NEWS

–California’s crippling three-year drought is revealing the unique water vulnerabilities of small towns across the San Joaquin Valley. And while the state has stepped in to help impoverished communities and residents whose wells have gone dry due to plummeting groundwater levels, the handful of towns on the valley’s west side that rely on surface supplies…
by Jesse Vad and Lois Henry, SJV Water
A long simmering water war between Kings County’s two biggest farming entities blew up Wednesday over groundwater when the state rejected the region’s plan to shore up its declining aquifer. The fallout could be significant if the state pursues enforcement, which could include pumping limits, steep fines and fees for all groundwater users in the…
A long defunct fish ladder on an historic dam on the Merced River is the focus of a public trust lawsuit by advocacy group Water Audit California. The lawsuit, filed in late September, demands the Merced Irrigation District repair and properly maintain a fish ladder on the Crocker-Huffman Dam, about 30 miles northeast of the…
The Kern River isn’t special. Rivers and streams throughout California are fought over with just as much passion and vehemence as the Kern River has seen from the 1880s to the present. But opposing parties on some of those rivers have found their way to compromise. The Putah Creek in northern California is one such…
by Jesse Vad, SJV Water
Though $40 million was added to the state’s farmland retirement pot, some worry it won’t be nearly enough. Gov. Gavin Newsom authorized the funding Tuesday night to be added to the state’s new Multibenefit Land Repurposing Program. The program, initially funded with $50 million in 2021,  pays for farmland to be taken out of production…
by Jesse Vad, SJV Water
There will be a penalty for over pumping groundwater in Madera County, but it won’t be as painful as it could have been. That was the upshot from a nearly three-hour – sometimes fiery – meeting on Tuesday of the Madera County Board of Supervisors. Supervisors opted for a penalty of $100 per acre foot…
In a fast-paced trip through the evolution of California’s water rights, attorney Valerie Kincaid explained how the system has gone from the “wild, wild west” to one pervaded by ever greater government creep. By expanding its authorities under what had been thought of as several limited court decisions, state government is now essentially dictating operations…
Fear and confusion over a new groundwater monitoring technology pushed back the “penalty phase” of Madera County’s attempt to get a handle on its pumping problem. The Madera County Board of Supervisors was supposed to have voted on penalties for growers who pump more than they’re allowed at its Sept. 13 meeting. But after three…
The state kicked Madera County groundwater plans back for a redo on Thursday, noting, in particular, that they had set water levels so low it could endanger hundreds of domestic wells. The plans also all but ignored ongoing damage to roads, bridges and canals caused by sinking land, subsidence, opting mostly to “monitor” the situation….
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Maven’s Notebook is an excellent daily accounting of California water happenings statewide.