Recent California Water News

January 2015

Important California Water Infrastructure Talks Start This Week
Today, the California Water Commission, a nine-member body appointed by the governor, will begin piecing together the rulebook for a water-infrastructure spending spree. In November, voters approved a $US 7.5 billion bond that allocates $US 2.7 billion to "water storage" projects. The commission is charged with selecting the projects that will receive state funds. Applicants will include new reservoirs, underground storage, and proposals to clean up dirty aquifers.
Circle of Blue, January 21, 2015

Boxer vows no more 'secret' talks on drought bill
Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer on Wednesday set down some markers on California water legislation, denouncing "secret negotiations" and stressing the importance of seeking statewide support.
McClatchy DC, January 21, 2015

Century Later, the 'Chinatown' Water Feud Ebbs
While the water theft remains a point of contention, the battle long ago turned into one about the clouds of dust that were the legacy of the lost lake, 200 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.
New York Times, January 20, 2015

Pressure's on to help Delta fish suffering amid drought
Mark Cowin, director of the California Department of Water Resources, called the depleted fish populations "a very deep concern," not only for fisheries, but because they can trigger provisions in the Endangered Species Act that restrict water diversions from the Delta.
Sacramento Bee, January 20, 2015

California drought could end with storms known as atmospheric rivers
As much as Californians might hope for a series of atmospheric rivers to sweep in and end the three-year drought, experts warn that so much rain at once could bring devastation.
Los Angeles Times, January 18, 2015

Work is just beginning for California water policy
While talk of water storage causes most to think of large dams, which will continue to play an important role, there is a much wider range of alternatives and opportunities to explore.
Sacramento Bee, January 18, 2015

Calif. boosts water allocations but warns of continued drought
California's State Water Project boosted its anticipated water deliveries to contractors from 10 percent to 15 percent of requested amounts, but officials warn the drought is still severe and drastic measures could still be taken later this year to meet basic health and safety and environmental needs.
Capitol Press, January 16, 2015

California Drought Outlook Extends at Least Into April
Most of California will still be in drought in April even though conditions will probably improve across the southern part of the state, according to the latest forecast from the U.S. Climate Prediction Center.
Bloomberg News, January 15, 2015

Proposed Water Quality Rules May Limit California Ag Activities
A new effort to regulate grazing and its potential impacts on water quality has California ranchers concerned new rules could limit their food production activities and yield little environmental benefits. The State Water Resources Control Board and the nine regional water quality control boards said in public documents they're working together on the new project to explore ways to improve environmental benefits from grazing, while protecting surface and groundwater.
Sierra Sun Times, January 14, 2015

Garamendi co-sponsors water legislation
The legislation would expand rebates and grants for water conservation and efficiency; support local investments in water recycling and improved groundwater management and storage; invest in research into water-saving technologies and desalination; and establish an open water data system. The measure would also help local communities take steps to become better prepared for drought.
The Reporter, January 13, 2015

Supreme Court declines to hear appeals in California water dispute
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a challenge by California growers and local water management agencies to federal guidelines that limit water diversions to protect the Delta smelt fish. The decision not to hear two related cases means a March 2014 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals siding with the federal government remains intact.
Reuters, January 12, 2015

California's Almonds Suck as Much Water Annually as Los Angeles Uses in Three Years
The US now exports 70 percent of almonds. The thing is, nuts use a whole lot of water: it takes about a gallon of water to grow one almond, and nearly five gallons to produce a walnut. Residents across the state are being told to take shorter showers and stop watering their lawns, but the acreage devoted to the state's almond orchards have doubled in the past decade. The amount of water that California uses annually to produce almond exports would provide water for all Los Angeles homes and businesses for almost three years.
Mother Jones, January 12, 2015

San Joaquin Valley farmers reach secret deal in water dispute
A staggering economic and environmental problem festering for three decades in the southern San Joaquin Valley would be addressed by a secret deal reached between the Obama administration and farmers -- one that is sounding alarms for Bay Area lawmakers...Details of the deal between Westlands and the federal Bureau of Reclamation have not been revealed to members of Congress, who would have to approve it. But according to a short "principles of agreement" document that has been made public, the deal would forgive $342 million in federal debt that Westlands owes for construction of the 1960s extension of the Central Valley Project to deliver water to the San Joaquin Valley farms.
San Francisco Chronicle, January 10, 2015

