Where Do Valley Rivers Start – and End? Examining Our ‘Tremendously Engineered’ System

California has one of the most complex water systems in the world. And so, the factors giving rise to our region’s floods are more complicated than the simple cascading of rain and snowmelt downhill during a rainier-than-average wet season.

We are well into one of the wettest winters on record in the San Joaquin Valley. Historic precipitation levels have buried the high Sierra Nevada under more than 50 total feet of snow. And parts of the Valley, stricken for years by severe drought, are underwater.

Getting Answers: Why Are Dams Releasing Water in a Drought?

Folsom Lake is letting the water flow while rains pick up across the valley. December has provided higher-than-average precipitation for the capital region giving way to cautious optimism about just how much longer the state will be in a drought.  But the rainfall also prompted questions about why, in a drought, dams and reservoirs are letting water out instead of holding it in.

Storms Boost Snowpack as First Survey Nears

Reporters who slog through a meadow near Lake Tahoe next week for California’s first manual snow survey of the season will find copious amounts of snow. The state Department of Water Resources’ electronic readings on Dec. 29 showed a statewide snowpack at 156% of normal as a persistent parade of storm clouds has pelted the West Coast in December.


California Had a Watershed Climate Year, But Time is Running Out

California made historic investments in climate measures this year, as state leaders warned of current and escalating climate risks. “We’re dealing with such extremes that all our modeling, even updated modeling, needs to be thrown out,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom when he signed more than 40 bills to fight climate change in September. “The hots are just so much hotter. The dries are so much drier.”

Interior Invests $84.7M for 36 Drought Resiliency Projects

The Department of the Interior announced $84.7 million in funding for 36 drought resiliency projects in the West. The investment supports the development of innovative drought resilience efforts, such as groundwater storage, rainwater harvesting, aquifer recharge, water reuse, ion exchange treatment, and other methods to stretch existing water supplies.

2022: So. Much. Water. News!

Here we are nearing the end of another year. And the SJV Water team has been taking stock, reflecting and pondering the accumulation of news and events that made up 2022. (Really, we’re taking some much needed time off and I’m, personally,  “checkin’ the snow pack” –  code for skiing – and needed to stockpile some content. SHHH!)


California Program Pays Farmers to Fallow Fields to Preserve Water Amid Drought

With climate change and drought, the state of California is incentivizing not using farmland or fallowing it. The move comes as irrigation in some areas is damaging residential wells. Katie Staack farms 3,500 acres of almonds in Stanislaus County. She is one of the hundreds interested in the newly created LandFlex program. “The program is really unique because it’s focused on wet water, making sure we have wet water for our communities and aquifers, our ecosystems and farms,” Aubrey Bettencourt said.

Ramona Water District Considers Waiving Fees for Granny Flats

Ramona Municipal Water District directors next month will discuss a proposal to waive water and sewer service fees for accessory dwelling units built at the same time as a single-family home. Directors reviewed fees for small accessory dwelling units, also known as ADUs or granny flats, at their Dec. 13 meeting. But instead of approving the proposal, they asked staff to research how other water districts manage the fees for those types of buildings.

Opinion: It’s Time for the Feds to Pull Rank and Enforce Already Agreed Water Cuts

The speeches at the Colorado River summit in Las Vegas last week ranged all the way from pessimistic to panicked. Ted Cooke, the outgoing director of the Central Arizona Project, summed it up: “(T)here’s a real possibility of an effective dead pool“ at Lake Mead, making it impossible to release water through Hoover Dam for downstream delivery to Arizona and California.

Army Corps Study of Salton Sea Could Yield Billions for Long-Term Restoration

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to review both short-term and long-term options for restoring the Salton Sea, which could ultimately net billions for major public works to restore the crashing ecosystem of California’s largest water body. First up, the federal agency will, by March 1 of next year, complete streamlined federal environmental reviews of projects that are part of the state Salton Sea Management Program’s 10-year plan that is supposed to be completed by 2028, including some that are underway.