This area contains recent headlines related to water from around the state, organized by the date on which they appeared in the League's Local News RoundUp email newsletter.
August 11, 2016
Legislators approve audit of Gov. Jerry Brown’s water tunnel plan (Sacramento Bee)
The political conflict over Gov. Jerry Brown’s high-priority plan to place twin water tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta moved to a new venue Wednesday. The Legislature’s Joint Audit Committee voted to direct State Auditor Elaine Howle to delve into how the project, dubbed California WaterFix, has spent an estimated quarter-billion dollars on planning and how the state plans to finance its multi-billion-dollar cost.
California Water Policy -- For The Better? (Forbes)
California—in its fifth year of a drought, exceeding historic proportions, has many forward thinking businesses that are focused on water stewardship, but they also recognize the need to engage in discussion to create a sustainable water path.
August 8, 2016
Water district managers get pay hikes as rates increase, revenue drops (Sacramento Bee)
Independent water districts in the Sacramento area have increased pay for general managers by 14 percent over the last five years – a period when most raised customer rates and limited their use of water during the drought.
August 5, 2016
No local water restrictions for Tri-Cities residents (The Mercury News)
Because the Alameda County Water District Board of Directors voted on June 9 to end a water shortage emergency ordinance enacted in July 2014 and to rescind a 13 percent drought surcharge, Tri-Cities water customers are only bound by a few remaining statewide restrictions.
Milpitas council shoots down water rate initiative brought by residents (The Mercury News)
After a split 2-2 vote at special meeting on July 18, with Councilman Garry Barbadillo absent, Mayor Jose Esteves and Councilwoman Debbie Indihar Giordano voted to take no further action on the matter, while Vice Mayor Carmen Montano and Councilwoman Marsha Grilli voted to put the issue to voters. Because of the split vote, the initiative returned to the council for action this week.
August 4, 2016
City Council to consider steep increases in water rate (The Modesto Bee)
The City Council is expected to hold a hearing Tuesday on raising water rates over five years. The typical single-family residence could see its monthly bill rise from $41.77 to as much as $71.31 over the five years, according to a city consultant’s report. The rate increase would take effect Sept. 1 if approved by the council. Modesto’s other water customers – including restaurants, businesses, industry and apartments – also would see big increases. The increases apply to city water customers outside of Modesto, such as those in Del Rio and Salida.
See which Sacramento communities are greatly increasing water use (The Sacramento Bee)
Customers in the four-county region’s 23 largest water districts increased water use by 22 percent from June 2015 to June 2016. Statewide water use increased by 8 percent over the same period, according to the State Water Resources Control Board.
August 3, 2016
California water conservation returns to local leadership (Merced Sun-Star)
Californians conserved less water in June, the first month that statewide drought restrictions were eased following a winter of near average rain and snowfall, state officials said Thursday. As the state endures a hot, dry summer in a fifth year of historic drought, water managers reported that Californians used 21.5 percent less water in June than they did in 2013, a drop of 6 percentage points from a year earlier.
Californians cut water use in June, but not as much as last year (Sacramento Bee)
Californians reduced water consumption by 21.5 percent in June, but the conservation rate was lower than a year ago and state regulators vowed to scrutinize communities where water use has risen significantly. Officials said strict drought controls could be reinstated if necessary. The State Water Resources Control Board said Tuesday that the 21.5 percent savings rate was lower than the 27.5 percent drop recorded a year earlier. Both figures are compared with the baseline year of 2013.
Valley cities still saving water, but state conservation falls (Fresno Bee)
According to numbers released Tuesday by the State Water Resources Control Board, Fresno’s water use in June fell by 29 percent compared with the June 2013 total (the state uses 2013 as the baseline). The other Valley cities to show drops in consumption were: Clovis, 24 percent; Visalia, 23 percent; Hanford, 22 percent; Madera, 23 percent and Tulare, 19 percent.
California water conservation slips as responsibility shifts back to cities (The Tribune)
In San Luis Obispo County, most communities fell short of the 25 percent conservation target, with only Arroyo Grande (38.3 percent) and the Nipomo Community Services District (28.1 percent) exceeding the goal in June. Morro Bay had the smallest reduction locally, down 19.5 percent.
California water conservation returns to local leadership (Fox News US)
Californians conserved less water in June, the first month after statewide mandates were eased and control over drought restrictions returned to local water agencies, officials said Tuesday.
August 2, 2016
Californians Water Conservation Returns to Local Leadership (ABC News)
Most communities in drought-stricken California stayed on target for saving water in June, the first month that abandons a state-mandated approach to conserving that puts local leaders back in charge, officials said. State water regulators will release the month's figures on Tuesday as California endures a hot, dry summer in a fifth year of historic drought.
California fishermen win key ruling over Delta water supply (Sacramento Bee)
A group of commercial fishermen won a potentially significant court ruling in the seemingly endless battle over California’s water supply and the volumes of water pumped south through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
August 1, 2016
Court ruling will not affect Salinas water rates (USA Today)
An Orange County judge’s ruling allowing water rates to be raised in the city of Yorba Linda to offset financial losses from customers reducing water use due to the drought isn’t likely to affect rates in Salinas.
July 29, 2016
City softens water regulations (Patterson Irrigator)
The city of Patterson appears to be taking a more cautious approach in lightening its mandatory cutbacks than the State Water Resources Control Board’s near about-face, with many water reduction measures remaining in place.
