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Environmental Groups Push for Increased River Flow in Wake of Delta Algal Bloom

The destructive algal bloom that struck San Francisco Bay this summer has researchers looking at both causes and solutions. But now, several environmental groups are demanding action on a similar challenge miles upstream from the Bay. They’re focused on a toxic bloom that’s become almost a yearly occurrence in and around the Delta.

 

How Climate Change Spurs Megadroughts

On an afternoon in late June, the San Luis Reservoir – a nine-mile lake about an hour southeast of San Jose, California – shimmered in 102-degree heat. A dusty, winding trail led down into flatlands newly created by the shrinking waterline. Seven deer, including a pair of fawns, grazed on tall grasses that, in wetter times, would have been at least partially underwater. On a distant ridge, wind turbines turned languidly.

That day, the reservoir, California’s sixth-largest and a source of water for millions of people, was just 40% full. Minerals deposited by the receding waters had turned the reservoir’s lower banks white, like the rings on a bathtub. Discarded clothing, empty bottles, and a lone shoe sat scattered across the newly exposed, parched ground. An interactive graphic in the visitor’s center reported that this year’s snowpack – which provides the water that travels from the Sacramento River Delta into the reservoir itself – was zero percent of the yearly average.

Opinion: Newsom’s Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta Plan Makes More Sense. But It’s Still a ‘Water Grab’

The third attempt could be the charm for repairing California’s main waterworks, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

On paper at least, the latest plan by a governor to upgrade the delta into a more reliable state water supply seems to make much more sense than what his predecessors promoted.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s single-tunnel proposal is smaller and more respectful of the bucolic estuary’s small farms, waterfowl habitat, unique recreational boating and historic tiny communities. So, it’s potentially less controversial.

Managing Water Stored for the Environment During Drought

Storing water in reservoirs is important for maintaining freshwater ecosystem health and protecting native species. Stored water also is essential for adapting to the changing climate, especially warming and drought intensification. Yet, reservoir operators often treat environmental objectives as a constraint, rather than as a priority akin to water deliveries for cities and farms. Reservoir management becomes especially challenging during severe droughts when surface water supplies are scarce, and urban and agricultural demands conflict with water supplies needed to maintain healthy waterways and wetlands. In times of drought, most freshwater ecosystems suffer.

Biden’s Interior Secretary Backs West Side Reservoir, More California Water Storage

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland talked about dealing with drought, including a reservoir planned near Patterson, in a Zoom call with reporters Wednesday.

She was joined by Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, who has urged increased federal spending on such efforts.

Bay Area: Do You Know Where Your Water Comes From?

The Bay Area water system is a byzantine patchwork of agencies — more than 50 in all — that provides water to customers. Some are the ones you see on your water bill. Others are middlemen that provide water to local agencies at the wholesale level.

And some of that water makes a long journey. Southern California has the reputation for tapping far-flung sources for its water needs, but the Bay Area is in the same boat.

State Takes Action on Water Exports from the Delta

Construction of a temporary salinity barrier on the False River is underway after an emergency request by the Department of Water Resources was approved by the State Water Resources Control Board.

The barrier, necessitated by worsening drought conditions, is intended to help preserve water quality in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta by reducing saltwater intrusion. The declaration of a drought emergency made by Gov. Gavin Newsom on May 10 suspended the requirement that a project of this nature complete a California Environmental Quality Act assessment.

Crowfoot Calls for Patience with Voluntary Agreements

Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot said the Delta flows issue has been decades in the making and it’s going to take some time to figure this out.”

City of Antioch Breaks Ground on Water Project in Delta

On Friday,  the City of Antioch, along with local and State dignitaries, broke ground on their new and historic Brackish Water Desalination Plant. At a price of $110 million, the project was made possible with $93 million in funding from the State, and $17 million from the City of Antioch.

“Through this project, Antioch continues establishing itself as both a State and regional leader on environmental best practices,” said Lamar Thorpe, Mayor, City of Antioch. “I would like to thank Governor Newsom for California’s investment in making our Brackish Water Desalination Plant a reality. By working together, we exemplify the very best of our State and our City.”

Newsom Promised to End California’s Water Wars. Now that Trump is Gone, Can He Do It?

Shortly after taking office two years ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom promised to deliver a massive compromise deal on the water rushing through California’s major rivers and the critically-important Delta — and bring lasting peace to the incessant water war between farmers, cities, anglers and environmentalists.