June 2016

Judge invalidates long-fought Delta management plan

Court says plan must be 'set aside' until deficiencies are fixed. The ruling adds another hurdle for controversial Delta tunnels project. State plans to appeal.

Sacramento Bee, June 24, 2016

Editorial California needs to conserve water like the drought is here to stay

Mandatory state-imposed water restrictions have been lifted for now, but wasteful uses of water remain under a permanent ban, and water agencies and their customers would be wise to be ever more respectful of water and ever more parsimonious in their use of it.

Los Angeles Times, June 23, 2016

US giving $48 million to help West deal with drought

The Obama administration is awarding $48 million in grants in 13 states, mostly in the West, to help farmers and others conserve water and energy amid drought and climate change.

Associated Press, June 23, 2016

Delta smelt on the brink

The fight to save the delta smelt, the beleaguered fish at the center of an increasingly bitter tug-of-war over water rights in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, is as close to a lost cause as ever, but fisheries biologists vow to continue the struggle to protect the species.

San Francisco Chronicle, June 15, 2016

Appellate court temporarily blocks Delta island sale

A state appellate court has temporarily blocked the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California's $175 million purchase of five islands in the heart of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. On Tuesday, the 3rd District Court of Appeal granted a temporary stay preventing the sale from closing.

Sacramento Bee, June 7, 2016

Wolk bill to protect state's aquifers moves forward

The California Senate approved two water measures by Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, last week, including legislation to protect California's aquifers and groundwater resources from permanent damage due to overdraft. Both bills will head to the Assembly next.

The Davis Enterprise, June 7, 2016

More bad news for Delta smelt

The spring survey estimates the population of adult smelt, which gives us some idea how many smelt have the potential to spawn. Most Delta smelt live just one year, so it's critical that there are enough fish each spring that they can find each other and take care of business. Alas, this spring's population index - a number that represents the estimated population - is a mere 1.8.

Stockton Record, June 6, 2016

State's "Delta Plan" May Have a Restart

The vaunted "Delta Plan," which took the Delta Stewardship Council about four years to write, has been largely trashed in court in a decision by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny.

Central Valley Business Times, June 2, 2016

Delta tunnels won't take northern California's water, say officials

The tunnels would create more reliable supplies for thirsty Los Angeles, as well as San Joaquin Valley farmers and some Silicon Valley residents. The Santa Clara Valley Water District, which provides 1.9 million residents of Santa Clara County drinking water and flood protection, gets some water from this system. But environmentalists, Delta farmers and some Northern California lawmakers call the tunnels project a water grab by Los Angeles and corporate farmers in the Central Valley that would harm the water quality of the San Francisco Bay and the Delta.

San Jose Mercury News, June 3, 2016

May 2016

Trump says, "There is no drought" but experts beg to differ

So, Donald Trump doesn't think there's a drought in California? The experts, and the rest of the state, might disagree.

San Francisco Chronicle, May 30, 2016

Water crisis not on presidential candidates' radar

The 20th century dams and canals that gave birth to modern California - to San Francisco, to Los Angeles, to the San Joaquin Valley farms that feed the nation - are near the end of their engineered lives. The rivers and aquifers they tap are, simply, tapped out.

San Francisco Chronicle, May 29, 2016

Legislature denies Californians a vote on governor's Delta tunnels scheme

Despite efforts by some state lawmakers, Californians are still being denied an opportunity to vote on Gov. Edmund Brown Jr.'s $68 billion plan to dig massive tunnels beneath the California Delta.

Central Valley Business Times, May 27,2016

House wading into California's long-running water war

Wading into a longstanding California water war, the House Wednesday endorsed a Republican plan to shift more water to San Joaquin Valley farmers and cut the flow for threatened fish and growers in another part of the state.

Associated Press, May 25, 2016

Guest view: 'No twin tunnels,' but legislation would help temper many concerns

we cannot allow the twin tunnels to ever be built. Sized for a capacity of 15,000 cubic feet per second, they are capable of taking all the water that flows down the Sacramento River for half of every year. The tunnels are the ultimate vampire capable of sucking the Delta dry.

Stockton Record, May. 24, 2016

Deal forgiving Westlands' $330 million debt defended

The Obama administration defended a deal Tuesday that would resolve a 1983 environmental disaster in the Central Valley by absolving farmers of a $330 million debt to taxpayers, among other benefits.

San Francisco Chronicle, May 24, 2016

California's 'historic' drought isn't history just yet

Water board lifts tough conservation mandate after wet winter.Many agencies say they'll stoordering customers to save water. That's short-sighted because the drought is far from over.

