DWR’s updated Groundwater Information Center

I thought this might be of interest.

have a great week,


If you haven’t had a chance to view DWR’s updated Groundwater Information Center, please click on the following link:


On the site are links to all of the available Groundwater Management Plans (grouped by Hydrologic Region), as well as groundwater level change maps (Dot Maps) for numerous time periods in the Groundwater Data Reports section.  Plus lots of other groundwater-related information, such as the Drought Response report that was published on April 30th; a revised report is being prepared for October 2014.

Also, just last week, DWR made publically available an Interactive Map of Groundwater Information and Data.  For this first release, the contour and color ramp options are limited to the Central Valley, but DWR is working with various local agencies to qualify well data so the contouring and various analysis tools can be expanded to other basins throughout California.  As more data becomes publically available through the CASGEM Program, this will be easier to accomplish.  You can currently view Change in Groundwater Level data for the Sonoma area through Spring 2014.

If you have any comments about the site, feel free to let me know and I’ll forward them on to the developers.  Hope this is helpful as you work towards sustainable groundwater management in your area.

Thanks, Mark.

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Public Trust Doctrine Applies to Groundwater

The attached order pertaining to the Scott River recognizes that entities/counties permitting wells which are hydrologically connected to surface flows must consider the Public Trust, including impacts to surface flows in navigable rivers or impacting navigable rivers. Incidentally, it affirms that the state (SWRCB) can regulate groundwater when that groundwater is interconnected with surface flows.

This order does not address whether the wells at issue are, in fact, hydrologically connected to surface flows.


Our Sacramento judge has issued his ruling, that groundwater pumping
that affects surface flows must be regulated under the Public Trust

Read it and cheer.

This is, to quote our Vice President, a Big F’ing Deal.

It also makes any legislation even more important, that we not repose
trust only in local agencies to protect the Public Trust.


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Sacramento Judge Makes Precedent-Setting Ruling On Groundwater Regulation

Ed Joyce
July 16, 2014

The Scott River in Siskiyou County

The Scott River in Siskiyou County

A Sacramento Superior Court judge issued a ruling Tuesday requiring regulation of groundwater pumping to protect a river in Siskiyou County.

Attorneys on both sides say it’s the first time a California court has ruled the “public trust doctrine” applies to groundwater. The doctrine says the State of California holds all waterways for the benefit of the people.

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Latest Data Shows California Drought Gets More Extreme

Ed Joyce
July 17, 2014

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows that extreme drought has expanded in California.

In the July 15 discussion of the national drought, the report shows that much of California is in either in extreme drought (81.85 percent) or exceptional drought (36.49 percent) and “May-September normally dry, there is not much more room for further deterioration, at least during the dry season.”

But then the report goes on to say that extreme drought has expanded in Southern California “east of San Diego to include the mountains, and to cities such as Riverside and San Bernardino.”

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Beautiful river, growing thirst, looming battle over the Eel River

By Susan Sward Special to The Bee Published: Sunday, Jul. 6, 2014 – 12:00 am Last Modified: Sunday, Jul. 6, 2014 – 12:12 am

In the third-largest watershed in California, the Eel River rambles through some of the state’s most stunning landscape. Nothing about the river, with its clusters of redwoods along its sandy banks, hints at the looming battle over its blue-green water.

The Eel River - Brad Finney / Special to The Bee

Brad Finney / Special to The Bee. This is the Eel River, which forms California’s third-largest watershed. But amid the stunning beauty of this river, a battle looms among environmentalists, PG&E, water agencies and a growing, thirsty band of powerful water users. It is a quintessential California drama. Eel River flows west through the Coast Ranges and empties into the Pacific Ocean south of Eureka.

In about three years, though, a federal commission will begin reviewing an application by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to re-license its Potter Valley Project. The project includes a mile-long tunnel that began diverting Eel water to the Russian River more than a hundred years ago.

That Eel water becomes part of the Russian River flow now relied upon by 650,000 people in Mendocino, Sonoma and Marin counties and by farmers in Sonoma and Mendocino counties who irrigate millions of dollars’ worth of crops. Water users say the diversion project is vital for them. Environmental groups, however, want the project’s two dams removed to restore access to many miles of prime fish-spawning territory on the upper Eel, saying the project’s presence undermines recovery of fish in the river.

This license review follows more than a century of harm – including extensive timber harvesting, the Potter Valley Project dams and destruction of an estuary that functioned as a nursery for juvenile salmon. This has imperiled the river’s fish: The National Marine Fisheries Service has classified coho salmon, Chinook salmon and steelhead in the Eel as threatened.

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Posted in Agriculture Impacting Water, Environmental Impacts, Salmonid/Wildlife Impacts, Streams and Wetlands Impacts, Water Conservation Issue | Comments Off

Groundwater in California

California is the only western state that does not regulate its groundwater. It’s also the only state that keeps most of its data on groundwater pumping secret.

As Sacramento Bee reporter Tom Knudson pointed out in a Sunday story (“State keeps water well logs secret,” Page A1), California insists on adhering to a wrongheaded, outdated, counterproductive 1951 law that makes well logs and drillers’ reports confidential and unavailable for public inspection. That makes true groundwater management all but impossible.

With virtually every city in the San Joaquin Valley relying on groundwater for all or most of its drinking water, the demands on the underlying aquifers should be public knowledge. Those demands are increasing every day. Many rural residential wells are already dry. Even a few cities are anxious that their wells will continue to draw water.

Since most groundwater basins are connected, and frequently extend beyond the jurisdictional boundaries of cities and counties, the state needs to be involved. But so do residents, and they can’t be if the state keeps the data secret.