LOIS HENRY: It's good to be a water lawyer, especially now
"Probably more than any other body of natural resource law, groundwater law is often honored more in the breach than in the compliance," wrote water attorney Gary Sawyers in a primer on California water law.
The Bakersfield Californian, January 10, 2015

PD Editorial: Questions ahead on state water supply
For policymakers and Central Valley growers, it's time to confront the reality that taxpayer-subsidized water and thirsty crops that can't be fallowed are the wrong mix.
Santa Rosa Press Democrat, January 10, 2015

Delta smelt legal battle heads to Supreme Court
Citing the severe state drought, lawyers for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider a strict federal rule from the 1970s that calls for curtailing the water diversions to protect the threatened delta smelt and other imperiled species regardless of the cost to humans and the economy.
Los Angeles Times, January 7, 2015

Drought: California water use down 10%, still short of target
Figures released Tuesday by the State Water Resources Control Board show California residents used 9.8 percent less water in November than in the same month in 2013. That's an improvement over October, when year-over-year use was down 6.8 percent, but still short of Brown's goal of cutting back 20 percent.
San Francisco Chronicle, January 7, 2015

Capitol Hill Californians will push for drought legislation again
This week, as the 114th Congress commences, lawmakers prepare to revive anti-drought proposals that divided the state last year. Tactics and strategies are still being crafted and the outcome is uncertain, as are the lessons that may or may not have been learned.
Freson Bee, January 6, 2015

EDITORIAL: Californians need a new mindset about water
Measures that once seemed extraordinary will have to become a new mindset for Californians. Even though winter storms have brought rain and snow, the drought is far from over. We should not ease up on efforts to conserve.
Fresno Bee, January 3, 2015

December 2014

California snow survey shows higher snowpack
The winter's first survey of the Sierra Nevada snowpack found more snow than last year at this time, but officials said much more is needed to end the California drought.
Associated Press, December 31, 2014

State needs solid drought solutions, not mindless bills
As we head into the next Congress, we can expect more attempts to stick a straw in the delta for the advantage of a few. We must continue to fight here and in Washington to come up with real solutions that don't favor one moneyed group over the rest of the state, and which equip communities to be resilient through this and future droughts.needs solid drought solutions, not mindless bills.
San Francisco Examiner, December 30, 2014

Water Source for Almonds in California May Run Dry
Almonds "have totally changed the game of water in California," said Antonio Rossmann, a Berkeley lawyer specializing in water issues. "It's hardened demand in the Central Valley."
New York Times, December 27, 2014

Federal judge upholds restrictions on delta water shipments
A federal appeals court Monday overruled objections by Central Valley farmers, water districts and a federal judge and upheld the government's reduction of water shipments from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in order to protect salmon, steelhead trout and other species.
San Francisco Chronicle, December 23, 2014

California's water deficit: 11 trillion gallons
NASA satellites that have been tracking California's troubled water supplies from space generated a first-ever estimate of how much water the state needs to recover from the drought -- an astonishing 11 trillion gallons. In other words, a whole lot.
San Francisco Chronicle, December 16, 2014

Oakland tribune editorial: Southern California's sad water conservation effort
Los Angeles cut its water use by only 2.4 percent for the month of October, compared with the same month a year ago. And San Diego? It increased its water use by 2.6 percent. Meanwhile, in comparison, Bay Area residents slashed their water use by 15.5 percent. We can and should do better, of course. But it boggles the mind that Southern California's urban water users are screaming that they need more Delta water.
Contra Costa Times, December 12, 2014

California drought-relief bill passes House
Opponents called the bill a water-grab designed to help farmers at the expense of others, particularly the state's salmon industry. White House advisers had recommended to President Obama that he veto the bill if it reached his desk.
San Francisco Chronicle, December 9, 2014

House-passed drought bill likely to sink in the Senate
The Obama administration has threatened to veto the 26-page House legislation, saying it "appears to include a number of potentially conflicting mandates which can create confusion and undermine environmental laws, making it ripe for future litigation."
McClatchy Washington Bureau, December 8, 2014

WATER POLICY: House to vote on Calif. drought relief bill next week
California Republicans are going to have the chance to show their constituents that sending more water to the state's parched farmers and residents remains a priority for them, even after bicameral negotiations fell through last month. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced yesterday that H.R. 5781, introduced late Tuesday by Central Valley Republican David Valadao, has been scheduled for a floor vote next week.
Environment & Energy Publishing, December 4, 2014

