Will the Giant Westlands Water District “Spill” Water This Year for Lack of Demand?

Westlands Water District, the biggest agricultural water district in the state, could lose 200,000 acre feet of water – or more – for lack of demand, according to an update at its June board meeting. The revelation was made during a briefing by Chief Operating Officer Jose Guiterrez who acknowledged Westlands could have more than 320,000 acre feet of water left over when its contract year is up next Feb. 28.

Feinstein Will Leave a Vast Environmental Legacy

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein shaped California’s environment like no one else.

Since her first election to the Senate in 1992, the onetime San Francisco mayor made herself the Golden State’s go-to legislator. With key committee assignments and a pragmatic bent, the veteran lawmaker put herself into the room where the deals got done.

Reformist Farmers in California Are Rethinking Water

Reformist farmers in California have deposed the leader of the country’s biggest irrigation district, who was known for fighting water regulations. Farmers are accepting less water means less farming. A local election in rural California caught our attention last month. Farmers ousted the longtime leaders of the organization that supplies their irrigation water, which may sound small, but as Dan Charles reports, it’s a sign of something bigger – farmers reacting to a hotter climate.

Westlands Boss Thomas Birmingham Retiring After ‘Change Coalition’ Elected to Board

Thomas Birmingham, general manager of the massive Westlands Water District since 2000, Wednesday announced plans to step down at the end of 2022. His announcement follows the election of four new members to the Westlands Board of Directors on Nov. 8 who would give a so-called “change coalition” a solid majority of six seats on the nine-member board.


California Lawmakers Mull Buying Out Farmers to Save Water

After decades of fighting farmers in court over how much water they can take out of California’s rivers and streams, some state lawmakers want to try something different: use taxpayer money to buy out farmers.

A proposal in the state Senate would spend up to $1.5 billion to buy “senior water rights” that allow farmers to take as much water as needed from the state’s rivers and streams to grow their crops.

Westlands Celebrates Habitat Restoration Following Third Straight Year of Finding Zero Delta Smelt

Westlands Water District announced Wednesday that it recently completed the Lower Yolo Restoration Project, which restored the habitat for fish and other wildlife species in part of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Zero Delta Smelt Found in Latest Search. New Habitat Hopes to Change That

An annual search for a tiny endangered and contentious fish in the sprawling California Delta has once again come up empty.

The state’s annual Fall Midwater Trawl Survey found no delta smelt in September’s sampling of the critical waterway. The last time the rare fish turned up in a survey was in October 2017 when just two were found. Hoping to reverse the recent trend, the Westlands Water District and the California Department of Water Resources announced the completion of a Delta habitat restoration project on Wednesday.

Trump Admin Fights Farmers’ Multimillion-Dollar Water Claim

The Trump administration is urging a federal court to reject a multimillion-dollar claim over water rights from California farmers, in the latest round of a politically sensitive and long-running lawsuit.

At issue is a decades-long case from major farmers claiming that the Bureau of Reclamation has failed to build a drainage system in the San Joaquin Valley’s Westlands Water District.

Westlands Water District Gets Permanent U.S. Contract for Massive Irrigation Deliveries

The Interior Department on Friday awarded the nation’s largest farm water district a permanent entitlement to annual irrigation deliveries that amount to roughly twice as much water as the nearly 4 million residents of Los Angeles use in a year.

Gaining a permanent contract for so much cheap Central Valley Project water represents a major milestone for Westlands Water District, which supplies some of the state’s wealthiest growers and has long-standing ties to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.

Westlands Says 15% Water Allocation Is ‘Good News’ in Dry Year

Despite President Donald Trump’s highly publicized signing of a memo last week directing more water to San Joaquin Valley farmers, the Bureau of Reclamation’s initial allocations announced Tuesday more closely reflected the below-normal Sierra snowpack and scant winter rain.

Farmers in the Friant Division will receive 20% of their Central Valley Project contract allocation while South-of-Delta growers will get 15%, Reclamation officials said.

The state Department of Water Resources reports that as of Monday, the average snow water content in the Sierra was 41% of the April 1 average. Northern Sierra precipitation is about 51% of the seasonal average.