From the Ridgecrest Independent:
… The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority team faced a group of hundreds as people filled most of the seats at the Kerr McGee Center’s main banquet room. The Groundwater Authority’s legal team — IWV Water District counsel Jim Worth, Ridgecrest city attorney Keith Lemieux, and water resources manager Steve Johnson — fielded questions from a long line of residents after providing background on a planned pumping fee. …
From the Ridgecrest Independent:
“The Indian Wells Valley Water District’s finance and plants and equipment committees on Tuesday discussed costs for some final projects as well as the price tag of an upcoming customer portal project for the district’s Advanced Metering Infrastructure program.
At the plants committee meeting on Tuesday, Water District associate engineer Travis Reed updated committee members and staff on completion of rehabilitation work for its Well 18. The final results came back clean.
Reed noted that the rehab project included a number of change orders from the contractor that performed the work. … “
From the San Luis Obispo Tribune:
After two winters of downpours, the resources that supply Paso Robles with two-thirds of its drinking water are on the verge of collapsing into the Salinas River.
The city’s Thunderbird well field — used to extract water that’s percolated under the sandy riverbed — and the equipment used to process Lake Nacimiento water are located on a dangerously eroded riverbank.
Although the river looks dry now, it’s become swollen with water during the past two rainy seasons — more so than during the previous five years of drought.
From Water Deeply:
“California’s premier wine-growing region has been identified for more regulation under the state’s new groundwater law, likely resulting in new fees and limits on water extraction for the industry.
The state Department of Water Resources declared in May that 14 groundwater basins across the state face threats to groundwater, and thus should be reprioritized under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Four of these are in Napa and Sonoma county wine-growing valleys.
The aquifers in question are the Sonoma Lowlands subbasin in Napa and Solano counties, the Alexander Valley basin and Healdsburg area subbasin in Sonoma County and the Wilson Grove Highlands basin in Sonoma and Marin Counties. Each is a vital source of irrigation water for grape growing. … “
Read more from Water Deeply here: New Groundwater Woes, and Regulations, in California Wine Country
From E&E News:
The bottom is falling out of America’s most productive farmland.
Swaths of the San Joaquin Valley have sunk 28 feet — nearly three stories — since the 1920s, and some areas have dropped almost 3 feet in the past two years.
Blame it on farmers’ relentless groundwater pumping. The plunder of California’s aquifers is a budding environmental catastrophe that scientists warn might spark a worldwide food crisis.
“This is not sustainable,” said Jay Famiglietti, a senior water scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “If those aquifers continue to be depleted and if we start running out of water in these big aquifer systems, the global food system is going into meltdown mode.”
From Water Deeply:
“A “use-it-or-lose-it” system of water allocation has historically required growers in California to irrigate their land or lose their water rights, whether market forces compelled them to grow crops or not.
Now, in a significant breakthrough for the state’s water economy, a community of farmers near Ventura are about to join a new groundwater market. The buying and trading system, expected to begin by July 1, will allow farmers under the purview of the Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency to fallow their own land and sell groundwater to other users willing to pay more than their crop sales would generate. This small-scale water market has been in planning stages for more than a year and is being launched as a pilot project that could eventually serve as a model for the rest of California. … “
Read more from Water Deeply here: A New Groundwater Market Emerges in California. Are More on the Way?
From Maven’s Notebook:
“In 2014 California enacted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) which mandates that areas that depend upon groundwater achieve sustainability by 2040. Meeting the requirements of SGMA will mean a net reduction in groundwater overdraft of about 2 million acre-feet per year. The social, economic and environmental consequences—intended or otherwise—of this change in water policy are vast.
Dr. Jeffrey Mount is a Senior Fellow with the Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Center. In this keynote speech given at the Groundwater Resources Association’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan Summit, Dr. Mount argued that the state needs to take a comprehensive look at what it is going to take to achieve groundwater sustainability and develop pathways that minimize or mitigate unwanted effects. He also noted that his speech would draw on the work of his colleagues at the Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center who have been working on the San Joaquin Valley to envision a future for the Valley under SGMA and what the consequences would be. … “
“The wet winter of 2017 brought an opportunity to test groundwater recharge—the intentional spreading of water on fields to percolate into the aquifer—as a tool for restoring groundwater levels and helping basins comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). This is especially important in the San Joaquin Valley, which has the biggest imbalance between groundwater pumping and replenishment in the state.
A key question for many valley water managers is how much water will be available for recharge in the long term. By law, only river flows in excess of what is required for environmental purposes and to supply existing water-right holders are available for recharge. A recent report by the PPIC Water Policy Center estimated how much water would be available in the San Joaquin Valley over the long term. Two earlier studies—one by two scientists at UC Davis and the other by the Department of Water Resources—estimated a maximum of about half a million acre-feet on average, which is about a quarter of the valley’s estimated deficit. The PPIC study updated these estimates in the context of current conditions and concluded that an average of more than a million acre-feet of San Joaquin River flows may be available. … “
From Water Deeply:
“In California’s agricultural heartland, the San Joaquin Valley, excessive pumping of groundwater has resulted in subsidence, damaging crucial infrastructure, including roads, bridges and water conveyance. A study last year from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, found overpumping of groundwater since the 1920s had caused parts of the San Joaquin Valley to sink as much as 28ft.
But groundwater overpumping may have another serious side effect, according to a study published June 5 in the journal Nature Communications. Researchers found that recent groundwater pumping caused an increase in the concentrations of arsenic in the aquifer. … “
Read more from Water Deeply here: Toxic Trap: Groundwater Overpumping Boosts Arsenic in California Aquifer
From Ellen Hanak at the PPIC Blog:
“California is a force of nature when it comes to almonds. The state’s farmers produce virtually the entire US almond crop and dominate the international market. As the market has grown, almonds have become California’s largest single crop—now accounting for about 12% of irrigated acreage, with more than 1.2 million acres harvested in 2016. Availability of water is clearly a major issue for the industry, since the trees must be irrigated throughout the long spring and summer dry season. At a May event on water issues organized by the Almond Board of California, I was asked for some thoughts on the water realities almond growers must grapple with in coming years. Here are three key takeaways. … “