City loosens water restrictions (Simi Valley Acorn)
On Monday, the City Council approved a Ventura County Waterworks District No. 8 recommendation to reduce the city’s current water shortage level from a Level 2 to a Level 1, which is on par with the Golden State Water Company and the City of Thousand Oaks.
Revised CA Twin Tunnels plan draws support, controversy (KCRA 3)
A scenic spot along the Sacramento River is quickly becoming ground zero in the fight over California's water future as the new California WaterFix project is generating strong reactions.
July 28, 2016
Dissent brews over governor’s $16 billion water project (San Francisco Chronicle)
The rural Sacramento County town of Hood, at the north end of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, is where state and federal authorities have planned the starting point of California’s hotly debated tunnel project — a $16 billion proposal by Gov. Jerry Brown to improve water deliveries to the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California, as well as parts of the Bay Area.
Visalia water rates won’t rise with court ruling (Visalia Times-Delta)
An Orange County judge’s ruling allowing water rates to be raised in the city of Yorba Linda to offset financial losses from customers reducing water use due to the drought isn’t likely to have any effect on rates in Visalia.
July 27, 2016
Agencies offer grants, loans for water projects (Capital Press)
About 40 rural officials gathered in a library meeting room on July 26 to hear presentations from agencies including USDA Rural Development, which offers project funding for tiny communities that lack adequate water and wastewater services.
Federal, state leaders pitch for California water tunnels (OC Register)
Representatives of California Gov. Jerry Brown and the Obama administration began making their pitch for approval Tuesday to build a pair of massive water tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
Pasadena Water and Power Considers Water Rate Redesign (Pasadena Now)
The Pasadena Department of Water and Power (PWP) presented the current state of its efforts to redesign the City’s water rate structure Wednesday afternoon to the Pasadena City Council Municipal Services Committee. Essentially, according to the redesign proposal, water rates would be modified to reflect the City’s decreasing demand for water, due to the drought and subsequent conservation, and the need to make capital improvements in the city’s water lines and facilities.
July 26, 2016
CVWD Board to Consider Acquiring DHS Land Through Eminent Domain for Water Treatment Plant (Palm Desert Patch)
The Coachella Valley Water District Board of Directors Tuesday will consider acquiring 39 acres of vacant land in Desert Hot Springs through eminent domain for a water treatment facility to treat the chemical chromium-6.
Judge: Yorba Linda residents can't use a referendum to void water rate hikes (Los Angeles Times)
An Orange County Superior Court judge ruled Monday in a closely watched case that customers of a water district cannot void rate increases using a referendum.
Pace to build Brown’s tunnels steps up Tuesday (Central Valley Business Times)
The State Water Resources Control Board’s five members on Tuesday begin the first part of a two-part, multi-month water right change petition hearing for what is marketed as the “WaterFix Project.” The project would dig two massive tunnels beneath the California Delta to drain fresh water out of the Sacramento River before it could flow naturally into the Delta.
July 25, 2016
Here’s how Metropolitan Water District can be good Delta neighbor (The Sacramento Bee)
Now that Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has completed its $175 million purchase of four islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, totaling almost 20,000 acres in size, it is time to engage in a discussion of how Met can be a good Delta neighbor.
When it comes to water, we need all the data we can get (The Desert Sun)
In California, especially as the current punishing drought continues for a fifth year, more definitely would be better in just about every regard when it comes to water. This is true when it comes to water research. And as demonstrated by two separate studies reported on recently by The Desert Sun’s Ian James, more data on groundwater in California would be a good thing indeed.
Algae in drinking water causes Santa Clara Valley water officials to scramble (The Mercury News)
Water officials closed off the reservoir last Monday -- nearly two months earlier than normal -- after drawing the reservoir level down below the bottom of the boat ramp. Boating at nearby Anderson Reservoir could be shut down in a few weeks. The reason: Santa Clara County needs the drinking water, and the region's usual supply system has been disrupted by algae and lingering drought issues.
Sewage Is Now A Commodity Cities Fight Over (Water Online)
The tension between Coronado and Imperial Bay, two cities in San Diego County, centers on a decision by the U.S. Navy to select a manager for its sewage output at a campus in California.
July 14, 2016
House sets stage for post-election showdown over California water (The Sacramento Bee)
The House’s actions mean House and Senate negotiators will once again confront technical and highly consequential California water language when they work out a final federal government funding package.
Quick thinking may have saved SGV water wells from drying up this summer (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)
When a pipeline’s key valve stopped working last winter, engineers devised a work-around that is delivering billions of gallons of water to the shrinking aquifer -- saving several wells used by the cities of Azusa and Glendora from going dry.
Menlo Park relaxes water restrictions (Menlo Park Almanac)
The Menlo Park Municipal Water District was recognized for registering the highest cumulative water savings in California between June and August 2015, cutting its water use 47 percent below 2013 levels.
Long Beach residents still saving water despite loosened drought restrictions (Long Beach Press-Telegram)
Despite loosened water restrictions, Long Beach residents used 16 percent less water in June compared the same month two years ago, city officials reported.
Opinion: Planning for California’s water future (Water Deeply)
California’s highly engineered water system struggles to serve its 39 million people and the environment. But there a numerous things we can do to better plan for the future, writes Mark Cowin, director of the Department of Water Resources.
July 12, 2016
7 states are recovering from severe drought (24/7 Wall St.)
California and parts of the Southwestern United States have now endured a fifth consecutive year of drought. While these areas and the country are far from being drought free, near record-strength El Niño rains over the winter and fall of last year alleviated drought conditions considerably.
