Source: California Water & Drought News for March 14, 2016

  • by BPC Staff
  • on March 14, 2016

California Water News

A daily compilation for DWR personnel of significant news articles, commentary, and more.

March 14, 2016

Top Stories

Officials say a group of Northern California farmers has exceeded a voluntary target they set for conserving water during a drought

Scott Smith, Associated Press

A group of California farmers who delighted regulators combating the state’s drought by volunteering last year to use less water on their crops for the growing season has again surprised officials by exceeding an initial conservation target, officials said Friday.

Rain-Swollen Sacramento River Flows Over Barrier

Associated Press

Water from the rain-swollen Sacramento River is spilling over a 33.5-foot-high concrete wall and into a bypass built to divert flood water.

California’s biggest reservoir, Shasta, rises to key milestone

Paul Rogers, San Jose Mercury News

Sunday’s storms brought more rain to Northern California, but they also helped the state hit a key milestone in its efforts to recover from the historic four-year drought.

4th day of wet weather saturates California

Associated Press

A storm brought strong winds, heavy rain, snow and high surf to California on Sunday, the fourth day of wet weather that has inundated rivers and roads and led to some evacuations.

California District Fined for Accounting Deception

Brett Walton, Circle of Blue

A California irrigation district is fined by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Central Asian countries are concerned about water supply but doing little about it.

As rain falls in California, tensions rise over who gets the water

Ryan Sabalow and Dale Kasler, Fresno Bee

With prolonged and steady rain falling on Northern California for the first time in weeks, tensions are rising over how to manage the stormwater flows now streaming through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Drought-Proofing San Francisco’s Water System

Tara Lohan, Water Deeply

San Francisco has an enviable water system . Almost completely gravity-fed, it funnels snowmelt from pristine waters high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The water is brought to homes and businesses in San Francisco by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission(SFPUC), which also functions as a water wholesaler for the Bay Area.

SF selling off spare parts for emergency water system

Jaxon Van Derbeken, San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco is having a fire sale on spare parts for the city’s 100-year-old emergency water supply system — the network of high-pressure pipes and hydrants designed to help firefighting efforts should city water mains fail in a major earthquake.

Will Human Right to Water Resolution Really Help?

Jane Braxton Little, Water Deeply

In Poplar, California, an unincorporated Central Valley town of low-income, largely Hispanic residents, two of three community wells are contaminated with nitrates. The other one is going dry. For Sandra Garcia and her neighbors in Poplar, that means hauling water from nearby wells or buying it in bottles for the most basic of human needs: cooking and drinking water.


California’s Largest Water District Settles With SEC Over ‘Enron Accounting’

Geoffrey Mohan, Tribune News Service

A sprawling Central Valley water district run by some of the state’s wealthiest growers papered over its drought-related financial struggles and misled investors, federal regulators said Wednesday.



Unyielding California drought continues, despite ‘miracle March’ deluge

Angela Fritz, Washington Post

No doubt — it’s been a great month for California. A more favorable, wet El Niño pattern has finally kicked in after a pathetically dry February. Across the northern half of the state, major cities including San Francisco and Sacramento have already seen more rain in the first 10 days of March than they normally do in the entire month.

Feds: Still hope for El Nino drenching Southern California

Associated Press

Even though Southern California hasn’t gotten the drought-busting rainy windfall some might have expected from El Nino, federal scientists hold out hope for the next several weeks.


Winter storms are no cure-all for California drought

Michael Doyle, McClatchy Washington Bureau

The El Niño storms drenching California won’t suffice to solve the state’s drought and won’t permanently save the Central Valley’s vulnerable salmon, federal scientists are cautioning.

Supposedly thirsty California farmers must wise up about water

Christopher Thornberg, Sacramento Bee

El Niño has brought much needed rain. But this doesn’t mean the state should stop talking about water. The next drought could have far more profound impacts on the state’s economy, unless California starts using its water wisely.

An end to the drought?

