Opinion: Ringside: Water Czars Ignore Solutions to Scarcity

The Delta Tunnel proposal exemplifies California’s political dysfunction. It will probably never get built, but it promises to dominate all discussions of major state and federal spending on water infrastructure for the next decade, preventing any other big ideas from getting the attention they merit.

How A ‘Death Trap’ For Fish In California’s Water System Is Limiting The Pumping Of Supplies

Giant pumps hum inside a warehouse-like building, pushing water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta into the California Aqueduct, where it travels more than 400 miles south to the taps of over half the state’s population.

But lately the powerful motors at the Harvey O. Banks Pumping Plant have been running at reduced capacity, despite a second year of drought-busting snow and rain.

The reason: So many threatened fish have died at the plant’s intake reservoir and pumps that it has triggered federal protections and forced the state to pump less water.

Question of Water Rights Looms Over Ccontroversial Proposed New Dam

A controversial proposed dam seems to have a new pathway forward. But how far will it get through California’s byzantine world of water rights? Nobody seems to agree on an answer. The Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir is a joint project between the Del Puerto Water District and the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractor Authority on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.

Democratic Lawmakers Representing Delta-area Urge Gov. Newsom to Cancel Delta Tunnel Plan

California lawmakers representing the state’s Delta area are calling for Gov. Gavin Newsom to cancel his plan for an underground tunnel that would reroute water from Northern to Southern California.

Representatives John Garamendi, Josh Harder, Jerry McNerney and Mike Thompson, all Democrats, released a joint statement in response to the draft environmental impact report for the project.

PWD OK’s Entry Into Water Transfer Program

The Palmdale Water District Board of Directors approved the District’s entry into a program to transfer water for State Water Contractors during dry years, such as this one.

The program allows State Water Contractors, such as Palmdale Water District, to purchase water allocated to fallow rice farms in Northern California.

District officials estimate it possibly will need to purchase an additional 1,000 acre-feet of water to meet its supply needs this year, according to the staff report.

Department of Water Resources Investing Heavy in Water Facility Rehabilitation

Today, the California Department of Water Resources initiated a $100 million funding program to restore capacity to portions of the California Aqueduct, San Luis Canal, Delta-Mendota Canal, and Friant-Kern Canal lost to land subsidence occurring during the last several decades.

“Fixing these canals is an important foundational piece to ensure a reliable and climate resilient water supply for California,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “It enables us to move water during very wet conditions, which will be essential to adapting to more extreme weather. Restoring capacity in our existing infrastructure provides a critical link in diversifying water supplies by supporting groundwater replenishment throughout the Central Valley and water recycling projects in Southern California. It’s a prudent investment in our water future.”

Major Energy Storage Project Proposed Near Lebec Along California Aqueduct

California’s energy future keeps pointing to Kern.

The latest 10-figure energy storage proposal in the county is a damlike “pumped hydro” project connected to the California Aqueduct that would store and release 3,500 gigawatt-hours of power per year on or near Tejon Ranch.

There’s no money yet for it or a similar proposal the same Los Angeles County engineering and development group disclosed in December that would be located next to Isabella Lake.

State Ponies Up $100 Million Toward $2.35 Billion Repair Bill for Major Canals

Several of the state’s key canals will get a sprinkle of state money this year and next toward fixing more than $2 billion in damage caused by sinking land from excessive groundwater pumping.

On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a massive budget “trailer” bill, which authorizes actual funding for programs and services outlined in the state budget that was passed June 15.

The trailer bill included $100 million for the Department of Water Resources to spend this fiscal year and proposed another $100 million for next year toward repairs to the California Aqueduct, Delta-Mendota Canal and Friant-Kern Canal. Together, repairs for those canals are estimated at $2.35 billion.

SoCal Water Managers Want to Know Who – Exactly – is Sinking the California Aqueduct

A state report released in December pinned blame for sinking along the California Aqueduct on excessive nearby groundwater pumping to irrigate vineyards and nut orchards.

That was a pretty pointed finger, but not pointed enough for some committee directors in the large and powerful Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Around Kings County: Big Water News for Central Valley

Water bills would help fix subsidence damage: A package of water bills passed Congress this week that could offer hundreds of millions to improve San Joaquin Valley water deliveries. Folded into the same bill that will be offering COVID relief was the government’s annual spending bill that included  funding approval for key local canals and dams. Significantly it includes $206 million to rebuild 33 miles of the Friant Kern Canal and monies for the repair of the westside’s California Aqueduct and Delta Mendota Canal — all facing reduced capacity due to subsidence- the sinking of land caused by vigorous water pumping nearby over the years.