Water line break in Exeter cuts service, forces boil-water notice (The Fresno Bee)
A water line break in Exeter forced the city to shut off water service to all homes and businesses in the city and warn residents to boil water before drinking it. A Southern California Edison crew had been drilling a hole at Belmont Street and Visalia Road to install a utility pole when the augur hit a 10-inch pressurized water line.
July 5, 2016
California drought causing trees to die by the 'millions,' scientist says (ABC)
The devastation the California drought has caused to conifer trees in the Sierra Nevadas over the last couple of years "is far greater than previously observed," NASA scientists said in announcement of the publication of new map of the region.
Scientists: California needs more groundwater data (The Palm Springs Desert Sun)
The more scientists study California’s declining supplies of groundwater, the more they’re emphasizing one basic point: We still don’t know nearly enough about the water in our aquifers, and we need a lot more data.
How blue-green algae can make you sick — or kill your pet (The Riverside Press-Enterprise)
Experts say levels of toxin-producing bacteria -- which can sicken humans and kill pets -- are rising in local waters; drought and climate change intensify the problem.
Northeast Fresno water issues confound city, state investigators (The Fresno Bee)
Hundreds of homes in northeast Fresno have discolored water – and, in some cases, excessive levels of toxic lead – coming from their faucets.
June 30, 2016
Death toll rises to four in California wildfires as bodies found in rural area (Los Angeles Times)
As of Wednesday, 4,000 firefighters are battling 12 large wildfires throughout California, according to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Daniel Berlant. It marks a destructive start to what officials have warned could be a grim fire season as California enters a fifth year of drought and some forests are filled with dead or dying trees stricken by the bark beetle.
California senate approves water storage bill (Central Valley Business Journal)
The California Senate Committee on Governance and Finance passed, by a 6-0 vote, AB 2552 aimed at helping build crucial water storage projects like the Sites Reservoir and Temperance Flat Dam. The bill now heads to the Senate Appropriations committee for further consideration.
Water fight may leave some O.C. customers with bigger bills (The Orange County Register)
A suit, filed June 17, centers on the formula the Orange County Water District uses to figure who may pump how much (cheap) water from the earth. That, in turn, determines how much other (expensive) water that water agencies must buy from importers.
$250 million plan to treat drinking water approved (The Palm Beach Desert Sun)
The Coachella Valley Water District has approved a plan to start building treatment plants to remove the potentially hazardous heavy metal chromium-6 from drinking water.
Editorial: California needs action now on groundwater protection (The Sacramento Bee)
Sen. Lois Wolk’s Senate Bill 1317 would have slowed the speed at which new wells are drilled, and denied permits for wells in critically overdrafted basins until groundwater regulations begin to take effect in 2022. But it ran into opposition from agricultural interests and local government agencies.
June 28, 2016
How much water are top California suppliers committing to save this year? Zilch (The Orange County Register)
A year after California attacked the drought with an unprecedented water rationing program that drove cities and towns to cut back 24 percent collectively, state officials have changed course and given local agencies the leeway to come up with their own water-saving goals. But the agencies are not exactly setting a high bar.
State, county grapple with historic tree die-off (The San Diego Union-Tribune)
As wildfires burn in Southern California, a debate is smoldering about what to do with millions of dead and dying trees — which have been ravaged by drought and beetle species up and down the state. Facing the biggest die-off since recordkeeping on the topic started about four decades ago, state officials have already started to cut down hundreds of thousands of dead trees near houses, roads, power lines and other sensitive areas.
With doomsday in mind, California officials are ceding water to Arizona, Nevada (Voice of San Diego)
California representatives have offered to forgo up to 8 percent of the state’s Colorado River water, if things get bad enough. The worry is cuts would be worse later if California doesn’t play ball with Arizona now.
‘Water windfall' discovered beneath California's Central Valley (Science Daily)
New research indicates that California's Central Valley harbors three times more groundwater than previously estimated, but challenges to using it include pumping costs, ground subsidence and possible contamination from fracking and other oil and gas activities.
Los Angeles dispenses free recycled water to its residents (Citylab)
Amid the statewide drought, a new pilot program hopes to promote the local water supply.
Editorial: California’s water districts are loath to save resources (San Francisco Chronicle)
Nine out of 10 of the biggest urban water suppliers in California reported last week that their savings plan for the rest of 2016 is a big fat zero.
June 23, 2016
Research: California years away from making drought recovery (AP)
One winter of El Nino storms that delivered a near-normal snowfall wasn't enough to make up for the deficit from four consecutive dry years in the Sierra, a critical water supply statewide, the study says.
66 million dead trees in California could fuel 'catastrophic' wildfires, officials say (AP)
The number of trees in California’s Sierra Nevada forests killed by drought, a bark beetle epidemic and warmer temperatures has dramatically increased since last year, raising fears that they will fuel catastrophic wildfires and endanger people’s lives, officials said.
Some water agencies say 'no' to mandated water cuts despite drought (KPCC)
In Southern California, the city of Long Beach and the water provider for most of the Coachella Valley have gone on record saying they have identified enough water sources to meet demand, even if the state's historic drought grinds on to 2019.
East Porterville to get city water piped in under state plan (The Fresno Bee)
The $10 million state project will extend city water mains into East Porterville, where about 1,800 parcels have private wells.
Water-wasting leaks plague many cities (The Wall Street Journal)
Cash-strapped cities are contending with aging, leak-prone water systems that waste trillions of gallons a year and result in damaging breaks.