Sean Scully, Napa Valley Register

During my brief tenure at the Press Democrat over in Santa Rosa, I got to indulge two of my longtime passions – weather and the complicated state of our civil infrastructure.


Drier, Warm Weather Returns, Sacramento Spring-Summer Watering Rules Kick In

Capital Public Radio

The storm that’s been bringing strong winds, heavy rain and snow to much of Northern California over the past four days is weakening.


Torrential rains in California, Louisiana, and Mississippi: What’s going on? 

Lucy Schouten, Christian Science Monitor

Dramatic rainstorms that flooded California, Mississippi, and Louisiana signal an erratic El Niño that continues to rain on both the West and the South.


Storms might not be ending the drought, but they’re swelling lakes and dams in Northern California

Associated Press

The ongoing deluge of storms in Northern California has swelled lakes and dams, boosting the prospects for outdoor recreation but likely falling short of ending the drought.


LA County Goes All-In for El Nino Cloud Seeding

Chriss W. Street,

The winter rain season in California usually runs from October through March, but El Niño years tend to push the end of the season out about six weeks into early May. Even though Southern California hasn’t gotten the drought-busting torrential rain windfall some expected from El Niño, federal scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say California heavy rain and snow may still arrive.


ENVIRONMENT: Worries rising as Colorado River water runs low

Aaron Orlowski, Press Enterprise

For the past five years, as the drought drained California’s water sources and depleted its reservoirs, Southern California water managers have relied increasingly on the region’s largest out-of-state water source: the Colorado River.

Sacramento Water Treatment Update Meant To Meet Growing Region’s Demands

Ron Jones, CBS Sacramento

Sacramento residents have spent millions of dollars to improve the city’s nearly century-old water delivery system.

Catching Storm Runoff Could Ease Droughts, But It’s No Quick Fix

Molly Peterson, KQED

Stormwater is starting to get some serious attention in California, as the state’s drought enters a fifth year.

Final round of storms soaks Bay Area before skies clear

Evan Sernoffsky and Kimberly Veklerov, San Francisco Gate

A heavy storm flooded roadways and downed power lines throughout the Bay Area on Sunday, but it was the denouement to five days of steady downpours that have hit Northern California, setting up the week ahead for dry, sunny weather.


Could cloud seeding help with California’s drought?

Carter Evans, CBS News

After four years of a historic drought, scientists in California are through relying on nature alone for help.

Farmers in California delta beat goal for saving water

Scott Smith, Associated Press

A group of California farmers who delighted regulators combating the state’s drought by volunteering last year to use less water on their crops for the growing season has again surprised officials by exceeding an initial conservation target, officials said Friday.

Storm fills North Bay reservoirs, easing region’s drought

Guy Kovner, Santa Rosa Press Democrat

With two Russian River reservoirs brimful of runoff from a prolonged storm, the North Bay region is nearing an end to its multi-year drought, a water management official said Friday.

A behind-the-scenes battle to divert L.A.’s storm water from going to waste

Joe Mozingo, Los Angeles Times

The storm had gathered power for days as it crossed the Northern Pacific, and now its outer band was uppercutting the coast.


Panel: Finding Climate Fingerprints in Wild Weather is Valid

Seth Borenstein, Associated Press

Climate science has progressed so much that experts can accurately detect global warming’s fingerprints on certain extreme weather events, such as a heat wave, according to a high-level scientific advisory panel.



Judge sides with Nipomo in South County water dispute


A Santa Clara judge has tentatively rejected a legal bid by three South County cities to halt new development and new groundwater pumping on the Nipomo Mesa. [Tribune]

Lawsuit to limit Nipomo groundwater pumping tentatively denied

Kaytlyn Leslie, San Luis Obispo Tribune

Santa Clara court has tentatively denied a lawsuit from several South County cities claiming water providers in Nipomo are not complying with an almost decade-old stipulation and judgment to restrict groundwater pumping in the Santa Maria groundwater basin, though final judgment is still pending a hearing in May.