Proposed GOP overhaul of California water laws looks dead
A last-ditch effort by Central Valley Republicans to push an overhaul of federal water policy through Congress during this session met with opposition Wednesday from at least one California senator, all but ensuring that the bill will die until next year.
San Francisco Chronicle, December 3, 2014

November 2014

Where Grass Is Greener, a Push to Share Drought's Burden
[S]ome activists said the data reinforced an old saying: In the American West, water flows uphill to money. Five of the top six per-capita water users were affluent communities like this one.
New York Times, November 29, 2014

Sen. Dianne Feinstein's drought relief bill needs closer scrutiny
The problem with trying to craft water solutions for California in Washington is that it can't be done without trampling court rulings and state laws and policies that apportion an increasingly scarce resource among increasingly demanding users.
Los Angeles times, November 28, 2014

Earth Log: It's nitty-gritty time for Temperance Flat funding
The University of California at Davis is advising the state to look at storage projects as part of the larger picture of water use and needs in California, not in isolation. The study is called "Integrating Storage in California's Changing Water System." Consider it one of the starting places for the funding discussion, at least as far as UC Davis is concerned.
Fresno Bee, November 24, 2014

Feinstein's sweeping water bill collapses at 11th hour
Sen. Dianne Feinstein's abrupt decision to yank a water bill she had spent more than four months negotiating came just as the California Democrat and Central Valley Republicans appeared on the brink of a deal.
San Francisco Chronicle, November 22, 2014

Getting our money's worth from $7.5 billion water bond
Enduring a third year of drought, Californians found solace in Prop. 1's promise of new storage facilities, conservation, recycled water, desalination and general drought preparedness. Whether Prop. 1 delivers on its promise, however, depends on what happens next.
San Francisco Chronicle, November 21, 2014

Backstage maneuvering continues over federal drought bill
Now, with Feinstein's surprise decision Thursday afternoon to call a halt and restart talks in January with a more open process, officials and advocates must assess what went wrong, what went right and what comes next.
Fresno Bee, November 21, 2014

UC Davis notes the obvious: Water can't be stored if it's not there in the first place
State lacks the water to fill the reservoirs and "Reservoir storage does not equate to water supply".
Central Valley Business Times, November 20, 3014

Secret California water deal left high and dry in D.C.
After months of secret negotiations and without a single public hearing, a bill that would have built dams and reservoirs in California - and rolled back environmental laws - has been shelved. At least for now.
KPCC, November 20, 2014

California water bill sinks for now
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Thursday pulled the plug on secret, high-stakes negotiations over a California water bill, saying she and fellow lawmakers will try again next year.
Sacramento Bee, November 20, 2014

Feinstein freezes out north state in water bill talks
California's senior senator is negotiating with Central Valley representatives and agencies that rely on water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and is shutting out House members who represent the Delta and Northern California. The fear among environmentalists and Northern California congressional members, including Feinstein's fellow Democrats, is that the legislation would override environmental protections so more water could be pumped south to Central Valley farmers and Southern California residents.
Sacramento Bee, November 19, 2014

Editorial Why are U.S. lawmakers making California water deals in secret?
The current process, with only selected interests at the table, negotiating about California but behind the backs of Californians, may destroy much of the carefully built consensus, compromise and confidence painstakingly built up over the course of the year.
Los Angeles Times, November 19, 2014

OUR VIEW: Open those closed doors and let us see the water deal
Our drought is very real and thousands of people will benefit from relief. While we would not countenance gutting all environmental protections, altering priorities long enough to get us through the worst of it is appropriate. Legislators shouldn't be fearful of sharing such a plan.
Modesto Bee, November 18, 2014

Talks on drought bill underway on Capitol Hill
California's water future is boiling below the surface this week. Only the chosen few have a clue about details. Bill documents, currently about 50 pages, are stamped "confidential draft language, do not distribute." Capitol Hill doors are shut, congressional timetables are opaque and negotiators are strictly mum.
McClatchy DC, November 18, 2014

High court allows delta water contracts to be challenged
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday allowed environmentalists to challenge the government's renewal of 41 long-term contracts for irrigation water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, in a lawsuit seeking greater protection for the endangered delta smelt.
San Francisco Chronicle, November 17, 2014

Environmental groups offer drought solutions
Fifteen environmental or good government groups are urging swift action on a list of ways to deal with years of drought in California -- instead of waiting until the problem becomes a full-blown mega-crisis.
Central Valley Business Times, November 17, 2014