Desalination plant again faces environmental questions (Voice of San Diego)
Carlsbad’s new desalination plant went through years of regulatory review and faced 14 legal challenges from environmental groups before it opened last year. Six months after opening, it’s still facing regulatory hurdles, including one that’ll make the water it produces more expensive.
May 31, 2016
California's water crisis not on radar of presidential candidates (The Orange County Register)
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. The state’s record drought, only dented by last winter's rains, comes amid a 16-year dry spell in the Colorado River basin, which provides 16 percent of California's water.
Q&A: The key to saving California’s groundwater (Water Deeply)
For years California was behind the curve on managing groundwater, with dire results. There are now 21 groundwater basins or subbasins in the state that are critically overdrafted. Help may be on the way, though. The state took action in 2014 with the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The legislation will take decades to fully implement, but if done well, would provide a crucial framework for managing one of the state’s most important water resources.
Good news: Trees and other foliage have regrown, despite drought (Los Angeles Times)
“I think a lot of people were expecting that we’d see trees dying even in the Santa Cruz Mountains because the reservoirs there were really low. But they were pretty much undaunted by [drought] in their growth,” said Christopher Potter, the author of the study.
Ventura takes top prize in national water-saving contest (Ventura County Star)
Residents living in more than 4,100 U.S. cities across 38 states took the pledge to reduce water use during the month of April. Ventura led the pack, finishing first place for cities of its size in the annual Wyland National Mayor's Challenge for Water Conservation.
Does California ‘have the same water infrastructure’ as it did in the 1960s? (PolitiFact)
Was Sen. Feinstein right? Does California, a state known for innovation, really rely on a plumbing system from generations ago with no substantial upgrades?
Calaveras lifts water conservation restrictions (The Stockton Record)
The decision came after the State Water Resources Control Board said that water districts that can show they have ample supplies can set their own conservation targets.
May 26, 2016
House moves on California water bills, but toward what end? (McClatchy)
The House of Representatives passed yet another set of controversial California water provisions, sending a political signal and, perhaps, putting pressure on the Senate. Important differences, though, still split the state, and lawmakers have yet to show they can get out of their respective trenches and resolve them. For now, a final deal seems far off.
House wading into California's long-running water war (AP)
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.
Meet the newest soldiers in California’s drought battles (Good)
Mendocino County’s Fetzer Vineyard is currently partnering with Chilean company BioFiltro to install the first-ever worm-based wastewater disposal program in America. A massive “treatment box” filled with 12,000 worms per cubic yard will be installed on the property, and wastewater will then be sprayed into the box for the worms to clean. The process will take roughly four hours, and can be done with almost zero outside influence, including electricity.
May 19, 2016
California board allows water districts to set their own conservation targets (Los Angeles Times)
Local water districts will soon be allowed to set their own savings targets based on water supply and demand forecasts tailored to their areas. That means that places that received a lot of rain — and communities that purchase or are entitled to water from sources there — are likely to see fewer restrictions, while dry areas without water from those replenished supplies are likely to suffer through another summer of continued conservation.
May 12, 2016
Metropolitan Water District to end drought cutbacks (The Orange County Register)
Southern California’s water wholesaler for cities and districts serving 19 million people will see water deliveries restored to their previous levels in another sign that the state’s deep drought is easing.
With reservoirs nearly full, EBMUD declares water emergency over (San Francisco Chronicle)
On a 7-0 vote, the board ruled on Tuesday that water supply levels were “normal,” suspended water rationing and also dropped the 25 percent drought surcharge on water bills, effective July 1.
Ripon cuts water use 35 percent (Manteca Bulletin)
The City recently hired a water conservation coordinator. In the past month, they issued 246 warnings those in violation of the mandatory water conservation measures.
Here's the strange reason this year's El Niño was so intense (Business Insider)
In an April report, two researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that especially strong winds from summer 2014 didn't just keep the 2014 El Niño from happening, they also gave the next year's El Niño a head start.
Plan to sell Mojave water survives court challenges (The Palm Beach Desert Sun)
A company’s proposal to pump billions of gallons of water from a Mojave Desert aquifer has survived a legal fight as an appeals court rejected several challenges by opponents of the plan.
Solvang invests in long-term water supply (Santa Maria Times)
The city council’s direction to staff includes upgrades to existing wells, and much needed repair work to a reservoir which could extend its life by up to 20 years. The total investment exceeds $3.3 million.
Turlock council approves sale of recycled water (The Modesto Bee)
Turlock and Modesto will provide highly treated water from their sewage plants to the Del Puerto Water District, which serves about 45,000 acres along Interstate 5 from Vernalis to Santa Nella.
MAY 10, 2016
California drought rules eased significantly (The San Jose Mercury News)
The new rules, which are expected to be approved May 18 by the State Water Resources Control Board, will allow more than 400 cities, water districts and private companies to each set their own water conservation targets, as long as they report them to state officials.
California governor makes some water restrictions permanent (NPR)
California Gov. Jerry Brown has made some of the state's temporary water restrictions permanent. The executive order, in response to the state's drought, permanently bans wasteful practices like hosing sidewalks and washing cars with hoses that don't have shut-off nozzles.
Report: 10 percent of California now out of drought (The Orange County Register)
A weekly U.S. drought monitor released Thursday shows just under 90 percent of the state is locked in moderate to exceptional drought. That’s the first time since early 2013 that even that small percentage of the state has been ranked drought-free.