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Voluntary Water Conservation Not Working

Hi water savers:

Attached is  RRWPC’s  11 month comparison of Russian River water sales to major contractors in water years 2012-13 and 2013-14, July through May (June’s data will be available in a few weeks).  Also attached is an article stating that Southern CA is far from meeting 20% conservation goal called for by governor. I have seen similar articles for the Bay area and the attached chart indicates it’s true for our area as well.  We believe that high water users should be carefully tracked and charged much higher rates for higher tiers of use.

I’m also including an article emphasizing how little has been accomplished in terms of EPA listing of toxic chemicals to protect human and environmental health and is precursor to regulatory action.  People appear to have developed a false sense of security about water quality and the effort to reuse tertiary and other wastewater without adequate safeguards for environmental safety.  This is cause for concern.  The focus of public health departments is always on acute diseases that are immediately highly visible, as opposed to chronic and developmental health problems to which no cause is directly attributed (such as cancer, heart problems, autism, obesity, autoimmune diseases, etc.).  So agencies hide behind the fact that not enough research has been done to make a causal link for chemical risk. The research is inadequate for the following reasons:

  • People who are doing research on these issues are often denied and marginalized
  • Chemical and pharmaceutical companies have powerful and highly successful lobbies to oppose listings of chemicals.  Also the manufacturers of the products and stores that sell them have powerful motivation to conduct business as usual.  Many of our day to day products we use contain chemicals of concern.
  • Because so little has been done and so much damage has already occurred, we need to be playing catch up, but the problems are often too complex and expensive to address at this point and agencies say they can’t afford it
  • People understandably don’t want to address very difficult and sometimes impossible problems that include finding the specific nexus and timing between contact with toxin(s) and initiation of disease.  Probably in most cases this will continue to be the case.   Therefore messages about the risks of contact with toxins are not being promoted, and when they are (such as CAUTION labels on toxins), they are often ignored.
  • People often don’t relate the health of the environment and their own personal health, even though almost everything they eat and drink is affected by toxins of one kind or another.  We have heard that even organic foods can be irrigation with tertiary wastewater.  That wastewater is only tested annually for 125 toxins out of about 80,000 chemicals on the market.  There are about 1000 identified endocrine disrupting chemicals including most pesticides, herbicides, etc.  THESE ARE SIMPLY NOT MONITORED!  Unfortunately, there has not been a groundswell of SUSTAINED public opinion to force these issues.
  • Risk assessment has traditionally focused on looking at chemicals individually and determining the level of contaminant which is cause for concern.  The assumption has been made over time that low doses are safe.  That is simply not true for endocrine disrupting chemicals, a known scientific fact supported unanimously by members of the Endocrine Society, a world wide organization of endocrinologists.

Brenda  Russian River Water Protection, http://www.rrwpc.org

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Environmental Water Caucus Shreds ‘Misleading’ Bay Delta Conservation Plan

Dan Bacher, June 12, 2014

Environmental Water Caucus Shreds ‘Misleading’ Bay Delta Conservation PlanThe Environmental Water Caucus, a diverse coalition including conservation, fishing and environmental justice groups and the Karuk and Winnemem Wintu Tribes, on June 11 responded to Governor Jerry Brown’s Bay Delta Conservation Plan and its associated Environmental Impact Report with a stinging 250-page critique of BDCP’s inadequacies and multiple failures to conform to state and federal laws.

“The plan is an omelet of distortion and half-truth intended to mislead and deceive,” said Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA).

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta (RTD), characterizes the BDCP as “a construction project masquerading as a habitat conservation plan.”

The core of the plan is the construction of two underground twin tunnels 35 miles long and 40 feet in diameter to deliver Sacramento River to corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, Southern California water agencies and oil companies conducting fracking and steam injection operations in Kern County.

Among the criticisms detailed in the Caucus’ review are that it is contrary to the Delta Reform Act of 2009, it fails to provide adequate ecological assurances under state and federal endangered species laws, it fails to assure funding for the project, and it fails to analyze reasonable alternatives to the preferred plan for huge tunnels under the Delta. Other points highlighted by the Caucus include:

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U.S. Supreme Court Declines To Hear Oyster Company Petition for Review

June 30, 2014

Contact: Amy Trainer 415-306-6052
Neal Desai: 510-368-0845
Gordon Bennett: 415-663-1881

Interior Department Can Proceed to Restore Wilderness To Drakes Estero as Congress Intended

Point Reyes, Calif. – Today the United States Supreme Court denied the petition for review filed by the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, thus affirming the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal’s denial of the Company’s preliminary injunction lawsuit. The Company sued the Interior Department in December 2012 after former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar decided to let the 40-year lease expire on its own terms. The effect will be that the temporary emergency injunction put in place by the 9th Circuit in February 2013 will be lifted and the Department of the Interior can set in motion a timeline for the company to remove its oyster operation from Drakes Estero.

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California Water Rights Primer

I have come to believe that Ag and other interests project California water rights as “too complex” for ordinary folks to understand in order to intentionally discourage citizens from understand them and therefore being empowered to weigh in. I’ll bet, for example, that most citizens of the state believe what the Farm Bureau repeats over and over – that water rights are straight up property rights.

Many (most?) in the environmental community buy into that mystification and believe they need a water lawyer in order to be involved in water right and Public Trust issues.

There is no doubt that California Water Rights are not simple and straightforward. But they are NOT unintelligible; ordinary citizens (and even reporters!) can understand California Water Rights IF they are given the opportunity (and have the desire).

Shouldn’t our organizations give citizens that opportunity through our public education functions (web pages, Facebook, Op-Eds, letters to editors, programs and seminars). To that end attached for your edification and use is a California Water Rights Primer which I find eminently good and readable. Best of all it is comprehensive – including groundwater rights: I learned a lot about groundwater law from reading it.

The California Water Impact Network also has a “California Water Rights Primer” on their web site at this link.


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