Sacramento Bee, May 21, 2016

Delta land deal clears legal hurdle

A San Joaquin County Superior Court judge on Thursday cleared the way for a Southern California water district to complete its purchase of 20,000 acres of land in the Delta, ruling that it was too soon to say how the property would be used.

Stockton Record, May 19, 2016

'Deeply disappointed' with Garamendi bill

Garamendi, a Democrat who lives in Walnut Grove and represents the north Delta, sent to the House of Representatives a drought bill that he said is identical to legislation already brought to the Senate by fellow Democrat Dianne Feinstein. The lengthy Feinstein bill contains $1.3 billion worth of long-term solutions for future water shortages, including dams, desalination and water recycling projects. But the short-term provisions in the bill are of most concern to Delta advocates, including language that gives federal agencies leeway to "maximize" water exports south from the Delta under certain conditions.

Stockton Record, May 18, 2016

Court Issues Ruling on Challenges to Delta Plan

In a favorable decision for Delta advocates, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael P. Kenny on May 18 issued a complex 73-page ruling on challenges to the Delta Stewardship Council's Delta Plan, a plan that embraces Governor Jerry Brown's California Water Fix to Build the Delta Tunnels.

Daily Kos, May 19, 2016

In Sharp Reversal, California Suspends Water Restrictions

California on Wednesday suspended its mandatory statewide 25 percent reduction in urban water use, telling local communities to set their own conservation standards after a relatively wet winter and a year of enormous savings in urban water use.

New York Times, May 18, 2016

California water bill: Here's why it's so hard for Congress to pass

Five years into California's latest drought, a major water bill compromise can seem as far away as ever. The perennial conflict, often summed up as fish vs. farms, subtly surfaced again Tuesday at a key Senate hearing. A Western growers' advocate pleaded for relief, a Trout Unlimited leader urged caution and lawmakers insisted on optimism while conceding the tough road ahead.

Sacramento Bee, May 17, 2016

Feinstein gets green light to proceed on contentious water bill

en. Dianne Feinstein's third effort to address California's drought by expanding the water supply through dams, recycling, desalination and other methods, as well as tinkering with protections for endangered fish, received the go-ahead Tuesday from the federal Bureau of Reclamation at a Senate hearing.

San Francisco Chronicle, May 17, 2016

A question for the ages: Can Congress pass a California water bill?

alifornia water bill to get its first Senate hearing with state's senators not in sync. Boxer likes some of Feinstein's bill but remains uncommitted. California measure could be part of bigger Western package.

Sacramento Bee, May 13, 2016

Assemblymember Eggman, Senator Wolk to Request Audit of Delta Tunnels

As the economic, scientific and financial justifications for Governor Jerry Brown's Delta Tunnels Plan continue to collapse, two Delta legislators on Monday, May 9 put yet another potential hurdle in the project's path. Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman and Senator Lois Wolk said they will request a state audit of the California Water Fix, "the new name for a very old project to divert water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta," according to a joint statement from the two legislators.

Daily Kos, May 10, 2016

Delta Islands Buy Averts Challenge in California

Despite growing opposition, the largest supplier of treated drinking water in the United States on Tuesday batted away a challenge to its planned $175 million purchase of four islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

Courthouse News Service, May 10, 2016

Brown Orders Permanent Water Conservation Measures

Gov. Jerry Brown is ordering California to permanently follow some conservation measures taken during the state's drought. Brown's order on Monday came as water officials considering whether to ease a 20 percent conservation order for cities and towns. The order does not set a mandatory percentage for saving water.

Capital Public Radio, May 9, 2016

Dan Walters: Water Rights Will Be Next Big California Fight

Allocation of water depends on long-standing rights. Senior users get priority, for now. State board's crackdown looms as test case

Sacramento Bee, May 8, 2016

State must brace for big water supply changes

Six changes California will need to deal with in water and ecosystems. Some wild native species will become unsustainable. Delta will export less water and there will be fewer irrigated acres in the Valley.

Fresno Bee, May 4, 2016

April 2016

Westlands water deal is all wet

When the public is railing about the unfairness of Big Bank bailouts and corporate welfare, why is the Obama administration pursuing a deal that gives away California water - a resource as precious as oil - to a San Joaquin Valley water agency?