California Senate backs bill to fine excessive water users (AP)
Sen. Jerry Hill’s bill would require every water district to create a process for identifying and going after heavy users during drought emergencies. As an alternative, districts could create a system that charges more for using large amounts of water.
APRIL 19. 2016
Counties fight SoCal water giant's Delta grab (Courthouse News Service)
Political agencies and nonprofits in the Central Valley say the Metropolitan District of Southern California's $175 million purchase of four islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta may cause significant environmental changes and sued to block the sale.
A river is reborn after Lake Tahoe reaches milestone (KCRA)
For the first time in 18 months, the Truckee River has begun flowing after Lake Tahoe's water level reached a milestone. Water managers said melting snow pushed the lake above 6,223 feet of elevation last Saturday.
Water flows in Fresno, Visalia for recharge (The Fresno Bee)
For the first time in more than two years, water is flowing inside the Friant-Kern and Madera canals for groundwater recharge and farm irrigation.
Still no showers at San Diego state beaches (San Diego Reader)
The beach showers at Silver Strand, Torrey Pines, Cardiff, and South Carlsbad, were shut down last July. Later in the year, so were some campground showers and beach restroom sinks.
What drought? East Bay gated community orders homeowners to green up (Bay Area News Group)
The homeowners association for Blackhawk, an upscale, gated community has threatened to fine homeowners for brown or dead lawns and landscaping despite a continuing state drought emergency.
Gallery: Corporate water users who saved the most — or least (The San Diego Union-Tribune)
Coalition creates 15,500-square-foot drought-tolerant project (Santa Cruz Sentinel)
A coalition of 18 local, county and state partners is replacing 15,500 square feet of grass in Watsonville with drought tolerant landscape, reportedly saving 350,000 gallons of water annually.
New Bay Area dam project reaches major milestone (The San Jose Mercury News)
In a significant step for the largest reservoir project in the Bay Area in 20 years, workers have finished building the spillway -- a massive concrete channel as wide as eight lanes of freeway and a quarter mile long -- at Calaveras Dam near the Alameda-Santa Clara county line.
Taxpayer group faults water rates notices (Stockton Record)
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association says formal notices sent by the city of Stockton about a proposed water rate hike are invalid because they imply that only property owners may file protests — not renters. But the city says it’s actually going further than the law requires, and will in fact honor protests from renters even though it didn’t originally intend to. That decision came after a mailing error resulted in thousands of additional notices being sent to Stockton residents.
Humboldt Bay shipping impacted by shallow depth (Eureka Times-Standard)
Abnormally large waves at the entrance of Humboldt Bay caused by its shallow depth are creating treacherous conditions for boaters and barges as well as impacting shipments in and out of the bay, local officials state. While the dredge is set to be dredged next month due to the hazardous conditions, local and federal entities are now discussing long-term solutions to the issue.
Opinion: Drought watch: Water not wasted to the sea (PPIC)
To many, the notion of water to the ocean is akin to water wasted. It is perceived as serving no valuable purpose before mixing with salt water and being rendered useless. This perception is understandable if we limit our thinking to benefits from direct use of water: manufacturing, industry, drinking, sanitation, or growing gardens and crops. But outside of improving habitat for native species, there are multiple indirect benefits derived from water currently running into the Delta.
Editorial: Prepare for a flood of new levee work (The Sacramento Bee)
The weak El Niño and years of drought notwithstanding, Sacramento remains the most flood-prone U.S. city this side of New Orleans. For all the levee work that has been completed – $2 billion worth since 1990 – more is needed.
April 12, 2016
Southern California water agency signs $175 million deal to buy Delta islands (The Sacramento Bee)
Already viewed with suspicion and hostility in the north state water community, the powerful Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is broadening its reach by purchasing $175 million worth of real estate in the very hub of California’s water delivery network: the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Feds to review if funds mishandled for California tunnels (AP)
The inspector general of the U.S. Interior Department will look into accusations that California took $60 million meant for fish habitat to spend on preliminary work for Gov. Jerry Brown's project and otherwise mishandled federal funds.
This will be the biggest dam-removal project in history (National Geographic)
More than 400 miles of the Klamath River system that have been blocked for a century will open up for people and wildlife.
Long Beach meets water savings goal – but will have to keep saving (Long Beach Press-Telegram)
The city’s latest numbers for March water use show that customers of the Long Beach Water Department used 3,986 acre-feet of water last month, close to 16 percent less than the same month in 2013. It was also the lowest amount of water use for that month since 1965.
Clovis water rates will rise for the city’s most thrifty users (The Fresno Bee)
The new rates were necessary because of a legal ruling last year that said certain tiered rate systems are illegal. The Clovis model wasn’t challenged.
San Bernardino seeks documents related to Sterling Water Project (The San Bernardino Sun)
The city of San Bernardino is using the California Open Records Act to gain access to correspondence and records related to the East Valley Water District’s proposed Sterling Water Recycling Plant.
Turlock, Ceres could take next step on water treatment plant (Modesto Bee)
Turlock and Ceres could take the next step toward a Tuolumne River water treatment plant that reduces their reliance on wells.
Editorial: Contra Costa's secret water deal hurts Bay Area (San Jose Mercury News)
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.
April 5, 2016
California water-saving rules to ease, but nobody's off the hook (San Jose Mercury News)
Poised to ease California's mandatory drought rules after rebounding rain and snow levels this winter, state water officials on Monday made it clear that -- even where reservoirs are 100 percent full -- no community is likely to get an entirely free pass from conservation targets this summer. "One average year does not mean that we can forget about saving water," said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board. "We don't want to let our guard down."
