Environment Report: We’re Diving Into the Western Water Wars

In two years, almost every major agreement currently keeping battle swords sheathed on the Colorado River will expire. Seven western states and Mexico will have to wrestle with the fact that there’s less water for their people and industries than before. And they have until 2026 to get new agreements to use much, much less water in place.

The Scary Big Picture of Having Less Water

As a society we constantly hear the “drought warning.” Then we endure some water conservation efforts and a couple of years later everything seems to go back to normal. As a result, we have become numb to the word “drought.” Wildfires are brutal and get our immediate attention, but we expect they will also burn out.

AZ Republicans and Democrats Sign Letters on Colorado River Water

Divvying up Colorado River water has been the subject of at least two letters this week from Republican and Democratic members of Arizona’s congressional delegation.

One note was sent to the head of the U.S. Department of Interior and the other to the governor of California.

City of Calistoga Issues Mandate for Water Customers to Conserve

The City of Calistoga has declared a Stage II Water emergency and starting May 1, residents and businesses will be required to conserve water. The move is a response to a recent reduction in the State’s water allocation. Citing back-to back dry years and limited precipitation in the northern part of the State, on March 23, the California Department of Water Resources reduced the State Water Project allocations for Napa County from 15% to 5%. The reduction represents a loss of approximately 25% of Calistoga’s annual demand.

Attempts to Protect Arizona’s Groundwater and Rivers Meet Legislative Resistance

The Arizona Legislature has taken up a range of water-related measures this year, but some bills that would strengthen the state’s water rules to protect declining groundwater and desert streams have run into opposition and have failed to move forward.

Republican and Democratic legislators introduced several bills that would establish some groundwater rules in unregulated rural areas where there are no limits on pumping and where water levels are dropping.

Opinion: California Must Bypass Water Politics and Work Toward Solutions For Our Thirsty State

California’s water wars are epic. They’ve inspired Hollywood productions and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism. Water has been the source of both great wealth and great poverty in California. A fellow Irishman, James Mulholland, who was born around the corner from where I was and even baptized in the same church, delivered water to the City of Los Angeles with what was described as “chicanery, subterfuge … and a strategy of lies.”

New State Water Regulations Cause Angst on All Sides

A new set of water regulations aimed at protecting California’s native fish came down from the state earlier this week to near universal condemnation from both agricultural and environmental water folks.

The regulations are contained in a 143-page “incidental take permit” issued by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife that lays out when — and how much — water can be pumped out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta by the State Water Project.

Agricultural contractors who get water from the project fear they could lose up to 300,000 acre-feet a year under the new permit.

Environmentalists say the permit gives a “free pass” to pumpers and is a path to extinction for native fish.

OPINION: Proposition 3: Two Biggest Reasons To Oppose Water Bond In November Election

Proposition 3, which asks voters to approve $8.9 billion in bond funds for water projects, has a surface appeal. The state’s need for improved water infrastructure and new water storage facilities is plain. But there are strong reasons to reject it. The first and most obvious is that Proposition 3 is on the ballot not because the Legislature thought it was necessary but because of signature-gatherers paid by those who stand to benefit from the bond. A July 16 CALmatters story noted that more than half the money raised to promote the measure came from business groups and farmers seeking specific improvements, especially to the 152-mile-long Friant-Kern Canal in the Central Valley.

Water Officials Take Records Dispute To State Supreme Court

San Diego County water officials have long been at odds with their counterparts in Los Angeles, who control millions of gallons imported every day into the southwest corner of California. But a new dispute has broken out between the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and its member agency, the San Diego County Water Authority — and it’s not about the wet stuff. Instead, lawyers for both sides are fighting over what qualifies as a public record. Attorneys for the San Diego water agency want to know how Metropolitan calculated its rates and other charges.

OPINION: Proposition 3: An $8.87 Billion Water And Habitat Bond

California needs a clean, safe and reliable water supply to meet its needs as the population grows and the climate changes. Proposition 3 will provide that water supply for people, agriculture, and our native fish and wildlife. Proposition 3 is a general obligation bond, and will not raise taxes. Some of its most important features include