San Francisco Chronicle, April 30, 2016

Federal dollars spent on Twin Tunnels; Bureau spends $86.9M without Congressional OK

Bureau of Reclamation Regional Director David G. Murillo has confirmed that federal taxpayers are being billed for Twin tunnels project. To date, more than $86.9 million of the costs for the project has have been billed to federal taxpayers. The Bureau of Reclamation's response to a letter sent on Jan. 25, 2016 by various conservation groups affirmed the tunnels project is not authorized by Congress and they have no plans to conduct the required feasibility study or pay the construction costs which will more than double the current State Water Project debt to be paid by ratepayers and property taxpayers if permitted.

Manteca Bulletin, April 30, 2016

Op-Ed: Congress is about to wipe out decades of progress in sustainable water use

Special interests are still pushing ineffective and inequitable water strategies. Nowhere is this tension between new water strategies and outmoded federal thinking more apparent than in the California drought legislation currently before Congress.

Los Angeles Times, April 28, 2016

California Water Board Denies Bias Claims In Delta Tunnels Dispute

Two members of the state board that will play a crucial role in the fate of Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to build two giant tunnels through the heart of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta rebuffed demands from a south state water agency that they disqualify themselves from upcoming hearings on the issue.

Sacramento Bee, April 25, 2016

A predator fish in California has lost its White House support

A still-controversial 1992 law intended to boost California's striped-bass population can be scaled back, the Obama administration now believes. In a modest softening of the state's polarized water debate, a top Interior Department official voiced sympathy Wednesday for a Republican-authored bill that would end the 1992 law's stated goal of doubling the number of striped bass living in and around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Mcclatchy Washington Bureau, April 25, 2016

Dry La Nina period likely to follow El Nino

The peaks of the Sierra are thick with snow, and California reservoirs are still rapidly filling. But the wet and welcome respite after four years of drought may be short-lived, federal climate experts said Thursday.

San Francisco Chronicle, April 22, 20215

Lawsuit Accuses Regulators of Loosening Sacramento Delta Water Rules

Three environmentalist groups filed a lawsuit Friday alleging that to increase water flowing to farms and cities, state and federal regulators in the drought have repeatedly relaxed water-quality standards on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the detriment of its wild fish species.

Sacramento Bee, April 22, 2016

Lawmakers Seek Vote on $15B Calif. Water Plan

California lawmakers on Tuesday advanced a bill that would put on hold Gov. Jerry Brown's contentious $15 billion water plan unless it gets approval from voters. The bill is one of several challenges to the California WaterFix. Along with voter approval, it would require the state to perform and release a cost-benefit analysis.

Courthouse News Service, April 20, 2016

Too many water straws in the ground?

Wolk, a Davis Democrat whose district formerly included Stockton, is pushing a bill that would require local agencies to place conditions on new well construction - in some cases, at least.

Stockton Record, April 19, 2016

Delta tunnels bill mandating voter approval advances

Voters would have to approve Delta tunnels. Massive project seeks to export water south. Gov. Jerry Brown remains a supporter.

Sacramento Bee, April 19, 2016

Lawmakers reject bill for greater twin tunnels scrutiny

California lawmakers have rejected legislation that would have added protections for water contractors in a massive project to ship water from Northern to Southern California through a pair of twin tunnels. AB2583 by Assemblyman Jim Frazier, a Democrat from Oakley, could have delayed Gov. Jerry Brown's $15.7 billion water tunnel project by requiring more extensive environmental review.

Associated Press, April 19, 2016

Bill in works to put Delta tunnels to vote

Stockton Democratic Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman plans to present legislation Tuesday afternoon that would prohibit the building of Gov. Jerry Brown's Delta tunnels project without a statewide vote

Central Valley Business Tmes, April 19, 2016

Westlands Water District deal is questioned by lawmakers

Northern California lawmakers are turning up the heat on the Westlands Water District with coordinated calls for congressional hearings and tougher Obama administration scrutiny. Citing recent enforcement action by the Securities and Exchange Commission, House Democrats from outside the San Joaquin Valley on Thursday initiated what one lawmaker termed "an investigation" into the district and its proposed irrigation drainage deal with the administration.

McClatchy Washington Bureau, April 17, 2016

Drought proposals in Congress are so last century

Politicians could have passed laws four years ago that would yield benefits today. Instead, Congress has fixated on building dams and rewriting Endangered Species Act Feinstein, Valadao bills offer few benefits that don't harm other water users.