Things to know: The next step in California's drought (AP)
In the coming months, state officials will undertake a monumental task of rewriting conservation orders for a fifth year of drought.
County's drought conservation plummets (The San Diego Union-Tribune)
In San Diego County, water conservation in February plummeted for all major suppliers. In many cases, the local water districts actually increased their consumption compared with the same month in the baseline year of 2013.
Valley towns fall short of water conservation in warmer, drier February (The Fresno Bee)
Most communities in the central San Joaquin Valley didn’t meet the conservation standards. As the nine-month period ended, only Kingsburg, Selma and Merced reached the targets set by the state beginning in June.
Inland heat hurts water savings; state also falls short (The Riverside Press-Enterprise)
Eight Inland suppliers missed cumulative savings targets by 10 to 15 percent.
Map: Sacramento area water restrictions (Capital Public Radio)
Drought still grips Southern California, keeping pressure on state water supplies (The Sacramento Bee)
The torrential rains haven’t materialized. Groundwater aquifers have been pumped to near-historic lows. A sizable reservoir two hours east of Los Angeles, built for $2 billion as drought insurance, is two-thirds empty, its boat launch closed.
Oregon, California, federal agencies will seek removal of Klamath dams (The Eugene Register-Guard)
Oregon, California, the federal government and others have agreed to go forward with a plan to remove four hydroelectric dams in the Pacific Northwest without approval from a reluctant Congress, a spokesman for dam owner PacifiCorp said Monday.
Pilots ‘seed’ clouds, fighting the drought from the sky (San Francisco Chronicle)
Two airmen have made about three dozen flights from the Modesto City-County Airport to the high country in recent months, “seeding” clouds so they’ll produce more snow. The end goal is more water for drought-stricken reservoirs.
Opinion: No, California's drought isn't over. Here's why easing the drought rules would be a big mistake (Los Angeles Times)
Policymakers are getting the uneasy feeling that public impressions of newfound abundance could undo much of the progress of the last few years. "Droughts are really a matter of signals," Jeanine Jones, deputy drought manager for the California Department of Water Resources, told me. "When it has rained a lot, people get comfortable."
March 31, 2016
Sierra snowpack shows improvement, but not enough to declare California's drought over (Los Angeles Times)
The latest readings, taken Wednesday around 8:30 a.m. showed that the water content held by the state’s snowpack was about 24 inches, or 87% of normal.
Drought infographic (Los Angeles Times)
Dianne Feinstein says water wars tougher than assault-weapons ban (The Sacramento Bee)
Moments before release of a crucial snowpack survey Wednesday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein warned against loosening the mandatory water restrictions imposed last year by Gov. Jerry Brown. “I think it’s premature right now,” the California Democrat said Wednesday afternoon. “I think we need to see what happens in April ... an important month for water.”
Panel answers questions about call to cut water use in SCV (The Santa Clarita Valley Signal)
If the call for Santa Clarita Valley residents to stop watering their lawns next week fails to yield a noticeable drop in water use, then water officials are prepared to issue a stronger, louder, clearer message.
SLO Supervisors bet on Diablo desal project (New Times San Luis Obispo)
Punished by the state’s historic drought, recent rains have brought little relief to Five Cities-area municipalities like Grover Beach, Oceano, Arroyo Grande, and Pismo Beach. A recent analysis by the county predicted that South County water sources—including Lopez Lake—could dry up as soon as 2018.
March 29, 2016
Was March the rainfall miracle we’d hoped for? (KQED)
Sadly, no. But there’s good news—this winter was the best we’ve had in five years in terms of precipitation. Rainfall in most Bay Area cities is about 100 percent of normal. San Francisco has received 21 inches of rain this winter, up from 16 inches last year. And the state’s two biggest reservoirs, Oroville and Shasta, are now more than 80 percent full. Last March, they hovered between 50 and 59 percent.
4 things to know about federal drought legislation (Water Deeply)
Congress is about to try again to help ease California’s drought. A handful of bills – some new, some held over from last year – will come up for debate in the weeks ahead. The subject is as partisan as the presidential race, and a lot more complicated.
DWR issues $7M in groundwater sustainability grants (Western Farm Press)
The counties selected are considered to have high and medium priority groundwater basins, some of which are in critical over-draft. The 21 counties stretch from Humboldt to San Diego and include all eight in the San Joaquin Valley.
Citing confusion and cost, farm water managers urge rewrite of new groundwater regulations (The Fresno Bee)
The upcoming written regulations for groundwater management agencies need major adjustments, central San Joaquin Valley water district managers told state officials. The regulations are slated to go into effect June 1; the state Department of Water Resources is taking public comment about them until April 1.
Water issue could cost Coachella millions of dollars (The Palm Springs Desert Sun)
In 2014, the California Department of Public Health approved a maximum contaminant level of 10 parts per billion for chromium-6 in drinking water, making it the only state to regulate the specific chromium compound. All five of the Coachella Water Authority's wells have chromium-6 levels slightly above the state standard.
Saudi land purchases fuel debate over U.S. water rights (AP)
Saudi Arabia's largest dairy company will soon be unable to farm alfalfa in its own parched country to feed its 170,000 cows. So it's turning to an unlikely place to grow the water-chugging crop — the drought-stricken American Southwest. Almarai Co. bought land in January that roughly doubled its holdings in California's Palo Verde Valley, an area that enjoys first dibs on water from the Colorado River.
