September 2016

Stop the Groundwater Grab

This summer, as temperatures soared and depleted groundwater turned the San Joaquin Valley into a collection of sinkholes, state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, put forth legislation to fast-track conservation of underground water supplies.

Sacramento Bee, September 29, 2016

$16 Billion Delta Tunnels May Hit Taxpayers

A plan to build two huge tunnels to shunt fresh water around the Sacramento Delta is supposed to be funded entirely by the people who receive the water. But taxpayers may end up paying a substantial amount of the tab.

KCET, September 29, 2016

Will the Klamath River Be Renewed? Owner Applies to Remove 4 of 5 Dams

The owner of four dams on the Klamath River and the nonprofit corporation created to take responsibility for their destruction recently filed long-awaited applications with federal regulators to remove the dams."This is a major milestone," said Mike Carrier, chair of the nonprofit Klamath River Renewal Corp. (KRRC), an entity created to oversee the massive dam removal process.

KQED, September 27, 2016

California farmers drilling wells as groundwater limits loom

Farmers in central California are drilling more and deeper wells than ever before to pump water for their fruit orchards and sprawling fields following government imposed limits on surface water.

Sacramento Bee, September 25, 2016

California water tunnels would need US funding, analyst says

Giant tunnels that Gov. Jerry Brown wants to build to haul water across California are economically feasible only if the federal government bears a third of the nearly $16 billion cost because local water districts may not benefit as expected, according to an analysis that the state commissioned last year but never released.

Associated Press, September 14, 2016

SJ River revival inches along

An ambitious plan to restore long-dead stretches of the San Joaquin River has proven to be just that: ambitious.Ten years to the day after a legal settlement resolved one of California's most enduring water disputes, none of the larger channel construction projects have been completed, the cost has risen to $1.5 billion, and the work will take decades longer than first expected.

Stockton Record, September 12, 2016

Facing the Realities of Limited Water Supplies

In the coming days and weeks, some of the implications of climate change and the need to improve California's aging water delivery system will become more evident to all parts of the state, none too soon.

Sacramento Bee September 10, 2016

Delta Tunnels Proposal a Muddled Gamble

The proposal to build two 35-mile-long tunnels to transport water below the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is reaching a critical decision point.

Sacramento Bee, September 9, 2016

Californians still saving water in drought, but not as much

Californians are still saving water despite the recent lifting of mandatory statewide conservation, but not as much as they were last year at the peak of the drought, water officials said Wednesday.

Fresno Bee, September 7, 2016

August 2016

Project aims to feed Delta smelt -- 'They're starving to death'

Sommer is leading an effort to improve conditions for plankton in the hope it will help save from extinction the species that's most emblematic of the Delta's ecological woes -- the Delta smelt. The tiny fish eat plankton, and smelt numbers are at all-time lows."They're obviously in real trouble right now. A key reason is they're starving to death," Sommer said.

Sacramento Bee, August 31, 2016

California updates rules on water guzzlers

Water districts would have to create policies to punish residents who use too much water during droughts under a bill signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown. Brown signed the bill requiring all districts to have policies for identifying and targeting heavy users during drought emergencies.

The Washington Times, August 29, 2016

Last Chance to Save the Delta Smelt?

California's most controversial threatened species, the Delta smelt, has never been closer to extinction, but a state agency that could help it with the stroke of a pen is failing to do so.

KCET, August 28, 2016

Brown's tunnels cannot be economically justified, says new study

Tunnels' costs are four times larger than benefits. "The results clearly show that the 'WaterFix' is not economically justified"

Central Valley Business Times, August 24, 2016

Will the Delta tunnels get built? Plan enters critical make-or-break phase

Next six months will be crucial to $15.5 billion project. Project still lacks support from many water agencies. Many in Delta region vow to continue to fight.

Sacramento Bee, August 24, 2016

Delta tunnels don't pencil out, UOP economist says

A prominent Sacramento-area economist says Gov. Jerry Brown's $15.5 billion plan to overhaul the troubled Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta doesn't make financial sense, with costs far outweighing the benefits.

Sacramento Bee, August 24, 2016

The Biggest California Water Decision You've Never Heard Of

Soon, state officials will make a pivotal decision about how much water should flow down that river each year and the decision will stick for years to come. Some say it could be the most revolutionary change in decades for the West's largest estuary and the site of California's fiercest water battles.

KQED, August 19, 2016

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla: State Auditors Look Into 'Potentially Improper' Delta Tunnel Transactions

Opponents warn that when interest and operation costs are included, the Tunnels could cost up to $60 billion. Ratepayers and taxpayers would then end up paying as much as $2 billion per year for a thirty-year project and no additional water.

KCET, August 17, 2016

Why the heck isn't drought-stricken California measuring water?

If there's any hope of preventing California from shriveling into a parched wasteland, the state will have to figure out some simple things first. Namely, how much water it has and where it's all going. Shockingly, California isn't tracking much of its water.

Grist, August 15, 2016

New questions over California water project

Critics and a state lawmaker say they want more explanations on who's paying for a proposed $16 billion water project backed by Gov. Jerry Brown, after a leading California water district said Brown's administration was offering government funding to finish the planning for the two giant water tunnels.