Depleting the water
Lesley Stahl reports on disturbing new evidence that our planet's groundwater is being pumped out much faster than it can be replenished
CBS: 60 Minutes, November 16, 2014

$25 billion delta tunnel project will jack up users' bills
California's plan to build tunnels and siphon huge amounts of water from the delta will jack up costs for water users, including 3 million Bay Area residents, but farmers will be hit the hardest, according to a financial analysis released Friday.
San Francisco Chronicle, November 14, 2014

A Watershed Moment for Los Angeles
Last month, in the midst of one of the most severe droughts in California's historical record, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued an executive order calling for his southern California city to cut its water imports by half within a decade.
National Geographic, November 12, 2014

California's next decision is how to spend the $7.5 billion water bond voters approved
Passing a $7.5 billion water bond may turn out to be the easy part. Agreeing on how to spend all the money could be much harder.
Daily Journal, November 5, 2014

In California, water use is all over the map
The heaviest water users, the data showed, used more than 10 times as much as those who used the least.
Los Angeles Times, November 4, 2014

October 2014

Why California's Largest Estuary No Longer Works for Wildlife
Now, a new report from the San Francisco Estuary Institute documents why the Delta's ecosystem is failing for many of its endangered species. The findings could inform efforts to restore the estuary, which some argue would make the water supply more reliable for the entire state.
KQED Science, October 30, 2014

No on Prop. 1: It's a bad deal for taxpayers
Proposition 1 resurrects the worst parts of the last 100 years of public water and environmental policy. It won't get us out of drought shortages. Without the respect and best management practices for complex river systems incorporated within good 21st century water policies, we will continue to exploit our increasingly scarce water and damaged watersheds.
Sonoma Press Democrat, October 30. 2014

Guest commentary: Endorsement of Proposition 1 doesn't hold water
In order to ensure a safe, clean water supply to all Californians, leaders must focus on developing a water budget; repairing crumbling underground infrastructure to prevent water loss; providing incentives for the biggest water users to conserve; recycling water; cleaning up groundwater, and restoring watersheds that are predicted to have dramatic reduction in water supply. As the editors noted, Proposition 1 provides some funding for some of these activities. But it is woefully inadequate and taxpayers should not have to pay for outmoded, harmful, useless dam projects to access it.
San Jose Mercury News, October 27, 2014

Water Bond Draws Many Supporters, But Also Many Doubters
Despite its wide support, detractors say passing this water bond isn't funding real solutions. It would only provide funds for "projects we don't need and causing community groups to compete for the little money that is leftover for projects that can actually do some good," said Ankur Patel of Food and Water Watch.
KCET, October 23, 2014

Study: 181 California Dams Key For Fish Survival
[H]ow dams are managed will determine the survival rate of many native fish species.
Capital Public Radio, October 22, 2014

A Barrier to Proposition 1?
Some environmental groups support the bond measure because it would help water-quality efforts, but many other organizations oppose it, mostly because it would finance new dams.
East Bay Express, October 22, 2014

Amid California's drought, a bruising battle for cheap water
[T]he expensive tunnels would merely delay the inevitable: The more Westlands is irrigated, the more its land will be ruined.
Los Angeles Times, October 21, 2014

Marin voice: Prop. 1 - One more shovel of dirt on the grave of our fisheries
Proposition 1's biggest spending is to build more dams to hold water we don't have. That's misplaced spending and harms the businesses, families and communities that depend upon our salmon, crab and other fisheries.
Marin Independent Journal, October 19, 2014

Environmental group uncovers "secret" deal that forgives $400 Million in Central Valley Project debt
The Westlands Water District and other users of water from the federal Central Valley Project are within months of seeing the Obama administration forgive $400 million the farmers owe for building the irrigation project, according to environmental groups that have found what they call a secret deal between Westlands and the Obama administration.
Central Valley Business Times, October 16, 2014

Winter forecast suggests drought worries not over for California
Weather Service Foresees Drought Persisting into 2015
Sacramento Bee, October 16, 2014

Jane Wagner-Tyack: Why I'll vote no on Proposition 1
Weighing the cost of building surface storage projects against the amount of water each project will yield works out to water costs over $6,000 per acre-foot. By contrast, increasing urban water efficiency costs about $112 per acre-foot.
Lodi News, October 11, 2014