Raising the bar (Watsonville Register-Pajaronian)
Aging infrastructure below Watsonville, where 60 percent of the pipes are now 60 years old, have caused officials to reevaluate the speed of replacing water mains.
California asks hearing delay for giant water tunnels (AP)
Officials asked Monday for a two-month delay in the hearings. Backers say they needed more time to deal with protests against the $15.7 billion tunnels project.
Editorial: Delta tunnel project deserves public vote (San Jose Mercury News)
It's great that five of the seven Santa Clara Valley Water District Board members now say they want to give voters a say in whether Silicon Valley's largest water district will help pay for Gov. Jerry Brown's $17 billion Delta tunnels plan. The other two should make it unanimous.
March 22, 2016
Will El Niño’s water bounty in Northern California provide for dry southern cities? (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)
By increasing the official allocation from the State Water Project from 5 percent in 2014 to 45 percent on Monday, the state Department of Water Resources has sent signals the drought is easing, although far from vanquished.
How 'March Miracle' replenished California's reservoirs, snowpack (Los Angeles Times)
Dubbed by some as the "March Miracle," the storms have helped replenish reservoirs and created a winter wonderland as April approaches. Snow levels in the northern Sierra are now above average. The snow is not enough by any measure to end the drought, but it's making a dent.
Why some reservoirs don’t fill as quickly (San Francisco Chronicle)
Press release: Working together to build a sustainable water future (The White House)
The White House is hosting a Water Summit to shine a spotlight on the importance of cross-cutting, creative solutions to solving the water problems of today, as well as to highlight the innovative strategies that will catalyze change in how we use, conserve, protect and think about water in the years to come.
Commitments to Action on Building a Sustainable Water Future (pdf) (The Executive Office of the President)
In addition to newly announced steps by the Obama administration, the report highlights a number of water projects, including several in California.
Recycled water system to be put to test at development near Tracy (San Francisco Chronicle)
Occupants of 11,000 new single-family houses under construction near Tracy will be able to recycle their shower, bath, laundry and sink water on site using a system designed by Australian water engineers, one of dozens of new water technologies the White House will showcase at its big “water summit” Tuesday.
Water resources dashboard (U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit)
This dashboard provides access to maps and data that can help water resource managers and urban planners monitor the potential for extreme precipitation and drought in their regions.
‘Bitter pill’ of water rate boosts leaves many with bad taste (The Fairfield Daily Republic)
Proposed higher water rates that some residents say will boost their monthly bills to $250 a month by 2019 brought about 50 residents to a meeting when the public works director for Vallejo told them work on a system that includes century-old water mains is costly but necessary.
Opinion: Our water system: What a waste (The New York Times)
To put it simply, the national network for providing safe, clean water is falling apart. Over all, repairing our water and wastewater systems could cost $1.3 trillion or more, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.
March 17, 2016
Don't drink the water: Lead found in California schools (The Palm Beach Desert Sun)
The Flint, Michigan water crisis has drawn new attention to the health risks of the toxic metal that can cause brain damage and other physical ailments if ingested. The risks are particularly high for children.
Climate change spells trouble for California water (Courthouse News Service)
Rising sea levels and soaring temperatures caused by climate change could exacerbate California's water shortage and increase stress on its most important natural resources, according to a federal report. Climate change could raise average temperatures in the Sierra Nevada mountain range by more than 5 degrees by the late 21st century and sea water is likely to intrude further into California's vital freshwater holding tank - the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta - according to predictions by the Bureau of Reclamation. The study says global warming could cause a median sea level rise of 36 inches and flood the delta with salt water.
California congressmen try to talk Uncle Sam out of taxing turf rebates (KPCC)
"We think it’s crazy and unprecedented to treat them that way, but some staff at the IRS have taken a different view," say Congressman Jared Huffman, a Democrat who represents a northern California district. He's joined with Republican Dana Rohrabacher of Orange County to introduce the Water Conservation Tax Parity Act.
Video: L.A. targets 'mega users' of water in plan for increased conservation (KNBC)
Consumers in the highest tier of water users could be fined as much as $40,000 a month if the drought worsens and they refuse to reduce consumption deemed "unreasonable," under a plan approved Wednesday by commissioners of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
Menlo Park: Water district awarded for conservation success (Palo Alto Daily News)
The Menlo Park Municipal Water District is a leader in the state's water conservation battles, registering a cumulative 47 percent in savings since Gov. Jerry Brown ordered a statewide reduction of water use in June.
Manteca cuts water use 26% in February (Manteca Bulletin)
The city is required to cutback water consumption 32 percent from 2013 levels due to the state drought emergency.
Water outlook: From ‘doom and gloom’ to ‘pretty positive’ (Marysville Appeal-Democrat)
A string of storms in March has inundated the North State's major reservoirs and sent storm water surging through rivers and bypasses, transforming the tenor of talks about water supply for agriculture and cold water storage for endangered salmon from doom and gloom scenarios to cautious optimism, said Lewis Bair, general manager of Reclamation District 108.
Rains boost water levels at Berryessa (The Fairfield Daily Republic)
Lake Berryessa is now 63.5 percent full in the aftermath of a series of storms that swept through the area and boosted the area’s seasonal rainfall to above average.
Photos: Photographing California at its most diminished (Citylab)
Thomas Heinser captures how drought, fire, and industry make abstractions of the landscape.
Editorial: As lakes fill, state squanders a good crisis (Chico Enterprise-Record)
While citizens made major changes in the way they live, politicians wasted a good crisis. They did not do a single thing to increase the state’s water supply in future years.