The Paso water district is dead. Now how about something that can work?

Andrew Christie and Susan Harvey, Letters to the Editor, San Luis Obispo Tribune

If you wanted to pinpoint the moment when the fate of the failed Paso Robles groundwater management district was foretold, you could go back five decades, when the Supreme Court affirmed the fundamental principle of “one person, one vote.”


TID votes to add City of Waterford to groundwater basin association

Allyson Aredas, Turlock Journal

The Turlock Irrigation District Board of Directors unanimously voted on Tuesday to approve adding the City of Waterford to the Turlock Groundwater Basin Association after the city purchased the unincorporated town of Hickman’s water system, which is within the Turlock Subbasin, from the City of Modesto in July of last year.

Voters say no to Paso water district Early results show A and B soundly rejected

Allyson Oken, Atascadero News

The Paso Robles Water District is virtually dead, according to the early results of the special election released by San Luis Obispo County Clerk Tommy Gong on Wednesday.


Why put off the inevitable? Invite state water board to take over Paso basin management

Editorial, San Luis Obispo Tribune

In the wake of the spectacular defeat of the proposed Paso Robles water management district, what’s next for the Paso Robles basin?

Updated numbers show no change in Paso groundwater election

David Sneed, San Luis Obispo Tribune

The San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder’s Office released updated results Friday afternoon for Tuesday’s Paso Robles groundwater management district election, but the numbers changed very little: The formation of the district was resoundingly rejected.


The Devil Is in the Details: Forming California’s New Groundwater Sustainability Agencies

Dave Owen, Union of Concerned Scientists

Not that long ago, the opening words of one of Joe Sax’s articles described California pretty well. “We Don’t Do Groundwater,” the title began, and until recently, that was true—in spite of the immense importance of the resource.  Outside of a few urban areas in coastal southern California, California groundwater use regulation was largely an oxymoron.


Water Quality

CDPH to Conduct Water Quality Study in Humboldt Bay

Imperial Valley News

California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith today announced that a water quality study being performed in Humboldt County may result in portions of Humboldt Bay turning red.


‘You don’t drink the water in Gardena’: A year later, residents remain skeptical

Ruben Vives, Los Angeles Times

Last year, some Gardena residents started complaining about the quality of their tap water.


State extends Yucca Valley’s septic prohibition deadline

Juli Alsadi, Hi-Desert Sun

The California Regional Water Quality Control Board voted to extend Yucca Valley’s septic discharge prohibition dates at a Thursday meeting held at Hi-Desert Water District headquarters.


Using Game Theory To Encourage Cooperation in Levee System Planning

Rui Hui, Jay Lund, Kaveh Madani, UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences

Levees protect land from floods, but not perfectly. Different levees on a river often are controlled by different agencies or groups. A landowner on one riverbank sees the levee system differently from a landowner on the opposite bank or downstream.


Sky-high view of the not-too-distant future of outdoor recreation

Tom Stienstra, San Francisco Gate

Flying over the boundary of Yosemite National Park, the view from 10,500 feet spanned east across 30 miles of snow, ice and rock to the Sierra Crest. The west-facing flank was side-loaded with massive slabs of snow up as far as you could see. Frozen lakes looked like giant skating rinks.


Heavy Rains Still Leave Water Levels Low at South Bay Reservoirs

Chris Nguyen, ABC 7 News

At Uvas Reservoir in Santa Clara County, many are holding out hope that the Bay Area will get enough rain this spring to help California get out of the drought.

Southern California: Ballona Wetlands 5-Year Monitoring Report is Released,
Iceplant to be removed

Bay Foundation, Monitoring Report

The Bay Foundation published today the “Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve: Comprehensive 5-Year Monitoring Report”.

Sacramento River Rising, and the Yolo Bypass Is Forecast to Flood

Dan Brekke, KQED

One sign that we have really returned, at least temporarily, to the wet season: For the first time in more than three years, the Sacramento River is about to spill over into the Yolo Bypass.



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