California’s Strategy Fails as Feds Pressure States to Conserve Colorado River Water

The Department of Interior has indicated that if states don’t cooperate on dividing Colorado River water, more cuts may be on the way.

The agency indicated that California could also face cutbacks, which means that the state’s wait-and-see strategy may have fallen short.

California has senior water rights to the Colorado River, and so far, that has worked in its favor.

‘A Foundation of Racism’: California’s Antiquated Water Rights System Faces New Scrutiny

It’s an arcane system of water law that dates back to the birth of California — an era when 49ers used sluice boxes and water cannons to scour gold from Sierra Nevada foothills and when the state government promoted the extermination of Native people to make way for white settlers.

Today, this antiquated system of water rights still governs the use of the state’s supplies, but it is now drawing scrutiny like never before.

Opinion: Imperial Valley Takes its Colorado River Senior Water Rights Seriously

Drought and population growth have taken their toll on the Colorado River, pushing it to historic lows.

As we work together with our neighboring states and the federal government on a long-term solution, many eyes are focused on the Imperial Valley, because of its senior water rights. And as much as we believe in upholding the rule of law, we are equally committed to being responsible water users and doing our part to keep the river healthy enough to meet the needs of all seven states.


(Editor’s Note: Stephen Benson is a farmer in California’s Imperial Valley, a board member of Imperial Valley Water (IVH2O), former board member of the Imperial Irrigation District and a current board member of the Family Farm Alliance and Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association. He can be reached at  

USDA Undersecretary Meets with Imperial Irrigation District

The Undersecretary of the United States Department of Agriculture, Robert Bonnie, privately met with the Imperial Irrigation District. The meeting started at 4:00pm Sunday and took place in El Centro.

During the meeting, Bonnie and the IID discussed the Western Water Policy and irrigation assistance to southeastern California farmers and ranchers.

PPIC Video: Surplus and Shortage — California’s Water Balancing Act

Sandy Kerl of the San Diego County Water Authority said that investing in reservoir capacity was key after the county suffered a crippling drought in the late ‘80s. “We now have enough storage capacity…to sustain the population at a 75% service level for six months,” she said.

Kerl made the comment during the PPIC Water Policy Center’s annual fall conference in Sacramento on November 18.

Opinion: Newsom’s Water Strategy Needs to Go a Step Further

Two weeks ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom released his water supply strategy, which is designed to address California’s warming climate and increasing drought intensity. Central to this strategy is expanding storage to capture water during wet periods and to help urban and agricultural users make it through dry times.

But why stop there? What about storing water for the environment?

Opinion: Conservation Alone Won’t Solve California’s Water Crisis. We Need More Infrastructure.

The question persists even though it shouldn’t: Can California conserve its way out of this drought?

The answer is clearly no. But then again, if water policy in California were as clear as water itself, Jake Gittes would never have been told to “forget it.”

Water Authority General Manager Sandra Kerl Named CUWA Board Chair

San Diego County Water Authority General Manager Sandra L. Kerl is taking the reins as board chair of California Urban Water Agencies (CUWA), a nonprofit corporation that supports development of sound water policy statewide.

The Water Authority is one of 11 member agencies of CUWA that are collectively responsible for serving drinking water to about two-thirds of California’s population. As the united voice for the state’s largest urban water purveyors, CUWA provides a technical perspective to promote common understanding and consensus-based solutions for urban water issues.

Opinion: Anti-Growth Commission Spikes Desal

By rejecting the plan for a desalination plant in Orange County last week, the California Coastal Commission surrendered to environmental interests fundamentally committed to a world of restrictions rather than abundance. Rather than embrace innovation and technology, the commission has chosen to place the interests of a few activists over the interests of Californians.

California, Arizona and Nevada Face Major Water Cutbacks From the Colorado River

Because of the megadrought that’s gripping the southwestern United States, the federal government is cutting back how much water it delivers to California, Arizona and Nevada by a lot, about as much as Las Vegas uses in a year. It’s something water managers never thought they’d have to do. Alex Hager reports on the Colorado River from member station KUNC in Greeley, Colo., and joins us now to explain what’s going on. So decades ago, the U.S. built huge dams on the Colorado River specifically to store water as insurance against droughts. Why isn’t that system working now?