Sacramento Bee, April 16, 2016

Congressional challenge to Obama water deal in California

California Democrats in Congress launched challenges Thursday to a proposed Obama administration settlement with a powerful California water district, including announcing their own probe of the deal. The multi-front assault by the deal's opponents comes as the U.S. Department of Interior and other federal agencies near conclusion on negotiations related to the settlement with Central California's Westlands Water District, the country's largest irrigation district.

Associated Press, April 14, 2016

New Sea Level Rise Study Calls Delta Tunnels Into Doubt

The at-least-$17-billion public works project, intended to divert Sacramento River water around the Delta to the giant pumps that send that water south to farms and cities, may well find its proposed tunnel intakes under three or four feet of seawater by the end of the century.

KCET, April 14, 2016

Striking back on Delta land buy

San Joaquin and Contra Costa counties - along with farmers and environmental groups - sued Thursday to block a Southern California water district from buying more than 20,000 acres of farmland in the heart of the estuary. The lawsuit, filed in San Joaquin County Superior Court, charges that the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California violated the law when it determined that the $175 million land buy is exempt from environmental study.

Recordnet.com, April 14, 2016

Southern California's Delta land purchase to be challenged

San Joaquin and Contra Costa counties, along with Delta farmers and environmental groups, intend to sue today over a large Southern California water district's efforts to buy more than 20,000 acres of land in the Delta.

Stockton Record, April 14, 2016

GOP should drop effort to gut Endangered Species Act

MWD seeks to ensure reliable water delivery by buying five Delta islands. Farming interests are noncommittal on Jerry Brown's twin tunnels project. Republicans offer a counterproductive plan to weaken Endangered Species Act.

Sacramento Bee, April 13, 2016

North Valley rivers make 'endangered' list

No. 2 ranking on 2016 list for San Joaquin River and three tributaries. National group says diversions have harmed San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, Merced rivers. River users defend diversions and worry about proposed flow increases

Modesto Bee, April 12, 2016

House Republicans reopen the bidding on California water bill

GOP lawmakers now trying a must-pass appropriations bill to push their water agenda. Once again, an effort to squelch San Joaquin River restoration program. New tactical maneuver reviving familiar water ideas.

McClatchy DC, April 12, 2016

California's Tunnels Spending Prompts Federal Review

Federal authorities say they will investigate whether California improperly used federal funds for Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed water tunnels. The Interior Department's inspector general said in a letter made public Monday that it will look into the funding allegations. A group called Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility asked for the review, on behalf of an unidentified federal whistleblower.

Capital Public Radio, April 12, 2016

Mercury News editorial: Contra Costa's secret water deal hurts Bay Are

In a quest to protect drinking-water supply, Contra Costa Water District directors secretly cut a deal that sold out the entire Bay Area. Under the bargain with the state, CCWD will drop objections to Gov. Jerry Brown's twin tunnels proposal. In exchange, the state will provide enough upstream water to offset the project's expected increase of salinity, algae and minerals at the district's water source in the western Delta.

Metropolitan Water District buys 20,000 acres of Sacrament-San Joaquin River delta land

California's largest water district has signed a multimillion deal to buy several sprawling islands far north in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, drawing criticism for giving the powerful district a stronghold in the vital water hub, officials said Monday. The deal worth $175 million will put the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California in ownership of 20,000 acres in the delta, a source of water for millions of residents throughout the state and some of the nation's most valuable farmland.

Associated Press, April 11, 2016

Time for Plan B to save the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta

After years of spending millions of water ratepayer and taxpayer dollars on a flawed plan to build tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, it's time to develop a realistic and cost-effective plan to save the delta and address the state's water supply needs. It's time for Plan B.

San Francisco Chroncle, April 6, 2016

A delta tunnel project's lofty ambitions have been scaled back

The San Joaquin Valley irrigation districts and Southland water agencies that would pay for the project originally envisioned it as a grand delta fix that would push water exports back to - or even above - their peak in the early 2000s of an average 5.3 million acre-feet a year. But as the project has gone through a protracted environmental review by skeptical federal fishery agencies, reality has set in. Instead of cranking open the pumps, the tunnels will, at best, do little more than maintain the status quo.

Los Angeles Times, April 4, 2016

East Bay water distrct's Delta deal raises eyebrows among environmentalists

In a deal stirring up new waves about the governor's twin water tunnels plan through the Delta, a water supplier for 500,000 Contra Costa County residents has dropped its protest against the project in exchange for a new source of higher-quality water from the Sacramento River. Some environmentalist say the legal deal between the state and the Contra Costa Water District helps the district at the expense of water quality for the Delta environment, farms and fish.

Marin Independent Journal, April 4, 2016