Associated Press, August 12, 2016

Federal water bills would harm our salmon

Bills in the Senate, S2533 by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and the House, HR2898 by Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford (Kings County), threaten the future of California salmon by undermining legal protections for salmon and mandating maximum water pumping from San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. These proposals could not come at a worse time. Although Feinstein's bill has some positive provisions, both bills would imperil our salmon runs.

San Francisco Chronicle, August 11, 2016

Wishful Thinking Won't End California's Drought

The good news is that the fifth year of drought offers the chance to reinvest in effective water solutions by expanding our efforts to remove inappropriate outdoor landscaping, build water recovery and reuse facilities, improve agricultural irrigation practices, price water properly, and get rid of those old, inefficient toilets, showerheads and washing machines.

Water Deeply, August 11, 2016

Lawmakers approve audits of UC spending and delta tunnels project

California legislators on Wednesday gave the green light to formal audits of several parts of state government, including UC President Janet Napolitano's office and Gov. Jerry Brown's ambitious plan to build underground water tunnels through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta region. The water project, now estimated to cost some $16 billion to build, has been mired in legal and political controversy for several years. The audit, requested by Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) and Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis), was sparked by criticism over spending on the delta project's preliminary stages.

Los Angeles Times, August 10, 2016

Feds to take new look at Delta, endangered fish species

Scientists from two federal agencies are about to overhaul the rules governing the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, potentially increasing protections for endangered fish populations and limiting the amount of water pumped to Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley.

Sacramento Bee, August 3, 2016

Water Conservation Wanes in California as Most Mandatory Restrictions End

It appears that California water suppliers have by and large abandoned mandatory water conservation -- and it may be showing up in the latest monthly statistics on water saving in the state.

KQED, August 2, 2016

California fishermen win key ruling over Delta water supply

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.

Sacramento Bee, August 1, 2016

July 2016

Garamendi urges rejection of policies to advance twin tunnels

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, submitted a policy statement Wednesday to the State Water Resources Control Board, urging its members to resist efforts to construct the twin tunnels in the Sacramento River.

The Davis Enterprise, July 29, 2016

Federal, state leaders pitch for California water tunnels

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.

Associated Press, July 26, 2016

About That $17 Billion Water Project: Delta Tunnels 101

This week, Governor Jerry Brown's controversial water project is back in the public eye. State officials are launching a marathon series of hearings for the "twin tunnels," as they're known, that will ultimately decide the fate of the project.

KQED, July 25, 2016

Wishful thinking won't end California's drought

The problem isn't that we're in a temporary drought: the problem is that we live in a world with all the characteristics of a permanent drought.

San Francisco Chronicle, July 24, 2016

Twin tunnels: A matter of trust

When testimony begins Tuesday in a months-long hearing that could decide the fate of the $15 billion Delta water tunnels, amid all the acronyms and complexities and water-wonk jargon there will be a simple, consistent theme: Trust. Or lack thereof.

Stockton Record, July 23, 2016

California's top court rules in favor of Gov. Brown's water project

The California Supreme Court cleared the way Thursday for state water authorities to do environmental and geological testing on private land for a proposed project to divert Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta water to the south. The ruling capped six years of litigation by delta property owners, who challenged the state's right to enter their land without compensation.

Los Angeles Times, July 21, 2016

Southern California water district obtains delta islands

Four islands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and a chunk of a fifth are now officially the property of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, district officials announced Monday. The giant water district, which represents 26 agencies in Southern California, completed a $175 million deal to purchase 20,369 acres of land in the delta, a transaction that some conservationists believe is a blatant water grab by one of the world's largest and most powerful water agencies.

San Francisco Chronicle, July 19, 2016

Brown calls on Bruce Babbitt, as time runs short for water fix

Brown enlists former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt to help solve California water crisis. Babbitt, no stranger to California's environmental battles, has history of finding common ground

Sacramento Bee, July 13, 2016

Delta Plan Overturned

Judge Kenny determined the plan does not conform to state law because it contains only "recommendations" for export flows, not clear, quantified and enforceable targets. And without a legally sound Delta Plan, the Twin Tunnels cannot move forward.

Santa Barbara Independent, July 11, 2016

United defense key to Delta's future

Many scientific organizations that have studied the issue agree that we must reduce dependence on the Delta and promote regional self-sufficiency. The estuary needs more water flowing through it to survive, not less. Prevailing science shows that to maintain a healthy river system, no more than 20 percent of its flows, on average, should be diverted.

Stockton Record, July 9, 2016

Op-Ed Leave California's 'new' water in the ground

When it comes to using water from deep aquifers, there are bottomless problems that make it economically costly, environmentally risky, and potentially illegal due to existing laws, policies and water rights. Deep groundwater extraction will not ensure a resilient and sustainable water future.

Los Angeles Times, July 6, 2016

June 2016

Judge invalidates long-fought Delta management plan

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

Sacramento Bee, June 24, 2016

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

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

Los Angeles Times, June 23, 2016

US giving $48 million to help West deal with drought

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

Associated Press, June 23, 2016

Delta smelt on the brink

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

San Francisco Chronicle, June 15, 2016

Appellate court temporarily blocks Delta island sale

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

Sacramento Bee, June 7, 2016

Wolk bill to protect state's aquifers moves forward

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

The Davis Enterprise, June 7, 2016

More bad news for Delta smelt

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

Stockton Record, June 6, 2016

State's "Delta Plan" May Have a Restart

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

Central Valley Business Times, June 2, 2016

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

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

San Jose Mercury News, June 3, 2016