormier Times for California's Water Expected Under New Law

The first winter storm of 2017 to drop welcome rain over the rivers, pumps, pipes and canals that move California's water north to south likely will open a new era of tension over how much water goes to fish or farms under a new U.S law.

ABC News, December 17, 2016

Protect salmon, drinking water, and the San Francisco Bay-Delta

Science tells us the world is experiencing a sixth extinction. For California, one of the most environmentally aware places on the planet, to give up on protecting our salmon runs, upon which tens of thousands of jobs depend, rather than conserve and recycle water, would not just be a disaster for salmon communities, it would be a disaster for the state and the world.

San Francisco Chronicle, December 15, 2016

Temperance Flat distracts from real water solutions

The reality is that this dam will never produce as much water as promised and it will only be built if state and federal taxpayers are saddled with the lion's share of its multibillion-dollar price tag.

Fresno Bee, December 13, 2016

Ninth Circuit Favors Feds in California Water Fight

Two of three judges on a Ninth Circuit panel Monday indicated they believe the federal government had the authority to release 355 million gallons of water from California's Trinity Reservoir to prevent a salmon die-off, despite water districts' claims to the contrary.

Courthouse News Service, December 13, 2016

What does the new federal water bill mean for California? For one, a big win for farmers

Upending a fragile, decades-long balance between human needs and the environment, Congress passed a wide-ranging water bill last weekend that is likely to result in greater pumping of Northern California water to farms and cities in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. The bill, co-authored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., passed with bipartisan support in both houses of Congress, despite furious opposition from Feinstein's longtime Senate ally, fellow Democrat Barbara Boxer. p class="source">Sacramento Bee,December 12, 2016

How California's water conservation strategy is falling short

This month, the agencies in charge of California's water -- the same ones that recently gave suppliers free rein to set their own conservation targets and have given more water to corporate agriculture, pushing the state's salmon fishery to the brink of collapse -- released a draft of their permanent conservation regulations. The draft falls drastically short of Brown's goal and threatens progress toward a water-secure future.

Sacramento Bee, December 12, 20216

Donald Trump forces a California water deal without lifting a finger

A compromise bill that, in effect, reallocates federally controlled water in California -- much to the delight of farmers and the dismay of environmentalists -- won final congressional approval Friday. Hammered out by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Bakersfield's Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader of the House, it broke a half-decade- long political logjam over the issue, and there is little doubt that uncertainty over Trump's attitude was its driving force.

Fresno Bee, December 12, 2016

After years of drama, farmers score a big win in California water battle

The California water bill now ready for the president's signature dramatically shifts 25 years of federal policy and culminates a long and fractious campaign born in the drought-stricken San Joaquin Valley. A rough five years in the making, the $558 million bill approved by the Senate early Saturday morning steers more water to farmers, eases dam construction, and funds desalination and recycling projects. Its rocky road to the White House also proved a costly master class in political persistence and adroit maneuvering.

McClatchy, December 10, 2016

House passes water bill with Flint aid, drought relief

But the inclusion of controversial California drought language and a provision related to a long-running, regional water dispute has come under fire from both sides of aisle.

The Hill, December 8, 2016

Boxer, Feinstein in angry split over new California water-bill plan

A controversial California water bill that's sparked years of fighting has been added to a fast-moving measure, boosting the chance the water measures will pass Congress but sharply dividing the state's U.S. senators.

McClatchy, December 5, 2016

November 2016

To Save S.F. Bay and Its Dying Delta, State Aims to Replumb California

The report's findings were unequivocal: Given the current pace of water diversions, the San Francisco Bay and the Delta network of rivers and marshes are ecological goners, with many of its native fish species now experiencing a "sixth extinction," environmental science's most-dire definition of ecosystem collapse.

KQED, November 30, 2016

Drought on Colorado River Sparks Revolutionary Idea: Sharing Water

Downstream, the imbalance between supply and demand is already a reality. With an historic water shortage on the horizon, California, Arizona and Nevada are working on a voluntary agreement to cut back water use.

KQED, November 16, 2016

Is Sites Reservoir a savior for the Sacramento Valley -- or a Delta tunnels project in disguise?

"Sites Reservoir ... is definitely tied to using and operating the Delta tunnels," said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta, probably the fiercest opponent of Brown's Delta tunnels project. "It will become about selling water."

Sacramento Bee, November 12, 2016