Ballot Watch: Proposition 1's water bonds followed long legislative odyssey
Pros and Cons on Proposition 1.
Sacramento Bee, October 10, 2014

Water bond revives interest in building Sites Reservoir
The 14,000-acre valley in Colusa County is the proposed location of Sites Reservoir, a project that's been talked about in California since Dwight Eisenhower was president. Building it would mean inundating the tiny town of Sites and several ranches with a tidal wave of water siphoned from the Sacramento River during wet years.
Mercury News, October 8, 2014

McNerney introduces bill to block federal funds for BDCP
U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton) on Sept. 9 introduced a House bill that would prohibit using federal funds for California's Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) during the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. State officials last month delayed the plan's implementation due to concerns about the environmental and economic impact of the tunnels, including the potential for saltwater intrusion. Both the federal Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers raised objections to the BDCP assumptions and called for major changes to the plan.
Galt Herald, October 8, 2014

Viewpoints: Prop. 1 is a bad deal that will burden taxpayers
Proposition 1 -- the state water bond -- is a bad investment for California and, including interest on the bonds, a $14 billion burden to taxpayers. It does not mitigate the effects of drought, and does nothing to establish long-term water self-sufficiency. It drives California further into debt and takes needed funds away from education, public safety, health care, parks and other priorities.
Sacramento Bee, October 8, 2014

Californians respond to drought, cut water use 11.5% in August
ountering its image as the state's water waster, Southern California rallied during the summer and dramatically cut its water use, new state numbers show. The State Water Resources Control Board on Tuesday announced that Californians sharply cut their water consumption during August, the hottest month of the year. The board reported an 11.5% reduction in water production -- about 27 billion gallons -- in August compared with the same month a year ago.
Los Angeles Times, October 7, 2014

Fishermen ask fish lovers to vote no on Prop 1
If Proposition 1 passes, our fisheries will be decimated, and our Bay Area culture will be in decline. The health of the Delta estuary is linked directly to the health of our local economy, our communities, and what we celebrate on our dinner plates.
Mercury News, October 3, 2014

Satellite images reveal shocking groundwater loss in California
Images produced by NASA's GRACE satellites reveal the dramatic extent of groundwater loss in California. California river basins have lost 4 trillion gallons of groundwater each year since 2011, NASA says.
Los Angeles Times, October 2, 2014

EPA sends California $183 million for more water fixes
With the backdrop of a parched landscape near the San Joaquin River, a top U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official on Thursday pledged $183 million to invest in drought-scarred California's water needs. Cities in California will compete for the funding to build water-quality projects aimed at reducing pollution as well as improving municipal drinking water and wastewater facilities.
Modesto Bee, October 2, 2014

State high court OKs water cuts on Russian River to aid salmon
The state Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed California regulators to order farmers along the Russian River to reduce cold-weather water sprays that have helped preserve their crops while killing thousands of endangered salmon.
San Francisco Chronicle, October 1, 2014

September 2014

LOIS HENRY: Ruling would be uncharted waters for water judge
In case you were wondering, the fate of the Kern Water Bank is still hanging in the balance. Sort of.
Bakersfield Californian, September 26, 2014

As the California drought enters its fourth year, are we doing enough to conserve water?
Many experts predict some degree of water rationing could start by next summer, unless California residents and businesses decrease their water usage by 20 percent or more -- or it rain buckets this winter.
Contra Costa times, September 24, 2014

Drought plays out differently in various regions of California
Most of California is experiencing a "severe" or "exceptional" drought, impacting more than 37 million Golden State residents, according to the Drought Monitoring Center at the University of Nebraska. But as Californians know, the state feels more like three states -- southern, central and northern -- and while there's a shared response from residents up and down the state, there are also significant differences in how the squeeze on water resources affects each region.
Whittier Daily News, September 24, 2014

Farmers may need to measure water from Delta
Accused of stealing water released from upstream reservoirs, more than 1,000 Delta farmers may soon be required to report exactly how much water they've been diverting -- a request that their attorneys argue could be burdensome and unnecessary.
Recordnet, September 24, 2014

Plans for $200 million in drought relief released
State water officials on Tuesday released plans for spending almost a third of the $687 million emergency drought relief package approved by lawmakers earlier this year.
Fresno Bee, September 23, 2014

Proposition 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 2014

Historic 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 2014

Editorial: 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 2014

How 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 2014

Feinstein 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 2014

Water 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 2014

The 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 2014

Poll 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