MARCH 15, 2016
California’s biggest reservoirs recover, putting water limits in question (The Sacramento Bee)
With California’s two largest reservoirs hitting historically average levels following a weekend of heavy storms, the state’s chief water regulator is cautiously optimistic that the drought may finally be relaxing its grip.
March storms in Calif. could boost CVP water deliveries (Capital Press)
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has been holding off on making allocations of Central Valley Project water to see the outcome of March storms, which are significantly improving California's water supply.
Beverly Hills put a spotlight on its celebrity water wasters -- and it worked (Los Angeles Times)
About four months ago, city officials got tough. Beverly Hills sent letters to dozens of customers in November warning them of high water use and urging them to cut back. The city also began penalizing profligate users. The city cut its water usage by 26% in January — its highest percentage in eight months of reporting and more than double its effort in December.
Catching storm runoff could ease droughts, but it’s no quick fix (KQED)
The Oakland-based Pacific Institute estimates that rainfall captured in the San Francisco Bay Area and metro Southern California could, in a strong year, provide enough water to supply the entire city of Los Angeles. Most of that usually runs out to the ocean.
As drought continues despite El Niño, L.A. County turns to cloud-seeding in hope of more rain (KTLA)
That captured stormwater from cloud-seeding is worth about $3.2 million per year — the amount it would cost to buy equivalent supply from the giant Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. The new cloud-seeding program is expected to cost $550,000 per year, making the water that’s produced a comparative bargain.
'You don't drink the water in Gardena': A year later, residents remain skeptical (Los Angeles Times)
Officials said that they've worked hard to improve the water quality and that the issues have been largely fixed. But some residents say they’re not sure the problem is gone for good.
Water wars: Orange County Water District wants desalinated water; Irvine Ranch doesn't. Who will win? (The Orange County Register)
Officials at Irvine Ranch Water District, which serves more than 340,000 customers in Irvine, Tustin, Lake Forest and several other cities, are trying to derail the desalination deal struck between the Orange County Water District and Poseidon Resources, the company proposing the plant on coastal land adjacent to Pacific Coast Highway.
MARCH 8, 2016
March storms needed to build Sierra snowpack (Capital Public Radio)
California reservoirs are 'stable' with help from above-average January precipitation, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. But March is needed to build Sierra Nevada snowpack, counted on for water supply in the spring and summer.
California storms send billions of gallons of water into reservoirs (San Jose Mercury News)
With rain totals reaching 10 inches or more in some mountain areas, 46 of the largest reservoirs in California, closely tracked by the state Department of Water Resources, collectively added 391 billion gallons of water between Friday and Monday morning -- enough for the needs of 6 million people for a year.
Late winter storms put dent in drought (The San Diego Union-Tribune)
The storms that have been hitting California since late Friday “won’t end the drought, but they will put a dent in it,” said Alex Tardy, a forecaster at the National Weather Service in San Diego.
Storm pushes Lake Oroville to highest water level in nearly three years (Chico Enterprise-Record)
As of 4 p.m. Monday, the lake elevation was at 792.32 feet. The last time Lake Oroville was this full was Aug. 3, 2013.
Is El Niño finally ending California's drought? (The Atlantic)
Six weeks remain in the state’s annual rainy season, and results are mixed. Rain is drenching the Bay Area this weekend, but California as a whole seems on track to have only an average precipitation year.
Pacifica officials monitor crumbling cliff as high surf pounds Bay Area coast (Los Angeles Times)
Pacifica officials are closely monitoring the El Niño storms, which they say have accelerated coastal erosion of the city’s seaside bluffs.
Cliff erosion prompts bridge replacement (The San Mateo Daily Journal)
As delicate coastal bluffs across the San Mateo County have suffered severe erosion this El Niño season, Half Moon Bay officials are proactively preparing to replace a pedestrian bridge that serves as a key connection along the California Coastal Trail.
Folsom Lake water releases rise as rain continues (The Sacramento Bee)
With El Niño rains returning in earnest, dam operators ramped up water releases Monday from Folsom Lake as a precaution against flooding. They will double the intensity of the releases early Tuesday.
Delta smelt populations plummet 2nd year in a row (Capital Public Radio)
Federal agencies can restrict water exports from the Delta to Southern California in order to protect the Delta smelt. The fish only has a one-year life span.
9,000 dying trees to be removed in Tuolumne County (Capital Public Radio)
The state will pick up most of the cost but there's no help for private homeowners.
Deadly superbugs from hospitals get stronger in the sewers and could end up in the Pacific Ocean (Los Angeles Times)
Scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency recently announced they had discovered a lethal superbug — the same one that caused outbreaks at UCLA and two other Los Angeles-area hospitals — in sewage at one of a treatment plant. They declined to name the facility.
Clovis City Council approves use of channel to carry recycled water to river (The Fresno Bee)
Clovis City Council members approved a resolution that will allow the city to send highly treated sewer water into a neighborhood north of Clovis over some residents’ opposition.
O.C. Water District narrows distribution options for desalinated water from proposed H.B. plant (Huntington Beach Independent)
The district's board voted 7-0 to have staff continue analyzing the methods of how the water from the desalination project would be delivered to customers.
Opinion: There’s a cancer-causing chemical in my drinking water, but California isn’t regulating it (KQED)
According to the State Water Resources Control Board, 1,2,3-TCP has been found in about a hundred public water systems across California, mostly in the Central Valley but also in counties like Santa Cruz, Monterey, Sacramento, and Los Angeles.